For this article “biblical manhood” will be used in the confines of what God has called us to in the realm of the home and male headship. The main focus of this article is helping men in the leadership of their homes in the power of the Holy Spirit, by God’s grace, in light of the Gospel. The intent is not to get men to focus solely on their family to the neglect of all Christ has commanded us to do and be for His glory. We are to love Him, worship Him, love others, share the Gospel, make disciples, minister to our brothers & sisters in the Lord, feed the hungry, etc. To sum it up, I didn’t want anyone to think that this is all there is to being a godly man, or that you have to be married and have kids, for that matter, to be Christ-like. Family leadership just happens to be this article’s niche.
The terms “biblical manhood” and “biblical masculinity”are used quite often on this site. I thought it would be a good idea to shed a little light on these terms so that we are all on the same page. This is in no way an exhaustive list of what the Bible teaches about manhood, but we will hit the high spots, especially those that our culture is attacking and trying to extinguish.
The best short definition I have heard for biblical masculinity is from author, Douglas Wilson. He defines masculinity as “The glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.”
In addition to this article, I have a series of posts on masculinity that go a bit further in detail and offer practical advice on what we, as men, can do in our homes to better lead them.
The doctrines of male leadership in the church and in the home stood without question for 18 centuries. Most concluded that man’s responsibilities, as laid out in the Bible, may be difficult to perform, but they are not difficult to understand.
Biblical manhood is under attack in our culture! The feminist movement or agenda began in America around the 1920’s & 1930’s. The first feminist interpretations of Scriptures dealing with male headship started showing up in commentaries about 1970. If you are in my generation that means that all of our lives these (mis)interpretations of Scripture have been around and gaining influence. Unfortunately, that’s the main reason we so willingly accept doctrines and teachings in our churches today that the Bible strictly prohibits.
God created man & said that it is not good that man be alone, so He created woman as a helper (Gen 2:18). Helper is not a denigrating term, as the feminists declare. God uses this word to speak of Himself throughout the Bible (John 14:16). Man and woman are created equal, but serve different roles. All the other animals were created from dirt. Woman was created from man showing equality (Gen 2:19-24).
God Gives Us The Picture Of Male Headship – 1 Cor 11:8-9
- 1 Tim 2:12 – Our culture argues with this passage saying that “Paul was speaking to THAT culture and THOSE women of that time. He isn’t speaking to our culture today.” Some also argue that male headship was a result of the Fall-a curse.
- But, Paul himself uses the created order as proof for his argument, taking it all the way back to the beginning & how God set things up-before the Fall. Therefore, if God set it up that way, that’s the way He meant for it to be for ALL people and ALL time here on this Earth. – 1 Tim 2:13-14
- Woman was made after the man. Why didn’t God create Eve first and then let her have the first man by natural child birth? That would show female headship.
- Woman was made from the man. Again, she wasn’t made like the other animals-from the dirt. This shows equality with the man. Equality not egality. Egality (complete leveling of society) says that we are completely equal and there are no gender role distinctions.
- Woman was brought to the man. Another sign of authority.
- Woman was named by the man. Naming is an act of headship. God named His creation (day, night, earth, seas, etc.) then gave the job of naming everything else (including Eve) to the man.
- After the Fall God comes looking for the man and holds him accountable even though it was the woman who was deceived and sinned first.
Biblical Manhood vs Cultural Manhood
Manhood is being attacked on two major fronts in our culture. First, feminism seeks to eliminate all distinctions and authority. “Women can do everything that men can do” they shout. But, just because they can doesn’t mean that they should or that it is right. [My wife is super smart (smarter than me) and extremely talented at organizing and leading. Yet, she understands God’s call on both of our lives to submit to the roles for which He has made us.] Secondly, biblical manhood is under attack by an attitude of “Machoism”. It defines masculinity by thoughts and actions outside of the Bible. Basically it says “Men are better than women” (though they would rarely say it aloud). And, either you like sports, hunting, fishing, fast cars, etc. or else you’re not a “real man.” This leads to stupid analogies that end up judging masculinity by physical strength, bodily functions, eating capacity, and anatomical structure.
What Does The Bible Say?
God created man and gave him the role of cultivator (Gen 1:28-30). God put man in the Garden of Eden and basically said “This is how the rest of the Earth should look and it’s your job to do that.” Men cultivate. It’s inherent. Just look at us. Man’s mantra “bigger, faster, stronger” is in plain site all around us! We do it with anything and everything. Just let me find something I enjoy doing, start me off at the bottom and watch me go. That’s the way God wired us. We are called to cultivate (pour our lives out for) our wives, children, jobs, churches, and communities. But, if man refuses to submit to Christ, he still remains a cultivator, he just cultivates the wrong things. This is why accountability is so important among us!
Why Is Cultivating The Right Things So Difficult?
In Gen 3:16-19 God curses the woman’s body and mind because of her sin, but he curses the creation that man was meant to cultivate because of his sin. Creation wars against our cultivation! [By the way, guys, stop dreaming of the perfect woman and life that isn’t a “fixer-upper”! They don’t exist.] This is why we meet to encourage and teach one another. It’s hard! God allows this to show us our deep need for the gospel and a Savior!
But we ask “Wouldn’t it be better if, when we got saved, God took that away and gave us an easy life so that others would want to get saved?” No. Two reasons.
- That’s idolatry. If I come to Jesus just to get easy life, then easy life is my god and I’m just using Jesus to get it. That’s the prosperity gospel, which in the end is witchcraft.
- We tend to ignore God when all is well and really press into Him when things aren’t going so well for us. That’s our default mode.
What Does This Look Like With Our Wives And Kids?
In (Eph 5:22-23) we can see that biblical manhood has way more to do with humility, loving self sacrifice, responsibility, and accountability than it does authority. The authority is there, but it comes with a price. These are the principals we need to continually learn from the Word and other godly men. We don’t have the right to come home from work and just sit around while our wives do everything. We have the right to die to ourselves and serve as Christ did!
When we fully submit to Christ’s authority and headship, sacrifice our rights and desires, and lead our families spiritually, we are becoming the men He has called us to be. Women usually flourish in this environment, knowing they have a man who loves, protects, and serves them out of his love for God in Christ.
Men, we set the spiritual thermostat in our homes. If your wife is leading out on all the “spiritual stuff,” it’s going to end badly. Not because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but because you are going against the way God set it up to work!
When confronted with the truths of Scripture (the hard work and heavy responsibilities of a biblical man), men usually go one of three ways. I have, at different points in my life, gone all three ways.
- Some see these truths and refuse to change and submit themselves to Christ’s authority through His Word. This guy knows that “Christianity is important” for his kids, but is resigned to let his wife bear all the weight of raising the family, allowing his wife to carry her load AND his. This guy is a coward, shirking his God-given responsibilities!
- Some see all the weight and responsibility the Bible gives to men and set out on their own, not seeking guidance, wisdom, and accountability. Let me tell you from experience, this weight will crush you! This guy knows he is the leader of his family and desires to be the man God has called him to be, but lacks guidance. If you’re not careful this could lead to despair and you drift back into the fault of #1.
- A few feel this great weight and allow it to push them to Christ, deepening their relationship with Him as they understand more and more about the Gospel. This guy seeks wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit, the Word and other godly men who have been there before. This site was designed for this guy and the hopes of helping guys #1 & #2 step into their God given roles.
If you find yourself being convicted about your lack of leadership in your family, please run TO Christ, not away! Confess your sins to Him, accept His love, grace, and forgiveness, and repent. Begin to step out and lead in His power and strength. It will be small and slow at first… don’t get discouraged. Press on. Find a solid, Bible-teaching, gospel-focused church to get involved in. Find a group of godly men to learn from and share encouragement.
Again, this article did not set out to completely define all that the Bible calls us to as men. But it should help give us some framework for what the Bible has called us to and what this website was designed for-helping men grow in their roles for God’s glory and their good.