November 18, 2012

What Is Biblical Masculinity?

I’d like to take the next few posts and look at what the Bible calls us to be and do as Christian men. What do these Passages mean? What is meant by the terms biblical manhood or biblical masculinity? What does this look like in each of our lives since we are all different and have different wives and children? What does this look like in our specific time and culture?

Some of what we will cover will be doctrinal or theological (what we should believe) in nature, but a lot of it will be very practical (what we should be doing).

This series of posts will be a very brief fly-over of this topic. There is so much more that could be said and has been said elsewhere in many great books and sermons – most of which you can find in the “Recommended Reading” list or “Audio Messages”. I don’t ever want to give the impression that our responsibilities as men involve ONLY our homes. We are Christians. This means the gospel impacts our entire lives. We do not focus on our homes to the neglect of everything else God calls us to in light of the gospel. Our goal is not just to be a better husband or dad, but to grow in Christ-likeness. As we do this (by His grace and the power of the Spirit) our familes will most definitely benefit!

Having said that, this series will cover four areas of life as a Christian man.

  • Post 1 – What is masculinity? – What it is, what it is not, and attacks on true masculinity.
  • Post 2 – Biblically masculine husbands. – Leading your wife, responsibilities of headship.
  • Posts 3 & 4 – Biblically masculine fathers. – Leading/teaching your kids about Christ, responsibilities of being a disciple maker in your home.


Masculinity is not simply maleness. Just because you have male parts doesn’t make you masculine.

  • God is the ultimate example of true masculinity yet the Bible tells us He has no physical body (John 4:24).
  • So the idea of masculinity is not just tied to anatomy.

A Working Definition

  •  I’ve seen several definitions of biblical manhood/masculinity and they are all pretty good and get the point across, but the one I like the best comes from Douglas Wilson in his book Father Hunger – “True masculinity is the humble, glad assumption of God given responsibility.”
  • God ordains and describes the roles, and the job requirements attached to them.
  • Men humbly and gladly accept these roles and requirements and walk in them by His grace.
  • Masculinity and authority flow to those who accept responsibility and flee from those who shirk responsibility.

Men and Women Are Different

  • In order to truly understand biblical masculinity we MUST understand that men AND women were/are created in the image of God. We are the same and equal in this regard (Gen. 1:26-27).
  • But we can easily see that we are wired diferently. We have different desires, different ways of communicating, and different ways of dealing with issues. You can see this in kids. They do not have to be taught these tendencies, they just are.

Men Are Cultivators

  • Among several ways you could describe men, we are by nature, cultivators (Gen. 1:28; 2:5; 2:15). God has wired us to take care of things, make them grow and be productive. This is inherent. You can see it in our man-mantras – “bigger, faster, stronger.”
  • We want things to be better and more efficient. This is by design.

The Fall Corrupted Everything

  • God cursed the ground because of Adam’s sin (Gen. 3:17-19).
  • Now the good things God told men to cultivate war against us.
  • Work is now hard and frustrating. Work is not a product of the fall. Work is not the curse. Work being hard and uncooperative is part of the curse.
  • Cultivating the right things will always be hard. There may be wonderful seasons where this is easirer than at other times, but for the most part it will be difficult.
  • Because of sin we desire for things to be easy so we tend to cultivate other things that seem to be easier. We shy away from the things we are called to cultivate and build because they are difficult and time consuming.
    • We would rather cultivate hobbies, jobs, physical appearance, houses, etc.
    • Our culture and advertisers have keyed in on this and exploit these tendencies.
  • God uses the things that war against us and the fact that things are difficult and broken to show us our need for a Savior.

Why Are We So Messed Up and Confused Today As Christian Men?

I believe there are multiple factors that have contributed to this. I don’t think this list is exhaustive, but it will give us a good picture.

  • Since the feminist movement (that really began gaining ground in the 1960s) got under way we have become scared to stand up for true masculinity for fear of being mislabeled or attacked.
  • I think it is partly because we have forgotten what true masciulinity looks like, honestly.
  • There has been a lack of teaching and discipleship in the home and our churches. Most of our dads didn’t teach us and, for the most part, neither did our pastors.
    • For the longest time I used this lack of discipleship as a crutch. I complained that I didn’t know these things because “I was never taught or discipled.” Poor, pitiful me. I felt sorry for myself because I thought I was in the minority of Christian men. I now know that men who have received discipleship from their dads or other godly men in the church are in the minority. If you are in the minority – praise God!
    • Side note: Don’t sit around and blame others for your lack of training. Your dad probably did the best he could with what he had (he was probably just banged up from his old man). Find training. Follow the examples of godly men around you. Ask them questions. Read good books. Listen to sermons, etc. The bottom line is this: do something about it so you can disciple others, train your sons, and stop this cycle! Okay. I’m done with this rant. But there may be more.

Cultural Attacks on Biblical Masculinity

Feminism – A lot of women today are continually trying to force themselves into roles that they were never designed by God to do or carry. It’s not that they couldn’t do these roles or jobs as well as men, it’s not that they aren’t as smart as men (my wife being a great example – I have a true treasure that happens to be a great deal smarter than me), it’s just that God didn’t design them to do these things or serve in these areas. Side note for single men: Search for godliness in a woman, not just good looks. If you find both, like I did, marry her – quickly!

  • Family and church leadership is a priveledge and weight given by God to the men (1 Tim. 2:12; Eph 5: 22-23). More on this in a later post.
  • Femenism has worked its way into the church as well. We call it Egalitarianism. This is the belief that men and women are completely equal in all ways – there are no role distinctions at all. Each gender does not have specific responsibilities.
  • We fight for the biblical position of Complementarianism. This is the belief that men and women are created by God equal in value and worth, but have specific gender roles as assigned by the Creator. He created us. Therefore He gets to design the rules and roles.

Machoism – This is following what our culture says is manly. So, either you work out a lot, love sports (especially football), hunt or fish, love cars, own a 4-wheel drive, tell nasty jokes, sleep with as many women as possible… or you’re just not a man… or you’re gay.

  • This mentality has crept into the church. Every men’s ministry has to be doing something “manly” like this all the time or it’s just lame.
  • Not that there is anything inherently wrong with the things on this list (save for the nasty jokes and sleeping with women not your wife). But, if these things are the focus of what you say is masculine, then you have a misguided sense of what God desires for us to be as men.

Prolonged Adolescence – This happens when boys refuse to grow up and accept their God given responsibilities.

  • Our culture tells our young people that they should put off marriage as long as possible. “Just live together.” “Who needs a ring?” “Kids are a burden.” They are told to have as much fun as they can when they are young and single. As if to say “Once you’ve had all the fun you think you can have and you’ve put off marriage as long as possible, then you should get married and die.”
  • The church, again sadly, has been no different for the past few decades in this area.

Male Chauvinism – This goes along with machoism, but takes it a step further.

  • This is the belief that says ALL women should submit to and serve ALL men.
  • This is NOT what the Bible teaches about submission. The Bible teaches that a woman is to submit to her own husband, not all men.
  • Submission here does NOT mean servanthood or slavery, but we’ll cover that in the next post.
  • This has, unfortunately, been an issue in homes (and tolerated in some churches) where the woman is treated as a personal servant, waiting on the man hand and foot.
  • This dishonors God, makes a mockery of His holy institution of marriage , and profanes the gospel of Christ!

There is so much more that could be said on what biblical masculinity is and is not, but I pray enough has been said here to give you a good idea and whet your appetite to find out more. The bottom line of this post is that God created men, gave them certain jobs to do, and wired them to accomplish those jobs.