Masculinity. Is masculinity under assault in this nation and the world, more specifically men, or is our 20th century definition beginning to return to a more normal definition? We moved from a society of work in the 19th century and through the first half of the 20 century to one of leisure after World War II (due to several factors). Our leisure time, coupled with radio and television led to a rise in sports and sports viewing, and the male became the gladiator of sorts in various sports endeavors. Movies changed the persona of men as well as masculinity in early war movies and westerns took steroids in the 1980s with in a spate of movies about cops, bad guys, war, and such that featured men like Rambo and a host of others. Modern medicine and training gave rise to the changes in the body. Gone are the days when a man, 6'2" and 200 lbs. was considered a Goliath, just look at the average male on the line of any major university or professional team. Sport contracts, reflecting larger audiences on tv and radio (and cable, satellite, and internet), were astronomical compared to a short period of time (1960s and early 70s they were still fairly modest) ago, and the men went from competitors who were among us to idols (yes, idols) worshipped for their lives on and off the field..
Traditional roles are now changing. Men are losing ground according to data from Gallup and the Census in terms of being the traditional "bread winner" of the family. More women are obtaining college degrees than men and the number of marriages is declining (recent George Will editorial) as women choose to live, and give birth to children, as single or in a single parent environment. Bullying, once thought a rite of passage (it's what made you tougher) is now under scrutiny and it seems as though those things we associated with masculinity are declining as well. As a consequence, we see the role of men in the church under assault as well as social issues find their way into the church. So, is it a natural transition from perhaps a bloated reality of what "a real man" is or is it an assault?
What does scripture tell us about "masculinity?" Scripture doesn't really say what it means to be a "real man," but it does tell us about the qualities of God and Christ and God's desires for men in the context of the church and the family. As men, we discussed this recently in our church. What are the traits of God that we should strive to emulate? God in Genesis creates, and he creates intentionally and carefully. As he designs man, and later woman, we see a nurturing God who created us in his own image (Genesis 1:26 and 27). We know he knows us as his creations just as intimately, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart." (Jeremiah 1:5) Nurturing is a Godly quality and not one modern men are necessarily described with. We know Christ was a humble servant. As Paul writes, "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 4:8) Humility - not necessarily a "manly quality."
Over the next couple of days we will examine what it means to be a "man of Christ," which may not necessarily align with our worldly view of what a "real man" is. Pray that we follow Christ as men, and that our traits are Christ-like. Pray that we not allow culture or expectations of this world to define what it means to be a "man of Christ."
Hope Men's Ministy