On Toxic Christian Masculinity [QUOTE]

I know it’s a little long for a quote, but I promise, it’s very worth your time:

Within Christianity, the masculine image of God is often defined in these terms of control, power and dominion. Much of the Christian faith, though, requires that men recognize their limitations and depend on God. We accept salvation through his son and sanctification by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a faith where the last shall be first (Mk 10:31), marked by a life of service to others….

Consider the definition offered by John Piper: “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships” ([Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood] Piper and Grudem, 2006, p. 35). It is a definition that emphasizes leading, providing for and protecting women. But it offers no insight on how men relate to one another. Depending on your reading of this definition, it either smacks of male chauvinism or places greater value on women’s needs. No doubt well intentioned, it offers little guidance for men who are already confused, wounded and lost about their masculinity….

At times we like to think of Jesus as Rambo. We see in Scripture that Jesus comes with a sword and that he defeats the armies of Satan (very warlike, isn’t it?). This was perhaps the biggest problem with the Jews of Jesus’ time. They were expecting a Rambo Jesus. Okay, maybe not a Rambo Jesus, but at least a King David Jesus…. The wimpy, androgynous Jesus that meekly dotes on the weak and allows himself to be killed is not exactly the archetypal male. But neither do we seek a Rambo Jesus. He does not go out and kick butt. Rather than blame the so-called “liberal feminist theologians” or the feminist movement for the demasculinization of today’s men, perhaps we should step back and look at some other cultural factors….

Masculinity should be understood as having a core to it that is the expression (on average) of God’s image in ways that male embodiment enables. To contrast the masculine and feminine as always diametrically opposed misunderstands these expressions. Rather than address what “biblical” masculinity looks like, perhaps it is better to think of how the Bible directs the masculine nature. Is there something about being a new creation in Christ that requires that our masculinity changes?…

Masculinity and femininity need not always be in tension with each other. This is often how our culture understands gender, and this sometimes creates unnecessary conflict. But if we understand how male and female, masculine and feminine, are together human, we can begin with human needs and embodiment then move to gender. Human nature need not be thought of as a dichotomy. Men and women have similar needs, yet their embodied nature may allow for their expression in different (but not antagonistic) ways. If we reconceptualize our thinking of masculinity as human first and then male, we need not compare or contrast it with femininity or female nature.

from the amazing (and completely mis-named) book Wired For Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain by William Struthers

Amen and amen and amen.

[image credit: Francisco de Goya’s “The Great He-Goat”]


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