I have noticed over the last year that many of my male peers have grown particularly interested in what it looks like to be a “biblical man”. I’m not sure if this is simply because of the stage of life my peers and I are at or if there is a larger movement going on, but it certainly seems that the issue of biblical manhood is being tossed about increasingly in the evangelical world.
Let me preface by saying that there are many good things about exploring biblical manhood and I have dear and godly brothers who have spearheaded Bible studies and discussions about these topics. Their work and these discussions are invaluable and vital to developing future men of God.
However I fear that we often fail to speak the language of biblical manhood in an explicitly Christian context. Exploring biblical manhood can quickly become dangerous if we allow its language to be corrupted by culture. For example, the call to responsibility is a vital one. Men do have a responsibility before God for their families, and those they are called to protect. Furthermore, the call to care for others while true for all Christians also has special importance for men who can so easily abuse their power. Certainly, these are two important aspects of what it looks like to be a biblical man.
Yet culturally when we hear responsibility and care for others we think of independence and personal strength. The cultural model for responsibility is equivalent to not having to rely on others while the cultural model for caring for others requires having an inner strength that doesn’t need to the care of others.
Such models are incredibly distant from what Christ draws us (both man and woman) towards. In fact, Christ’s call is radically different. While we generally are willing to admit he calls us to meekness, his call is actually to weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). In a similar vein, we cannot possibly care for others unless we allow ourselves to be loved and recognize the love that the Father has for us. Rather than being powerful and independent, Christ calls us to weakness and complete dependence upon the Father. The Christian context for bibical manhood is radically different than what culture so often tries to lead us into.
And so I think we need to be cautious. To believe that a Christian context is assumed when we speak the language of biblical manhood is to shut our eyes to the fact that culture pervades our consciousness. Our only means of overcoming our inclination towards cultural definitions (which are so much more satisfying and pleasing to our flesh) is the gospel, preached to us and heard often. Only when we recognize our own need, our weakness, and our dependence upon God (as well as others in the body of Christ), can we seek to take responsibility for others and love them well – in other words, become a biblical man.
**I should briefly note that this blog post does not stem out of the recent controversy surrounding statements that Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church made but rather stem from an edifying conversation I had with my dear friend, Gabriel Choo.**