60 Seconds On Men


We live in a culture that is desperately confused on what manhood is and on what to do with men.  “Here are these creatures designed with a modicum of strength and resolve, designed to generally need a helpmate to support them, a helpmate for them to sacrifice for and lead…  Hmm…  Well, we can’t accept that…”

I do not think our culture has a sufficient, coherent answer to the question “What should a man be?” or to the question “What should our men do?”  

What behaviors should it commend in men?  What sorts of men should be praised?  Should our culture exalt braggadocious men like Conor McGregor?  Abusive ones like Floyd Mayweather?  Should it exalt ones who seek to be women?  Should it tell men to stand up for their loved ones, or tell them to let women do the standing up?  And why?  Says who?  

May call in with a question, 2017 America?  

Thank you.  

Ahem.  Where are you getting your standard?

I can take your answer off the air.  

Which men should be jokes and which men should be praised?  What should our sons use their muscles and their desires and their fight for?  What is a man?  And please, oh please, oh please tell me, again:  Says who?  Where are you getting your standard?

I think our culture is standing on some mighty soggy ground, here.  

Proposal:  I think our culture produces Floyd Mayweathers because it exalts Floyd Mayweathers, and I think it exalts Floyd Mayweathers because it doesn’t exalt men rightly using their manhood.  

2nd Proposal:  A culture that says it is bad for a man to use his strength to self-sacrificially lead his wife and children will begin to find more men using their strength for evil things.  

Listen, where God and nature have clear enough presentations on what men are and what men should do, our culture is temporarily lost on the topic.  

The happy news?  That means the church is in a unique position to do some real good.  

I mean it.  There is some mighty good work to be done.  There is a generation of boys among us right now who need to know what being a good man really involves, and the church may just have a monopoly on that message here on the American landscape.  We have a grounded, coherent answer as to what men are and what they should do.  We can help.  

There is good work to be done here.

I trust Christ can use us to accomplish it.  

Advertisements

To the Lost and Abused


You are not forgotten. 

You are not irrelevant.  

This world of sin and sinners is often a place where young girls are sexually abused.  Where little boys are ignored by their fathers or beaten by their fists.  Where the small or disadvantaged are trampled by the anger or selfishness of warped men with warped hearts.  

Creation groans under sin.  

And Satan delights in it.  

He hates truth, hates Jesus, and loves pain.  

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?

Genesis 3:5

And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years.  She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself.  When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your disability.’  And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.  But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, ‘There are six days in which work ought to be done.  Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.’  Then the Lord answered him, ‘You hypocrites!  Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it?  And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?’  As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him. 

Like 13:11-17

This is a world where Satan often whispers a violent and treasonous song over the most helpless of people, and then dances to their fear and their pain and their bewilderment.  And it is a world where others join his twisted song.  

But it is not his world.  

Hear me.  

Let Hell and death and sin clamor for your soul.  Let them.  But their loudest ragings will not prevail if you will despair of all other hopes and instead call out to Jesus, like a lost and helpless child.  

Let your anxieties and all your most jagged memories creep up on you like old ghosts with sharp teeth.  They will not get to claim you if you are ransomed by the King of Kings.  

Let pain be pain and fear be fear.  Neither will have the last word if you will believe in Jesus.  

I know you have been wounded to the bone.  

You don’t trust people.  You don’t trust God. And you don’t trust “the world,” by which you probably mean people and God.  

You have heard that God is different from the one who abused you, but you don’t believe it.  

Believe.  

The one who violated you?  I know he used you.  But this is a God who was obliterated to bless people just like you.  

He lied to you.  But this is a God who speaks only truth; He can do no other.  

He promised to change, to be better, only to hurt you time and time and time and time again.  But this is a God who endured Hell and shame and death and agony to keep His promises. 

This God is different from the one who hated and harmed you.  Unimaginably different.  This Jesus will never leave, never forsake, never forget you.  He would rather die than lose those He claims, and the Cross stands as a vertical proof of it.  This is a Lord with a heart for the lowly and the bruised, and who breaks all the violent who refuse to repent. 

You have suffered.  

So has He.  

And at the place your suffering and His meet, namely your faith, a new song starts.  One that sin and death and Satan hate to the core.  

And one that is no whisper, no lie, and that never, ever ends.  

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 

1 Peter 5:8-9

Re:  Wonder Woman


A culture that does not even have a coherent answer to what a woman is is not fit to give anyone a feminine icon.  

Me:  “What is a woman?”

America:  “A strong, independent human.”

Me:  “So can he be a woman?  Steve over there?”

America:  “If that’s what he identifies as.”

Me:  “So what is a man, then?”

America:  “Look, Wade, these are really just arbitrary social categories, anyway.”

Me:  “If they’re arbitrary, then why are you trying to give me a ‘feminine‘ icon?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “Can that guy over there bear children?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “You can get back to me.”

Our culture no longer accepts that God created men and women, at least not in its most prevalent institutions and platforms.  Instead, down deep in its bloodstream, is the belief that no one created us.  And from that flow at least a couple of assumptions.  (1) We don’t owe anyone anything for our existence, or owe anyone anything as created moral beings with moral obligations, and (2) There’s no objective standard of definitions that are just true, not conjecture.  

Now on that (2), abortion rests.  We get to define what a human is, each of us individually, because there isn’t any true answer to the question.   But also on that one rests this dangerous, human-assaulting and humanity-assaulting thing that I’ll call “gender confusion.”  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a man is and there isn’t anyone to tell us what a man should do, our culture says.  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a woman is or what a woman should do.  

“But,” our culture says, “we’ll darn sure tell you what a woman is not.  And no one can tell us what a woman should be.”

Our culture has convictions, but it can’t give a coherent, thorough-to-the-bottom defense of them.  And it can’t tell us why its convictions are right.  It says it knows that women are not designed, when married, to submit to their husbands.  But it won’t, and can’t, coherently say what they are designed for in marriage.  Or in society.  Or as mothers.  Or as daughters.  

This came up when a movement started to swell to allow women into combat situations in the US Armed Forces, and then when two Republican candidates for the presidency in 2016 said they favored women having to register for the draft.  Our culture has produced an ethos where no one could have the down-to-the-ground logical reasoning to say why that was utter nonsense. 

And then it also comes up with this Wonder Woman schtick.  

Here is a fundamental question:  Are women supposed to rush into conflict to save men?  Is that a good thing to be normative?  

Let me ask the question from my vantage point, standing over here on a solid, level ground called “God made the World through Jesus and He gets to say what’s good:”  Are women designed and called by God to rush into battle and save men?

The answer is no.  No, they are not.  No, it is not good for that to be normative.  It would not be healthy and fitting with human flourishing for a society to bless or be proud of its women rushing to the front of conflicts to protect its men.  

No, a society that blessed that should be ashamed.  

We can rail against this all we want, we can be uncomfortable with it until we’ve bitten our nails clean away, but God made men with the design of physically and spiritually protecting their wives, daughters, and the women they are bound to, as well as, in many cases, women and all those who are weaker than them generally.  

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

1 Peter 3:7

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:18-25

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.  Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 

1 Timothy 2:8-15

God did not design grown women to lead, protect, and save grown men.  Men should want to take the first bullet, to sacrificially lead the way, and to spend themselves to protect women.  While that may not be what happens in each and every circumstance (a woman may save a physically disabled man, for instance), it is the design.  It is what is normative and praiseworthy.  

Our culture seems to want to say, “What’s a woman, you ask?  A woman is a strong and resilient human being.  What’s a man?  Well, a man is something else, we’ll get back to you on that.  But both are the same.  I mean, they can’t be the same, I guess, because we’re telling you what each is, and because we also are telling some men they can be women and some women they can be men.  But men and women are not different.  Get it?  They’re the same and can do all the same things and are totally identical, but some of the one are really the other.  But don’t don’t you dare tell me what the one or the other is.  Or should do.  Nobody really made us or gets to tell us what we should be or should do.”

It’s incoherent.  Our culture has no robust definition of woman or womanhood.  All it can offer is stories and images of women doing those noble and good things that God calls men to do.  But at the same time it supports some men wanting to pretend to be women (the very thing it says are just like men) and celebrates (albeit totally incomprehensibly) “womanhood.”  

This is folly, guys.  Women and men were made in the image of God, and made wonderfully distinct.  Women are a beautiful creation of God.  When in congruence with God’s pattern, they reflect His glory and beauty and majesty in their gentleness, their motherly strength, their physical gifts, their Godly obedience to their husbands, their discipling of their sons and daughters, their teaching of younger women, their resilient faith in their Father, their deep and fierce love, their faithfulness, and their rich emotional palate.  

Our culture tries to rob women of their God-given identity by telling them to just be like men, because being what God made a woman to be isn’t good enough.  

If you can’t answer how men and women are differently glorious, if you can’t answer the question of why God didn’t just create two men or two women in the Garden of Eden, then you’ll inevitably tell one to just be more like the other.  

This isn’t pro-woman.  It’s anti-woman.  It’s saying, “‘Woman ‘ isn’t good enough for us.  Instead, let’s just have ‘physically smaller man with long hair.’

“And, um, we’ll give it boots and a rope thingy.”

Redemptive Manhood


Because it imitates the Lord, Godly manhood is inherently redemptive.   It reclaims.  It protects.  It builds.  It spends itself and risks itself on others.

It will, if you don’t mind my saying so, carry a cross. 

A Godly man will use himself for the good of others.  A fleshly man will use others for the good of himself.

And so, and this is key, Godly manhood is costly to the man himself.  Because he is purchasing something.  Procuring something.  Redeeming something.

When it comes to fatherhood, for instance, a man shouldn’t expect to reap the later rewards of fatherhood if it isn’t costing him anything when the kids are young.  A smarter man than me (Doug Wilson) said that a dad shouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t able to cash checks from an account he never made any deposits to.  Even if his name is on that account.

When it comes to marriage, a Godly man should expect to exhaust himself in prayer and devotion to his bride.  The Boazes of the world wear themselves out for their beloveds.

For the church, for his family, for the lost, a man who is living out the creative, protective, glorious work God designed men to do will trade some of his comforts, spend from his strengths and his time.  He will think and pray and act on behalf of others.  He will leverage himself for the wellbeing of other people and mortgage his abilities for the glory of God.  He will spend himself.  He’ll gladly pay that redemption price.

And so a Godly man will resemble Christ.  

He said, ‘Who are you?’  And she answered, ‘I am Ruth, your servant.  Spread your wings over your servant, for you are a redeemer.’  And he said, ‘May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter.  You have made this last kindness greater than the first in that you have not gone after young men, whether poor or rich.  And now, my daughter, do not fear.  I will do for you all that you ask, for all my fellow townsmen know that you are a worthy woman.  And now it is true that I am a redeemer.  Yet there is a redeemer nearer than I.  Remain tonight, and in the morning, if he will redeem you, good; let him do it.  But if he is not willing to redeem you, then, as the Lord lives, I will redeem you. Lie down until the morning.’

From Ruth 3

What an Idea is Less Important Than

  
Ideas and structures are important only insofar as they glorify God and (especially in the case of religious ideas and structures) save the souls of men.  If we ever love the idea more than we love God or man, then we’ve lent our hearts to a very seductive idol with a very long historical shadow:  The idol of hollowed out religiosity.  Even if it goes by a non-religious name (think “Communism”), even if it looks almost like a mirror image of Godly faithfulness, if the engine of an idea, movement, or philosophy isn’t love of God and love for mankind then it is, at its core, a flimsy God-substitute, and its faithful are indeed kneeling in its temple.  

The Israelite King Jereboam still wanted religion, but not so much (anymore) the Creator, and so he set up golden idols in cities far from Solomon’s temple.  I’m sure they were beautiful and visually striking and emotionally resonant and, of course, as dead as two bags of rocks.  And the Pharisees in Jesus’ day loved the Law (the Old Testament, or at the very least the first section of it) because they loved the praise (and jealousy, I believe) of men as they recited it and taught its phrasing and appeared to obey it better than the masses.  

It is possible, I know from experience, to have a form of religion while not tasting of the power of God.  It is possible to love a good idea, even the best of ideas, and be totally in the dark, spiritually.  And praise be to Jesus that it is also possible to be forgiven of it.

If we ever love a church structure more than we love the glory of God instead of maintaining a church structure because we love the glory of God, we’re turning a good thing into an idol.  And if we ever love our theology more than we love the saints or the lost instead of treasuring theology because we love the saints and the lost, we’re worshiping backwards and at the wrong altar.   

The old Christian confession of Westminster says that the chief end of man is to worship God and enjoy Him forever.  I concur with it, there.  

And mistaking the means for the end is always a costly proposition.  

60 Seconds On Men and Women

  
You honor neither women nor their Maker by treating them as if they are identical to men.  Men and women are both made in the image of God, both reflect His beauty and glory, and (if believers in Jesus) are both co-heirs of eternal life.  

But they are not identical.  

A husband is called to honor his wife as the weaker vessel.  He is called to love her as her head as Christ loved the church, for whom He is head.  He is to manage the household of which she is a (vital) part.

He is called to these things.  

And he will not do them, will not even understand them, if he has been deceived into thinking his wife is exactly the same as he is, and that she is called to exactly the same purposes.  

I think the cultural confusion and deceit on what men and women are has spun out in a few different ways.  For instance, a man who knows (and loves) the truth about what he is and should be and what a woman is and should be is a man more likely to hold the door for a woman and a man more likely to lead his wife and daughters in prayer.  But a man who does not know (or hates) those truths is a man who has made himself primed and ready to watch strange women be debased on the  internet or to passively observe the disintegration of his marriage.  “Women are the same as men, remember?” Satan can whisper.  “No need to protect them and no need to step up to the plate at home.”  

Gender lies are not the only cause of the rampant pornography use in American men or of American divorce (obviously), but I think that they are, for many, a cause.  Our culture should call men to be men, hold them accountable to it, and then hold them in honor when they behave as men should.  But at the moment it seems to have a problem at that very first level:  It doesn’t really know (or want to admit) what men are to be.  

Men and women are not identical.  It does not honor a porcelain vase to call it a dining room table and then take a handsaw to it.  

Men and women are designed, and their designs reflect the good purposes of a great God.  

Here’s hoping (and praying) our culture recovers a sense of wonder at just how good.  

Equal, Good, and Different

  
The fact that a spoon and a fork are equal in value does not mean that they are identical.  A laptop and a desktop may be equal in value but not identical.  Two different objects can be worth the same but not made for the same purposes.  

And such is the case with men and women. 

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’ Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

From Genesis 2

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. 

 From Ephesians 5

We are made.  And interwoven with all our individualities and dreams and beautiful complexities are our genders.  God made humans male and female, and in doing so, and in authoring marriage and childbearing, He did something wonderful, something that reflects His glory.  

He made man, and he was of great value to Him.  He made woman, and she was of equal value to Him.  Both precious.  But they were not identical.  Their purposes and places were not the same.  And if they tried to make them so, they would damage each other and mar the purposes of their Creator.  

Men and women are both made in the amazing image of God.  But men should not bear children and women should not fight wars.  Men should not have sex with men and women should not have sex with women.  Rebelling against the Creator always ends badly for the rebel. I can vouch for it myself, from every time I sin in anger or pride.  God is good, and to go against Him is to go against what is true and worthwhile and beautiful.  

Men and women are equal but not interchangeable.  

We have trouble seeing that in America in 2016, but that’s an us problem.  

Our design is beautiful; it’s our hearts that have malfunctioned.