From time to time, I want to feature questions I have been asked by men. This question deals with our view of masculinity. Here it is:
“Our culture seems to pose two extreme views of masculinity: either that you need to be a UFC, gun-slinging, lion tamer, or, the other extreme, that there are no psychological or sociological differences between men and women. How does a Christian respond to this and not fall into either trap and still uphold biblical masculinity?”
This is an accurate assessment of masculinity in our culture, but I think there are even more views people hold to. For example, have you noticed the number of television shows that portray men as lazy and ignorant? Pay attention to the number of movies where the female character is becoming the hero because the men just aren’t good enough. Also, toxic masculinity has produced an environment where many view most men as perverts and abusers.
How does a Christian respond to these views and still uphold biblical masculinity?
Know what biblical masculinity is
I don’t think most of us have a clear, biblical view of masculinity. Listen to some of the conversations we have on this topic and pause to ask yourself the question – does this reflect what the Bible says or is this a cultural view (even a cultural Christian view)?
The Bible has much to say about gender. Thankfully, we have Bible verses that give us a picture of gender before sin entered the human condition. In Genesis, we can see that gender is part of God’s “very good” Creation. There is value and purpose in being made male and female as image-bearers of God – otherwise the Bible would just say He made us “people kind.”
Acknowledge that none of the cultural views are true masculinity
Are there men who love to tame lions and watch sports? Absolutely. But that is not true masculinity – it is merely an expression of their personality. Are there men who are lazy and ignorant?
Absolutely. But that is also not true masculinity. Do real men have long beards or bald heads (or both)? Do they wear plaid shirts or a suit and tie?
This is the problem. We are defining masculinity by what a particular group of men happens to be like. Imagine trying to identify all women by whether they like to cook, decorate, or do crafts. We would rightfully be criticized for a narrow view of what it means to be a woman. So why do we impose those definitions on all men?
Be honest about our failures. Celebrate the success stories.
Don’t get defensive when people talk about masculinity. We need to be honest and admit many men express masculinity in harmful ways. But we also need to turn the conversation around
and ask others the question – “what is a healthy view of masculinity?” When we lack a healthy vision for masculinity in our culture, we have no standard for men to aspire to. Turn the conversation into a positive and celebrate the good men around you.
- We have great workshops you can bring to your community where men are taught God’s vision for being a man.