I stated in my last post that I believe we have generally glossed over God’s unique design of masculinity. And as a result, boys are not being taught to be men. There is a lack of the one-on-one teaching, mentoring and initiation necessary for a boy to experience a healthy transition from boyhood to manhood. So, we see the rise of the man-child, boys with beards, or whatever other trendy term you want to use for this frustrating phenomenon. This is why some have begun to lead a charge toward “biblical masculinity.”
But here is the problem I have been having with the idea of “Biblical masculinity.” I can’t find a definition of masculinity (or femininity for that matter) in scripture. As far as I know, there are no passages intended to address God’s design for masculinity or femininity, so we must be careful to avoid reading our personal opinions into the text when we use Scripture for this purpose. Frankly, much of the Scripture we use to discuss Biblical masculinity requires us to read into the text.
For example, I think work is a part of God’s design for masculinity. We find identity in work and have a natural motivation to be productive. We tend to equate productivity with significance. But it is difficult for me to make this case for this from Scripture. I can point to the fact that God put Adam in the garden to work it, but did God put Adam (men) or humanity (men and women) in the garden for this purpose? I am making an assumption that work is tied more closely to the identity of Adam than Eve. I can point to the curse. Work was central to Adam’s curse and not Eve’s, but the central point of Genesis 2:15 and 3:17-19 is not the definition of masculinity. I can make a pretty good Biblical argument for work as a part of the masculine identity, but I have to be honest that the text is not 100% clear. Since this was not the original intent of these passages, we must tread very lightly when using them in this context.
Often when we discuss biblical masculinity we point to Godly biblical men and their character traits. We teach that men are warriors because David was a warrior. We teach that men are leaders because Moses was a leader. But you have to admit that this is poor logic. That’s like saying Jesus wore sandals, so God designed men to wear Birkenstocks.
Here is an excerpt from Skye Jethani’s addressing this approach…
Was it “masculine” when Adam blamed his wife for his failure? Was it “masculine” for Abram to leave his father’s home to be his own man? How about when he offered his wife (twice) to Pharaoh to protect himself? Was it “masculine” when Abram went to battle to save his nephew? How about when he impregnated his wife’s servant? Was it a mistake for God to bless Jacob, “a quiet man who dwelt in tents,” rather than his “masculine” brother Esau, a hunter? Was Deborah “masculine” when she judged and led Israel? And was David “masculine” when he decapitated Goliath? What about when David was writing music or playing his lyre? Was it “masculine” for David to leap and dance before the Lord and cause a woman to laugh at him? Was David’s poetry “masculine,” or just his military conquests? Is Nehemiah, likely a eunuch, a model of biblical masculinity? Was Jesus “masculine” when he refused to defend himself, his honor, or his friends before false accusations? Was Jesus “masculine” when he told Peter to put away his sword? Was Jesus “masculine” when he stripped naked and washed his followers’ feet? Was Jesus “masculine” when he embraced children and upheld them as examples of greatness in his kingdom? Was Jesus “masculine” when he cried over the sight of Jerusalem and desired to gather its people like a hen gathers her chicks?
(You can read Jethani’s whole post here.)
God creates men and women uniquely. There is a God designed masculinity and femininity. But when we use Scripture to make our case, we must be careful that we do not read our own opinions into the text.