The reason I started this brief series is because I have begun to wrestle with what and how I will teach my son about God designed masculinity. I have a framework for what I believe it means to be a man, but as I think about sharing that with my son, I am struggling with the source of this framework. To what foundation am I appealing when I say God created men to be warriors?
Because scripture does not define biblical masculinity (or femininity), we will often come back to anthropology and/or culture. We appeal to anthropology when we point out that men tend to be stronger, more muscular, than women, so we suggest that God created men to be warriors. I admit I believe a part of who God created me to be as a man is a warrior. I believe it is my responsibility to fight for my family. I believe it is my responsibility to fight against injustice. I believe it is my responsibility to fight for the hearts of those around me. I fight in prayer. I fight by standing up for others. I fight by teaching and writing what I believe God has to say to the world. I believe this to be a true element of masculinity, but I have to be honest that Scripture does not explicitly teach this. And for that reason, I need to be careful when I push my belief that this is a part of God’s design for men.
We also appeal to culture when defining masculinity, but this can be dodgy. In fact, this is where I think we struggle most in our attempts to recapture an understanding of God designed masculinity. We lean too heavily on culture. I recently reviewed a book that addressed why men are leaving the church, and one of my biggest critiques was its adoption of masculine stereotypes. The author bought into the stereotype of the macho “I don’t need anyone” man, when he defined relationships as a feminine attribute. The need for relationship is not a feminine attribute. It is a human attribute. After all, God created Eve because “It is not good for man (Adam) to be alone.” Culture has a tendency to twist God’s design, so we need to be wise any time we appeal to culture.
Anthropology and culture can be helpful, but they can also be dangerous. And when we appeal to them, we need to be honest and not label our opinions as Biblical. Knowing that Scripture doesn’t define masculinity means we will lean on anthropology and culture, but we must be very careful. How do you think we can keep ourselves from being overly influenced by culture and anthropology? Are there some basic guidelines we could use?