I’ve been thinking some lately about various issues. One of them has been the topic of masculinity today. What does it mean today for me or any other male to be a man? This has been on my mind lately with joining a Y and working out and with seeing a remark on the Boy Scouts and homosexuality.
But before I can get to that issue, I find it important to discuss Christ first who is the archetype for what a man is to be. It is the Christian teaching that Jesus is the Son and not the Daughter. There are some passages where we can make a “sex-friendly” translation and have children of God instead of sons of God and “Blessed is the one” instead of “blessed is the man” and we will not lose out.
I think though that there are specific reasons that the incarnate God took on masculinity.
To begin with, systems have been generally patriarchal in many cases and I don’t think this is an accident. I do believe that men were meant to be the leaders. I do not consider this sexist or an insult to women. I just think that men have generally had the qualities that better prepare them for leadership.
Consider that even our macho attitude might have some ideas right. Now when I’m at the gym, I’m hardly a muscular guy. Lifting 20 pound weights is enough for me. Yet even if our macho attitude says your masculinity is determined by how much you can bench press, could there be a grain of truth in the error?
Could it be that instead, the focusing on strength in the man does point out that a man is supposed to be strong? Not necessarily in the body, but in the soul. He is to be a rock that the world can depend on. He is to be a force for good that is to change the world. He is to stand up and lead his family before God.
I believe that this could be the heart of the truth and we deeply damage manhood today when we make it purely physical. You could be able to in the Iron Man competition and not be truly masculine. We do the same with women when we judge their femininity based on their figure. (Could it be their figure actually represents life?)
I find it interesting when I think about this that God when he came down actually could we say have some control over the body he’d have, but yet, Jesus is a non-descript person in appearance, at least according to Isaiah 53. There’s nothing in his appearance that screams that he is the king of the Jews. Yet Jesus is the manliest man of all time.
Jesus then came to be our king. He is our leader. He is the one we are to bow down to and this fits with our patriarchal roles. I do not believe this is an accident. I believe it is simply nature. I believe this is also why God chooses for us to address him as Father. While I believe masculinity and femininity both reside in God, the leadership and ruling language is fitting of the masculine side.
However, there is also the role of salvation. When does a lady give birth? When she has life put into her. That life doesn’t come into her from herself though or even from another lady. She has to get it from a man. It is only when a man sends his life into the woman that new life is capable of being born.
In Scripture, we are seen as the bride of Christ. What does that mean? It means Christ comes to us and he plants his life into us. We cannot bring about the physical life in ourselves. We cannot do so with the spiritual either. It is only with Jesus as the Son that we have this symbolism taking place.
Now some might say men have an unfair advantage in that we have a role model for Christ while there isn’t one for femininity. I would say there could be though. It could be the ones that Christ loved the most. Look at the way the church is described. That is the way a wife is to be. I do not mean the negative actions in Scripture though, but Christ describing why he loves her and what he will do for her and what she is to do for him. In fact, it could be said in thinking about it that the epistles teach us all of this.
Thus, before discussing masculinity, I have to conclude, Christ is the Son of God. It is for a purpose. If some wish to see me as sexist, let them. I instead will rest realizing that I am doing what I can to honor both masculinity and femininity.