What does it mean to be a man?

Image from Ron Swanson Says… check out their stuff.

I was inspired to write this after reading a little piece by Ben Howard on manhood titled “Ron Swanson is a Man“. I love the Ron Swanson character from Parks and Recreation.  I have for a long time been asking this question so I thought I’d answer: what does it mean to be a man?

Since I’m one year away from graduation and dating the girl of my dreams, it seems a good time to learn what it means to grow up. But there’s a lot more to manhood than that. In this post, I want to share my thoughts about both what it means to grow into manhood, and what responsibilities come with my sex.

Is a real man like Ron Swanson? Arnold Schwarzenegger? …Justin Bieber? I say none of the above. Let me explain…

Contrasting manhood with boyhood

Lesson 1 in being a man is “Grow up”!

“When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13:11

Image courtesy of kwanie on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Piggybacking off of Raising a Modern Day Knight, the four things that change from childhood to manhood are that a man:

  • rejects passivity (proactivity)
  • accepts responsibility
  • leads courageously (leadership)
  • expects the greater reward (investment)

These four principles – proactivity, responsibility, leadership, and investment – aren’t all that is good in a man, nor are they unique to men, but they distinguish man from boy. A child complains until he’s fed; a man goes out and makes a living (1 Timothy 4:8). A child tries to blame; a man recognizes that he can always improve (Proverbs 19:20). A child waits to be told right from wrong; a man leads others on the path. A child wants to be satisfied now; a man can delay gratification (Isaiah 40:31).

A real man waits for the right time, and when his time has come, he rises to the occasion.

Contrasting manhood with womanhood

Lesson 2 in being a man is “with great power comes great responsibility!”

“You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life…” – 1 Peter 3:7

Image courtesy of April Killingsworth on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Let’s face it: men and women are different. As obvious as this should be just in biological terms, our “enlightened” society doesn’t really seem to reflect this anymore. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of our cultural reaction to the male-female stereotyping of previous generations is warranted. That’s why it’s important to reason very carefully about gender roles from what we know to be different.

Men and women are of the same spirit and have the same inheritance of life (Galatians 3:28, Mark 12:251 Peter 3:7), but have different physical strength (1 Peter 3:7), different mental patterns (Women are better multitaskers; men are more focused), and different emotional structure. And of course, there are different roles when it comes to making babies. Naturally, the Bible recognized different social roles for men and women (Titus 2, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11, Ephesians 5).

Men are stronger, more focused, and more emotionally detached than women. This is just due to biology, and it just makes sense morally that the way God created you should effect who you are. A man who accepts the physicality given to him by God will:

  • Gird himself in strength – training physically, emotionally, and intellectually
  • Focus and lead others as he follows the Lord
  • Respond with even temper and be the first to take responsibility

People who don’t think women should work need to read about the ideal Proverbs 31 woman again (Prov 31:16,24). Sorry; side-track. I just think men in western culture often times define themselves and their manhood by their careers, and it’s not supposed to be that simple. Manhood is so much deeper than just: “I man. I work.” It’s about strength, focus, and leadership.

But hold your horses…

It’s more important to be a child of God than it is to be a man in America.

Hear that? Who inherits the kingdom of heaven? NOT MEN it turns out! Remember? “…unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 18:3)

So don’t try to be a man like Ron Swanson; don’t even try to be a great man like William Wilberforce. Be the kind of man Jesus was.

He's in the Whisper

1 Kings 19: (NASB)

11So He said, “Go forth and stand on the mountain before the LORD ” And behold, the LORD was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

12After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound [whisper] of a gentle blowing.

13When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

Where are you?

Are you in a place were you could hear God if he came in a whisper? Or will he have to bring an earthquake into your life to get your attention? Maybe if you’re waiting for the booming voice of God, you should start listening for a gentle blowing.

I know I haven’t reached that place. Lord Jesus, give me the power to listen, not just talk.

Something to think about.

Christian Perversion

Sometimes, I can get more truth from atheist Richard Dawkins than from my christian brothers. Recently, a specific “christian” group was brought to my attention.

The Lie: SoJourners

This “christian” group tries to tackling tough political issues like Gay Rights, War, or Social Inequality. As usual, I decided to do a little research, and found this simple question:

What is your position on gay marriage and same-sex relationships in general? They began all their answers by quoting scripture. Good. I thought this was a simple enough to answer straight from Paul. Here’s a great verse to answer this question:

“…Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

Homosexuality is a straightforward issue for me. But SoJourners didn’t choose my verse. Hummm… well, they at least got the same book.

“As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'”–1 Corinthians 12:20-21

Somehow, this was the best verse to talk about homosexuality. (Maybe I missed it – where does 1 Cor 12 mention gays?) Based on this strong scriptural evidence (this is the only verse he quotes), Jim Willis, the head of SoJourners, concludes we should:

  • “Pass anti-hate-crime legislation that prosecutes attacks on gays and lesbians
  • “Ensure that long-term gay and lesbian partnerships are afforded legitimate legal protections…”

You have got to be kidding me! Is it just me, or is skipping 1 Cor 6 (which talks about homosexuality) and instead referencing 1 Cor 12 (which talks about spiritual gifts) a Scriptural misinterpretation? No… it’s a perversion!

This is, at worse, awful hermeneutics; and, at best, a complete perversion. This is not the only time they put words in God’s mouth. Go read the entire FAQ if you are still in doubt.

Reverend Jim Willis

Willis is the GEO of SoJourners. He’s “a bestselling author, public theologian, speaker, and international commentator on ethics and public life.” But the best way to paint his ministry is by where he lives – Washington D.C. He may be a Christian, and may even have a relationship with Jesus Christ, but he is so soaked by Washington that the Truth of Scriptures apparently has little meaning for him.

I hope you are now informed enough to be ware. He is a wolf is sheep’s clothing. His view of Scriptures? It’s basically just like the Sunday funnies: cut it to pieces so you can hang it on your wall.

The Christian Response

Willis is obviously wrong. But we should not treat him like an unbeliever. He isn’t the enemy. We should love him like a brother. An immoral enemy, you should love on and try to save (Matthew 5:44); a immoral brother, you should abandon and even excommunicate (Romans 16:17). Yes, you heard that right. We shouldn’t even associate with him.

This is why I found this blog from Donald Miller completely on the wrong track. Miller takes the other side of the coin: that Glen Beck was being un-Christian by attacking his friend, Jim Willis. His posted on Pastor Wallis’ response; to “turn the other cheek.” He is wrong. We should love our enemies when they wrong us, but that is not the right response to a believer who does not accept the truth (2 John 1:10).

You would literally be better to spend your time listening to Richard Dawkin’s “The God Delusion” than supporting the ministry of Jim Willis. I know this is counter-intuitive. If this stuff was natural, we wouldn’t need Jesus. So, get used to it.

Scripture: Remove the Evil!

Excommunication is mentioned several times, but let me just quote this one passage to remove any doubt that this is the Biblical response:

1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NASB)

9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;

10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.

11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?

13But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.