(I will preface this by saying that as a man, I do not experience or understand all the ins and outs of what it means to be a biblical woman. I am writing this specifically to males, and to be helpful to those who interact with and are the parents of males. I hope it will be helpful in understanding what God, as a loving heavenly father, expects of His sons)“And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.” (Luke 1:80)
John the Baptist was called, by Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived (Matthew 11:9-11). What makes him so great? To begin with he avoided adolescence. John didn’t waste time. He went out into the wilderness, led by the Holy Spirit to be ready for his calling: to preach repentance and baptism.Does this sound counter-cultural? That’s because our culture is out of whack. Traditionally there was a period of 5 events, often occurring in quick succession, which indicated the transition from boy to man:: (1)Leave parents home, (2)Finish training, (3)Start a career, (4)Meet a woman and make her your wife, (5)Have children.
Adolescence Is Just a Demographic
Somewhere through history this went awry. We have created this thing called adolescence, which has largely come from the psychology of marketing… for guys its basically boys who can shave… outside is older but inside is immature. Modern culture will tell you that adolescence is an unavoidable part of learning and growing; finding your own way in the world. The truth is, if the bible is to be believed, adolescence is something we should be striving to avoid. Unfortunately nowadays, guys don’t know when they have grown up and become a man; the definition of manhood is gone. Today we call this indefinite state Peter Pan syndrome. The foundations of this male state were laid down as early as 1920.
Consumer PR and marketing, influenced almost directly from Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays (who believed that people could be compelled to buy and act based exclusively on their emotions rather than on their intellect) constructed a demographic from late teens to early 30s in order to sell certain products. Bernays not only believed in public manipulation fro product sales, he also believed that people were not to be trusted in a democracy and so became involved in politics to ensure that the leaders and policies that he espoused would not only be in play but subversively enforced. The direct action of he and others are one of the reasons we have generations of males who are simple consumers instead of instigators and creators, like our Father God (for more information, see The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis).
Its All About Me
Today, we have this idea that masculinity is about putting off inevitable responsibility, often leaving the weight of real responsibility to others (smart and practical women, be they mothers, girlfriends or wives). If you think about it, it’s childish. Today we are told that you are a man not because of what you produce but what you consume (think about beer ads, or car ads, or the advertising for games like COD). The sad result is that most males who buy into this spend money on the games, take years to get through their education, get into massive amounts of debt by buying junk they don’t need and have no idea what it actually means to be a man. It also results in males who are only interested in themselves, and what they can get from people, how people have hurt or wronged them and how they need a soft place to land because of their needs. Most guys today end up consuming TV, pornography, music, computer games, sport, cars, toys, alcohol, drugs, women, all of which never really get to the heart of the problem. All of these things are designed and specifically marketed to appeal emotionally to the desires of men, not the logical practical side of men, but the irrational emotional side (those are not my words but the words of Freud and Bernays).
One of the biggest problems with this perception of manhood is that while guys are primarily to blame for their childishness and lack of real manhood, it is enabled by mothers, girlfriends and wives. I can think of one 35 year old guy who blew his entire inheritance on gaming and on himself and his needs, and ended up moving in with his mum, who has a disability. That’s not just upside-down, but really wrong. He should be looking after her, not the other way round. To quote someone else on the subject: ”the last thing a woman is looking for is a man with a well employed mother”.
Boys Will Be Boys, Men Won’t
The other problem is the male’s peers. They hang out with guys who dare them to do stupid things, who enjoy dangerous activities and get themselves into compromising situations because according to them “that’s what a real man does”. All the while people get hurt because they were taking part in some initiation or some “man” activity. I see it at school with primary kids. Nothing has changed in mentality except for years and the ability to grow facial hair. The bible says that even good intentions can be ruined by bad company (1 Corinthians 15:33).
Of course, its not just bad company keeping males in perpetual childhood, the evangelical church isn’t helping either. You get two different types of guy in the church. The first group you could call Cinderellas: they run from the ball instead of getting in the game. These cowards can’t commit to anything: a theology, a ministry, a career, a conversation or really initiate anything in the church. Then there are the guys who complain about every aspect of the church, from calling the church money-grabbing hypocrites to complaining about minutia of the way a part of the service is carried out. No matter how things are done or who is involved, they will find something to blog and complain about. Adam started the trend when he blamed Eve for his own sin (Genesis 3:12) and men have been doing it ever since instead of taking responsibility on themselves for not only their actions but others too.
Both of these groups have one thing in common, they don’t want to fail. If they don’t try then they won’t fail and they will continue to feel that they have valid complaints and lose the whole selfish aspect of their existence. They don’t know anything else except consuming so initiating and being the solution is scary to them. The irony is that by not engaging, they fail already.
Sometimes the least loving thing you can do for a guy is give him what he wants. If he can’t pay his rent, offering for him to move in with you is not the answer (especially if you are his girlfriend). Driving him around because he can’t maintain his car will not help him get it sorted out.
Being a Man Is Biblical and Your Responsibility“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)
In Paul’s day, there was an assumed understanding about what a child was and what a man was. In this verse, Paul uses it to explain a spiritual point. Nowadays, he would find it very hard to explain using such an analogy because manhood is some sort of nebulous concept for those who wake up in it. Today it is seen, not as something to be strived for, but a consequence, often seen as negative.
The Bible talks about a man being one who is defined by his life, his legacy and his fruit. He is defined by what he gives, the environment he creates and sustains and the people he is a blessing to.
Let’s look again at John the baptist. He definitely wasn't a coward. John publicly called out Herod, not only for marrying his brother’s wife but also all the other evil things he had done, and later suffered the consequences for his mission of calling people to repentance and baptism (Luke 3:19). He also didn't call meetings and encourage people to rise up, he did something about the problem by himself, completely by himself, because he knew it’s the right thing to do. Its much harder to be part of the solution than to complain about someone already doing something.“For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)
Here is our definition of what a man is biblically, in a nutshell. A biblical man reflects Jesus Christ in all the attributes He demonstrated in His life and work. Jesus is how we know God (John 14:5-14). As men, we are to follow in the example of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, because lets face it we can’t do anything like that on our own. This should affect how we view what dominates our time. Am I showing forth the glory of God as I collect gear, earn steam badges, buy that third car with the flames down the side and chrome everything?
God is Creative & So Are His Children
As men, we are to be creators and cultivators just like our Father. If you want your own business, you have to create it and cultivate it. If you see the need for a ministry, you create it and cultivate it. You create a family legacy by cultivating it, beginning way before you ever have a hope of getting married. If you want a marriage you initiate and once you are married you cultivate that woman so that she becomes better, more beautiful, so that she blossoms. You create a child, you cultivate that child so that he or she becomes a creator too just like his or her father. A man is a creator and cultivator, a producer not a consumer. Not only that but we are the sons of God, so we also bear His name and His inheritance. We are to bring the greatest treasure we have to all situations: life. Ultimately we bring Jesus to all situations and people.
John the Baptist doesn't waste his teenage years and his 20s on immediate gratification that quickly disappears. John is filled with the Holy Spirit, he humbly prepares the way for Jesus. John is a man who makes it his life’s work to introduce others to Jesus. He is a giver and not a taker, a producer and not a consumer. Ultimately he was looking for the path that would bring the greatest glory to God, and just like Jesus would do later, took that path even though he took it alone.
How on earth can we ever hope to do this? Even if you know Jesus, the answer is in the ministry of John. We have to repent and be baptised, which is reinforced as one of the final things Jesus calls His disciples to preach (Luke 24:45-48). We repent to Jesus by both admitting that we cannot be good but that the death burial and resurrection of Jesus will remove our sin and its penalty (hell), and then actively putting to death those things in our lives that are the old man to live a new life with the new heart and new desires that He gives us by the power of the Holy Spirit. This repentance is a lifelong thing, as the Spirit prompts and shows us different areas of our lives that need to be repented of. It is only through this continual repentance that we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be able to take responsibility, not just for ourselves as men, but for others we encounter who are in need. There is no need for a bewildering period of time to find yourself. When you know who you are in Christ (a son of a creative Father who sacrificially loves his children), it informs and empowers you to be the man God has called you to be.
- Find one good friend who will be willing to hold you accountable. Try to not only discuss together what a consumer is and how not to be one, but to call each other out on things you see that need to change.
- For guys who live at home, “volunteer”…initiating things is important practice. Find out what your parents need doing and do it.
- Commit to reading Gods word by yourself…start with 5 minutes a day and build on it. If you already do that, then start memorising a verse, two verses and slowly work your way up to a chapter. It will serve you well in the long run.
- Write out what you are looking for in a spouse so you steer clear of uncommitted relationships.