Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Voice of the Masculine

William Struthers’ book Wired for Intimacy made quite an impact when it was released in 2009. Struthers went deep into the human brain to show that God has hard-wired us for intimacy and relationships, and to show that pornography has disrupted the brain’s circuitry in dark and dangerous ways. He spoke about other matters as well, and one that still remains important to me is his discussion of the unique importance of the masculine voice. He distinguishes between the masculine and the feminine voice and insists that both play crucial and unique functions in relationships.

The voice of the masculine speaks to affirm. All children are carried and primarily nourished by the mother. Daughters and sons first know their mother as she carries them, delivers them into the world and then is their primary source of nourishment. In many ways the child moves from becoming an extension of the mother to their own person. All children, both boys and girls, develop their own sense of identity as they separate from their mother. For boys, this process is fairly straightforward. What makes them different from their mothers is fairly easy to see: their bodies.

Both young boys and young girls need to hear from both the feminine and the masculine voice. These voices can be spoken by both mothers and fathers. A father is not incapable of nurturing because he is a man, neither is a mother incapable of affirming because she is a woman. But the masculine voice alone speaking both affirmation and nurture is not enough. The feminine voice speaking both nurture and affirmation is not enough.

Does this mean that a child who grows up in a house where one of their parents is not present is doomed to a life of truncated emotional, psychological and spiritual development? Not if there is a male presence other than the father that is able to come in and act as a surrogate for those children. Boys and girls both need a masculine voice in their life that encourages, affirms, challenges, enables and stretches them. In an ideal set of circumstances both mother and father are present in the raising of a child. Both the masculine and the feminine speak to nurture, protect and grow, albeit in different ways.
There is something special about the affirming voice of the masculine father. This voice of affirmation is not just needed for young men, but also for young women. While it may be true that “only a father can tell a boy when he is a man” (and worthy to stand among his peers), it is also true that the father’s affirmation of a daughter’s worth speaks into her being in a way that others do not. … The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a man lets him know that he is worthy to stand in the company of his peers; he is loved because of who he is. The masculine voice of affirmation spoken to a woman lets her know that she is loved because of who she is and that she is worthy of pursuit.

When a boy realizes that he is other than his mother (his body is different and she acknowledges that he is different), who is it that tells him who he is, what he is to do, what he will become? His father. The father, the masculine voice, acts to inform, equip, instruct and model. In the absence of this voice, which at its best is loving, trustworthy and affirming, a boy is forced to look for whatever is available to discover who he is. He may look to his mother for instruction, and she rightly has much to say on the matter, her guidance on how a man should relate comes from a female perspective. He may look to another male figure in his life; a grandfather, uncle, elder brother or the media.


The masculine voice is received as a voice that speaks unchanging truth. Just as we think of the Word of God being truth that is unchanging, so a man’s words speak to what he knows to be true. The Promise Keepers movement of the 1990s hit this nail on the head. When a man makes a promise, he is honor bound to keep it because his word is who he is. The degree to which a man keeps his word is the measure of his integrity and honor. When the masculine voice affirms, it says, “It is good.” It doesn’t say, “It is okay now, but it might not be later.” The affirming nature of God is evidenced in the first chapter of Genesis after the many acts of creation. God “saw that it was good.”



from Tim Challies serves as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, edits Discerning Reader, is a co-founder of Cruciform Press, author of The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment, Sexual Detox and The Next Story and active blogger. 





Friday, March 27, 2015

What is the Meaning and Purpose of Manhood?

1. It’s foolish to ignore this issue
The work of every generation of Christians is to examine significant cultural issues through the lens of the worldview of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our job is to bring the sanity that can only be found in Scripture. The manhood conversation really does need an infusion of biblical wisdom.

2. God created men and women to be different
To the Bible believer, this may seem obvious. But our culture no longer assumes that it’s true. Amid the raging societal debate about gender and sexual identity, it’s not hard to see that many young men lack the strong, formative male influences in their lives that previous generations enjoyed. Gender does matter. Manhood and womanhood matter because the Creator decided that they should matter. By design, the self-image God planted in all human beings has a male and a female expression.

3. It is a rejection of God’s plan for a man to reject his identity as a man
The blurring of gender and role distinctions is but another place where modern culture has walked away from the Creator’s design. If we as a culture have moved away from a street-level belief in the existence of God, is it really surprising that we would be less committed to his design for humanity? Whether he is aware of it or not, it is an act of worship for a man to cultivate and celebrate his manhood. In so doing, he is bowing his knee to the wise choice of his Creator.

4. Christian culture machoism is not the solution
Google “Tattooed Jesus,” and you’ll see how some Christians have chosen to respond to a culture that appears to have manhood under siege. Giving young men a muscle-bound, tattoo-laden Jesus to worship distorts both the nature of Jesus and the nature of manhood. It takes a limited, physical definition of a “real” man and treats the Messiah as its finest embodiment. This tends to introduce another form of cultural confusion to the rising generation of Christian young men.

5. The Bible doesn’t say much about what makes a man a man
Perhaps many of us wish we could open the Book of Man chapter 1, verse 1 and begin reading about what really makes a man a man. But the Bible doesn’t say much about this. The Bible clearly distinguishes men from women. It has essential things to say about God’s design for the roles of men and women. But when it comes to the fine-grained detail of masculinity and femininity, the Bible is largely silent. This silence is not some tragic omission. No, it is by divine intention. God’s Word really does give us everything we need “for life and godliness.” In this way the Bible is comprehensive, but it is not exhaustive. It is always dangerous to ask it to speak in places where it is silent.

6. Manly skills do not make a man
It’s certainly useful to know how to keep a journal, survive in the wilderness, keep yourself fit, plan a date, cook a steak, and do home repairs. But mastering these arts doesn’t make you a real man in the deepest sense. My father taught me how to polish my shoes, tie a tie, and match a shirt to a suit. He taught me how to shave and impressed upon me the importance of deodorant and cologne. He taught me how to look a person in the eye when you shake hands, how to safely handle and shoot a gun, how to look for a job, and how to keep the job you have. But ultimately, he lived a double life, and he left me unprepared for the weightier responsibilities of manhood.

7. Regarding the deepest issues of the heart, men and women are the same
As I read The Dude’s Guide to Manhood, (a book that would be helpful for all men to read) it hit me that Patrick’s advice applies across the board: The majority of what he rightly says makes a successful man would also make a successful woman. His advice to men is to “be determined, teachable, disciplined, hardworking, content, devoted, connected, properly emotional, forgiven and forgiving.” Isn’t this equally good advice for women? Sin pushes all of us in the direction of being selfish, entitled, lazy, demanding, and lacking in perseverance, patience, and love. These things rob men of their manhood, but they weaken women as well.

8. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer
The quest for true manhood ultimately drives us to the cross of Jesus Christ. We run to Jesus not just as the ultimate example of what a man looks like, but more importantly as our Savior.

Here’s the bottom line: As a man, I don’t just need to be rescued from the pressures, deficiencies, prejudices, and imbalances of the surrounding culture. No, I need to be rescued from my sin—from myself.

It is humbling to note that the greatest danger to any man exist inside of him, not outside of him. Sin makes me willing to be less than the man God designed me to be, and for that, I need forgiveness and transforming grace.

The next generation of men need may need to be challenged to be real men. But more than anything, they need to be introduced to the Savior who alone can make that possible.

By Paul Tripp is President of Paul Tripp Ministries (www.paultrippministries.org), a nonprofit, much sought after conference speaker, Executive Director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas, and has taught at respected institutions worldwide. As an author, Paul has written many books on Christian Living that are read and distributed internationally.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Man Does Not Live by Man Skills Alone

Three anecdotes (and one report) give us an unsettling glimpse at the precarious state of modern manhood:
  • My son came to me carrying the New Testament given to him by a popular men’s ministry. Sandwiched inside the pages were pictures and biographies of “great” Christian men. They were all rough-and-tumble men; Olympic champions and professional athletes. He was in art school. “If this is the definition of a godly man,” he said, “I don’t have a prayer. Where are the artists, the musicians, the authors?”
  • She was attracted to him because there weren’t many interesting young men in her church. He had a good job and seemed to take his faith seriously. She thought they had agreed to get together on Friday night, but when he hadn’t contacted her by Thursday she gave him a call. He said, “No, you misunderstood. I would never go out on a Friday night. That’s my video game night with my friends. Nothing could ever get in the way of that.”
  • A local private university spends a couple days of its freshman orientation week on gender and sexuality clarification issues. These exercises are meant to help recent high school graduates discover who they really are, without the constraints of what they’ve been told they are supposed to be.
The US Census Bureau reports that one of every three children in the United States is being raised without a father present. Millions of boys grow up without a dad to pass down what only dads can.

What do all of these stories have in common? They point to an important cultural conversation taking place both outside and inside the church: Is manhood under siege? What does a real man look like?

What do we do about the growing cultural dynamic of protracted boyhood? Who will teach our boys to be men? In teaching boys to be men, how do we avoid narrow cultural stereotypes? What does the Bible say about gender distinction? What does it teach about a man being a man? How different are men from women?

These are ongoing debates whose conclusions will shape the lives of thousands of boys who are in the process of becoming men. The "manhood" conversation is something no serious Christian can avoid.

Books on Manliness
The contemporary conversation on manliness is unfolding on a myriad of blogs, websites, and books. Perhaps the most popular and influential work on manhood right now is The Art of Manliness, a website founded by the husband-and-wife team of Brett and Kate McKay. (The McKays have also written a book with the same title, which features similar material as the website.)

The Art of Manliness offers the ultimate one-stop shop for tips on staying in shape, dressing sharply, unleashing your inner handyman, and many other street-level skills that every man supposedly needs. Articles feature step-by-step instructions on how to tie your neck tie with a four-in-hand knot, how to shave like your grandpa, how to give a man-hug, to how to teach your kid to ride a bike, and everything in between. But reading this work made me sad, and I’ll tell you why: I learned many of these things (at least the more practical ones) from my dad. He taught me how to polish my shoes. He taught me to look in a man’s eyes when I shook his hand. He taught me the value of hard work. He taught me how to grill a good steak. I wonder if the reason The Art of Manliness is so popular is that fathers just aren’t passing these things down to their sons anymore.

In recent years, evangelical publishing houses have released several books touching on issues and challenges of manliness. Jonathan Catherman’s The Manual to Manhood: How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change a Tire, Impress a Girl, & 97 Other Skills You Need to Survive (B&H) covers similar terrain as The Art of Manliness. Also contributing to the conversation are Darrin Patrick’s The Dude’s Guide to Manhood: Finding True Manliness in a World of Counterfeits (Thomas Nelson), Stephen Mansfield’s Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men: An Utterly Invigorating Guide to Being Your Most Masculine Self (Thomas Nelson), and Eric Mason’s Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole (B&H).

If you ask Darrin Patrick (lead pastor of The Journey church in St. Louis) what makes a man a man, he won’t give you a set of skills. No, he’ll immediately say that it’s all about character. You respect a real man because of who he is, not because of what he’s able to do. Patrick captures the essence of manhood with catchy phrases: “Get It Done.” “Train, Not Just Try.” “Feel Something Without Crying at Everything.” “Find the Right Arena.” Each of these phrases is the doorway to a discussion of crucial areas of character in the life of any serious man. Patrick says in a hundred different ways that it’s what’s inside of a man that counts, no matter how much he knows about tying a four-in-hand knot.

Stephen Mansfield, the bestselling author and biographer, sees manhood in strong, active, heroic terms. His book is built on four maxims: Manly men do manly things. Manly men tend their fields. Manly men build manly men. And manly men live to the glory of God. Mansfield illustrates these maxims with a hero’s gallery of men: Winston Churchill, George Patton, Jedediah Smith, and Theodore Roosevelt, to name a few. Mansfield’s list of character traits is quite helpful, and his biographical sketches were convicting and motivating. But deep down, I kept thinking, “If these guys are examples of ‘real’ man, then I’m cooked! I’ll never measure up.”

Eric Mason is pastor of an urban Philadelphia church in a very tough neighborhood. He is both a firsthand witness to how manhood is broken down and a driven and articulate champion of seeing it rebuilt. On the sidewalks he travels every day, he sees evidence of the destructive power of sin on the lives of boys and young men. The experience has convinced him that only God’s grace is capable of reversing the tide. In many ways, Mason’s advice is not unlike Patrick’s or Mansfield’s. But his book stands out in that it contains a strong “something has been broken in men and only God’s grace can restore it” emphasis on every page. Manhood Restored is not so much a work of cultural analysis, but a pastor’s heartfelt plea to see men in his care living out their manly callings once more.

A Biblical Response
I would love to eavesdrop on a conversation between Brett and Kate McKay, Darrin Patrick, Stephen Mansfield, and Eric Mason and listen to them discuss what makes a man a “real man.” They’re all concerned with the present state of “mandom.” But they approach the topic from very different places and with very different priorities. It would be a charged and informative conversation, to say the least.

Well, I’ll probably never get them all in the same room, but examining their work—examining it alongside Scripture, the ultimate resource on the meaning and purpose of manhood—has left me with the following conclusions:

It’s foolish to ignore this issue. The work of every generation of Christians is to examine significant cultural issues through the lens of the worldview of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our job is to bring the sanity that can only be found in Scripture. The manhood conversation really does need an infusion of biblical wisdom.

God created men and women to be different. To the Bible believer, this may seem obvious. But our culture no longer assumes that it’s true. Amid the raging societal debate about gender and sexual identity, it’s not hard to see that many young men lack the strong, formative male influences in their lives that previous generations enjoyed. Gender does matter. Manhood and womanhood matter because the Creator decided that they should matter. By design, the self-image God planted in all human beings has a male and a female expression.

It is a rejection of God’s plan for a man to reject his identity as a man. The blurring of gender and role distinctions is but another place where modern culture has walked away from the Creator’s design. If we as a culture have moved away from a street-level belief in the existence of God, is it really surprising that we would be less committed to his design for humanity? Whether he is aware of it or not, it is an act of worship for a man to cultivate and celebrate his manhood. In so doing, he is bowing his knee to the wise choice of his Creator.

Christian culture machoism is not the solution. Google “Tattooed Jesus,” and you’ll see how some Christians have chosen to respond to a culture that appears to have manhood under siege. Giving young men a muscle-bound, tattoo-laden Jesus to worship distorts both the nature of Jesus and the nature of manhood. It takes a limited, physical definition of a “real” man and treats the Messiah as its finest embodiment. This tends to introduce another form of cultural confusion to the rising generation of Christian young men.

The Bible doesn’t say much about what makes a man a man. Perhaps many of us wish we could open the Book of Man chapter 1, verse 1 and begin reading about what really makes a man a man. But the Bible doesn’t say much about this. The Bible clearly distinguishes men from women. It has essential things to say about God’s design for the roles of men and women. But when it comes to the fine-grained detail of masculinity and femininity, the Bible is largely silent. This silence is not some tragic omission. No, it is by divine intention. God’s Word really does give us everything we need “for life and godliness.” In this way the Bible is comprehensive, but it is not exhaustive. It is always dangerous to ask it to speak in places where it is silent.

Manly skills do not make a man. It’s certainly useful to know how to keep a journal, survive in the wilderness, keep yourself fit, plan a date, cook a steak, and do home repairs. But mastering these arts doesn’t make you a real man in the deepest sense. My father taught me how to polish my shoes, tie a tie, and match a shirt to a suit. He taught me how to shave and impressed upon me the importance of deodorant and cologne. He taught me how to look a person in the eye when you shake hands, how to safely handle and shoot a gun, how to look for a job, and how to keep the job you have. But ultimately, he lived a double life, and he left me unprepared for the weightier responsibilities of manhood.

Regarding the deepest issues of the heart, men and women are the same. As I read The Dude’s Guide to Manhood, (a book that would be helpful for all men to read) it hit me that Patrick’s advice applies across the board: The majority of what he rightly says makes a successful man would also make a successful woman. His advice to men is to “be determined, teachable, disciplined, hardworking, content, devoted, connected, properly emotional, forgiven and forgiving.” Isn’t this equally good advice for women? Sin pushes all of us in the direction of being selfish, entitled, lazy, demanding, and lacking in perseverance, patience, and love. These things rob men of their manhood, but they weaken women as well.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. The quest for true manhood ultimately drives us to the cross of Jesus Christ. We run to Jesus not just as the ultimate example of what a man looks like, but more importantly as our Savior. Here’s the bottom line: As a man, I don’t just need to be rescued from the pressures, deficiencies, prejudices, and imbalances of the surrounding culture. No, I need to be rescued from my sin—from myself. It is humbling to note that the greatest danger to any man exist inside of him, not outside of him. Sin makes me willing to be less than the man God designed me to be, and for that, I need forgiveness and transforming grace. The next generation of men need may need to be challenged to be real men. But more than anything, they need to be introduced to the Savior who alone can make that possible.

Paul David Tripp is a pastor, author, and president of Paul Tripp Ministries.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Where Do You Find Your Friends: In a Bar or In a Church?

You may be familiar with Stu Weber – the former Green Beret who has authored some great men’s books, particularly Tender Warrior.  He writes these words, “Down deep at the core, every man needs a man friend. Down deep at the core, every man needs brothers to lock arms with, down deep at the core, every man needs a soulmate.”

Stu’s words have always resonated with me. I think everyone of us yearns for friendships. Every one of us deep down longs to be in the fraternity of authentic men. 1 Samuel 18:1 in speaking of the special friendship of David and Jonathan records, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knot to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” They were soul mates as God intended.

Yet few of us ever really experience this kind of relationship. Most of us live busy, shallow, isolated lives, disconnected from one another. In the late nineties, Promise Keepers conducted a survey of over 20,000 in which 95% confessed they had no friends. When we get right down to it, we’ll admit we have lots of acquaintances and few, if any, real friends. Those real friends I have are incredibly special. Those occasions when I’ve locked arms with them when something really important has been at stake have been exhilarating and memorable.


My Dad was largely absent when I grew up in the fifties. I sought the affirmation and encouragement I so desperately needed from buddies and teammates. In 1966 I joined a fraternity in college wanting to belong, to fit in, to have an identity, and, of course, to have fun. John Lennon once penned, "I get by with a little help from my friends." My college fraternity offered good times with the guys but deep down I needed more, something better and deeper. I needed more than a little help from my frat guys in dealing with the hard things of life. I needed authentic, enduring friendships.

We live in a world system bent on discouraging us, confusing us about our identity and squeezing us into its mold with all manner of counterfeits. I remember time when I felt like I was crossing an ocean in a tiny boat with trials and temptations swirling all around and people telling me “you’ll never make it…it’ll never work…you can’t do that...give it up.” But over the decades the Lord has graciously brought godly men into my life like Stan, Mike, Pat, Randy, Rich and Bruce to laugh and to cry with me, to listen to me, to give me straight talk when I most needed it, and to cheer me on when I was really flagging - saying, “Dave, you can do it. Go for it. The Lord is with you and for you.” Where do we go these days to get encouraged? Facebook? Who do we have to help us pursue things that really matter? Dr. Phil? Where can we go to get encouraged, hear truth and experience a genuine community of grace?

I’m reminded of these lyrics from theme song to the popular eighties/nineties TV sit-com Cheers – that took place in a Boston bar.


Sometimes you wanna go
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
And they're always glad you came
You wanna be where you can see
Our troubles are all the same
You wanna be Where Everybody Knows Your Name

"Sometimes you got to go where everybody knows your name and they're always glad you came..."

That sit-com and its catchy song touched a responsive chord in many people because I think they wanted someplace where they could be accepted just as they are. Ironically it expresses the deep longing of the human heart for intimate community – a community that in truth can only be experienced in Christ, not in a counterfeit, fantasy neighbor bar, or in anything else the world can offer.

The neighborhood bar may be a good example of the counterfeits of what Christ has for his church. It's an imitation for sure, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality. But it is an accepting and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. You can tell people secrets, and they usually don't tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has wired us all for relationship. God has given us a longing for belonging. He’s put into our hearts the desire to connect to others, to know and be known, and yet so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers.

I believe Christ wants his men to be unshockable. He desires to have us in friendships where we can come in and say, 'I'm sunk, I'm beat, I've had it, I’ve sinned badly” and then receive truth and grace from the brothers. C. S. Lewis put it this way, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.


All of us want real friends - whether it’s just one other guy, or in a small group where we can feel safe - where we don’t have to pretend to be perfect or have it all together, where we can admit our faults and struggles, and confess and repent of our sins, where we can be encouraged to stay the course in our faith in Christ and encourage others to do the same. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together..." Hebrews 10:23. The only place on earth to find genuine friendships that last forever is not bars, social groups or gyms but among brothers in Christ - who accept me the way I am but who love me too much to leave me that way – who continually remind me of the gospel and exhort me to live in the power of its truth, grace and freedom.

The purpose of friendships is not to allow me to hole up in a comfortable safe place isolated from the world and the tough stuff of daily life. They help prepare me and equip me to take my place out there in the arena of life where the battle is being waged for the eternal destinies of people. I go there not alone, for the Lord goes before me and brings brothers alongside to strengthen and uphold me when I grow weak. In Exodus 17 the men of Israel fought as team against the Amalekites and when Moses got tired of directing the battle his two friends Aaron and Hur held him up. We all need some Aarons and Hurs in our lives. When we live in community with our brothers in Christ we learn to spend our lives for others, to be what Martin Luther King Jr. called “dangerously unselfish”

Proverbs 17:7 says “just as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” When men are pulling at me, pulling on me, pulling for me, the friction of that relationship shapes me morally and spiritually and makes me fit for battle. Life is a battlefield, not a dance floor. It’s a war, not a waltz. Who’s going to stand shoulder to shoulder with me – with you - when the hordes of hell are unleashed against us, our families, our church, our nation? Is there someone alongside us who can see things about us that we don’t – blind spots, dead-ends, dangers. Or are you alone in the arena, vulnerable to getting picked off and cut down by all kinds of things that tempt us and threaten us and others?

Our hope, our confidence, our trust is in the One who graciously rescued us and adopted us and says to us, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” John 15:13-15.

Dave Brown is the Director of the Washington Area Coalition of Men's Ministries (WACMM) and pastors at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg MD

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Complementarianism Is a Means to Joy, Not a Problem to Solve

If you want international media attention, here’s one way to get it: simply quote the Bible on headship and submission in marriage.

That’s what Gavin Peacock just did. Peacock is a pastor in Calgary, Alberta, and a former star soccer player in the UK. (I speak with CBMW at Peacock’s church, Calvary Grace, next week–here are the details.) Following a long career–which included multiple goals for Chelsea against Manchester United (!)–Peacock became a widely-loved soccer commentator for the BBC.

Not long after, he gave it all up. He left Britain and moved to wintry (and beautiful) Canada. Peacock is now a pastor. All of which is just fine with the British media. CBMW covered Peacock’s life in a long-form profile last year, and writer Aaron Hanbury found that Peacock was warmly thought of in his native land.

But on January 6th, Peacock Tweeted about biblical gender roles. He wrote three in particular that set off a firestorm:

“God’s divine design for marriage in male headship and female submission is complementary not competitive.”


“Wives: one of the primary ways you are to respect your husband is by gladly submitting to and encouraging his leadership.”


“Husbands: one of your primary duties in loving your wife is to feed her with the Word of God daily.”

It’s hard to sum up how fierce some of the response Gavin received was. Here’s the Daily MailThe Independent, The Mirrorand The Telegraph weighing in. The blog at The Telegraph said this, for example: “he’s decided to share some rather strange views relating to matrimony on social media…it would be preferable if he could cut out the sexism.” Nigel Adderley, a former colleague of Peacock’s, said this: “I used to really enjoy working with Gavin Peacock on the radio but won’t be implementing his views on marriage at home.”

If you did not read Gavin’s Tweets, you might have thought he had advocated that fathers abuse their children. Instead, he was essentially quoting and explicating Ephesians 5:22-33. In his gracious and convictional way, he explained this doctrine in a blog post.

A husband is called to be a Christlike leader to his wife. He must provide for and protect her spiritually and physically. This is called headship in the Bible. It reflects Christ’s sacrificial love for his Bride, the Church. He took the initiative to die for her. What man who hears the sound of a window smashing downstairs in the middle of the night would send his wife to investigate? Is it not written on a man’s soul to protect and provide for her? And yet such are the distortions of masculinity and femininity in our time that we send our women to fight on the frontline in war, all in the name of equality.

And see this word of personal testimony from his pastoral ministry:

In my church I serve in leadership as a pastor alongside humble men who love and lead their wives, and who love God and our people too much not to teach them his Word for manhood and womanhood. We have seen marriages blossom as men have stepped up to the challenge to lovingly lead their wives, and women have gladly respected and submitted to that leadership. Women are flourishing as strong, intelligent wives who joyfully affirm their husband’s leadership. Single men and women are obeying God’s pattern for sex and sexuality and growing as people of integrity. And in our marriage through 25 years my wife Amanda and I have tried to embrace this biblical pattern because it brings God glory and it does us good.

Read the whole thing. It’s an excellent piece–not a word out of place. It received many good comments on social media, including a good number from Christian women who love the Bible’s teaching.



As the President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the organization founded by John Piper and Wayne Grudem to promote and defend biblical complementarianism, let me offer some reflections on this fracas.

First, it’s clear that the biblical worldview is now déclassé in sectors of the West. It is sad to see this, because biblical complementarianism is the recipe for marital health and familial flourishing. There is no better system on earth for strengthening marriages and blessing children than God’s design. The sinful human heart naturally inverts God’s wisdom. It calls what is evil good, and what is good evil.

Second, Christians should not take their marching orders from the culture. Our secular age considers complementarity in both physiology and practice to be a threat. In reality, complementarity is a simple biological fact and a core biblical teaching. This is not a fourth-order doctrine (as if we can rank any teaching of Scripture). In the Bible, God makes the cosmos in Genesis 1, and then he makes man and woman, husband and wife, in Genesis 2.

He gives this relationship structure and form. Adam is the head of his wife; his wife is his helper. Eve is created from Adam. Her body depends on his for existence. This is a signal from the very start of Scripture: the position of marital headship given to men is one of responsibility and sacrifice, not ease and self-indulgence. 

 
Complementarity does not undermine women. More than any other idea or belief system in the known universe, it blesses them, offers them protection, and beckons them to God-given fulfillment.

Third, complementarity is not a problem for believers. It is, to be sure, a doctrine that the natural man despises. But it is not a problem for us to solve.

We should explicate biblical teaching. We should make clear where certain doctrines have been twisted or undermined. We should help our unsaved friends understand the difference between the Bible’s wisdom and the culture’s stereotypes. But we must not make complementarianism a doctrinal infelicity or an intractable dilemma. It is not, just as culturally unliked doctrines such as the exclusivity of Christ, the reality of predestination and election, or the reality of hell are not, either.

We may feel pressure to hedge on complementarianism. We might want to drown our affirmation of complementarity in a sea of qualifications.These are human instincts. We all are tempted to hide the light, at least the light that the world does not want shone upon its sin and unbelief. We are under great pressure today to conform our doctrine to the culture’s expectations. Some young evangelicals react to this pressure by seeking to be cool, to be accepted, to be au courant. If we can just convince those around us that we’re not backwater Christians, then our unsaved friends will really, truly like us. They’ll come to faith.

This always seems like a good move, but it’s perpetually a woeful one. That’s not just because there’s often a hint of desperation in our efforts. It’s also because, as I make clear in my forthcoming book The Colson Way (Thomas Nelson, July 2015), we do not pick and choose our doctrine or our ethics. The gospel opens our eyes to the beauty of God’s law (Psalm 119). We see the whole of God’s counsel as impossibly good. In Jesus, we discover the good life, but it is not an unfettered plunge into hedonism. It is the life lived unto God, anchored in his justifying decree, propelled by his transforming grace, and shaped by the whole counsel of his Word.
None of God’s teaching is out of sync. None of it can be hid. None of it can be downplayed. All of God’s Word is good. If it is not, then it must not be from God.

Fourth, we should communicate that the culture is in truth patriarchal. Contra the stereotypes, it has not abandoned the structure of headship and submission. It’s just shifted these realities out of marriage and into pre-marriage romance. In our sexualized culture, which has cast off traditional restraints, men operate as authoritarian patriarchs like never before. They take from women. They prey on them through sex and pornography. They get what they want, and they leave. Many women sadly choose to submit themselves to predatory men.

Though many women believe themselves to be liberated, they find themselves isolated, with little masculine protection and concern. The sexes are divided, competing, hostile to one another, yet unable because of basic human desire to stop entangling themselves. A world of abuse, pain, and sin results, with truly wretched consequences. Abortion wipes out the natural product of sex. Cohabitation stands in for marriage, but is fragile to an extreme degree. When they are allowed the chance to exist, children are an afterthought for many parents, and are not brought up in ordered, happy homes.

It is the culture that is behind. Though it does not know it, the culture’s seemingly enlightened, liberated mores leave it sadly archaic. The pattern of hostility between the sexes, of men using women and women hating men, is as old as the serpent’s whisper. By contrast, it is the church that is future-oriented. We build families and create churches because we believe in hope. We know that tomorrow can be bright with God’s goodness.
(For more on the point about men, see Russell Moore’s insightful address to Humanum, the 2014 Vatican colloquium on the family.)

Fifth, the church offers singles a beautiful outline of their lives. Young men and women alike have been raised in a sexualized culture. The church offers them the opportunity to find their identity not in sex, not in physical beauty, not in hedonism, but in God. Young Christians must see this: it is not biblical complementarianism that has robbed their singleness of its vitality. It is the world, and its sexualization of every person.

The Bible has a major place for singles. Jesus Christ and Paul are two of the best-known single believers. But in a sexualized world, singles seem out of place. They don’t have a role. This is what the world does: it robs singles of their purpose. It tells them to be beautiful, to be attractive, to be wanted. If you’re not, we infer, then you don’t have value. This is a lie, one that exacts terrible consequences from those who believe it.

Men and women have infinite dignity and worth as image-bearers. Men and women find joy and satisfaction in serving in the kingdom of Christ. The sexes are not the same, and our differences are not incidental. Gender gives significant shape to our human experience and our discipleship. But the church must correct the false teaching of the world, and communicate that being wanted by the opposite (or same) sex is not the end of life, as the culture has indoctrinated us to believe. We are sons and daughters of the living Christ. That is our identity.

Sixth, the church offers hope to men and women suffering from sin. It does so through the gospel and its body of ethics. We offer hope, infinite hope, to men and women who have been ravaged by sin and its effects. All around us are women abused by men, with little sense of how to cope with their pain. The church must help them understand how the world’s promise of liberation is bankrupt. The church offers women called to marriage the hope of a husband who will be a self-sacrificing head, one whose very life is dedicated to blessing his wife, treating her gently, and dying to his own wishes in order that she may flourish.

There is no such hope in the culture. This teaching is gone. Alongside it, the church must offer men the biblical script for their lives. Men are trapped today in a narrative of self-gratification. They have no answer to the desire that resounds in their hearts for something greater to live for. They don’t know how to be a virtuous leader, so they lead those around them in the direction of evil. The church offers them the hope of gospel-shaped manhood.

In these confused times, complementarians have a tremendous opportunity before us. We can show a watching world that the Bible’s teaching is good. We can live out what we preach. There is a great, teeming mass of young, vibrant believers doing just this right now. Though the world thinks they’re weird, they’re fighting lust, pursuing fulfilling singleness or getting married, lovingly raising children when given them, doing the hard work of building a God-glorifying home, and serving their local church. This is a group largely unnoticed by elite media, but it is massive in size and spans the globe in influence. Its members are not angry or disillusioned. In the wreckage of our sexualized culture, with happy smiles on our faces, we are building families–natural and spiritual–out of a sense of joyful calling.

You and I need not invent the wheel here. We don’t need to figure out a new way to be complementarian, one that takes away the sting. You can’t take away the sting of the Scripture and its teaching. It’s an offense and a stumbling-block to the sinful heart (1 Cor 1:22-23). Think about it this way: when a sinless man spoke the truth in the purest love, he was arrested, beaten, and crucified. We must always be winsome as we can be. But winsomeness, even at its apex, cannot take away the sting of the world-denying, sin-overcoming truth of God.
Our message, which sounds like death to the world, is after all life itself, abundant and free (John 14:6). This is true of the whole counsel of God, not just the atonement.



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I am deeply thankful for the public stance Gavin Peacock has taken. He is a brave and biblical man. He does not deserve the criticism he has received. I am delighted to stand with him on the solid rock of Scripture. The church does not need less believers like Gavin. It does not need to hide its light, hedge its doctrine, or apologize in embarrassment for its reliance on God’s wisdom.

The church needs to find courage in the Spirit and devote itself afresh to biblical complementarity. Thankfully, there is a great host of witnesses who are doing just this. They are not covered or applauded by the press. Joyfully, faithfully, and with great perseverance, they are honoring their God. For their Spirit-inspired obedience, for their endurance despite many attacks on the faith, they will be richly rewarded in the age to come.


By Owen Strachan is President of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)