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 (, 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.