A Word On Masculinity

I know of an organisation that is desperate for men.

Yeah, that can be read in a number of ways. On this occasion, with your pure minds in place, I am referring to the development of the organisation relying on a healthy and growing mixture of males and females. Unfortunately for the organisation, there is a shortage of males. As well as the number of males there is also a concern about the calibre of character of the males that are within the organisation.

Among other areas of outcry in this matter is the call for the males to ‘man-up’. This is a clarion call for wimps to get strong and macho and buff and all in control of their stuff and stop having their trousers round their ankles at the inopportune moments and to get with the program of being the man! In that call there is an underlying assumption of the qualities that defines a man. Also in that there is a clear indication that the presentation of males certainly does not live up to those assumed qualities of a man.

Funnily enough, also with a lot of those calls there’s little in the way of anything endearing or appealing to a male that inclines them to desire to subscribe to those assumed qualities. This is reasoned away, however, by reference to the state of the world and how typical it is that the males don’t want to take their responsibilities and ‘man up’.

Observing these developments – which is certainly not exclusive to this particular organisation, I was reminded of biblical models of being a man. What I noticed was the diversity of expressions of what it is to be a man. From the rough and tough warrior to the thoughtful and considerate types. It was clear that there was no ‘one type fits all’ view on what a man is. Even with the concept of roles and responsibilities there was a degree of diversity in how they were expressed and carried out.

What was particularly outstanding, however, were the words of advice fatherly types gave their sons. Those words of advice called for thought and action, they called for diligence and discipline, they also were clear on the importance of restoration. This is seen clearly in the role model of the heavenly Father seeing His wayward children going astray and putting in place steps to restore them.

The parable referred to as that of the Prodigal Son sees one father dealing with two sons who veered away from their father’s way. One openly rebelled in getting his father’s inheritance and wasting it. The other failed to reflect the compassion of his father when the openly rebellious brother returned. In both instances the father’s response was conciliatory and endearing. It failed to match the tone and rhetoric of some on the ‘man up’ bandwagon. In fact what it did was to recognise that if indeed the call is to ‘man up’ it implies there’s a man down and something very unhelpful in the case of a man down is to kick him or stamp down further on him in his low estate. If there is a man down, the way to help the man up may require some stooping. It may require a degree of empathy. It will certainly require a degree of patience and a commitment to restoration which quietens the uproar of the ‘get on with it already’ brigade. That doesn’t imply a totally ‘softly, softly’ approach. It does imply the Spirit of meekness to be attuned to the male in the present and the man God has in mind and carefully support the emergence of that until Jesus is fully formed in that male.

To that end, I am incredibly blessed to have key men in my life who actively disciple me. They do so in their lifestyle which they allow me to see. They do so in their interest and input in my life that they take great care to invest their attention. They do so in rebuke and affirmation. They model a path of and to Christlikeness that challenges and consoles simultaneously. Unsurprisingly, these men also have other men as well as me, who hang out with them and go on to influence the lives of other men.

Males truly reflecting the type of man God wants them to be will not always fit the assumptions of some. Just as the Bible depicts a diversity of expressions of the godly man, so our  churches and societies will be diverse in their expression. What will mark them out as being godly men will not be uniformity, it will be the common goal of pursuing Christlikeness in their own lives for the benefit of others. That unity of purpose will likewise be on hand to support so where there is a man down, godly models will be there to help the man up.

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

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