A Plea For Real Masculinity

Today I read an article  written by fellow Anglican Priest, Rev Michael Jensen, and I found it very moving and so true. In the West we have masculinity problem – actually not a masculinity problem, but a masculinity crisis. In short: authentic masculinity has become distorted and warped by an ugly evil doppelgänger of sexualised machismo that is fed on a diet of pornography and false entitlement with the assumption that men are God’s gift to women that they must receive. This can be seen more and more in how men are treating women. No doubt we have all seen the news of an American Movie mogul who has been exposed for harassing women. And now we have an Australian former TV presenter being exposed for the same.

I have four children: a son who is almost a man, and three daughters, two of whom are becoming beautiful young women and the youngest who misses nothing. So this issue is close to the bone for me. I want my son to treat women rightly, to treat them with dignity and respect, as equals. I want him to have the sort of masculine traits that if he were to marry, his wife not only know she is loved and safe and cherished, but that she will feel loved, safe, cherished and think she can fly! If my daughters are to marry, I want them to marry men who will do the same for them.

I know this beautiful quote, but sadly, I think has been forgotten in our culture. In fact I don’t know if it was ever remembered:

“Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as true strength.” – Saint Francis de Sales

Our culture must own this quote! Real strength is not found in how many beers one can sink, how many hours one spends watching and talking about sport, how many kilos you can bench, nor how many abdominal muscles you can see in the mirror. It is not found in treating women as conduits for your own sexual gratification, it is not found in assuming that you are God’s gift to women, nor it is found in driving around in a car yelling out crude comments to girls.

Men, as a gender, we need to repent. We need to repent of replacing masculinity with machismo, repent of oscillating between being whiny tyrants who harass women when they don’t show interest in us we think they should. We as a gender need to repent of oscillating between being passive boofheads who won’t stand to give up their seat for a woman, who don’t protect women when they are in trouble, who don’t show women the respect, dignity and manners that they are entitled to; and being tyrants who intimidate women by our misuse of distorted strength (be it of muscle, voice or personality).

Men – we need to show strength in our gentleness and gentleness in our strength. Our strength has been given to us by God, and when it comes to the women in our lives, cherish them, love them, and show the wings that they have.

And finally, men, as a gender, we need to humble ourselves before the ultimate real man, the only man in history who is perfect, the only man in history who treated all people perfectly, the only man who loved God perfectly, the only man in history who offers and can actually give us the masculinity that our sin has abandoned, that our culture has warped, and ironically, the masculinity that all men long to have. And that man is none other than Jesus Christ. For he is the one who at the cross died not only to remove the guilt of sin, but also to remove the effects of sin. He is the only one who can give us the identity that us men have lost, the masculinity us have distorted, the self-control that we have forgotten. He is the one who will complete us as men. He is the one who can restore our manhood again.

So, men – please… please… ditch the machismo. Ditch the false entitlement, the false bravado that tries to convince ourselves and other men that we are ok. We are not ok. God wants us to be real men, strong yet gentle men, gentle yet strong men. So men, be real men, be God’s men, be Jesus’ men. For he is the ultimate source of real masculinity, of gentleness in strength and strength in gentleness.

 

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Australia Votes Yes

 

With the cake above, we now add the numbers 1 and 17. Australia has voted and over 61% of Australians have voted to change the marriage act so that same sex couples can legally marry in Australia. It is not law of the land yet, but it is almost certain that it will become law by Christmas.

Here are my thoughts in light of the above

  1. Marriage is, in God’s plan, between a man and a woman and that God’s intention for marriage has not changed in any way.
  2. Marriage as God defines it, is still the best structure for society and for the procreation and raising of children in the secure nurturing wedlock of a mother and a father, regardless of what the marriage act says.
  3. The Lord Jesus Christ is still and always be our model for what we believe and how we are to live.  The Lord Jesus is very clear about what marriage is and what marriage is not. In the Gospel of St Matthew chapter 19:1-7, the Lord Jesus reinforces to his disciples that marriage originates with God, that the essence of marriage is in the union of a man and a woman. 
  4. God and His Word does not change, even though our culture does. Thus our mandate as to critique our culture through the lens of God’s Word and not the other way around does not change and we are to do this  graciously and lovingly but also authentically and faithfully.

From the Archives – Marcion’s Preaching Roster

In Church history circles, Marcion is known for all the wrong reasons. He formed the first Canon – though most unfortunately, it was severely edited due to his heresy. Marcion taught that there were two Gods: Yahweh – the cruel God of the Old Testament; and Abba- the kind father of the New Testament. Because of this belief, he eliminated the Old Testament as Scriptures and kept only 10 letters of Paul and two-thirds of Luke’s gospel for his version of the New Testament. He also deleted all references to Jesus’ Jewishness. Marcion’s “New Testament”, (the first to be compiled) forced the church to decide on a core of what was considered Scripture: the four Gospels and the letters of Paul.

Well enough about Marcion you say? After all he was born in 85AD and died in 160AD. However in Marcion is alive and well in our Austrlian Lectionaries.

Now don’t get me wrong, the Lectionary is helpful for the reason that it encourages the daily systematic reading of God’s Word, it can be a wonderful servant. However I believe the Lectionary is a cruel master due to the fact that it appears that those who compile the pericopes have an agenda when it comes to what they think people should be reading. Here is an example.

In 2012, I was thrilled to discover that starting on the 15th July, (Seventh Sunday After Pentecost) the reading from the Epistle was Ephesians 1:1-14. So naturally one would expect the next reading the following week to be Ephesians 1:15 -2:10? Well apparently not! The reading was Ephesians 2:11-22. For some reason the powers at be thought it problematic to include Ephesians 2:1-10. But why?? Of all the passages in Ephesians this passage clearly articulates the gospel! It talks about:

  1. Our Spiritual condition (vv.1-3)
  2. What God has done to rescue us (vv.4-6)
  3. The future of those God has saved (v.7)
  4. Salvation is a gift that we cannot earn (vv.8-10)

In other words Ephesians 2:1-10 explains the gospel this way:

  1. Rebellion (vv.1-3)
  2. Rescue (vv.4-7)
  3. Response (vv.8-10)

But no! The Lectionary skips all this.

But this is not all! The lection then moves from Ephesians 2:11-22 to Ephesians 3.14-21; So conveniently it omits Ephesians 3:1-13 which is about the mystery of God has been revealed in the gospel – where through the Gospel God is making a new humanity consisting of Jew and Gentile.

The week after, the reading then goes to Ephesians 4:16 as it should but then the following week there is more Marcionism! The reading is Ephesians 4:25-5:2 with vv.17-24 being optional. I wonder how the Lectionary deals with chapter 5?

Well predictably the reading Ephesians 5:11-21 and yes, you are right, it omits Ephesians 5:3-10 which talks about how God’s people are not to have a hint of sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, vulgarity, and how those practice the like will not enter the Kingdom of God.

Finally we come to the last week on Ephesians (26th August – 13th Sunday after Pentecost), the reading Ephesians 6.10-20 with Ephesians 5:22- 6:9 obviously not being irrelevant for today’s culture with all this talk of how the Gospel is to permeate into all human relationships (ie. Marriage, Family, children, parents, employer/employee.

Marcion would have loved this lectionary!!!