The current culture has no concept of right and wrong, nor does it have any concept of what makes a male a man. In light of the recent continued attacks on what the culture calls “toxic masculinity” I’ve decided to do an intermittent series on Biblical manhood, looking at how a series of Biblical characters and passages instruct us how to be men. Ladies, you’re welcome to read this, but I am addressing it directly to the men who read this article.
Let me set up a scenario for you. Picture our modern world. How are men portrayed in the culture and in popular media? One of two ways. Either men are vilified by members of certain political groups as sexist, and toxic, or they are derided on popular media shows as lazy, inept, and uncouth. The cultural ideal of a man varies based on who you talk to, but basically, it’s the strong, macho man type. The type who works out is in shape, plays three sports, can fix anything, and probably has a stubble beard. Obviously, some of that is completely unBiblical, but is any of it representative of what makes a Biblical man? That will be the focus of this article.
By the way, for anyone reading this and thinking they have experienced toxic masculinity, I’m not denying that it exists. It most certainly does and I have been confronted with it on more than one occasion. However, classifying all men as toxic based on the actions of some men is incredibly harsh and nearsighted.
What does the Bible tell us about being men? Starting with Adam, men make up the majority of characters in the Bible. Some are good, others are not. However, in Genesis 1, we learn that all mankind is made in God’s image. In the very next chapter, we are told about the very first marriage. In Genesis 2 we are told that it was the man’s responsibility to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. This is the first inkling we get of man’s role in society. He, it seems, is to take the lead in the marriage relationship, from pursuing the woman at the beginning of the relationship to leading the eventual marriage relationship. This is confirmed later in the Scripture. Thus we find the first trait described in Scripture of a Biblical man is leadership.
There have been voluminous amounts written about leadership from both a secular and Christian perspective. It is not my purpose to regurgitate that information. Instead, note that the very first thing God defines as a characteristic of a Biblical man is leadership. Leadership shows up in the remainder of the Bible over and over again. Joseph, Joshua, Moses, David, Solomon, Paul, and so on all were great leaders of men in a wide variety of situations. Joseph led a nation through a famine. Moses led a people through the wilderness. David and Joshua led a nation in time of war. Solomon led a nation in a time of peace. Perhaps the most powerful leader in the Bible, aside from Christ himself, is Paul, simply because of who and what he led. He was not the only leader of the early church, but he was among the most prominent, and his ministry covered areas where people groups hated one another, and where any converts he made were likely to be heavily persecuted. Yet by the grace of God, he was perhaps the greatest evangelist ever to walk the earth and was a primary reason the early church got off the ground.
These men, among others in the Bible, are models of leadership. Not everything they did was right, certainly. David committed adultery, then tried to cover it up with a murder. Solomon walked away from God later in life. Paul started his life persecuting the church. Yet from their lives, we can glean glimpses of leadership, how they handled themselves and dealt with others, particularly when times were difficult.
This leadership role given to men in the Scriptures is far from being the only trait that defines Biblical manhood, but it is one that is frequently attacked in the secular world. Man being the head of the marriage relationship is a concept many in our western world regularly deny and defy. Further, in many cases, women are promoted into leadership roles, not because they deserve it, but because they help balance the diversity quota at a given organization. I have personally sat in a meeting at a manufacturing company where a woman said our company needed to promote more women to leadership roles to be more diverse and take advantage of their skills. She did not take kindly to me suggesting we simply promote the most qualified person, regardless of their gender, or the amount of melanin in their skin, to the point of calling me sexist in the meeting. This illustrates the mindset of the secular world. Men and women are not only equal in their eyes, they are also identical and thus can fill the same roles. As Rose has been demonstrating in her Biblical women series, this is simply not true. We will continue our discussion of Biblical manhood in further articles.