The Brand Mark of Men
Biblical Masculinity and fatherhood.
The Bible has 66 books with roughly 40 authors. The author of every book is a man. These men built and lived in "father-ruled" societies. The husband was the head of the home. He loved his wife and children, and he protected them with his life. The family name was traced and passed on through the father's family line.
We are told in the Bible that we worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They are our fathers in the faith. God, throughout scripture, is referred to as the Father, and Christ, the Son. Jesus came to earth as the perfect man. He set up his church using militant language, saying how “the Gates of hell will not prevail against it". Meaning the church is a kingdom that kicks down the gates of hell. Paul the Apostle talks about putting on armor as a citizen of this Kingdom of Heaven to fight in a spiritual battle. Paul then describes how Christians are in a competition, running in such a way as to win in the sport called life. In the book of Revelation, we find Jesus being the great warrior that slaughters all of his enemies.
So, from an overview of the Bible, we are given an impression that if we walked into a Christian church we would see masculinity and masculine men... Right? Yes. ... But it is not this way.
No matter what the church denomination or culture its placed in, with an exception of a few congregations, you will not find that there is more men than women within. But, if you were to walk into a mosque, there is more men than women within. Islam is largely made up of men. Judaism in its original form was made up of men. Today, Christian schools, colleges, churches and ministries are largely made up of women. Men don’t seem to feel comfortable there. Why?...
Let's be serious. It’s hard for us men to find it thrilling to be God’s bride walking down the aisle… unless there is something wrong with us. It's the carpet, the prom-like songs, and the flowers hanging and positioned around that makes us feel like we are going to a prom. These don’t make us feel comfortable. It's awkward. Often times what you get is men who are dragged into "church" by their wives. They can’t wait to get out because they largely see it as a women’s and children’s activity. And in the Western "church", this is kinda true. Sadly.
Some young men come to church because the odds are better… as in... women are there. If not for the young women, we may not see young men.
We need to get into the topic of masculinity if the church is going to go from merely surviving to thriving. And it will, I pray. -- We much need this discussion because we live in a culture and time where there is confusion: “What is a man?” “What is he created for?” and "What is he to do?”.
In the eleventh chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, he says that men are made in the image and glory of God. But, we don’t think of men that way, do we? We want men either soft, compliant, and weak. Or, we are tempted to see the mark of a man to be dangerous, demanding, harsh... a thug. We need to defend ourselves against the garbage of these perceptions and fickle desires. Funny enough, defending is part of the mark of a man.
Now, I am not trying to alienate the women reading. This discussion on biblical masculinity will be of encouragement to the women as well. Each woman reading knows a man. Perhaps they have caused you some trouble. Today, we are all going to see why that is, why our culture is wrong about masculinity, and some things to avoid.
If we are going to celebrate and appreciate fatherhood on Father's Day or the men in our lives today, we have to celebrate and appreciate biblical masculinity. What is Biblical Masculinity?
I am going to talk about three aspects of men. What I am not talking about is three types of men. I'm talking about three layers of identity that a man has and should be strengthened. First layer is...
We see this in Genesis…
This might mean that man was to make the rest of the world look like Eden. The Earth was green-less, fruitless. We can imagine God going "I am going to make man, and I am going to place him here to cultivate it into something patterned after the garden I have made". That is what man is created for.
You will find that men are cultivators. This means several things: 1) They love to create something. 2) Once something is made, they like to cultivate it so it progresses. You will find this being done several ways. Some guys cultivate their bodies. They train and tone, and they get very competitive. Some guys do this with their cars. Even if the car is fine, they have to take it apart. An older gentleman once told me that one day he decided to take a car motor completely apart and then assemble it in the same day for kicks. You talk with guys like that, they will always be talking about getting a new part for their truck. We might go, "Why get a new part?" "Well," they say, "it wasn’t running as fast as I wanted, so now it will run faster." That’s what guys do. They get a boat. Then they are always working on that boat. They buy a new house. Guess what...They are always working on that house. And going to Home Depot is like going to Mecca for us guys! Even if the guy you know isn't this way, they are cultivators in other ways. In the medical profession or in art, we find men wanting to take something and improve it, work out the problems, perfect it, and continually progress it. The chant of men is “Upgrade! Upgrade! Upgrade!” -- Yep, always improving and progressing. Men are suppose to cultivate! It's just how we are wired.
In addition, men are to cultivate their wives... encourage, build-up... so that their wives become what Psalmist says is "a fruitful vine" (Ps 1:28). Men are to cultivate their children... giving them wisdom and teaching discipline... seeing to it that their kids progress in life properly... not demons who destroy and annoy. They are to pour themselves into their business, their body, their car, their home. Whatever God has given them, men are to cultivate it!
There are not a lot of rules in the New Testament. But here in his letter, Apostle Paul finds a need to give one to the church in Thessalonica. The rule: Either you... work and eat - or - not work and not eat. Why? Because a life without work is useless. It can only cause the world problems. But don't take my word for it...
If you are not working by what you do and by want you say… you're cultivating... BUT you're cultivating the wrong things! The Bible says, if you stop working with your hands, if you stop giving instruction… your a tool... a tool in the Devil’s workshop.
This is why it is said that…
The problem is, if the man doesn’t love God, he cultivates the wrong things in life. He doesn't provide for his family, but is busy cultivating sin, rebellion, and death. And in that view, creating and cultivating can actually be bad. For instance... we are given the record in the book of Genesis of the construction of the Tower of Babel. Where all the men in the area came around a building project. We know that it was there that God brought down confusion, dividing men by differing languages and thus dividing their mutual bad-boy efforts. There, creating was used for bad. But creating can be used for good. We see in just a few chapters later in Genesis creating and building being used in an incredible way for God’s glory. I'm referring to Noah and his sons building the large boat, the vessel in the flood narrative through which God spares Noah, his family, and all the world's animals.
Men are made to cultivate, but when man sins against God, God doesn’t just cruse the project and the man, but He also curses the ground under the man.
Meaning that everything under man’s rule, starts to fight against him. Fighting back? Yep... Thorns and thistles. Man has a lot of work to do. Now, I think this is God’s grace because when man is working the ground, his business, his tractor, or whatever you are trying to cultivate, you will always find that it fights against you. We never have enough hours, days, or equipment to complete what we want. Think about this... When a man is trying to subdue his ground, to do what he wants it to do, it all fights against him. And in that moment, doesn’t that teach him about God and humanity? Because the ground is doing to the man, what the man does to the Lord...
Man: Why is this so hard? Why is the ground rebelling against me?
God: Because you have sinned and you are doing the same thing to me.
So the man, starts to understand the gospel as he is working. As he takes on more... a job, a household, kids, business(es)... more likely it will be to make sense of the gospel. Because he will feel what it is like to have something rebel against him when he's trying to create order out of chaos. That will remind him that he is that way towards God, and it is God who is trying to cultivate him. That will bring the man into a humble state.
What that means for us men is that whatever we do will be hard. Yep. To have a relationship with a wife, to raise children, to run a business(es). It's going to be hard. We cannot have it with ease. We will have to work hard to cultivate them.
The second thing that man is created for, is that he is create for war. Well, what I really mean is that he is created to protect...
We see this in Genesis. God creates man and puts the man in charge. Then the satan, God’s enemy, comes to declare war on man and wife. The man is suppose to fight. But what happens? He doesn’t fight. He sits there quietly with folded his hands and lets the satan attack his wife and dishonor his Creator. Men are engineered for battle. Men are built for competition not for cooperation. That’s why young men love sports and older men like war. And what men are built for is to defend truth, justice, to conquer evil and to promote righteousness while protecting the helpless, the vulnerable, and the weak. That is what men are made for. But men must know that they are in a battle and what they are fighting, or they will be killing civilians.
God has enemies. Man has enemies as well. And those enemies are not just flesh and blood. According to Ephesians, it is evil spirits. So, men need to take up their weapons of war and defend against lies, against sin, and against the satan with his demons. Men need to champion the cause of righteousness, truth, and justice.
One day, something spiritual revealed itself physically to the Israelites. And so men made war. Note: Biblical masculinity in the Old Testament was use for the purpose of loving and caring for the ladies by protecting them. I will give you an example. In the Genesis record (chapter 34) there was a young, Israelite lady who was raped by a prominent man of a surrounding nation. In response, the Men of God declared war not only on the man but on the nation that was harboring him. They went to war and killed 25,000 men. Why all the trouble and outrage? Because a guy raped a woman who was their spiritual sister.
Want to encourage you that this is a very high view of women. Even more so than today in our culture. No body declares war, in fact no body seems to cover it in the news, when a woman is raped. That's the world. But for us Christian Men, we are to care deeply and seriously. Here is scripture that commands such behavior...
What does this mean for us?
When you are around older women, treat them like you would your mother:
"Yes, mam." "No, mam." "Let me get that door for you, mam." "I appreciate that you would share this concern with me... we will do our best to take this into consideration." There is no "macho" flippancy here, just the skill of respect.
When you are around younger women, you don’t stare them up and down... you don’t make comments like, “Wow! You’re looking fine, today girl!”. You don’t make or take front hugs. You say, "Well, I didn’t mean anything by it." No one believes you. Control yourself; show respect in your actions, taking every opportunity to protect women and making them feel safe. It also means, you police other men. Or something like that. You go, "Hey, man. I saw you staring. Glue your eyes back in," or "You made that comment to her. And I saw how you really enjoyed that hug. That was inappropriate and I will not tolerate that."
When was the last time you told your wife... “If there is a sound downstairs during the night, it might be a burglar, and its your turn to go check it out tonight.”
NO! No! This is a time when your 50/50 "Let's take turns" rule really shows how naive we are when it comes to the role of masculinity in family. No way would we say, “Well, she has a black belt in Karate.”! But even if that were true, and it could be, you better be unconscious on the floor fighting for her before she has to left a figure in defense... or you’re no man! -- "Protector"... That’s written on your soul, brother, by God Almighty. Big or little, strong or weak, night or day, you go up against the enemy first.
Woe to the husband–and woe to the nation–who send their women to fight their battles.
Woe to the husband—and woe to the church—who send their women to fight spiritual battles alone.
Woe to the man within the church who's wife serves the church more than he serves the church.
This has nothing to do with dominance, arrogant pride, sexism, or hierarchy. This has everything to do with our value of women... they are precious, and we aspire to protect them and be an image of a Heavenly Father who loves them tenderly.
Men are to do battle. Men are to protect women and children spiritually, emotionally and physically. And we must serve them to do so.
Lastly, men are created to be "mentors". Or "sages," if you want to sound distinguished.
Men are created to receive wisdom and knowledge from God and then to teach and impart that wisdom to others. If a boy has a good dad... he is going to teach him a lot. If a girl has a good dad.. he is going to teach her a lot, as well as her boyfriends (insert laugh here). Some of this teaching will be with his words, but much of it will be with his living. It may be easier to teach your boy baseball than it is to show up to all his games. And that is why it is so important to show up too.
We see this when God creates the man and the woman and gives instructions to the man. God basically says, "Here is the rule, just one basic rule. Now, pass them along to your wife, protecting her from breaking it." Do you know the rest of the record? Apparently, Adam was not a good Bible teacher because when it came time for the enemy to tempt Eve, she gets deceived and trapped. Where is Adam? Adam is with her, but he didn’t pass on the information well and didn't seem to care that she ate dangerously poisonous fruit. This is passivity gentleman. Avoid it at all costs.
Men are to receive knowledge. They take part in the work of cultivating the mind and the soul. I am not just talking about reading, and thinking, but practically… like, "How to work and earn a living," "How to have good relationships," and "Why we don't do_____." -- To do so, men need wisdom! Men, you need to receive the fact that we are teachers. Whether you realize it or not, you are teaching, you cannot not teach! You are always teaching something. You are teaching either good or bad. With your words or with you deeds. Be careful to do good. It's a daunting duty... that's why men, not boys, do it.
What does this mean for us? Well, it doesn’t only mean that we are to mentor them in the faith, although that it a large part of it. It means being a dad who teaches his child how to live in this world rightly and solidly. So when the flood waters of life rise, they will have had already built a dam. Yeah, smart kids.
From the ages of 1 to 6 all children-both genders-need ruff and tumble play… wrestling, tickling, chasing, and being bounced, swung, or lifted. From the ages between 1-6 children need delayed gratification… a building project and workouts, digging ditches (ok, well maybe not digging ditches)... it's the whole "Work now, play later (reward later)" philosophy sweater-cardigan dads of the 50's had. These two things, ruff and tumble play and delayed gratification, build trust, produce bonding, and grow empathy... things that will long outlive you. The "hang-out" time you make builds your child’s mental centered-ness. Without ruff and tumble play and delayed gratification, there is a slippery slop… into video games, pornography, attachment or detachment issues. Then the child grows up suffering from shame, self-disgust, fear, and self-rejection… which may lead to major depression, anxiety, mood swings, and/or eating disorders... wanting earnestly to be seen as one who is valued and worthy… and then school shootings occur, like we see today. Why? Starts with fathers not being fathers... well, not good ones anyways.
What happens if a girl or a boy does not have a father? They will look to other guys. An eight year old guy will look up to an 11 year old. An 18 year old will look up to a 25 year old. And an 30 year old will look up to the 50, and the 50 to the 70 year old.
So, no matter how old you are, you are still mentoring, and you should be sharing wisdom with others. Maybe you ought to think about taking a few boys/men under your wing who do not have good father figures/spiritual guides. You are responsible-you are partly to blame-if that child goes on a way that destroys them and others because they looked to the closest group that taught him, the thugs and the violent. Why did they choose them as role models? Because you were too self-fish and passive to realize that the young man needed you and our efforts.
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Thomas Kilian is an evangelist degreed in Christian Ministries, majoring in General Ministries, Biblical Exposition, and Biblical Studies. He is an 2018 recipient of the Stone-Campbell Promising Scholar Award. Kilian has counseled individuals regarding interpersonal, health, and religious problems while performing spiritual education activities to the public through speaking and leading discussions. Five years of supplying preaching and lessons to churches across the United States. Mass evangelized, preaching at a conference of 3000 youth in Gambella, Ethiopia upon invitation from Mercy Partners. Cross-cultural evangelized upon entry into South Sudan twice to evangelize with a request from a host of local churches by hosting leadership conferences, youth conferences, and testifying on demand resulting in 63 baptisms in the River Nile. He led Museville Church for a year and a half, preaching, pastoring, and developing training and service programs. He currently evangelizes in the community of Chatham, VA., and is creating a universal online adaptive education system for empowering ministers.