Friday, February 20, 2009

Man Up!

On a previous thread, Patrick asked, "What makes a man a 'man'? What are the defining characteristics of masculinity? Of a godly man? How does that differ from what the American society would define as a man? This is an important issue for me, as I am coming into 'manhood' (marriage, responsibility, etc.). In your journeys, what are some of the walls and battles that you have had to overcome and conquer? And how did you do it?"

So let's have at it! And yes, any women listening in should feel free to contribute!


Brian Emmet said...

Interestingly, this question came up at our recent time in the Keys... we didn't really give it a good response then, so I'm grateful for the opportunity to revisit it.

John M. said...

Brian, I was thinking the same thing...about the retreat question. It seemed there thaat most of the older guys thought it was too broad and general and/or that they didn't really know how to address it.

Patrick, I'm gad you asked the question again. It is difficut to know how to respond. Perhaps we could start by thinking about the contrasts between how our culture views men and man-hood, compared to a biblical view of man-hood.

Brian Emmet said...

Patrick does at least owe us the details of his upcoming marriage: name of woman, brief history of Their Relationship, that sort of thing... perhaps we should "require" his Intended to weigh in on this discussion?

smokin joe said...

I think of manhood, as the point at which a guy takes responsability and fixes more problems than he causes.

John M. said...

Regarding some of the "battles and walls" I've had to overcome, I can indentify with many of the things that Sam said about Jacob on the last post.

My Dad didn't know how to affirm me, either verbally or physically (he never touched me or hugged me). He never told me that he was proud of me, or that he saw me as develping into manhood; or that I was good at anything. No one ever did that for him; he didn't do it for me.

So, I've had to overcome some pretty big deficits and have worked hard to compensate for these lacks with my own son (and daughters too).

Because I didn't get it from my father, I found most of my validation from my mother; not a good way to build masculine identity.

What I'm discovering is that I tend to seek comfort, validation and warmth from "Eve" rather than from "Adam".

John Eldridge says there are two ways to tell if you're seeking validation from Eve: 1. If you're afraid of her. 2. If you find her irresistable. I can identify with both...

As men we desperately need other men to validate us. As older men, perhaps that's one of the greatest gifts we can give the younger guys. A father has the most impact, but if he's missing or non-functioinal, then surrogotes, mentors, friends and older brothers, can help fill the void. Obviously Father's affirmation is there if we will listen and are whole enough to receive it.

Just a few years ago, I was sitting in the dentist's chair (funny the places the Lord chooses to speak; or I am able to hear...), and the Lord said to me, "You are no longer 'little Johnny'".

Growing up I was "little Johnny" and my Dad was "big Johnny, or usually just, "Johnny". When the Lord spoke that to me out of the blue it was powerful. I realized that I had never stopped seeing myself as "little Johnny". Even though I was in my mid 50's, I still saw myself as a little boy, inferior, shy, unable to "solve life's problems" to mirror Joseph's comment.

Those simple words were a strong affirmation of my manhood. Yeah, I know, I should have seen myself as a man a long time before...can I help it if I'm a late bloomer!? Seriously, it was a right of passage for me, that had my Dad, had he been able, could have spoken to me 30 years earlier.

smokin joe said...

good points John -- I think most of us in our generation have similar stories to tell -- the Great Depression and WWII took their toll on our fathers and left them without the resources to give us the father-affirmation we needed.

Your comment about drawing validity from Eve was insightful. Thanks for your vulnerability.

I still don't think we have done justice to Patrick (or Sander's) questions yet.

By-the-way, Deb and I are in Tampa for the weekend visiting my parents. We are both a little run-down.

John M. said...

Thanks Joseph. Hope you all get some good R&R up in Tampa. I agree that we have a lot more ground to cover to answer the question.

One part of the "answer" is that it's openended -- we're all still learning the answer.
But some of us will have more pieces to the puzzel than others. As each of us (young men included) shares the pieces we have, we should come up with a clerer picture.

Sanders are you reading? You posed the question first, at the retreat.

John Edgridge says, "Sin is not the deepest thing about you. The Gospel isn't just about 'sin management', it's about bringing you 'back to life'". He continues with the statement, "Gender is the deepest thing about the human soul."

[I personally, would want to fence this with "male and female in God's image"; and say that "God's image is the deepest thing about us." I assume that in the large sense, Eldridge would agree with this, but it does not weaken his point in terms of understanding our masculinity -- which is part of God's image.]

If it is true that gender is the deepest part of the human soul, then we are treading deep waters here. "Deep calls unto deep..."

Question: Which is the best picture of masculinity: Mel Gibson's, William Wallace in "Braveheart", Eric Liddel in "Chariot's of Fire" or Noah in "The Notebook"?

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks for changing the photo, Joseph! Mel G as William W is way easier to deal with than whoever that dude was with all them muscles! Yipes!

Patrick, you need to check back in and say something. No fair posing a good question and then disappearing!

There's more to it than this, but biology and anatomy are a good starting point. You're a man if you have the chromosomes and the equipment that goes with them! I think it is important to say this because there are many ways to "be a man", as John's question indicated. Also, I think a lot of guys feel disqualified from the start: "I just don't have and will never get whatever it takes to be a man." It's better to start with, "I am a man" and then go on to think about what kind of man I am and wish to become. I think each of the men he cited--Wallace, Liddell, and Noah from "The Notebook"--are men, and manly men as well, each in a different way, and none in a perfect/ideal way.

I think one of the reasons we dry-fired when Sanders first posed the question is because it's so huge. Here's a suggestion to (perhaps) focus this discussion. Start your comment with something like "You're a man if/when/because you..." and then complete the sentence in some way. You can then go on to expand and clarify. Joseph captured this well with "...when you take responsibility and fix more problems than you cause." The occasional joke will be fine, but let's try to give Patrick's serious questions some thoughtful replies.

Joseph, hope your time in Tampa is refreshing for you and your bride!

John M. said...

Patrick, ditto Brian's comment. I think you have some valid ideas about man-hood that you can share with us, and by now, you might have some comments/observatioins about what's been said so far.

Let's see Brian: "You're a man if you can make long-term commitments and hold to them."

Examples: Vocational/job commitments, even in "non-career" type jobs, financial responsibility, and willingness to commit to a long-term relationship with a woman(engagement/marriage).

It seems that many guys today never grow out of adolesence. So you have "grown men" (physically grown-up; they could be in their 20's or their 50's) who still "want their freedom" and are unwilling to take responsibility or make commitments in the three areas above.

Patrick said...

I'm glad that you are all interested in this subject, and that your interests and thoughts were previously piqued by "Sanders"(?) at the camp out! I honestly didn't intend to run off after starting this discussion.

John, what you shared about your dad was powerful. that is good. Thank you for being transparent and genuine. Stories like yours encourage me to keep fighting in a more focused and sincere way.

I'm learning what it is to take on new responsibilities and allow myself to be crucified each day. "Purpose" has become my new pursuit and deciding factor in the issues of time and other resources. Discipline in the financial area is a really big deal, and it's taking a long time for me to conquer this monster. Confidence, courage and fearlessness (more internally than anything else), I'm seeing develop.

Real life examples and personal accounts of conquering any kind of obstacle would be beneficial for me, I know; and I presume it'd be the same for others, as well.

I'm at 1000 characters, so I'll stop here for now.

Patrick said...

what 3 areas are you referring to, John?

John M. said...

Hey Patrick, thanks for your response. I was referring to the parapgraph above...Job commitments, financial responsibility and long-term relationships.

smokin joe said...

I was struck by John's reference to Adam and Eve...and those young men who have a deficit in male affirmation learning to crave and idolize Eve as their source of identity. Might the same thing be true for some young men, if the switch somehow happens to flip the other way, with Adam? A craving and desire for Adam to fill the masculine void? This would help me have compassion for my friends who fall the other way with desire and lust.

Back to responsabililty and commitments: it seems to me that the issue of taking responsability and keeping commitments goes all the way back to the garden. The outstanding feature of Adam's God-give role was to take admin responsability (even rulership) over creation.

The distinguishing feature of Eve's original role was 'relational'... she was to intuitively interpret what Adam needed and be his 'life coach' to help him acheive success ... and a friend.

Of course, they both failed to keep their long term commimtment ... a mistake that the 2nd Adam managed to avoid.


John M. said...

Good point Joseph, about being enamoured unhealthily with "Adam".

I need to think about the "life-coach" idea. I'm not sure what I think about it at the moment.

smokin joe said...

I'm trying to get away from the "helper" type vocabulary that casts women in subordinate, menial roles ...

I certainly feel that when it comes to certain intuitive, relational types of intellgience (not to mention spiritual perception) Debbie has been a source of wisdom and insight for me ...occasionally like a life-coach. I dare any married man in this forum to say any differently ... in certain areas, the women are just 'smarter' than us.

FrankLYours said...

Is the question, "How do we plant 'man-seeds' in our sons or friends so they will grow into men who answer God's questions to them in a manner that produces what God desires and not just the expected answers the 'crowd' gives?"
For example, Mt. 20:32 "What do you wish me to do for you?" (Notice, no qualifications.) The best they could come up with is... "We want to see".
That is what they got... and no more.
How can we get ourselves (and lead our young men) to ask from our unlimiting Father, boldly, yet wisely. IS HE ABLE TO DO EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY BEYOND ALL WE ASK OR THINK? Do we teach our young men to believe and request more? Frank

Carloozian said...

Well, how and when are we men? When we decide we are and God calls us to “just be”. A little vague, I know, but there a couple stages we as men need to go through in order to arrive at these conclusions. One, is as John Eldridge said "Healing the Wound" and coming to grips with the fact that it did happen and did matter. The Holy Spirit wants to touch areas in our lives that we for far too long have held close off and hidden. That’s why sometimes we wander in the valley of indecisiveness, and/or vacillate in and of that same old sin(s). And we know which one(s) they are. Quit the BS.

Now to be honest, this comes at different times in our lives. For me it has been a long 5 years of healing my wound and coming to grips with the reality of my mortality and manliness and the God who I have come to hate and love all in the same. His ways contradict ours and His timing frustrates us to no end.
Let us consider this example from one of our beloved man of God, Timothy (yes that Timothy). Timothy was also plagued my these questions of inadequacy and Paul affirmed him with laying of hands, prophecies, and giving him a concrete model of what a man of God was (1&2 Timothy) and that he WAS already living the model. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.

I also think that we (Fathers or Men) are still too caught up with our visions, plans, and careers to bestow a proper rite of passage. Because we are so busy trying to stay one step ahead that we at times neglect those who would benefit most from our time and insight. I struggled with this until I made a decision to live life in the moment. I don’t think of forever anymore that’s God’s job; mine is just to find “faithful men/sons/daughters who are teachable and able to teach others”.

Men this is the message of Jesus, to reconcile, to build bridges, to chase after, to bring back no matter the cost. Our sons, daughters, wives, are so used to us letting them down they at times expect from us. Perhaps we feel like Randy 'The Ram' Robinson, in the movie The Wrestler when he said “I'm an old broken down piece of meat and I deserve to be all alone, I just don't want you to hate me.” Let’s put our efforts in winning the battle them first and SCREW everyone else. I know I have because they are worth everything. Remember Jesus endured the cross by the prize put before him, which was friendship with us again.

Now in other words I like to put it this way, a man is a man that allows Jesus to work in his life. So without reckless and rational abandonment to the cross and His mercy and guidance then we will always be asking these type of questions.

So Patrick embrace your calling. Run the race with a great host of witnesses cheering on. If you fall or trip or lose sight of the goal remember we all have felt that way and our manhood is not measured by bank accounts, cars, houses, or church congregations. It is measured by how much we have allowed Him to work in our lives so that as Joseph said “We resolve more than what we cause”.


Brian Emmet said...

Thanks, Patrick, Carolos and Frank for your contributions--we appreciate all that you bring to the conversation!

You're a man when you can use your strengths to serve the weaknesses in others.

Much of what we will develop here can apply generally to men and women, i.e., to humans. I remember Derek Prince teaching, "The measure of your growth in grace is how much weakness you can bear, in yourself and in others." (I'm paraphrasing). Paul told the Roman church, "The strong ought to serve the weak and not just live for/please themselves."

Patrick said...

Carlos thank you for the encouragement! I like your story! Growing up I had all these ideas of what life is like and what it's like to be a man. Consequently, I keep waiting for an intangible explosion that completely changes me into a "man." But I'm learning that things don't happen like that. Life is about steady plodding and being happy in that.

smokin joe said...

so ... here is a quick summary:

Frank says that we need to plant seeds of manly faith in our sons, younger brothers, and mentees, that will help them to not to put limits on themselves but to think out of the box (my words,not Frank's). This ties in with Carlos' comment quoting Eldridge about the "father wound" which obviously brings emotional and mental limitations.

Carlos goes on to emphasize learning to live in the moment and to give ourselves faithfully to wives and children, rather then ignoring them to pursue a career. Negative Example: Randy the "Ram".

Carlos' point ties in with Brian's encouragement that men should learn to use their strength to serve the weak ...

Patrick reminds us that becoming a man is not a magic 'explosion' but the willingness to embrace a day-by-day process of faithful obedience.

Good discussion! What about producing babies? Planting seeds?

Brian Emmet said...

Well, no question that men are born to reproduce! Yeah, it's way more complicated than that, but the basic drive is pretty much already in place!

Great point/question, Joseph. We tend to answer the Q "What is a man?" by discussing various character capacities. You're a man because you are directly and continuously involved in producing other men.

smokin joe said...

well... I was not specifically referring to myself, and I would hasten to add that women are also called to creative, initiative and reproduction -- in fact, in the natural order, they do most of the work.

I read through some material a few years ago on gender and the image of God, that I actually might not fully agree with now on a theological level...

But they attempted to define masculinity and femininty in terms of essential characteristics of the image of God.

They spoke in terms of the masculinity of God as taking initiative to seek out creation and to sow seeds of life ... and to create life through reproduction.

now... again, I am not saying that men have that quality in abundance and women have nothing of it ... but what I AM saying is that there are some characteristic of masculinity that we should discuss that obviously relate to 'producing' something ... Jesus was the 2nd Adam (human being/man) and he came to produce a people ... to bring many sons (and daughters) to glory ...

what are we producing?

By-the-way, I think the creation mandate to be fruitful and multiply was given to the "human being" that is, both male and female.

lets think of some men we admire...what did they produce?

William Wallace - freedom.
Jesus Christ -- the redemption of humanity.
John Wesley?
St. Augustine?
John Adams?
The Apostle Paul?
Martin Luther King, Jr.?
Mother Teresa? (thats right...lets mess with our minds a little)
St. Teresa?

What about Brian? Johnthemuscian? Drs. Lopez and Norton? John M., Steve H., and Patrick? What are we called to produce? or reproduce? What seeds are we to sow?

Joselito said...

I agree with Carloozians comment. I believe it is not man who makes us men,it is God who makes us men. We can never be complete without Him. In that, our submission to Him and our constant effort to come closer to Him is what will edify us and build us to the man we all long to be; also, like Joseph said “We resolve more than what we cause”. Can't do that without Christ.

Dansome said...

Seems like the most humble servants (of God and man) make the best leaders, which is the kind of man I want to be.

smokin joe said...

I should prolly pause top do a couple of introductions at this point for Patrick and Steve H's sake ...

FrankLyours is Frank Dawson who mentored me and John M. oh so many years ago in Lancaster Ohio when we were in our mid-to-late 20s. He is like ObieWanKenobi, although aging, he is still strong in the force.

The rest of these guys Brian and John M. met at the campout:

Carloozian is my son-in-law Carlos Morgado.

Joselito mean "little Joe" but it is Big Jose, who came to the Lord in his early teens through Carlos in the youth group in our church.

Dansome, is Handsome Dan Miller, who was also at the campout and who is normally digital-adverse... welcome Dan!

Now the other way: Patrick is a wild and crazy young guy who just recently moved to San Antonio, and just quit his job at Starbucks...presently congregating in a house church community. You can follow his misadventures on

John Norton is a REALLY COOL English Lit professor and tennis coach in the L.A. area (los angeles not latin america). I affectionately call him Dr. J.

Steve H. is humble shepherd/teacher in KY... and a close friend ... by-the-way, where is Steve?

Others who have occasionally frequented this blog are Johnthemusician, Dr. Sam, Will Curry, Travis Brown, Michael Tomko, Jeff Rohr, Matt Brennan (now we are reaching back a year or so), fire breathing Jeremiah, Sean B. getting his religion degree, Occasionally Robert Grant, Randy R. and Fred L. .... anyone else? Oh yes, Jamie Johson... once upon a time.

oh, two of my daughers Sarah and Ruth. Also, Cindi Chen, Laurel Long and ... Soaronwings ...(the ladies always complain that we are too wordy, too heady and way too theological).

If you have not had the pleasure of meeting any of these people in person, plan on coming to South Florida to campout next year in January 15-18th, 2010... don't say you didn't have enough advance notice!

now ... back to manhood....

could we measure' manhood by three things?
problem solving, and

John M. said...

Great to hear from everyone -- especially you "new" guys.

Two comments: Interesting that the idea of biological reproduction came up. Have you guys thought about how our culture and current birth control technology has completely separated sexuality, intercourse and sexual pleasure from reproduction? So now, for the first time in history, it's possible to get the pleasure of sex without the commitment (or risk, depending on your viewpoint) of creating a baby.

Secondly, I really like the emphasis on finding our identity in God. Ultimately, our heavenly Father is the only one that can give us our true identity and heal our father wounds. (He is the only one who can give a woman her true identity as well.)

This makes me think of "The Shack". It has a lot to say about how knowing God for who he really is, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, brings healing to our father-wound.

The read imparts incredible healing of the broken human image and incredible sense of the immanence and reality of God's daily care and activity in one's life -- hence a renewed sense of one's identity in him.

I know, another plug for "The Shack". But that's (the above) what it did in me, and what it continues to do. The book is a God-thing. I know most of you have not read it -- and obviously, I'm a poor salesman, but I would go so far as to say -- you owe it to yourself to read it. OK, I'll try to refrain from plugging it again, but I won't guarentee that I will not reference it...

Brad said...

In thinking about what it means to be a man, I like Joseph's approach of thinking of men whom we admire. An eclectic set of examples happened to come to mind for me:

My Great Great Grandpa who had an old-time train set that he used to play with kids.

A family friend whom I never actually knew as an adult (my family moved away and then he passed away not too long ago), but whom I feel like I know as this great man... Because he devoted so much time and attention to his family... And because of his peace with himself and with others.

And this last one that comes to mind will probably seem random to many... but I lived in Africa for a while and came to learn about several histories in regards to the continent. Here I'm thinking about Seretse Khama (1st President of Botswana), who resisted colonialism, but did so very cleverly, peacefully, wisely.

I think another way to approach the question is to think of the characteristics we long to embody. Oddly enough, several of the characteristics I'd like to demonstrate in my life are evident in the examples of people whom I admire... kindness, time for others, peace (with oneself and with others), wisdom, and strength that is constructive (not destructive).

In the end, I think we (as humans) are multifaceted... and that we should seek to bring out the best in ourselves by continuously communing with God, Who can show us just who we are and what we are capable of being.

Brad P.

Brad said...

Sorry, make that "Great Grandpa," not "Great Great Grandpa"...

John M. said...

Hey Brad, welcome. I was thinking that your question at the retreat about "wisdom we have learned" also relates to this one.

I like what you're saying. Sometimes as I go through my day or in life situations certain men from my past pop up in my mind. I have a mental image of that person and what I have learned from him. From this I draw, strength, encouragement and a sense of acountability to be the man God made me to be.

My Grandfather is one that comes up most. He was my hero in childhood and young manhood, after I had started my family -- and he continues to be a role model. I can still see his smile, hear his laugh, her him say "Son..."

I remembr his devotion to Christ, his character and integrity and especially his his incredible work ethic and resilliance (he lost everything in the Depression and bounced back, owning several farms and businesses over the years; all with only a 4th grade education).

I also think about my own children and grandchildren and hope that I'm instilling an image on their mind that can be an encouragement to them in the future and after I'm gone.

Thomas said...

Manhood from the world's perspective = pride (in self)

Manhood from the Godly perspective = submission (to the Lord)

Let's not forget the issue of learning to be a Man (husband) while at the same time being the Bride...

(hello everyone)

smokin joe said...

nuestro amigo Thomás! I'm guessing this is Thomas Hernandez from San Antonio...he is part of a team with patrick that is forming a new spiritual community.

Excellent points my friend. Submission to God. That is the true meaning of Islam. Classic "Jihad" is the struggle to overcome our own flesh and sin in order to "submit to God." (I bet someone at the CIA just picked up a flag on our blog ...hehehe)

Also welcome to Brad... some of you met him at the campout. He just knocked a presention out of the park last night on Regional Integration in Economic History ... so he probably felt he could afford to relax a little and play around on our blog ;-)
Thomás Hernández is part of a team in San Antonio along with Patrick Curry that is in the process of forming a new spiritual community.

Thomas said...

maybe submission to God under the Lordship/under the blood of Jesus Christ (by the power of the Holy Spirit) would be more appropriate...

and in case anyone was wondering i am a part of a team in San Antonio along with Patrick Curry that is in the process of forming a new spiritual community. (N+1 redundancy)

(Hello CIA! feel free to post your thoughts)

John M. said...

This is the CIA: You're all busted.

Just kidding...

Is it stating the obvious to say that every man of any age has a little boy inside that comes out every now and then? Hopefully in a constructive, creative way.

smokin joe said...

My apologies to anyone who read John and my silly comments on this thread … it was what the bible calls “foolish jesting.” John and I know each other well enough that we sometimes kid around … but in digital media, without facial expressions and tone of voice, it is all too easy to misunderstand. Feel free to email me at if you were offended. I deleted the comments.

It seems to me we have discussed or alluded to three aspects of manhood; a) productivity, b) problem solving, and c) character.

Can anyone think of any additional aspects that are not covered under those three? Two more have occurred to me: stewardship, and struggle. Men are called to faithfully steward that which belongs to God; men are also called to fight (King David).

One can easily see stewardship in the garden…but not so easily the struggle until after the fall. Question: is the warrior nature of man an unfortunate side effect of the fall?

Brian Emmet said...

Good question, Joseph, about "warrior nature." Was Eden "perfect" in the sense of never any weeds, i.e., nothing to ever struggle with/against? Could plants in the Garden die? if everything was "perfect" in the way we usually use the word, there is nothing for Adam and Eve to do.

Without wanting to send this conversation in an abstract direction, I still want to ask if feminism hasn't deconstructed our sense of masculinity and femininity. Have we "moved beyond" "male" and "female" roles in a way that still allows us to speak of a masculine way of being, and a feminine? Or is all of that now contained in "human"? After all, aren't all human persons called to stewardship, character, problem-solving, etc.?

Patrick said...

I'm offended that Jose deleted the comments.

I'm interested in Thomas' statement about being the Bride of Christ in our masculinity. That is tied to Brian's comments about feminism's erosion of masculinity.

And is our warrior nature part of the fall? I see that the garden was the only domesticated place in the world; the rest of it was to be subdued. That would take a warrior-esque mindset.

smokin joe said...

good points Brian and Patrick.

Brian: there are different schools of thought within the general area of 'gender studies'. There are some that argue that gender is entirely 'constructed' by society, and others who argue in favor of equal treatment and opportunity but also that there are indeed, essential masculine and feminine characteristics ... with a continuum in between the two poles. I think we need to "dialogue" with feminists in order to deeply "hear" their concerns about inequality and injustice for women, but that does not necessarily require one to abandon a view of inherent qualities of masculinity and femininity as reflecting the image of God.

Regarding the Warrior aspect: I have never really given it much thought before, but it seems to me that there is no hint of "warfare" or heroic struggle against all odds before the curse. It would seem to me (and I am not arguing a point here, just thinking out loud) that weeding dying plants and extending the garden to the rest of the earth could be summed under productivity, problem solving or stewardship.

Patrick: regarding masculinity and the bride of Christ ... I will have to think on it.

good discussion!

John M. said...

Joseph, you suggested Procutivity, Problem-Solving and Character as vital manly characteristics. I would suggest adding Right Relationships to the list (unless we agree that that comes undercharacter).

One of the negative sterotypes of masculinity in western culture is being non-relational. Which is the oppoisite of what we were created to be. So being rightly related to God and others would be fundamental for me.

smokin joe said...

it depends on if we are talking about what qualities biblically or normally characterize men, or what qualities would be good for me to have to balance out their masculine nature. I don't see much in masculinity that is normally inclined toward relationships. I would tend to attribute that to femininity as an inherent characteristic.

John M. said...

Hey Joseph, if I understand you correctly, then I dsagree that relational integrity is not a manly quality. I agree that not many man demonstrate it adequately and that it has to be cultivated.

I not talking here about being "chatty" or emotional -- I'm talking about right relationships. I would say that all humans are relational beings, so it's neither an exclusive male or female issue, but a people issue.

From that perspective I feel that relational integrity is a given. Would you say that Jesus or Father is not relational, or that Adam was not created for relationship? What about the one another's in the N.T? Aren't they all relational?

I'm still thinking about the "Warrior" issue.

smokin joe said...

I'm not trying to argue with you John ... and I am not saying that it is not a "Manly quality." For that matter, I think gentleness and love are "manly qualities" to be desired and developed in all men.

What I am saying is that I don't think it is one of the inherent characteristics of "masculinity" or "maleness" ... perhaps because it is just as true, or more so of women. In my opinion, most women have an inherent relational intelligence ... an "intuition" for relationships if you will, and that is one reason why we men need them.

I am under the impression that we are talking about unique aspects of masculinity ... things that tend to set males apart from females (although any of the qualities can be carried too far in terms of generalizations).

If we have to choose who is more relational insticntively, I have to go with the women. Therefore, although it is, indeed, a quailty to be desired in men, I don't think it is a unique characteristic of maleness. I think that is precisely the point of why God said "it is not good for man to be alone" ... because it is so easy for most men to go into cave mode and isolate themselves. Hence, the need for Eve to draw us out of ourselves into the family.

Here is another way to put it: how many husbands have to go around nagging their wife to spend more quality time with the kids? not many right? It normally runs the other way. The men tend to get lost in productivity, problem solving and even warfare (ie. monday night football).

I hope I expressed myself more effectively ...

Brian Emmet said...

Joseph, good summary of current thinking on geneder roles. I doubt we're constructivists--gender roles are entirely products of social conditioning--but at the same time, most of our churches and fellowship groups have moved, significantly, in an egalitarian direction. Doesn't mean that move is right, but we do need to face the reality that we have, in fact, moved.

My point about struggle before the Fall was ill-phrased, but I think Joseph and Patrick advanced the ball anyway! John, how does masculine relational rightness look different from feminine?

John M. said...

Thanks for elaborating Joseph. No arguments on what you said.

Brian, "How does masculine relational rightness look different from feminine?"

At the risk of stereotyping here goes:

Feminine relationships: Nurturing, verbal, emotional, exclusive, possessive, easily offended, sensitive, intuitive, narrowly focused around details and a fairly small primary crcle, relationships look like a sewing circle or a quilting party...

Masculine relationships: center on mentoring and training, performance-based, less verbal, more physical (gestures, secret handshakes, slaps on the back, or butt), less exclusive, more easily expanded and transferred, less narrowly focused, tends to see the big picture of relationships -- God's big purpses, based on networking for greater productivity, and better problem solving, usually has a broader circle with a greater number of relatiionships, usually with a more exulsive core (women are more prone to relate almost exclusively to a small core ie "clique" (ever notice that boys don't form "cliques"? They may form a gang, an army, a band of brothers, or a team, but not a clique.), based more on seeing principles and functions of relationships than intuition and sensitivity, relatiionships look more like an athletic team, a hunting party or a campfire circle...

Some of these, I know can be seen as transcending relationships and being more temperment and life-approach oriented, but since relationships are the stuff of life, both natural and spiritual, I would say that all our relationships are colored primarily by one list or the other based on our gender.

smokin joe said...

I came across some Christian gender material a few years ago that pointed out that among men, relationships are often hierarchical ... or quasi-military. One might also say, functional.

Here is where it gets dicey ... we could take the list of relational characteristics of men and women that John just gave, and treat them as biologically inherent ... god-given and unalterable if you will.

BUT... (and there is always a "but" isn't there?) ...

The social constructivist are undoubtedly at least partially correct in pointing out that at least SOME of these gender characteristics are culturally constructed to some degree... (I would not argue that gender is entirely constructed - I do believe that there are inherent qualities in masculinity and femininity)

In order to demonstrate these these chararteristics are the 'essence' of each gender (for example, 'nurturing' vs. 'big picture, or performance-based') one must show that they exist in every culture, without exception. Are Cuban men always more "performance-based" than Cuban women? What about Afro-Americans? Are Swedish women more sensitive and possessive than Swedish men? etc.

The other thing is to make these kinds of generalizations, one has to show that all men are "big-picture and performance based" and all women are more "senstive, possessive and easily offended."

Such observations are very easily biased by the personal subjectivity and experience of the observer. I would have to say that I have known far too many men who are sensitive, possessive, and easily offended (god help me!). And i have known some women who are quite the "big picture" people. As with all cultural stereo-types, there are a whole range of gradiations of men and women inbetween those qualities that are presented as polar opposites of gender. My wife Debbie, for example, has never in her life been possessive or easily offended, and 'nurturing' was a quality that she had to develop after Sarah was born...on the other hand, for many years I was overly senstive, and very intuitive.

This is not a criticism John, but a critique: if you presented the two sets of characteristics you wrote about above to a mixed group of people WITHOUT identifying the accompanying genders and asked the people which set was more desirable, more 'adult' or more mature, I think most people would choose the "masculine" characteristics as superior.

Which may say something about our collective male social bias against women. Many Men often act like the 'adults' and relate downward toward women like 'children' in a patroniznig way ... which is a distortion of the true role.

my point: in order to discover the genuine inherent qualities of femininity and masculinity that truely reflect the image of God ... we must do a little social deconstruction and clear to one side our cultural perceptions.

Thomas said...

I am curious about how this all plays together considering the verse in Genesis about the woman's "desire will be for her husband." I know that there are different interpretations, but the one that I hold to (currently?) and that comes to mind in this scenario is that the woman's desire would be "to husband" or "to lord over her husband."

In this scenario, "God given" attributes are not the same as "natural attributes." Especially if you take "God given" to equal righteous attributes.

I realize I have a lot to learn... but I couldn't stop thinking about this when I read the last few passages...

John M. said...

Good comment Thomas. Ideal pre-fall or post-fall? Is there a post-fall "ideal"? Probablly not, I guess it would then be called a "norm". And if there is a norm is it possible to determine? Hmmm...

One example we have is Jesus, the 2nd perfect man, who never fell.

Interestingly, Jesus never really "taught" or made any recorded statments on manhood or masculinity that I can think of. But he did show us that he was totally focused on Father and did or said nothing execept in relationship to Father, through the Holy Spirit. So, he was focused on His father and the divine community: Father, Son and Spirit.

Joseph, I agree with what you're saying about cultural conditioning and formation affecting our concept of masculine and

I also agree that most males and females demonstrate a range of characteristics, with many being "exceptions".

Has anyone ever done a transcultural study to try to determine the "universal" male/female characteristics? Or are you hypothesizing for the sake of illustration?

The problem with that type of study is not imposing your own cultural values on your findings, and the tendency to misunderstand and/or misinterpret what we observe in other cultures -- particularly tribal cultures. (I'm thinking of Margaret Mead's study's and how they have been debunked after being seen as the base-line norm for many years.)

We also have the "nobel savage" myth and the "Adam-factor", mixed in, as Thomas noted.

Regarding your main point: "in order to discover the genuine inherent qualities of femininity and masculinity that truely reflect the image of God ... we must do a little social deconstruction and clear to one side our cultural perceptions." How do we do that? What does that look like?

I enjoy this kind of abstract discussion. But I hope we're not losing our younger guys. This time instead of going off into abstract theology (which they have said they don't like) we seem to be going to abstract sociology. This is not a critical statement, I'm one who tends to go that way. It's just an observation.

joe 6-pack said...

Thomas: that is the understanding I have also of that passage -- that the "desire" was a need to manipulate or control the husband.

Traditional Catholic teaching on natural law, as I understand it, would see 'natural characteristics' as reflecting the image of God although imperfectly due to the fall.

You bring a good point up: to what extent is male domination of women, and female attempts to manipulate or control males a reflection of the curse that came with original sin and the fall?

That is interesting in the light of the passage in Galations 3:28 that says that there is no male or female in Christ ....

John M. said...

Hey Joe 6-pack, does that refer to your abs or a beverage? :)

I would say that the drive to dominate is a result of the fall.

Scot McKight says that God created "The Adam" [human beings], in God's image, and then split him apart into two, the "Ish" (man) and the "Isha" (woman).

God's design was that they live in harmony and mutuality with each other and God, and that through marriage they would become "one" again, thus enjoying the same unity, oneness, mutuality and fellowship that the Trinity experiences.

Sin caused them to be at odds and in competitioin with each other; with each trying to dominate and/or manipulate and control the other.

Even in patriarchal, male-dominated cultures where women are oppressed, the women usually have considerable influence and get their way, many times, through manipulation. (Witness Rebbecah with Isaac and Jacob.)

Jesus came to restore the mutuality between male and felmale that they were originally created for. (Gal. 3:28)

PS Still thinking about the Warrior issue... Since there was war in heaven fought between angels, does that imply that God would have created Adam with a warrior nature in order to do spiritual warfare? If so, he didn't show it in the garden in Gen. 3.

It could also be argued that the war in heaven was a result of Satan's sin of pride, so war is not essential to God's image.

In the O.T. God himself is representd as a warrior, and "the Lord of Armies [hosts] -- anthropomorhpic analogy or his actual nature?

Jesus is going to do battle with his enemies when he returns as conquering King on a White Horse with a sword coming out of his mouth as "the armies of heaven follow him". (Rev. 19:14)

It seems that even if war is caused by evil, it plays a pretty big role in God's plan -- at least until the swords are beaten into plowshears. Perhaps in our desire for peace and pacifism we are pining for the new heaven and new earth...

Brian Emmet said...

Maybe it's not so helpful for us to try to figure out what it might have been like before the Fall, but instead to concentrate on our current lives "east of Eden." There is clearly a warrior aspect to Jesus, and we are in a battle until his appearing.

Has anyone observed the frustration of many women in their 20s, that "there just aren't any MEN available?" No slur on anyone, but I think there are a lot of Christian women who really are looking for some men to marry... and a lot of young men who just don't see themselves as up to the challenges. So many of our young men seem to have been denatured by our culture--church culture as well as US culture.

Or am I, yet again, misreading the data or missing the point?

Bama Stephen said...

An interesting conversation. Patrick's father said: "Too many boys are trying to learn how to be men by hanging around other boys, so that when they become adults, they are still acting like boys." Fatherlessness is the defining characteristic of our

Consequently, there is a marred view of God as Father and of the roles of earthly fathers. Godly fathers help define masculinity and manhood for sons. This is true in the natural and in the spirit. And, a young man has to learn first how to be a son before he learns how to be a father. This implies a submitted, teachable, listening heart.

A couple of other thoughts: Jesus is not my boyfriend or my lover. What the Body of Christ is to be corporately as the Bride is much different than what I am to be as an individual. Too many church leaders today confuse these roles, and consequently, we have legions of feminized Christian men.

I believe God created male and female - that was before the Fall. I believe in equal worth, but differing and complimentary roles. And, as the French say, "Viva la difference!"

Finally, I don't want to offend - realize I may be swimming against the tide here - but I saw "The Shack" as a well-intended but terribly distorted and confused view of Father, Son, and Spirit. Our friend Ray Ciervo offered an in-depth look at "The Shack" here:

joe 6-pack said...

It is not just "Christian" women who are looking for "men" and having trouble finding them.

Many of my university friends have not been able to find men who are willing to commit to them and make 'honest women' out of them.

Nevertheless, I don't think the task of carefully separating good biblical exegesis about gender from easy generalizations and cultural stereotypes about men and women is at fault for the problem.

The fault probably lies in the scarcity of fatherhood for young men.

From my friendships with some of the professors who are involved with the Women's study center and my conversations with feminist colleages, I do not see that there is necessarily a contradiction or opposition between feminist sensitivities and strong, godly manhood.

Strong and godly men will esteem and affirm strong godly women and welcome them as respected partners and coworkers in the task of stewarding creation. IMHO, many feminist women would love to get their hands on some strong, godly and manly Christian men who would respect, empower, commit to, and cherish them.

John M: you have seen me recently, which do you think it is? my favorite beverage, or my abs?

joe 6-pack said...

oops! we posted at the same time Steve, how are ya?

joe 6-pack said...

Brian, I don't think we are trying to figure out "what it would be like before the fall" ... I DO think there is a tremendous theological significance in whether or not the warrior aspect of the masculine nature is rooted in Gen. 1 and 2,or comes after the fall. This is not something to lightly dismiss. The book of Genesis has some extra signficance because all of the core beliefs of the faith appear in "the beginning" ... the genesis. Beliefs and values that are not found in Genesis are probably not nearly as significant as issues of faith, redemption, covenant, faithfulness, multiplication, sin, obedience, masculinity and femininity, marriage, family: all of which appear in Genesis. There is a HUGE divide between Genesis 1 and Genesis 3 and it is signficant.

Bama Stephen said...

This phenomena that both Brian and J6P mention concerning the lack of "marry-able" men for women is terribly real and is a growing problem. ABC News did a feature on this about 18 months ago and other outlets are taking note also. The "Peter Pan Syndrome" has catastrophic ramifications.

I've been writing a "Manifesto for Men" for a conference I am doing in Michigan in May, just putting my thoughts together, and that "elgibility/compatibility" question is an issue I'm very exercised about.

I would never describe myself as a feminist in the present sense of that term, and I would describe my thinking as Patriarchal in the biblical sense. I recognize modern feminism as an all-out assault on both patriarchy and the patria (family). That said, I believe the most female-friendly thing I can do is encourage, exhort, and train men to be kind, loving and faithful husbands, to be diligent and caring fathers, to be good providers, and how to be a servant-leader. Most time we spend counseling or praying with women has to do with the rotten behaviors of the men in their lives.

joe 6-pack said...

You should look for an opportunity to actually have some face-to-face honest conversations with some real feminists Steve...I think you might be very surprised.

One thing is the religious right's characterization of feminists ... another are actual women and their concerns and views.

What you are referring to is only one stream of feminists, and an extreme one at that. The majority of actual feminists, at least on my campus, are not assulting the family or men, just seeking to be treated fairly and with respect.

Bama Stephen said...

I respect and understand that you are having some face-to-face healthy dialogue with feminists. And, I recognize that feminism, like other ideologies, has many streams. But classical feminism has, at it's core, the philosophy of warfare with what they call "the patriarchy." As you said, "patriarchy" is a toxic word to many feminists, perhaps because of personal suffering at the hands of men, or because of 40 years of academic conditioning. I believe I can love feminists and profoundly disagree with that brand of feminism.

I'll admit, it's been a few years since I was on campus and in an environment when I was regularly interacting with feminists in person, but I have some ongoing dialogue online with feminists that has been illuminating and friendly.

joe 6-pack said...

Yes, Steve, I know you well enough to know that you could love someone even while you disagree with them. I am not trying to take issue with you.

Here is my problem with your earlier statement about feminism. Anytime we make broad generalizing statements about ideologies and people without taking the time to distinguish between diverse points of view and attitudes, we run the risk of turning entire segments of people into our “enemies” and of responding (or reacting) to them unfairly. The moment that happens, we kill any chance we might have had of communicating the gospel to them. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about feminists, socialists, muslims, fundamentalist Christians, liberals or conservatives …

I have friendships with probably nearly twenty feminists in my university. Not one of them is the kind of person you were describing. I have heard that there is one member of the Women’s study center that is an extreme “anti-man” feminist but I have not met her. All of my friends and acquaintances have husbands or boyfriends that they love, many have children, others are looking forward to having families of their own. They are not … assaulting men, Christianity or the family.

I understand that there are ideas that are wrong or have negative consequences and that we must discern and respond to them. But when we isolate ourselves and create generalizing categories of people that we begin to respond to adversarial, we marginalize ourselves and take ourselves out of any kind of redemptive conversation that might lead to their salvation and our own greater understanding of their concerns pain.

We are called to be healers of the sick, not crusaders for or against ideologies.

Bama Stephen said...

I wouldn't disagree with any of that. However, I think we can distiguish between how we communicate to people "out there" who are seeking versus how we as believers wrangle with truths and ideologies among ourselves.

In other words, when I interact with a "feminist" or a "homosexual," I am not going to be approaching them as a label but as a person. However, when I am conversing here with you about the actual philosophies or ideologies that animate certain behaviors, then I think we can delineate between what we see as positive or negative. In fact, I think it's especially vital for our younger brothers and sisters to understand this process so they don't end up with a relativistic approach to truth. The ability to walk in grace and truth at the same time is always a challenge.

There are many who call themselves feminists who have husbands and children and love their families - but, that is at odds with the core doctrines of classical modern feminism (post 1950s)as articulated by Betty Friedan, Angela Davis, Gloria Steinam, Eleanore Smeal, Mary Daly, Carole Pateman, Pauli Murray, Patricia Ireland, Faye Wattleton, and numerous others (not to mention Margaret Sanger from earlier times). Ironically, some of these feminist icons eventually either married or had children.

But feminism itself is an ideology with specific meaning, even if many feminists don't adhere to some of those core doctrines. It's sort of like someone who calls themselves Christian, but is very loosey-goosey about specific doctrines. Feminism, as I understand it from the words of its pioneers, is an evil doctrine.

I suppose "love the sinner, hate the sin" is over-used, but we have to be able to say among ourselves here what we see as right, and what we see as wrong...without falling into improper attitudes towards those "out there" who think otherwise. I want to be able to discern wisely versus an unholy form of damning someone.

John M. said...

Hey Stephen, good to have you back on the blog. Regarding The Shack, I don't know that you're going against the flow here in having a negative opinion of it.

As far as I know, I'm the only one who has read the book. Personally, I like it and don't see all the boogey men in it that some do, but I apprecaite your opinion and I'll check out Ray's critique.

Scot McKnight recently recommended a book by Roger E. Olson, "Finding God in the Shack". Scot felt that Olson, a respected theologian, gave an even-handed analysis and had actually read the book -- which many critics have not done.

I'm just glad to have someone on the blog who has read the book and has an opinion about it that can be discussed. I've only encountered apathy toward it here.

I think it's important to read it, since 8 to 10 million already have. Because it's so widely circulating both inside and outside the church, it seems that it is important to know first-had what W. Paul Young is saying through his story.

I agree with you all that many young men are reluctant to make a long-term commitment to a woman in marriage.

That's one quality or attitude that I recommend to the young men asking the question about man-hood. God said to be fruitful and multiply and extend his influence and stewardship to the whole earth. The most natural and most effective way of doing that is to have a family and reproduce the Kingdom in them.

Bama Stephen said...

Hi John, great to see you! That fear of commitment you mention among young men is very troubling and it's something I want to confront head-on among the young men that God has entrusted to me for pastoral care. Like J6P and others have said, so many young women are grieved by the lack of elgible or committed men.

As far as "The Shack," my reasons for reading it were, I imagine, the same as yours. So many people were reading it, and many of my friends loved it. I tried to approach it as being merely fiction, perhaps an allegory like "Narnia" or just a good story like "This Present Darkness." However, the more I read it ... particularly once Mack gets to the Shack ... I realized it was really designed to be more of an actual "teaching" on the nature of God and the Trinity. And, I believe as a theological teaching, it goes too far afield from orthodoxy.

It is an exceptionally compelling story-line. The concept drew me in on many levels, and held my interest, until we got into some of the more lengthy passages where "Papa" or the other characters are lecturing Mack.

That said, many of my good friends loved the book and say they got a lot out of it. I do believe that there is a joyful fellowship and love in the Trinity that Young has tried to portray...I just couldn't buy into how he did it.

John M. said...

Stephen, thanks for your response. I don't want to derail the man-hood discussion to a discussiion about the shack, but I'll venture a response.

Young calls his story an analogy. All analogies break down at some point. I think he would be quick to acknowledge that his is not an exception. That said, I think the analogy works very well.

Obviously, he's taking a risk with his imagry, but with it he makes some good points. Papa's comments on God not having gender and on the importance of Fatherhood are clear(in my evaluation, biblical), and later Papa appears in masculine form and explains to Mack why he didn't at first.

Young is trying to communicate God's immanence and his caring, loving involvement in our lives. He does this powerfully. Toward the end of the book he reveals some of God's transcendence, but transcendenc, awe, and otherness is not the purpose of the story. He shows just enough to balance the analogy a bit.

We're asking too much, if we expect a systematic theology of God or a gospel tract with Bible verses. What he's done is to make God accessable to a generation that dosen't understand God, or even if he is...and to believers who labor under legalism, guilt and shame. The book addresses questions that many are asking.

As for Young's answers, I wager that if we all got in a romm (or a group of academic theologians for that matter) and tried to answer the question of evil and seemingly random tragedies, we would not all answer in the same way.

If the book causes others to face their own "shack", deal with their issues, forgive and receive God's loving care then we should rejoice (in young's voice, "the shack is the place we are stuck in our relationships with God and others, [or even ourselves]) And based on the testimony of readers it is doing that with scores of readers.

Finally, if it causes some of it's readers to want to find the three-in-one behind the analogy, engage in converstaion and study to find Him... maybe even venture to talke to him. Awesome!

Brian Emmet said...

Thanks to all who are participating! May I gently, respectfully and politely remind us to keep our comments as brief as possible--some of our visitors and potential conversation partners get overwhelmed by 6 or 7 lengthier comments all in a row. There's no need to reduce what you want to say to the brevity of a Zen koan or a haiku, just work on keeping it lean and mean. Well, not "mean" in the nasty sense, you know...

So let's redirect to the question at hand: several of our younger men have asked about what it means to be a man, who one goes abouty "getting there," etc. We're attempting to identify qualities and caharcteristics that we think may either be unique to men as men, or which may have a characteristic "masculine expression." For example, All followers of Jesus are called to be "good stewards," but is the way men are to go about that different from the way women are? We've also mused about the aggressive/warrior aspect of manhood--is this mainly an expression of our fallen natures? What else strikes you as essential or intrinsic to manhood, maleness, manliness?

joe 6-pack said...

Brian: I have been thinking more about the 'warrior/stuggle' aspect of men also.

In a conversation with Dr. Sam over the weekend, we were discussing this thread. He suggested another characteristic of manhood as "lordship" or "rulership." Adam was given some degree of rulership (creation mandate) and soveriegnty over creation under God in the garden. That is clearly in the pre-fall mandate.

I wonder if the (non-fall) warrior/struggle part of manhood is rooted in rulership? The need to protect creation and defend it?

Someone pointed out that all good drama is based on struggle -- especially struggle against overwhelming odds -- struggle with nature, struggle with other men, struggle with oneself and struggle with God. I think here of the character played by Russel Crowe in Cinderella Man -- fighting in the ring to be able to buy milk for his children... truly a "good fight" if there ever was one.

Regarding John and Steve and the Shack, should you start another posst for anyone who wants to discuss The Shack? We can keep talking here about masculinity.

John M. said...

Joseph, excellent comments. I think "Rulership" is right on, and the struggle that goes with it since the fall. With sin and selfishness in the picture we have to resist trying to rule what God has not given.

On the other hand, we do have to struggle to rule legitamitely. So, one thing we need to do as men is sort out the difference, and how to "rule" in a godly way that serves others and stewards creation rather than domiinating others and being desturctive.

I had beem thinking about the need we have to be involved in a mission that is bigger than we are. Extending God's rule, His Kingdom into the earth and being involved in his Big Story is part of rulership.

It's also interesting to note that God gave the creation mandate to both Adam and Eve, together before Genesis 3. So, the woman is called into the Big Story also. Is there a difference between her approach and the man's apporach to and role in rulership?

Regarding The Shack... Is anyone interested in creatng a thread to discuss it?

Brian Emmet said...

I'll pass on The Shack (sorry, John, but just am not close to reading it), but encourage any and all to get such a conversation started on another thread.

Here's a thought I've never had before: a rebellion has already occurred before Adam and Eve arrive on the scene: Satan/Snake is already working against the purposes of God. Satan's "fall" preceded the human "fall." So "warfare" against evil may well be part of God's comission to "be fruitful, multiply... fill... subdue... rule (exercise dominion)..." Hmm...

joe 6-pack said...

ok, John and Steve, and anyone else interested -- I have created a new post for discussion about the Shack. I personally have not had a chance to read it yet ... although Debbie loved it.

Brian: there is one theological view that places the war in heaven and the fall of Satan in the first couple of verses of Genesis 1 -- before the creation ... or recreation. They connect it to the Hebrew of the word "formless and void" ...

steve H said...

I had been reading but missed a whole bunch overnight!

Concerning warrior and Gen.1-2. Heard a great message recently by Donald Bell (Afro-American pastor from LA)on the three presuppositons to be found in Gen 1 that must be understood to understand all the rest of the Scripture. His take on the creation mandate was challenging: Adam was called to be fruitful at home (be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth) and to take dominion outside the home (subdue and rule). That has huge implications including a foundation for man's basic call to be a warrior to extend the influence of the kingdom.

My comment: That command was given to the man and he started to fulfill his call to subdue and rule by naming (classifying) the animals before Eve was created. (On that basis one could argue that men are created to subdue and rule beyond the home and that women were given as helpers to the home task since without their help there were would be no way to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.) Ultimately, of course, man will not be able to subdue and rule without being fruitful, multiplying, and filling the earth (not just with children but with godly seed), thus women have a vital role in both parts of the commission.

That this whole issue of how men and women work together to serve God's purpose is key to the "present battle" may explain the war against true manhood, true womanhood, the unity and coherence of the family, the multiplication of children, and the effective training of the younger generations.

steve H said...

The current issue of "Touchstone" magazine has a good article on manliness as exemplified by Joseph. I think you will find it relevant to this discussion. You can find the article at

and specifically at

Bama Stephen said...

Excellent comments about being warriors, rulership, and the Creation mandate. It is true that the war began even before Adam was created, and in a sense, Adam and Eve were born into a war.

God gave them clear instructions for rulership, knowing that there would be warfare involved in subduing and ruling. Adam abdicated his authority and protective role with regard to the garden and to Eve.

Not to dwell on the earlier discussion on feminism, but I don't blame feminism on women, but on men who abused or abdicated their calling as leaders, whether at home or in the marketplace.

John and I have had some dialogue over in the CSM Discussion Forum about "The Shack" and I see that Joseph has started a seperate topic here on CT, so I will post my responses about that somewhere besides this particular discussion on masculinity.

Haiku ... an interesting idea!

John M. said...

These last few comments are very helpful in understanding our purpose on the planet and in the Big Story.

"You were born into war..." I've always related that to "after the fall". But Adam and Eve were "born" into war also. God intentionally placed them into a setting in which they would be tested.

Most everyone sees the Garden as an idyllic, utopia...but someone was lurking there, and God knew it when he put the man and the woman into the situation... Hmmm...

Regarding Haiku -- I have many gaps in my learning, so I had to look it up -- sounds complicated.

joe 6-pack said...

great article Steve H.!

I liked this comment:

"He consistently put aside his own ego in the service of God and family. Those of us who are husbands and fathers can look to Joseph’s example when we experience our own frustrations concerning reputation, career, and material well-being."

Regarding feminism: rather than caricaturizing and then attacking ideas, I think it is far more effective to become lovingly involved with individuals. Attacking big ideas makes us feel important, but it does not accomplish much -- most of the time we are just talking to ourselves.