Today we journey into the vast world of masculinity. So many misguided voices have entered the conversation of manhood over the past century. How can we possibly establish the truth about masculinity in the roaring sea of confusion?
To know what true masculinity is, we first need to look at the origin and then continue on to find what masculinity is not.
The origin of masculinity according to Christianity is in Genesis 1, during the creation account. "In the beginning God created..." God, who has no beginning and no end, God uncreated, created everything. This includes man.
He also gave commands to guide and instruct man.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 2 gives us a slightly different account. The second account adds some peculiar details on how man was made:
Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
In both accounts God created man, in His own image, in a distinct manner. Man was made to think, live and act in a specific way. It is safe to say that the version of masculinity we see today is contrary to what God intended in creation. Masculinity has been blurred and influenced by the fall in a bad way.
True manhood can be redeemed, if we follow the example of Jesus Christ.
Next we look at what masculinity is not. The worldly system frames it as 'toxic masculinity'.
What is toxic masculinity?
The origin of toxic masculinity is the toxic culture that immerses us. Culture, as we know it today, is part of the fallen world and is corrupt. This fallen, toxic culture empowers and drives toxic masculinity daily.
"Being a man is using what you have physically for your own good, despite the consequences to others," the toxic culture says.
Oxford defines toxic masculinity as: A set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole.
"The destructive messages associated with toxic masculinity can lead to men feeling entitled to engage in violence against women"
Another way toxic masculinity can be defined is, when men manipulate and intimidate others to get what they want, through the means of their strength and advantage of having more testosterone than those around them. This might be one of the reason why we are seeing an increase in narcissism, especially amongst men. Toxic masculinity feeds the downward spiral of
physical, verbal and emotional abuse, rape etc.
'Are you man enough?'
This is the question haunting the hearts of men since the fall. If not for the fall, all of us would be perfect men, husbands and fathers. But it is clear in this world that it is not so.
Pretense also does not help. Men hide behind their masks, never really showing who they are or how they feel. Toxic culture encourages men to refrain from crying, to always be strong and succeed at all costs.
Toxic masculinity involves cultural pressures for men to behave in a certain way. This idea that men need to act tough and avoid showing all emotions, can be harmful to their mental health and it can have serious consequences for society. That is how the term “toxic masculinity” originated.
Just going to the gym explains it all. Now, hitting the gym is not a bad thing in and of itself. But it has a tendency to become 99.9% self-focussed. There are clearly health benefits to daily exercise, but when it zooms into improving your body image pumping the weights shout "Please look at me. It's all about me!" And that is the way most boys are raised - to dominate and intimidate to get your way and rise to the top.
For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
1 Timothy 4:8
Now, this begs the question: What is Biblical Masculinity and how do we restore it?
What is Biblical Masculinity?
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Men are created stronger and with a higher risk-taking tendency for a reason. Laying your life down for another, saying no to your own needs, that is what being a man is all about. Jesus didn't hold on to anything, but gave through complete obedience. He represented God the Father perfectly.
If men want to do the same, we ought to be good husbands and fathers; not only in protection and provision but also in being present emotionally. This helps in creating stability for healthy families, to influence the world in a life- giving way.
How do we restore Masculinity?
First, admit that something is wrong and that you need help.
Healing and restoration can not happen if we do not first admit the problem. We need to move from conformation to transformation. You and I need to live more from the heart than from the head, especially since we have been brainwashed by the world to behave otherwise.
Remember, emotions are not bad. They will not make you weak. Vulnerability in admitting your shortcomings is the first steps to becoming the man you were created to be. Accountability will pave the way to stay the man you were created to be.
Secondly, stop suffering in silence.
Speak up! Ask for help. Voice how you feel. Maybe you can get a chart that names and defines various emotions, to help you express how you feel and then work through it. If you are married, let your wife help you. Her emotional vocabulary is (usually) more advanced than yours. Together you can be much stronger than alone.
For married and single men, do not neglect or refrain from true brotherhood. Men need other men to be healthier men. So, embark on this journey with other men as well.
The third step is to: read your Bible.
God, who created you, will transform you through His Word. Jesus was and is the ultimate man - the living Word. Follow His example in loving others, sacrificing your desires, being obedient and selfless and living the life you were meant to live.
Fourthly, convenience and obedience do not go together.
Know that this journey will be hard, will cost a price and bring resistance, but it will be worth it. There is no better fulfillment than living close to God through Jesus Christ, being the man He created you to be in full out obedience. Godly purpose changes everything.
Lastly, do not give up!
God will always be with you! He will never leave you nor forsake you! He made you for this! It was His plan from the start. Persevere, He will lead you through!
For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”