By Dr. Jim Sutherland

Few are the opportunities to feel “the mannishness of man” It possesses me rarely enough--after some sweaty hours with a chain saw
or splitting maul, or after lifting weights. Then I jokingly warn my wife of my
coming—“I’m feeling the mannishness of man!” It’s hard to feel manly at a
keyboard. Car manufacturers are increasingly pitching big horsepower to the
male ego, starved to demonstrate maleness. My focus isn’t upon ego, but upon
“mannishness.”
Perhaps my greatest fear in becoming a Christian was embracing a feminized,
almost effeminate church culture. Perhaps being raised by my mother
contributed to this fear. What I experienced was friendly religion without power
and male virility. What I was asked to sing was too often Romantic 19th century
hymns. Personally I have trouble singing “I come to the garden alone, while the
dew…”. I gravitated to real Christian men—Scout leaders, and Rev. Bill
Hillegonds, our chaplain at Hope College--a man of godly passion and
decisiveness. He didn’t see a Christ with perfect long hair and beatific
countenance. Jesus was a muscular carpenter—without power tools he had to
have been muscular. Over the years the denomination of which I was then a part
became increasingly feminized. It began with female elders, then pastors, and
finally denominational leaders, which is contrary to 1 Timothy 2:12. Churches are
increasingly pastored or co-pastored by women. I don’t question their spirituality,
but their role (1 Tim. 3:2, “husband of one wife”).
Many Christian bookstores seem to be, in part, feminized repositories of gift-shop
irrelevance that few men would consider. I love my wife and delight in her
femininity. But I don’t want a church characterized by femininity. While I find no
biblical evidence that women are natively the more godly gender (cf. Eccles.
7:28), could they grow to be more sensitive and obedient to God’s voice?
Women may outnumber men at prayer meetings because they are married!
Some women don’t work outside the home and have more leisure to pursue the
means of grace. Sixty-eight percent of short-term missions trips taken through
this ministry have been taken by women. Women may simply do more church
work.
How can a man be a manly Christian? Among the metaphors for the Christian life
is that of soldier. (Of course, now we have women firing bullets for us.) Paul
wrote to Timothy:
You, then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the
things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust
to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship
with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 2:1-3, NIV)
A Christian man’s strength comes by God’s grace. He must steer the family, if he
has one, make the final decisions affecting many aspects of family life, while
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supporting wife, children and even parents. He is to be concerned also with
God’s Kingdom, discipling other men. He is to endure hardship--not embrace
comfort. How many soldiers do you see who are physically out-of-shape? They
are trim and hardened. The Kingdom of God requires Spirit-control and selfcontrol.
The Kingdom of Darkness is arrayed against the Kingdom of Light. The
Ring Trilogy has tapped into our subliminal understanding of the world as
battleground—a spiritual battle requiring brave and protecting men. Why brave
and protecting men? Because of wicked and exploiting men (and women). Have
you read of the rapine of Darfur1? The capture of 12,000 children of northern
Uganda for soldiers and sex slaves2? There are 27 million slaves today--more
than were stolen from Africa in 400 years3. In Kenya there are 45 women with
HIV aged 15-24 to every 10 men4. The rule of law and superior force is all that
keeps any country from the same exploitation of the weak by stronger men. We
need also men who are willing to stand against cultural forces bent upon
corrupting their children and accept the flack. It’s tough to censor music and
movies, if you’ve tried it.
How does a Christian man of courage act? Defend the family as between a man
and woman; refuse to spend what you don’t have; teach your sons what a man
does and how to work, and your daughters how a man treats a lady; teach your
family to love God; keep your word; admit your failures; adequately support your
family; make the tough and unappreciated calls; keep yourself pure; take on the
strongholds of the devil that God places upon your heart. Where are the
strongholds of Satan?--the inner city, the gay community, materialism, sexual
exploitation, abortion, thievery, cults and many others. Take one on. Consider
enduring the hardship of the mission fields of the world—short-term and longterm--
wherein are 1.75 billion who are unevangelized. There are 1.27 billion
Muslims and 841 million Hindus5. Men should not expect the single women to go
to the hardest places, although they go willingly6.
Paul put it to Christian men: “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of
courage; be strong. Do everything in love.” (1 Cor. 16:13-14). Be a man, be
courageous, but show love, just as did the God-man Christ, who never flinched
before sinners or Satan, and who never stopped loving. God made two genders,
and wants it kept that way (cf. Dt. 22:5; Rom. 1:26-27). I want a planet where, as
Donald Cole put it, “Men are men, and women are glad of it!”7 Christ is a man’s
Man. In Him, you will not be bound and your house spoiled (Mt. 12:29), and you
will assault the beaches of darkness.

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