Written by Gilley Wright
Why would a woman write an article celebrating manhood? Because not many women would read it if it were written by a man. In our society, the legitimacy of your opinion is directly proportional to the degree of victimhood attributed to you. Men, in general, rank lower on that scale than women. We are constantly exposed to messages conveying that women can do and say things that are touchy or unacceptable from a man. Inequalities in women’s favor are blissfully ignored. Women are praised for being strong and keeping it all together, while men are often the butt of the jokes. The pendulum of public opinion has swung. A disclaimer: I realize I am making sweeping generalizations about culture, men and women, but bear with me.
Where does this culture shift leave Christians? Several New Testament letters contain warnings to churches that had absorbed the surrounding culture. It’s naive to think the church is immune to the shifting sands of societal norms. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV). As Christians, it is our duty to reject any unscriptural message. This begins with a solid grasp of the biblical view of manhood.
First, God created both sexes in the image of God and called his creation “very good.” Second, God created man as the stronger vessel (1 Peter 3:7); men’s bodies can handle things that women’s bodies cannot. Their bodies aren’t better, just different. On average, men have higher muscle mass, build muscle faster, have greater bone density and a lower body fat percentage. They take more risks (Gary Charness, Uri Gneezy: “Strong Evidence for Gender Differences in Risk Taking,” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Volume 83, Issue 1, 2012), especially under stress (Mather, M., & Lighthall, N. R. (2012). Risk and Reward Are Processed Differently in Decisions Made Under Stress. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21(1), 36–41.), and overwhelmingly constitute those working the most dangerous jobs in America and dying workplace injury-related deaths (according to a Public Health Post article published June 9, 2020). Statistically, the firefighters, police officers and paramedics that rush to an emergency are by a large majority male (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Third, men have been given the responsibility to protect and provide for their families. In 1 Timothy 5:8, Paul has harsh words for anyone who doesn’t provide for his family. According to U.S. Census data, men in general, and especially married men, work longer hours than women. Likewise, Paul tells husbands in Ephesians 5:29 to nourish and cherish their wives as they would their own bodies. In 1 Timothy 3:5, he requires that men manage their household well as a prerequisite to managing God’s household as an elder. The idea of men fulfilling leadership roles in the home and the church is unpopular but biblical. As a woman, I am not eager to usurp that purpose. As Jesus says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48, NIV). Just because women “can do everything a man can do” does not mean we can do it better, that we should do it or that doing so is in the best interest of our Christian brothers or ourselves.
Granted, masculinity has been twisted by the fall: anger, domination, workaholism and sexual impulsivity are a few examples. We women have no fewer flaws: manipulation, pettiness, competitive jealousy and gossip. Human nature is just plain bad. But our culture whispers that men are transactional, that they want things from us rather than for us. It’s unsurprising that many of us young women no longer want men to lead our homes or our churches — we’ve been marinated in a culture that views men with profound distrust and smugly highlights men who perpetuate its fatalistic depiction.
Worldly ideas are insidious because they inhabit the subconscious, sitting undisturbed and generally unnoticed below the surface. We may not believe them, but we feel them. To fight these subtle ideas, we can call out the overtones. While culture jumps on any opportunity to demean masculinity, it is our job as Christian women to affirm real manhood when we see it. Just as we build up our female friends with small measures of gratitude, extending that same gratitude to the men in our lives shows them that we see them through God’s eyes rather than those of culture. Women: Let’s give men the opportunity to be the sacrificial leaders God intended them to be. Men: Rise to the occasion.