I often hear different gripes from different people about men. I can scroll down my Facebook newsfeed and all but guarantee that I will be reading about a “friends” gripe with men and how men need to grow up and become men. I am often guilty of thinking and talking about the need for men in the home and how rare it seems to see men fulfilling their God-given role in their home. What I think happens is something that secular psychology has accomplished in our country – we have become really good at making keen observations. I have and others have become so aware that one of the major problems in our society is that men have abandoned their posts. But has merely observing this done any good? Have we accomplished something if all we have done is pointed out the obvious? We need more. We need to not only make good observations, but also translate those observations into real help. It is not enough to only say “men need to grow up”, or “he’s not really being a man, he is acting like a boy”.
Based on the observation by many in the secular realm and in the Christian realm, we need a fresh view of the old truths found in Scripture. Not that the truths change, but that we need to be reminded of them, just as Peter says in 2 Peter 1:12 “Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.” And it starts with Jesus. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I wrote in my previous blog about how sin, since the beginning, has always turned biblical manhood (and womanhood) upside down. The problem with men in our culture (and every culture and age since Adam and Eve sinned), is that we are sinful. The reason I become lazy and do not lovingly serve my wife is because I think selfishly about what I think I want. The reason men refuse to commit, but will gladly move in and let the women work while they are at home is because men (and women) think sinfully and selfishly. It is, by nature, a heart problem. But there is good news! I do not have to be that type of man! Jesus says that if I am in Him, my old, selfishly motivated nature, is gone! But not only is it gone, I also have a new nature! The man who is selfish, lazy, rude, unloving, angry, and any other adjective you may think of, has been nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ and has passed away. If I believe and trust in Jesus, I am given a new nature. My new nature is a restoration of God’s original design for me. I am freed from sin and am now able to be selfless, hard-working, kind mannered, gentle, and so on. Am I perfect? No, ask my wife. Seriously. I can still be all those old, sinful things, but that is not who I am. So, men, start with Jesus. Trust Jesus, and trust that He has removed everything sinful from you and freed you to become the man He has designed and planned for you to be.
With that, what does it mean to be a man? How has God designed men to be? Let’s look at Adam. Genesis 2:15 (ESV) says “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:24 says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” These two verses give us two primary purposes for men that are God given. God made men to work and God made men to have a family. There are several things that could and should be said about each of these, but it is important to know that God created Adam for these two things. God made the garden with Adam in mind. God planned for the garden to be worked and kept by Adam. Similarly, God made Eve with Adam in mind. God was not caught off guard by the fact that there was no other suitable helper for Adam. God did not think that the lions, or tigers, or bears (oh my!) would be suitable mates for Adam. Eve was the plan. Adam and Eve. And Adam would hold fast to his wife, Eve. Let’s break these two purposes down further.
1. Work. Work was created for Adam before he sinned. Work is not something that is the result of sin and therefore should not be avoided. God made Adam with the purpose to work. The sinful nature of men is to shy away from this. Work is hard. Work takes us away from what we really want to be doing. But God made us to work. Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Paul connects work with Christian worship. He also writes in 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So, whether you ear or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” There is a connection between working and glorifying God. To deny ourselves work is to deny God glory. But there is more than just work. There is a right heart attitude to our work. It is not enough just to claim to have a job. What kind of reviews do you receive? Does it matter? What kind of employee are you? These are all important questions. Paul says to glorify God in whatever you do. Another way to say that is that Paul says to glorify God in our work (or school work, or yard work, etc.). But Paul also says how to glorify God with our work. He says to work heartily. Work hard! Do good work! I once worked as a bookstore manager for a major Christian retailer. In my stocking books, it was my aim to be the fastest and best book stocker around. Why? Because in my hard work and nice looking shelves, I could point others to Jesus. God receives glory when I work hard.
2. Family. Family was created for Adam before he sinned. Family is, like work, not the result of sin or a provision made in the midst of sin. Therefore, having a family should not be avoided. I argue it should the main goal for young men. Family begins, for men, in finding a wife. Much can be said about this, and has been said about this in the recent months. The gay marriage debate is a definition debate, which means those for gay marriage want to define marriage differently than those who oppose gay marriage. While the purpose of this post is not to debunk gay marriage, it starts here. I fully believe that one cannot be a Bible-believing Christian while supporting gay marriage. Why? Because God planned for Adam and his wife Eve to be the central crown jewel of His creation. God saw the uniqueness and differences as very good, and created Eve for Adam and Adam for Eve. The institution of marriage, and thus family, by God is by definition between a man and a woman. You may support gay marriage, but it does not replace or recreate this central truth of Scripture. Call it love, but it will always be different than the love of between a man and his wife as God has defined it. That being said, I know many will disagree, and I even know the arguments you will use to disagree. The truth, however, is that God created Adam to have a wife, Eve. This is the pattern for God’s creation. God plans for Adam and Eve and for them to have children and to populate the earth (Genesis 1:27-28). As Adam works, he has a wife, and Adam works, with the help of his wife Eve, to provide for them. As they become one flesh, they have children, and now Adam, with the help of his wife Eve, work to provide for them.
Marriage is also important because it is a reflection of the gospel. In Ephesians 5:31-33, Paul says “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” The picture of the husband and wife becoming one leads us to a greater truth. The greater truth is that Jesus woos us. He came for us. He came after us. He came to unite us with Him. Jesus saves His bride, the church. This is one of the main themes of Scripture – God rescuing for Himself a people.
Work and family are tied directly to the gospel. Though we physically work, we know that One has come to work on our behalf. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake (His bride) God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” We rest in the work of Jesus, knowing that our effort to please God is futile and impossible. Our physical work, however, is a reflection of Jesus spiritual work on our behalf. As men work, they work not only for themselves, but on behalf of their families. Their families can rest in the man’s good work. Not only does being a man start with Jesus, but it ends with Him as well. The chief goal for men is to glorify God and to lead their families to Jesus, to worship and enjoy Him as Savior and Lord. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:25-30:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body.
The husband, who is the Christ picture, is to sanctify his wife (and kids) by the washing of the water of the word. This purpose is the larger purpose of Jesus, the “husband”, making his “bride”, the church, to be holy and spotless. As men work to provide and protect their families, the greatest thing that they can do is to point their families to Jesus.
Below are some resources that further dive into this discussion, and these men have greatly ministered to my soul from a distance. They have also greatly influenced my thinking and beliefs about biblical manhood and womanhood.
Piper, John, Wayne Grudem Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminsm. Crossway Publishing, November 20, 2012 (Redesign Edition),
Rainey, Dennis Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood. FamilyLife Publishing, 2011, Little Rock, Arkansas
Post Written by: Aaron Hale