Americans are schizophrenic when it comes to manhood. On one hand they want their men emasculated, well-groomed and gentle to the point of femininity; on the other, they want all men to look like Schwarzenegger and to get what they want as a result of pure swagger and testosterone.
The Christian ideal is much different. You could say it’s somewhere in between, but in reality true masculinity has nothing to do with whether you pluck your eyebrows or carry a .12 gauge in your Dodge pickup. True manhood lies in assuming and living up to the role God set for men when He created Adam, and which Christ exemplified and fulfilled.
Fortunately that role is clearly presented in Scripture, both by example and in theory. A “manly man” is characterized primarily by his love of God’s law and his desire to live according to its precepts. David was a man after God’s own heart because of his devotion to righteousness and his passion for knowing God. If we want to reach the same status our only recourse is to pursue holiness above all else.
That’s not to say manliness has nothing to do with how we act or what we do in our free time, but it’s less tied to both typical traditional and contemporary models. If a man likes to cook more than work on cars that doesn’t make him feminine, nor is a man who hunts animals and has a beard necessarily more manly. There are certain activities a man is more likely to undertake than a woman due to his role, but if he’s really a man he’ll do so humbly and not brag about it.
Some Christian authors claim a real man is loud and not “nice” and that he wears denim instead of a collared shirt. While this may describe some men, such details are trite and belong more in a book about stereotypes. True masculinity is true godliness. Because we believe the best place to learn the “manly virtues” is at home from dad, many of our books center around fathers and sons, the earthly relationship illustrative of the bond between God the Father and us His children.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.