Since the APA’s report and Gillette’s ‘short movie’ hit the interwebs, discussion about masculinity has kicked into overdrive. The best opinion I’ve found on the report and Gillette comes from Desiring God’s Greg Morse, found here. It’s well worth the read.
I offer my perspective to a question I’ve been contemplating since this flare-up surrounding masculinity: when did masculinity become the dragon in need of slaying?
In response to the renewed assault upon traditional concepts of masculinity, numerous writers have argued that the world needs more of the ‘right’ kind of masculinity instead of less masculinity overall. I think this argument misses the point entirely.
If we believe that addressing this issue hinges upon finding the right kind of masculinity, we’ll be caught continually spinning our wheels in an attempt to alleviate the fears feminism stokes in our hearts. The ‘right’ kind of masculinity doesn’t solve these problems, because even a God-inspired masculinity is not God Himself. It just sets up another idol.
Losing the fear of a masculine, all-powerful, righteous God has caused a desire among men and women alike to fill that void. As all idols inserted into the God-shaped hole in our hearts do, they eventually crumble under the weight of unfulfilled expectations. Women have sought reprieve through the allure of feminism, since its inception to present day. Men have sought various forms of ‘masculinity,’ from John Wayne to Rocky or the Marvel Cinematic Universe. All of these efforts have left in their wake a yearning for individual purpose no caricature of protection, provision, or heroism, regardless of its originating gender, can fulfill.
Our fallen nature has systematically destroyed the desire for a strong, capable, gentle, manly leader for the flock of humanity. Consequently, once the sheep are convinced that a shepherd is not needed, all sheepdogs are seen as wolves. Men were made to be sheepdogs: listening intently to the commands of God, obeying those commands with joy, and teaching those commands, with authority, to those entrusted to their care. Men protect, provide, and serve. But ultimately, men must do all of this through the power and example Christ provides in His Word and sacrifice on Calvary.
Whether men look through the lens of Gillette or Men’s Fitness, there remains almost no market for traditional masculinity. The world simply cannot paint a clear enough picture for what masculinity should look like. We are left with a market of four to forty-something children, growing up with images of bravery, courage, and sacrifice that even the fantastical world of the MCU cannot resolve fully. There will always be another teaser credit scene, another villain to defeat. The scope of true masculinity the men of this world crave, one that communicates the enormity of the work men are called to, is only found in Scripture.
As Charles Spurgeon reminds us, we must return to God where we last left Him. When comparing the forgeries of masculinity offered by the world, with the personification of masculinity that is found in Christ, we quickly realize where we might return to God on this issue.
Might we as a people, male and female alike, repent of our desire to make a Jesus in our own image. Let us confess that true masculinity can only be found in Jesus. Let us crack open Scripture more and more, seeking a God that always keeps His promises, never fails, never gives up, never abuses, and never takes His creations for granted. Let us submit to the calling of the Holy Spirit in our hearts and re-affirm the calling for which we were created. Lets glorify God, enjoy Him forever, and never lose sight of the perfect man He provided for us in Jesus.