GOD NEEDS REAL MEN
Few people deny it any longer: men have lost their way here in America. Close to three generations of boys have been raised in homes without fathers; with no one to show them what it means to be a real man; and with more and more of them gravitating toward one of two stereotypes:
AN EFFEMINIZED CULTURE
Both stereotypes are rooted in a culture that has become “effeminized.” The first is nothing more than an accommodation - an abject surrender on the part of some men to a trend they feel helpless to reverse; the second is a flat-out repudiation of it - an in-your-face rejection on the part of other men, who, like their foppish counterparts, know they can’t turn it back, but can’t bring themselves to embrace it either.
Neither, however, recovers what men know intuitively they’ve lost and want so desperately to recover: their manhood.
The traits that once defined manhood - muscle, courage, stamina, boldness, self-confidence, independence, resolute determination, a black and white sense of right and wrong - those very traits are out-dated in a post-modern world that now revolves around net-working, communication, cooperation, tolerance, concession, and a nurturing mind-set - traits women, not men, instinctively cultivate - traits that over the last several decades have produced . . .
But “rocking the boat” is exactly what the gospel, if preached with conviction, always does.
And if that’s what the gospel is and what it does, preaching it requires a church that honors the traits and values that produce real men, not metrosexuals and cage-fighters.
In short, if the world no longer needs real men - and the traits and values that produce real men - the church still does. If the world has turned men into pathetic anachronisms, the church can’t afford to do likewise. If the world has relegated men to the trash-bin of history, the church must acknowledge her desperate need for them - now, more so than ever before.
WHAT’S REALLY AT STAKE
It takes a real man to face up to the truth of the gospel - and then actually proclaim it. John 3:16 is a good example.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 is quite possibly the most frequently quoted, most beloved verse in all the New Testament. That’s because the truth it so obviously highlights is God’s love. But take a good look: there’s a darker truth that’s embodied there as well - a truth that’s downright repugnant to our post-modern sensibilities:
That’s a tough message! And it has never played too well - but much less so today than ever before. It runs counter to every norm of 21st Century decency. It makes Christians out to be narrow-minded bigots who won’t let well enough alone; who insist on telling respectable, hard working men and women that they’re doomed to hell unless they avail themselves of God’s mercy through faith in Jesus Christ; who stubbornly refuse to ascribe any legitimacy to other faiths; who, in short, stir up anxiety and threaten to tear apart the fabric of society.
And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These who have turned the world upside down are come hither also . . .
It’s an image that’s always called down on believers an unremitting barrage of insult and slander; but what it portends for the future is much more ominous: actual life-threatening persecution - the kind of persecution that can be sustained only by a character and temperament founded on the traits and values that produce real men.
MEN NEED A CAUSE WORTH DYING FOR
Men - to be men - need a cause worth dying for; it’s how they’re made - it’s embedded in their spiritual and emotional DNA - a cause larger than life itself - a cause that transcends their careers - even their families. Without it, too many men simply “drop-out” and become self-destructive - walking away from their responsibilities - leaving the women in their lives to pick up the pieces, bring home the bacon, and raise the children they’ve fathered - exactly what’s been happening for the last fifty years or so.
I’m 72 years old. I’ve been married 50 years to a woman who’s every man’s dream. We enjoy each other passionately and still hold hands when we’re together. I’ve walked with the Lord for over 50 years. I’ve been senior pastor of an evangelical church for close to thirty years. I’ve raised two sons and two daughters - each of whom loves the Savior, is married, and is raising a family. I have fourteen fun-loving grandchildren on whom I dote without apology. I know what it means to be a man and have no trouble explaining it. I know what men have lost and what it will take to recover it. And it’s certainly not an occasional week-end in the mountains drinking Bud around a camp-fire - though, if kept in bounds, I find nothing wrong with that.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Christian imprisoned by the Gestapo for his beielfs, refused an opportunity to be released, preferring to suffer alongside his fellow prisoners. Just before the German surrender in May of 1945, Bonhoeffer was executed. The Nazi concentration camp doctor who witnessed the execution wrote: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer ... kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the few steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”