God Needs Real Men

The church sorely lacks real


Screenshot20130621at105910AMFew 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:

  • The metrosexual man who styles his hair with the same fastidious attention of a woman, who enjoys shopping in high-end boutiques, who helps organize earth-day rallies and whale watches, and who has become adept at living in a world that caters almost exclusively to the needs and sensitivities of his wife or girl-friend; or,
  • The “cage-fighter,” who makes muscle and brawn the mark of his manliness, who revels in raw brutality, who spurns even the hint of compassion, and who treats women as little more than objects of sexual gratification.


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 Screenshot20130621at110419AMmanhood.


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 . . .

  • a world inimical to a single messianic vision that denies validity to any other;
  • a world where there are no black and white distinctions;
  • a world where compromise and tolerance are admired, not disdained;
  • a world where there are no causes worth dying for; and, lastly,
  • a world where “Don’t rock the boat!” is the order of the day.

But “rocking the boat” is exactly what the gospel, if preached with conviction, always does.

  • That’s because the gospel does indeed arise from a single messianic vision that denies even a shred of legitimacy to any other.
  • That’s because the gospel shamelessly links salvation to one and only one faith - and tolerates no compromise.
  • That’s because the gospel is all about black and white distinctions.
  • That’s because the gospel is indeed a cause worth dying for - a truth the Bible proclaims without apology.

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.


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

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:

  • It’s that we’re all born under the sentence of death.
  • It’s that life is little more than a brief interval between a sentence of death already pronounced and an execution about to take place.
  • It’s that the world is nothing less than a prison housing the condemned.
  • It’s that God has provided only one means of escape - mercy through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • It’s that anyone who spurns that mercy and turns his back on faith in Christ will surely perish.

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 . . .

Acts 17:6

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 - 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.

  • What’s needed is a church that trumpets the values that produce real men.
  • What’s needed is a church that encourages its women to lend their support to those values, to turn their backs on the metrosexual and cage-fighter stereotypes, and to deny to both even a shred of legitimacy;
  • What’s needed is a church that tells men straight-out and unabashedly that the gospel is a cause worth dying for - that it’s a cause worth every sacrifice they can make in its behalf.
  • What’s needed is a church that asks its men to step out in faith and preach a real gospel - because preaching a real gospel will produce real men.
Screenshot20130621at114050AMDIETRICH BONHOEFFER

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.”