learning from wise friends; plus my 2-cents on schoolteachers

WISE FRIENDS: Next, I’d like to share a couple of the insightful responses to my post from Tuesday, “Recalibrating the Christian Man.”

Almost all the comments, emails, and messages were extremely helpful. This one in particular, posted by Geoff Kohler, got to the heart of the question and gave me a lot to think about. Geoff is pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; he blogs at “Crediting Marvels.

Just read your recent post on the responses of men in describing Christian men and Jesus. It caused me to think.
I spent some serious study on the feminization of Jesus and faith in America and the backlash to it that came out in the book “The Man Nobody Knows” by Barton and probably was still seen in some of the Jesus imagery of the 1970’s and 80’s that had this strong, strapping, Americanish depiction.
So, although I appreciate the movement in the table discussion I do wonder about the influences that brought that about. I think it is helpful for people to consider an historical Jesus at times, and particularly for men to do this. The idea that this person was a construction worker, making a living by building out of stone and wood. That he lived in a time when every part of a meal included work – finding food, making food, cooking food, storing food. Subsistence living would be a normal level of existence.
I think of men I’ve met in Haiti when I think of Jesus now.
My thought moves me to wonder if we must “soften” compassionate Jesus, rather to recognize the determined courage compassion requires. I find that not enough study has been done to understand the core or basis of men’s emotional expressions and so we tend to describe them in terms that make deep sense to women. We need to do a better job of defining and describing how men express emotion. I believe that if we can do that, and celebrate it, we will be able to recognize more clearly truly human emotions and not tie into more gender laden expressions of them.
Thanks for making me think. – Geoff Kohler

Then, this from my friend Andre, who worships here at Wake Forest Presbyterian Church:

It is a very valid observation that this world defines manliness in a very different way than the way we would describe Christian manliness (or godliness). A manly man of the world is described by the attributes of the first question. A man after God’s own heart should have the attributes from the second question. This is why we are called (Romans 12:2) to “not conform to the pattern of this world”. Every time I personally strive to be the manly man from the first list I sin, but when I keep my eyes on my LORD, I am more like the man in the second list. And this is my daily conflict.

CHALLENGE: Both Geoff and Andre understand – and express well – the conflict between our cultural predilections as American men and the calling to live into our nature as beings made in the image of God.

The challenge, as I am understanding it more clearly (thanks to these helpful conversations) is twofold:

  1. We must remember that “being made in the image of God” does not have a gender bias; God is not limited by gender-specific attributes.
  2. At the same time we must understand that we are human beings, men and women. So the question becomes, “how do we express the divine image as male and female persons, without compromising the image of God or compromising our nature as men and women?”

    learning every day...
    learning every day…

Always learning, always growing, always open to the Spirit – DEREK


One comment

  1. Interesting but I guess at my current age I can’t say I worry about comprising my nature as a man. I suppose as a man I relate better to certain people and situations, but serving Christ can mean tears, hugs, shouts, dishes, diapers (although it has been a while)… You name it. I can’t say I stop to wonder if I am being manly or not. I would rather give my son an example of following my LORD than being a “manly man”. 🙂


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