The Testosterone Testament: Masculine Christianity and the MAN UP Crusade.

They’re at it again. As if Mark Driscoll’s comments weren’t bad enough about the British Church being pathetically effeminate and pansying around yet not doing much due to the lack of “good, male Bible teachers”, we now have John Piper saying that Christianity is meant to be masculine in feel. It’s beliefs like this that make me feel like I want to go and repeatedly bang my head against the corner of a wall.

Here’s what John Piper said:

God revealed Himself in the Bible pervasively as king not queen; father not mother. The second person of the Trinity is revealed as the eternal Son not daughter; the Father and the Son create man and woman in His image and give them the name man, the name of the male.

God appoints all the priests in the Old Testament to be men; the Son of God came into the world to be a man; He chose 12 men to be His apostles; the apostles appointed that the overseers of the Church be men; and when it came to marriage they taught that the husband should be the head.

Now, from all of that I conclude that God has given Christianity a masculine feel. And being God, a God of love, He has done that for our maximum flourishing both male and female.”

He also stated that his words could be taken out of context and explained what he meant:

“This is liable to serious misunderstanding and serious abuse since there are views of masculinity which would make such a perspective repulsive. When I say masculine Christianity or masculine ministry or Christianity with a masculine feel, here’s what I mean:

Theology and church and mission are marked by an overarching godly male leadership in the spirit of Christ with an ethos of tender-hearted strength, contrite courage, risk-taking decisiveness, and readiness to sacrifice for the sake of leading and protecting and providing for the community. All of which is possible only through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It’s the feel of a great, majestic God who is by His redeeming work in Christ inclining men to humble Christ-exalting initiatives and inclining women to come alongside those men with joyful support, intelligent helpfulness, and fruitful partnership in the work.”

I don’t need to tell you that Jesus came to raise women to an equal value as men, or that God and Jesus are referred to using feminine metaphors as well as masculine ones (do a Google search if you don’t believe me). I don’t need to tell you of the cultural context of the day for you to understand why men often took a prominent role in leadership during biblical times, and I don’t need to tell you that women have had prominent places and positions of authority, despite their gender, and, wait for it, God blessed their ministry. And Paul, might I add, who is seen as the patriarchal king of the Bible was also the man who penned the words of Galatians 3:28 and other similar passages which talk about God’s people as one as opposed to the ‘males and females’.

Piper himself said that “there are views of masculinity which would make such a perspective repulsive” and to be honest, it’s the ‘MAN UP’ crusade that the likes of Driscoll and Piper are going on that repulse me. Because it gives off a stench. And I’m guessing that this portrayal repulses a lot of females and other males too. I mean, just look at the picture contained in this post! Who would want to worship that Jesus?!

When we start saying things like ‘Christianity has a masculine feel’, we’re immediately taking our attention off the heart of what it is to be a Christian. The power of Christ’s death and resurrection wasn’t in the fact that he was a man. It was the fact that he was the Saviour come to rescue mankind. We need to focus on that.

Yeah, sure, Christian men need to be the men that God has called them to be. But pastoring those men doesn’t mean we have to start saying that masculine metaphors define Christianity as a ‘masculine’ faith, whilst at the same time ignoring anything about the feminine side. It also doesn’t mean we have to talk about ‘manning up’ and all the potentially horrible things that go with that. Personally, it makes me feel ill. And the worrying thing is that this idea of making sure you play rugby, have a beard and growl a lot that’s drifting over the Pond is starting to affect my generation of young Christian men. And I don’t like what it’s doing to them.

Don’t man up. Just get more of and more like Jesus. You might have been told or given the impression that he was like the guy (whoever he is) in the picture above, but actually, where have you ever read that Jesus punched the lights out of the Pharisees? Or growled a lot? Or made a massive point about his masculinity? I’m telling you now, there are some BRILLIANT women leaders out there, and they’re shining for God. Their ministries are flourishing and countless souls are coming to Jesus. Yes, that’s right, even through a woman.

Christianity does not need to be more masculine, neither does it have a ‘masculine feel’ to it. Look back through history, and the places where people have tried to put a ‘masculine feel’ on Christianity and the results are not very good at all.

As Driscoll rightly said post detrimental comments about the British Church- it’s all about Jesus. It’s not about being a man and taking charge of your family, having power, liking fast cars, football, rugby and so on. It’s all about him. And when it IS all about him, then everything else will fall into place, by his grace.

For more takes on this, see the following:

http://rynomi.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/masculine-christianity/

http://www.christianpost.com/news/john-piper-god-gave-christianity-a-masculine-feel-68385/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2012/02/03/john-piper-what-he-said/

http://vickybeeching.com/blog/god-has-given-christianity-a-masculine-feel-says-john-piper/

http://krishk.com/2012/02/christianity-supposed-masculine/

These links are seriously worth a look. Krish Kandiah and Vicky Beeching have excellent posts on this issue. I may have written my post in haste, and maybe slightly annoyed by all this that’s coming over from the States. And Mark Driscoll and John Piper do some incredible work, but I just can’t sit back in silence and eat the comments that are thrown out of the mouths of people who have so much authority in the Church.

OK – I need your opinions. What do you think about all this? Have I been unfair? I know my arguments may not be bullet proof, but you can see what I’m getting at. Have your say below.

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about

  • AJ

    JOHN 13:25He then lying on Jesus’ breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

    That’s not very masculine is it? Man up Jesus!

    I agree with you on most of that Dean, although the issue with women leadership in the bible ius pretty clear that it wasn’t cultural as he relates it back to Adam and Eve and not a cultural situation. Me and women were created equally but within their rightful roles.

    • Thanks for the comment Andy. I would argue that Piper arguing for his position by using Genesis (Especially chapter 2) is one of the exact reasons why his argument doesn’t hold water. The word for helper (which Piper mentions) in hebrew is ‘ezer’. Most of the time this hebrew word is used, it is used in relation to God being the helper for Israel. You can’t really say that God is subordinate to Israel can you?!

      • AJ

        Um i’m not entirely sure what Piper says about this situation, I don’t tend to listen to Piper or Driscol.. I was just referring to in 1 Timothy where it says..

        (8) in every place of worship…..(12) I do no let women teach men or have authority over them..For God made Adam first and afterward He made Eve.

        Now I know that God uses women all the time but from reading the scripture I don’t think it’s the way it is meant to be. It says that women should teach women and children but not men. It does seem that there is a certain hierarchy within heaven and earth but that doesn’t mean an equality issue..

        Due to it reading ‘in every place of worship’ I believe it’s talking about public worship areas such as within the church etc because we read that women expounded unto Apollos the way of God more accurately. Some people have taken this hierarchy business too far and in effect forced a lesser equality upon women which is also wrong.

        I know loads of people have different opinions on this so I don’t want to fall out with anyone so I’ll just leave it there, feel free to reply though if you feel I’ve misinterpreted the scripture..

        • Andy, they’re completely justified convictions on a personal level. Whilst I wouldn’t agree with you that women shouldn’t teach in church (and there used to be a time where I’d completely agree with you) I understand where you’re coming from. Though I think the subject of headship and household codes needs to be discussed in a debate like this, as well as context in which Paul was writing, especially in relation to some of his other letters where women are given a lot more prominence. It’s also worth looking at Jesus’ relationship with women in scripture too to find a balance in how we go about the whole ‘women in leadership’ debate. All interesting discussion, which needs to be dealt with in love and sincerity, whilst maintaining an orthodox view of scripture, but one which takes into consideration other Biblical passages as well as sociopolitical context…

  • I too have been wound up over the past few weeks regarding the ‘man up Christianity’ comments – in fact – I have nearly had to stop myself from throwing the laptop out the window when reading some of them!!  (Would that pass as being ‘manly’?  wait … I am a woman … that wouldn’t work!)  Anyhow – without getting drawn further into the debate (and instead I am going to go and have a cuppa!) – just wanted to thank you for your thoughts and your encouraging comment about the amazing woman leaders out there!  Yes indeed!

    Jo

    • Jo – thank you so much for the encouragement. It’s always great to receive some support. I’m a great advocate of women in leadership – though I never used to be!

      God bless you 🙂

      Dean