This. Pisses. Me. Off.

Manly Christianity

Jesus, can I have a word? It’s about your image. We’ve been talking, and we’d like to update your PR. Just hear me out. This whole, “Love your enemy” thing, and that bit where You brag about being, “gentle and lowly in heart” … It’s just not working.

We know it probably worked great 2000 years ago when there were no large-scale wars, and before terrorism existed, but times have changed. Men these days don’t want to be meek, and no one wants to be a servant (never mind “slave of all“). They want to feel powerful.

So we were thinking that instead of hanging out with sinners, You could maybe start killing some (or at least abuse them in the streets to make an example out of them). Instead of caring for the poor and the sick, maybe you could do something more manly like … starting a motorcycle club, or a rugby team. The women will take care of the children, so don’t worry about them anymore. We’d like you to focus on stuff that smells like Americana.

I know that’s a lot, so we’ve outlined some simple first steps. Let’s start with:

  • Less peace and love, and more anger.
  • Less grace and forgiveness, and more vengeance.
  • Less humility, more power.
  • And no more singing.

We just need you to be more … manly.

Backwards: Jesus Doesn’t Need Your PR

Or maybe we need to realize that our culture is completely backwards and redefine “manly” according to scripture.

Look, I know that a lot of local churches can be very effeminate. I know that American men are not attracted to the idea of singing songs and holding hands … and a lot of things that tend to happen in a lot of churches. And I love it when ministries intentionally reach out to men in our society with car shows and motorcycle rallies and buffets and high school guys’ camping trips featuring poisonous snakes. I do.

But we do not need, “a more robust, manly … version of Christianity.” A more biblical practice, maybe, but there is only one “version” of Christianity, and it’s Christ. Because when God became a Man, He didn’t mess it up. He didn’t fall short of “real” manhood in any way. He didn’t compromise Manliness because He had other things to do.

Christ is the only perfect man. The only standard for what it is to be a man.

As the epitome of Manly, Christ preached:

  • Love your enemy
  • Bless those who curse you
  • Forgive
  • Serve
  • Pray
  • Give

And the men of the early Church followed His example. No one would have called Peter or Paul, “effeminate,” and they preached and practiced all the same things.

A More Manly Society

Maybe the problem is not that Christianity needs a manly make-over. Maybe we need to refuse to be told that actions and attitudes like turning the other cheek are weak and feminine.

We look at the teachings of the One who is the only perfect man, and we cringe because our society has convinced us that we will be trampled if we do those things. We think we’re weak if we don’t stand up for ourselves. The alpha male is supposed to be the strongest and most powerful, but we forget that the One who actually is the Alpha forgives and serves and died for His enemies.

Because really, anyone can hate his enemy. Anyone can justify vengeance. It’s easy to hate. It’s natural to serve ourselves and our own interests. Those are the easy things.

It’s much harder to love people who hate you, give to people who don’t appreciate you, and serve people who don’t like you. Why is it that the hard things are always “manly” when they involve physical strength, but the emotionally/spiritually hard things are considered weak?

We do not need a, “more robust, manly version of Christianity.” We—as followers of Christ—need to refuse the popular definition of “manly” that stops at physical power. We need to honor and celebrate Christ-like men who do the difficult, gut-wrenching work of serving and forgiving.

Yes, I’m a Chick

And I realize this may seem less persuasive coming from a woman. I know there is a lot about being a guy in our society that I do not, and never will, understand. I am aware that what I’m saying is so counter-cultural as to make it really, really, really difficult.

But the call to a Christian woman is no less revolutionary in our present society. It’s a different kind of pain, but I feel it too.

So how about the ladies support the guys by going first, here? How about we start giving props to the guys who reflect Christ in their daily lives—not by cooing, “Isn’t that sweeeet?!,” but by recognizing a sacrifice for what it is. How about we take the time to actually realize that feats of spiritual or emotional strength are even more impressive than the world’s standards of “manliness,” and treat them appropriately?

Redefining “Manly”

Terrorism is not manly. Christianity is not “failing” because Christians are dying. It’s our heritage. It’s what our leader—God as a Man—did, and what He calls us to.

(Sidenote: Guys, check out The Art of Manliness. Good stuff.)

I’m done now.

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youth group elgin ilAlexis is an Associate Editor and Researcher by day, and a Redefined Team Leader by night. When she’s not in front of a keyboard (which is almost never), she likes playing with her toddler, reading, and eating too much Indian food.