By Tyler Edwards
There is a difference between being male and being a man. As a minister I have watched many males neglect their roles as godly men—in the church, with their wives, and with their kids. I’ve observed households where women act like men and men act like women.
Whatever happened to the roles God laid out for us? Sadly, we have abused them. For generations some men have told the women in their lives they had to obey them simply because God said so. Some of these men believed God put man in charge because men are genetically superior to women. It’s time we viewed this issue from God’s perspective.
Pardon the forcefulness of my approach, but I’ve come to believe if you talk to men like they are men, they might be more inclined to grow up and act like men. Guys, if you look around at the condition of marriages and the church, it doesn’t take a genius to see we haven’t been doing our job,
Men and Marriage
Some men are obsessed with power. They want control, respect, authority, and honor. Failure to understand their responsibilities have led some men to wield the Word of God like a big stick. Their actions have made submission a distasteful word. It shouldn’t be.
God loves women. Like men, women are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Women are not second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. They bear the same image and worth as men. Men who belittle and mistreat women show themselves to be weaklings and cowards who do not display the character of God.
In Ephesians 5, Paul instructs wives to submit to their husbands. He also tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Paul is not telling us that men are better than women. He is teaching us how to love each other.
When a woman respectfully submits to her husband, she is showing her husband that she loves him. When a husband loves his wife and treats her with warmth, gentleness, and patience, he is showing her that he respects her.
In many worldly relationships couples fight over who gets to be in charge. God’s Word teaches us how to have genuine, godly relationships. Instead of battling for position on the ladder of power, we must dig deep and build roots in our relationships.
When a wife submits, she is willingly recognizing her husband’s authority. You can’t love someone without serving him. A servant naturally puts himself under the one he serves.
Biblical marriages are not about fighting for yourself, but rather fighting to see who gets to love the other person more. When that happens in a marriage, there isn’t a force on earth that can separate the husband from the wife.
The Image of a Father
My friend’s dad was a minister. She was terrified of him while growing up. He was a cruel taskmaster and a tyrant. He would preach at her with the Word of God in one hand as he beat her with the other. She was terrified that one day he would lose control and kill her. Her whole family lived in fear of the cruel male that ran their household and demanded to be respected. He failed to love and protect his family, but if they ever failed to respect him, he believed they were disobeying God and should be beaten.
Many of us have grown up with harsh, cruel, abusive, angry, cowardly, and negligent males. Many children have been beaten by the male who raised them. Many wives have been physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused by the males they loved.
A man doesn’t beat his kids. A man doesn’t yell at them, discourage them with his critical attitude, or ignore them. Jesus showed us what a true man is like: kind, loving, caring, supportive, and encouraging. Jesus is a protector. He is a provider who loves us in a way some of us cannot fully understand because of the males in our lives.
From Maleness to Manhood
A man who believes he has to raise his voice to a woman in order to feel like a man, is not one. A man who believes he has to raise his hand to another person to feel like a man, is not one.
One of the primary differences between being just a male and being a man is ego. A male may feel compelled to prove his masculinity. A male may be physically present but emotionally absent. A man is present both physically and emotionally for his family.
A man’s family needs to know he will sacrifice anything to help them. Being a man doesn’t mean you hide your emotions. The father in the story of the prodigal son ran to his child, hugging and kissing him publicly. If we had more men like that in the world, we would have many more healthy families.
In Song of Songs 2 a beloved woman says about the man she loves, “His banner over me is love” (v. 4). A banner was a flag used in battle. Soldiers in battle were forced to disperse, and as the battle wore on, were often separated from their fellow soldiers. When the banner was raised, the troops would fight their way back to the banner where they could regroup. It was a symbol of safety and protection. One of the things the beloved woman cherishes about the man she loves is that he makes her feel safe. Our homes should be safe havens for our wives and children, a place where they know they are treasured.
God is a protector. Love protects what it loves. Jesus came to earth and sacrificed himself for us as an example of love. A real man cherishes his children and makes time for them. He will work hard to give them a good life. He is selfless, generous, kind, and supportive. He will be there when his family needs him. When he is around they will know they are safe. A real man’s family never has to guess how he feels about them. He may be strong and silent when he is out with the boys, but he is gentle and affectionate when he is with his family.
My dad was a wonderful example of a father. He worked hard so he could provide for us. He continually made personal sacrifices for our well-being. He drove more than three hours to work so we could live in a nice area with a nice school. My dad was a strong man. We knew we were safe around him. We knew if anyone tried to hurt us they would have to come through him. Dad never raised his voice. We never saw him lose his temper. We knew he was strong, but we did not fear him.
Cowardly males hide behind insecurity or act like tyrants because they aren’t strong enough to act like men. Many people today have distorted perceptions about fatherhood because of the males in their lives. If you can’t be like Jesus to the people in your own home, how do you expect to show him to strangers?
Tyler Edwards is the minister of Cornerstone Christian Church in Joplin, Missouri.
Resources for Real, Godly Men
• Read this Relevant magazine interview with Mark Driscoll, minister of Mars Hill Church, who’s known for making controversial statements about the lack of real men in the church.
• “A Jesus for Real Men: What the New Masculinity Movement Gets Right and Wrong” by Brandon O’Brien
• Good Christian, Good Husbands? Leaving a Legacy in Marriage & Ministry by Doreen Moore (Christian Focus Publications, 2004)
• Pastor Dad by Mark Driscoll
• “Six Ways Fathers Pursue Christ in their Fatherhood” by Scott Thomas