Psychotherapy is huge business in the United States with estimates as high as 50 million Americans receiving some form of mental health treatment. That statistic should produce great concern among Christians considering the American Psychological Association’s (APA) recent guidelines for how psychiatrists and psychologists deal with men and boys. What this huge report suggests is that traditional masculinity is harmful to the psychological well-being of society in general.
I would contend that this report is just another step towards establishing an androgynous culture where biblical roles of men and women are jettisoned. The APA study highlights the problems caused by “traditional masculinity which is marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression—which is, on the whole, harmful.” Stephanie Pappas, reporting on the study, went on to point out that “men commit 90 percent of U.S. homicides and represent 77 percent of homicide victims.”
According to the study’s finding, masculine men are more likely to engage in risky behavior and less likely to seek preventive or mental healthcare. Traditional masculinity’s tendency toward self-sufficiency leads men to be secretive about their problems which promotes isolation and negative self-esteem. By the end of the article the insinuation becomes obvious that racism, homophobia, and sexual harassment are caused by traditional masculinity. Also obvious is an attempt to further normalize homosexuality and promote the LGBTQ agenda.
What we have here is an example of fighting confusion with confusion. Because so many people struggle with gender dysphoria, must we compensate by confusing men about who they are? Conspicuously absent from the APA’s report is any distinction between what has been called “toxic masculinity” and masculinity that is not “toxic.” In today’s moral revolution the problem isn’t just “toxic,” distorted masculinity, but masculinity in general. Ignored is the fact that both masculinity and femininity can become toxic due to our fallen nature.
The APA’s answer to the problems brought on by masculinity is to change cultural mindset, which is the goal of the new guidelines. Their message to men is “they’re adaptable, emotional, and capable of engaging fully outside of rigid norms.” Patriarchy, which is the belief that father is the head of the home, is an “impingement” and needs to go. Psychologist Ryon McDermott, who helped draft the new guidelines, says “It’s no longer just this male-female binary.” He states that psychologists must help men break free of masculinity rules and rightfully points out, “if we can change men, we can change the world.” The change of which he speaks represents a world where biblical roles no longer exists.
What the Bible has to say about Masculinity
Christian men, more than ever, need to understand and practice biblical masculinity. Let’s briefly consider just part of what that means.
1. Biblical masculinity recognizes gender roles are assigned to us by God.
Your gender is an essential part of who God made you to be. It isn’t a cultural construct, it’s a creative design. Our Lord Jesus said, “from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ (Mark 10:6) The Lord made us male and female and ignoring the differences between men and women is essentially rejecting God’s created order. History clearly demonstrates that human flourishing is impossible apart from recognizing these differences.
The Lord made us male and female and ignoring the differences between men and women is essentially rejecting God’s created order.
2. Biblical masculinity recognizes that sin has flawed our nature.
No one can deny that testosterone run amuck and masculinity apart from the grace of God can be dangerous. However, we don’t have a masculinity problem in America, we have a sin problem. The same masculine impulse that drives men to murder and violence is the same impulse that rescues, protects, and provides when functioning as God intended.
3. Biblical masculinity is characterized by selfless service.
Scripture makes clear that men should consider women as the beneficiaries of their masculinity. Even unmarried men are to act to honor, protect, and serve the needs of what the Apostle Peter calls “the weaker vessel.” Christian men are to manifest gentleness toward others, which is basically power under control. The word gentle in the New Testament is used of a horse that is broken and medicine that heals. Biblical masculinity, under the Spirit’s control, is strength used to bless and to restore.
4. Biblical masculinity is manifested by godly leadership.
Godly leadership takes initiative. It tends to say, “watch me” and “let me show you” instead of just do what I say because I’m the boss. Men under the Spirit’s control never assume superiority but manifest a genuine humility. They understand their own weaknesses and imperfections and willingly apologize for their mistakes.
Men under the Spirit’s control never assume superiority but manifest a genuine humility.
5. Biblical masculinity understands the priority of family.
Sadly, children are often the victims of “off the rails masculinity.” There is no question that many of the anger issues in my own adolescence were brought about by my dad’s anger. Anger begets anger. Men who walk in the Spirit are actively engaged in their children’s lives. Winston Churchill once remarked that his father was like God, “busy elsewhere.” His lack of involvement in his children’s lives proved harmful.
Dr. James Dobson commented, “America’s greatest need is for husbands to begin guiding their families, rather than pouring every physical and emotional resource into mere acquisition of money.” I heartily agree. If your vocation is a higher priority than family your masculinity isn’t what God wants it to be.
6. Biblical masculinity understands the role of sex within marriage.
Christian men must purposely resist the sexual philosophy promoted by Hollywood and the secular world. Biblical manhood is rooted in lifelong fidelity and combines strength and tenderness in the sexual relationship. In today’s sexual revolution women are more often portrayed as the initiators and pursuers. Dr. John Piper writes: “The more women can arouse men by doing typically masculine things, the less she can count on receiving from men a sensitivity to typically feminine needs.”
7. Biblical masculinity understands its accountability.
When Eve sinned, God didn’t seek her out, but said, “Adam where are you?” The Lord held Adam accountable and the scripture states “sin came into the world through one man.” (Romans 5:12) The fall was on Adam not Eve. Since then, man has struggled with his own masculinity. Sin hampers our ability to live in accordance with God’s creative design. Yet, biblical masculinity is a stewardship and we are responsible to exercise our God-given masculinity for the good of others.
As Christian men we must remain vigilant in the battle for biblical manhood. The devil is striving to destroy the roles of men and women as they’re presented in Scripture. We also need to understand that Jesus died to restore our masculinity so that, by his grace and power, we can fulfill his creative purpose as men. In humility and faith, biblical masculinity lived out will not only bless and serve our families and our churches, it will also help counter worldly efforts to destroy biblical manhood.