CGG Weekly, October 16, 2009

"The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues."
Marcus Aurelius

Real Men Don't Eat Quiche.

Way back in 1982, a little-known author by the name of Bruce Feirstein earned himself a small fortune when he wrote and published a humorous, tongue-in-cheek book with this title. The book deals with stereotypes about masculinity and lists lots of activities that "real men" should not involve themselves in.

Recently, I received the following intriguing question from a person in Kenya: "What are the biblical roles of men?"

At first, the person's question appears to be a very basic and simple one. But the answer, if we were to respond in great detail, would take many, many pages. Thankfully, the answers have already been written and can be found in the instructions of the Holy Bible.

I asked the writer what he meant in his use of the word "men." Was he referring only to men within the church of God? Let's face it: Those who do not claim to express belief in God are certainly not about to seek His guidance on what their roles should be. Or was he referring to mankind in general, including women and perhaps children too? Or adult males, specifically? To husbands? To fathers? To single men? To widowers?

The Bible is full of instructions for all of God's people, and most of those instructions refer, of course, to both men and women. Galatians 3:28 informs us, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus." We can conclude that most of the teaching of God's Word is not gender-specific.

However, we can say that, generally, a man who is a member of the Body of Christ (Romans 12:5; I Corinthians 12:12-27) must emulate the Head of that Body. The apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 11:1, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."

Yet, not all men are called to spend their whole lives in the role of full time ministers, traveling from place to place, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, as Jesus and Paul were. God requires that most men go out and work hard to provide food, shelter, and clothing for themselves and their families (II Thessalonians 3:10-12). Nevertheless, our whole lives, both in our day jobs and out of them, both in church services and out of them, are to be lived according to God's will, and in emulation of Jesus and the way He would do things in any and every given circumstance.

Within our church life, every member—both male and female—has a unique role to play (Romans 12:4-5; I Corinthians 12:12-27). It is our responsibility to find out what our particular role in the church is, and to do it with all of our might. There is a great deal more to the functioning of a "well-oiled" church than preaching. Among others, a successful church needs people to lead songs, play music, arrange chairs, clean up messes, pray for the ill and those undergoing trials, comfort the grieving, plan activities, help the widows, and so forth. Not every role is prestigious, by any means, but God sees our good works, even those done behind the scenes (Matthew 6:3-4).

The Bible contains specific instructions for husbands (see, for example, Ephesians 5:25-33; Colossians 3:19; I Peter 3:7) and for fathers (Ephesians 6:4; Colossians 3:21; I John 2:13-14). In I Corinthians 7, Paul gives instructions to various categories of men and women regarding marriage. Although there is some cross-over (that is, where the instructions refer to both men and women), his instructions to husbands and fathers are given in verses 1-4, 8-9, 12, 14-16, 26-33, 36-38.

God's Word is very clear that Christian men must be neither effeminate, nor homosexual, nor guilty of any other brand of immorality (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; I Corinthians 6:9; 11:14). A Christian man must be masculine, the husband of one wife (I Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6), while at the same time being gentle and striving to be an example of all of the fruits of God's Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9).

Although he may drink alcoholic beverages in moderation (Deuteronomy 14:26; John 2:2-10; I Timothy 5:23), he must never be given to drunkenness (Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21). Extracting the principle from these instructions, we can conclude that a man should practice strict self-control in doing the things he allows himself to do under God's law. He must balance his priorities so that he gives his greatest attention to those things that are most important: God, his wife and family, his work, the church, etc. The godly man is balanced and stable, not given to extremes or episodes of self-indulgence.

In the King James Version of his first epistle to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul writes, "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men" (I Corinthians 14:20). Although the context of the verse reveals that Paul is urging the Corinthian brethren to become spiritually mature, Paul's admonition might be extended in additional physical and moral ways to all adult Christian males:

Be men!