Once upon a time God created the earth and he needed someone to destroy it, so he created man.
Or so you would think the story goes by listening to the conversations I overhear between guys. Now, I don’t want to be a man-hater in this post. I have some excellent men in my life and I am sure there are many more in this world I’ve yet to meet. My dad, brothers, brother-in-law, cousins, friends from church and that handful of guys who have always read my blog and followed me on Twitter much to my confusion (hi guys!) are all wonderful.
Even the guys that this post is about are really great guys. They go to church, they treat their girlfriends right, they tell their mamas that they love ‘em. They’re good ol’ boys (as my grandpa would say) and yet they seem to have a very skewed view of manhood. I am not going to try to define manhood (I’m hardly the person for that job!) but I don’t feel unqualified to write this post. All I am going to do is to quote scripture and voice my opinion on what I appreciate (and what I don’t) in the behavior of male acquaintances.
With those disclaimers (refresher: I don’t hate men and this stereotype does not apply to all males, amen!) I give you The Macho Manifesto:
1. All male Christians should be macho, because otherwise, they’re feminine/untrue to how God made them. Boys will be boys, or should be anyway.
2. To be macho is to be wild, undomesticated, loud, rough, sloppy, hungry, dangerous and most importantly: destructive (to the glory of God.)
3. Appropriate Macho activities include but are not limited to: playing sports, watching sports, getting involved in borderline illegal activity and killing animals.
I am not saying that men should not be manly or that sports are evil or that I want to marry someone whose favorite activities are manicures and yoga. That’s not the point at all. The point is that somehow throughout time, men have been fed a lie. A lie that tells them that to be a real man and to be attractive to women, they must stomp through life with no concern for the wake of damage that follows behind them. This is not true. Scripture does not back it up and I can personally testify that this is not attractive to my Godly female friends or myself. This is not merely a matter of preference, but of ethics. Preferences are things like blue eyes or a great singing voice. This is an issue of men taking an unethical view of creation and thinking that it should be, not only acceptable in the Christian life, but the pinnacle of Godly manhood. Here is why I disagree:
1. All of creation belongs to God. He takes no pleasure in death.
I don’t like the idea of hunting if the goal is simply to domineer oneself over an animal. God made it clear that we have dominion over all of creation, we don’t need to trap and kill to prove that. Sitting in a tree house throwing corn out for deer day after day and then shooting them with a scoped rifle is hardly hunting. If you enjoy being in nature, observing animals, camping, tracking, etc. be my guest, but there is no reason for these kinds of activities to end in death. I can’t imagine that Jesus, who came to conquer death, would want us to find any pleasure in death, even the death of an animal.
Using dead animals as trophies doesn’t impress me. As a matter of fact, it lessens my respect of a man. If a man thinks that his worth is based on how many little animals he can conquer and mount, he has a very sick view of the purpose and power of the human spirit.
2. Abusing or killing animals does not make you a stronger man, but a weaker bully.
In scripture, The Holy Spirit is represented as a dove because doves are a spectacle of purity and grace. Today, dove hunting is a huge sport. How does killing a tiny bird make you more of a man? One of my favorite passages of scripture is Matthew 10:28-30,
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.”
If God’s eye is really on a sparrow, why don’t we hesitate to take its small life?
Cruelty to animals is not manly, but rather childish. Remember that God let a donkey speak out against his abusive master! He also commanded that his people not muzzle an ox that was treading out the grain. (Numbers 22:28, Deuteronomy 25:4.)
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, writes in Proverbs 12:10: “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”
3. Scripture is adamant that man is to care for creation.
As you might’ve guessed, the beginning of this post was a parody of the true creation story. In reality, Genesis reads like so:
“…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:7-8, 15)
The literal translation from the Hebrew is that man was to “serve and protect” the natural earth. I also believe that we are to use the earth. It is subject to mankind, but it is also a gift. If someone gives you a gift, they want you to use it, not stow it away in some glass case. But neither do they want you to abuse it, destroy it or desecrate it in anyway. When we take what we need from the earth and give back to it as well, we are using the gift. When we take pleasure in the destruction of nature (be it animals, plants, the atmosphere) we are abusing our gift from God.
4. God honors creation and protection, condemns destruction and violence.
Without getting into a discussion of war, I think we can all agree that God calls us away from violence into a life of peace. He tells fathers to love their wives as Christ loves the church, giving of himself for her. He says that greater love has no man than this that he gives up his own life for a friend. He tells us not to provoke our children to anger, but to be gentle with children. He tells us to forget “an eye for an eye” and to instead turn the other cheek. Proverbs 3:31 warns,
“Do not envy a man of violence and do not choose any of his ways.”
5. Jesus wasn’t macho
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that I’m about to make a case for some sweet, girlish version of Jesus that just goes around patting people’s hands and smelling flowers. That is far from the Jesus I’ve read about and known. However, despite the fact that Jesus was no wuss (He understood better than any of us the power of The Spirit) he was actually nothing like the man described by The Macho Manifesto above. He did not take pleasure in pain or death. He was gentle to women and children. He spoke against violence and pride. So if men aren’t supposed to be “macho,” what does scripture say man is to strive for? Well, first and foremost, we should all (regardless of sex) strive to emulate Christ. When scripture gives us requirements for men who want to lead in church, we hear descriptions like, “of good repute, wise, not drunkards, honest, dignified, gentle, self-controlled” etc. In other words, Gaston would not qualify.
Though I think scripture speaks pretty well for itself, I leave you with the words from a great novel:
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
–To Kill a Mockingbird