Saturday, May 3, 2008

Jesus the Bearded Lady

I remember when I was a kid my dad used to call me Macho Man. I remember this nickname fondly because included within this was the word "man". Here I am, 8 years old, and my dad is calling me a man already. I thought I was the coolest kid in the world; my dad thought I was a man! Now why won't he let me play Mortal Kombat?

When I was a kid I didn't really think a lot about what it meant to be a "man" but since I am now considered, at least by the worlds standards, a man I've been looking into it more and more. At work, manhood is defined by being able to drink, flirt, and "hook up" with no strings attached. In the some churches I've visited manliness is defined as Jesus meek-and-mild who would never offend anyone. You look at the pictures of Jesus in our churches it almost seems to be a mockery of the Scriptures which clearly show how "manly" Jesus was. Even the pictures of Jesus turning the tables looks like He's trying to protect His manicure from getting messed up. Somehow this doesn't seem to fit what we should picture.


When you think of manliness, what exactly crosses your mind? I asked myself this week that question and was utterly shocked that Jesus wasn't the first thing that came to my mind. In fact, to be honest, He wasn't even in my top five! Why is that? Part of it is that I think of Him as God and since God does not have any bodily form I don't associate manhood to Him. The paradox of Christ is that He is not only fully God but also fully man. He was a man. Think about that! The God of the universe stripped Himself of His omnipotence, His omnipresence, even His omniscience to be a man! Talk about a paradox!

Soren Kierkegaard stated that, "Paradox is really the pathos of intellectual life, and just as only great souls are exposed to passions, it is only the great thinker who is exposed to what I call paradox." Kierkegaard's point (if I dare even try to summarize it) simply was that we live a life of paradox or, men are filled with contradictory passions that do not mix at all, sort of like oil and water. The measure of a man then is what he does with those passions and how he handles the inner paradox.

C.S. Lewis had a lot to say on this subject and I have already written on how I agree with Lewis' assessment on chivalry (see Sine Qua Non for more). Lewis had some interesting thoughts in his excellent book The Abolition of Man concerning this longing for manhood: "We continue to clamor for those very qualities we are rendering impossible...In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful." (Abolition of Man, 26) Our modern day world is desperately searching for the function but continues to remove the organ. Manhood is defined by its extremities and in order to tame those we completely cut them out, leaving us with nothing but men without chests. Have you seen the modern church folks? Cotton Mather stated: "There are far more godly women in the world than there are godly men." Why is this!

I believe this is the case because we do not associate manliness with being like Christ! Instead, machismo (over exaggerated manliness usually associated with pride/power) seems to be what we think of manliness. Jesus however was never overbearing. He was able to laugh with the children then turn tables. He was gentle and fierce, soft but hard, He was not tame but good. Jesus was a paradox. Jesus was a man.

Pastor Chris of James River Assembly spoke on the passage in Ephesians which states a woman is to submit to a man. It isn't easy to examine this passage, especially with so many ready to drop the bigot card. However, he brought out a point which I never saw and something which I wish to close with. While a woman is supposed to submit to her husband, the Bible says the following: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". (Ephesians 5:25) The husband is supposed to be like Jesus to His wife.

The husband is supposed to be like Jesus...

to his wife...

Let that sink in for a moment.

I don't even think of Jesus as "manly" let alone doing what this verse states! This all came together for me in such a powerful way and it's going to lead to some further thoughts later down the road on how I believe Jesus is the model for manhood. I think the paradox of manhood is culminated in the person of Jesus and that in order for a man to be a true "macho man" that we need to do as Paul said to the Ephesians church. Be Christ. How does that work or look like? Will see~


"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14