In a recent blog, Pastor Tim Challies wrote a review of a book for men by Brent Hansen, entitled, “The Men We Need.” I was inspired by Hansen’s “big vision for manhood.”
He writes, “We men are at our best when we are ‘keepers of the garden.’ This means we are protectors and defenders and cultivators. We are at our best when we champion the weak and vulnerable, using our strength to protect the innocent and provide a place for others to thrive. This is the job Adam was given: “keeper of the garden.”
At the heart of masculinity is taking responsibility “for those things God has men particularly responsible for.” The recent hearings for a Supreme Court Justice will be remembered for the simple question: “What is a woman?” Similarly, many ask, “What is a man?” We have forgotten this simple reality to the detriment of our culture. God’s intention is for men to be protectors, defenders, and cultivators. But as a nation we are dismissive of God’s intent.
I appreciate Hansen’s thesis that men are responsible to tend their garden. When there is so much confusion about gender roles, Hansen’s position is simple and straightforward. Taken right from the story of creation, men today are to do what they were called to do from the beginning – to be “keepers of the garden.”
According to Hansen, there are six decisions men need to make in expressing their God-given responsibilities:
First, “forsake the false and relish the real.” We are to reject pornography, video games and other fake forms of virtuous longing. Many men have fallen asleep emotionally and relationally, substituting real life relationships for virtual reality, especially porn. Even though it might be hard, we need to wake up to what is real.
Second, “protect the vulnerable.” Men are to step up and protect others from harm, rather than being a threat. We should be drawn to the weak, rather than to those in positions of status and power.
Third, “be ambitious about the right things.” Don’t waste your time on “trivial” affairs, where men spend time, energy, and money. Seek Jesus and his kingdom. “For where you treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 7:21).
Fourth, “make women and children feel safe, not threatened.” We should help those around us to grow and thrive. This begins with our wives and children. Stand up and protect those who are threatened.
Fifth, “choose today who you will become tomorrow.” “Who we will be tomorrow is a direct result of what we pay attention to today.” “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 7:33).
Sixth, “take responsibility for our own spiritual life.” While we appreciate the support and teaching of others, we need to give priority to feeding our souls spiritually. Spend focused time with the Lord daily – get to know His voice.
My biggest takeaway: don’t permit the voices of our culture to make being a man complicated. My advice: come before God humbly as a man, asking for grace and strength to simply fulfill your responsibility as a man created in the image of God. Embrace Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” God is addressing you. As a man God has given you a responsibility to tend your garden. You are unique in your maleness, with your own garden to tend. Cry out to God for the desire, strength, and confidence to be able to tend it.
Blessings on your weekend and prayers and love, Judy
Breakpoint recently featured an article on “radical monogamy.” Radical monogamy, as described in Vice magazine is “an exclusive relationship commitment that’s chosen, not blindly accepted… Monogamy that is radical is chosen from among the many equally valid relationship options, including polyamory.” It appears that even some who want to remain sexually open-minded would still prefer and choose a monogamous relationship.
Proponents of radical monogamy “stress that the decision to remain in an exclusive relationship was made by themselves, and for themselves.” This proposal reflects the cultural view of seeing freedom “only as freedom from any and all restraint.” The significant moral flaw of radical monogamy “is to suggest it’s only valid if it’s what I want, rather than because it is morally superior.” It is still “the me first” emphasis found in the sexual revolution.
Of course, a biblical view of monogamy is built on an exclusive commitment of a man and woman, who choose before the Lord to make a lifelong commitment to one another (Judy and I are on year 56). Jesus tells us when a man and woman marry, “the two will become one flesh” (Matt 19:5). Then he gives this warning, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (v. 6). I would call this “faithful” monogamy, rather than “radical.”
This was the Creator’s plan from the beginning, in creating “male and female.” Marriage was his gift to us. Monogamy has divine origins going back to creation. Viewed from a cultural perspective, God’s intention for monogamy goes far beyond our cultural norms, making it truly radical. Jesus clearly states, “So they are no longer two, but one” (v. 6).
Even more radical is God’s intention for a man and woman becoming one flesh to reflect Jesus’ love for his church. Paul describes this relationship as a mystery. “This is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32). This is beyond radical; it is a mystery. Men, you will never fully understand your own marriage. It’s a profound gift.
Since God’s intention is for our marriage to reflect Jesus’ relationship to his church, He gives men some sober instructions: “Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty.” (Eph. 5:25-26 – Message). That’s radical.
Pope John Paul II gave the church a wonderful study of Eph. 5:31-33 in his “Theology of the Body.” The Pope’s thesis: “Only the body is capable of making visible the spiritual and the divine. It has been created to transfer into the visible reality of the world, the mystery hidden from eternity in God and thus to be a sign of it” He maintains that the union of man and woman is meant to proclaim and participate in the “great mystery” of Christ’s union with the church.
Further, the Pope declares that a faithful marriage of two being one flesh can have a prophetic message in our post-Christian culture. Imagine such a dimension to your marriage. I personally embrace the idea that my marriage can be prophetic within the culture.
This presents a challenge for men: 1) the enemy does not want marriage to reflect Jesus’ love for the church. It will be a fight. 2) It will take all you have spiritually to love your wife as Jesus loved the church. You will need a lot of grace. 3) You will truly be countercultural in your lifestyle. There is a price to pay. Are you up the challenge?