I read Scott McNight’s blog, “Jesus Creed” each day. Not long ago he referenced an article in the Scientific American entitled “When men are less moral than women.” The article stated that, “a number of studies demonstrate that men have lower moral standards than women, as least in competitive contexts.” The article went on to say, “that losing a ‘battle’ particularly in contexts that are highly competitive and historically male oriented, presents a threat to masculine competency. Apparently manhood is relatively fragile and precarious, and when it is challenged, men tend to become more aggressive and defensive….To ensure victory, men will sacrifice moral standards if doing so means winning.” This might be true of the average male in our culture but I would content this is not true of a man who is secure in his God given identity of masculinity.
So what do you think men? The article ends with this challenge ( at least, I take it as a challenge). “These findings suggest that if ethical standards are a significant factor in your choice of financial advisers or real estate agents, it may be safer to go with Bernadette than with Bernie.” What is a man to do? Roll over and become passive in the midst of our feminine counterparts. I know that what I am about to write is not cultural correct in our day. But having learned a great deal about affirming my masculinity from a wonderful Christian author (Leanne Payne), I believe that “the essence of masculinity is initiative and the essence of femininity is response.” The masculine principle is one of “orientation, direction, order and responsibility.” Remember before God created Eve, He took Adam and “put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15). To get out there and get something done for the sake of others is built into the male DNA.
So yes, call it competitiveness and being aggressive. But don’t tell me that all men, “must use strategy or cunning to prove or defend their masculinity,” nor do they have to be “willing to compromise moral standards to assert dominance.” Look at Moses. He was sent into Midian by the Lord for years because of his uncontrolled anger. Then as the leader of the nation of Israel for 40 years in the wilderness, he was referred to as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses had to be strong, determined and yes aggressive at time in facing the complaining and murmuring of thousands of people. Yet God declared him as a very humble man.
So what is the secret of being strong yet humble. Well, as Henri Nouwen suggested we can in our hearts be both the Lion and the Lamb. Jesus in the book of Revelation is both the lamb that was sacrificed for our sins, but also the lion of the tribe of Judah. Our model is Jesus. Philippians says that Jesus, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, rather, he make himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant being make in human likeness.” (2:6-7). As we yield the controls to Jesus as our boss, he gives the male what he naturally does not have: a quiet, humble and meek heart. He give us the grace and mercy to be both like a lamb when necessary, but also a lion when needed. There is no way our culture can help a man to be “tough and tender.” But Jesus is in the business of retooling men to be his servant-leader in our day, for he is both a lion and a lamb. My advise when you feel threatened as a man is to both look to Jesus and keep walking toward Jesus.