Kenny Luck at “Every Man Ministries” sees a “third wave masculinity” rising in our nation. Traditional masculinity is out. Reactive femininity is out. “The ‘third wave’ of masculinity and femininity,” suggests Luck, “[is] not a reaction. It’s a solution because it doesn’t seek to garner power and control or create distance to accomplish the important goals of life and living. It is a breath of fresh air. It eliminates competition and creates cooperation. It heals wounds and brings unity. It’s a different dimension that traditionalism and feminism cannot touch.”
The message of reactive femininity to “be the man and be a better man than men themselves can be” has only caused confusion, frustration and disappointment in gender relationships. Culturally, the gender wars are going to be with us for the foreseeable future, with little prospect of reconciliation between the genders. I have great empathy for a spiritually-motivated man, who desires to be God’s man in our present day of gender confusion. And I personally identify with Luck’s sentiments regarding gender relationships. Reactive femininity has gained a strong voice in our culture because women have rightly reacted to the injustices of traditional male roles and behavior. Men have often reacted in defensive ways, not willing to examine their motives and behavior.
I identify with Luck’s “third wave masculinity.” From my vantage place as an older male who has always had a heart for men, I am motivated to articulate a third way, since I have lived through the first two waves and some of its ramifications. In the 70’s and early 80’s, I was riding the wave of the “male headship” movement. While I accepted my role and responsibility as the head of my family, I admit to being more concerned about position than relationship. Then, in the late 80’s and 90’s, there was a shift in the evangelical camp. A more egalitarian approach replaced that of the complementarian. This brought about a balance. Men since then have had to learn how to live more as a “tender warrior.” The New Man is one who has inner strength but also has a tenderness of heart. While being secure in their masculinity, men are learning to be “gender sensitive.”
Surprisingly, many men in the third wave have a prophetic posture in their walk with God. They sense a call on their lives. They are breaking new ground for the men who will follow. They identify with “the spirit of Elijah,” embracing the call given to John the Baptist, “He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly (Luke 1:17 NLT). These men know the importance of being fathered by their heavenly Father. They have been nurtured and fed by the rich contemplative tradition of the church.
I call these men “AA guys.” They are all out for Jesus, admitting their great need for God’s grace in their lives. AA guys live with a sense of desperation. Being helpless to change themselves, they are willing to deal with their pain and wounds to find healing. They live their lives as “wounded healers.” They are soulful men who go deep. They model transformation, knowing that change starts from within. They are men who express their hunger for God and a desire to know His love. They are not ashamed to be called “lovers of God.” They are forerunners of a new type of overcomer. Saint Bernard called them “knights for Christ.”