The video above became a bit of sensation a while back. In it, a KJV only preacher stretches the bounds of biblical interpretation by arguing that the mark of a real man is that he urinates while standing up. The video was originally posted by the pastor himself, if my memory serves, but has since been taken down. No-one likes to be ridiculed but remember children. The Internet is forever.
People laugh at the video because of the absurd point that he makes but let’s try and dig the principle out of this. Who knows? Maybe I could one day make this one of my 52 life changing sermons I have in my back pocket. The error made here was taking verses from the Scriptures to fit a pet theory rather than looking at what is revealed in Scripture itself. Somewhere along the line of urinating standing up became the mark of what it means to be a man.
I was watching Brian Houston from Hillsongs Church Australia preaching at their Men’s Conference on God TV. I struggle with my attitude to a lot of the things that happen in church. How much is the prompting of the Holy Spirit and how much is down to the skill of the person you’re listening to? That’s not to say they’re mutually exclusive as the Holy Spirit can often use the words of others to convict us. It’s just when we become dependent on great preaching or the perfect worship ‘experience’ we are committing idolatry. We are placing spiritual disciplines before the Holy Spirit. We are placing judicious use of sound effects before Jesus. We are making gods of frail vessels who have a talent. But I digress.
Brian Houston said a certain phrase on stage. It’s something any preacher could have said and he’d have gotten a storm of deep toned “Amen!”s echoing from the congregation. It’s time for men to be men! A man has to be a man! Men need to start acting like men and not like, as our misfortunate preacher from the video says, males. Does anyone even know what that means? What is a man? Let’s have a go shall we? Let’s take two stereotypes for the sake of argument.
Take our first man: he plays football. He washes his car once a week. He works hard at his job and regularly puts in overtime. You often find him hanging out with the lads. He currently rents and is saving up to buy a place. When he does buy his house it’s going to have a tool shed out the back where he can do his carpentry. He can figure out his way around a house. You’ll often find him watching some form of sports on the TV. He likes to get his chips and burger and watch a DVD. That’s his idea of a good night in. He loses the rag if people threaten those he cares about.
And then we have our second man. He’s a bit different. He likes to cook and to clean. He reads a lot of books. He has pink shirts. He loves to watch dance recitals. He dances himself actually. He’s not really into cars. He prefers talking to women than men most of the time. He’s very huggy and affectionate. He takes a lot of time to get ready if he has to go out. He has so many clothes he’s forgotten that he has some of them. He likes to wear designer footwear and always makes sure he has his
perfume cologne on if he’s walking out the door. He likes to talk about literature and Shakespeare. He’d much prefer to avoid conflict than start an argument.
Who sounds more of a man?
Who’s more the Biblical model of a man?
Could they be the same man?
The first man is the guy who writes the posts for this blog. The second man is this blogger. They’re both me. Different sides of the same man. And that’s the first problem when this kind of message is preached. Defining masculinity on the type of activities a man does. Hunting sounds like a manly activity that men with guns and an excess of chest hair and sweat get up to. Am I less of a man because I’ve never hunted? I couldn’t be bothered my arse learning how to hunt. I’m pretty glad society has advanced to the point that I can be perfectly ignorant of where my food came from and how it got there without worrying. If it gets to the stage that I have to learn how to hunt the world is in a hell of a lot of trouble. The other problem is that this is nothing more than cultural expectations presented as the word of God. I could be wrong but the last time I read my Bible the imageo Dei wasn’t conditional on one’s familiarity with team sports. My salvation is based on the work of the Cross not on whether I know how to make a cross-halving joint in woodwork.
One interesting hypothesis I was directed to concerning this can be found here. The post is worthy reading as it’s by a psychologist and he talks about church culture. The point he makes about educational attainment among men correlating with greater involvement in stereotypically female activities is an interesting one for me. Books like Wild at Heart speak to a man on a fundamental level. They diagnose the problem to a certain degree but perhaps don’t propose the best solution. It’s like the preacher on stage saying we need men to be men. It gets a reaction but it’s not necessarily the reaction that is best.
This blog post is an attempt to figure out what bugs me about the whole men need to be men ideal. Were I to sum it up I would say it’s too focused on the alpha male. It’s too focused on a masculinity that is based more on specific Western conceptions of manhood than any Scriptural foundation. Sometimes it just seems like pandering to an audience while doing nothing to facilitate making the church more accessible to that audience. Young men who are leaving this country because the only work they know is bricks and mortar. Young men who fail to treat women in anything that resembles absolute purity and sisterly love. People may mock attempts to evangelize through Ultimate Fighter but at least it’s an attempt to relate to the men out there.
What is a man?
The Lion and the Lamb.
Jesus tore up the temple in a fit of righteous anger yet said that we must be as children in order to enter the Kingdom of God. David wrote poetry, songs and played a frail stringed instrument. It’s not a unique failing to alpha male types to read cultural expectations into the Scriptures. What is dangerous is when those cultural expectations take on the authority of Scripture in the mind of believers.