Every generation has its poets. Those poets are usually more attuned to the vibrations of the cultural heartbeat than we often imagine. Poets write about what they see and hear. They see and hear because they look. They are able to look much more effectively than we are able to do. That is because, unlike us, they have the good sense to have their heads on the topside of the sand.
One sage company of poets has watched our culture and mused, “That, that dude looks like a lady.” Mind you, this should not be taken as a compliment. Dudes are not supposed to look like ladies. What’s more, they are not supposed to behave like ladies either. But such is the bewildering Bohemia in which we find ourselves. Our fathers bowed to the pressures of a confused culture in such a way that now we are forced to curtsey to them.
There is presently a surplus of males and a shortage of men. As you can see, I do not think that the two terms are synonymous. All men are males but not all males are men. That a male is a male is a fact of biology. Any crisis of sexual identity at this level can be averted by a simple equipment check. But unfortunately this is rarely where the crisis arises. The problems enter at the psychological realm rather than the physiological realm.
Through cultural emasculation, we have taught a generation of anatomically correct males that they are psychologically incorrect. And whenever someone suggests that there is a natural compatibility between what is above our shoulders and below our waists we wag our heads and feel sorry for the poor Neanderthal in our midst. Or we protest wildly, waving our emery boards all about the air saying, “Such thinking is as ancient as an artifact from the Bronze Age. That’s a caveman mentality. We have evolved, if you haven’t noticed!” Then we return to preening ourselves like monkeys…
The world hates men. More specifically, the world hates masculinity. By masculinity I do not mean machismo. I do not mean some sort of testosterone-fueled bluster and bravado. I am not trying to endear you to a more polished form of redneckery. One is not constituted a man simply because he wears wife-beaters, stinks, and his knuckles drag the ground. These are the badges of buffoonery not the marks of masculinity. The world does not hate this portrait of manhood, the world loves this portrait. The present culture giggles with glee when this caricature of masculinity is believed (and it is believed). It’s a cheap knock-off that bears no real likeness to the genuine article but who really cares? We would hardly recognize the genuine if we saw it anyway.
Unfortunately, the Church in many quarters has bowed to the popular misconception even going so far as to adopt it in some places. On account of such nonsense, one prominent Christian has not been able to bring himself to the conclusion that it would ever be morally right for him to defend his wife and family by the use of force. When such thinking takes root within the Church the “kingdom of heaven suffers violence” from within—by virtue of functional pacifism.
Just today the organization led by this same individual (I don’t want to name names because always one has to pay the Piper when such celebrity figures are involved and many brethren aren’t content until you have contributed the uttermost farthing to the cause) released an article which argues that it is better to leave persecuted brethren to suffer their persecution even when it is within our power to deliver them. I find this as scandalous as it is shocking. Walking humbly before God and loving mercy requires doing justice. While justice doesn’t always require the use of the sword, it always requires the application of strength.
John Barach comments on the article mentioned above:
The author of this article is billed as a “leading expert on the persecuted church,” but I have to say that I find what he says here not only very strange but unbiblical.
I grant that God does use persecution, suffering, crucifixion, death to advance the gospel and his kingdom in the world. But does that really mean that we, who see people in danger and suffering, shouldn’t attempt to rescue them? Does it mean that if we do help them, we might be thwarting God’s plans?
Would we apply the same reasoning to other situations of suffering? To the wife being beaten by her husband? To the woman being assaulted and raped? To the child being abused? To the homeless person who has no means of support and who hasn’t eaten for days? To the flood victim who has lost his house and all his belongings? Would we say “Maybe God has a good plan for
this suffering and so I won’t try to help this victim”?
I hope not!
Abram did not say, when Lot was captured, “God might have a purpose for this” and leave him captive. Instead, he went and fought and rescued him (Gen 15). Ditto for David when his wives were captured (1 Sam 30).
How about a concrete example of “extraction from persecution”? “While Jezebel massacred the prophets of YHWH, … Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.” Should Obadiah have been (to borrow this author’s words) “emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually strong enough” to leave them in Jezebel’s reach instead?
Rahab helped the Israelite spies escape (Josh 2). When Athaliah murdered all the king’s sons, Aunt Jehosheba rescued Joash and hid him (2 Kings 11). In Matthew 10, Jesus told his disciples, “When they persecute you in this city, flee to another.” Obviously Jesus doesn’t think flight is a bad thing. When people were plotting to kill him, Paul escaped by being lowered from the city wall in a basket (Acts 9).
Proverbs 24:11 tells us “Deliver those who are drawn toward death, and hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.” James tell us that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is” — what? To leave the orphan and widow in their suffering because God might use their suffering might bring about something good? No: “to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.”
Yes, God uses even suffering for his good purpose. But that does not imply in any way that we might be wise just to leave people in their suffering. We may not reason from God’s sovereignty to our irresponsibility.
We are living in days when Christianity has been castrated. The leading lights would have every man be a “eunuch in the kingdom.” Such religion will, by natural necessity, be short-lived. It will not fight and it cannot reproduce by ordinary issue.
These strange days call for Gideon’s pitcher but castigate Gideon’s sword, somehow oblivious to the fact that it was “the sword of the LORD.” We want Elijah’s mantle but not his methods. The rough rod of Moses would be much too crude for the sensibilities of this modern age. We would much rather that he had carried a parasol. We prefer the David who wrote poems over the David who slew Philistines. But we seem to forget that so many of those Psalms were ballads about bloody battles, imprecations, and prayers that God would “teach his hands to war” for the sake of the Kingdom (we should note here that emasculated songs invariably lead to emasculated singers). Modern Christianity wants Constantine in reverse: “By this sign capitulate!”
This isn’t to say that we should launch new crusades every time a brother or sister is attacked, but it should be pointed out that the weapons of our warfare are not Daisy chains either. Obedience to the Second Great Commandment constrains us to be about the task of liberating the poor and oppressed even at the cost of our own lives. Manhood, according to the Bible, requires sacrifice. But it is never a call for us to sacrifice others.
May God be pleased to grant our generation a fresh baptism of masculinity.