Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sunday, May 06, 2012

THAT'S Manhood?!

While shopping at Wal-Mart the other day I took a look at one of those celebrity magazines.  I think it was In Touch.  One of the short articles was about how Zac Efron (you know, of High School Musical fame) shed his "squeaky clean image"  to show he's now a man.  And how did he do that?  By dropping a condom on the red carpet at a movie premiere.  Yep, you read that right.   Zac Efron established his manhood by letting the world know he's sexually active, and not just with one girl, either.  A friend of Efron's was quoted in the article as saying that the actor has been seen "taking girls to his room".  When I read that it just really hit me how screwed up secular culture really is.

The way a boy becomes a man, says the world, is by sleeping around with multiple women and letting everybody know it.  That's it.  No need for responsibility, commitment, duty, honor, respect for women, or doing what's right.  And certainly no need for faith in God.  Nope, casual sex is all that's required to cross the threshold from child to adult.  Now I understand this was a very short filler article and was most likely meant to be lighthearted, but even in "jest" this message about masculinity is disturbingly shallow.  It reminds me of an article I read a few years ago about the maturing of kid hip hop artist Li'l Bow Wow.  The article featured photos of the grown up Bow Wow--he'd dropped the "Li'l" from his stage name--outside of his mansion and posing with his four ultra expensive cars.  I was instantly put off by that article's association of maturity with brazen materialism.  Fast forward to 2012 and pop culture's message hasn't gotten any better, as evidenced by the In Touch article.  The Church must do more to counter the world's empty vision of manliness.

God's Word has definite teachings on the meaning of manhood, although many believers appear oblivious to them, perhaps because Scripture doesn't neatly package those teachings in a single volume entitled, "God's Rules for Men".   Rather, the Bible's portrait of Godly manhood--what it is and what it is not--is scattered throughout its pages, being revealed in the lives of the Bible's famous characters and in the Wisdom sayings.  Here are a couple of examples.

We all know the famous saying of Joshua (the leader of the Israelites after Moses) recorded in Joshua 24:15,  "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua made that statement after telling the Israelites to choose between serving the gods of their ancestors, the gods of the Amorites, or the true God, Yahweh.  Most believers think of Joshua's statement as a confession of commitment to God, and that's true.  But this little snippet of a verse also teaches us something about Godly manliness.  Look at the verse again, "...but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  Did you get that?  Joshua didn't just make a personal confession of commitment to God, he made a familial confession of commitment to God.  Not just him, but his house, would serve the Lord.

What does this teach us about manhood?

This passage teaches us that a real man leads his family to worship God.  Joshua was the head of his household and made sure that "his house" followed him in serving the Lord.  We see this also in Cornelius in the New Testament.  Acts 10:2 describes him as a gentile "who feared God with all his household".  Like Joshua, Cornelius also made sure his family followed his devout ways.  We aren't told in these passage just how Joshua and Cornelius led their families in practicing true faith but the fact that they did sends a clear message to believers.  Real men are the priests of their households and multi-generational fealty to God is a fruit of true manhood.  What a different message from the world!

We believers need to stop acting like biblical manhood is something to be ashamed of.  It's the world that needs to be ashamed of its shallow, libertine, materialistic, self-centered, misogynistic, and family-destroying vision of masculinity.  Believers need to boldly proclaim the Bible's powerful, uplifting, life-changing, family-saving, faith-producing, chivalrous, and civilizing message of real manliness.

Dropping condoms on the red carpet?  Kid stuff.  Leading a people to victory over their enemies and a household to faith in God?  Now that's manhood!