I’ve seen several articles in the last couple of weeks using the term biblical manhood and biblical womanhood. I have to confess that I haven’t seen those phrases before and frankly, they don’t elicit a positive response from me.
I think of them as click bait for “real” Christians who think they are all that and a bag of chips. You know the people – the ones that follow all the rules and like to make sure everyone knows about it too. This is the group of Christians that I usually have issues with – more Pharisitical than graceful. Maybe I’m over-reacting here. It’s just my impression though.
At any rate, since I am becoming familiar with the term biblical manhood, I have lots of questions to ask. So, what exactly is it? No really, what is it? I get the sense that it is a term that is supposed to elicit a response in which we live holier lives. That’s not a bad thing. At the same time, I feel like we’re getting the Precious Moments version of the Bible.
Let’s get serious here. Let’s take some of the biggest male figures of the Bible and examine what biblical manhood was for them.
Is biblical manhood related to Abraham? He was a polygamist.
How about good old King David? He was referred to as a man after God’s own heart. It must mean that he’s a good example of biblical manhood, right? Yeah, that’s it. So what about being a traitor of one’s own people, killing the husband of the woman you got pregnant and a bunch of other stuff?
Maybe Jacob would be better? Nope, can’t go there. How about Judah? Wait, he visited a temple prostitute who turned out to be his daughter-in-law. That makes for an uncomfortable family reunion.
Maybe the reference is to the New Testament instead. I guess we could look at Paul – he was never married and really was a workaholic. How about the Apostles? Most of them were called away from their families. How about John the Baptist? Really, do we even need to go there?
Of course, there are some decent figures that showcase how to live a really good life. The martyrs are good examples of this. And of course so is Jesus.
Here’s my take on all of this – there is no such thing as biblical manhood. By that I mean there isn’t a nice easy step by step life plan for you laid out as the answer to how to live your life as a biblical man. Does this mean that anything goes and all bets are off. By no means. Far from it. Jesus didn’t say blessed are those who do whatever feels good.
We aren’t called to live biblical manhood or womanhood lives. Where would we even start? However, we are called to be Christ in the context in which we find ourselves. We are called to be like Christ to those around us, regardless of whether we are male or female.
The bible is good and useful and proclaims the Word of God. Yet, it isn’t God. We are called to hear the Word within the word and live out what the Word calls us to. Not everything in the Bible is nice and neat and pretty. There is violence and all sorts of bad things and people in it. That doesn’t mean we disregard it. It means we see it for what it is – messy. Life is messy too. Which is why the Bible still speaks to us today. Humanity hasn’t changed that much since the canon was established and even before that.
Biblical manhood? Sounds like a great name to get more clicks and sell more books and try to spin the Bible in ways we want it spun. Then again, that kind of maneuvering can be found in the Bible – Jezebel and Ahab come to mind.