God is a man
In the wash of female empowerment and gay and transgender activism, good men are sinking into the sludge, never to see the light of day. After so many recent appalling acts of violence against women, people are rightly asking: “What is going wrong?”. At the risk of betraying my gender, I’d argue that we need our men back. Not emasculated or morally weak men – but strong men, good men. As an educated white woman living in a wealthy western nation, I have benefited greatly from the advancements in women’s rights. I am so deeply grateful for the opportunity to learn, to work in a job I love, to be a mother and a wife and still chase my dreams. I am grateful for all who have and do campaign to end violence against women, to halt sexual harassment, to equalise pay for equal work. And I want my daughters to grow up confident and determined, believing in their ability and achieving amazing things. But – thanks to some genuinely good men - I’ve come to realise a troubling side effect that we as a society aren’t giving sufficient attention or energy to. With all this focus on female awesomeness and male awfulness, we’ve lost sight of what a good man is and how important good men are. How much we need them. Beyoncé recently power strutted around the stage proclaiming that God is a woman. As a woman lamenting the loss of good masculine men, I am compelled to proclaim this truth: God is a man.
Before I go into unpacking this once accepted - now audacious and inflammatory claim - it’s worth looking a little closer at the current state we are in. As my young adult son scrolled his Instagram feed, he laughed and showed me a picture of what he had thought was an attractive blonde girl who just ‘friended’ him. The first photo – a close-up – showed long blonde hair, big blue eyes, made-up face and the obligatory pout. He then scrolled to the second photo which was a full-body shot of the same person revealing his ripped chest and abs. Men are increasingly becoming women – or at the very least - being conditioned to tone down their masculinity. According to Australian Population Studies, 3.2% of adults in Australia identify as non-heterosexual. Gallup estimates, 4.5% of adults in the US identify as LGBT. This percentage is on the rise – up from 3.5% in 2012 driven by a massive rise in LGBT identifying millennials (now 8.2%). You are hard pressed these days to find a TV show, movie, even advertisement that doesn’t contain LGBT content. States are legislating to exclude gender from birth certificates, schools are teaching non-hetero sex education. How is it that we have allowed the wellbeing of 96.8% of the Australian population who are heterosexual to be compromised by a minority agenda? Yes, we should care for and support our minorities but we are now teaching all our young people they can defy their gender. It’s no wonder our young men are confused.
As we women increasingly seek to find ourselves, our men are increasingly losing themselves. Young men are underrepresented in Australian university enrolments, with females accounting for 58% of all students in 2016. The proportion of female post-graduates is even higher. And what about mental health? In 2017, 2,348 Australian men took their own lives. This figure was up a massive 10% on 2016 and is three times the female suicide rate. Tragically, my 43-year-old male cousin was recently one of them. If women can do everything men can do and more (don’t forget we can bear new life when men just can’t), what is the unique and special role men have in this world? Are they even needed? If a man has to tip-toe around the dating scene lest he be accused of inappropriate advances or second guess his every good intention (should I offer to pay the bill? Should I open the door for her?), where can he confidently lead? Sadly, it often isn’t even in the home. That’s where he slots in as just another one of the kids. It’s where his judgement is questioned by a wife who always knows better. It’s where he becomes emotionally needy or detached or loses himself in sport, alcohol or pornography. And what woman is attracted to this kind of man? It becomes an endless downward spiral.
In the Genesis account of the creation of humanity, it is recorded that we are made in the image of God – both man and woman. Yes – women too bear the image of God. Man was created from the dust. Woman was created from man. God put man in charge of the creation but allowed him to experience life without a companion, or complement, of the same flesh before he created woman. At the fall of humanity, man and woman were punished differently. To woman, God said: “I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.” To man, He said: “The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.” (See Gen 3:16-17). Both were condemned to return to dust. What is fascinating about this account – an account that was passed down over four millennia – is that these issues are still at the root of modern era gender angst. In particular, if you believe the messages of popular culture, women want men to stop ruling over them.
So, about that claim that God is a man. At the centre of the Christian narrative – a man named Jesus claimed to be son of God - a God he frequently referred to as father. So, God the father revealed himself in masculine terms, and in the incarnation the son of God became a man (when he returns he will still be a man - see Philippians 3:20-21). If God is good, it follows that there must be something inherently good about masculinity. It’s not something that must be watered down or done away with. This God/man Jesus not only dealt with the curse, he gave us an example to follow as we await his return. He showed us how to submit to one another, and commanded (not suggested) us to love one another as He loved us. Consider the story recorded in the book of John of the woman “caught in the act of committing adultery” (see John 8:2-11). Jesus had the power to condemn her to a brutal stoning death but he didn’t assert this power - instead he turned the attention of her accusers to their own failings - then with gentleness and compassion set her free. He was the perfect example of what a man should aspire to be. What is pretty clear, is that God did not come in the form of a woman (or without gender). Of course, this does not in any way imply that men are superior to women. The Bible refers to the church – his people - as the body of Christ, as the (feminine) bride of Christ. Jesus valued His bride enough to die for her. The highlight of the Bible narrative is the wedding of Christ and His bride. There is something truly beautiful about the union of Christ and His bride, of the symbolic union of masculine and feminine, of completeness and harmony that we just don’t seem to be comprehending.
The rise of the LGBT agenda, the devaluing of the sacred male-female bond in marriage, the drive to emasculate men and the ascent of the all-powerful independent woman are together a potent and crippling recipe for disaster for both men and women. We need each other. Let’s stop pretending we don’t. Men are physically, emotionally and behaviourally different to women. Let’s celebrate this reality. Let’s fight to protect it. In his book-in-the-making, which I’ve had the privilege of reviewing, Al Stewart enlightened me about a trait present in good men. He explains it as ‘power restrained’. Think of the character of Aslan (representative of Jesus) in the Narnia films. Aslan issues a powerful roar as his enemy is destroyed and his followers bow before him in honour and respect. They are aware of his power but they are not afraid of him because they know he uses this power to care, love and nurture - to help them feel safe. Yes, women are awesome but there is something truly beautiful and very attractive about this picture of men – men with power restrained. This is what I wanted from my father, it’s what I want from my husband, and for my son and my daughters. It’s what I want for all those in our society who long for the struggle of life to ease. Let’s encourage our good, masculine men to rise out of the sludge and regain their rightful place. We need them.
Well done. This has to be one of the best written, beautifully argued and logical piece of writing I have ever seen on this subject. Compelling because it is written by a woman who is well informed of the bible and its message, and can reveal clever insight into the social confusion we currently face. The concept of masculinity described as "power restrained" - genius!
A great article I think u have nailed it. Hope it will be read by many and a great help to understanding these problems in our world today. Thank you
Amazing insight! You have put the words to the thoughts & feelings that I have had for a long time. Thank you. Love your work!
Amazing insight! You have put the words to the thoughts & feelings that I have had for a long time. Thank you. Love your work!
I don't think the rise of women out of thousands of years of disgraceful oppression inevitably emasculates men as this article implies. Nor do I think male suicide rates can be attributed to either the rise of women or the increase in popularity of a LGBTQI lifestyle. Men have long been prone to suicide, arguably, as one element of a complex cocktail, due to their failure or inability to articulate and address their feelings of grief, inadequacy, fear etc., something our sociery is working to address. It may be true that an encouragement for men to be women, to the extent that it exists may contribute to the increase in suicide rates from 2016 to 2017, but nothing in this article supports that case.
Nothing is stopping good men from being good men. In fact, I agree, everywhere society is crying out for them and it has been for millenia.
What society has reacted to is bad men being bad. Toxic masculinity is the enemy, not masculinity per se. Male dominance is being challenged, not manhood. Conflating these matters is fatal to any rational argument on this issue.
Good men: gracious, humble, wise, self sacrificial Christ-like men are one of things society has always needed, and lacked.
I don't think this article substantiates any thing that is preventing men from being good men, even millenials. But I can tell you that if a long standing confusion between domestic headship and social dominance, between physical power and social control, between service and sacrifice and oppression and authority (all derived from and the outworking of sin) has led us to an inability to work out what masculinity is when those abuses are beginning to be unwound tells us that it is time to truly think about what a man is. Jesus is the perfect guide in that quest.
Thank you, Janelle, for raising and highlighting this issue. Christ-like men are needed to lead Christ-centred families, churches and communities! I look forward to the book you have had the pleasure to preview!
Good morning everyone,
Thank you for this article Janelle.
I love the picture of the Lion.
So here it goes:
The Father is (naturally) a Man.
The Mother is (naturally) a Woman.
I have been meditating for many years in order to find answers as to the causes of suffering. I also asked the question whether God is a Man or a Woman.
The following came to me crystal clear:
"our father gives birth to mother earth"
It clearly stated "our father".
There is more that came to me (about the significance between the cross and earth).
Everyone is welcome to believe whatever they want.
It is however unfortunate to see so that so many marriages are failing.
Worse, why people cannot even find a partner anymore.
Cats and dogs are fine... but aren't we made for each other?
Man and Woman rest as equals in each other's lap, indeed like Yin and Yang. Woman and Man simply need to understand that 'the One (God)' upholds them both. It is only through this understanding that there can be a union (relationship/marriage).
Men, Love your Women.
Women, Love your Men.
Love yourself, Love All, All One.
PS: Please note: I see all as One for God is All-Inclusive (the term LGBT is thus an abstraction on the underlying reality of existence which is God; hence the importance of the Golden Rule).
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Janelle is the marketing director of City Bible Forum. She has worked in the international development and community sectors for around 18 years after an early career change from treasury finance. She was previously marketing director at a large Christian humanitarian aid agency where she travelled extensively to support men and women living in poverty. She is married to Thomas and is mother of one young man and two teenage girls.