WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A MAN?
We know that both men and women are created equally in the “Imago Dei“, and therefore have inherent dignity and a divine purpose to glorify God. While we celebrate our “sameness” as men and women, the question of what it means to be a man and not a woman must be answered as well.
“Biblical masculinity” is the purpose of manhood according to God’s design as revealed in God’s word. We can look at Genesis 2, and the account of the creation of the first man, to see God’s intention for the man: The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.â€
WORK, PROTECT, LEAD
In this text we see a purpose statement; that God put the man in the garden “to work it and keep it” (v. 15). God’s purpose for man was working and keeping, or protecting, that which had been entrusted to him. Then God gives Adam a moral and spiritual command, with life and death hanging in the balance (v. 16-17). God did not repeat this command to Eve, and yet in Genesis 3:2 we see that Eve was aware of it. God expected Adam to set the moral and spiritual pattern for the woman and to initiate and model obedience of that command for the sake of life and the flourishing of humanity.
So, based on Genesis 2, we can define the purpose of man like this: Glorify God by accepting the responsibility to work, protect, and lead spiritually wherever God has placed you for the sake of human flourishing.
Here’s how we can unpack each of these words:
- Work – A man must see all of his time as a resource from God to invest in God’s kingdom by working hard to provide for himself and eventually for others. Men should plan out an intentional rest day each week, so that they can wake up early and go to bed exhausted all the other days, for the glory of God.
- Protect – As men, our souls are wired to protect others, namely women and children. Jesus, the only perfect man, came from heaven to earth on a mission to save his bride, the church, from sin, Satan, death, hell, and wrath. Men sacrificially protect.
- Lead spiritually – While all Christians are called to lead others in various ways, the primary burden of responsibility for setting a God-glorifying pattern of life is placed by God onto men; in the home, in the church, and in culture at large.
This is not something that boys do. There’s no expectation from God on a child to work and contribute toward rent at home, or to lead anyone spiritually. But every boy is called by God into manhood as he grows up; to take on responsibility for himself and others, especially women and children. Having a grown-up body without accepting the responsibility of manhood means you are just a boy who can shave.
The good news is that God is able to take men who have failed miserably, and transform us into ambassadors for his kingdom through faith in Christ.