By MANDY SAELER
My eyes nearly doubled in size the first time I saw the clip-on “man bun” for sale online. Sheer shock, a laugh of disbelief, and the sobering reality of the present state of our culture all washed over me in a matter of seconds. More than ever, we are seeing the rise of various trends in our culture that distort and diminish God’s pattern for both masculinity and femininity – and to say the least, it is troubling.
Nowadays, simple, hard-working men with calloused hands that provide for their families and are faithful to their wives are often ridiculed by the culture. Right here and right now, we live in a day that well-represents the heart of David’s cry in Psalm 12, “Help, LORD, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men” (v.1).
In modern masculinity, we see the “Peter Pan” trend, where they may choose to never grow up, while the responsibilities of manhood are never truly embraced. And then there is the “Metrosexual” trend where men take on cutting-edge fashion and book themselves beauty treatments at local spas… In light of what we see so often in masculinity today, what can be done? As we witness the flow of the culture surging in an ever-ungodly direction, often pulling the Christian men along with it, what can we as women do?
(Note: While these trending renditions of “masculinity” are on parade, I’d be remiss to neglect acknowledging the number godly men I know and have encountered that have counted the cost of following Christ and are daily, faithfully taking up their crosses and following Him. Observing these lives lived fully for Jesus is refreshing and encouraging!)
Turning back the raging tide of modernly-redefined masculinity can feel hopeless and even ridiculous to consider when the reality of the manhood that is trending in our day can be so discouraging. But when we see masculinity that leaves much to be desired, it is encouraging to remember that just as every flood begins with just one drop of water, and every fire begins with one small spark – so the course of change begins with one decision. And if we choose to embrace it, that one decision resides in individuals, like you and I.
If we desire men to stand up and become the men God intended them to be – putting aside the “man buns” and worldly ideas – we must first see to it that our lives are fully given to Jesus Christ and are reflecting His radiance to this world. Before we pound a fist on the table and demand that men be men – we must, as women, be women as God intended.
Just as our culture has many twisted definitions of masculinity (a few of which were previously discussed), we can’t overlook the fact that there are just as many disturbing trends in femininity today. There is the “Rosie the Riveter” kind of women that shirk a helping hand, slap the gentleman, and have plastered the “We can do it!” slogan upon their lives. Or the “Love My-Selfie” trend where women wear loud statement t-shirts declaring their love for sleeping-in, how they can’t possibly function without their coffee, and wouldn’t ever survive without yoga.
We, as women, face similar tripping points as our culture distorts true femininity. I would submit that the very angst we feel in our hearts when we observe modern masculinity also resides in the hearts of godly men as they observe modern femininity. The starting place to change resides in our own hearts before God – the Master of heart transformation. As Jesus said in Matthew 7, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (v. 3-5)
When we as women begin living the humble, surrendered lives that Christ requires of us, not only will God’s pattern be honored and true femininity grace the surface of the earth once more, but then, and only then, will we be enabled to impact and inspire men towards the high standard and calling of Jesus Christ. Peter instructed the women in the church with unbelieving husbands to be submissive to their husbands, winning them to Christ by the honorable and holy conduct of their lives. (See 1 Peter 3:1-2) In the same way, as we live set apart lives for Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:15) those around us, both men and women, will be impacted: the unbelieving will be evangelized by our faithful lives and obedient words (see 1 Peter 2:12) and the believing will be pointed to Jesus Christ and built up in their faith ( see 2 Corinthians 2:14-16, 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
As we are faithful to yield every facet of our lives to Christ and become the women that He intends us to be, He will use our lives impact and influence the lives of other men and women alike. Elisabeth Elliot once wrote, “We are women, and my plea is; Let me be a woman, holy through and through, asking for nothing but what God wants to give me, receiving with both hands and with all my heart whatever that is.” As women, may be purpose to be women, holy through and through. Women that are set apart for Jesus Christ, shaped by His Word, and irrevocably given to His glory. Instead of endeavoring to force a change in masculinity in our own strength, may we remember that the starting place for pointing men to Jesus Christ and influencing masculinity for God’s glory is gained by first allowing Him to transform our femininity to reflect Him.
Do you long to see the men in your life seek after Jesus Christ whole-heartedly? Do you desire to see their masculinity shaped to be a reflection of His nature? Do you want to know what you can practically do to inspire the men in your life to a higher standard?
This year at the Annual Set Apart Conference, I am looking forward to the session that Leslie will be sharing on this topic, entitled “Inspiring Heroic Manhood.” In this hope-filled message, Leslie will be sharing how God intends for women to be a part of the solution to encourage men towards Jesus Christ. And as always, Leslie’s message will leave us inspired and equipped with practical and biblical applications to walk this road of inspiring heroic manhood for His glory!
If I could encourage you to do something especially meaningful with the summer of 2016, I would urge you to prayerfully consider being a part of the 2016 Set Apart Conference. You can join us in Colorado for the live event, or tune in via simulcast and have the ability to share these powerful messages with the other women in your life too!