Religion Isn’t Masculine

Stephen Arterburn

Masculine mythologies become most dangerous when they undermine God’s calling upon men to faith and worship. Real men, the myth goes, aren’t supposed to need the crutch “religion” provides, that’s for kids, women, and the elderly—that is, people unable or afraid to face reality and grab life by the horns.

 

Guys, that myth thrives only in modern Western culture. Patrick Arnold, assistant professor of Old Testament at the University of San Diego, says this:

 

“An imaginary trip around the world might quickly shatter that idea. Listen to Buddhist monks in Tibet…Witness throngs of Hindu men making their annual pilgrimage to Benares. Watch a sea of Muslim males pray passionately to Allah in a huge Arabian mosque. Join Hasidic men in Jerusalem…earnestly in prayer at the Western Wall. See the joyous faces of African tribesmen, scarred with ritual signs of their manhood…Or, for that matter, join charismatic evangelicals at a local businessman’s prayer breakfast…Men are naturally deeply religious, all right; it is just that modern culture provides little help for them anymore in minding their natural masculine spirituality.”

 

Do you sense the tension between your need for a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and our culture’s insistence that no such need exists?

 Listen to me: you—along with all men—were created by God to worship God for the glory of God. When you do so, you’re expressing your true humanity, and your true masculinity.

Why is This Day Different Than All Other Days?

Wes Mason

In Jewish tradition the youngest child begins the Passover meal, or seder, by asking the question, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” The rest of the celebration is an answer to that question; through the foods they eat, the way those foods are prepared, and the way they eat them, the story of that fateful night, when God delivered his people from captivity, is recreated. It’s a memorial of how they worked together, under God’s protection, to escape their captors and find freedom.

Americans could learn from this. For too many of us Independence Day has become just another day off of work, a day for good deals on mattresses and new cars, a day for barbecues and beach trips. We would do well to learn from our Jewish friends by asking ourselves the same question: “Why is this day different than all other days?”

Now this is not intended to draw a moral equivalence between Egypt’s enslavement of the Jews and King George III’s onerous taxation of the colonies. But the freedoms we enjoy in America today–to worship God as we choose, to speak freely, to elect those who govern us–were all rooted in that fateful July 4th day in 1776 when the Declaration of Independence was ratified, with John Hancock’s eloquent signature below Thomas Jefferson’s even more eloquent closing line, “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” We see here another example of a group of people bonded together, under God’s protection, taking the first steps toward freedom.

Christ set us free with his death on the cross and resurrection. God gave us this wonderful gift, a gift greater than a walk across the Red Sea, far greater than thirteen Free and Independent States. And like those whom He set free in Egypt and Philadelphia He gave us one more thing to ensure that freedom: each other. The Jews in Egypt needed each other to make it to freedom on that Passover night. Our nation’s founders needed that “mutual pledge to each other” to see their vision of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness realized. God puts people in our lives because the connection in those relationships is the key to our freedom.

So if you’re struggling today, if addiction or emotional pain are holding you captive, if you want real freedom on this Independence Day, reach out to others. Give up on the “just me and God” plan that isn’t His plan and hasn’t worked for you anyway; ask someone for help. God has put people in your life to lead you to freedom; He’s ready right now for you to take that first step to connect with people around you, those who care about you. Make July 4, 2007 your Passover Night, Independence Day, and Resurrection Sunday all rolled into one. A year from now–and God willing each year after that–you may find yourself reflecting back, asking yourself, “Why is this day different than all other days?”

Playing The Role

Stephen Arterburn

Are traditional gender roles part of our DNA, or produced and directed by culture? The differences between men and women go far beyond anatomy, right to our very souls. Yet men share many basic needs with women, such as the need for emotional intimacy and transparency, the need to love and be loved, and the need for purpose and meaning. Beneath our cultural costumes, men and women are more alike than different.

But the cultural role we play as men affects whether and which of these needs are met. Rough-and-tumble little boys can become relationally closed and competitive men and resist appearing affectionate, gentle, kind, expressive, relational, emotional, understanding, submissive, and nurturing for fear they’ll be judged less than manly.

Here then is a source of masculine anger. Men are trying to live out the stereotypical role of being rough-and-tumble, self-sufficient, and independent, and in so doing many of their most basic needs are going unmet. Conversely, if a man opens himself to others to address those needs, he may think of himself or be thought of by others as unmanly. We’re in a double bind. And the discontentment and frustration can easily degenerate into anger.