We have a man problem! How many times have you heard that in the Church in the last 10 years?
I want to respond some more to a piece from the SBTS that quotes Al Mohler talking about this. This isn’t personal by the way. All Mohler is doing is putting words to what so many in the Church think about singleness and marriage.
As Mohler is discussing the “sin” of delaying marriage (what length of delay equals sin is unclear of course) he says,
“This is a problem shared by men and women. But it is primarily of men. We have established a boy culture in which boys are not growing up into men.
Guys, the reality is that God has given us a responsibility to lead, to take responsibility as a man, to be the man in every way before God that we are called to be . . . It means taking the leadership to find a godly wife and to marry her and to be faithful to her in every way and to grow up to be a man who is defined as a husband, and by Gods grace we pray eventually, as father.”
I just . . . I mean. . .
First let every man read and understand what I say next. You are not primarily defined by being a husband or even a father. You are primarily defined by your relationship with Christ. Period. This is vital because if you don’t get this then you won’t be a good husband or father if you get married.
Now if you get married, then there are defined roles and responsibilities (which these same evangelical leaders will be sure to remind you of). It’s not bad to know what those are because it should impact your decision to get married. Are there guys slacking off because they don’t want to “man up” as it were? Sure. But that is only a part of the issue.
This premise that its all the guys’ fault is a complete failure of the Church to acknowledge the rest of culture and it’s own part in creating it.
The blame the men movement comes up short for lots of reasons – Just for starters:
- It fails to address why men are not going to church, getting married, or even finishing college (or other “mature” things).
- It fails to address women’s sin in any way
- Completely ignores attraction and choices involving it.
- It makes women the helpless victims and absolves them of their choices
- Embarrasses the men in church who women don’t date – of which there are many
- Doesn’t help any of those men learn anything that will help them get married
- And most of all, creates more disrespect of men within the body of Christ
Here’s the other funny thing about it. If all of these Christian men are a bunch of “boys” whose fault is that? Was there a secret men’s meeting that I missed where we all got together and said, “Let’s not grow up. Let’s step back from leadership. Screw what the Church teaches.” Guess who raised us? Guess who spoke to our parents in the pews? Guess who taught us how to be nice? Guess who told us that slogans, rallies and sermons can save us?
I could handle the “men are the problem” line better if it started with, “We’ve failed our young men. We help set them up to fail.” That would maybe lend some sort of credibility.
Mohler and company have this idea that there are all these sinless godly women just sitting around and if only men would act they would say yes and marry them. They assume that the reason that Christian women don’t get married is that men just aren’t . . . well . . . man enough. (This idea of men are sinful and weak and women are sinless is everywhere and in everything they talk about – not just singleness.)*
But the truth is that I know a lot of men that want a godly wife. There are single men in every church looking for that. I was one. For 20 years. Is Mohler suggesting to the women that they should go out with any of these guys that ask them and become their wife? Of course not. Men should go find a wife – really any wife. They don’t need to be attracted to them and the woman doesn’t have to be that godly. Just man up and marry a woman – you can help her be godly. Women on the other hand are taught to be careful. Don’t settle. They are told they need protection from all of the not quite godly enough men.
So according to many of our leaders, the only way to be a godly, mature man is to get married. But the only men that women should marry are godly, mature men. Again – whose fault is all of this?
Part of the problem (without getting into this too much here – more later) is that they are asking men to play by the cultural rules from 50 years ago, while not asking the same of women. They fail to recognize how the culture has reshaped the getting married game. It’s not just the men that have created this. There’s plenty of blame to go around.
The bottom line here is that simply saying man up is a non-starter. It’s not working. At all. We have to talk to both sexes and we have to teach them both not only what to do in marriage and that they should get married but also how to go about getting married.
*Examples – If Husbands will lead the right way then women would not try to take over the lead. If more men would sign up for combat duty then women wouldn’t feel the need to. Etc. H/T Dalrock