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February 21, 2007

God and Gender

Then God said, "Let us make Man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock, and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps over the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. -- Genesis 1:26-27

Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created. -- Genesis 5:2

Note: Hebrew adam is the generic term for mankind and becomes the proper name Adam.

In recent months, a slew of books, articles and talk-show programs have discussed ideas about God and gender -- most notably, the idea that church caters to women and has been feminized. See Leon Podles's The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, his Touchstone article "Missing Fathers of the Church," and Holly Pivec's Biola newsletter article, along with some of the steps churches and parachurches are taking to attract more "manly men" to the faith (Godmen and Brad Stine).

Why do I have a sudden desire to burst into a lusty round of Monty Python's Lumberjack Song?

Now I have lots of questions -- care to tell me what you think?

What does it mean to be made in God's image -- male and female? How (other than the obvious physical characteristics) would God define gender and how do the different characteristics, purpose, personality, etc. of each differ, and then how do they combine to represent God's image in and to the world? How might male/female differences have been different before the Fall and after? What aspects of God's image or character are more attractive to one gender than the other and why? How should our worship of God properly express itself in terms of our being male or female and in terms of God's complete image (male and female)?

Put on your thinking cap and start typing your comments now!

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Comments

David Bromberg

Check out http://www.fiveaspects.org/. They have studies on biblical masculinity and femininity that are quite thorough. You can check out their booklet section on that website for a preview or get a full study of the five aspects of man or woman.

Paul Coughlin

Martha,

Men are denatured. In an attempt to make them fit a partial definition of what it means to be a Christian, Christian men have been weakened to the point of illness. For many, "putting on Christ" means taking off masculinity. Or as one single woman told me at a Christian writer's conference: "Me and my single Christian girlfriends have a saying: 'The ideal man to date has only been in the church for two years--this way he still has some masculinity left.'"

We as a world are fortunate that noble ministries such as Prison Fellowship, Focus on the Family and many others have not followed this flawed spiritual script.

But a new understaning of biblical masculinity is emerging. GodMen, of which I'm a part, is on the edge of this understanding. For example, we explain how men have been given an extra blessing designed to be spent on others. The Greeks called it thumos--a pugnatious spiritedness--that can bless but also curse. This internal urge and power given to us by God must be disciplined. Sadly, many Christian men have been told to get rid of this God-created attribute.

You can read more about this new male spirituality on my blog at crosswalk.com
Paul Coughlin

Farley

I read the problem (and potential solutions) differently from the other commenters, and especially, Leon Podles' articles--I couldn't disagree more with some of Podles analysis! It would take far more space than we have here to address all of the issues, so I'll limit myself to the following points. The message of Christ includes submission, mercy, peacemaking, and humility, just to name a few. These particular characteristics are at odds with western civilizations view of the 'manly-man'. As was pointed out by another commenter, some things must be disciplined; but this is the whole problem. Tamed wildness is no longer wildness; those whose nature desires wildness, have no desire to be tamed. Of course, I have no problem with ministries specializing in a single demographic group; however, my hope is that it is done with great care, putting aside the victimization angle. Overall, I don't believe God calls us to model masculine/feminine forms of discipleship; we seem to be called as individuals with our own unique gifts and traits, to bring glory to God. Just my thoughts, which have never proven to be infallible.

Susannah

Well, if a warrior-king like David could be a man after God's own heart... But he wasn't allowed to build the temple. (1 Chr. 22:8) Just random thoughts.

Puzzled

Worshipping God is about worshipping -God-, not pleasing ourselves with entertainment that we get a kick out of. We should worship as the Church always has, as the Church in heaven has, as we see in John's Revelation.


The best book on Gender from a Biblical perspective I know of, which avoids encorporating momentary cultural expectations into it, is _Man and Woman in Christian Perspective_ by Werner Neuer.

brad stine

I don't know how I get in the middle of these things , but God continues to show His apparent lack of options by utilizing a comedian to speak of certain concepts within the church community.

When we began creating Godmen, our only objective was to try and reinvigorate Christian men as well as intrigue Christian seekers to consider that Jesus was a man that also acted on what is usually considered male traits I.E. getting angry and knocking tables over while snapping a whip at people, which ,by the way , would be considered assault and battery if it occured today.

Most Christians I assume would consider assault and battery a sin. Thus we have a conundrum. Either Jesus sinned , thus proving He's not God, OR , some behavior Christians have been taught traditionally as sin...simply ..isn't.There seems to be many nuances of our faith that don't always fit the typical meek and mild Christian behavior that we have felt was our duty as believers. We want to encourage Christian men to be warriors. Not to kill others or coerce, but instead to be trained to DEFEND our faith, family, culture (church and country) and character.

I am a subscriber to Breakpoint because I believe you teach men to be prepared to answer others about our worldview. I, as an out of the closet Christian comedian have received lots of mainstream press and have watched my faith and values slandered , ridiculed and outlawed.The L.A.Times article on Godmen was heavily edited and misleading as well as accusing me of saying something I didn't, so I know first hand what it means to be attacked for siding with our tribe. I will continue to try to minister to men by giving them both sides of Jesus with the hope of men bringing this back to the church to awaken it to the need for male leadership amongst our own.

Pray for us as we attempt to roll this out nationally that we are doing it with Gods blessing. We want to honor His call on our spirit and need all the help we can get.It's not easy breaking new ground but we believe the harvest will be full. brad stine

Paul Coughlin

The message of Jesus certainly includes being, as Farley states, "submission, mercy, peacemaking, and humility, just to name a few."

But who was Jesus submissive toward? Certainly not to many of the religious leaders of his time. He was submissive to His Father's will, not the will of man.

What we call peacemaking is often peace faking.

Jesus' teaching also includes not being naive, as Jesus told Peter. It also includes being shrewd as serpents, as Jesus said all his followers should be. It also includes a spiritual toughness and both a willingness and an ability to confront lies, which always hurt the weak and the oppressed, such as inborn children. So if you want to talk about what Jesus stood for and told us what to stand for, then tell the whole story. Not just the sweet, gushy side of faith. The "nicest" Christians I know do hardly anyting meaninful in life. They do not defend the weak; they are more concerned with appearances than righteousness.

Again, there would be no Prison Fellowship or other noble ministries if they thought they had to be nice and pleasant and submissive all the time. If you think that serving God means that you have to be amiable and sweet all the time, you are incredibly mistaken. Read Luke 16 and round out your spiritual education.

We at GodMen are not trying to do away with mercy and related virtues. We're completing the virtues by fortifying them. We're helping to create men of moral courage. Every act of deep and abiding love (agape) is preceeded by courage. There is no love without risk and sometimes confrontation.

paul Coughlin

Martha,

Please change my post to read "unborn children," not "inborn." Yikes.

Paul Coughlin

Gina Dalfonzo

I'm sorry, but TypePad doesn't give us the ability to edit outside comments.

Jennifer

If God created the race of Men (Man & Woman) in His image, then God is neither He nor She, but both. It makes sense that the creator shares the qualities of both genders which He/She created. When you put man and woman together, you create (a new life). Though separately, we can all create things, none are as powerful as a new life, and so, it takes Man and Woman together (ie, what God is) to produce a child/children.

Michael Brewer

Being a man who has chosen to leave the Gay Lifestyle nearly 15 years ago I've really had to work hard & discover what manhood is truly about.

Personally I define homosexuality as a profound alienation from one's own gender, either as a man or as a woman. I grew up in a predominently feminine household, I didn't have much of a relationship with my dad & grew up being far more feminine then masculine & by the time I was 10 I'd been approached by another boy who brought me into the world of homosexuality.

Sadly, the Christian Community up until very recently hasn't been much help.I've even been beaten up by Christian men for being an Ex-Gay! Most Gentile congregations I've been part of have long encouraged me to embrace the kinder virtues and to steer clear of masculinity. Thankfully, I've had a number of brothers who've walked with me in this journey of godly manhood and have taught me a lot about being a man!

Men like my best friend Dale Oppenheimer, Pastor Gordon Dalbey among others. I'm still learning today and have a long way to go!

When Mike Smith from Godmen asked me to share my testimony at the Godmen conference this past March I was humbled, honored because I stood with the men as there as a man among men, their brother in Christ!! I was stunned by the positive response those men gave me & I know I deeply impacted a lot of lives there!

I'm thankful to help other men in their journey of godly manhood and it's something I think women need to understand we men need to figure out for ourselves together as brothers! Brothers, welcome to the journey of godly manhood!

Michael Brewer

Jim

My response would be to simply echo what Paul Coughlin said. Reading his book 'No More Christian Nice Guy' would have prevented these questions in the first place.

I've met far too many panty-waisted Christian males that think walking in the Spirit is leaving a few donut holes for others at the after-service meet and greet.

We men are told to be loving and meek and we think this means allowing others to 'spit on us' and let our wife pick out the shade of paint we're going to do the kitchen in.

I wouldn't say GodMen is a step used to attract 'manly men' to the faith, I'd say it's an instrument God can use to take back the lily-willed, castrated legions of saints that have been suffering for so long.

Laura

It amazes me that in the year 2007 we are still trying to figure out gender issues and are divided into camps along gender lines. Some of the problems (it seems to me)stems from leaders in the church trying to put everything into neat little boxes. Humanity is a diverse creation and God is purely spirit and cannot be divided into parts - male versus female parts (remember - God is ONE?) or figured out in our heads. All of the exhortations in the New Testament are good for both men and women. We need strong men and women of faith. How can you attain unity by emphasizing gender differences? Women are basically taught that they need to be nice, pleasant and submissive all the time too. Let's stop looking at ourselves and each other and focus intently on Jesus and the Word so we (male and female) can be made into His Image and Likeness. Jesus was not weak for sure, and neither should men or women of faith be. However everything we do needs to be done in temperance - not hot-tempered as some might imply is manly (that is what assault and battery is and that is where sin comes in). When Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, you can bet He was not having a temper tantrum or using threats to exhalt himself over others. Meekness is not weakness - it means trusting God to defend you rather than trusting your own strengths. I agree that we need strong men and women to stand up and DEFEND our country as brad stine said above - but it must be done with temperance and humility, depending on God, not ourselves and our own strengths (Be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might (Eph.6) is for all Christians, male and female). I will try to read "No More Christian Nice Guy". Thanks

John

One comment on "submission". In a sermon by my pastor, he detailed how the model of biblical submission related to the wife's transparency. That is, her being transparent and sharing with her husband, the head of the home, her thoughts, hopes, desires, disagreements, issues, etc. This then, REALLY pushes the envelope of a Godly man - how many men can take that kind of honesty? I couldnt when I got married. I can now, and I engage my wife in these lively discussions. I see relationships where the man does not want to hear disagreement, or doubt, or a disconnect. Conflict is part of life; passivity is not. My wife, a great example of transparency, has not always been delicate in her transparency (read, I have had my feelings hurt!), but I have grown to be the man, and, as I say to some others, I "man up" in situations.

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