Thursday, June 04, 2009

Masculine Identity in Biblical Perspective

Last night our small group looked at masculine identity. It's something I've thought about on and off for several years. Yesterday, though, the thought came to me: "What if there is no 'masculine' 'identity' theology in the Bible?"

The scriptures aren't interested in that kind of essentialism, the question of "what is a man?". And so they won't define 'manliness' in the abstract. Instead, what you do see is a set of roles and functions that men play in life. And fulfilling these, I would suggest, is a better picture of biblical masculinity.

So, men are fathers, and their fatherhood should pattern itself off God the Father;

men are sons, and their sonship should pattern itself off God the Son;

men are brothers, and their brotherhood should pattern itself off the Incarnate Christ, who became like us in all things, called us brothers (Heb 2:10-17), that we might share his sonship, and teaches us to love as brothers (Jn 13, all of 1 John);

men are neighbours, who are taught by Jesus to love neighbours as ourselves (so the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 challenges us not to ask 'who is my neighbour?', but 'who can I be a neighbour to?', while at the same time pointing to Jesus as the Good Samaritan;

men are husbands, and their marriage should be patterned on Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5)

men are masters/slaves/citizens/lords/employees, and their roles are always patterned with the knowledge of a higher master, as if serving Christ and/or responsible to Christ.


That's why 'masculinity' is so evasive in the scriptures. One can't abstract it out of Gen 2-3, though it certainly provides hints; one can't read it straight from Jesus; partly because both Jesus and Gen 2-3 have far more profound things to say about what it is to be human rather than male.

1 comment:

ktraphagen said...

"both Jesus and Gen 2-3 have far more profound things to say about what it is to be human rather than male."

I think this is a very overlooked detail. I've been doing a lot of thinking recently about what it means to be truly human.