This was my first response to a friend who was inspired by the American revivalist preacher, Paul Washer, in his series on “What it takes to be a man.” My friend and I are still discussing this issue, but you may wish to comment after viewing, or listening to the sermon content yourself here.
Managed to track down the ‘U tube’ audio of the “What it takes to be a man” message. Pleased to hear that it had such an impact for you personally. The message was in 6×10 minute segments and took a bit of getting through but I got the gist of it. While I can appreciate the guy’s sincerity, passion and belief that this is what the Bible teaches, I did find it very stereotypical, with constant references to manliness and his love for hunting etc. He is right on the money about the western mindset of dating and of how unbiblical and harmful it can be in the development of responsible relationships. Where I strongly disagree with him though is on the issue of men being designed to lead women and to be the sole provider and protector. His premise that until a man is willing to lead and provide for a woman he should not be considering dating a woman, leaves men with the notion that they are destined by God to lead and women are designed to simply follow their lead.
Granted, for some men, possibly yourself included, this seems to give a real purpose for the male role within the marriage, and a lot of what he has to say in that respect is very admirable, but I still hold to the view that “in Christ” men and women are equals which means that each shares the responsibility of leading, discipling and parenting children. Both should be respected and listened to by one another first, and then by the children as they are nurtured within the home. Both have opinions to bring to the table as together they seek to have a home that glorifies the Lord. The danger of this teaching, which I have to admit is very popular, is that a woman can be relegated to the pretty, empty headed and spiritually deficient little thing whose only job in life is to take care of her man by always being there for him and making sure that both she and the home is a place that is attractive to her husband so that he is not tempted to stray.
I will be the first to admit that men, as a general rule, do not step up to the plate and take responsibility within the home, and in that respect messages like this are very timely to motivate men. My concern is that as admirable and passionate as this sounds, it is still culturally rather than biblically motivated. These ideas of family are dated and probably belong in the post war, 1950’s family TV show era. True Biblical injunctions on the other hand are timeless and supra-cultural in that they transcend all cultural, ethnic and class settings. Big words and ideas but what they mean is this; Christ came to fully redeem both men and women from the effects of the curse. Life and work doesn’t have to be difficult and a hard slog as Paul Washer suggests. We are meant to be “in Christ” (as men and women), walking in the spirit, operating from a position of “rest” and total reliance on Him. Both genders are to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and display a “considering one another, provoking one another to love and good deeds” kind of atmosphere within the home. This can only happen when couples are prepared to be mutually submissive to one another.
So….preparing couples for marriage should include the kind of teaching that doesn’t condemn us to grit our teeth and live out the effects of the curse but should entice and excite us to live in the “new way”, the way of the Spirit, that sets us free and allows both men and women to be all that God wants them to be. The only thing that isn’t easy about this is that we each must give up the rights to our own life and allow Jesus to call the tune. If we are both doing that then it is a win-win situation because each of us is willing to submit to the will of God for our family and for each other. In that sense we can break free of cultural expectations, which exist even in the church, and carve out our own destiny under the guidance of God and His Word. When married couples have the same Christ centred expectations of their relationship, marriage and Kingdom living there is nothing that will create a need for one to have leadership responsibility over the other.