"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 on 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 (ESV)
Back in the 1990s, my family belonged to a large Methodist church that is well regarded in our community. As the mother of two young daughters, I felt God drawing me closer to Him, and I responded with a desire to study His Word more intently. I took my mothering role very seriously and devoted my life to training them up in the way they should go.
Our church offered Bible studies called “Disciple”, and I jumped at the opportunity to participate. Each study spanned the better part of a year and was led by an associate pastor. I completed Disciple 1 and Disciple 2 with this pastor. Our Bible study group was small and intimate, allowing for personal interaction between the pastor and the participants.
In the second year of study, the associate pastor had gotten to know us extremely well and began sharing personal convictions about the gender of God – specifically that God is both male and female. I became enraged! I had previously listened to a sermon by Adrian Rogers in which he described a “Re-Imagining Conference” that took place in 1993. At this conference, participants were worshiping Sophia and calling into question the gender of God.
I was so angry that I blurted out, “If God is female, then why did Jesus come to earth as a man, and why did He pray ‘Our Heavenly Father’ in the model prayer”? It was a defining moment in my Christian life, and it wasn’t too long after this unfortunate incident that we left the church and joined a Southern Baptist church (might I add where Paige and Dorothy Patterson were members).
While I continue to view God as masculine, always remembering that He is a Spirit, I have become just as upset by the backlash toward those who have been questioning the gender of God. Have you heard of the masculinity movement, which appears to be a concerted effort to emphasize the masculine side of Jesus?
Did you know that in order to become a part of the Acts 29 Network, founded by Mark Driscoll, pastors are required to lead their churches with "masculine love like Jesus Christ"? Here is how this is spelled out under Doctrine on the Acts 29 website: (link)
"We are not egalitarians and do believe that men should head their homes and male elders/pastors should lead their churches with masculine love like Jesus Christ."
A 'masculine love' like Jesus Christ'? Gee, I thought our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ demonstrated agape love.
Agape love is defined as:
1. Love as revealed in Jesus, seen as spiritual and selfless and a model for humanity.
2. Love that is spiritual, not sexual, in its nature.
Where is 'masculine love' in the Bible? It's too bad that Acts 29 doesn't back up its doctrinal position with specific Bible references.
At the present time, the Acts 29 Network is comprised of around 400 churches, and the pastors in those churches are putting forth this paradigm, which means "example, pattern; especially an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype".
Here's the problem we have with the paradigm of masculine love, as demonstrated by pastors in Acts 29 churches. We are ALL called to view Christ as our role model; however, if Christ is only able to demonstrate masculine love, where does this leave women? Women are effectively marginalized and unable to model Christ's love. In other words, over half of the world's population is disqualified from demonstrating Christ's love because they are females. Way to go guys!
Christianity Today featured an article entitled A Jesus for Real Men: What the new masculinity movement gets right and wrong back in April 2008, which explores this shift toward a macho image of Jesus. Here is an excerpt from that article:
"The aspect of church that men find least appealing is its conception of Jesus. Driscoll put this bluntly in his sermon 'Death by Love' at the 2006 Resurgence theology conference (available at TheResurgence.com). According to Driscoll, 'real men' avoid the church because it projects a 'Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ' that 'is no one to live for [and] is no one to die for.' Driscoll explains, 'Jesus was not a long-haired … effeminate-looking dude'; rather, he had 'callused hands and big biceps.' This is the sort of Christ men are drawn to – what Driscoll calls 'Ultimate Fighting Jesus.' "
Is an 'ultimate fighting Jesus' an accurate portrayal of our Lord and Savior who sacrificially died for our sins? According to the CT article, this is what the masculinity movement gets wrong.
"Besides offering an extremely narrow view of masculinity, this framework totally excludes women from real discipleship. To begin with, it blames them for neutering the gospel. Left in their hands, the church became nice and affirming and lost its vision to reach the world. Perhaps worse, if Christ is the model of masculinity, then women can't imitate him. They can pursue him as the lover of their souls. They can imitate his devotion to the Father in their relationships with their husbands. But they can't become like him in any essential way."
"…Scripture gives no indication that Jesus came to earth to model masculinity. He is the "image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation" (Col. 1:15). As such, he is not simply the perfect male; he is the perfect human being. Through his obedience to the Father, Christ exhibited the qualities that should characterize all believers, both male and female."
"My point is this: If Adam and Eve illustrate the essential differences between men and women, Christ highlights their essential unity. All believers are called to imitate Christ by exhibiting the same qualities; Paul makes no distinction between masculine and feminine fruits of the Spirit. In fact, the evidence of the Spirit's work looks very different from the qualities the masculinity movement suggests typify a "real" man. Instead of "brash, offensive" (Stine), "self-reliant, competitive" (Murrow), "punch-you-in-the-nose dudes" (Driscoll), Paul says that those who are filled with the Holy Spirit will be loving, patient, peaceful, kind, and gentle."
We are grateful that Brandon O'Brien, who wrote this insightful article, sees the problems with the masculinity movement. Please take the time to read his piece in its entirety.
It is difficult to comprehend masculine love when the Bible clearly states:
"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 on 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 (ESV)
"Man" in this passage is a generic term for mankind. Furthermore, both male and female were created in the image of God. Together they portray the fullness of God because the Holy Spirit indwells both men and women.
Please don't misunderstand. While we refer to God as masculine, we don't believe gender is nearly as important to Him as Driscoll and his cohorts do. Why don't these guys refer to themselves as the "bride of Christ"? I guess gender only applies when it puts "dudes" in a superior position.
Driscoll's obsession with masculine love likely contributed to a comment he made on his Facebook account, which he promptly removed after receiving much criticism. Driscoll asked, “So, what story do you have about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader you’ve ever personally witnessed?”
For those who may have missed it, you can read about it here. Once again, Driscoll opens his mouth and inserts his foot. Then he removes the evidence. It's such a predictable pattern.
We would love for our readers to chime in on masculine love. Here are our questions.
(1) Do you believe this is the kind of love Jesus Christ emulates?
(2) How are women to demonstrate Christ's love?
(3) Is the concept of 'masculine love' helpful or harmful in fulfilling the Great Commission?
We leave you with Macho Man Mark Driscoll's words of wisdom as he criticizes "soft, tender, chick-i-fied church boys", the feminine appearance of the church, and the make-up of the body of Christ, which is 60 percent women. Mark Driscoll – what a DUDE!! And to think that so many Christian guys want to emulate him…
Lydia's Corner: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 Psalm 35:1-16 Proverbs 21:17-18