What do Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin and Stan Smith all have in common?
They are animated male leads in popular cartoon shows?
Well, yes, but I was actually going to say they are examples of the decline of strong male role models in popular culture.
They are each loud mouthed, arrogant, sexist, moronic, man-boys who dominate popular culture.
Name three strong father figures in modern popular culture off the top of your head right now. Not easy is it. I’ve been sitting here for five minutes and I can’t do it and I work at a cable television company.
In years gone by the heads of television families were mentors and role models to their children. Think of Ward Cleaver, Mike Brady, Bill Cosby and Dr Jason Seaver. Even more recent examples of strong father figures like Jonathon Kent in Smallville are often new versions of older characters with more traditional values.
These men sought to impart values to their children and teach them how to be men. They weren’t overtly Christian so their values wouldn’t stand up to biblical scrutiny but they were fathers who loved and cared for their wives and children.
Today men are seeking to remain boys longer than ever as Darrin Patrick so excellently explains. We men in the church need to stand up and say we will not follow the dictates of culture but will rather live up to the call to be biblical men.
The battle for Christian masculinity has become a popular topic in recent years with the success of books such as Wild at Heart but really the war has only just begun. The church on the whole has become predominantly female and often the men you find there are not the sorts that I would aspire for my daughter to marry.
In my last post on Fight Club I examined the fact that young men today have recognized the lie of the ‘American Dream’ and materialism only to replace it with a mistaken sense of strength in independence and violence. This is not biblical masculinity.
At the centre of biblical manhood is our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. He stands as the perfect example of a Godly man. He is full of faith, faithful, upright, strong, sacrificial, tender, just and passionate. He is the very embodiment of what a Christian man is called to be and yet how many men are truly trying to emulate the man Jesus.
Men run from biblical manhood in one of two broad ways. Either they become hyper aggressive he-men who have no emotional IQ and who typically objectify and abuse women either verbally or physically, or they become overly effeminate cowards and manipulators who make idols out of women and are walked all over by the fairer sex.
Biblical men are Christ-centred men who are courageous and bold but gentle and loving. They are not abusive and oppressive nor are then tolerant of all and flimsy.
Biblical men are called to love their wives the way Christ love the church (Eph 5:25). We are to be sacrificial servants who are commanded to give up our lives for our wives. This doesn’t mean that we make an idol out of our wife, or sex, or her affection. Rather, as a means of worshipping Him, we deny ourselves in order to serve and love her the same way that Christ has loved us.
We are to do this even when she doesn’t deserve it. In fact we do this especially when she doesn’t deserve it because ‘when we were dead in our trespasses’ God made us alive with Christ (Eph2:5).
Of course in order to serve and lead a wife we must actually have one. Not a longtime casual girlfriend or a friend with benefits or a de facto partner. Biblical men respect women by choosing one to the exclusion of all others and providing for her.
That’s right, they provide for her. It’s the one thing that you have to give Homer, Peter and Stan credit for. They all have a job and provide for their families. I Timothy 5:8 declares, ‘But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.’
I’m not saying women cannot work and I’m not saying that there are not seasons when a husband may not have work but he is to be the primary bread-winner in the home and accept the responsibility of making sure his family is fed.
These pictures of masculinity run counter to the increasing problem of absentee fathers and the criticisms of modern feminism. But our goal is not to surrender to culture, rather to live in it while upholding biblical standards through loving obedience so we may glorify the name of Christ.
You men reading this who are not living as the bible commands need to repent and come to the foot of the cross. Lay down your idolatry of sports, women, video games, alcohol, pornography, flirting and the opinion of men and stand up and live like Jesus.
Men have a special role in the family and in the church. Its time to cowboy up and live up to standard to which we have attained through Christ. (Phil 3:7-16)