Manhood and Power
Last week I read this article, from my friends at The Junia Project, entitled “A Response to John Piper – What Does it Mean to be a Man?” It’s an insightful piece throughout, but here was one particular portion that caught my attention:
So to answer Piper’s question, according to scripture and observations of history and the current day, I believe one of the things it means to be a man in this world is to be privileged. Things tend to go easier for many men in contrast to women. Men tend to rule things – governments, businesses, families, churches. But this is a result of sin, and not God’s original plan.
And what are Christ followers supposed to do? They are supposed to “deny themselves“, they are supposed to consider others as better than themselves, they are supposed to “yield to one another out of reverence for Christ“.
Long-time readers of Challenging Tertullian won’t be surprised that I’m choosing to quote this particular excerpt. After all, it captures several of the core aspects of my message.
First, that the playing field is not level when it comes to gender and power. Just about every social metric confirms this biased reality. Need proof? Here.
Second, that this uneven playing field is not representative of God’s creative intent. Despite what you might have been led to believe, God didn’t create a world where men are meant to dominate and women are destined to be subordinate. Instead, we live in a “Genesis 3 world,” one were the manifest power disparity is the tragic result of human sin. And, as God’s agents on earth, a good part of our call is to advocate for gender justice both with individuals and in systems.
Third, I so appreciate the Matthew 16 and Ephesians 5 references above. Indeed, as followers of Jesus we are called to deny ourselves and to submit to one another. And, as a man who has received a measure of privilege in this world, I have come to understand that I have a particular call to leverage my power in a way that blesses the women around me, and in a way that balances out the scales regarding gender power.
The Junia Project post ends with a word about discipleship, about how women must be formed into disciples of Jesus, not of culturally-informed expectations around gender. Amen, and I will add:
May it be so for men as well.