Monday, January 22, 2007

The Disappearing Man

by Larry Rouse

You can see the signs all around you, from the fatherless families to the ridicule of “patriarchal” homes (those who have the husband as the head), the God-given roles of men and women are under attack. Our society loves to pit various “interest groups” against each other so that they can battle for the perceived political and cultural “rewards”. What results from this “enlightenment” are poisoned relationships, broken homes and numerous evils that greatly add to the misery of all. The Apostle Paul described the rise of the practice of homosexuality and lesbianism, to the breakdown of the home and the general hatefulness in all human relationships that follows a rejection of God (Rom 1:26-32).

The Current Culture

I can understand how a woman that was not a Christian would question why God would place man as the head of the home (1 Cor 11:3) as she may have experienced a self-centered husband that treated her like an inferior slave. Most people make judgments about their lives from their own experience and, as a result, often cannot conceive of the marriage relationship as God designed it. Jesus displayed what it really means to be a head when He gave His life for the church. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph 5:25-27).

God’s design for man, when implemented, will bring happiness and fulfillment. Under the rule of our Lord Jesus Christ men and women are on the same team. They have God-given roles of being subject to others in many relationships, but before God they are equals. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:27-28). From the role of Government, to business, to the local church, God has given an order, namely, that we all must be subject to rulers, bosses and a local eldership among the other relationships we may sustain (Rom 13:1-4, Col 3:22; Heb 13:17).

Sadly, in the culture wars there are hurtful, mindless philosophies taught in the public schools that are being used as weapons to pit men against women. In a Waco, Texas newspaper it was reported that last November the parents of a 4 year old boy received a letter stating that their child was involved in "inappropriate physical behavior interpreted as sexual contact and/or sexual harassment" after the boy hugged a teacher's aide. This child was suspended and a letter placed in his record! I wish that this kind of insanity was an isolated instance, but more and more in this country we are seeing purely gender-based stereotyping and attacks based on indoctrination rather than on a real understanding of men and women.

How the Church is Being Affected

I believe the hostility of our culture towards authority in general and towards the role of man in particular has greatly affected Christians today. From the break-up of homes, to the bombardment of propaganda through television and movies, examples of real men, those who love God and selflessly serve their families as loving heads, are rarely seen. Brethren, we must give renewed emphasis on the role of men or future generations will be lost.

What Does it Mean to be a Man?

When we are determined to allow God’s word to mold our lives then we will diligently seek God’s path for men. Consider this short list with the corresponding scriptures.

1. A man is to be subject to God (1 Cor 11:3). Respect for authority, brought about by knowing the love and grace of God, is the foundation that every man must stand upon.

2. A man must be trained to be a spiritual leader. God has by design placed men in leadership roles in both Old and New Testaments (1 Sam 4:3; 1 Tim 3:2). Leadership must be taught by word and also seen by example (1 Cor 11:1; 2 Tim 2:2).

3. A man must develop maturity and courage to stand and face the hard issues of life. It is my prayer that each of you had the example of such a father in the home in which you were raised. Real men serve and suffer while the cowardly pleasure-seekers of today abandon their responsibility and their homes. “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things” (1 Cor 13:11). “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13).

We Need More Men in Local Churches

There is a great dearth of leadership in many of the churches that I have been acquainted with. It is very rare to see qualified men serve as elders in local congregations. Without qualified men to serve as elders, churches have correctly turned to a meeting of the men as a place to make final decisions. Unfortunately, the men’s business meeting is also a place where the lack of real men is painfully seen.

How does the local church where you attend deal with problems? When a real problem is faced by a local church then real men will stand up while cowardly ones will disappear. A common, but sad experience, is for a faithful man to stand up and confront a well recognized problem only to find that he is standing alone. I have likened it to being in a “gunfight at the OK corral” with the wind blowing though your hair facing some fierce opponents while there are many “men” who are spectators content with doing little more than sitting on their hands and watching the conflict. In some cases the man who takes a stand is crushed and the status-quo of doing nothing is maintained. But something else also happens in this event. Future potential leaders are either taught what it is to be a man, or taught that it is better to be a coward. Is it any wonder why some older churches have never had elders?

How Can We Help to Raise Up More Men?

Godly men can teach their sons by both word and deed how to be men (Eph 6:4).

Godly wives can have a great influence when they show respect towards their husbands. This will bring out the best in them. “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband” (Eph 5:33).

Christians must insist that local churches face and solve the spiritual problems that will come over time. It is in this process that a church can maintain its work of building men up. When a local church delays or ignores problems then it will guarantee not only future strife, but also teach a cowardly approach to all problems (Heb 13:15).

May we have more examples of faith and courage as Paul described in his letter to the Thessalonians. “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything” (1 Thess 1:5-8).

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