Male stereotypes & the church
I want to address one stereotype that has emerged amid our culture wars, one group that rarely gets talked about. It’s a serious problem that is crippling many young men in the church. We are unknowingly killing the ministry of a certain group of men. Specifically I am thinking about ones who are stereotyped as effeminate.
I don’t like the label “effeminate man” because it sounds like certain characteristics are more masculine than others and leads to confusion. I am concerned we have tended toward a worldly understanding of what makes a man and not a biblical one.
A love of muscle cars and action movies doesn’t make someone manlier than others. Likewise, a love of sewing and musicals doesn’t make a guy less manly. Many stereotypes find their way into the church but some of the Godliest men I know have effeminate tendencies. They may talk with a little bit of a lisp, express emotions very freely and have mannerisms that differ from the way typical guys acts.
All of this can be okay and has no negative impact on their ability to be mighty men of God. After all, King David was tough, but he also wrote poems and played the harp. Personally, I can’t think of a less masculine instrument than a tiny little harp.
A common tendency when meeting a man who seems effeminate is to wonder, “Maybe they are gay?” That’s a thought that pops into the head of many people when they are at a store or church and meet a man who doesn’t seem to fit the typical masculine expectations.
This is where we enter into dangerous ground. The world has suggested that if you are effeminate then you are most likely a homosexual. I’ve seen this happen with a teenager who is trying to find their identity, notices that, according to worldly standards, the only place for effeminate men is within the LGBTQ lifestyle.
The church should be a place that recognizes that God did not create all men to fit into one personality mold. We need to let those who feel like they don’t fit into the traditional categories know that they can love God and be themselves without having to buy into a sinful worldview.
We benefit when we have the full spectrum of personalities within our church. Most importantly, do not shame those who seem different, because, in doing so, we push them away from the Church and into a world that is ready to tell them who they are.
A central verse when it comes to understanding biblical manhood is found in the sixth chapter of Micah. It reads, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”
This incredible blueprint tells us so much. Some men are warriors, ready to carry out justice; some men are sensitive and full of mercy. Neither of these attributes makes a person more or less of a man. According to Scripture, we must have a combination of both. But the most definitive attribute of what makes someone a man is that he walks humbly with God.
God is a God of great compassion and sensitivity, but He is also a God of justice and thunder. It’s no surprise then that we find highly compassionate men and highly thunderous men in our world.
The godly man understands that he is not defined by either of these traits but by the very Word of God. My hope is that we can stop seeing sensitivity as a weakness and realize it takes a very strong guy to show compassion and be sympathetic.
Perhaps we could stop thinking of them as feminine altogether and bring the idea of manhood back under the authority of Scripture.