Oh no! Not another identity crisis for the church! A new movement called GodMen (www.godmen.org) is the latest in an ongoing series of attempts for the church to gain credibility and interest among disinterested men.
A December 13, 2006, Chicago Tribune article titled, “Movement Preaches Gospel of Manliness” states, “The strobe lights pulse and the air vibrates to a killer rock beat. Giant screens show mayhem and gross-out pranks: a car wreck, a sucker punch, a flabby (and naked) rear end, sealed with duct tape.” The article continues, “[The speaker] runs onstage in ripped blue jeans, his shirt untucked, his long hair shaggy. He’s a stand-up comic by trade, but he’s here today as an evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man. . . . ‘It’s the wuss-ification of America that’s getting us!’ screeches [the speaker].”
In a not-so-veiled reference to an earlier men’s movement, this spokesman for GodMen suggests that men in stadiums hugging, weeping, holding hands with strangers, and singing love songs to Jesus doesn’t cut it with a lot of today’s men. “Factor in the pressure to be a ‘Christian nice guy’—no cussing, no confrontation, in tune with the wife’s emotions—and it’s amazing men keep the faith at all.”
What? Is this new style of ministry a recipe for success, as its proponents would have us believe, or something that more closely resembles an MTV extreme stunt program rather than the worship of the holy God?
Certain ministry leaders’ interpretation of Christianity seems to be in a perpetual midlife crisis that can’t seem to find itself, flitting from one religious affair to the next in pursuit of an elusive dream of spiritual nirvana. In one decade we are told to hug and weep and lift our hands; now we are to beat our chests and be tough and manly. What does any of this have to do with the call of Scripture to be conformed to the image of Christ and to measure up to the stature of the fullness of Christ?
GodMen point to Christ to validate their call for manliness. But do their examples of Christ’s manliness really communicate that intent? Jesus upset the tables in the temple; however, that was not to show His manliness and bravado, but rather His abhorrence of worldly practices making their way into His Father’s house, debasing the reverence of the temple. This same Jesus, the Head of the church, continues to abhor the entrance of worldly practices into the holy environs of His church. Jesus boldly called a political leader a fox; but we are to not use that as justification for speaking crudely of others. First Peter 2:13–17 instructs us, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using your liberty as a cloak for vice, but as servants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”
The Jesus of Scripture called people to the perfect standards of the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. He is the One Who gently took an elderly woman by the hand and Who discreetly lifted up children in His arms. This is the same Jesus Who fasted and prayed for forty days in the wilderness, Who then resisted Satan not once but three times, and Who ultimately endured the horrors of the cross, bearing our sins despite His own sinless perfection.
We don’t need more manliness; we need more Christlikeness. Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 2:2–5 is still right on: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”