Men and Masculinity

Forty guys converged on Oakland, Iowa, this past weekend to consider what it means to be a godly masculine leader. For those of you women who are longing for details… we can’t give them. Suffice it to say there was much food, a masculinity assessment, competitive sport, mild ranting from the lead pastor, and a visit from the Pottawattamie County Sheriff. Not every church can say that the cops showed up to bust their church men’s retreat.

The essential theme of the weekend was that God created humanity “male and female.” And male and female are not just physiological, but psychological as well. There is such a thing as masculinity, and there is such a thing as femininity, and they are designed differently by God. To put it in the simplest terms: anatomical maleness does not guarantee true masculinity.

Men are designed to reflect the masculine side of God’s image, not the feminine side. But church is a highly feminized environment. So much so, in fact, that we think of Jesus and the Bible and spirituality in feminine categories, not masculine ones. We think that the purpose of Christianity is to have an intimate relationship with a wonderful man named Jesus (sound like a chick flick?), not to save the world against impossible odds. Many pastors tend to be weak men because, to quote Mark Driscoll, “It’s an indoor job that doesn’t require heavy lifting.”

So the purpose of the weekend was to challenge the men of Coram Deo to reject femininity and recover a healthy dose of the masculine spirit in our Christianity.

I had a great example of the difference between the masculine spirit and the feminine spirit today as we were eating lunch after church. My highly inquisitive daughter was asking why we always have lunch after church. “Is that just when it’s time to have lunch?” she asked. My mildly sarcastic wife replied, “Yes. I mean, I guess I COULD just throw some chicken feed at you, but we usually think lunch is a good idea.”

I chimed in, “Or you could just go out in the backyard and kill a squirrel and eat it.”

“No, Daddy! (short pause) But I don’t know how to kill things. Or cook them.”

“Well, then it’s a good thing you live in a family where we do know how to cook.”

This whole time, my youngest son had been sitting in his chair eating quietly. He finally piped up and said (in his lispy 3-year-old voice) “Daddy, how about you and me go outside and kill a squirrel and kill some birds and then cut them up and eat them?”

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. We raise masculine men around here.


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  1. I was pretty sad I couldn’t go. I actually cried a lot, but then I had a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and that made me feel better. Seriously though, Will said there was like a three-page summary/quote list of some book that I should read. What are the chances of getting that up on the resource page or to my inbox or in my hands?

  2. Patrick, you have to make sure to join us next time. It was great! I came off adrenaline high last night and all I am left with is a testosterone hangover. But it was worth it.

  3. The retreat was so awesome. I’m really glad I went, even if my football team did get demolished.

    I usually don’t think myself as ultra-masculine, because I don’t really care about cars, shooting things, and that stereotypical stuff, but there’s more to it than that. Bottom line: I need to continue striving to find my place on the spectrum, if you will. I want to stay challenged, so I don’t get complacent.

    -Matt VanEpps

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