Without trying to be exhaustive, or to prove each point from the Scriptures, I want to touch on some of what I’m convinced are the most important themes of Christian manhood. On the one hand, our culture is feminizing manhood, and on the other hand, there is cultural reaction to feminism and a return to pagan ideals of manliness. True Christianity rejects both errors.
A godly man, who is truly manly, is not a “macho man,” or a man who thinks he has it all together, or who thinks he has mastered his environment (since final mastery impossible in a broken world). A truly manly man is not focused on being dominant, and he’s not a domineering man. He doesn’t have to be someone who likes sports or wrestling, though he may be. But neither is a manly man passive, one who compromises truth or righteousness to keep the peace, or to save his own skin.
A godly man, who is manly, is a man like Christ. He takes the lead in gladly and sacrificially assuming responsibility to protect and serve others. He gives, loves, forgives, and lays down his life for Christ and others. He seeks Christ and His glory, not his own. He lives a life of communion with the Lord Jesus, faithful in the Word and prayer.
He is not afraid to be vulnerable in intimate relationships. He can be vulnerable because his identity and righteousness are in Christ. He can fight for truth and righteousness and defend the weak and helpless and even lose his life doing it because he knows heaven awaits.
He is willing to work patiently on things he doesn’t understand and cannot single handedly fix (things that don’t make him feel very manly). He doesn’t think he can fix all of his problems. He doesn’t think of the emotions of others as off-limits to manhood, but patiently bears with those who are suffering and struggling, even while lovingly exhorting them in the truth, carefully and wisely applying the Word of God.
He is not afraid of his own faults and weaknesses being exposed because he has Christ’s righteousness. He is not afraid of fighting his sin, ruthlessly, because he has the Spirit within him. He is not soft on his sin, and neither does he gloss over sin in others, or in the world around him, but he confronts it in love and truth.
A godly man never compromises what is true for the sake of maintaining a relationship. He is humble and therefore bold when it comes to standing against error and for truth and righteousness because he is willing to pay the price for obedience, knowing the promises of Christ. But he also sincerely loves his enemies and opposes their sin both for their sake and the sake of others.
He is a man who works hard in the world for God’s glory, to build something for the good of the world, and to provide for those under his charge. He spares no effort in his callings. He does not grumble or complain about his work, but diligently and patiently persists in work, taking the initiative, sharpening and honing his skills for the good of others and the glory of God. If he’s in a position of authority at work, he treats people fairly and pays them justly.
If he’s married, he is a man who leads in his home by example and instruction in the Scriptures. He humbly teaches and consistently sets the tone of worship and godliness in his household. He takes the initiative in bringing his family to church on the Lord’s Day and making sure other activities don’t interfere with rest and worship with God’s people. He shows that true leadership seeks the good of others above himself. He wields his authority for the benefit of his wife and children, never stripping them of their liberty under God’s good law.
He stops at nothing to make sure his family is well-protected. He takes necessary measures to guard them from physical threats. He also watches after their spiritual well-being by setting an example of Christ and teaching them His good Word and protecting them from wolves and the lies of false gods.
He also protects anyone who is weak or in need. He stands up to bullies. He fights for those who are powerless and in need of an advocate. He never takes advantage of them.
Truly manly Christian men are neither effeminate (soft in areas where God calls men to be strong) nor are they authoritarian (subjugating others for personal gain). Manly men take up their crosses and boldly lay down their lives out of love to Christ and love for others, according to God’s truth and righteousness.