So you are standing at the crossroads of manhood.
Which path are you going to choose?
How are you going to demonstrate to the world that you are you?
How are you going to package the complex bag of bones, sinews, guts, emotions, hormones, social constraints, expectations, passions, hopes and fears?
How are you going to live as a 21st century… male?
It’s a new phenomenon, of course.
Boys have never had to stand alone at the crossroads of manhood before.
Every community on earth – until recently – has had ways of helping their boys grow into men.
It’s what communities commissioned men to do, help boys become men. Help boys find their place in society, using their gifts, skills and strength to make life better for everyone.
Most cultures on earth have recognised that boys need help transitioning from being dependents to contributors, from juniors to seniors, from the nest into the world, that is, until now, now we’ve got choice!
Society says we are free to define what being a man is, we are liberated from any ancient notions or stereotypes, from any commitments, duties or responsibilities, absolutely free…
Burn those string-vests lads, we are free!
So what’ll it be?
Gangsta, geek or goth?
Muscle-ripped gorilla (there are a number of options here: street fighter? Body builder? Doorman?)
Sporting hero – clean-cut American style or rebellious sporting chancer?
Muso, Monet or Mastif?
Fencer or flanker?
Metrosexual, technosexual or retrosexual?
Corporate ops, conservation ops, or covert ops?
‘Treat em mean and keep em keen’ or ‘tender-hearted family man’?
For ‘the system’, with ‘the system’ or against ‘the system’?
Porthos? Aramis? Athos or… Dogtanian?
Or how about this one…
Is Jesus a serious candidate for the ultimate definition of masculinity?
Pontius Pilate stood in front of a jeering crowd, pointed to the battered and bloody figure of Jesus and declared: “Behold the man, I give you the man, here is the man… ecce homo” John:19:5. The crowd responded: “We want the bandit instead.”
Does society need to redefine masculinity? Probably. That’s in part because it doesn’t know what it wants men to be and do in a post-agricultural, post-mechanical, microchip world. And partly because society has no benchmark, no basis, no plumbline, no ultimate definition of masculinity.
For the follower of Jesus there is no redefinition required, the definition of masculinity is the same as it has been for the last 2,000 years. Pilate’s words “I give you the man” are staggeringly appropriate. Jesus is the total fulfilment of masculinity, the old creeds say he is fully man (and fully God).
Jesus treads and maps out the pathway of masculine greatness, he blends strength and tenderness, compassion and conviction, muscle, mind and heart. He is the one who displays that true masculinity is founded on submission, effective in strength and completed in sacrifice.
The path of male greatness finds its direction and destination in Jesus. (Have a look at Dave Murrow’s book The Map for more).
If we are aiming to define masculinity, we would do well to encounter Jesus in his fullness as heart-healer, sin-cleaner, table-turner, grave-buster, an honourer of women, a revealer of hypocrite, God-lover, creation-shaper, son.
The most captivating vision of manhood the world has ever encountered – behold – THE man.
Alarmingly, despite this captivating vision of masculinity that Jesus invites us into, individuals and society, like the crowd at Pontius Pilate’s feet, still get to choose.
Please, let’s not go for the bandit again……
Image by Creationswap