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Volume 7, Issue 5: Thema

Recovering the Masculine mind

Douglas Wilson

The problem can be called by many names. The men of our generation have had a failure of nerve. They have abdicated their responsibilities, and we are consequently in the midst of a crisis of leadership. Men have fallen, to use the biblical term, into the sin of unbelief . God has always promised tremendous blessings for those who keep His covenant faithfully, but, to be blunt, men no longer believe Him. We have fallen so far away from His Word that we no longer even know what a covenant is still less the terms of His covenant with us and the nature of covenant reality around us.

Until we come to recover this understanding, I say recover because our fathers had what we have lost, we have no way of comprehending the cultural chaos which surrounds us. The clamor of voices rises higher every day, wondering what to do next. Pundits on the television point us in all of directions, that we might know the way out. This way, no that. How is it that we have come to be ruled by such capons and fools? In order to answer the question, we must probe our wounds deeply. The pain is excruciating, which is not surprising, given the extent of our crisis. What is surprising is our discovery that a biblical probe discovers a wound we did not even know we had. So a biblical discussion of our cultural crisis will not only cause considerable pain, but it may initially look as though it were a complete change of subject. Rest assured, it is nothing of the kind.
God always deals with men by means of covenant. He is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. This sounds nice, and very religious, but what does it mean? These covenants are a solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses. God made a covenant of creation with Adam before the fall (Hos. 6:7); when we all sinned in Adam, He made a covenant of redemption with Adam (Gen. 3:15), Noah (Gen. 6:17-22; 8:20-22; 9:1-7; 9:8-17), Abraham (Gen. 17:1-2), Moses (Ex. 2:24), and David (2 Sam. 7:12-16). These latter were not a series of disconnected and unrelated covenants, as though God changed His mind every few centuries about how to deal with us; they are all part of the one great unfolding covenant of grace, which finds its final great fulfillment in the passion and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 8:7-12).
Just as He deals with mankind through covenants, He created us in such a way that we also must deal with one another under Him by means of covenants. At the center of our lives we find that such covenants are inescapablewe cannot function apart from them because they are built into our bones. The covenants in this category are those of marriage (Mal. 3:14-15), the institution of the church (Luke 22:20), and the civil order (Rom. 13:1-7).
These three covenant institutions have been established among us directly by the hand of God. We have no authority to alter or abolish them to suit our tastes or liking. But it is not enough for Christians to acknowledge their existence; we must also correctly understand their relationship to one another. It would be a serious mistake to line them up in a row of three, and then simply assign respective biblical duties to each. Each covenant institution certainly does have its respective duties, but we must first understand that the covenanted institutions of church and civil society are made up of covenanted family units.
Each family has certain assigned duties within its own sphereeducation, health care, provision of food, etc . But together families also contribute a molecular strength in the makeup of the two other trans-family governmentsthe church and the civil order. That is, each family makes this contribution for blessing when it is offered in understanding belief, and it is received by the two broader covenant communities with the same believing mind.
Because of the crisis of masculinity in the home, that representation is not being offered by our households, and if it were offered, it would be received by our civil order only with laughter, and by an ignorant theological indignation in our churches. In short, we all, from top to bottom, are in high rebellion against God's design for family and culture. We in the church like to disguise that rebellion by talking about family valueswhich amounts, as far as I can tell, to a vibrant desire for more G-rated moviesbut we never talk about familial representation in the church, or familial authority in the civil realm.
This breakdown is the result of men becoming spiritual eunuchs. At the heart of each family is a man. He cannot help being biologically male, but disobedience can certainly turn him away from being masculine i.e. a masculinity which embraces headship, takes the initiative, serves responsibly, provides for his own, and represents his household to the other governments established by God . Modern Christian men can be divided into two categoriesthose who have acquiesced to the current dictates requiring epistemological effeminacy, and those who think they have not because they are still allowed to beat their chests at home. Those in the latter category must come to realize their broader cultural impotence. What does your leadership in the household mean? That you get to hold the remote when the family watches television? That you get to park the car when the family goes to church? What it really means is that you have the responsibility before God to wake up .
For example, when our Supreme Court made its infamous decision to allow the slaughter of infants, the Christians of our nation were so covenantally blind that we did not see it for what it wasthe abortion of the legitimate family. This is not to minimize in any way the horrific nature of the abortion carnageGod is just and He will judge. But why did we not even see the other problem? Consider the result of that decision. When a woman is considering an abortion, the Court informed us that this is a decision between her and her doctor. As far as our civil order is concerned, whether she is married or not is completely irrelevant. The fact that a man has taken a solemn vow assuming covenantal responsibility for his offspring was judged by our highest court to be a matter of no legal consequence .
It is difficult to understand what is more tragic, the decision of the Court to slaughter the children, or the inability of modern Christians to even notice that the Court had declared every child in the nation to be, as far as they were concerned, a bastard.
With the abortion decision, this rejection of the legal reality of family covenants finally came to the shedding of blood. But this lawlessness had been at work in our civil order for well over a century. We did not notice that our children had been declared illegitimate because we had already believed the lie of individualism. For example, when women were granted the right to vote, the nation had already accepted the lie that a nation is nothing more than a collection of individuals . And so the matter was framed this waymen as individuals can vote, so why cannot individual women do the same? We were so muddled we thought we were giving the franchise to women when we were in fact taking it away from families.
When a nation no longer receives the ambassadors of another nation, it is in effect refusing to recognize that nation. When the civil order and the church refuse to receive the divinely-appointed representative of the household, the same conclusion is unavoidable.
In this respect the churches of our nation have been just as guilty as our civil establishment. A family church is thought to be one with lots of kids are present and an efficient nursery. But in most churches, officially speaking, the nurseries are full of aliens. How many churches reckon membership by household? How many churches vote by household, with the head of each house representing that family?
We have forgotten the meaning of masculinity. We have turned away from the principle which ties all covenants together, whether divine or human. Remember, a covenant is a solemn bond, sovereignly administered, with attendant blessings and curses. Every covenant home needs a head, both to oversee the home, and to represent the home to other covenant entities.
Willingness to embrace that responsibility at the level of each household is biblical masculinity. Refusal to do so at the level of each household is covenantal castration. We must mark it well; abdication does not remove the covenant responsibilities as far as God is concerned. What it does is bring down tumbling cultural curses like an earthslide. And here we are, with rulers who do not see any liberty in the law of God. "Why do they not see?" we wonder. But we are the covenant idiots; we still do not know that they are God's judgment on us . We do not see either.
Exhorted by somebody to "get involved," we think the solution is to "throw the bums out." But the "bums" are simply the hand of the Lord upon us; the only way out is repentance. The only safe way to flee from the Lord is to turn to Him. The Lord says, " I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. The people will be oppressed, every one by another and every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable" (Is. 3:4-5). The Lord is angry with us, and we see results on every hand. "As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths" (Is. 3:12). And as a people, we do not yet see the causes of His just judgment upon us.
Repentance must begin in each household, with husbands and fathers turning from their effeminacy. Tragically, much of our current folly is effeminacy in the name of Christ . Contrary to popular teaching on the Christian home, a man's duty is not be a real sweet guy, well-liked by all at church. Much of the effort being expended on masculine renewal today is nothing more than a discipleship program for weeniesa pale copy of the secular men's movement of a few years back. In contrast, a husband must assume a mantle of strength, and the demeanor of masculine leadership. And when men have assumed godly responsibility within the home, they must then bring that representative headship to bear outside the home . This is the real test. A man who thinks he leads at home, but who has a failure of nerve as the family's ambassador will have no more cultural impact than the average bossy college roommate.
In this way our repentance can spread first to the church, as it is given an opportunity to receive, for the first time in generations, the heads of covenant households in their official representative capacity. As the church is reformed in this way, it will have its former and long-forgotten strength restored. And then a biblical pattern will finally be displayed that may be safely imitated in the civil realm. But until then, all attempts at cultural reform are sweeping water uphill.
Who will dwell in prosperity in our land? Who will inherit the earth? "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant " (Ps. 25:14). But we do not yet fear Him, and He has not yet been pleased to grant to us the great reformation of a covenant renewal. May God have mercy.

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