Volume 7, Issue 5: Thema
Recovering the Masculine mind
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
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
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
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.