29 March 2010

Man Up

by Phil Johnson



Series Guide
(This post is part of a series, taken from the transcript of a message on 1 Corinthians 16:13 given at the 2010 Shepherds' Conference.)

Intro: "The church militant?"
1. "Watch Out"
2. "Stand Firm"
3. "Man Up"
4. "Be Strong"

"Act like men" (1 Corinthians 16:13)

he expression literally means, "Be men," or "be manly." The TNIV, notorious for trying to sidestep masculine pronouns and male-oriented words, simply says, "Be courageous." That's an important aspect of what Paul is saying here. It's a start, but it's not really the full gist.

Paul uses the Greek verb andrizomai in the middle voice. It's another one-word imperative, though it's hard to make it one word in English. It means "play the man."

It's a word that speaks of masculinity as opposed to femininity. He's not saying be grownups rather than children; he's saying, "Act like men, not like girls." And frankly, that was a fitting charge to give to the church at Corinth. As a reminder and a rebuke, it is also well-suited for a large segment of evangelicals today.

Manly courage is certainly an aspect of what Paul means, but it's much bigger than that. He is commending all those characteristics that are associated with masculinity rather than femininity—even though it's not politically correct these days to say things like that. Paul is sweeping up and including in that command attributes like courage, and strength, and boldness—stout-heartedness, heroism, daring, gallantry—machismo. There is, of course, a rather pedestrian aspect to true machismo: the idea of work. When God created Adam, He made him to work—to tend the garden—even before the Fall. That's something to remember in this age of leisure. We need to be redeeming the time. You can't exclude that from this command.

But remember, the context is militant. This is first of a call to arms and a summons to battle. "Fight like men; defend the faith in a manly way." That is surely the cardinal idea here.

Now it's worth noting that this verse is written to the whole church—it's not addressed to men only—and much less does Paul single out only the elders and the church leaders. This apples to every Christian. There's a sense in which even the women in Corinth needed to cultivate the strength and fortitude of a warrior—like Deborah in the book of judges.

But while this applies to everyone in the church, it is nevertheless the particular duty of the elder and pastor to model the spirit of virile, vigorous, vigilant faith—steadfast and courageous. And I love it that Paul has no scruples about connecting those ideas with manliness. "Act like men!" Masculinity. That is certainly one of the missing qualities of churches today.

The King James Version of this verse says, "Quit you like men," and I fear that sometime in the late 20th century or so a lot of evangelical readers mistook the message and thought it meant "Quit being men."

Several books have been written analyzing the feminization of evangelical churches. I gave a lengthy message on this subject two years ago at a Grace Church Men's conference—that message is online if you want to download it. But be forewarned: some people got offended by what I had to say (which is a totally new experience for me.)

In my judgment, the typical evangelical church of this generation has become weak and womanly. Churchgoers demand that preachers be soft and dainty—especially when they are dealing with hard-edged truths. If you don't sufficiently tone down every severe text or hard-to-receive doctrine in the Bible, the tone police will write you up for an infraction before you can get from the pulpit to the front door. All the rough edges of every truth must be carefully sanded smooth and painted in pastel tones. We've traded up to cushy seats instead of hard-bench pews and we expect our preachers to fashion their message accordingly. None of this sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God stuff.

Instead, today's evangelicals favor feminine themes: Let's talk about our emotional hurts, our personal relationships, our felt, needs. We're hurting. The church has begun to look weak, effeminate, frightened, sissified—like a society of fops and milksops instead of soldiers.

Rules for Figure SkatersWe're told relentlessly that we have to be always agreeable no matter what—seeker-sensitive, gender-neutral, effervescent, transparent, sentimental, and delicate in everything we say and do. Those sound like rules for figure-skaters, not warriors in the army of Christ.

These trends have received a lot of attention in recent years, and more and more people are recognizing the problem. The church is not reaching and ministering to men—we're actually driving them away. But those who see the problem more often than not have really bad solutions. You know: have the men's Bible studies over beer, cigars, and poker games. Get your men watching cage-fighting and encourage them to develop a taste for blood sport. Or go out in the woods, put on war paint, and perfect the art of the primal scream. Salt your vocabulary with a sailor's favorite expletives. Or (my favorite) Live Action Role Playing, or LARPing, where you dress up like a knight or a gladiator and assume that persona out in a vacant field somewhere with other people who are doing the same thing.

Right. Dress up and pretend. That's the way to be masculine.

None of those things even comes close to the essence of true, virile masculinity. In fact, those are all the kinds of things little boys do.

Paul has none of those things in mind when he tells the Corinthians to man up. He is telling them as simply and straightforwardly as possible to be bold, sober-minded, mature, and committed to their calling—like soldiers. Be valiant soldiers in the battle for truth. You don't have to take up smoking or swearing or get a tattoo on your arm to fulfill that command. Those are all external things. They have nothing to do with the kind of masculinity Paul is calling for here. He's talking about character and conduct, not the costume you wear.

In fact, notice the two imperatives on either side of this command to act like men. They explain the true gist of it: "Be steadfast." "Be strong." Those are character qualities. And sandwiched between them is this: "Act like men." The imperatives in that string of commands basically explain one another. Strength, steadfastness, courage, and even vigilance—these are all vital aspects of what Paul means when he says, "Act like men."

Pulpit Highlights - Phil Johnson from Grace Community Church on Vimeo.



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37 comments:

Keith said...

I nearly died laughing when I saw who the authors of the book were! I love subtle humor. And, of course, the article was spot-on as well.

Zaphon said...

Thanks for the exhortation Phil.

If we "acted like men", our women might start to respect us, and we could be leaders again. Nothing like Spirit-filled character that is on display in truth for our women to really take notice and be willing to be lead.

When my wife chides me for something it's not because I'm acting like Toby McGuire before he gets bit by the super-spider, but her concerns are about issues or real character.

stratagem said...

"Be valiant soldiers in the battle for truth. You don't have to take up smoking or swearing or get a tattoo on your arm to fulfill that command."

The few churches around here that were encouraging these types of things weren't interested in finding soldiers for truth. They were interested in finding a large number of carnally-minded men.

Thankfully, that movement didn't last long and it's over now.

William Watson Birch said...

E X C E L L E N T !

Solameanie said...

Excellent post, Phil. And while I'm dishing out kudos, let me also thank you for not posting a picture of The Village People in conjunction with the notion of "manning up." The way things are going, I wouldn't be surprised to see them doing church concerts in time.

Yeesh. Sometimes I scare myself.

drmack said...

As a martial arts instructor & huge ufc/mma fan ya cut me deep. Ouch. Little boys? (Phil, my brother, may I suggest you visit your local Gracie Barra Jiu Jitsu studio and man up in your phight against phlab?) Plus I can already feel the heat from all the women pastors and elders. Don't you know that hell hath no fury like the scorn of a woman (pastor)? I'm getting out of here before this whole place gets torched. ;-D

joey said...

Instead of trying to put on the masculine persona our culture has developed that looks more like a fool than a man, we should look to Christ as our example just as we do for everything else. He's the only man to not be controlled by sin since Adam, and so he is a perfect example of what God desires our lives as men to look like. Please look to Christ, not Al Bundy.

David Rudd said...

of course there is always a danger that we act "too manly", like my neighbors across the state who have run afoul of the gov't for being "manly"...

hutaree!

stratagem said...

Actually those guys at hutaree are a good example of what Phil is telling us not to do: They are acting like little boys playing army. Why they think Jesus is going to need their military support when He arrives, is hard to fathom...

donsands said...

"In fact, those are all the kinds of things little boys do."

That made me think of John Eldredge, for I remember reading a portion of his "Wild Heart" book, where he speaks of being a little boy deep in his soul and Jesus talking to him. And I know a lot of men who have read this crazy stuff, and said it helped them.

I guess men are looking for answers. And false teachers have some.

John Eldredge: "For if you are going to know who you truly are as a man, if you are going to find a life worth living, if you are going to love a woman deeply and not pass on your confusion to your children, you simply must get your heart back. You must head up into the high country of the soul, into wild and uncharted regions and track down that elusive prey."

Thanks for the post.

Excellent.

Phil Johnson said...

David Rudd:

Thanks for the Hutaree link, but if you think those guys are an example of "too manly," you missed my point about what authentic manliness is.

What those guys are doing is LARPing. Dress-up-and-pretend. Their inner child is acting out.

David Rudd said...

Phil,

I thought I was agreeing with you.
Just attempting to insert a little humor, that's all.

Brooke said...

"Please look to Christ, not Al Bundy." -Amen Joey

Also, if a sister may comment on a "man-post," I'd like to ask a question of you guys.

What role, if any, do shows like "Everybody Loves Raymond" or "The Simpsons," which contain lead male characters who are portrayed as pathetic and silly, have on the idea of masculinity in America?

donsands said...

Ray Ramano and Homer S. aren't to be examples, but characters in a sitcom, who have a certain humor.

So I don't think they play a role in the Church really. Though they may play a role in the secular portion of America, and I wouldn't doubt that nominal Christians may have "Everybody loves Raymond" Bible studies, beacuse they have:

http://www.amazon.com/Gospel-According-Simpsons-Spiritual-Animated/dp/0664224199

stratagem said...

Sillified male props like Raymond, Homer, and hosts of others exist because in America you can't portray women in that fashion. If you do, you will be called a misogynistic chauvinist, or a bigot.

You might get away with portraying a minority male that way (e.g., George Lopez) but generally not a woman.

I'm not sure what any of that has to do with the church as much as it has to do with secular thinking that has infiltrated the church on a preconscious level.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Phil said: "Now it's worth noting that this verse is written to the whole church—it's not addressed to men only—and much less does Paul single out only the elders and the church leaders. This apples to every Christian. There's a sense in which even the women in Corinth needed to cultivate the strength and fortitude of a warrior—like Deborah in the book of judges."

Thank you for this comment, Phil. So often SOME men feel women should be silent in all areas of their lives. This is NOT Biblical, but extreme. I firmly believe that women should NOT usurp authority over a man, or lead a flock, however, if I were to take the extreme position SOME men take, then when confronted with heresy outside the setting of the church, I would have to say, "Please, wait here, I have to go find a man to refute this heresy." HUH!

The Holy Spirit finds expression in sharing the gospel-that expression is through WORDS, so to be "silent" is like saying the devil has got your tongue.

Sorry, this is just a wee off topic, but thanks again.

shauna said...

Dear Phil: Thank you so much for this insight! I think Mary above me summed up my own feelings quite well. We all - believers - need to have that 'manly character' of being 'strong' in the faith. I appreciate Phil, you pointing out that women also need to be strong in this way.
I affirm as well that women are not to teach men or have a position of authority over men in the church. I have a female pastor in my family and when I mentioned that her being one was in direct contradiction to Gods Word I was berated...."why of course she has the intellectual capability to be a pastor" I was told. That may be I said, but in terms of obedience she must channel that in an appropriate role and what she is doing is going against Gods Word so she certainly cannot teach Gods Word effectively when as she stands behind the pulpit, before she even opens her mouth, she is defying Gods Word!

Zaphon: Women who are strong in the faith do crave men who are strong in the faith - and as you mentioned there needs to be more that are! Too many men have let society feminize them and that has a detrimental effect on the church. Unfortunately, some men then go to the opposite extreme of acting as though women are to be weak silent servants.
This article is EXCELLENT!

Sam said...

"Sillified male props like Raymond, Homer, and hosts of others exist because in America you can't portray women in that fashion. If you do, you will be called a misogynistic chauvinist, or a bigot. "

Or it could be that guys like the idea that an average guy could get an attractive and wonderful women. The male characters aren't entirely idiots- Raymond is just a bit of a dope.

That and having Homer and Marges roles reversed would make people realize how screwed up they are. Really the only reason they haven't divorced is because it is a comedy TV show.

"Actually those guys at hutaree are a good example of what Phil is telling us not to do: They are acting like little boys playing army. Why they think Jesus is going to need their military support when He arrives, is hard to fathom..."

Not to mention that light infantry get chewed up and spit out by any competant military.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I have to relay a very real life issue here; when men allow themselves to be emasculated by women, it can be detrimental even to their children. Example: my son is a prodigal son, at least I am hoping, anyway, and because of this and the fact that his wife is the domineering person in the marriage, my precious grandson was baptized into the Catholic faith.

My son has abdicated his responsibility in his home, and his son is suffering because of it. He was brought up Reformed Preb and his wife is Catholic.

Role reversals are dangerous, case in point!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

If anyone would like to read the Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, click here.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

Truth Unites:

That is a very good article on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, also I hope people read John Piper's article on this same site, "A Vision of Biblical Complementarity."

madison*bella said...

I have a question about the graphic: Brian McLaren I understand, but why include Phylis Tickle in the same sentence? Her Divine Hours books are amazing. Is there something one ought to know about her? Thanks.

Elaine Cavalheiro said...

If we "acted like men", our women might start to respect us, and we could be leaders again. Nothing like Spirit-filled character that is on display in truth for our women to really take notice and be willing to be lead.


Zaphon, I am so glad that you didn't stop at the end of the first sentence. That second sentence is so important!

Thank you Phil for a great article!

Elaine Cavalheiro said...

"Now it's worth noting that this verse is written to the whole church—it's not addressed to men only—and much less does Paul single out only the elders and the church leaders. This applies to every Christian. There's a sense in which even the women in Corinth needed to cultivate the strength and fortitude of a warrior—like Deborah in the book of judges."

Very interesting, thank you for bringing that point up.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Madison*Bella: "... why include Phylis Tickle in the same sentence? Her Divine Hours books are amazing. Is there something one ought to know about her? Thanks."

Phyllis Tickle is (and I won't pull punches here) bad news. (The loving thing is to not pull punches. To soften or lessen the danger of Phyllis Tickle's aberrant teaching would be unloving.)

Read this article titled "Who is Phyllis Tickle?" and watch the videos. Click on the other articles about Phyllis Tickle too.

Then you'll understand why Phil Johnson included Phyllis Tickle's name along with Brian McClaren's.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

PJ: "In my judgment, the typical evangelical church of this generation has become weak and womanly. ... The church has begun to look weak, effeminate, frightened, sissified like a society of fops and milksops instead of soldiers. ... We're told relentlessly that we have to be always agreeable no matter what seeker-sensitive, gender-neutral, effervescent, transparent, sentimental, and delicate in everything we say and do."

Well, what do you think about the recently released "A Covenant For Civility"?

hache said...

Phil, great article. But I do have one complaint. While I agree that the church has been overbalanced toward dealing with hurts and being introspective, I don't agree with this being labeled as feminine. Emotions are not feminine as opposed to masculine. I believe this misjudgment is part of the problem. While I understand what you mean when you say, "the typical evangelical church of this generation has become weak and womanly," again I feel like gender terms are being a little skewed here. Both gender qualities are needed in the church, and Yes, Paul often calls for masculinity to step up, as we should still be doing today.
Keep up the good work.

shauna said...

If anyone is interested in a radio show discussing The Covenant of Civility mentioned by "Truth Unites ...and Divides" - it is on Crosstalk and the guests discussing the issue are Ken Silva and Chris Rosebrough along with some insightful quotes by John MacArthur. The Covenant for Civility is a tool to attempt to shut down biblical truths and those who affirm them!Link: http://67.36.84.226/crosstalk2/ct100329.mp3

Bud McGlocklin said...

Sir, I am sure if you are paying attention to the uproar in the conservative blogosphere on the subject of Rick Warren speaking at the Desiring God Conference this year, but I called DG today to confirm, and yes it is true. Rick Warren is going to be featured speaker there this year. I am not sure if this is something that would concern you, but I wonder if you could address this. Some people even in Reformed circles are beginning to question John Piper's discernment. Last year he had Doug Wilson and now this year Rick Warren, what has gotten into Piper and DG?

DJP said...

In the meanwhile, m'man Pastor Chris Anderson offers some characteristically good thoughts.

Martin said...

It was interesting to see the reaction to the extract from your message on the UK's Premier Radio forum

DJP said...

...the word "interesting" here used it its rarer, gastrointestinally-expulsive sense.

madison*bella said...

Truth Unites said--

Read this article titled "Who is Phyllis Tickle?" and watch the videos. Click on the other articles about Phyllis Tickle too.

..
Thank you for the information!

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

You're welcome, Madison*Bella.

Now you know why Phil Johnson put Phyllis Tickle's name alongside Brian McClaren's.

JeanetteYork said...

SPOT ON!! this is a message that has needed to be spoken. as a woman i can say i am in NO WAY offended. i am tired of mamsy-pamsy men that have little-to-no Machismo! i am thankfully married to a MAN, not a sports-loving, beer-guzzling, tattoo-wearing, costume-pretending wimp. but a true man of God who is gripped by the Greatness of our Holy God. May more men step-up!

one busy mom said...

Excellent article...I hope there are enough men out there listening to make any difference.

In my neck of the woods, those in ministry seem to be tripping over themselves to see how much of Scripture they can possibly deny - so they can appear more "thoughtful" and less "dogmatic". It's very discouraging - I know some folks who've even given up on going to church altogether. I disagree with that view...but at this point I can't even express how frustrating it is to not even feel comfortable inviting unbelievers to church because I'm afraid of what kind of nonsense they're likely to hear. (last time our guest heard that creation is probably a myth, Bible never claims to be inerrant, & isn't infallable...)

It's always nice to come to this blog to see that there are still Pastors who believe the Bible and preach from it. Now maybe God will just miraculously move some of y'all to this area!

the phantom of the bookstore said...

That book cover made my day.

My jaws hurt from the stupid grin on my face....

Thanks, Phil.