Battle of the Sexes: Save the Male
This evotional continues the Battle of the Sexes series. To listen to the podcast or watch the webcast, visit www.theaterchurch.com. Or check out Pastor Mark’s blog @ www.markbatterson.com.
In Florence, Italy there is a museum that contains some of Michelangelo’s less famous sculptures. Michelangelo is famous for his sculpture of David and the Genesis scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But this museum in Florence contains his less famous sculptures that were intended to be used on the tomb of Pope Julius, but he never completed them. The sculptures are partially complete—a hand here, a torso there, a protruding leg, part of a head. None of them are finished. It’s almost as if these partial sculptures are trying to break out of the marble—to break free and become what they were intended to be. But they’re stuck. Michelangelo called these unfinished sculptures “captives.”
Hold on to that image.
In his first public sermon, Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah and said that he had come to set the captives free. We tend to think of that statement in forensic terms—we think of salvation setting us free from the penalty of sin. And that is certainly part of the meaning. But salvation is so much more than the elimination of sin. Salvation releases us to become the people God has destined us to be. It sets us on a path toward our God-ordained destiny relationally and occupationally. And part of that is becoming men or women of God.
Unfortunately, a lot of men feel like half-men. We feel incomplete. We feel unfinished. We feel like captives. We want to be men of God, but we aren’t entirely sure how to get there or what that looks like.
John Eldredge captures it well:
What we have now is a world of uninitiated men. Partial men. Boys, mostly, walking around in men’s bodies, with men’s jobs and families, finances, and responsibilities. The passing on of masculinity was never completed, if it was begun at all. The boy was never taken through the process of masculine initiation. That’s why most of us are unfinished men.
Here’s the good news. Jesus came to set the captive free. And He didn’t just come to set us free. I think Jesus is the masculine prototype. Jesus sets the standard.
I think a lot of our confusion about masculinity traces back to our view of Jesus. I think the church, by and large, has celebrated his feminine qualities and ignored his masculine qualities. In the words of Jesuit Priest Patrick Allen, Jesus is portrayed as a bearded lady.
Jesus could be soft as kittens. I admire the way he treated women and children. And that is part of being a man. But Jesus was also tough as nails. To borrow a 1990’s term, Jesus was da man. So I want to look at the example Jesus set, but we need to start with the first Adam in Genesis 3.
Adam and Eve are in the Garden of Eden. And they’ve got it good. They are surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation. They have fellowship with God. And I’m not sure how else to say this, but they run around naked all the time. And there is no shame. Just beauty and majesty and intimacy and adventure. That’s it. Then the Serpent enters stage left.