Summary: A man’s role is to be: 1. A man of character. 2. A man of consistency. 3. A man of authenticity.
In the news this week, Rev. Rebecca Ann Steen has applied to return to pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church. She has been on leave of absence since 1999 from the Baltimore-Washington Conference after serving for 17 years as a pastor. But her application for appointment has been blocked by her fellow clergy in the conference who have filed a complaint against her. It seems that the Rev. Rebecca Ann Steen was formerly the Rev. Richard A. Zomastny, who has three grown children and three grandchildren. Rev. Steen underwent “gender reassignment” surgery. And while the United Methodist Church does not permit “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” to be appointed as pastors, this is the first case of a transgendered person to come before the church, and there is no established policy. This will have many people on both sides scrambling furiously until there is a policy formed, and the media will delight in the fray.
I bring this up because it is an illustration of just how confusing the culture in which we live is. Is Rebecca Steen a male or female, really? If Rebecca has a relationship with another woman now, does that mean she is a lesbian? If Rebecca has a relationship with a man does that make her a homosexual or heterosexual? These are problems our grandparents could not even have imagined. Our entire culture is embroiled in the most basic definitions of what a man is, what a woman is, what a family is, what right and wrong is. Certainly lost in all the confusion is the role of a man, husband and father. So this morning we want to look at these roles, but we do not want to be influenced by the culture, or even the opinions of good people, we want to know what God says about this important question of identity. The Bible says, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). You were made in the image of God and it is important to live out that identity.
Weldon Hardenbrook has written a book entitled, Missing from Action: Vanishing Manhood in America. In it he talks about the identity crisis of the American male. With a great deal of humor he talks about different types of male roles he sees being promoted today. First is what he calls the Macho Maniac. This is the image portrayed by the Rambo, Dirty Harry, Diehard, Terminator films, and many of the other action films out there today. This is the model of a man who denies his feelings, keeps everything inside, never apologizes and tries to portray an aura of toughness. Then Hardenbrook talks about the kind of man he calls The Great Pretender. This is the Archie Bunker type who tries to build himself up by looking down on everyone else as incompetents. He is irritable and moody. He is filled with feelings of inadequacy but never seems to be able to come to terms with them. Another role model he sees being generated today is The Gender Blender. You are not sure whether they are male or female. Michael Jackson, Prince, Boy George, Elton John and many of the music industry’s celebrities. Their masculine identity seems to have been lost somewhere.
I am seeing another model being lived out on television: The Bumbling Idiot. These are the clueless losers in the evening sitcoms who hang their heads as they are scolded by their wives and lectured by their children. Everybody loves Raymond because he is so easy to manipulate. If it wasn’t for Raymond’s family you wonder if he would be able to survive. If you watched TV much you would wonder if there was such a thing as a competent, responsible male.
If get your model for manhood from the media you will be very confused. Get your role from the Scriptures and you will be following God’s original design for your life and what it means to be a man. As I read the Scripture, I see several things that are a part of what a man’s role is to be. The first is: He is to be a man of character. Whether you are single, married without children, or married with children, this is the model for a man. The Bible tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). A man of character does not conform to the world around him, he conforms to the image of God. He models his life after the heart of Jesus Christ. He longs to have the qualities and character of Jesus. He has gone beyond just wanting to avoid sin in his life, he is concentrating on the quality of life Jesus lived before us. He wants to imitate the heart of Christ. He wants to have his heart transformed. He wants what is going on inside to match the image that he projects on the outside. It is an inner transformation. It is genuine and without hypocrisy. He encourages and builds up his wife and children and doesn’t tear them down, for he strives to live up to the Scripture that says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). Your children should be able to believe in their heavenly Father because they have seen a little of heaven in their earthly father.