Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Masculine Pastors: The Battle They Face and Will Face Even More

The two most common observations I read and hear about manhood today are some kind of (1) tortured masculinity and then (2) decreasing masculinity.  Men are either participating in a type of warped manhood or are more effeminate.  The two are related.

I like writing and talking about tortured or warped manhood, under which is a category I call, "fake manhood," but for now I want to focus on something else I've covered in recent days (herehere, here, and here), effeminacy, and especially as it applies to pastors.  When I was a child, we watched a television series called, The Waltons, which was a church going family in Virginia.  The "Baptist" pastor was soft speaking, appearing, and acting.  Most movie presentations of Jesus make Him the same type of character.  I'm finding that this is now what is expected of a pastor, if he truly is in a modern estimation to manifest the 'virtues of Christ.'  He must take on that pop understanding of Jesus.

I observe and sense myself a major societal push toward a pastor can't be both a real man and a pastor, because many, if not most today, buy into the concept of "toxic masculinity," where real masculinity is seen as unacceptable.  Since I've been a pastor, I've been clued into this for awhile, but I've been reminded of it again and again.  Many times, people pull out an expectation of softness or gentleness, essentially capitulation as a fulfillment of pastoral qualification, to fit my office.

At 55 years of age, I no longer participate in competitive sports.  When I did, if, as a pastor, I competed hard, like a man, some took offense to that kind of intensity, and would suggest this wasn't fitting of the office. Should the activity or manner of a pastor be conformed to others' perception of what they think he should be?

Manly talk manifests characteristics of manhood:  strength, confidence, and tenacity.  My experience with the men of my generation and older is that as a whole they speak in a different way than younger generations of men, the same for pastors.  In general they lack the before ascribed qualities.

In addition, the old way of talking as a man is now not tolerated, especially by the younger generation.  They don't want the kind of talk that comes from older men.  When the younger generation wants to say whatever it wants to say, it expects capitulation from the older.  The younger may term the older, "thinskinned."  What I often hear from the younger generation is what my generation calls a "smart mouth," which has a definition:  "an ability or tendency to make impertinent retorts; impudence."  My generation didn't tolerate a smart mouth.  Today it is expected.

Today many of a softer generation would see the strength of a former to be an instinct to authoritarianism.  Every generation sees some tendency to authoritarian leadership.  Today talking with a command voice and speaking with authority is confused for authoritarianism.  Authoritarians do both, but being a leader necessitates authority, which also requires both command voice and authoritative manner.

I understand that there are verses that taken apart from the rest of scripture might seem to portray a softer view of a church leader.  Two come to mind.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
"Be gentle" and "soft answer" are popular requirements for pastors from people who want gentleness and softness.  I'm not rejecting those two verses.  I'm saying they've got to be taken into the context of much more required of the other kind of speech or style for men.

A lot of places in both the Old and New Testaments remind me of what a younger generation doesn't want to hear.  There are so many of them from the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  The latter, writing about the false teachers among the Galatians, said in Galatians 5:12, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."  Concerning those who said that circumcision should be added to grace, Paul would that they would be mutilated, in essence a botched circumcision to paint the picture.

The Apostle Paul informed Titus (2:15) to "speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."  As much as Titus might receive opposition for teaching what Paul wrote in Titus 2, today it might be worse.  We need men who will rebuke, like Paul did when he withstood Peter to the face, with all authority.  Then, how does a pastor obey the command, "let no man despise thee"?  People go ahead and despise, so what do you do about that?  You either don't allow it, if possible, and then stand up to it.  That's the kind of strength of manhood that we need from leaders in churches that we are getting so seldom today, in part because of a challenge against manhood in this culture.

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