It may be somewhat dangerous to write specifically to men. I’m not a man, and I speak carefully. Some things in your heart I can observe and honor, but perhaps not wholly identify with. But from the men I know, talk with, and care about, this is not a friendly time to be a Christian man. And what is that, anyway? What’s true about the heart of a Christian man? (And next time we’ll talk about the heart of a Christian woman.)

Modern culture has made it more difficult than ever for men. First you’re told to be strong, to buck up and “take it.” You’ve got to prove yourself. “Real men don’t cry.” Your ability to make money, to be successful determines your self-worth. Sexually, you “should” go after what you want, take what you need. As a man you deserve it, and you’re less of a man if you don’t. Thankfully this mindset is becoming a bit less common among younger generations of men.

Then there’s the politically correct message that your masculinity, by its very nature, is toxic. Who you naturally are is harmful to people. You’re a savage at heart, so you better reign it in and toe the line. You are what’s wrong with the world, and you need to be tamed.

And then along comes the Christian picture of a man. You’re told you “should” be the leader in your home. While it may not be spoken out loud, you’re made to feel your sexuality somehow makes you ungodly. You’ve got to separate your testosterone from being a “good” man. (And how do you do that, anyway?) Look around in the average church and you get the impression that a Christian man is, above all, nice.

Yikes! How’s all that working out for you?

And where in all that is your heart? What’s the heart of Christian man “supposed” to be like?

An Apology

I’ll start with a brief apology. On behalf of any in the Christian church who have led you to believe that your masculinity makes you defective, please forgive us. Your natural bent to fix things, to seek adventure, or to stand up and fight for what’s right, does not make you unchristian. Your sex drive does not make you evil.

Being “nice” is not the measure of a good Christian man. Jesus was not “nice!”

And at the same time, on behalf of culture and church that may have led you to believe you’ve somehow got to be OK even when you’re not, that you’re less of a man if you need help, please forgive us.  

Being “strong” does not make you a good Christian man. Jesus was strong, but He was also weak, in the sense that He did not try to hide the vulnerabilities He took on as a human.

Jesus was full of grace and truth. Let me suggest what that might look like, especially for your heart as a Christian man.

Grace for YOU!

In recently walking with a group of people through our online course Sexpectations, I’ve been moved and humbled by the men who have shared their wounds. Christian men struggling with the impact of bullying, early exposure to porn, a father who was either absent or violent, abuse, failed relationships, and more.

In His approach to people Jesus led with grace. He sees you, knows you, understands you, as a man. Your story matters. You didn’t wake up one day and decide to be afraid or sex-addicted or full of rage or isolated. He knows what it’s like to feel rejected, to have a sex drive without having a wife to express that with, to carry the question in your soul, “Do I have what it takes?”

When you try to either ignore your wounds or give in to them, you give them power to destroy you. Failing to deal with what’s under the surface in your soul leads to tragic destruction (such as the recent well-known case of Ravi Zacharias.)

The Truth will Set You Free

Yes, you know that Scripture: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Jesus never held back the truth when dealing with people. When you receive truth from a context of grace it becomes truly empowering. Everyone who came into Jesus’ presence felt called up to a higher level of living. Jesus’ very goodness was attractive.

The good news for you is that you don’t have to stay where you are now. Your anger, lust, timidity, fear, isolation, greed, selfishness, or whatever the issue is for you – your very heart can be changed.

That change comes when you allow the Holy Spirit to get under the surface and deal with the “stuff” in your soul – the wounds you accumulated, the lies you’ve believed, ways you’ve learned to “make it” that are anything but life-giving. The Holy Spirit will put His finger on something in your soul and say, “This needs to change.” When He does so, just say YES.

How God Sees Your Masculine Soul

God created you as a man, with testosterone, needs, vulnerabilities, strength, all of it. He did not call you to tame you, or to shame you. He has called you to fill a role in His kingdom that only you can fill.

That begins by being before you do anything. At Jesus baptism, God the Father spoke from heaven; “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) That was before Jesus had preached one sermon or performed one miracle. His Father was pleased with Him because of who Jesus was, not for something He did.

And it’s the same for you.

You might find it helpful to take that passage at the end of Matthew 3 and marinate in it for a while. Let your heart hear God say to you, “You are my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Not because of what you’ve done or not done, but because of who you are.

God sees not only the person you’ve been in your past, good bad and ugly. He not only sees who you are now, with whatever hang-ups you’ve accumulated. More than that, He sees you as the person He created you to be, who He needs you to be, who He will not stop working with until you become that man.

Just keep saying YES. He is well able to finish what He has set out to do in and through you.

Your Turn: What’s your sense of what it means to be a Christian man? Do any of these thoughts resonate with your masculine soul? Leave a comment below.

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