Where have all the Men Gone?
As I look around at the state of the Christian church, I ask myself, “where have all the men gone?” Now, I understand this is not a politically correct question to ask today, and I probably have offended specific individuals already because I am calling out manhood, but I ask this question in all sincerity. When I ask it, I do not deny there is a remnant of real men out there, but they are declining.
I see male figureheads leading the church, but I do not see men, faithful men that would represent Biblical manhood, nor what was once a staple of masculinity. I visit churches, listen to sermons, meet individuals for coffee, and leave concerned. I continue to ask, where are the men of strength, courage, conviction, and fortitude?
Please do not mistake the depth of the issue in my question. I am not referring to a biological male who appears to be a man of God on the surface or those sitting in their offices, reading the odd commentary, or even having a family. The manhood I am speaking of goes beyond the surface. Where are the valiant men of God? Where are the men who have thick skin? Where are those who can give a rebuke and receive one without having their feelings hurt? Men who can hold their own in a conversation, make decisions and stand by those decisions? Where are the men who admit when they are wrong and apologize when required? Where are the men who preach with conviction, who call out sin, who call people to repentance and wouldn’t think twice of pulling a lamb up from the pits of hell?
As I look around at all the reports of so-called churches and pastor responses to COVID, to my horror I read more passive rhetoric from leaders with heads full of knowledge and yet lives empty with strength. They are led around by wave after wave of nuanced nonsense, thinking they are godly. There is no leadership from them – they are followers. They never step out and risk it all as they lead – but are content resting in the shadows of authentic men who have cleared the way. Such pastors follow what is relevant, what is politically correct, and what others are doing. Unfortunately, the past twenty-plus months have revealed a true pandemic in the church that has been going on for a long time. Which is, men who lack the Biblical qualities of pastoral leadership are in the majority. They are those who do not engage in the fight but are satisfied hiding in the shadows. They stay quiet, still, and almost invisible, only to come out and rebuke faithful men for their courage. Perhaps these “men” will give an amen and count it as righteousness once in a while, but when the world needs men, they shrink back and fail to protect.
Across Canada, families are being destroyed, so many are facing financial ruin and marital stress. Individuals and families are seeking help. They are looking for the church to step in and show them the way of truth. But how can a church assist them from a distance or when the pastor is in hiding? When public health officers are attacking individuals faith, when government officials and employers have brought people to their end mentally, financially, and spiritually, where can they go? Church? Not if these people are not vaccinated, not if they are not compliant? Why? Because of the so-called leadership of these congregations are failing morally and spiritually. These people need men, but they only find boys. The lambs need a shepherd who would fight the wolves and lions with their bare hands, even if it means their own lives were in peril, but what they get are pacifists and a so-called under shepherd who wouldn’t want to “act in a way that is not fitting.” When I reflect on this, the only reasonable question to ask is found in the words of R.C Sproul, “what’s wrong with you people?”
We have turned pastoral ministry into some “gentlemen” club where the highly educated, gentle, meek, and kind men are exalted as true leaders. An examination would reveal they are weak and spineless. We praise men who do nothing and call them patient, and we declare men who are silent as wise. We esteem men who say they will not take a position and call them balanced – all the while they reveal their deficiency. Would we praise a shepherd who would not yell at a wolf to protect the flock? Would we exalt a president who did not bark back at a threat? Of course not, so why should manhood in Christian ministry be any different?
So, the reality is, the pulpits have been deficient of true manhood for some time. This deficiency allowed authorities to usurp the pulpit because the men called to protect it had shrunk back and complied long before COVID. With knowing it or not, they have compromised Biblical positions to have peace, unity, and growth. Now what should be unacceptable is considered acceptable. There is not one single denomination that is free from this manhood deficiency. We praise various Baptists and branches of Reformed churches for not making public declarations against the forced lock downs or vaccination agendas and deem them considerate. We do not rebuke gospel coalition movements for the vacuous claptrap they pump out, shifting their positions quicker than an Alberta chinook. We Do not call out the liberal denominations for their apostate dead convention over their weak response to clergy ordinations. What about our friends with their denominations birthed out of the Azusa street revival? Who profess to walk in the power of the Spirit yet run to Caesar for help? What about our missionary friends who hold to the necessity for world missions but neglect their backyard? Regardless of the denominations, where are the elders and genuine men of God speaking out? Where are the men thundering the truth of sin, judgment, and repentance in their sermons? Where are the under-shepherds demanding the state back off the church and get their greasy paws off Christs’ lambs? They are, as I said earlier – in the shadows, or better yet staying safe in the trenches while the real men go over the wire and take enemy fire. They are the Monday morning quarterbacks with all their opinions and no action.
Now, if you are still reading this, and have concluded, that I feel a man is one void of compassion and grace, you are mistaken. A man walks in a manner worthy of his calling (Col 1:10). He is one who, by the mercies of God, presents his body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God – which is spiritual worship. He is not conformed to this present world but is transformed by the renewal of his mind. He tests and discerns the will of God so that he walks in the path of what is good, acceptable, and perfect (Rom 12:1-2). He is a man who looks to Christ – because Christ is the perfect example of what it means to be a man. So naturally we look to Christ for our example. He is the source of how to do a U-turn down this road.
Jesus is truly God, truly man, so our example is set firm in him. He is the One who walked alone in the desert, remained steadfast during temptation, He preached to the toughest crowds, he preached truth even when being surrounded and possibly stoned. He went toe to toe with the Pharisees, constructed a whip and cleaned out the Temple. He reclined at a table with a traitor but stayed the course. He stayed up countless nights and spent countless hours in prayer. He laid his life down. Yet, all the while, He healed the sick, fed the hungry, ministered to the tax collectors, and even closed his earthy ministry by continuing to mediate – “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).
How could this be done? Through a heart that was truly gentle, human, abounding in love and mercy. He was perfect, and for this reason, he acted rightly, as to act any other way would be sin, and sin could never be present with our Lord. So, when we look at Jesus, we do not see a trench soldier hiding; we see a man engaged. When we look at Jesus, we see One who balanced the passive with courage. The patient, with perfect divine authority. He could have called down heaven’s forces (Matthew 26:53) but stayed restrained in the work He was tasked to do. He was meek but never weak. He was not carried away by a need of popularity or subject to trends of the Pharisees. He was sympathetic, but this never prevented him from calling out doctrinal error (Matt 23:15). He understood that people make mistakes but still called out unrighteousness (Matt 23:23-26). He understood people but was not afraid to call out people’s hypocrisy, using terms like blind fools, serpents and brood of vipers. But, at the same time, He led his sheep and provided them rest (Matt 11:28-30); he is the good shepherd, safety and salvation are found in Him alone (John 10:25-30). Jesus is love, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness. Jesus is gentle, self-controlled, forgiving, and humble. He is fair and generous.
Jesus stops the arguments that men should be soft, spineless men, and at the same time, he shows men are to have courage and strength that can be demonstrated as gentleness and long-suffering. Speech can be direct and pierce the soul and emotions of a person but does not need to be loud or abusive. Real men then are men of prayer, men of study, men of service, men who stand for righteousness and doctrinal purity. Men of uprightness and faithfulness. Men who can fight, not just in prayer, not just in words, but by putting their own body and lives in danger, to lay it all down if need be. Men who look up to the One they serve never get distracted by all the vanity fair of this corrupt decaying world. When men take such a U-turn, when there is a return to sound Biblical manhood, when there is a taking back the authority that has been either freely handed over or usurped, then and only then will we see a correction in the Christian church that demonstrates Pentecost power.
So, remember, God alone saves, and through the finished work of Jesus Christ, those he calls are indeed his children, but God calls under shepherds his men, and we need men more than ever in this day and age.
In His Grace,