May 16, 2013

'Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole' [Review]


At a job I once held at a civilian agency within the Federal government, my manager had held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Marines. When I left the Government for a position in private industry, he gave me a cross pen decorated with a USMC medallion as a going away present. As impressive as the pen may have been, it was the card he included which really blew me away. In it, he wrote that while I might not have thought of myself as military material due to my size and stature, he believed I would have made a great Marine because he had observed me display such traits as loyalty, courage and determination. Through his words, my old boss had re-defined for me what it meant to be a Marine.

What It Means To Be A Man

In the same vein, Eric Mason seeks to bring us back to the core of what it means to be a man. In the book, "Manhood, Restored," Pastor Mason squarely identifies the crisis of leadership we see in the Church today as a parallel to what we see in the larger society—namely, the absence of men grounded in solid Biblical principles and groomed for leadership. Pastor Mason knows that of which he speaks—in his younger days he found himself drawn to black nationalism by the way that the movement projected itself within the African-American community. A strong male image can be alluring to those growing up in an environment where fathers are often absent.

Absent Men

Sadly, our churches often have trouble connecting with men. The absence of men from the home is reflected in our churches, and we see this in everything from the style of worship to the very types of programs the church offers. In contrast, Pastor Mason takes us back to the vision of priestly leadership set forth in the Old Testament, using concrete examples to show how men are called to be servant-leaders. Pastor Mason lays out the role of a father as a spiritual leader and teacher, and calls for the church to take on God-sized projects that will inspire men beyond stacking chairs after coffee hour. The appeal to intellect rather than emotions and the need to cultivate a firm foundation in Scripture to defeat the adversaries in our own lives are also proposals to which I can relate as a male.

A Strong Savior

This is not to say that I agree with everything in the book. Some of what is discussed goes beyond the question of discipleship within the church. For example, one passage addresses the "problem" of gay parenting, and appears to suggest it is a consequence of the absence of Godly men from families. With 150 million children in orphanages worldwide and a Scriptural command that we "care for widows and orphans in their distress," I would submit that we need to be careful about judging others who attempt to offer a better quality of life to these children, whether or not we agree with their lifestyle.

But inasmuch as Pastor Mason is presenting Jesus as the "prototype" male who models the kind of loyalty, courage and determination about which my former manager wrote so eloquently, this is the Jesus whom I wish to follow. I believe if we start portraying Christ as a brave-hearted and unselfish Savior rather than the meek and effeminate mystic we see in so much Christian imagery, we would not only be truer to the Bible, we would find He is all we need to recruit more young men into His ranks.

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Originally Published: May 16, 2013
Category: Books
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