By Mark Holden
This brief article is intended to give a brief overview of the Biblical picture of manhood. It is by no means exhaustive, and in fact could be greatly expanded upon in each of its parts. The purpose is to provide a quick overview that can hopefully whet the appetite for embracing deeper study of God’s design for men and women.
The Call is to Men
There is strong opposition today both in and out of the church concerning the Biblical teaching on masculine leadership. The overwhelming position of the Scriptures, both in teaching and in practice, is on the call to men to provide leadership.
Consider first of all the example of the fathers. Adam was created first, and in his primal position was given the responsibility to name the rest of the created beings. The realm of his jurisdiction included the naming of his helpmeet, which he first called “woman” and then later renamed as “Eve”. God’s instruction to the early couple was always directed to the man. It was Adam’s responsible to impart to his wife and family the revelation that was shared with him.
Noah was called on by God to preserve the human race as a believing remnant. The call did not go to Noah’s wife, although she apparently believed as well (by her inclusion on the ark). The covenant that God made with the remnant that remained after the flood was made with Noah.
After the rebellion of the human race at Babylon, the Lord initiated His plan to call out a specific family for His purposes. That call was extended to Abram. Although Sarai traveled with Abram and experienced the same blessing and challenges that faced her husband, the communication that they received from God came exclusively to Abram. God calls men to be the leaders.
That call to men continues in Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Likewise, when it was time to deliver his people from the bondage of Egypt, God raised up Moses. Although Miriam seems to have been just as good of a candidate, it was Moses that was prepared and chosen by God to lead and to deliver His people.
It is through the hand of Godly men (holy men of God; II Peter 1:21) that we have received the Scriptures.
It was men that Jesus called out to walk with Him along the shores of Galilee.
It is men that are called upon today to lead in the work of the Kingdom.
There are certainly notable exceptions to these examples. It is significant to note however, that they are exceptions. The fact that exceptions exist provides evidence that there is a more notable general rule. The general rule is this: God calls upon men to lead.
Hindrances to Leadership
One of the greatest hindrances to Biblical male leadership in our culture is a faulty concept of the leadership role. Biblical leadership is not a call to dominate, intimidate, squelch, belittle, or otherwise squash subordinates. The call to lead is a call to serve. The modern day feminist movement would not exist if men and women understood the role that God intended each to play.
Jesus said, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant…” He concluded that statement with His own example, “…even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” True strength in a man is not measured in his ability to govern others, but in his ability to govern himself. A man must learn to put away his own selfish pursuits and instead pursue the well being of his wife and family. If we would have our sons grow to be the kind of leaders that God intends them to be, then we will train them to be servants.
Authority to lead is maintained by a willingness to submit. Jesus lived in complete submission to His Father and was therefore qualified to maintain His position of authority. A husband’s position of authority is established by his submission to the One who has given him authority.
Decision-making is by nature a significant part of leadership. Fear is destroying the ability of men to make decisions. It results in paralysis at a time when direction needs to be given; discernment needs to be exercised; stands need to be taken; courage needs to be demonstrated.
One of the beauties of the creative work of God is the freedom that He has given to mankind make choices. It is the ability to make decisions that separates us from the animal realm. Choices allow for the control of the clock, commitments, communication, and concepts.
I believe that part of Adam’s curse is the tendency on the part of men to shrink back from leadership in a time of decision-making. As recorded in Genesis 3, the implication is that Adam stood alongside his wife during a time of testing at the tree. Instead of rising to the occasion and giving her direction, he shrank away from his leadership obligation and “allowed the choice to make itself”. Choices usually do not make themselves well.
Let’s face it ladies, men are quite often fearful of their wives. Even the choice of where to go for dinner can create a decision-making nightmare. You can help your man greatly by displaying your pleasure when enters his role as decision-maker.
B. THE PROTECTOR
THE “HOUSE-BAND” ROLE OF MEN
Our Father protects us: simple but profound. And just like our Father, we as men have the responsibility to protect our families. To function as a husband is etymologically to function as a “house-band”, the one who holds the house together.
Like it or not men, you and I have jurisdiction over the future of our children. Our faithfulness, or our sin, will have a direct effect on the lives of our children and the world in which they live. We can provide a shield of godliness and spiritual covering, or we can leave them vulnerable and entrapped by choices that we have made. In short, we are responsible.
When Pam and I were young in our parenting experience we had adopted a feminized perspective on child’s-play, especially in relationship to our first son. We never allowed him to play with toy guns, and in fact would not allow them in the house. There were no cops and robbers, good guys and bad guys, no soldiers. We had been led into the trap of believing that somehow that kind of play would lead to violence. We have grown up a little and have gone back to guns.
God has placed within every young man a desire to protect. Playing with guns is simply an outworking of the masculine desire to defend and protect. Little girls like dolls, little boys like guns. I know that this is not a very popular or politically correct truth. I believe, along with the framers of the U.S. Constitution, that when we as men forget how to protect, or are stripped of our right to protect, then all truth as well as our families are in great danger.
In the Scriptures it is men (and only men) who are called upon to join the ranks of the militia. The men were to take conquest of the land and secure dwellings of safety for their wives and families.
“As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7. Since that proverb is true, men must protect first of all their own thoughts as well as those of their families.
The mind is shaped by the influences upon it. You’ve heard it before, “garbage in, garbage out”. Therefore a key objective of Biblical fathering is to govern the input into the minds of our children.
Who do your children spend their time with? Remember that “he that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Your children will become like those that they hang around with.
For years now we, as a couple, have had people challenge us concerning the supposed social damage that we are inflicting upon our children by teaching them at home. “What about socialization?” they say. In our early days we felt constrained to accommodate those concerns and to attempt to appease our concerned family and friends. As experience has now proven, however, the ones who are socially deprived are those who are raised in a peer-oriented environment and who therefore cannot relate to all ages.
The peer-dependent people of our world are doomed to become like those around them. If “foolishness is bound in the heart of child” (and it is), then why would I want to subject my child to the realm of foolishness. Would it not be more to their advantage to befriend them to the wise? If I desire my children to emulate adults and grow to adulthood, are they not more profited to spend time in the company of adults?
There are mediums of every type striving for input into the mind of your child. You must govern those mediums and that input. Use the off switch if you have a TV. Use discernment in your choice of video viewing (all that glitters is not gold, all that is Disney is not safe!). Music, books, magazines, radio; all must be governed with discernment. The kinds of clubs and activities in which your children participate must be given oversight. Even church youth groups can sometimes be a source of dangerous input. Know what your children are learning and whom it is that is teaching them.
Attitudes and actions are a reflection of an internal thought process. Many times parents are tempted to identify a poor attitude in their child as the source of problems. An attitude, however, is only a symptom of a problem. An attitude is not a state of mind, but rather a statement of what you value. When a child demonstrates an attitude of indifference (boredom), he is simply demonstrating that he believes there is little value in the subject. His conclusions are based upon his thought process.
The thought process produces all of our actions as well as our attitudes. As Jesus instructed, sin first begins in the heart (Matt. 5). A thief first thinks about and then carries out his crime. Lust precedes adultery. Hatred precedes murder. If you would have your children to have good actions, you must first protect their thinking. Protection comes by governing the input they receive.
Satan plays for keeps. The word picture of I Peter 5:8 is not just a cutesy literary device. When Peter describes the Devil as a roaring lion that has his sights set on your bones, he is talking about true and genuine danger. It is interesting that the warning about that danger comes in the context of an admonition for the younger to remain in a position of submission to the elder. The older, more mature saints (i.e. – fathers) should be providing a covering of protection for the younger.
There is spiritual warfare around you. It is essential for you to identify the nature of the battlefield on which you are found. That battlefield has been shaped by the sins of your fathers (as well as your own!). What spirits have access to your children? What sins were your previous generations involved in that make your home vulnerable?
The good news is that the power of those generational curses that cause you grief has been broken. The spirit of unfaithfulness introduced into your family by your grandfather or great-grandfather can be overcome by the power of the blood of the new covenant. The same is true for the spirit of division that causes fathers and sons to be at odds, or mothers and daughters to war. It’s true of the spirit of lust, or envy, or covetousness, or any other spirit of darkness that would overtake you or your family. Jeremiah describes that new covenant in chapter 31 of his book and says in verse 29, “in those days they shall say no more, the fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.” The blood of Christ has the power to break generational curses.
When you are confronted with those curses, bring them under the authority of His blood. You, as the dad, are the jurisdictional head of your home, and therefore you have authority over those realms that affect your family. You have authority to engage in spiritual battle when you abide in submission to your own spiritual authority.
It’s time gentlemen. It is time for you and me to be men. We are responsible for the influences in the lives of our children. Love them! Protect them! Cover them! Nurture them! Your great-grandchildren will thank you.
C. THE PROFESSOR
THE TEACHING ROLE OF MEN
When you hear the word “teacher”, what image comes to your mind? Or even more revealing; consider the phrase “Sunday School teacher”. If you see what I see then something of a feminine nature comes to mind. We generally consider teaching to be a women’s thing. Women and children are sort of like peanut butter and jelly, they just go together, and we men get on with the real stuff of life, like work and play.
That is not the picture that is painted in the Scripture! The directive from God is that men be the teachers. Allow me to demonstrate.
If we start at the beginning, we will discover that the first instruction ever to take place was initiated by God. He placed the man, Adam, in the garden and in Genesis 2:16, 17 He teaches Adam what he should and should not eat. The woman is not yet in existence. God creates her later that day (Gen. 2:18ff) and it becomes the man’s responsibility to instruct the woman in those things which he has been taught. He apparently fulfilled that responsibility (although perhaps poorly), because the woman was aware of the instruction when faced with satanic temptation in chapter 3.
If we move chronologically much farther through the Scripture, we find the whole of the book of Proverbs built on the foundation of fatherly instruction. Note a few references:
- 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father
- 4:1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father
- 13:1 A wise son heareth his father’s instruction
- 15:5 A fool despiseth his father’s instruction
God intended wisdom to be stored up in, and then be dispensed from men.
The Lord introduced creative teaching tools such as found in Joshua 4: 6 & 21 to provide opportunities for men to teach. At the command of God, Joshua instructed the men to take up twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan during the miraculous crossing. The stones were to set up as a teaching tool for future generations, “When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know….” It was the responsibility of the men to pass down the spiritual heritage of their fathers.
Not unlike the days of Adam and Eve, men today are to be the teachers of their wives. In I Corinthians 14:35, the apostle Paul instructs the ladies to ask their husbands for further instruction and clarification from discussion which takes place in the assembly.
What about delegation you say?
Is it not possible for a man to “hire out” or distribute the responsibility for the teaching of his children?
Let’s consider the instruction from Deuteronomy 6 to address that question. Deuteronomy 6 follows the rehearsing of the 10 commandments, which is recorded in chapter 5. As a summary statement of the law, the Lord gets right to the heart of the matter in verses 4 & 5 when He says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
He then reveals how it is that these wonderful truths and instructions are going to be passed down from one generation to the next. He says (starting in verse 6):
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
In these two verses alone, the pronouns “thee” and “thou” are used eight times. The wonderful thing about the Hebrew language, which is unlike English, is that it assigns gender and number to second person pronouns.
The setting in which the words of this passage are first spoken was an assembly of Israelites to whom Moses was speaking. In English we would perhaps understand him to be admonishing the whole assembly to take responsibility for child training. You know the old “It takes a community to raise a child” idea. Forget it! That is the opposite of what he is saying. These pronouns are not plural, but singular. Moses is speaking directly to every individual standing before him that day a saying “You (individually) teach your (individually) children.
That’s not all. Not only is the command given to be individually responsible for our children. Every one of those second person pronouns is masculine. Moses is saying, “You (singular masculine individual) teach your (singular masculine individual) children.” That is very specific! There is not much room for delegation in those words.
“How?” you ask.
How can a man teach his children and do all of the other stuff that a man has to do?
I believe it is time to address that problem. We have become so enculturated that we are trapped in a web that makes Biblical injunction almost impossible to fulfill. So what do we throw away, that which the Scripture says, or that which our cultural training has handed to us? In some way you and I must restructure our thinking on vocation, possessions, plans, goals, and more, in order bring our individual lives back into square with the Scriptures.
Is it any wonder that our children are wandering aimlessly in the streets?
Is it any surprise that the government schools are failing?
Is there any question as to why even amongst Christian school graduates there is a 70% drop out rate from Christianity?
If you want to win your children, YOU (masculine singular individual) must train YOUR (masculine singular individual) children.
D. THE PROVIDER
THE NEED MEETING ROLE OF MEN
The truths shared in this fourth section will be the most challenging for our culture to swallow. The reason for that is the reality that tomorrow morning a good share of our population will wake up and drive off to work in violation of this Biblical teaching. I also believe that this particular instruction is one of the most vital if our families are to be salvaged.
God made men to be Workers
God designed man to work. His initial instructions to Adam were given to demonstrate his responsibilities in the garden. Because those instructions were given in the context of a perfect creation, yet untarnished by sin, it is evident that God intended for work to be good. It is a blessing to do Father’s work.
As the Biblical narrative unfolds, it is also evident that God views the roles of men and women differently in relationship to work. In Genesis 3, which records Adam’s sin and subsequent judgment, the curses that the LORD pronounces on the man and the woman are not the same. In fact they differ according to the life function of each of the recipients. For Eve the curse came in the realm of childbearing as well as her helpmeet relationship to Adam. Both of those life functions were designed to be good in their created purity; however they become burdensome under the weight of the curse. The fact that those roles are now burdensome does not change the fact that they are still the realm of the woman’s created design and also that place in which she finds ultimate fulfillment and blessing.
For Adam the curse also was given in the realm of his life function. That very task that he was previously assigned is now made more difficult. It is still his realm, but under the curse he must work by the sweat of his brow.
The fact that differing life functions exist in no way implies that women are not expected to work, or that they do not work. However, their work is in a completely different realm than the work of men. Men are designed to be “field” workers. Women are designed to be “home” workers.
Not enough evidence you say? Hold on, we’ve just begun.
God made men to be Givers
Have you ever wondered what would cause a young man who is independent and free and has a lifetime of money-making ahead of him would voluntarily start pouring out all of those finances on that sweet little somebody that he just met? Why does a man spend his life rising in the morning, working through his week in order to hand his check over to his wife? Why would he do it? I believe it is because built into every man is the likeness of our Father who gives liberally to us. What a pleasure it is to be able to give. The very purpose for work according to Ephesians 4:28 is “that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
The principles of provision for widows that are set forth in I Timothy 5:3-16 are built upon the presupposition that men are providers. It was considered to be an act of unbelief for a man to neglect caring for the women of his family. Provision was made for widows not by sending them to work but by getting them married or on the church roles. The Biblical pattern was for widows to be cared for by the other men in the family of their deceased husband. If those men did not exist then the woman would back under the protective provision of her father’s household.
Consider the example of Tamar, Judah’s daughter-in-law. She was twice widowed and in line to receive Judah’s third son as a husband. Because he was young, Tamar was sent back to her father to wait. She was not sent out to the work force.
Ruth is another example of a widow who found her protective provision in the family of her deceased husband. Both Ruth and Naomi came under the provision of Boaz. Neither Ruth nor Naomi ever hired out as employees, but rather gleaned as dependents. These godly ladies affirmed the confidence that they had in their God, and their men, by trusting in the kinsman-redeemer process that Boaz followed.
Keepers at Home
Home is a place of safety. It is a place of protection and provision. It is the place that God designed for men to provide for their wives and children. That woman should abide there and find her fulfillment there is very evident from Paul’s instruction in Titus 2:5. The word translated “keepers at home” is actually a compound that includes the root oikos. Oikos means house. The second part of the compound can be translated keeper or worker. This phrase cannot be misunderstood. The older women are to teach the younger women to do their work at home. It is unfortunate that so many of our older women have felt compelled either by cultural pressure or financial bondage to enter the work place. Not only does it prevent them from fulfilling this charge, but it also causes them to be negative role models.
Her Own Husband
A significant three-letter word also adds a challenge to our cultural practices. That same three-letter word is found five times in the New Testament in context with the instruction for a wife to be in submission to her husband. Every time in which that instruction is given, that same three-letter word “own” occurs. In Titus 2:5, Colossians 3:18, Ephesians 5:22 & 24, and I Peter 3:1, 5 women are instructed to be in submission, subjection, or obedience to their own husbands. That word appears every time.
The concept of submission includes abiding under authority. The Scriptures clearly teach that a woman should abide under her husband’s authority. For a woman to enter the work force as an employee she must sacrifice this safe-haven and come under the authority of a man other than her husband.
The results of violating this principle have been devastating. Marriages have been destroyed. Families have been shredded. Generations have been cut off.
There are so many fulfilling opportunities for work and income in connection with the home and family. A woman’s days are certainly not to be idle. Rather they are to be filled in the realm for which she was designed.
Oh, that men and women would so govern their lives so that ladies would have the liberty to return home. Oh, that our children could once again experience the fulfillment of being reared by their parents. Oh, that our God could be honored through the re-establishment of the Bible as the governing authority of our family life. May He grant us grace for it to be so.
E. THE PRAYOR
THE INTERCESSORY ROLE OF MEN
Let’s play another word game for a moment! I will give you a phrase and you picture the first thing that comes to your mind. Ready? “Prayer warrior”. Okay, now be honest with me. What kind of person comes to your mind? Do you picture some saintly, elderly widow who suffers physically but radiates the presence of Christ because of her prayer life? Praise God for the prayers of faithful grandmothers.
Something is wrong though. According to God’s leadership design, men should be the picture of prayer. I acknowledge that there have been, and are, great men of prayer. But we need a strong reminder that just as in other areas of life; men were intended to be the leaders in prayer as well.
The Biblical Pattern
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.” (I Timothy 2:8) Paul’s instruction to Timothy is not generic. He is not saying that “mankind” should pray. It is clearly an injunction to masculine people. Not only does the noun “men” identify that, but even more forcefully by the instruction that follows in verse 9 where Paul contrasts this admonition to men by saying, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves…” It is very evident that there was a distinction of roles in the mind of the apostle. Christ’s expressed desire through the hand of the apostle Paul was that men would engage in active prayer.
It is obvious that from the beginning the man was designed to be the intercessor. Cain and Abel made offerings to the Lord. Noah, upon leaving the ark, “builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.” Job stood before the Lord on behalf of his family by rising early in the morning and presenting offerings on their behalf “according to the number of them all”.
Only men are recorded to have presented offerings in the Scriptures. This is not to ignore the great acts of devotion by godly women. Those acts of devotion do not, however, function in the same capacity as the intercessory role to which men have been called.
The original governmental institution that was initiated by God is that of the family. The patriarch was the only form of oversight that existed until after the flood. Prior to the institution of the priesthood in Israel, no other provision was made for spiritual sacrifice and intercession apart from that which was established in the father. Fathers were the original priests and were responsible by covenantal format to represent God the Father to their children.
Within the establishment of Kingdom authority, men have been given unique jurisdiction over their own homes and families. Because each family is autonomous and therefore responsible before God for their own governing, fathers have the special privilege and responsibility to exercise Kingdom authority within the context of their home. No one else can speak into the needs of a family like the father can. No one else has the authority to call upon the Father to protect, restore, unite, provide for, strengthen, and heal, like a father does.
When a father neglects his role financially, he leaves his family financially vulnerable. When a father neglects his role as protector, he leaves family vulnerable physically. When a father neglects his role in prayer, he leaves his family vulnerable spiritually. No one has the authority that a man has to intervene on behalf of his children that he has as he speaks through the finished work of the blood of Christ and calls out in His name.
By God’s unique design, in order for a man’s prayer ministry to be effective, he must walk in harmony with his wife. The wise husband who is walking in fulfillment of his role as leader in prayer will also be keenly aware of the significant part that his wife plays in the answering of those prayers. Peter admonishes husbands in I Peter 3:7 to walk in harmony with their wives. Without that harmony a man’s prayer ministry is impeded. I believe that the role of woman in prayer is to be a significant connection through which the Lord communicates to her husband. It is a wise husband who hears the heart of his wife as he attempts to communicate with their Lord. Failure to hear the concerns of a wife is quite often failure to hear the voice of God.
Men we have been issued the wonderful order of providing servant-leadership to our families in every dimension. Some would shrink back from the task, we cannot. Some would disdain the order, we cannot. Some would walk away in independence, we cannot. Some would fear failure, but through the undying loyalty of our Commander-in-Chief, our living Head, Whose blood has purchased victory, we cannot!
Published in: ARCH email newsletter
Published on: Jun. 17, 2004
Posted By: The Holden Family
Posted On: May. 8, 2006
Reprint Permission Granted
Topic: Fathers in Home Education