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Monday, August 8, 2011 | Comments (39)

Biblical manliness is about authentic character. It’s not about bravado, and it’s not about boyishness. Going out into the woods with a bunch of other men, putting on war paint, making animal noises, telling scary stories around a campfire, and then working up a good cry might be good, visceral fun and all, but that has nothing to do with the biblical idea of manliness.

Real manliness (“mature manhood”—Ephesians 4:13) is defined by Christlike character. Not just the Gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild-style character, but the full-orbed fruit of the Spirit rounded out with strength, courage, conviction, and a stout-hearted willingness to oppose error and fight for the truth—even to the point of laying down your life for the truth if necessary.

When the apostle Paul writes about the characteristics of true Christian manhood in Ephesians 4, he focuses on one vital mark of spiritual maturity: “That we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ephesians 4:14). You want to be a man as opposed to a little boy? Grow up in your grasp of the truth. Get a grip on sound doctrine and quit being influenced by every new trend and every undulating breeze that blows across the evangelical landscape. Quit chasing the evangelical fads. Get anchored in the truth, and learn to defend it.

That’s the main mark of true manhood Paul singles out: doctrinal stability—and along with that are some clear implications: you need to be certain of what you believe. You need to understand it. You need to be able to defend it against everything—ranging from the changing winds of whatever happens to be in style at the moment all the way to human trickery and the cunning craftiness of Satan himself. Because the enemy will offer all kinds of counterfeit doctrines that look good and sound OK—false doctrines where the error is so carefully nuanced it's hard to put your finger on what's wrong with it. He will tempt you to set aside what is precise and carefully defined in place of dumbed-down doctrinal formulas that don't necessarily sound dangerous—but are.

Compare the apostle’s vision of manly maturity with John Eldredge’s famous “sine qua non of manhood.” Eldredge says, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.”

That is a little boy’s lie. That’s the stuff of children’s fantasies. You simply won’t find a description of manliness like that in Scripture. Instead, Scripture says what motivates real men is a love for the truth; a contempt for error; and a passion for being used by God in the work of snatching people from the grip of the father of lies.

I keep hearing about churches who (in order to appeal to ostensibly “masculine” instincts) have moved their men’s fellowship to the pub, where they discuss theology as a hobby and share their views on life as Christian men over beer and cigars.

Let me point out that there’s nothing particularly manly about that. It’s still a private hen party, but you’ve just substituted beer and cigars in place of tea and crumpets.

If you want a taste of what real manhood looks like, do some gospel ministry in a hostile environment. Stand up for the truth in some venue where it is under attack. Get a solid, manly grasp on the Bible and stand up and teach its hard truths in a way that helps make the truth clear to people who are struggling to get it. Contend earnestly for the faith when some nice-sounding heretic wants you to sit down and have a friendly dialogue about it. Be the kind of man Paul describes here: someone who is steadfast and sure, with a solid grasp of classic biblical truths that have gone out of vogue. Stand against popular opinion when you know you should, and do it every time the opportunity arises.

That’s the real gauge of “mature manhood” as Paul describes it in Ephesians 4:13-14. A grown-up man is firm and steadfast in the truth. That means he is disciplined, knowledgeable; anchored; he understands the truth well and is devoted to it. He has his senses trained for discernment.

Oh, and by the way: that doesn’t happen to lazy people. You have to be diligent to get to that point. Read Hebrews 5:12-14 for the classic prescription of how to move out of adolescence into that kind of mature manliness. Read the first verse in Psalm 1 if you want to see an example of it.

Phil Johnson
Executive Director


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#1  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:46 AM


#2  Posted by Scott Graeff  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I have resisted weighing in on this blog series precisely because it hits close to home. In the early 1980's when I was in college and involved in Inter-Varsity we (young men and women) had numerous ideas on how to make Christianity palatable...let's just say that what is termed YRR now, had no name back then. We said we were Christians, and indeed, I think most of us were believers, though in a base sort of way and we were definitely "babes in Christ", though we would have hotly disputed that had someone older come along and tried telling us that.

I'm not surprised that some people have moved Bible study to the local pub. Drinking was considered cool back in the day and many of us defended the right to drink. Even those who abstained, didn't "see anything wrong" with it. There were even a few of the more radical among us who thought getting high (on pot) was okay too. We attended church not in our Sunday best, but in sandals and shorts, and rarely did we pack a Bible along. In fact, many mid-week Bible studies were nothing more than a social gathering. I recall with shame, that many, if not most, didn't open or close with prayer.

Here I am 30 years later and behold, the YRR movement is alive and well, and I see its roots in the practices and thoughts of my youth. I'm not saying I caused the YRR movement, but I am saying I was a part of the process that has led to it.

What I don't get about YRR is the flirtation with base and crass practices. While it seems obvious to me that Bible studies over drinking beer in a pub is ridiculous, there are those who will defend it. Yet I cannot visit Mark Driscoll's church's website without a pervasive feeling that it is offensive. I can't put my finger on any one thing or say this is offensive or that is offensive, but I can say that it has the effect that his church is one that is 'cool', 'with-it' modern, and seeker-friendly. That bothers me.

Why? Because truth doesn't harmonize with our culture. Truth cannot be repackaged and made into something it is not. The Holiness of God is something our culture scoffs at. And no matter how hard anyone tries, the offense of the cross (offensive in the apostle Paul's day) is still offensive to the unbeliever in our current day.

The truth, and the standard all Christians should strive to work for, is God's, and anything we do has to be measured against what He says.

Go to church wearing your Sunday best, not what is comfortable and cool. When having a Bible study, do it in a setting where there are no distractions and the standard is Scripture, not what we happen to want or think it should be.

I truly regret that I had the same inclinations in my youth that those in the YRR movement currently have. Pr 14:12 "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Mt 7:14 "Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Very wise counsel indeed.

#3  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I know it's impossible to fully express your position in a short article and I realize the basic point you're trying to make, however, as a Christian mother with 3 boys, the last thing I would do is ridicule or discourage the manly tendency to like adventure, toughness and so on. They truly are God-given desires, just as girls are given a desire to adore babies, play house and have a "knight in shining armor." Granted, these can be carried away to set our children up for disappointment. Nevertheless, it's not a good idea to completely write them off as fantasy. God placed them there for a purpose. We live in a culture where feminism is crushing manliness and true biblical womanhood. If we completely throw out these tendencies, confusion will be the result. Sadly, we're already seeing it. I'm disturbed by very feminine sounding music and body movements in churches. I read that many men are turned off by this,and rightly so, preferring the manly language of the old hymns and Psalms, which is loaded with images of blood, battle and victory. I'm horrified by the growing effeminacy I see on a regular basis, especially in Christianity. And we know what the scriptures say about the effeminate. I fully agree that the true essence of biblical manliness is that which arises from a love for and defense of biblical Truth, nevertheless, weapons, battles, adventure, comraderie among men, etc...have very much to do with biblical manliness. The Word says that the Lord Himself is a Man of war. It is entirely biblical to say that God has given men the responsibilty of protecting women and children and sometimes this can't be done with words alone. Physical action and survival skills could very well be necessary. We've all been softened by feminism, especially Jesus Himself. Jesus Christ was a man of action and he chose some of the most rugged, outdoorsy men as companions--fishermen. I'm convinced that it must make many Christian men breathe a sigh of relief to know that Jesus Christ is not the pasty-skinned man in the painting, whose hands are strangely dainty, but instead is a man who made a whip and drove out a mob of people with it. As a carpenter, His hands must have been rough. As one who constantly made His way from place to place with no place to lay His head, His face must have been tanned and rugged. I can't imagine that fisherman would have listened for a moment to a man whose leadership and authority only made itself known in His words. I believe He was the manliest man that's ever walked the earth---a perfect combination of gentleness and strength. I see Him preparing fish on a "campfire" for his friends. I pray this for my sons: that they will be bold as lions, yet gentle as doves. I believe this is achieved by planting the Word of God in their hearts while cultivating their God-given tendencies all I can, praying that they'll be used for His purposes. These things are God-given and useful, so long as they are brought under His will.

#4  Posted by Corey Key  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 1:09 PM


#5  Posted by Noe Romero Jr.  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 1:49 PM

Thank you Scott Graeff for your comment!

#6  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:24 PM

Bravo! Thanks for the real meaning of being a man.

#7  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Excellent post!! I am learning alot from this series and all the imput from people. Thank you everyone

God bless


#8  Posted by Gabriel Powell (GTY Admin)  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 4:14 PM


I understand your desire to uphold masculinity, but based on your comment it sounds like a life-long accountant, or computer programmer (like myself) cannot be masculine. My hands are relatively smooth, I'm not very tan, and my muscles don't bulge.

Am I less of a man than my fellow believers who work in the construction industry?

Machismo (your description of what it means to be a man) is a culture-saturated sin-soaked view. The whole "knight in shining armor" is a purely Disney sub-cultural concept. I guarantee you girls in Amish communities or in the middle of Africa aren't looking for a knight any more than my daughter might look for someone fresh off their walkabout. Too often characteristics of maleness are confused with manliness. Yes, men are built better for war, but war is not necessary to be a man.

That men tend to like war, blood, and guts is more a reflections of their sinfulness than their manhood. I'm no expert, but from what I understand men who enter the military hungry for blood tend to come out hating war. Anyone who delights in the shedding of blood is a barbarian, not a man. That, by the way, is one clue evolution is false... many men are still barbarians.

Yes, you're right--men are to protect. Men should go to battle, not women. Men should provide for and defend their families. But the accountant can be just as manly as the general. The carpenter has no more potential for manliness than the Real Estate agent.

The problem is that the provided cure for femininism is almost worse than the disease. Men don't need to find themselves in the woods or go into the desert for 40 days as Eldredge proposes. Men don't need to leave their families to become a man. They need to become a man in the context of family life. Often men become less manly by leaving the home than by staying. They abdicate their responsibilities in search of war rather than fighting the battle at home (shepherding, teaching, protecting the family from evil influences). They'd rather pound their chests with fellow gorillas rather than disciple their sons.

Now obviously it's not wrong to hunt or do those kinds of things... but all this to say that that is not what makes a man.

#9  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 5:22 PM

Dear Jamie:

I understand what you are saying about the feminization of men. But why has this happened in our culture and who has abdicated their position within the home? I can site *countless* examples of women complaining because their husbands would much rather be out on the golf course, or pursuing some other pleasure, rather than being home taking on the responsibility of being a leader. AND with this lack of leadership in the home, it naturally leads to a woman filling the void. Women have had to by necessity, sad to say, but sadly true. An absentee father, even though he lives within the home, creates a special hardship that women really do not relish the thought of having to deal with. They would much prefer their husbands be the leader. Raising children and keeping a home is enough to keep a women busy from sun up to sun down, and the added frustration of taking on another role and its many responsibilities, is to say the least, not joyfully welcomed.

This was not the model in my home growing up, and I know not in all homes, either, but a great majority of them. My father was not a Christian man, but he modeled what it was to be a Christian man, and I loved and adored him for it. My mother also honored and adored him for it, and she treated him like a king. He was the head of our home, and as the result there was so much peace between my mother and father.

I certainly do not resent men. The model I had was an honorable, loving, responsible one, and able to hog tie a moose, if need be. LOL! But on the day of judgment, people will not be able to use the excuse….”Femininism is to blame, not me!” No, it is ones OWN deeds and actions that one will have to answer for. More people in general (women, as well as men), need to man-up like Harry Truman, who had a plaque on his desk that read “The Buck Stops Here!”

I agree, Gabriel!

#10  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 6:32 PM

Thank you, Jamie for sharing. Good post, Gabriel. Smiles. I agree we can't go around pounding our chest saying we are the man..

#11  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 8:25 PM

Gabriel, I think my first sentence applies here--that it's impossible to fully express your position in say 3,000 characters.

I'm not saying that someone who works inside at a desk can't be masculine. My main point was that we should encourage God-given manly tendencies. We should discourage effeminacy in our boys. I think this is strongly biblical. The effeminate will not enter heaven.

I do believe that technology has led us to live lives far removed from the raw creation God designed us to live in. There is nothing healthy about sitting at a desk for the better part of our lives in cinderblock buildings under flourescent lights. Obesity is a terrible problem in our age. Even still, I'm not saying one is more or less Christian with this or that career, but again, that wasn't my point to begin with.

The truth is, we live in a time when women and children rule over men, because men are not men anymore. And both men and women are to blame for this.

Disney didn't create romantic love, God did. Song of Solomon is much older than Cinderella. I did mention that these ideals can be carried away and set our children up for disappointment, nevertheless, God Himself placed these desires within us for a purpose.

I never praised bloodlust, however, Psalms is probably my favorite book of the Bible and you cannot read it without seeing that David (a man after God's own heart) prayed for the destruction of the wicked. Is it wrong to be glad for victory over evil? Sadly, this is another attack on biblical manhood. Are we not taught to hate evil? to love justice?

Even though the fall has corrupted those desires, it's a mistake to throw the entire design out when it was simply distorted. Satan did not create anything new. His objective is to distort what God created.

It's so sad to see the blurring of the genders. Manly behaviors are ridiculed regularly and biblical womanhood is a joke, even in Christian circles. Young women are thought odd who wish to stay home and raise children.

I never said a man should leave his family. My husband and myself train our sons in the things they are naturally inclined to like in the context of biblical responsibility. They like guns. They like animals. They like homesteading. I would say these things lend themselves very well to a man responsible for protecting and providing.

We live in an age where ease and comfort is the ambition of even Christians. Yet ease and comfort do not describe the life of a true Christian. I find it much more appropriate to train boys in the harder things life which will make them much more equipped to be the spiritual leaders they need to be in a world that hates things that may be hard.

You're right--discipling sons is the desperate need of the day. And in discipling is discipline. And discipline is painful and hard, yet those trained by it will reap a harvest of righteousness.

A man who is use to ease and comfort may have a harder time doing hard things.

#12  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 8:49 PM

Mary, I think men and women are both to blame. Although I speak against feminism, that doesn't mean I don't see men as having any responsibility. Having sons, I'm simply sickened to watch feminism continually crush them. Just as an example, our recent VBS program came with music that was entirely effeminate---complete with body movements both girls and boys were pressured to do along with it. This is not something to pass off as no big deal. Satan is systematically working through women to make our boys and God Himself more like a woman---ultimately stripping Him of authority. And most men are letting it happen... A continual repeat of the original fall...Why? Because they are being trained to live lives of ease and comfort.

#13  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Dear Jamie:

I know exactly what you are saying, both are to blame. I will give you an example in my own family. I have not used the real identity of these individuals, to protect the names of the guilty. lol!

A woman in my immediate family had her children baptized into the Catholic faith. She insisted on this because she and her parents wanted this done. While her husband did not agree, but went along because he wanted peace in the family.

Now, obviously, both are to blame. She, is for not having been in subjection to her husband, and he for not taking his role as head of the household seriously.

I think the emasculation of men by women is absolutely horrible (I live with it in my family), but that can only happen if men allow it.

This FALSE construct of this machismo man is more of a determent, than it is remedial. Since you're a woman, go and read my comments under "Grow Up: Advice for YRR's (part 2)." You will find it under # 53. I do not feel like repeating myself on this subject. I'm lazy tonight. And it explains it in a nutshell what I believe. Not that it matters much. But the biblical principle behind it does.

Hang in there sister, I know it can be frustrating, but God has it all under control. He makes REAL heroes out of mere men, because when they are weak, He is strong. Which gives ALL the glory to God.

And please read Phil’s comments again. He is such a godly man as are all the men here at GTY. They deserve our honor and respect.

Love you, sister,


#14  Posted by Taylor Lett  |  Monday, August 8, 2011 at 10:04 PM


I think your prescriptions for worship are actually skewing Dr. MacArthur's words, at least, I hope so.

I recognize that your background informs your opinions on appropriate worship contexts. But to address the symptoms is simply to suggest your own, equally extra-biblical picture of external manhood. I am as against 'pub study' for the sake of manliness or mission as anyone can be. I don't need to drink to make Jesus more attractive to the sinner, and it drives me nuts when people justify their habits with 'mission.' It reeks of a conscience that does not truly understand liberty, legalism, or Jesus. I have the same issue with the slob, the hipster, or the suit who dresses in such a way as to equate the gospel with whatever his audience considers cool.

However, I also have no problem with simply studying the Bible at a pub because a pub is where you are and you want to study the Bible. I have no problem with a man who always wears flip flops wearing them to church as well. I have no problem with a believer drinking in clear conscience simply because he enjoys a beer, or a little wine for his stomach. Our choices made in true liberty (not the grace-abusing sort) should not make or break our manliness.

I think this can be seen in Dr. MacArthur's article. He is speaking against forms of manliness that mask the heart of truth. The emphasis is on low forms, because the YRR can struggles with that facade more often than a formal facade.

In light of that, my question to the high-church worshiper and the low church worshiper is always the same. Are you worshiping in spirit and in truth(John 4:23)?

So if you want to be an outward man, know truth internally. Dress for God on Sundays. Order your drink for God at restaurants. And study the Word whenever and wherever you can. For God.

#15  Posted by Nathan T  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 12:33 AM

Forgive the ignorant question... I'm not new to John MacArthur, but new to this site... is this article the words of John MacArthur or Phil Johnson?

#16  Posted by John Wolf  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3:27 AM

To get a good dosage of this do some open air street preaching and street evangelism!

Also move to California where the liberals rule the state. Here in the Bible Belt its hard finding them, so instead you have culture christians to deal with.

#17  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 7:40 AM

Mary, I fully believe that Phil Johnson and John MacArthur are godly men. I respect them far more than words can tell. In fact, if it were not for this ministry, I would have been a little vessel adfrift in a terrible storm several years ago. It was the biblical manliness of steady Truth that shines through GTY that navigated me and helped me hold fast against lies in my church. I've hung on to them ever since. I've got to be one of their biggest fans/promoters (for lack of a better word). They truly do have my honor, respect, and deep love.

I've re-read the article a few times already. And I do understand his main point. I tried to make that known in my first comment. I understand that biblical manliness is defined by that which arises from the Truth. But to completely throw out the physical traits of manhood is a mistake. I know he gave examples of preaching in hostile territory and so on...but to list other likes of males such as adventure, toughness, comraderie, etc... as lies and fantasy is a mistake. It really disappointed me to see that.

I love the Psalms. How often does David (God Himself)write of battle? It gets pretty graphic. The prophets get pretty graphic. In fact, the whole Bible is a graphic, tough adventure---and we're part of it. So I encourage the masculine tendencies in my boys---but never apart from the hand of God.

I was raised by my father, a Marine. My mother left when I was a year old. I truly believe that the authority I understood my father to have, made it far easier to recognize my heavenly father as He truly is.

One fact that troubles me today is that the Everlasting Father has been changed into the Everlasting Mother by a culture that crushing manhood. The Father is seen as a passive kind of mother who just loves (in the sentimental sense of the word) no matter what. Love is only that which "feels good".

Boys aren't being trained in manly ways anymore (for the most part) and this is a tragedy. They are in front of video games, on medications to restrain their energy, strapped to desks for the better part of their lives. These things will not just make a man physically sick---they'll make him suffer spiritually as well.

The outdoors are good for us. I'm certainly not a dirt-woshipping tree-hugger, but God placed man in a garden. God brought animals to the man. He intended for man to be close to creation to enjoy a relationship with Himself in the context of His raw creation.

While satan may be constructing a false machismo, we must remember that he typically uses a great deal of truth with a little bit of lie. That's why I plead not to throw it ALL out. We are truly throwing out manhood to some degree.

Selfish ambition, wealth, ease and comfort are taking their toll on us for sure. Being trained in this way doesn't prepare young men to deny themselves.

Thanks for your thoughts and love, Mary. We are sisters...and real sisters often disagree, yet still care for one another. =)

#18  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Nathan #15

Phil Johnson wrote this article. John mentioned in his introduction article that several men from the GTY staff would be making contributions to this series, such as Phil and Travis.

#19  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:01 AM

At this stage, I have to agree with #17, Jaime. Very well said, Jaime. Years ago, I read Wild at Heart. I grew up with four sisters, no brothers and ended up with 5 daughters and ....five sons...and a husband! The girls I understood. The boys, my husband...not so much. Wild at Heart helped me see that even I was trying to force the males in my family to think and react more like the females and even play more ....well, more gently. Translates: no toy guns, not even water pistols, no cowboys and Indians, no playing army, no swords, no tackling. And I had better not find out that one of them made a weapon out of a piece of cardboard!OK, throw me overboard now!

That said, I have no idea about John Eldredges's theology. I never saw that boys being wired to desire battle or rescue a damsel in distress was in conflict with the Godly character expected of them. I see it that God placed in them a heart to die for what is right and if that means battle, then battle it is. God places many a men in battle and it's a good thing he wired them for such. I'm not saying that real men never get afraid or question God. But there does seem to be a passion there that most women don't understand.

We recognize that as women, we are wired differently. The bible says that women will desire their husbands. Genesis 3:16 And we act that out in all sort of romantic ways...ways that men seldom understand. That desire place on females helped fill the earth. Genesis 1:28

While I don't like the idea of men having a bible study at a pub, I never got that John Eldredge was suggesting that when he encouraged men's retreats in the great outdoors. Maybe his approach was extreme? Not sure. I haven't really followed him since reading his book. But this culture had encouraged men to feel. Problem was as I see it, they had been encouraged to feel like women and not like a men.

So we are wired differently. What we should all...male and female, have in common is the desire to be obedient and holy and servants of a perfect holy God. We should all let God shape our passions for His good purpose and glory. And yes, there may be times that God has to reign in the passions of some and give a hefty nudge to others.

I Corinthians 16:13

I thought John Eldredge was referring more to man's nature (not referring to sin nature here)than to Godly character? Shame he's not on this blog to explain himself. I do think we need to remember that the battle is not man's. 2 Chronicles 20:15 Maybe that is the concern of some...that man will see this as an opportunity, an excuse to do any battle for any cause? I do wonder how many times words like battle and fight are used in the bible as analogies to better explain the seriousness of a situation? I mean, why battle, why fight? Why those words?

I don't know. Maybe I need to read that book again. Maybe I have matured and will see all kinds of problems with it this time around?

#20  Posted by Marc Lambert  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 10:41 AM

#8 (Gabriel)

I apologize if this topic was mentionedin another comment, but there's a lot and I don't have time to read them all. However, I was intrigued by one statement you made.

Men don't need to find themselves in the woods or go into the desert for 40 days as Eldredge proposes.

I have been part of church groups 2x that went thru "Wild at Heart" as a curriculum. Neither group was the sort to blindly take everything an author says as truth, and the same was with this one. However, there was value that I witnessed and experienced in getting out of our normal, comfortable element. For those of us who had jobs that seldom exercised "manly" skills, it was beneficial to get out of our confort zone and see what "being masculine" looked like (felt like) in a recognizable "manly" activity. Then, it was easier to translate that "manly" idea or focus in to our everyday lives. Elderedge even says in "Wild at Heart" that it is the attitude not the activity.

#21  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 12:46 PM

Don't confuse pride with manliness.

Many "strong" men don't have the courage to confront a sinner with his sin. Even his own.

#22  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 1:01 PM

By the way, I do agree with all that Phil says about what a real man is. 100%. I just didn't recall that Eldredge's book was about theology as much as it was about the culture trying to emasculate men. And I, as a mom, should want to encourage my young men to be brave and bold so they will not cower under to the threats of society whether it be spiritually or physically or both.

For so long, Jesus was portrayed as wimpy, never speaking above a whisper and not being particularly masculine. The culture had Jesus as being an avoider physically. And sadly, many churches portrayed Him that way too in order for Jesus to appeal to the "politically correct".

My favorite visual is of Jesus in Revelation when he returns to earth. Little boys, young and older men alike...can you find a flick more exciting, more adventurous than a King with all the power upon heaven and earth coming to seek and destroy the wicked and conquer Evil ...past, present and future with one deadly blow? Hollywood can't compete with all it's power crazy flicks. And the best part is, it's a true story! Jesus is hardly a wimp! There's not an Iron Man, a Batman, a Spiderman, a Captain Courageous, or super soldier like in Captain America that won't fall out and fall to his knees when Jesus returns.

That is the God I want to serve and whom I want to protect me! Glory to God! Revelation 19:11-21.

#23  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 2:11 PM

When the war is over, and the swords thrown down, and the soldiers no longer need their Armour, and the flags of victory cease to fly, when there are no more foes to conquer, no more battles to rage, no more blood to shed, and all hatred ceases and desists, will Jesus be a wimp?

In the beginning Phil wrote: “Biblical manliness is about authentic character. It’s not about bravado.

The Lion will lay down with the Lamb. Love wins every time!

I love you two sisters,


#24  Posted by Lauren Edison  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 4:10 PM

I ask this without hackles raised or any teeth showing: Was the "private hen party" comparison meant to be used as a slight insult toward men if men did basically the same thing? Now granted, a pub is an inappropriate atmosphere for studying God's word, but it felt kind-of belittling when I read it. Seemed like my existence is such that it could be used to insult a man's. That doesn't exactly encourage men to be real men in treating their wives with honor and respect and loving her if she's something to be joked about or used as an example of inadequacy. God made us as helpers to complement man, not examples of how to fall short in being a man. I hope I just misunderstood it, but it did hurt a little to read it. But, I am greatly encouraged to read these posts in encouraging and teaching men to be real men. They seem to be harder and harder to find and women are being convinced and pretty much forced to take on a role we aren't meant for.

#25  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 5:48 PM


Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm glad to hear another woman feel this way for our boys and men. We really do have to encourage them.

There truly is a double standard nowadays. If women were crushed for being sensitive, for liking soft and pretty things---no one would hear of it.

When I went back to school several years ago, I was literally required to take a "Women's Orientation" class. To put it bluntly---it was a man-hating class. It was designed to readjust women who had probably been home (gasp) for some time, to the workforce where men are their oppressors---those barabarians, ya know.

And over the years I've watched this major assault on manhood grow more intense---in the culture, in churches, and on God Himself.

I love how the visual of Jesus in Revelation excites you---it does me too. I agree that He is truly a God of goodness, power, and authority worthy of our admiration and love.

I am so thankful to have found Vision Forum, which is a ministry in Texas that is doing a great work in regards to helping boys and men be all they can be for God's glory---encouraging their God-given manly tendencies all the way. They have SO many great resources for all ages and so much for women too! Just one of many CDs I could recommend is Manliness by Doug Phillips. It is EXCELLENT. He explains so well exactly the issue we discuss here---and the prescription is nothing more or less than biblical Truth that is SO refreshing to hear. If you haven't heard of them---check them out. From your comment, I think it's safe to say that you will be thrilled by all they are doing.

May God help us all to know the way that we should walk--not turning to the right or the left--but continually dependent on His grace and mercy to lead us in the everlasting way, not just for us, but for those who will come after us.

#26  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 6:31 PM


I really don't know how to respond to your last comment, because I think you've misinterpreted what I'm saying. Somehow, I think you see me only admiring the characteristics of Jesus that are tough. Please understand, this was what the discussion was about. We weren't debating Jesus' gentleness.

Maybe I should ask you if you would like to be ridiculed or viewed in a negative way for liking feminine things like flowers and soft textures and for being sensitive. Does this help you understand what disturbs me about what we are doing to men?

You're right. Love does win every time. But we have to understand (contrary to the feminist lie) that this is not just what feels good. Love even destroys the wicked. Love hates evil because it hurts people.

Yes, biblical manliness is about character--but you can't separate a man's character from his physical makeup. When you do, it's not character at all.

I will be SO glad when the Lion can lay down with the Lamb. But until then, I thank God for men who will fight---even physically to protect those who cannot protect themselves.

One more thought...a look at history should have every soul alive thanking God for men who fought evil---PHYSICALLY. If it weren't for them just think...we might ALL be Catholic or enslaved or speaking German...who knows? I'm just glad God made men the way He did. It's not right to say they should be more like me.

In the love of Christ, Jamie

#27  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:12 PM

I agree that our culture wants to blur the distinctions between men and women in regards to their roles as well as their tendencies. I also believe that God did make men and women to be different and to have different roles as the Bible points out. But, we need to be careful not to over react to what we see as the culture’s effort to feminize men, and try to push a version of manliness which is also not scriptural. I believe both Phil, in his article, and Gabriel, in his response have well presented the Biblical view of manliness, which is maturity in Christlikeness rather than having certain stereotypical interests.

God does not use female and male cookie cutters in designing us. Yes, for the most part males are stronger, and God does intend for them to be the protectors and leaders of the home and church. But that does not mean males are all identical in their gifts and talents or their interests and tendencies. Jacob was not the hunter that his brother Esau was but God still chose him over Esau. Evidently Jacob was not disqualified because he was not “man” enough.

Jamie(# 11), I was a little concerned about your comment that it is Biblical to discourage effeminacy in boys because I am not sure what you consider effeminate. Forgive me if I am misunderstanding what you are saying, but I just know from raising two boys and observing their friends, that their interests vary widely and I view that as how God made them. Some like to hunt, some abhor it; some love competition, some avoid it; some love sports, some prefer books. I believe if it is our priority to train our sons to love and revere God and His word, we don’t really need to focus on how “manly” their interests are. I am not doubting that you are first and foremost desiring to raise Godly boys, but I just think we need to be careful in not adopting a view of what it is to be manly that goes beyond what scripture describes.

#28  Posted by Bob Browning  |  Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 9:53 PM

I'm not sure if it will make any difference, but I have a few thoughts regarding what people have said about dress code at church. Before I get to that though, I must say that I agree with everything in this original article. However, some of the comments seem to be adding dress code to the list of "wrongs" associated with YRR and the like.

I myself am a member at a pretty contemporary church - we even have an ATM-like machine to give your offering/tithe. Most people come to church wearing very casual clothes. I'm sure there are some who have a false sense of "enlightenment" because they wear cargo shorts to church, just like there are those who have a false sense of "sanctification" because they wear a coat and tie at their traditional worship gatherings. What I have come to love is the fact that my dress code does not affect my justification, because I'm clothed in the righteousness of Christ - period.

So, for those who may be a little hung up on worship style and/or dress code, allow me to appeal to our brothers and sisters around the world who worship in settings VERY different from anything either traditional or contemporary services have ever seen. If we stop and picture a group of natives in Africa gathering under a tree and banging some sticks together as they worship God, the last thing that should pop in our mind is "well, they'd be much better off if they were wearing neck ties" or "you know, they really need some electric guitars." Hopefully, this example points out how ridiculous the debate over worship style and dress code really is.

The point is that we are NOT united via worship! We ARE united in Christ!!!

That said, I do still agree with many of the problems that people are pointing out about YRR. These problems may seem the same on the surface, but in the case of YRR I think it's a sign of a deeper problem which is connected to a desire to have the best of both worlds, i.e., friendship with the world and with God. Of course, scripture teaches that this is impossible, and that is why I'm thankful for these articles from GTY which attempt to show this fallacy.

So in summary, my point is that we definitely need to stand for the truth and for purity in the body of Christ. But at the same time, let's not cause unnecessary division within the body simply because we may have different worship styles and/or dress codes.

#29  Posted by Lora Violet  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:40 AM

Where in Scripture are we told to wear our "Sunday Best" ? Dress modest, not intending to bring attention to ourself or what we are wearing. It's NOT about how good we look when we meet for Corporate worship, it's about Him.

Men can be manly and the world not view them as such. My son sews. Does the world think that is a manly occupation? He sews tents through the winter months and puts them up through the spring, summer, and fall. He uses a jack hammer and has hugh muscles and sore hands. He still sews.......and he loves Jesus.

#30  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 6:52 AM

Hi Mary K.,

I can't say that I have specific lists of what I consider male and female--lol! =)

Truly, my aim all along has been to simply defend that the physical makeup of boys---to like tough things, rough things, and so on is not sinful or wrong, just as it is not wrong for females to like soft and pretty things.

Obviously, discernment about what is and is not effeminate is something parents have to determine moment by moment for their individual children. God has made male and females to be very different. While all boys may have differences---they are still an entirely different set of "cookie cutters" from the girl "set". At least they should be.

Most boys today are so heavily influenced by the media, by churches, by government schools and the culture---I don't think it's accurate to measure manhood by what we typically see today.

We are desperate for perspective, which we get from God's Word. I do all I can to limit the influence of the world on my boys, because it is clear to me that the world would like to make my boys, girls. Manhood is hated--whether it is connected to spiritual Truth or not.

As for Jacob & Esau....both of my boys like to cook. I think that's great. I don't discourage it. But I think it's worth considering that Jacob was true to his name "deceiver" when he was "in tents with mama". But consider that God changed his name to Israel when he wrestled with God. Feminists would have beat him over the head for being too rough!---LOL!

Sorry if I have caused confusion from the original article which is calling for true biblical manliness--which is most important of all. I don't typically comment on anything. But protecting and preserving manhood is something that God has laid heavily on my heart---and while it must be that true manhood arises from that which is born of God--we don't do this by crushing God's original design.

In the love of Christ to all---Jamie =)

#31  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Mary, I think the point is, for me anyway, that it was Phil who asked us to compare John Eldredge's version of real manhood to the scriptural version. While I agree with Phil's and scriptures definition of real manhood, I wasn't able to see that the quote Phil used was actually Eldredge's idea of real biblical manhood. I don't know where my book is and so I can't know the the context in which that statement was made. I don't recall that his book was written so that men had to be hunters, athletes, cowboys, gun slingers or any kind of dare devil to qualify as real men. Likewise, I don't recall that his book disqualified boys that liked to cook, read, or watch the history channel rather than the Super Bowl from a future of being "real men".

What I recall from it, what I got out of it, is that every boy whether he is a computer geek or loves sports has a desire to defend, to go rescue the weak, the vulnerable. My quiet boys were just as demanding of justice for others as my physical boys. I'm pleased to say that all five of my boys, no matter the personality or skill, defended kids all through school that were helpless. That is a trait, even an aggression that this culture considers a barbaric act. Unless a female does it. Then it's "you go girl!" This culture wants passive little boys. I say, turn 'em loose and let them find their masculine voices. It is possible for them to be masculine and have Godly character at the same time. Good discussion, Mary and Jamie.

Lauren, #24, good comment and observation. It did feel a little stereotypingish, didn't it? I think "hen parties" can be very encouraging and...I think a band of brothers around a campfire can do the same thing. Sadly, I think we live in a world where little of either is done anymore.

#29, Lora, what a confident strong young man you have raised. People fail to remember that most of the great cooks and seamstresses around the world are men!

#32  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Jamie said: “I find it much more appropriate to train boys in the *harder things in life* which will make them much more equipped to be the spiritual leaders they need to be in a world that hates things that may be hard.”

I used the example above because this is typical of most people who support this roughshod image of manhood. What equips men for the *harder things in life* is the Word of God, not sending them to boot camp to become warlords. (Sorry, this not directed at you per se, but to everyone who buys into this tough man image).

So what do women do? Who do not get this privilege of going through this camp of hard knocks, and running through ankle deep mud while playing paintball and hurdling barbed wire fences. How do they get their strength to bear up under horrendous situations in life? (Corrie Ten Boom for a perfect example.) You seem to propose that men are the only ones who face hardships in this life. Women face rapes, sexual abuse as children, are martyred all over the world for Christ, face poverty alone without husbands, and the list is endless. And herein lies my issue with this entire machismo image. This movement replaces the Holy Spirit’s work with man’s acts of gusto, vigor, bravado and gallantry.

I would surely think if these camps of hard knocks are good for the goose, the ganders should not be prevented from getting a lifetime membership card, either. This training up of young boys with plastic popguns and war paint to enable them to be strong enough to handle life’s challenges, flies in the face of reality, denies the work of the Spirit, gives all the glory to men, causes an extreme sense of pride and engenders boasting. What proves the false nature of this aberant philosophy/theology, is that if it works for men, it ought so to work for women equally as well, as women face innumerable hardships, too. Thus, they should undergo the same rigorous treatment. After all, they are responsible for their children’s upbringing in the Lord, as well.

To be continued...

#33  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 1:31 PM

Part two

We’re not training up warlords, but Christian soldier’s, whose fight it is to win the war on sin. The progression is to go from war-like to Christ-like. Christian women, in particular, want their men to be a leader in the home and in the church setting. We love men who have deep biblical convictions and are able to lead by God’s strength and guide their families in the practice of holy living. This is what real men do! God love them for that!

Christ’s kingdom is never won by a sword or bravado. “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest (John 18:36).” Most all earthly kingdoms are established by force. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world and is not established by military might, brute force, light sabers or toy popguns. No. Fire-breathing dragons are fought with God’s Word, which is the Sword of the Spirit. Jesus told Peter: “"Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword (Mat 26:52).” Christ did not come to earth wielding a sword (but will on His return), but to procure a peculiar people unto Himself through a perceived “WEAKNESS” (the Cross). His Kingdom is established in HUMILITY, not by the stereotypical overtures of machismo.

We don’t need another hero. Let Superman leap tall buildings and Dudley-Do-Right save all the damsels in distress (love Dudley), but leave the rest of the intractable issues of life to Christ, whose **GLORY** it is to set the captives free.

Mary Kidder, Gabriel Powell and Phil Johnson have made all the other wonderful arguments that I fully support on this issue. So no need to repeat what they have masterfully articulated.

I agree with much of what you and Rebecca have to say, btw.

I’m done! You’re still my sister! :) Let God be true and every man a liar!

#34  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 5:32 PM

Men are raise in this world to be machos. With Christ, men are raise in Christ-center manner of growing. Keep up with good posts, Phil.

#35  Posted by Jamie Skelton  |  Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM

Hopefully, my latest response to Mary T. will be added. I don't see it as of yet.

But another important point:

When Christ speaks of His Kingdom not being of this world---when Ephesians speaks of our struggle not being against flesh and blood, understand that ***as to spiritual things*** THIS IS TRUE, yet it does not erase our dealings in the physical world. In other words, we do not promote or defend Christianity by force as Muslims do. Nevertheless, in life itself we are faced with situations that call for action---sometimes unpleasant action.

I was reminded a few moments ago by my son---who knows nothing of our conversation---of the men aboard Flight 93 on 9/11. What do you think of those men who took down that plane by force? Do you think their actions were honorable? I do. I give the ultimate glory to God, while praising their heroic actions. Do you think that God is honored when we are grateful to our fellow man for fighting on our behalf? I do.

If we take your premise that EVERYTHING pertains to the spiritual world, we should stop eating, stop working, stop playing...well hey, just stop living because all of man's efforts deny God His Glory right?

Or, is it only what you personally don't like, that is-- men being strengthened physically---that you believe denies Him His glory?

Our nation is in terrible trouble because men have not only turned from the Truth of God's Word, they are also ceasing to believe that they have any responsibility to take action against evil---that in others AND in themselves.

God's WILL be done, but He undoubtedly uses people.

#36  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Hi Jamie:

This has been a very good conversation. Let me just add one thing. I have nothing against macho men, far from it. I dated the star quarterback in junior high and high school, and I was his darling little cheerleader, and my husband was 6’ 5” and tall and burly. And as far as the men in the military, they are awesome. I think Navy Seals are incredible men, too. But these models do not represent all men. Just as beautiful Cindy Crawford does not represent all women.

Give me time to chop some wood LOL, and I will get back with you. We need to interject some humor here. :)

I really do have some housework to get done, but I will get back when I am able to. .

If they do not close this thread down, we can continue our discussion. How do you like the new look of the blog? Nice!

#37  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Friday, August 12, 2011 at 9:25 AM

Dear Jamie:

Yes, Jamie, God's WILL be done, and He does use men and women as a means to His ends. BUT... Mike Ricarddi gives an excellent answer to the basic tenor of your last post, over at Please go and check it out. The answer starts about half way down the page with this opening sentence: "The reason that this is such a bad argument ...

I stayed up half the night wondering how to respond to you, then I read Mike's article, and what better timing could that be?

Mike is associated with John Mac’s church and ministry, along with many of the other writers over there.

I will have more later, hopefully. If not, I know that this thread cannot stay open forever. I am just not sure I will have much more time today to respond. But enjoy the wisdom of thecripplegate.

#38  Posted by Rexx Morrison  |  Friday, August 12, 2011 at 3:14 PM

I agree that going to a bar, drinking beer and smoking a cigar does not make you a man. It is taking on the attributes of GOD that makes you manly. That being said, boys and men are wired to be manly. For you mothers out there that says their boy is not a typical rough housing boy let me assure you he is still a boy. He still has manly attributes that GOD has placed in him. I have a son who is the classic example of a boy. He loves to wrestle, he loves to make loud noises. But he also is very gentle with his sister and her friends. He worries about others.

As his father I have to set the example of what a GOD fearing real man is. He sees me worship with tears running down my face. He sees me reading my Bible. He hears me pray to GOD. He sees me work hard at home, church and my job. He sees me love his mother with all of my heart. When I make mistakes he hears me own up to them and apologize. Am I the perfect man? Oh no! Certainly not! I still struggle with the flesh.

To Quote Robert Lewis. " Real men rejects passivity, leads couragously, accepts responsiblity and expects the greater reward. GOD's reward". This is Biblical. Look throughout the Bible. When GODLY men lived by that creed, GOD did great things through their lives.

Yes I agree that that a real man is more then a beer guzzling, cigar smoking, gun shooting, big truck fellow. Real men stand up for what is GODLY. What is right. They do this in GODLY, manly way.

They live like Jesus lived. Unafraid to say what is right, unafraid to live what is right and unafraid to die for what is right.

Thank you,


#39  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, August 13, 2011 at 7:32 AM

Very well said and beautifully written, Rexx.

"As his father I have to set the example of what a GOD fearing real man is. He sees me worship with tears running down my face. He sees me reading my Bible. He hears me pray to GOD. He sees me work hard at home, church and my job. He sees me love his mother with all of my heart. When I make mistakes he hears me own up to them and apologize. Am I the perfect man? Oh no! Certainly not! I still struggle with the flesh. "

God is glorified by this testimony! So glorified!