The Macho Messiah

Forget Alpha.  The latest evangelistic strategy for the modern church is this: seeker-friendly cage-fighting. Just one example of a  variety of ‘mixed martial arts’, (MMA).

MMA is being hailed in some quarters as an expression of biblical masculinity. In the film ‘Fighting Politics‘ the pastor Mark Driscoll argues for its legitimisation as a sport, by saying:

‘“I don’t think there is anything purer than two guys in a cage. ..As a pastor and as a Bible teacher, I think that God made men masculine…Men are made for combat, men are made for conflict, men are made for dominion. .. That’s just the way men are made.”

Several years ago, in a rented Tennessee shopping mall, so-called  ‘macho’ religion was also championed by a group calling themselves ‘GodMen‘.  Its’ proponents claimed that church had become sissy,  that men needed to step up again and that ‘a meek and mild Jesus…is eventually a bore’.  More recently, the artwork of Stephen Sawyer,a 58 year-old artist whose subject is  Jesus, has also hit the headlines.  Unlike traditional iconography, Sawyer’s pictures are modelled on  “a surfer guy who’s built like a brick s****house.”

These are all features of what is known as ‘muscular Christianity’ – a movement that aims to rebrand the image of Jesus as a wrestler instead of a wimp.

Now please don’t mishear me. I’m all for gender distinctions.  Men should be men and women should be women. Yesirreee. But er – what exactly does that look like?

If we allow the world to determine our concept of gender, we end up with a very different picture to what we see in Scripture. On this reading, Samson for example, is a total success.  But is that how we’re encouraged to view him?

Similarly, how many biblical heroes would cut it in a hyper-masculine environment? Would Paul’s weakness have disqualified him from leadership? ‘Paul mate,  – a word. All this brokenness – it’s not quite what we’re looking for?’

David and Jonathan – too much Bromance? (Just as well he gets Bathsheba eh? Uriah who? High-five me, David…) Or how about Moses? Too shy to speak without his brother.  The most humble guy on the planet.  And yet the LORD’s beloved servant.

I’m not advocating powerless Christianity.  We need men of courage and strength.  But it seems to me that strength  looks  a lot like dependence.  Dependence  on The Man.  Trust. Gentleness. Sacrificial love.

Want to see what real masculinity looks like?  Look to Christ.  Real men pray.  Real men weep. Real men love. Real men are bold,  but real men are also broken.

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