…is probably not what you expect him to look like. Some of the more obnoxious misconceptions look like this:
“Week after week, Mooneyham uses the gospel to punch back against what he perceives to be a rising tide of emasculation,” the article reads. “He’s delivered a series of Sunday talks called ‘Grow a Pair’ and ‘Band of Brothers,’ and the church offers male leadership courses with titles like ‘Spartan’ and ‘Fight Club.’ He’s performed baptisms at Ignite-sponsored tailgate parties and instructed married couples to go home and have sex every day for a week. And there’s rarely a Sunday where Mooneyham doesn’t praise a big truck, a big gun or a pair of big balls in the same breath that praises Christ.”
…a conception so silly I don’t think I need to go into theological depth to point out its issues. However, I don’t go as far as some authors to discredit the warrior as a legitimate Christian archetype. The image of the warrior permeates scripture, and I believe for good reason. That being said, we must properly answer, “Who or what are we fighting?” Scripture gives some guidance:
12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Our true enemies are not people. They are, at very worst, servants of a darker power, and never beyond the redeeming power of God. We are fighting the power of Satan himself. And while I believe we are most definitely supposed to bring the fight to the external machinations of Satan and people or nations who would harm innocents, like I have said before I believe the internal battle is also of utmost importance and more often ignored. In that vein, I believe the masculine Christian is not a man who whoops and yells about balls of steel and guns. Rather, he is the man who brings the utmost violence upon Satan, in forgiveness, in hope, in love. He is the man who proclaims the Gospel, trusting his fears of rejection and ridicule to God, turning to peace and patience for counsel. That does not mean he cannot speak forcefully. Jesus had some choice words for the Pharisees and for Herod (“Go tell that fox [Herod]…”) . But we must measure our words carefully, ensuring we speak in righteousness rather than out of human pettiness or our own hurt feelings.
Now, even though I do not reject the warrior archetype, I do believe people are right to point out that the warrior is not the completeness of the Christian man. In particular, I like this thought:
And the simple fact is, when God created Adam he didn’t make a warrior; he made a gardener.
Gardening isn’t easy work. It demands great labor and—since the Fall—requires the sweat of our brow. It’s dirty and it’s tiring. It involves careful, perhaps even painful, pruning. Ultimately, it even demands recognizing that your work on its own is not enough. You need the sun to shine. You need the rain to fall. You need God to make something out of your own weak and feeble efforts.
And then I believe the gardener and the warrior imagery are beautifully tied together by the top comment on the article:
I think it’s worth pointing out that ancient Roman infantry were mostly farmers. The essence of masculinity is probably something like Farmer-who-will-be-a-Warrior-when-he-must.
The Christian man is the gardener and the reluctant warrior. Not reluctant in the sense of ‘I’ll never put my heart into fighting.’ No, if we believe we must fight a battle, then we must fight it with all our strength and conviction. But we must be reluctant in that our prime calling is not the battle. We are not made for unending strife. Rather, we are called to toil patiently for the salvation of all mankind, working to bring God’s kingdom to fruition while trusting in God to make our efforts worthwhile, and if there is any violence to be had, it is upon the powers of darkness, not our fellow human beings.
Say, where have I seen this kind of imagery before?