A newspaper writer used his column recently to emphasize that God is both male and female. There’s no argument with this, nor any argument with a woman’s being ordained to ministry, assuming she possesses the qualities required of men for ordination. The writer insisted that the biblical terms “man” and “mankind” are generic (both sexes), which, though perfectly acceptable, may or may not always be true. He could hardly get into the mind of God, always referenced in scripture as masculine, to find out. When the term “woman” is used in scripture, is it also generic…or does it call attention to a difference?
This is a backdoor way of remarking that some churches/denominations – especially those categorized as “mainline” – have made a conscious effort for about three decades or so to emasculate men. In some denominations, hymns have even been abridged (dishonestly) to remove as completely as possible any reference to God as masculine, though dancing around the term “father” has been hard to do. In the process, the revisers have attempted to remove any reference to violence (a guy-thing, doncha know) or to anything concerning the military.
A noted hymn-writer tried in 1974 to emasculate the well-known hymn Lead On, O King Eternal (words-Shurtleff), but couldn’t make it work, so she just wrote her own version to the same tune (Lancashire-Smart), entitled Lead On, O Cloud of Presence, exchanging the notion of men fighting for God’s precepts (often translated as freedom) for that of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Go figure. According to religio/political correctness, Onward, Christian Soldiers is too militant to (gasp) actually be in a modern hymnbook, much less sung among civilized people.
Among the first prophecies concerning Christ is Isaiah 9:6, wherein is noted that the child to come, among other appellations, would be called the “Prince of Peace.” The Old Testament accounts preceding Isaiah’s words and from that time forward are filled with descriptions of wars, atrocities, death, and destruction – even the carrying away of defeated peoples into slavery. It was into this same kind of Middle East turmoil that Christ was born, not into a milieu of freedom, but into slavery under the Romans, who ruled that part of the world with an iron fist – just as the Jihad-Muslims are trying to do now – and would later engage brutal crucifixion in ending Christ’s life.
Christ spoke of peace, but perhaps in some ways that were/are quite surprising. For instance, in Matthew 10:34 Christ stated flatly that he had come not to bring peace to the world…but a sword. He intended to participate in some kind of mayhem himself, whether verbal or physical. In Matthew 24:6, Christ stated just as flatly that wars were inevitable and that his followers would suffer, be hated, and even be put to death in the midst of wars.
In the very poignant framework of the “Last Supper,” according to Luke 22:36, Christ made it plain to the disciples that they were to secure swords for themselves, even if they had to sell some of their clothing to do so. He emphasized his instruction by comparing it to the one he gave them at an earlier time when he sent them out in an evangelistic endeavor and told them to take neither purse, bag, nor sandals, but that now they were to take those things…with the addition of a sword.
Soon after giving that admonition, Christ made it plain that those who live by the sword (aggressors) would die by the sword, so he meant for his disciples to merely defend themselves and their families. Christ expected their lives to lack peace, even as his did, as remarked in John 7:1, where John explains that the Jews were in Judea to kill Jesus, so, rather than going to the Feast of Tabernacles publicly with his brothers, Jesus went in secret. He was a hunted man.
On at least one occasion, Christ, after fashioning his own whip, used it to lash the money-changers and physically drive them and their paraphernalia/animals from the temple. Many theologians/preachers try to whitewash this quite vividly described act, but they don’t signify successfully. Not as he’s often pictured, Christ was no well-coifed “girly-man” (as the California governor would have it); instead, he was tough as nails.
Emphasis is always placed on the fact that God/Christ is love, and justifiably so. However, love is also exhibited when, as Jesus would have it, a man lays down his life for others. This kind of Jesus-love was exhibited in the last century, when some 617,000 American GIs, for love of others and country, died in unsought wars, as have nearly 4,900 in this century. Jesus was no wimp. God help us if American men, whether Christians or not, should be otherwise today.