My Jesus Can Beat Up Your Jesus
There has been an online surfeit of discussions regarding masculinity and Christianity (see here, here, here, or here). Various evangelicals have been using Mixed Martial Arts and other ultra-violent sports to inject missing machismo into American Evangelical Christian men.
I was first made aware of the connection between Christianity, MMA, and masculinity through Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. I am particularly thankful for the ministry of Driscoll and his call for men to stand up and lead their churches and families. While I do not agree with the faux bravado sometimes created by the hyper-masculine Jesus described by Driscoll and others, I understand their reaction to the hyper-feminized Jesus of modern America. I, too, am tired of Jesus being portrayed as a “limp-wristed hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair who drank decaf and made pithy zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes.”
The hyper-masculine Christian male is nothing new. In my denomination, “real men” are often portrayed as big-game hunters who can kill a bear with a Swiss Army knife. The popular Christian author, John Eldredge, has been marketing Christianity to men for years calling them to find their inner warrior.
As Christians, however, we are called to be Biblical, not reactionary. Christian men are called to be like Jesus who is neither an effiminate, lamb-snuggling weakling or a Rambo-esque MMA fighter. As Scot McKnight has said, “The gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild presentation is every bit as skewed and unbiblical as the Ultimate Fighting Jesus.”
I agree that there is a crisis of masculinity in American churches. The crisis of masculinity extends to the culture at large (see Al Mohler’s discussion of the gender gap in higher education). God has chosen men to stand up and lead. John Piper says it this way, “God calls spiritual, humble, Christlike men to lead the family as husbands and lead the church as elders” (Brothers We Are Not Professionals). Male leadership is not about weight lifting, bow-staff hunting skills, and bravado but, rather is grounded in the gospel, demonstrated through service, and solidified in confident humility.