Yesterday, Stephanie gave us a beautiful look at femininity from the perspective of Ruth. Today, we are digging into one of my favorite lessons from this book: Biblical ‘manly men’ don’t always appear the way our culture describes “manliness.”
Our culture is certainly confused when it comes to gender identity, and sadly this confusion is vividly present around us in the church. Just as women are pressured to reject traditional femininity and pushed toward gender neutrality, it seems that men often are forced into more effeminate roles, or encouraged to embrace a caricature of “manliness” that is cheap and shallow. Manly men, our culture teaches us, love sports, hunting, big trucks, big guns, and have women hanging on them everywhere they go. They are terrible listeners, aren’t nurturing, don’t really care about people, and sit around drinking beer and grunting at one another.
As I think through the men described in Scripture, few seem to fit this description of pseudo-manliness like Samson. Samson is a perfect example of perverted masculinity. He is a man who was set apart by God from birth, given super-human strength, and commissioned for leadership among God’s people. Instead of embracing his calling, Samson uses his strength to humiliate and destroy. He flagrantly ignores God’s calling of purity on his life. He treats women as objects, spends the night with a prostitute, and tells his parents about a woman he desires to marry with the phrase, “I have seen a woman. Get her for me.”
I want my sons to be manly men. I do not want them to be Samsons who demand and take and destroy. I want them to be men who fight for what is good and right, tenaciously cling to what is holy, protect the weak and vulnerable, nurture those under their leadership, love even when it is inconvenient. I want LB to understand that it is not his love of NASCAR that makes him masculine ;); his masculinity is an integral part of who God created him to be. It is a high calling to be a manly man like Jesus and lay down his life for others. So, what does this kind of manly man look like?
During this corrupt time period of the judges, we find in Boaz a real manly man. A man with undeniable godly masculinity along the lines of great men like Joshua, David… Jesus.
Boaz is a giver, a server of those even beneath his own social status. Every time Ruth comes to him empty and vulnerable, and he sends her away full and protected (Ruth 3:15). He is known as a spiritual leader. Notice even the way his workers greet him when he meets them in the fields! Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they called back. (Ruth 2:4) He always refers to Ruth with utmost tenderness and respect, and seeks to spare her any embarrassment or disgrace (Ruth 2:15-16, Ruth 3:10-13). He is aware of the needy around him (Ruth 2:5), encouraging and affirming (Ruth 2:10-11), arranges provision (Ruth 2:14-16), provides protection (Ruth 2:8-9). I love that Boaz makes a point to present Ruth’s situation to the kinsman-redeemer who is a closer relative, offering him the opportunity to redeem before marrying Ruth himself (Ruth 4:1-6).
Manly men protect, give, sacrifice, shield; they are considerate, aware of others, willing to be inconvenienced to do what is right.
God uses this one godly man to preserve and bless both Naomi and Ruth, and then we find at the conclusion of the book that he would become the great-grandfather of King David. (and therefore Jesus is in his line, as well!)
Ladies, we need to raise our sons with a better understanding of their masculinity. May God raise up a generation of Boaz-men- deep, strong, godly men committed to do what is right; Samson-men are destined to be blind-sighted and crushed beneath the weight of a culture that appeals to them, enslaves them, and ultimately will destroy them.
What do you think? What version of masculinity do you see being promoted both inside and outside of church culture?