Why I Alternately Love and Hate This Movement of Christian Manliness

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” – Gal. 3:1-3

It just hit me. I know why I alternately love and hate this new movement of manliness among evangelicals and especially the YRR. At least one reason. It has taken me a while to get my head around this call to manliness. Or at least begin getting my head around it.

There is an undeniable need for grown men to stop acting like boys. And yes some of them need to toughen up a little. Sensitivity does not preclude toughness of character and spirit. Indeed the mixture of the two is strong drink we could all use.

But it’s all law. Law upon law. It is characterized by what men must do and need to do and should get busy doing. It lacks graciousness because it is a message of almost pure law.

And so I love it because deep within me is a Matt, who loves the law and longs to wield it like a weapon on others. And for some reason I even want to beat my own self up with it.

But I hate it because it is a ministry of death and destroys the spirits of those to whom it claim to be a balm. It reeks havoc on the soul. Or worse – it creates chest-thumping bullies who construct personas of toughness and manliness who look down on all who need to hear the message of manliness. I hate it because I put on this cloak of pretension and deride those who I claim to love. Even myself.

And for some reason we think the gospel of grace is the thing. Unless we are on this subject.