There seems to be a growing theme in the evangelical church directed towards Christian men, in which they are encouraged to “man up.” I am sure the intent is fine, but if there is anything I have learned over my almost 7 years of marriage, it’s that telling a man to “man up” is almost the same as saying, “You suck as a man.” Trust me, it never goes well.
The truth of the matter is that the phrase “man up” is mostly used as a form of manipulation.
It is an attempt to control (I mean “inspire”) men to do what we want them to do. The problem is that these two words together are demeaning and are usually self-seeking. Now, I am not a man, but I do have a man, and I am 100% certain that my man does not like to be told to “man up.”
What does “man up” even mean? If I were to guess, I would say it means “to take responsibility.” There is no doubt that women want the men in their lives to take responsibility. There is truly no greater turnoff to most women than a man who does not help out in whatever way she needs and/or wants him to help out.
“Man up” means something different to every woman who says it.
It may mean…Get your behind a job. Pay your dang child support. “Take me” in the bedroom more aggressively (yes, I did go there). Unload the freaking dishwasher. Help take care of these kids we made together. Dust your stinkin’ Bible off. Fix the stupid car. Stop drinking so many beers. Fix the dumb roof. Romance me for goodness’ sakes. Make an executive decision every once in while. And the list goes on.
I think sometime in the last ten years or so, the Church decided that men generally were not stepping it up enough in the home and church. The Church was probably right, but as usual, the Church went about fixing the problem all wrong.
“Man up” sort of campaigns began and Christian women everywhere were ALL. ABOUT. IT. “Ya, buddy…I want my man to be wild at heart (wink wink) and take some leadership once in awhile,” churchy women reasoned (while giving each other high fives I imagine). The Church essentially took a common form of manipulation and put the Christian stamp of approval on it.
As a result, soft patriarchy was encouraged (complementarianism); many Christian men have become arrogant leaders (which is often a sign of insecurity), and women are being pushed back into subservient church and home roles (causing them insecurity). Not only this, but the Church is literally giving women permission to tell their husbands to “man up” which is getting us into trouble with our men.
The Church is breeding all sorts of insecurity in men and women alike and we wonder why we are not functioning properly as a whole.
“Man up” Bible studies, conferences, and books are damaging men, women, and marriages. Men are striving to do better, which is great, but the foundation of this striving is manipulation and fear of not being man enough. In turn, men are leading out of insecurity, instead of out of sacrificial love. This leads to all sorts of dysfunction in the home and church and is not God’s ideal for His sons and daughters.
Rarely is a woman in the church told to “woman up.” Why? Because most of the Church is convinced that men are more responsible for the home and church than women are. But God never said this! I know what some of you are thinking, “But the husband is the head of the home and therefore men are the head of the church.” Yet, there still remains no strong exegetical proof that “head” means “authority over” or “leader.” (Read Scholarly Evidence Here).
In Scripture, husbands are encouraged to reflect Christ within the marriage unit, and for this reason I would propose the Church start a new campaign entitled, “Man Down.” Perhaps the slogan should read, “He [Christ] must increase, but I must decrease (John 3:30).” Christ laid down His very life for His bride (the Church) and never demanded that men beat their chests, hog the pulpit, and teach women to submit to their illusion of power.
It is time to change our Sunday School Curriculum and teach boys and girls alike to find their full identity in Christ, throw gender roles in the trash, and seek to become an adult who is quick to take responsibility (leadership) through sacrificial love.
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