Stop Slaying Dragons

In this new age of the silly concept that pronouns are not grammatical elements but reflections of the way we feel about ourselves, the mainstream Reformed movement has utterly failed. All generalizations are exaggerations since not all men have failed in this regard; but the trend of popular thinking in Reformed circles has failed to address the real problem. We see videos of popular teachers setting couches on fire; we hear about defying tyrants and “the resistance.” One fairly common trope is that Christian men are supposed to be dragon slayers; I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard that line. The problem is that this whole concept of “Masculine Christianity” is found nowhere in the Bible. Instead, it is the result of syncretism. Syncretism is, basically, the mixing of religions. Voodoo is a syncretistic religion: it is a mix of Haitian paganism and Roman Catholicism. The teaching of “Masculine Christianity” is a mix of Reformed theology and American rugged-individualism. I am not exaggerating when I say that I utterly abhor this concept, namely because it gives a bad name to my Lord Jesus Christ.

Nowhere in Scripture do we read about Christians defying tyrants. Firstly, there are no tyrants in the United States. And no, mask mandates are not acts of tyranny (dear theonomist, please read Leviticus and tell me how your view of the law lets you say that mask mandates are tyranny). The war cry of “you’re violating my personal rights” is just another form of the victimhood mentality. Secondly, the primitive church actually lived under tyranny. The vast majority of Christians in the early years were not Roman citizens, and thus they actually were second-class members of society. They had no protections under the law. So when the authorities came to lock them up and crucify them and burn them alive to light up the streets, there was no court of appeals. And Paul never told them to defy tyranny. The only time the Bible permits civil disobedience is in regards to preaching the gospel or otherwise obeying the commands of God (such as in meeting together on the Lord’s Day). The Lord Jesus told us to turn the other cheek, to not resist forced labor, to do unto others as we would have them do to us even if they are not doing the same.

Again, the New Testament never describes Christian men as “dragon slayers.” It describes gentleness, and meekness, and humility, and considering others as better than ourselves. It describes suffering patiently with hope and joy. But never does it describe us as fighting men; rather, we are to be peacemakers (that’s in the Sermon on the Mount). “But the Bible uses the metaphor of armor and soldiers and swords.” Indeed, but let’s take a gander at a few of those metaphors. First, Ephesians 6 and the armor of God. Armor is used for protection; we find in verse 11 that this armor is designed to protect us from the “wiles of the devil.” With this armor, we are to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (v. 13). Not go out and kill dragons, but withstand the assaults of the ancient serpent. Second, 1 Timothy 1 and the metaphor of warfare. Paul tells Timothy: “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18). What is this warfare? In the next verse it is described as holding faith and a good conscience concerning sound doctrine. Again, it is standing in the faith once delivered, not slaying dragons. Finally, “doesn’t Paul tell Timothy to fight the good fight?” Yes, and that is found in 1 Tim. 6:12. Remarkably, verse 12 follows verse 11, which reads, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things [love of worldly goods]; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.” No mention of dragons. Christian warfare is not defeating the world. Christian warfare is the personal mortification of sin. Stop trying to slay dragons and start killing your sin.

Christianity is not masculine. Do not mistake me here: the Bible is very clear on the issues of manhood and womanhood. But what American conservatism says about manhood is a far cry from what the Bible says. It always amuses me to think that many of those advocating for “masculine Christianity” get paid to sit in offices and read for a living. I am not an academic theologian; I am a working man. I work with my hands operating a homestead. I fix my cars and build fires and tend crops. But none of that makes me a man according to the Bible. Biblical masculinity is servanthood, and honoring my wife, and not provoking my children to anger, and being gentle and meek, and loving others self-sacrificially.

On a practical note, think of how this idea affects our daughters. I have two daughters (with another on the way). They love princesses and dresses and getting their nails painted. They also love “helping” Daddy fix the dryer and start fires and cook dinner for Mommy. They want to do those things because they want to spend time with me and learn and have fun. But “masculine Christianity” would tell me to treat my girls like they are second-class citizens. They don’t get to go camping or fishing or shooting. Those are “boy things.” They should be doing dishes or washing windows or sweeping floors, like good little servants. It is utterly despicable. The Scripture says that in Christ there is neither male nor female. That is, in the church, men and women are equals. Just as Jews have no preference over Gentiles, nor Greeks over barbarians, so men have no preference over women.

But this is not the heart of Christianity. The heart of Christianity is not about us. It is about God manifesting his glory in the redemption of sinners. This world does not need “masculine Christianity” because it is incapable of saving anyone. The world needs biblical Christianity. The world needs to hear Christ and him crucified, and we ought to know nothing besides that when it comes to our interactions with the world. Stop preaching masculinity and start preaching Christ.

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