Don’t Settle for Duct Tape Masculinity [ARTICLE – Rick Williams]

The following article appeared in the 2017 Baptist Times Nov.-Dec. issue: “The Manly Church

What man in ministry could possibly consider his supply list complete without plenty of duct tape?  Duct tape is, after all, the manly minister’s trusted sidekick for church maintenance projects.  Rickety bookshelf?  Duct tape.  Baptismal leak?  Duct tape.  Pesky neighborhood cats?  You guessed it.  In fact, it would be tough to measure the ongoing work of God that has been made possible by well-timed, well-placed duct tape. 

Unfortunately, even the burliest custodian must acknowledge the major problem with duct tape repair jobs: they can only ever “cover up” or “hold together” a problem—never actually “fix” it or “solve” it.  A temporary solution, as temporarily satisfying as it may be, is usually bound to fail when more pressure is applied.

What is true of repairing broken church pews is also true of repairing the men and boys who sit in them.

As we look around despondently at the emasculating of American males, we might reflexively reach for a cultural solution.  For example, when we notice a group of hipster, texting teenage guys, we might be inclined to suggest, “What these boys need is more camouflage!”  Some might chant, “More football!”  Still others would grunt, “More dirt!”  While red-blooded, American pastimes must not be abandoned as relics of the 1900’s (I firmly believe in fishing trips and power tools and courtside tickets.), the same acknowledgment that accompanies our duct tape repair jobs should attend our cultural efforts to make men out of males.

Biblical masculinity will produce a masculine culture, but applying masculine culture will not make a biblical man.  Otherwise, there would be no athletes who beat their wives or hunters who neglect their sons or mechanics who skip church.  If we really want authentically manly churches—ones where men sacrifice and serve and love and lead—we must move beyond duct tape masculinity to manly restoration.

How so?  Every man was made in the image of God, and it is the corrupting of God’s likeness in us that makes us less than manly.  If we forget this, we may attempt in our best efforts to repair the men around us through acts of “covering it up” and “holding it together.” However, it will just be a matter of time until life’s pressures reveal fatal flaws.  Extra work leads to angry outbursts.  Debt leads to drinking.  Advertisements lead to lust.  While these failures are ugly enough, a cycle of bad repair jobs compounds the problem.  When men with real needs are repeatedly counseled simply to “man up,” they can begin to believe their pastor and their church have no repair manual for what is broken inside.

Rather than contributing to a steady decline of biblical masculinity through well-intentioned but misplaced reliance on culture, preventing the disillusionment of duct tape masculinity requires us to point men to the biblical solution for our universal problem.  Second Corinthians 3:18 states, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”  Incredibly and supernaturally, time spent in God’s presence restores the God-given manliness that was handcrafted into each man but destroyed by sin.  Far beyond a cover-up, this exposure to Jesus Christ makes us manly from the inside out.  In other words, it is only the Christ-transformed male that learns how to endure life’s pressures as a respectable man, a loving husband, a discipling father, and a pillar member.  No other relationship or culture—no matter how manly—can accomplish this restoration, and churches striving for authentic manliness must never forget this reality.  In the midst of every cookout and work day and scrimmage (and counseling session), we must find ways to focus upon the restorative work that only Christ can do.

For me, this philosophy of imparting biblical masculinity must begin at home.  As I raise my four sons (one due in December), I am passionate about instilling wholesome cultural masculinity into their thinking.  More camping!  More wrestling!  More lawn mowers!  More basketball!  At the same time, I know I will only replicate my flaws in them if that is as deep as the education penetrates.  Instead, I must first be fathered by God myself—which will restore Christ’s likeness in me.  Then, I must help them to see that only God is the perfect Father, and only He can prepare them for the adventures and pressures ahead.  Then I will know I have acquainted them with the One who makes men out of males.

However, if they get too rowdy, I may actually pull out the duct tape.  After all, I fully intend to keep using duct tape; I just don’t want to settle for duct tape masculinity.

Rick Williams was saved at age 4 and called into ministry at age 14. Bro. Rick and his wife, Anna, both graduated from Heartland Baptist Bible College in 2005, and Bro. Rick has since earned master’s degrees from Heartland Baptist Graduate School and Mid-America Christian University. The Williams have six children–three sons (Clayton, Garrett, and Russell) and three daughters (Norah, Michaela, and Julia). Bro. Rick serves as Bible Department faculty at Heartland Baptist Bible College.

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