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FMS 1: Masculinity and Identity

29 April 2016 — Peter Grant — FMS bible studies FMS 1: Masculinity and Identity

Introduction and background

This is the first of a series of First Man Standing bible studies. Over the next few weeks we plan to explore from the Bible themes of masculinity, relationships; including those with friends, our partner and children, and how we can change our society to challenge violence against women.

Today we start with a bible study on what it means to be a Christian man.

Purpose of the study

To discuss differing views of Christian masculinity and to look at Jesus as a man. How does our understanding of masculinity affect our actions? How can we help each other in this?

Definition of Christian masculinity

There is no widely agreed definition of what makes a Christian man and what is distinctive about Christian masculinity. This is our proposed definition:

“A Christian man is marked by integrity, courage and faith; he seeks to follow and imitate Christ and is willing to do what is right and to stand for truth at all times and in all circumstances.”

What do you think of this definition? How would you change it?

Icebreaker for groups: Tattoo parlour

If you are doing the studies as a group, you might like to try this icebreaker which gives members of the group the chance to find out more about each other.

-Divide into pairs. Find out a bit about your partner.

-Design a tattoo that says something about his character and identity. Draw it.

-Where would you put it and how big?

-Reverse roles.

-Present to the group.

Key bible passages, reflection and questions for discussion

We will explore in this study:

what the Bible says about who we are in God,

who He wants us to be;

how we are to act; and

how we ought to relate to each other as men.

1. A Christian man is primarily a son of God

Our society has a distorted image of what it means to be a man, especially a successful one. Our identity does not lie in our job, how much power we hold, good looks, physical prowess, money, education or friends. Romans 8: 15-16 says;

“The Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

Before we understand anything else about who God has made us to be, we need to understand that he loves us.He has died for us so that we can live with him for eternity, and, as Paul writes, He has adopted us as sons into his family. That is our primary identity and means that our lives matter; we are loved and special to God whatever else is happening in our lives. Being loved by God gives us security, stability and comfort. This stands against our common experience of looking to our performance as the basis for our acceptance and belonging.

2. Being a Christian man means imitating Christ

God calls us to live lives that please him. The Bible teaches us that we are to imitate Christ. What is a successful man in our society? How does that compare with Jesus? The following verses show us something of who Jesus is.

Isaiah 42: 1-4

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and smouldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”

Luke 4: 18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

3. Being a Christian man means laying down our power

Men have enormous power and privilege in many aspects of life. As Christian men Jesus calls us to live counter-culturally. As Christian men we need to lay down the power we have been given, we are called to lead servant-heartedly just as Jesus did, giving up all that the world has to offer in order to serve. We are called to use our power well in the service of others and not for our own selfish gain.

2 Kings 17: 14-15

“But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nation around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do.”

Mark 10:43-44

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all.”

Links to popular culture

Who are our Hollywood male heroes? What aspects of masculinity do they model? How does this impact on the view of ourselves?

Consider using clips from DVDs to lead a discussion about masculinity. Some possible examples include:

Amazing Grace

Rocky

Chariots of Fire

Gladiator

Braveheart

The Notebook

Discussion of Wild at heart, Promise Keepers and other men’s movements

What is being a Christian man about? Wild at heart? Provider and protector? Is it sexist to think of men as leaders and innovators?

Do lists of do and don’ts help men to change?

Are we accountable?

Watch a Carl Beech DVD about The Code

CODELIFE

Christian Vision for Men (http://cvm.org.uk/) have produce “The Code” as a way of encouraging Christian men to live holy lives for God. Have a read through and commit to living by “The Code” each day.

THE CODE

i.Jesus is my Captain, Brother, Rescuer and Friend.

ii.I owe everything to Him. I will do anything for Him.

iii.I will unashamedly make Him known through my actions and words.

iv.I will not cheat in anything, personal or professional.

v.I will look away from the gutter, but be prepared to pull people out of it.

vi.I will keep my body fit and free from any addictions.

vii.I will put the welfare of those closest to me before my own welfare.

viii.I will treat all men and women as brothers and sisters.

ix.I will lead as He would lead. I will honour my leaders provided this also honours Him. I will follow Him in company with my sisters and brothers.

x.I will use my strength to protect the weak and stand against the abuse of power.

xi.I will protect the world that God has made.

xii.If I fail I will not give up. He never gives up on me.

Address the stereotypes about being a man

Definition of a Man

Stereotypes (http://mediasmarts.ca/gender-representation/men-and-masculinity/common-stereotypes-men-media):

The Joker is a very popular character with boys, perhaps because laughter is part of their own "mask of masculinity." A potential negative consequence of this stereotype is the assumption that boys and men should not be serious or emotional. However, researchers have also argued that humorous roles can be used to expand definitions of masculinity.

The Jock is always willing to "compromise his own long-term health; he must fight other men when necessary; he must avoid being soft; and he must be aggressive." By demonstrating his power and strength, the jock wins the approval of other men and the adoration of women.

The Strong Silent Type focuses on "being in charge, acting decisively, containing emotion, and succeeding with women." This stereotype reinforces the assumption that men and boys should always be in control, and that talking about one’s feelings is a sign of weakness.

The Big Shot is defined by his professional status. He is the "epitome of success, embodying the characteristics and acquiring the possessions that society deems valuable." This stereotype suggests that a real man must be economically powerful and socially successful.

The Action Hero is "strong, but not necessarily silent. He is often angry. Above all, he is aggressive in the extreme and, increasingly over the past several decades, he engages in violent behavior."

Another common stereotype...

The Buffoon commonly appears as a bungling father figure in TV ads and sitcoms. Usually well-intentioned and light-hearted, these characters range from slightly inept to completely hopeless when it comes to parenting their children or dealing with domestic (or workplace) issues.

Some more key verses

John 1:12 - I am a child of God

John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend

Ephesians 1:5 – I am adopted as a son

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - I am bought with a price and belong to God

Ephesians 1:1 - I am a saint, a holy one.

Going deeper: Possible follow-up studies and action

Videos/TED talks

Wm Paul Young, author of The Shack, talking about his life, abuse, addictions, and being a son of God. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_YEoK72YYk

Books:

10 lies men believe – J Lee Grady