10.08.13

Defining Manhood and the Work of the African-American Church

The greatest challenge facing men today is defining manhood itself. I don’t think that’s hyperbole. I think it’s true — mainly because confusion on the concept gives rise to the many other challenges men face. Once we’re clear on what a man is we may be certain about what a man does.

That’s why I really appreciated Tony’s definition of manhood in relation to honor in this week’s podcast. He defined a man as someone who honors God, honors parents, honors women, and honors his word. Putting honor on the table reminds us that being a man is supposed to be noble, dignified, and worthwhile. There’s a gravitas, a weightiness and seriousness reflected with this focus on honor. And one can readily see that failing to assign appropriate weight and seriousness to God, parents, women, and promise leads to sin and chaos.

When I think of honor, I think of a man’s attitude or virtue. We want to be honorable in the sight of all. But Tony’s framework also implies the importance of relationships. A biblical man is someone who stands in relationship to at least three things: worship, work and women.

A man is someone who stands in submissive relationship to God in worship.

“The apex of manhood is worship.”

Any man apart from God is not, in the higher sense, a “man.”  He’s a beast, really.  He lives beneath his calling and purpose because he’s not properly oriented to his Creator.  A man, to put it simply, is a worshipper. This is true of women, too, but the point needs to be stressed for men who view worship as weak and feminine. The entire creation account of intimates worship. First, we see that man is created “in the image and likeness of God.”  This characteristic allows man to commune with his Creator. Second, we see hints of worship in the different names used for God in and 2. In , the writer primarily uses the name Elohim. But in , he switches to God’s covenant name, “Lord God” or YHWH Elohim. It’s a name implying a relationship, a bond, or an intimacy. The use of God’s covenant name foreshadows God’s intention that man be oriented to Him in worship. Third, we see the call for men to worship in the creation account of Sabbath rest. God ceases from His labor after the sixth day and rests on the seventh. The day of Sabbath rest is the first thing God makes holy. One theologian describes the Sabbath as a “temporal shrine” designed for man’s communion with His Lord.

The apex of manhood is worship.

A man is someone who stands in ruling relationship to creation in work.

After creating Adam, God places him in the Garden of Eden (). There, God gives man work to do. He is to “work and take care of” the garden. For the remainder of Scripture, the phrase “work and take care of” is only used of the temple priests. Perhaps that continuing usage illustrates how sacred a relationship man has to creation in the call to work. In effect, Adam is to be the priest of the garden. Adam’s work is part of his worship.

Adam is to extend God’s dominion and glory from this central place of paradise to the ends of the earth. Men are to spread God’s glory primarily by their work in creation. Adam’s rulership over all things—while real—is merely a reflection, an image, a shining forth of God’s ultimate dominion. The garden is a place for God-worship, not self-worship.

A biblical man does not worship his work. He does not seek worship from those he works with. A biblical man works as a form of worship.

A man is someone who stands in intimate relationship to a woman as his wife.

The Lord God completed all of creation in its vast array, surveyed it all, and concluded, “It’s all good.” OK — that’s a great start. Then in , the Lord takes a look at Adam and says, “It is not good that man shall be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Ouch. It’s not that Adam had some creative defect, as though God goofed on the basic design. But, in light of the work mandate Adam received and God’s design to reveal something of his love in human marriage (), Adam was incompetent. Alone, Adam could not do all the work God desired in creation. Adam needed a helper. So, God — in his wisdom and grace — created woman.

Man’s participation in God’s social design primarily and fundamentally takes the form of marriage as an enduring relationship to women (). So, God creates woman out of Adam’s side as a suitable helper for him. As a helper she is to “honor his vocation, to share his enjoyment, and to respect the prohibition.” As a “suitable” helper, she is equal and adequate.  Her contribution is essential.

It is not good for man to be alone. So he must stand with his wife in the structured relationship of marriage—he leads, she helps. God orients Adam to the work of the garden; He orients Eve to her husband. Marriage and leadership are inextricably connected to being a man.

Adam himself celebrates God’s gift of a wife with a poem in . Marriage is to be celebrated and embraced by men. And like other things in the Garden, marriage is to be worked and cared for, nurtured and protected. It’s obviously an institution for a man and a woman based on complementarity. The woman is made uniquely and suitably to complement a man for the glory of God. This is why a male’s avoidance of marriage (except in cases of a gift of singleness) generally signals immaturity and a questionable understanding of what it means to be a man. It’s also why a male’s abuse of a woman equals glory-stealing wickedness and rebellion against God. Both avoidance and abuse distort the biblical picture of man’s relationship to woman. The biblical truth lies in an exquisite middle where a true man commits himself for life to one woman and enjoys communion (not conquest!) with her alone, forsaking all others.

A “real man” grows up, settles down, and stays in marriage with his wife for life.

The Work of the African-American Church

If we define a man as someone who stands rightly related to God in worship, to creation in work, and to society with a wife, then we see how serious a theological, economic, and sociological crisis Black manhood is undergoing.

Theologically we must get Black men to see that they are meant to be worshipers who reflect the image of God. By and large, Black churches remain dominated by Black women. We must acknowledge and even celebrate the heroic role sisters have played in making the church vibrant, even keeping it from closing its doors, humanly speaking. Yet, too many men think of worship as an essentially feminine activity. So men avoid worship of God and instead worship the creature. The failure to get significant numbers of Black men to worship God diminishes Black manhood itself. We need a genuine spiritual revival among men. We need an aggressive evangelistic outreach to boys and men across the age spectrum.

“We need a genuine spiritual revival among men.”

The significant rates of African-American unemployment and under-employment contribute to a shrinking sense of manhood in the community. We’ve downplayed the importance of defining manhood by an ability to earn a living and to care for one’s family. But are we inadvertently lowering the bar on manhood by lowering our emphasis on providing? Some argue that a woman earning more than a man should not be all that important to men. It is worthwhile to push back on the kind of male pride that can’t joyfully accept a wife earning more than the husband. We can make earnings an idol and a stumbling block for relationships. Yet for most men, Black men included, the ability to provide is the the indispensable mark of masculinity. Churches might do well to rethink our messages in light of biblical evidence and men’s continuing finance-related identity struggles.

Moreover, the work of the Black church in impoverished communities must include addressing chronic unemployment and under-employment. We won’t fix the macro-economic environment, but we can chip away at individual employment. We’ll especially need a focus on helping men with criminal records find gainful employment. We need to leverage the social networks of the church to get Black men jobs. Otherwise most won’t feel like—and in a real sense won’t be—the men of God they’re called to be.

Finally, the church must embrace the challenge of fostering and supporting healthy or “good enough” marriages. While it’s a well-known fact that everyone does better when adults marry and raise their children together, research studies consistently reveal that male-female mistrust exists at alarmingly high rates in the African-American community. This relational turbulence makes marriage formation extremely difficult. If we want to see men, women and children flourish in the community and the church, we will need to invest significant energy in helping men learn to love, protect, communicate with, and lead women as Christ leads and sacrifices for the Church. We’ll need to identify pathways to marriage preparedness, celebrate covenant love, fight for marriages in difficulty, support women fleeing abuse, and call rebellious and abusive men to account. We’ll need to restore community norms and values that esteem marriage highly, encourage men to “do the right thing” as an act of repentance and responsibility, and puts intimacy behind commitment. The church continues to be the best group of people to address the values involved in Black manhood.

The church has her work cut out for her. But if she can regain a biblical definition and vision for men, the blessing to women, children, church and community will be invaluable.

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)

1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (ESV)

2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (ESV)

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (ESV)

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (ESV)

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (ESV)

23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.” (ESV)

Thabiti Anyabwile
Thabiti Anyabwile serves as a pastor of Anacostia River Church (Washington DC). He is the happy husband of Kristie and the adoring father of two daughters and one son. Holler at him on Twitter: @ThabitiAnyabwil

C’mon Up!

  • Jeff McKeever

    So many helpful insights here. I love the first point regarding men being in right relation to God as a worshipper in order to truly be a man. As you know, it’s not just the African-American Church that suffers from too few men being actively involved worshippers. I think it is helpful to engage at such a foundational level with such men: “You aren’t fulfilling the role for which God made you. You’re living beneath your calling and purpose.” If said in the right way and in the right context of relationship, this kind of approach might just get men thinking about whether they are a “real man” and start asking questions of their own about being in right orientation with God. Thanks again for your shepherding of the church, T.

    -McKeev

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  • daveski

    Thabiti,

    This was a very insightful article. I sincerely appreciate the foundational theological approach you gave from Scripture and the implications of such. Right theology is so important for application. I think one of the other problems we have in the African-American church, generally speaking, is a steady diet of unhelpful theology. We need our imperatives grounded in solid theological indicatives, which your article is a good example of.

    Looking forward to more from the front porch!

    David

    • Thabiti Anyabwile

      Hey David,

      Thanks for the encouragement, bro, and for joining us on the porch. We’re glad to have you and join with you in the prayer that all God’s churches might be rooted deeply in the truth and live from God’s salvation rather than for it.

      Much grace in Christ Jesus,
      T-

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