I have been developing a framework to understand Biblical masculinity that I am calling providential masculinity. Providential masculinity is composed of a what and a how. What it is explains a man’s relationship to how God uses individual men in His soveriengn decree to providentially order, and ultimately restore, the world, but that is a topic for another time. How a man is providentially masculine is through the quality of Christlikeness, the property of being like Christ in thought, action, and disposition.
One of the books that really caught my mind a few months ago is C.R. Wiley’s The Household and the War for the Cosmos, a staunchly postmillenial title about the purpose of householding, family, and piety. Wiley describes the household as a microcosm; a small cosmos which is designed to reflect the larger order within which it exists. Christian life is full of microcosms: Christian marriage is a microcosm of Christ and the Church, communion is a microcosm of the Cross, baptism is a microcosm of justification and resurrection, and (I believe) sanctification is a microcosm of history. Christlikeness is another such microcosm, one which posits that Christian men ought to reflect Christ in all His facets. That is actually what the word “Christian” means; it was originally an insult assailed against followers of The Way, and meant “little Christ”.
The error of usual conceptions of Christlikeness is that they limit the scope of the term to Christ’s incarnate life on earth. I submit that the Bible argues for a more holistic view of Christlikeness, which takes into account the being of Christ throughout all ages, from eternity past through the end of days. Christ was not merely the God-man who died for our sins. His work encompasses more than that, and a complete view of masculinity must take every facet of His nature into account.
Christ the Word. Christ was the one through whom all things were made. In like manner, men are to participate in the creative work of God through subduing and filling creation, as was the task of given to Adam. Men should employ their skills and talents in whatever facets God has gifted them for the betterment of the world, whether through landscaping, writing, art, mathematics, welding, truck driving, computer programming, or other honest professions.
Christ the Righeous One. As far as it is possible, men should endeavor to rid themselves of every sin known to them, and present themselves to God as holy instruments for His work. Men should be pure of heart, mind, and body, regularly confessing their sins to one another and laboring in the work of sancfitication.
Christ the Son. Christian men should endeavor to do whatever their Father in Heaven is doing, however difficult or demanding it is, knowing that it is their divinely decreed purpose to be obedient to God in all things. If Christ the Son was obedient on the merit of His begottenness as a Son, how much more should we be obedient on the merit of our adoption through Christ as sons?
Christ the Preacher. Men should be preachers and teachers of the truth to whomever God has given them responsibility over. Fathers should be diligent to teach their children the truth of God, and husbands should be diligent to do the same with their wives. Whoever manages or leads other men has a responsibility to guide them into right conduct, and further into worshipping God, as much as it is possible to do so. Husbands and fathers should be the theological foundation of their households, a firm ground upon which the members of their family may find solid footing.
Christ the Humble. Men should see their lives not as possessions to covet and cling to, but as a medium for righteousness to flow through; a vehicle to be used for the glorification of God and the well-being of others. Christ, though He was God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, and gave His life as a ransom for those He was responsible for. If the only man who ever deserved life gave it up for those who were undeserving, how much more should we sinful men willingly give our lives for our wives, our children, and those whom God has placed in our care?
Christ the King. Men should be rulers of their households, exercising the authority that God has given them as the head of house in the same manner that Christ exercises His kingship over the whole cosmos. It is a freeing kind of kingship, the kind that does not burden its citizens with tyranny, but instead takes responsibility for everything that happens within the borders of the kingdom. It should be the kind of kingship which is loving and benevolent to kingdom citizens, generous to strangers, and terrifyingly brutal towards anyone or anything which would threaten the subjects of the king. Wives should submit to their husbands on the merit of his masculine authority as the head of the house, and husbands should use their authority to build a household (that is, a kingdom) within which she may express and exercise the fullness of her feminine glory. It is the wives and daughters of strong men who are the most free and the most beautiful. If our women are to be free and beautiful, then we must be well acquanted with strength. We must learn the art of presiding as rulers of our households, able to discern the truth, cunning to strategize both in times of war and in times of peace. We must be well acquanted with the art of peacetime endeavor, in business, in finance, in gentlemanly conduct, in trustworthyness, in efficiency, in quality of work. We must also be acquainted with the art of war, physically capable in times of combat and exertion, students of weaponscraft, levelheaded, logical, honorable, courageous, and terrifyingly brutal when necessary. This is to say that we must possess the qualities that a king must have both in the court and on the battlefield, both in a ballroom chamber and alongside the calvary. This is the quality of chivalry, and we would do well to remember that we also are reigning with Christ.
There are many more aspects of Christlikeness that I would like to unpack, but I will save those for another time. All of this is to demonstrate that masculinity, real Biblical Christlike masculinity, goes far beyond what we usually consider it to be.