At one time, I had no vision for what it meant to be a man. But another concept that became foundational for my God Buddy concept was that men need a proper balance of their masculine and feminine traits. This leads to the proper use of their masculinity.
Like many men, I once had an understanding of manhood that leaned toward more traditional masculinity, in which a boy became a man once he graduated from high school, lost his virginity, or made enough money to live on his own.
However, I now believe that men need to return to a position of equality with our female companions and learn how to properly use our masculinity. This means discarding the harmful ideologies of the improper use of masculinity that results in unchecked anger, violence, and sexism. It also means we must encourage and embrace the positive aspects of masculinity such as courage, responsibility, and leadership. It comes by keeping our masculine and feminine traits in balance.
All Masculinity is not “Toxic”
Today, anything considered masculine is often referred to in the media as “toxic”, which also implies that all things “manly” are inherently bad.
Sadly, there are still many guys who act “toxic” today because they have not learned how to apply the proper face (that I wrote about in The Four Faces of Godly Man).
By definition though, masculinity can’t be all bad.
Wikipedia defines masculinity and femininity as follows:
- Masculinity (also called manhood or manliness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles associated with boys and men. Although masculinity is socially constructed, most sociologists believe that biology plays some role. It is distinct from the definition of the male biological sex as both males and females can exhibit masculine traits. Standards of manliness or masculinity vary across different cultures and historical periods. Traits traditionally viewed as masculine in Western society include strength, courage, independence, leadership, and assertiveness.
- Femininity (also called girlishness or womanliness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with girls and women. Although femininity is socially constructed, some research indicates that some behaviors considered feminine are biologically influenced. It is distinct from the definition of the biological female sex, as both males and females can exhibit feminine traits. Traits traditionally cited as feminine include gentleness, empathy, humility, and sensitivity, though traits associated with femininity vary across societies and individuals and are influenced by a variety of social and cultural factors.
The biblical case for mankind is God’s original design was that both male and female are made in the image of God ( for mankind (Genesis 1:26-27). He made man and women uniquely for His purposes here on earth and both men and women are equally valued by God.
However, men (and all humankind for that matter) dishonor God due to the original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3). The supposition is that Adam sinned first by standing by passively while Eve yielded to the serpent’s deceptive ways and ate of the forbidden fruit. Adam also hid in the bushes when God appeared and then blamed Eve for their behavior by saying “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11). This was the beginning of our passivity.
Historically, male and female roles were separated and defined for the patriarchal culture of ancient times. Today though, our roles are now more blended and shared.
The Problem Isn’t “Traditional Masculinity”
Many sociologists and so-called experts also conclude that men today have fallen behind our female counterparts by being either too passive or showing too much masculinity. Of course, neither is proper manhood.
Mark Greene, author of The Little #MeToo Book for Men writes in this article that the problem isn’t traditional masculinity but that it must constitute a very wide range of masculine performances. His critique is based on a recent update of the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men that ignited a firestorm of debate across social media when they placed the blame for all of the men’s issues on the “traditional masculinity ideology”. The main thrust was that “traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful.”
Greene disagrees and writes that improper masculinity “rears its ugly head when traditional manhood is forced on the millions of men for whom it is not a good fit, seeking to stamp out the vast universe of wider-ranging masculinities.”
So the problem is not masculinity itself but the misuse of masculinity.
Unhealthy masculinity manifests itself as rage, violence, and machismo, often caused by negative modeling, physical or mental abuse, and the proverbial “boys don’t cry” messages from both parents and culture.
Unfortunately, today we still see misogynistic and patriarchal behaviors by some really bad men (or shall I call them “boys” in men’s bodies?!)
The Balanced Masculine-Feminine of Jesus
It was during a fall men’s group retreat that our Sr. Pastor suggested that Jesus was our ultimate role model since He had the proper balance of both masculine and feminine qualities. Pastor David then listed all the male and female qualities of Jesus and showed how Jesus utilized them
Scripture tells us Jesus was both gentle as a lamb and as fierce as a lion. He expressed anger as an outrage, directing it toward injustice and hypocrisy. Rather than becoming enraged like many men whose rage often turns explosive, Jesus never succumbed to physical or emotional violence against another person.
Instead, Jesus properly used His masculinity. He turned over tables of injustice, stripped off masks of religiosity and hypocrisy, and used frank and often sharp-tongued words to tell the truth that convicted false teaching.
Animus and Anima
Psychologist Carl Jung’s pioneering work in understanding human nature developed his theory that individuals embody both male and female archetypes within their psyche known as the animus and anima. The basis is that we become whole by applying both the positive aspects of the animus (male) and anima (female) to achieve the much-needed integration of both.
Jesus certainly embodied the positive feminine (anima) qualities of gentleness, nurturing, sensitivity, empathy, tenderness, and compassion. He also modeled the more-feminine traits of vulnerability that lead to meaningful friendships and being part of an authentic community.
Here is a chart of some common negative aspects of the anima and animus compared with the positive qualities that Jesus embodied:
Essentially, when men do not balance their divine masculine and feminine traits, the parts of our psyches that cause greed, rage, violence, hate, depression, boredom, passivity, ineffectiveness, procrastination, and lack of purpose get out of control. An “ugly man” is displayed when men are out of balance.
God Buddies Stay in Balance
I believe those “wider-ranging masculinities” Mark Greene suggested are best demonstrated by Jesus Christ. When men model the qualities of the One and Only exemplary man, we will stay in balance with our masculine and feminine sides. This proper balance will help offset the acts of “toxic masculinity” that are way too prevalent. It will also help to restore peace and harmony in our marriages, families, communities, and the world.
A God Buddy will help teach you (or you both can learn together) about how to become more like Jesus. GBs should also know that he can call you out whenever you get out of balance and display any improper traits of masculinity.
So here is the bottom line: God Buddies can have Jesus-like masculinity by balancing both their masculine and feminine. And that type of masculinity is very good!
What do you consider the positive and negative qualities of masculinity?
Which traits do you bring when you model Christ’s masculine and feminine?