What Are Men for? (Part 1)
Nov 20 2020
The good news is that Jesus came to save men. This of course implies that men need saving. This also implies that God loves men. God loves masculinity. There is something uniquely glorious about a man that God delights in.
The first thing we have to understand in order to understand what men are for is that the world God made is thoroughly covenantal. This is because God is Trinity. The Father, Son, and Spirit are eternally united by a love and loyalty that is shared and reflected in human relationships called covenants. Examples of formal human covenants include marriage/family and civil order. Informal covenant realities include truth telling, loyalty, trust, friendship.
We see this idea of covenant from the beginning in the creation of Man. Man is created male and female in the image of God, but God is fully comfortable calling Adam and Eve “Adam/man” (Gen. 1:26-27), and He teaches us by example that we should do the same. This is the significance of a woman taking her husband’s name. This is also based on the fact that in marriage a man and a woman become one flesh (Gen. 2:23).
But this one flesh has a God-given and glorious asymmetry. It’s not like the two sexes meet in the middle and blend together into an amorphous horror show. No, the woman was taken out of man, and she is joined to her husband to become his flesh and bones (Gen. 2:23, cf. Eph. 5:28-31). This clearly indicates that in marriage the man has a unique responsibility to care for his wife. Adam’s duty to serve and guard the garden included his wife. Understanding the world covenantally means men grasping the fact that they are always responsible for serving and guarding more than just themselves.
Men Are For Responsibility
Taking this all together, we should understand that men are uniquely called by God to take responsibility for serving and guarding whatever God gives into their care. This is not something that magically happens only after a man gets married. Adam was already responsible for serving and guarding the garden, all the animals, and by extension, the entire world, before his wife even existed (Gen. 2:15-17).
Every wedding proclaims in a particular instance what the general duties of men are everywhere and all the time: serve and guard your garden. This is part of the way the marriage bed is to be honored by all (Heb. 13:4), whether or not you have one. This includes self-control, financial stewardship, abilities/talents, land, inheritance, jobs, elderly parents, children, siblings, employees, etc. In other words, the answer to Cain’s question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is a resounding “Yes” (Gen. 4:9).
So if we go back to the beginning, the great sin that shatters the good world God made is fundamentally an act of covenant breaking. Adam did not keep covenant with God on behalf of his family. He did not serve and guard the garden, which he was responsible for (Gen. 2:15). He did not protect his wife, whom he was responsible to protect as his own flesh (Gen. 2:23).
This was Adam’s supreme failure: He did not take responsibility. Was he watching his wife with the serpent from a distance? Was he just absent at the moment? What went through his mind when his wife handed him the fruit? Did Adam despair? Did he see that his wife had already sinned and figure it was too late? Did Adam give up? Was he afraid to lose his wife and ate so that whatever fate was coming upon her would come upon him too?
Regardless of the reason, Adam failed to obey the voice of God who had given him particular duties. Death was the particular enemy that Adam had been explicitly instructed to guard against through obedience (Gen. 2:17).
The Bible teaches that not only was Adam responsible for the garden, the animals, the world, and his wife, but as the first man, he was the head of the human race. He was uniquely responsible for the human race (Rom. 5:12-17, 1 Cor. 15:22). When Adam broke covenant, all people became covenant breakers with him. This is what it means to be born in sin (Ps. 51:5), to be under the dominion of death (Rom. 5:14), to be dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1).
This sin nature is full of guilt and shame and fear for failures and their consequences, and it seeks to hide from God and make excuses (Gen. 3:8-12). Covenant breaking makes men cowards, and for good reason: Satan is the accuser of the brethren whose accusations stick to guilty sinners (Heb. 2:14-15, 1 Jn. 3:4-8). All of this is why Jesus had to be a man. We needed a new Adam, a man who could fulfill the duty of the first Adam while putting right everything that had gone wrong since then.
The Masculinity of the Gospel
We certainly do not mean to imply that the gospel is not for women. Salvation in Christ is most certainly for all people. But this is precisely because Jesus comes as the Bridegroom, the faithful husband for His Church, because Jesus comes as a man and takes responsibility. What does Jesus take responsibility for? For the sins of the whole world (Jn. 1:29).
Instead of despairing or giving up, Jesus took responsibility for the world full of sin and death. Instead of fearing the loss of everything and even death itself, Jesus chose to face down the great dragon, to get between the dragon and His bride. This is how the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is reckoned to all those who believe in Him. And this is the difference between guilt and responsibility. He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21). He bore in His own body the curse of sin on the cursed tree (Gal. 3:10-13). As the spotless Lamb of God, Christ is our Passover: His blood covers our houses and the angel of death passes over us (1 Cor. 5:7, Rev. 5:9). Christ, the perfect, faithful man took responsibility for the state of the world by giving His life for the sins of the world.
Men, your temptations and sins are the same as your biological father Adam. You are afraid of consequences; you give up when it looks hard; you resent hard work; you make excuses; you blame others. Men hide behind idols, sewing fig leaves together into careers, cars, riches, women, success, intelligence, awards, even scars hoping God won’t notice that you’re naked and ashamed.
But He sees through all of it and the people around you feel it, and He sent Jesus to take responsibility for you and all your failures so that by His Spirit you might become new men: men who take responsibility for the gifts of God and their own failures, men who keep their word and are loyal to death, men who face consequences with courage and grace. Men are the kind of people who were made by God to take responsibility, which is to say that you were made to serve and guard. This is what men are for. And we live in a day and age that could desperately use some real ones.