We’ve probably all seen those saddening reports that link absentee fathers to a great many social issues faced in our age. Yet, this issue is simply the root of a far less overt but equally destructive problem in society, that of men not “manning up” to their God given responsibilities and roles. Let’s look back to the Garden of Eden and examine Adam’s prime temptation and failure to better understand this deeper spiritual issue.
We often think it was Eve’s fault for the fall (at least that is one of the traditional views) after all she was the one talking with Satan and she is the one who took the fruit (not the apple!) and ate. But if you look more closely you see this:
“…she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with here, and he ate.” (Gen 3:6b)
Adam’s failure was that he failed to protect his wife Eve from the serpent’s lie by correcting the serpent by quoting what God had actually said (the truth found in Gen 2:16–17. Compare Adam’s failure to address the serpent with how Jesus responded to Satan in His temptation in Mt 4). Instead of “manning up” to his responsibility we actually see that “he ate” as well, becoming complicit in the crime that saw humanity separated from God. Even though Eve’s guilt was primary, part of the reason Paul gives Timothy as to why women should not be teachers over men in the Church (1 Tim 2:14), that Adam was the head over his wife (as Christ is the church, 1 Cor 11:3), that he had greater responsibility as the head of the family and representative of mankind, is the reason why the ultimate reason the Bible gives for this separation is not Eve’s sin but Adam’s, “…sin came into the world through one man…” (Ro 5:12). Adam was doubly guilty.
A man’s prime temptation is to shy away from responsibility; yet he finds his greatest fulfilment in stepping up into that responsibility, whether married or not. (A woman’s prime temptation and fulfilment is something entirely different which time does not allow to be unpacked here). Men are first called to godliness (a calling they share with women, 1 Tim 4:7b, “train yourself in godliness.”). This is something society often considers as weak for men to pursue but is at the very centre of what it means to be a real man like Jesus, to be in fellowship with God. A central part of being a godly man is to take responsibility in life, to not be lazy or to sit back, but to step forward, to do, to lead, not out of compulsion but willingly. When men are willing to be responsible they will step up into their God given roles, both those that Scripture ordains and those that godly wisdom suggests are normative (though not necessarily exclusive) to men.
Men are often portrayed as liking a challenge (I would suggest that this stems from how we were wired by God). Here is a spiritual challenge for men in our generation:
“And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land [said the LORD], that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (Ezk 22:30)
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more men chose humility rather than rebellious pride, Christ over Satan, responsibility over inaction or laziness (and men and women of faith prayed to this effect, and (especially godly women) encouraged and facilitated the men they know to the end). This would prove to be one of the greatest transformative forces to redeem the effects of the fall in our broken country and world, if more men would man up and stand in the gap.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,