Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stereotyping Jesus

I read an article in Christianity Today entitled "A Jesus for Real Men." It deals with the new men's movement that began with John Eldredge's book Wild at Heart (2001) that lamented that the masculine spirit was at risk because "most men believe God put them on the earth to be good boys." He suggests that the church's tendency to promote discipleship as merely becoming "nice guys" keeps men from embodying their God-given maleness.

In his book Why Men Hate Going to Church, David Morrow says that while the local congregation is "perfectly designed to reach women and older folks" -- with its emphasis on comfort, nurture and relationships -- it "offers little to stir the masculine heart, so men find it dull and irrelevant."

According to james Driscoll, "real men" avoid the church because it projects a "Richard Simmons, hippie Christ" that "is no one to live for" and "no one to die for." Driscoll adds, "Jesus was not a long-haired . . . effeminate dude." Driscoll says Jesus was more like the "Ultimate FIghting Jesus."

The article then goes on to try to balance our view of Jesus. I have long had a problem with the way Middle Ages art portrayed Jesus. He looks pretty wimpy -- as well as very European (that's another discussion). But I have a hard time picturing Him as Hulk Hogan, either. I think there is value in studying Jewish history of that time, and tying that in with the Biblical text. Certainly the impression we would come away with of Jesus would not fit neatly into either of the above-mentioned stereotypical molds. Yes, He was a man's man. But He was also very tender and compassionate.

I found the article to be interesting.


Anonymous said...

You're right. It is interesting.

But as I read it I was thinking to myself, "do we really care what Jesus looks like or how he's built?" If so, my faith is at best shallow.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the previous post. I have never really given much thought at all to how Jesus really looked. I would say that it isn't the church's responsibility to define our "maleness" anyway, it's our own fathers. Besides everyone knows Jesus was a long haired white guy with a great tan and a halo behind his head all the time.

Rick Ross said...

I agree that it doesn't matter what Jesus looks like. I probably digressed there in my post. But it does make a difference to me that Jesus was not wimpy -- as He has traditionally been portrayed in art, etc. Not significantly from a theological standpoint; but more so from an accuracy standpoint.

Kevin said...

I never gave "physique" much thought, but have long been annoyed @ the traditional depictions of Christ w/ long hair after my granddad pointed out
1Cor. 11 to me.

Jeff said...

I haven't read the Wild at Heart book and know that, at times, semantics get in the way of real discussion. However, hearing someone argue that Jesus was or wasn't a "man's man" doesn't hold water for me. The human form of Jesus came and lived as a carpenter (not the typical job for manicured nails and such), walked a lot (not too easy for the faint of heart) and carried a cross on his back after being beaten (can't say I've given that a try) and yet, none of that even matters. He came and suffered and died on a cross for all men of whatever stature.

Instead of wanting a Jesus that's a "man's man" I hope we all (meaning the broader context of men everywhere) want to be men who are "Jesus-like men", not focused on the external but focused on the Father and His will for each of us.

Kyle R. said...

To me, it matters very little what Jesus looked like. Although I picture him as quite physically fit and tough in his demeanor, yet completely compassionate.

He was probably quite ordinary looking for his time on this earth. Isaiah says there was nothing in his appearance to make us desire him. Does this mean he had big ears or a black mole on his nose? Probably not. But what matters is that he was perfect on the inside--the perfect Lamb of God--the Creator of the universe--in flesh.

I would echo what Jeff said.

Beverly Ross said...

I have heard the book is fabulous by one of my dear friends. I want to read it! Thanks for reminding me--