". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Lead, Provide, Protect: An Urgent Call for Godly Men

May 14, 2024

Lead, provide, protect. That’s what God created men to do. Our society has other ideas, to its own disadvantage and disgrace. But the best counter to the culture is for men to step up to the plate and embrace their God-given identity and role.

Today, “boys are penalized … for being boys,” Owen Strachan, senior fellow for FRC’s Center for Biblical Worldview, declared on “Washington Watch” last week. “Boys hear, ‘Don’t be strong’ and ‘Don’t want to be … a traditional man. … You’re not really good the way you are as a boy. You should be more like a girl.’ … Nothing could be worse for boys than that.”

This propaganda — blasted out by every mainstream institution from schools to Hollywood — applies half a century of radical feminist ideology. Radical feminists of the late 20th century argued for abolishing all differences between men and women. They demanded absolute equality in the academy and the workplace. They demanded utter sexual libertinism, endorsing promiscuity, childlessness, and the dissolution of the marriage bond, in imitation of their mistaken caricature of masculinity. They demanded freedom from their own reproductive biology (through birth control and abortion), again in an attempt to reproduce a false version of masculinity.

Ironically, as radical feminists tried to become like men in every way, they also insisted that men become more like women. “There are all sorts of traits that are associated with good things in Scripture that in today’s culture — among woke, leftist, pagan thought — are very bad things,” said Strachan. “So, if you take risks today, if you’re assertive, if you speak up in groups, if you might dare to ever correct a woman in public … if you like competitive sports, if you like watching World War II movies, you better get out your blanket and hide in the closet because they’re coming for you.” This attitude nurtures men “against their nature,” he added, “against their wiring, because now they’re being told, ‘Don’t be what you naturally want to be.”

The culturally triumphant feminist agenda of aiming men in an unnatural direction has backfired spectacularly. Some men respond to women usurping a masculine role with resignation, turning to alcohol, opioids, video games, or some means of numbing their purposelessness; in extreme cases, this even results in deaths of despair. Others respond by never growing up, pursuing pleasure and frivolity instead of shouldering the responsibility of providing for a family. Still others respond by embracing the toxic, feminist caricature of men as aggressive, predatory, domineering, and unfaithful.

Still others have become so steeped in feminist ideology (and the closely related gender ideology) that they abandon their masculinity altogether. “What a shock,” quipped Strachan, that boys are told to be more like girls, and “you couple that with radical gender ideology, that a bunch of them today are … actually trying to become women …. Nothing could be worse for boys than that.”

Lead, provide, protect. These masculine responsibilities are no creature of the 1950s. They date back to creation.

When the Lord God created the first man, Adam, he “put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Working the garden so that it would produce food is a form of providing. Keeping the garden from harm and intrusion is a form of protecting. The same two Hebrew words appear together in Numbers 3:7 where they describe the Levites’ duties to “keep guard over” and “minister at the tabernacle.”

The pre-Fall creation narrative also establishes Adam’s role as a leader. Adam exercised leadership when he communicated the Lord God’s command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:16-17) to his wife (which, based on Genesis 3:2, he did). Adam also exercised leadership in naming his wife (Genesis 2:23), as he had named all the animals (Genesis 2:19-20) over which God had given him dominion (Genesis 1:26, 28), and as God had named Day, Night, Heaven, Earth, and Seas (Genesis 1:5, 8, 10).

“Masculinity is not toxic,” Strachan insisted. “Masculinity is made by God and is designed for his glory. Every man, of course, needs the gospel of divine grace to live and flourish as a man as God intends, but, nonetheless, like womanhood, masculinity or manhood is God-designed.”

Lead, provide, protect. This is a tall order. Our first father, Adam, failed in the garden. The already difficult task was made harder when God cursed the ground.

Adam failed to protect both his wife and the garden when he didn’t eject the serpent for his lies about God (Genesis 3:1-5). Adam then failed as a leader by following his wife into sin (Genesis 3:6), who in turn was following the serpent’s lead. This represented a complete inversion of the created order in rebellion against God, the rightful ruler.

As a judgment against the man and woman’s rebellion, God made their task harder. The man’s role as leader was complicated by relational conflict between men and women (Genesis 3:16). His role as provider was made more difficult by the curse on the ground, which made his toil painful and caused the ground to bring forth thorns and thistles (Genesis 3:17-19). His role as protector was redefined when the Lord expelled them from the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23).

Yet in this judgment there was a note of mercy. Although Adam and Eve did eventually die for their sin, God did not strike them dead instantly. Instead, he gave them offspring, and he promised that their offspring would be at enmity with the serpent’s offspring and triumph over it (Genesis 3:15), a promise ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Jesus was a perfect leader (John 10:16), provider (John 6:11), and protector (John 18:8). Because of his death on a cross, we who believe in him are redeemed from the futility of our dead works and restored to right relationship with God. In his sacrificial example, we have a model to imitate (1 Corinthians 11:1), especially those of us who are husbands (Ephesians 5:25). “Our ability to fulfill our God-given responsibilities as men is not because of virtue within us,” said Strachan, but “because of God’s grace in us that summons us to wake up and to be not just a man for ourselves, not just an adult in terms of age, but to be a man who lays down his life for others to whatever extent is necessary.”

Lead, provide, protect. This is what God designed me to do, and it’s more necessary than ever in our fallen, messed-up world. It’s especially important for families, the building blocks of society. “If you build fathers, you build the family and you build the society,” Strachan stated. “If you break fathers, you break the family. If you break the family, you break the society.”

“God wired it into a boy that he wants to grow up into a man,” argued Strachan, but to fulfill this purpose they need both encouragement and role models to emulate. “Boys need a call to be strong,” he insisted. “What we need to do is call boys to become men and to give them a blueprint and a script and — God willing — a father in the home and a pastor in the church who points them to gospel-driven, biblical manhood.”

Today, more young men are growing up without godly male role models than in previous generations. For youths unable to find a godly role model, they can always look to God, who treats us as a perfect heavenly Father (Matthew 7:7-11, Hebrews 12:5-17), and then model their behavior toward others off of God’s behavior towards them. For men who have benefited from godly role models, it’s more important than ever to disciple the next generation. You may be far from perfect — in fact, you certainly are! — but you’re likely the best role model many young men will ever meet (not to mention how important it is to model humility and repentance too).

Lead, provide, protect. That’s the role of a godly man. The world has always sought to tear down, trip up, or otherwise neutralize godly leaders, and that’s especially true of our culture, which has embraced an anti-biblical, anti-masculine ideology. “Of course, a Christian is going to say, ‘You’re only going to be truly strong when you recognize your weakness and your need for Jesus Christ,’” Strachan granted. “Nonetheless, in Scripture, in case after case, (David to Solomon or the Lord God to Joshua), there’s a call to courage, and there’s a call to strength, and that is what boys need.”

We need men who, in the face of worldly opposition and devilish temptation, will heed this call: “Be strong, and show yourself a man, and keep the charge of the Lord your God” (1 Kings 2:2-3).

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.