It seems I have, rather unintentionally, become involved in theological discussions of gender and masculinity. I know: I’m as surprised as you. Theology of gender was definitely not something I ever planned (or desired) to really get involved with.

By “gender theology,” I mean particularly the question of what it means to be created male; or rather, what God intended “manhood” to be. I first entered into this discussion publicly with my Converge magazine article, “The man God hasn’t called you to be: What the Christian masculinity movement keeps getting wrong.” The origin of the story came about in this way: I had recently read an article in Converge which suggested the Christian male’s calling was something akin to fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a mixed-martial-arts fighting event which has drawn criticism for its extreme violence. I was aghast, and said as much to a friend of mine. Christian men would do well to remember, I told him, that God created the first man to be a gardener—not a warrior. Unknown to me, this friend passed along my criticisms to Converge magazine. Shortly thereafter I was asked by the magazine to write an article outlining my own take on Christian masculinity.

There’s been a fair bit of response since my article came out in early 2012. I’ve answered the occasional email about it—and, regrettably, failed to answer a few others. At some of the Lutheran conferences I’ve been at this year, a number of pastors have stopped me to thank me for the article. And Gareth Brandt, Professor of Practical Theology at Columbia Bible College and author of Under Construction: Reframing Men’s Spirituality, gave me a very positive review over at his website.

For my own part, I’ve considered writing a blog post or two more on the subject of Christian masculinity; one of these I’ve even completed (though I subsequently junked it before it ever saw the light of day). In particular, I’ve thought it might be good to write a post responding to some of the questions/criticisms my original article received.

That may still come, but in the meantime, something else has caused me to take up the topic again. Converge, the magazine which published my article, recently published an article by Chelsea Batten entitled “Stud service: How the Church makes it hard to be a man.” It takes a decidedly different approach to the subject of Christian masculinity than mine. And I’m afraid I felt the need to respond. You can see my response “Does the Church make it hard to be a man?” over at A Christian Thing.