Entries tagged with “christian masculinity”.

My latest piece for First Things takes up a subject I’ve discussed elsewhere from time to time: Christian Masculinity. The occasion for this particular post was a recent news story about “America’s manliest church”—one that’s raffled off guns and spends an inordinate amount of time talking about booze and “big balls.”

My focus in my article is less to talk about this particular church then to use it to talk about a problem that’s worried me for some time: the teaching that Christian men are called primarily to be warriors. Sometimes this takes a more dignified approach (we should be knights!) and sometimes it’s more crass, as in Ignite’s case. But in each situation, the problem is the same: it suggests aggression is or should be the defining feature of Christian masculinity.

I spend the rest of my article deconstructing this errant understanding of manhood, choosing the analogy of a gardener (like Adam) as a more helpful image of Christian masculinity. Read the article (“Uprooting the Christian Masculinity Complex”) to understand why.

Of course, there’s only so much you can say in so short a column. If you want a more in-depth discussion of the subject, you’ll have to read a feature I wrote for Converge a few years back: “Christian Masculinity: The Man God Hasn’t Called You To Be.”

Finally, I’ve broached similar topics in an article for A Christian Thing entitled “Does the Church Make it Hard to be a Man?”


Some of you will be aware of Converge Magazine, a Vancouver-based magazine that tackles questions of faith and culture. If you haven’t picked up a copy yet, now’s the time to do so. The current issue features an article not only by me, but also one by my very good friend Karl Persson.

Karl Persson on Depression

Persson’s article “Depression and Faith in the Life of the (Post)Modern Church” (pp. 38-41) is the best thing I have ever read on the subject. He criticizes the two major approaches to depression visible in the Church today before suggesting a third way, better than the others.

The first response to depression that he examines arises out of modernism, and basically ignores the problem. For these Christians, the Good News of salvation is so wonderful that they simply cannot conceive that a Christian could ever be sad again. Persson describes this response well: “Many churches… mistake the appearance of happiness for the truth of Christian joy, and so are not comfortable with Christians who disturb this appearance.” As a result, these Christians take the easy way out, and simply avoid the question altogether. They must either pretend depression does not exist or give up their idea that the Christian must always be happy and victorious over sin and sorrow. They are unwilling to give up that idea; and so they ignore depression.

By contrast, the emergent movement and the postmodernism from which it arises is more than willing to talk about subjects like depression. But because it has abandoned the concept of “covenant “in favour of “honesty,” it lacks shared stories in which to interpret hurt. Evil and pain are recognized for what they are, but without the context of real community (with the church present and past through our shared history), it leads inevitably to cynicism. Depression is real for them, and its destructive power is absolute.

Persson suggests we need to temper one approach with the other. Yes, we need to focus on the “happily ever after” that comes with faith in Christ; but we cannot ignore the very real pain at work in this world. The Church must embrace those that are hurting, and let them share vicariously in the joy of salvation even if they cannot feel such joy themselves.

But I’ve written too much already. You simply must read the article; it’s incredibly important.

Mathew Block on Masculinity

The same issue of Converge Magazine includes an article by me entitled “The Man God Hasn’t Called You to Be: What the Christian masculinity movement keeps getting wrong” (pp. 32-33). I won’t bother to go into too much detail here, but let me summarize it in this way: for nearly a hundred and fifty years, the Church has embraced a concept of masculinity that glorifies battle and warfare. “If you are to be a real man,” we seem to say, “then you must be at your core a warrior.” I take that idea head-on in this article, suggesting it has more to do with our wider culture’s aggressive understanding of masculinity than with the biblical witness. We are not called to be warriors, I argue; instead, like Adam before us, we are called to be gardeners.

Consider it a declaration of war on warrior-masculinity.

Converge Magazine

So what exactly is Converge Magazine, and why does it publish such fasinating articles? Well, here’s how it self-describes:

Ever wish there was a magazine that addressed issues of faith and culture but didn’t come off as ultra fabricated and cheesy? Well Converge magazine just might be your answer. We’re a faith based magazine for young people in their 20′s and 30′s. Our magazine comes out six times a year covers everything from relationships, to career, to arts and culture topics.

Deep thinking; real faith. Two things that far too often fail to appear together.

Best thing of all? It’s only $12 a year. Check out the website here and subscribe now.