I remember a time in my teens and twenties when I searched to discover what a real man was. Unfortunately at that time, all I had was Hollywood movies, pop music and pop culture as my role models. This actually led me to become more confused as to what a man was.
When I became a Christian, my life totally changed. But I had thought that since I was a Christian and now being around in a church environment that my relationships would automatically be perfect. But this was not so. I didn’t realize it at that time that I had a wrong picture of what a man was.
Through the years, I’ve come to realize that I had a toxic masculinity disguised as godly masculinity.
Now there is a huge difference between godly masculinity and toxic masculinity. And in order to have healthy relationships, we need to understand the difference between the two.
What does godly masculinity look like? Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”
This text shows us that we as husbands are to love our wives in the same way that Christ loves the church.
And how did Christ love the church? He loved it so much that he sacrificed his life for the church. In other words, the Love that Christ has for us, the church, is not a human selfish love but a godly unselfish Love.
So we as men, need to love our spouses, our fiancées and our partners with a godly, unselfish love rather than with a selfish human love.
Now the reason why we love Jesus is because the love in our hearts was awakened by His Love.
I John 4:19 says, “We love Him because He first loved us.”
In other words, the only reason why we love God is because we have seen His Love for us. For when we see God’s love for us, it will awaken love in our hearts back for God. So God initiates the Love and we respond to that love.
If we are to love our wives as Christ loved the church then we as husbands are to initiate the Love towards our wives first. And if we initiate godly Love toward our wives, then they will respond to our love by loving us in return. This is what it means to be a man. To initiate Love to our wives, to our children and to all those around us.
Now if our wives or significant others don’t love us husbands, then it is a sign that maybe we have not shown them the unconditional and unselfish Love of God.
And the reason why we haven’t shown our spouses the true Love of God is because maybe we’ve never known or experienced this godly Love for ourselves. For how can we give this godly Love to others if we haven’t experienced this godly Love for ourselves?
Now let’s take a look at a couple of Bible texts and compare the differences between toxic and godly masculinity.
Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
As men we are to follow Jesus’ example of Love, and so we clearly see here in this text that godly masculinity is being a gentleman. You see, a gentleman will always knock and wait for his spouse to decide to open the door or not.
A godly masculinity will win her heart with his love where she will love him back and where she will want to open the door happily and willingly.
Toxic masculinity is the opposite of this as it acts selfishly. Toxic masculinity will either barge in through the door or knock continuously in order to irritate and manipulate his wife to finally give in and open the door. This toxic masculinity is really about manipulation and control.
Sometimes, a toxic masculinity may even look religious by saying, “God is Love” but it is really through their actions that they reveal that their love is totally different from God’s love.
Here is how I believe a toxic masculinity would interpret Revelation 3:20 by his actions:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice but doesn’t listen to me, either I’ll knock incessantly or I’ll barge in through the door, either way I will manipulate or force my way in, so that I will dine with her, and she will dine with me.”
Sadly, this is how many husbands write out this text, not by what they say but by how they live their lives.
For example, if a husband asks his wife to do something or to believe in a certain way and the wife says no to it or doesn’t agree with what he says, then the husband either pressures her to believe how he believes or he uses fear to manipulate her to get her to do what he wants her to do. The wife then ends up doing or believing what the husband says but not because she wants to do so willingly. But she does it because she is afraid that if she doesn’t do what he says to do, then he’ll get upset. This is not a healthy masculinity but a toxic one.
I see toxic masculinity as being selfish and controlling while I see godly masculinity as being unselfish and granting freedom.
Here is another text that shows how our relationship with God works. John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”
The word “If” means that this statement is conditional. God is saying, “if you love me, then keep my commandments”. In other words, God doesn’t want us to obey Him if we don’t love Him.
You see, God is saying to us, “I would like for you to obey me. But I only want you to obey me if you love me because in obeying me, I would only want you to do so, when it’s willingly from your heart.”
In other words, God is saying to us, “I don’t want you forcing yourself to do what I say when you don’t even love me. I don’t want your forced obedience.”
“Instead, I want you to see the Love that I have for you so that you will experience the awakening of the Love in your heart for me. Then, you can listen to me and obey me because now you love me and willingly want to obey me.”
In the same way, we should never demand and require obedience from our spouses. For God never demands or forces obedience from us.
Now there are people who believe that God does demand and force us to do what He says. But their belief in this lie will never in a million years turn this lie into a truth. It is still a lie and will always be a lie!
We should have the same mindset of God in that if our wives don’t love us, then they don’t have to listen to us. God doesn’t expect us to listen to Him if we don’t love Him and in the same way, we shouldn’t expect that from our spouses as well.
If our spouse doesn’t love us, then we should stop trying to get them to listen to us and instead focus on loving them and so winning their hearts. And when we finally win their hearts, then they will be open to listening.
Some of you may say that this is hard. But why does this sound so hard when as a husband you at one time did have your wife’s heart where she loved you and would’ve done anything for you? What happened to that?
It is a sad reality that we miss this main point when dealing with our wives but this is really how we should be treating the women in our lives.
This principle of love is a universal principle and should also apply to our children, our employees, our fellow church members as well as to the wives in how they are to treat their husbands.
This truth is greatly different from the toxic masculinity of selfishness and control that we are seeing all around us today.
Sadly, this is how I believe toxic masculinity would interpret this text that we’ve read above found in John 14:15:
“If you love me or if you hate me, it doesn’t matter, just obey me.”
Now, a lot of this toxic masculinity comes from a false picture of what Love looks like. And many times we may also unknowingly have a false picture of who God is as well.
We say that “God is Love”. And that God’s Love is unselfish and unconditional but it’s in our actions that we truly reveal what we believe God’s love is like. For how we treat others reveals how we believe God treats us.
But God is not toxic. Instead His Love is beautiful. He is not like how we’ve heard Him to be. He is not like how we’ve learned Him to be. He is not even like how we’ve made Him out to be. Instead, He is who He really says He is to be, which is Love!
It should be our desire to see and experience this real Love of God towards us every day, so that we may reveal this same Love to our wives, to our children, to our family, to our friends, as well as to our husbands. I want this same type of Love, how about you? Keala
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