I feel like I could throw a sackcloth over my body and ashes on my forehead if the custom existed in our age. For what is it to us that we mere mortals who walk as fearfully and wonderfully made creatures (Ps. 139:14), should act like cowards? With such characteristics as reflect the Father who is in heaven (Matt. 5:45), the Man who is in Heaven(1 Cor 15:49) and sits at the right hand of God to judge the living and the dead (2 Tim 4:1), the Almighty Warrior (Ex. 15:3), the Redeemer (Job 19:25), the Rock (Deut. 32:4), the Fortress (2 Sam 22:2), and the One who sacrifices his life for us (Eph. 5:2)? We men, sons of Adam, bearing his image, were supposed to be like him. And, as is quite apparent from history, we men have made quite a spectacle of the masculinity of God. Worse yet, I fear I live among a generation of Christian men who are as aware of their masculine identities as they ever were.
I have found over the years that though the Scriptures be universal truth for all, there remains yet, a few special commands and scriptures just for the man. God would not call upon the woman, whom he made a weaker vessel (1 Pet. 3:7), before he would call upon the man to take care of the dirty, sweaty, and sometimes bloody work of taking care of creation.
Consequently, God had much to say to the men of old (and no doubt would say the same to us men of today), “Be strong and courageous!” (Josh 1:6-9), “Brace yourself like a man!” (Job 38:3), “Brace yourself for work!” (Jer. 1:17), “Show yourself a man!” (1 Kings 2:2), “O men, how long?” (Psa. 4:2-3) “Act like men!” (1 Cor. 16:13). Not once does God or anyone else ever speak directly to a woman to “Be strong” or “be valiant.” (1 Chron. 28:20; 2 Chron. 25:8; Ezra 10:4; Haggai 2:4; 2 Sam 2:7; 1 Cor 16:13)
God has a bent for justice, nobility, courage, boldness, fearlessness, constancy, initiative, and responsibility and wants to see those in his sons. He likes to grant a spirit of valor to them (1 Sam. 10:26). The Hebrew word for valor חיל (chayil) and warrior גּבּור (gibbor) in the Old Testament are used in the contexts of wealth, army, strength, power, war, and….men. (Gen. 6:4; Exo. 18:21;, Jos. 8:3, Judg. 18:2, Judg. 21:10; 1 Sam. 10:26; 2 Sam. 10:7; 2 Sam 17:10; 2 Sam. 23:8; 1 Chr. 5:24; 2 Kings 25:23; Ezra 7:28, Neh. 3:16, Song 3:7, Hab 3:19, Lam 1:15, Ezekiel 39:20, Dan. 8:24, Obadiah 1:9, Zech 10:5) Out of about 228 occurrences of the word chayil in the Old Testament it is used three times to describe a virtuous woman (Ruth 3:11, Prov. 31:10,29). The word gibbor (warrior), occuring over 150 times, is for but for men alone.
This is what God means for the man. Valor, strength, responsibility, honor, initiative, courage. When we shy away from these we live in sin as cowards. And yet, is that not the grave state the men of our Church are in today? Men giving themselves to playing World of Warcraft for 8 hours a day, growing unhealthy and degenerate in front of the TV 15-20 hours a week, getting drunk and laughing about it, sexually exploiting their girlfriends, going to the bars at night instead of their wives and children, wasting time playing instead of getting a job, wasting their money on useless junk, racking up credit card debt, asking their mama’s for help, spewing all manner of vulgarities and filth out of their mouth, and exploiting the church for whatever it provides while giving nothing back? I am ashamed for my generation of brothers. I would to God that he might show us wayward dudes his kindness through some severe mercy and discipline for this is not a generation of mighty men but of cowardly men!
And it is hardly fitting to call a woman a coward, is it not? Any nation that ever would send its women to battle instead of its men would be derided by others as a nation of cowardly men with no honor or fidelity. Cowards are those men who do not live up to God’s purpose of manhood as protectors who are ready to lay their life down for others. It is never to the shame of women to allow their men to stand up, take initiative, lead, and fight for justice, peace, righteousness, and fidelity. However for those men who sit passively by and let their women do all the dirty, bloody work for them, it is to their shame. I praise women who take initiative and stand up for great causes, to get things done when the men fail to do so themselves. For those women it is to their honor, but to those men…woe to them.
“But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)