Leavened for at least the last 50 years by feminist ideology, the church in America is rapidly becoming like the world around it—Downy soft, hostile to the jackhammer of hard biblical truths, outraged by the sexual design of Genesis, doughy in its embrace of imposters, and uninhabitable for violent men.
It is for this reason that the church, even in Reformed, conservative circles, has given ground to identity politics, intersectionality, critical race theory, and LGBT Trojan horses.
At the heart of the church’s softening is a not-so-subtle war on masculinity. From the Christian publishing industry to the pulpit, authentic masculinity is smeared with the toxic brush of feminism and told to keep out. Even so, there’s good biblical warrant for a revitalization of violent masculinity.
First, a feminized church without masculinity is a soft target for deceivers and hustlers.
It’s like a garden without a fence, a gun store without bars, a home without a front door, a guard dog without teeth.
Absent masculinity, the church has become the kind of place that tolerates denominational presidents who say, with the Serpent from the garden, “Did God really say?” about very obvious issues like homosexuality and feminism in which God did in fact say pretty plainly. As Eve was prone to be deceived, so a church without masculinity is easy prey for the serpent-tongued.
Men are wall builders, protectors and shepherds who are tasked by God with rightly dividing the truth and discerning the different species of wolf, pig, sheep, and goat present in the assembly. Men offer protection by opening the door for this one and showing that one out.
Absent masculinity, the church tries to show the door to men like Andrew Dionne for standing up to the very clearly heretical teachings of Revoice (the greatest offense is always a harsh tone), but it is all-too-happy to welcome an effeminate soy-latte-sipping hipster lecturing on white guilt, reparations, and pronoun hospitality. Mmmm-kayyy.
Lacking men with spines in their backs, the church will tolerate Beth Moore and her assault on Paul’s authoritative teaching as an apostle of Christ; what it won’t tolerate are men who rightly call for homosexuals to repent both of their practice and the effeminate attractions that lead to it.
Second, the hard work of reform requires violent men.
In a very dark epoch in which a hypocritical, self-serving, power-and-money-loving religious hierarchy obfuscated the message of salvation, Jesus pointed to John the Baptist as the man the church perhaps didn’t want, but needed. And this is what Jesus said John was like:
From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)
Jesus said John wasn’t soft, malakos (effeminate) but was hard. He was a man of holy violence, filled with zeal for God’s house just as Jesus was (Matt. 11:8). He was a hard man because he boldly called men to repentance. He was a wilderness warrior willing to die for the truth. He spared not the rulers or religious leaders, and for this was rewarded with a bloody beheading.
John was commended by Christ as an example for a New Testament church that would face its own bloody martyrdom. Likewise, John is a continuation of the violent men applauded by Jesus that date back to the very beginning of history (Matt. 11:13-14) and continue through the apostles’ ministry.
Elijah boldly defamed and mocked the idols of Baal. He stood up to a wicked king and ministered compassionately to widows. Phinehas drove a spear through the guts of an idolater. The Spirit-filled Samson waged bloody war against the Philistines, burning their fields with tail-tied foxes and tearing down their temple with his own brawny hands.
David, the man after God’s own heart, cut the head off a giant, slew his ten thousands, and killed bears and lions with his own fists. He was fiercely violent in both his aggression, his impassioned dance of worship, and his gentleness to the crippled outcasts.
No doubt the American church today would label that kind of impassioned masculinity as toxic. And yet Jesus commends it and models it Himself. As it turns out, the heroic, masculine God of the Old Testament is not the villain of the New.
Jesus fiercely, violently chastised the Pharisees (Matt. 23) and chased the money-grubbers from the temple with a whip He fashioned with His own hands. With holy zeal He wept over Jerusalem, showed compassion toward adulterers, and, in a final act of zealous masculinity, died on the Cross for His Bride.
He offended, doubled down on teaching that drove people away (John 6), and was unrelenting in antagonizing the religious power brokers of the day. He rejected a crowd that wanted to crown Him king (John 6:15).
The church today needs violent men willing to do the unpleasant work of reform, addressing the 3,000-pound golden calves in the room. It needs men willing to name names, point to specific sins, and denounce false teachers.
If reform is going to happen, it means men willing to sacrifice career, wealth, and prestigious positions for the purity of the church.
In reformed circles it’s relatively easy to preach theologically sound messages about God’s sovereignty, limited atonement, or the Trinity without offending a soul. But if our preaching was like Christ’s, people would be trying to throw us off cliffs or accusing us of being demon possessed. What’s missing is the courage to speak plainly about the church’s pet sins.
Third, the success of the kingdom depends not on nice or mild mannered men, but violent men.
The call for violent men isn’t an urgent plea for wife beaters and abortion clinic bombers to enlist. It isn’t a request for ultra-combative Reformed Facebook commandos to go on dividing the church over tertiary issues like the time and mode of baptism.
But it is a call for men to stop being so passive, polite, and non-combative about the essential truths of Scripture. Stop pandering, qualifying, dodging, and for the love of God, apologizing. Just stop it.
If listening to J.D. Greear claim the church ought to defend LGBT rights or Russ Moore lend gushing approval to the Bible-dissing Beth Moore doesn’t turn your blood seven shades of rainbow flag red, there’s something wrong.
It’s a call for men to engage in what Paul calls “the good fight” (1 Timothy 6:12). The tools of this warfare are the Sword of the Spirit, the razor sharp edge of the Word, the shield of faith, and the battle axe of prayer. The aim is the purity of the church and the holiness of its people.
It’s not a plea for something new, but a return to something old. The old truths of Genesis that call men to be busted-knuckle workers and warrior-protectors with the broken backs and battle scars to prove they’ve been in the fight (Genesis 2:15). It’s the masculine work and warfare of cultural dominion.
Men filled with the Spirit, rebuilding the ruins of family and culture and community with shovels and bricks in one hand and swords in the other, just like the men in Nehemiah’s day. Starting schools, serving in local churches, singing Christ-exalting carols in the downtown square for everyone to see.
The church desperately needs violent men like Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore at Founders Ministries to expose the lies of critical race theory that have invaded the highest echelons of the SBC. Men of holy zeal who will wage war with a documentary one day and call a paramedic to fear God the next. That’s how, like Phinehas, you drive the spear of truth through the idolater.
The church needs pastors who will call for repentance on the cultural hot-button issues of the day—from abortion to biblical sexual ethics—and not blink. It needs zealous men to chase the ERLC and TGC hustlers from our midst and not be nice about the whole damned thing.
It needs men in the pew who’ll hear that message, get married, love their wives, lead in family worship, and heed God’s command to fill the earth with godly offspring. It needs men who will violently pursue godliness, ensure a righteous education for their children, and work hard as providers in dangerous professions; it needs women who embrace their role in this world domination tour as the mothers of future warriors.
What the world needs is violent men.
To protect his community, to live out the masculine role, a man must have a reputation for violence. He must be a troublemaker. — Leon Podles
May God raise up Spirit-drunk troublemakers willing to raise a holy ruckus in the name of High King Jesus. May their words cut us, offend us, and send us straight to Christ.