One of the most insidious ideas floating in the airwaves of this generation goes something like this: Men lust. It’s just what men do. What Does It Mean to Be a Man?
The same idea comes out in a hundred ways. Some examples:
- Men are visual, so put an attractive person in front of them and they’re going to lust.
- Men need sex.
- Every guy looks at porn from time to time.
- There’s nothing wrong with checking her out as long as that’s as far as it goes.
- Guys just can’t help themselves.
And then there are some additional faulty ideas specifically about married men and their wives:
- If a husband has a pornography problem, his wife just needs to learn to better satisfy him sexually.
- If a husband is going on a business trip, his wife should have sex with him right before he leaves so he won’t be tempted while he’s away.
- What’s the problem if a husband views pornography? At least he’s not actually being unfaithful.
Ideas and statements like these drive me crazy. For one, they put the responsibility of a man’s sexual integrity on other people. No matter that ideas like these are most often articulated by men, they nonetheless degrade both women and men alike.
Let me back up. By lust, I’m specifically referring to the sin of sexual lust. Lust is different than desire (though desire can get tangled up in lust), and it’s most definitely different than sexual love.
Lust is when I use another human being for my own selfish sexual pleasure. It’s a form of turning someone from a whole human being into something far less—an object for my sexual gratification. Lust never sees a whole person. Instead, it sees only a body, and often only parts of that body.
But wait, it gets worse: Lust doesn’t really even see a true human body because lust only understands the human body as an outlet for another’s selfish sexual pleasure.
In other words, lust sees a fiction, not a human body, and certainly not a human being (spirit and body). Human beings have souls, feelings, and good longings. Lust refuses to see these. Human beings have pasts that shaped them and futures they are living into. Lust refuses to see these.
When a man believes that it is natural for him to lust (meaning, it is in the nature of a man to lust), he no longer sees himself as a whole person either. He beholds a fiction of manhood and lives into it. He catches a twisted fraction of a man and calls it complete. Blinded in this way, he can neither understand his past nor live into his full potential in the future.
Jesus came to show men what a man is. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. The depth of His voice, the strength of His limbs, the direction of His desire—true manhood. The way He used his hands, the way He heard with His ears, the ways He saw with His eyes—these are what men are made for.
In this way, we can understand Pilate’s words to be prophetic when he presented the beaten, wounded, stripped, and mocked Christ to the Jewish people: Ecce homo! Behold, the Man!
What Does It Mean to Be a Man? — an actual man, designed as God envisioned? He is a Christlike man.
Brothers, cast off the grave clothes the world calls “man.” And keep casting them off as many times as you need to. They are not fitted for you. They belong to the fallen sons of the first Adam, those who turn on woman when their sins are exposed: “It’s her fault!” (see Genesis 3:12).
Instead, clothe yourselves in Christ, the second Adam: the Man, who let Himself be crucified for His Bride, the Church. Let His words both feed your manhood and reveal what manhood is for: “This is My body given for you” (Luke 22:19, 1 Corinthians 11:24).
What is a true man? You are.