Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Church: Manning Up

Fr. Dale Matson

 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11, KJV)

It has been said often enough that the innovation in theology and decline in membership in parts of the church is a failure of the bishops in the church to be bishops. They did not do their duty to “…banish and drive away from the church all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God’s Word…” (1929 BCP)  They failed to protect the sheep.

Reflecting on this further, it seems to me that bishops are first and foremost called to be men of God. But what does this mean? What is a Godly man? For that matter, what is a man? At the most basic level, much of the church has become feminized and matriarchal. Is the church, still even a place for men?

I have asked a few of my male friends, ranging from from midlife to old age, this question. “How many men have you known in your life”? Without exception, there is a long pause and in some cases a candid, “None”. Even older friends from law enforcement were hard pressed to name one person they could call a man. No one including me thought of their fathers as an example of man. Few men are fully developed and individuated.

Sometimes it is easier to describe what a man is not. A man is not what a feminist tainted with misandry would want him to be; a dancing bear. A man is not a Hollywood self-absorbed metrosexual preening in front of the cameras. A man is not a hard core gang member that is only one dimensional; a man-as-warrior. A man is not a sports ‘hero’ who is tested only in a stadium praised by sports groupies and aging ex-jocks on ESPN. How many athletes have disappointed the hopeful and adoring fans, so willing to put them on a pedestal only to see them come crashing down once again. How many athletes have fueled their performance with drugs or were convicted of crimes? They were athletically gifted but morally corrupt. A soldier is only one aspect of manhood. Soldiers are the Wildman and Warrior needing a leader and a mission.

Just as a bishop is required to ordain a priest, it takes a man to bring males to full manhood. It is like an apprenticeship in a guild. A fully developed man is a master craftsman in the field of man making. Real men are not just needed, they are necessary. It is a matter of testing, trial and time. The hero journey of Telemachus is the story of a boy becoming a man but he had a wife and children also. They were a part of his man making. So much of man making is sacrificial. Family or church or country requires sacrifice.  It is not acquisition as much as divestment. It is not leading as much as serving. It is not being strong as much as it is being strong for those who lack strength.

Even though men are a rare and threatened species, they do not need protection. Real men may become martyrs but are never victims. They are not clamoring for their rights because they are concerned about the rights of others. Real men are godly men. Christ is our ultimate model.  He was fully man. The bishops that turned aside from evil, compromised with heresy and participated in innovation, not only failed to be bishops, they failed to be men.

In my next posting, I will use Dr. Bob Wilson (1927-1999) my mentor as an example of a fully developed and individuated Christian man. We must never forget who real men were that we may know who real men are.    

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