I don’t know when the big switch was flicked, but there’s been a significant shift in our culture that I know I suffer from immensely. For a long time, it seems Christian men held onto the image of the ideal man being…well, a macho and domineering tyrant reigning freely over his family. At some point, there was a violent shift in the opposite direction and the dominant paradigm has seen men relegate themselves to passive nincompoops in far too many cases.
If we are looking to throw stones, I could be counted among the first in the receiving line.
There are the competing ideologies it appears between men being the head of the household just as Christ is head of the Church (Ephesians 5:23) as well as the call to be meek (Colossians 3:12). Are these really competing ideas? Well, categorically, NO. What I feel is the true issue is that we have once again decided that one piece of the puzzle is more important than another. But, what are these pieces, really?
My default interpretation of Paul here in Ephesians seems highly misguided. What is this “head”? This head I am coming to realize is love. If husbands are to imitates Christ’s role over the Church, then we men must seek to imitate this role as fully as possible. This includes love, unconditional, guidance that is both gentle in the decision-making process and firm in holding to that decision. Also, this includes full responsibility for all decisions made. Sole accountability to both God and men rests squarely on our shoulders and we are called to accept all this with vigor and zeal.
Given that Colossians was also penned by Paul, it is hard to imagine a man would recklessly seek to undo his own work. I will skip to what I perceive to be the crux of my own misunderstanding and assume the rest of the passage to be somewhat self-explanatory. The word meek, has tripped me up for many years because I did not know what it meant. Meekness refers to submission and obedience. We are not being called to be human doormats waiting for God to move in some monumental way that jolts us into action. We are called back to the Garden. Paul is hearkening back to Adam and Eve before the fall, when their wills, though free, were in perfect accordance with God’s. Christ was holy, not because He was sinless. Yes, He was sinless, but He was sinless because He was meek and wholeheartedly obedient to the will of His (and our) Father. Thus, our obedience should be an active pursuit of God’s will, because Christ was never idle.
Both of these passages are competing? I think it is Paul issuing both sides of the same coin here. As it says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourselves in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When we actively pursue this obedience and stand upright in our faith, we find ourselves steeped in the desire to bring God glory and because this is His ultimate purpose, He will never fail to continue to bring this to fruition. When we as men strive after a steadfast meekness rooted in the words and will of God, He will not allow us to be shaken and only then can we be considered men at all.