“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)
Here, Paul exhorts the whole church to act like men, explaining that he means: be watchful and alert, steadfast in the faith, and strong. It is the glory of men to be strong, to stand firm, and to be watchful – little boys naturally love pretending to be soldiers and guards. But here the whole church is called to emulate that glory. How does that work?
Elsewhere, the Bible says that it is an abomination for men to dress like women or for women dress like men, specifically wearing the gear or weapons of men (Dt. 22:5). Women are not to act like or be treated like men in law enforcement, military combat, or other martial arts. Related, the law forbade Israel from boiling a baby goat in its own mother’s milk: what God created to give life should not become an instrument for taking life. Except for emergency situations like Jael and Sisera, women should not be death-dealers, since they are life-givers. This is a woman’s glory. The Bible also says that it is shameful for a woman to have her head shaved like a man, and it is conversely shameful for a man to have long hair like a woman – even nature teaches that her longer hair is given for a glory and a covering (1 Cor. 11:14-15).
Nevertheless, God exhorts the whole church to be watchful, steadfast, and strong: to act like men. God requires churches to have this masculine tone. When men take responsibility for their families and the needs around them, when sin and difficulties are addressed thoughtfully and with courage, when men are alert and physically, intellectually, and spiritually fit and strong, the whole church is greatly blessed and follows that lead.
We live in a land given over to sexual confusion calculated to destroy the glory of male and female, because those distinct glories reflect the glory of the Maker whose image we bear. Crossdressing, transsexuality, homosexuality, and every form of gender bending in fashion and in the church is meant to blunt the potency of the glory of being made male and female. So, in this moment, act like men: be strong and firm and alert as men and women.
Toby Sumpter – October 22, 2023