Was Jesus a ‘Man’s Man’?

Was Jesus a ‘Man’s Man’?

In a recent Instagram post, megachurch pastor Ed Young argued that Jesus was “a man’s man.”

The post is an image that reads, “Jesus was not a woke, pour-over coffee drinking Marxist with a ‘Love Wins’ t-shirt, he was a man’s man!”

Off the bat, I can agree with Young that Jesus likely didn’t drink any pour-over coffee during his earthly ministry. I visited Israel a number of years ago and learned that it is much more of a tea culture and, furthermore, its taste in coffee is absolutely abysmal. The leading coffee brand is instant!

It’s also true that Jesus wasn’t a Marxist; Karl Marx was not born until roughly 19 centuries after Jesus ascended to heaven.

Was Jesus woke? Well, that depends on how you define the word. If you define the term woke in line with the African American community who coined it as being alert to injustice in society, then Jesus was thoroughly woke. 

Young simply defines woke in a different way, as he described in a 2022 sermon

“Wokeism” is “an authoritarian worldview that seeks to deconstruct the foundations of our Christian faith by overwhelming, overpowering, and overthrowing those who do not adhere to its ideology,” Young said. 

“Wow!” added Young in response to a definition that he moments earlier admitted to having made up himself. “That’s pretty heavy. I hope you got that down.”

Perhaps all this illustrates is that the word “woke” has lost any semblance of an agreed upon definition and unfortunately should be relegated to the dustbin of history. 

But was Jesus a “man’s man”?

Assuming that what Young means by “man’s man” is that Jesus was macho, strong, and masculine according to western conventions, you could certainly make an argument in that direction. Jesus was a carpenter who worked with his hands (Mark 6:3). He knew how to fashion and use a whip, which is pretty manly (John 2:15). He also knew how to fish (Luke 5:1-11). 

Then again, Jesus was likely short and thin. We don’t have any indication that he was particularly strong. He never married and accepted financial support from prominent women (Luke 8:1-3). He wept in public (John 11:35). Given what we know about the culture in which he lived, he likely kissed his male friends on the face. And while he often spoke with strong words, his posture towards others was entirely nonviolent (Matthew 16:23, Matthew 26:52, respectively).

None of these things are conventionally manly. 

And yet, Jesus was more of a man than any other man could hope to be. Because he was without sin, he was a perfect image of everything God intended humanity to be—and by virtue of being male, everything God intended men to be.

Having said that, it’s all too easy to take whatever cultural understandings (or misunderstandings) we have about masculinity and read them back onto Jesus. 

This can be incredibly dangerous. In fact, it is often the case that would-be theologians use a distorted version of Jesus as an excuse for their lack of gentleness, propensity toward chauvinism, or even abuse

This posture also neglects the fact that the incarnation of the second person of the Trinity was also a ringing endorsement of women and femininity. Speaking of Jesus’ virgin birth through Mary, biblical scholar Dr. Amy Peeler writes, “To send the Savior, the Spirit came upon only one human, and that human was a woman.”

“In the mystery of the incarnation, it seems correct to say that God has treated ‘male DNA differently from female,'” Peeler goes on to write. “In so doing, God has elevated women, but not to the detriment of men. Rather than exclusion of one side or the other, there is an unparalleled inclusivity precisely in this process of the incarnation.”

Peeler adds, “The New Testament texts do assert that the Son was born and conceived of this specific mother. Because of that unparalleled conception, he is a male like no other, a male who received his body from God’s partnering with a female alone.”

In light of these theological considerations, becoming overly fixated on the “manliness” of Christ seems like a sideways use of energy. 

Nevertheless, Ed Young’s Instagram post seems to signal less what he believes about Jesus than how he feels about people he considers to be his ideological enemies. These “woke” liberal, who drink specialty coffee and emphasize God’s love while minimizing his just judgment, aren’t just wrong—they’re girly and effeminate, unlike Jesus, who is a “man’s man.”

Because real men drink Yuban? No thanks, I’ll take the girly stuff. But I digress. 

Framing the context in this way reveals not only the unhealthy cultural conceptions we hold about masculinity but also our tendency to devalue femininity to the point of acting as though the very concept is an insult to Jesus himself. 

Now, I don’t want to read malicious intent into Young’s Instagram post. In all honesty, I don’t imagine he intended it to be that deep or theologically weighty. It’s just that, as a megachurch pastor who is constantly looking for ways to spark engagement online and increase the size of his platform, he has come to understand that making these kinds of statements is quite pragmatic and functionally effective. 

But that’s just the problem. Online algorithms feed upon the worst of our human impulses. Unless we actively choose to swim upstream from this tendency, we will find ourselves stoking the flames of outrage and cruelty. 

And if Jesus serves as our perfect example, that isn’t very manly.


This Post Has One Comment

  1. Sheryl

    Lets just ask the Holy spirit in us to give us His understanding and His knowledge & fear of the Lord.Isaiah 11:2-4.

    Jesus is fully man, representing mankind-male and female.

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