By Stefanie Palmer
Before I say anything else, I want to say that I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for the ways society has misled you, misrepresented you, and morphed your God-given nature into something toxic and untrue. I’m sorry that, on a daily basis, you are bombarded with the lie that your identity as a man is defined solely by how you look, how you dress, how athletic you are, how much you suppress your emotions, and, worst of all, how skilled you are at seducing, controlling, and dominating women. As your sister in Christ, I am here to silence the muddled voices of the world and declare to you, loudly and clearly, that you are called to so much more.
Because here’s the thing: the entire state of our world depends on it.
When God created Adam, He put all of creation under his domain, commanding Adam to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). From the very beginning of time, man has been entrusted with the essential role of maintaining the natural order of the world, acting as God’s gardener, sower, tiller, and harvester. When you step into this role, you have the power to cultivate a culture of abundance, fruitfulness, and life. But when you neglect this role, you abandon the world to the forces of chaos and death. Weeds spread, plants shrivel and die, vines choke and restrict, and the serpent slithers in, planting seeds of subtle deceit in his wake.
It didn’t take long for Adam to neglect his role in the garden. When the serpent approached Eve and twisted his way into her mind, slickly convincing her to disobey God’s command, Adam was nowhere in sight. And when Adam finally did approach Eve (only to find her biting into the very fruit God had forbidden them from tasting) he did nothing to stop her. In fact, he took a bite right after her. I do not think this was the kind of provision God had in mind for Adam when he entrusted the garden, and Eve, to his care.
Please, men, do not make the same mistake. Do not imitate Adam, passively allowing your loved ones to stumble into sin and, moments later, stumbling after them. No. Instead, imitate Christ, the New Adam, the One who willingly died for all the sins of the world to bring about new life.
Sound like an intimidating task? Trust me, I get it. So let’s break it down a little bit. Simply put, striving to imitate Christ as a man should involve striving to take on the three primary roles Christ holds on Earth and in Heaven: priest, prophet, and king.
First, be a priest. The spirit behind priesthood is sacrifice. In the Old Testament, priests were the only figures who had access to the altar and were therefore responsible for offering the sacrifice on behalf of their people. At the Last Supper, Christ altered the nature of the sacrifice, insisting that He Himself become the sacrificial lamb slain for the redemption of His people. When you imitate the priesthood of Christ, you imitate His role as the sacrificial lamb. You become the sacrifice. On a practical level, this looks like living with a spirit of humility, refraining from dominating or demeaning, being willing to put others’ needs before your own, always being the first to offer a helping hand, not resting in comfort but working to bring about the good of others, and dying to yourself so that Christ can more perfectly live in you.
Next, be a prophet. The spirit behind prophecy is prayer and proclamation. The beginning of every prophet’s journey in the Bible begins with a call from God and a willingness to obey this call. Answering this call always involves proclaiming God’s truth to the people, often when it is the last thing that anyone wants to hear. Living as a prophet in your everyday life looks much the same. It starts with cultivating a regular prayer life in which you seek God’s voice and discern the unique call He has placed on your Heart. Then, when the Word of God has filled your heart, it involves proclaiming the truth of God boldly everywhere you go, even when, and especially when, it is unpopular or unwanted. Being a prophet means going against the grain of common culture, not just passively consuming it. It means refusing to conform to practices that corrupt you or others. It means speaking out when you see instances of bullying, oppression, discrimination, or assault. It is a calling that you as men must boldly answer.
Finally, be a king. The spirit behind kingship is servitude. As men, it is an undeniable fact that you possess privilege in this world. You are often given authority and power that women cannot so easily attain. You must not hold this power lightly. You must not use it to your advantage to boost yourself up, promote your own agenda, or make others feel small. Rather, you must be the kind of king Jesus was: a king who washed the feet of his subjects. A king who ate with sinners, prostitutes, lepers, and tax collectors. A king who came to serve, not to be served. When you are in positions of leadership in your life, use your throne to uplift the marginalized, the oppressed, and the silenced. Use your pedestal to promote agendas of peace and justice. Use your authority to break down structures that divide and stigmatize. Wash the feet of your friends and enemies alike. Insist on serving, not being served.
At the beginning of this letter, I told you that the state of the world depends on you understanding and accepting who you are called to be as men, and I genuinely believe that statement with my whole heart. Because when you become the kind of men you were created to be, the kind who live out their roles as priest, prophet, and king, you in turn help us as women become who God created us to be. And when both men and women are living in the way God intended, harmony and peace abound.
God formed Eve out of the rib of Adam to be Adam’s helpmate, his companion, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh capable of working and keeping the garden alongside him. We as women were created to accompany you in your efforts to cultivate life and dispel death from the world. We are a team. We need you at your best so that we can be at our best. We need you to lead with humility and self-sacrificial love so that we can walk beside you with full trust in your intentions. We need you to recognize our inherent worth and honor us as sisters, not objectify us, demean us, or cast us aside as inferiors. We need you to stay beside us in the garden, not abandon us, so that when the serpent approaches, he finds a united front, not division or contention. We need you to lovingly and firmly remove the forbidden fruit from our grasp, gently reminding us of God’s commands. When the roles are reversed and the fruit is in your hands, we promise to do the same for you.
We need you, men. We need you to be exactly who God created you to be, someone who is so much more than the archetype of man depicted in the world. So dare to be more, men. Dare to be more than a passive follower, a tolerant friend, an adequate boyfriend, or a husband who provides for his family financially but not spiritually. Dare to be not the old Adam, but the New Adam. Dare to be like Christ. Be priest, prophet, and king.
Your loving sister,