“Mr. Faulkner, why are you so hard on men?”
It was an odd question to be asked: “Why are you so hard on men?” The question popped up shortly after I wrote a post on the way that we treat women in regards to honoring their future spouses. The post falls in line with several relationship oriented posts directed at those who call themselves or whom we call “Men of God.” In fact, these Man of God posts have been quite popular being featured on groups like Abstinence Until Marriage, a popular Facebook page for those seeking encouragement concerning abstinence and purity. These posts have also taken the form of 10:31 Thoughts of the Day and So forth. The purpose has been to exhort men to live Godly lives and challenge them to treat their brothers and sisters in Christ with a biblically centered worldview. The response has been incredible and the exhortations a lot of fun to write but this mornings question got me thinking: Am I too hard on men?
Let me backtrack to Middle School for a little bit. I was a young kid who really just wanted to fit in, fitting in meant you liked girls right? So I began to sexually harass women, this nearly got me expelled from school and I learned a valuable lesson on boundaries. I became a Christian in Junior High and after a six week series on sex and purity with Randy Clark I jumped on a “How you should treat women” bandwagon. The problem was that this only applied to the physical treatment of women, mentally I still treated them as objects, I never had to get addicted to porn because my wild imagination could come up with the most vibrant images. I was addicted to a sinful thought life.
But God is always working, always transforming and while I legalistically preached chivalry God started to change my mind and my heart. In high school I was a member at an abusive church, most of you have heard the story, and so as part of my conditioning I was taught that any sin would lead me to hell. You can bet this took care of the fantasies, but it also meant I added mental purity to my arsenal of legalistic condemnations on others. Yes, I was well read, on courtship and dating boundaries, and on sexual purity, I was even writing articles on it back then. But it was all pure legalism, my mind had been changed but my heart was being hardened. I relied completely on knowledge and not on a mix of both spirit and mind.
I was a legalist, determined to destroy anyone who did not meet my standard…and that was exactly what I did.
But then the heart change came, out of the blue, unexpectedly, on the side of a mountain in Evergreen Colorado. God radically changed my heart, He broke down the last barriers of legalism He had slowly been peeling away, tore away the scared and hurt little boy that so desired to be a man and He made him a Man. I came back to college and quit pursuing women all-together. If I could not honor God first then I could not honor them, I put a lot of my friendships with women on hold because I had to learn to be a man of God while enduring the refining of God. My mentors stood around me, building me up and teaching me to build others up. Suddenly my gift of exhortation became not about condemning people but building people and now two years later I started once again to exhort men of God…but this time it was different.
I dove deep into scripture to find those truths, I prayed about these things and asked God to form me into a man after His heart.
And that’s exactly what happened, my character and personality began to change, as did my perspective. I finally became a man who not only respected the women in my life but also cherished them and cared for them as a brother in Christ should. Suddenly it was about building up, never condemning.
So why am I so hard on men? I think one of my mentees said it best when he said “You have a high standard and you want to build them up to that.” You could also add to that: “I’ve seen the destruction that living as a man for selfish gain can bring in your own life and in the lives of the women you are supposed to be serving.” I have a high standard for men, and will be tough on men because…
- God taught me the standard: Not through any mystical means or cultic practices. But through scripture and through other men of God and through praying, seeking and walking by faith. God taught me what it meant to be a man of God and taught me how to encourage others to live the same way.
- I was “That Guy:” My sisters in Christ cannot believe this little truth but as you read above I was “that guy.” The guy who lived to gratify the flesh, sure I never lost my virginity physically, but mentally and in my heart were a mess. I lived for myself and nothing else mattered apart from that.
- I Am Called to Build Up the Church: As a future pastor and mentor it is part of my calling to build up men who are going to be leaders in the church. I am responsible for the body of Christ around me, to be a light and a testament. So to do that I need the produce fruit in the form of other men who do exactly the same thing.
So yes, I hold men to a high standard, but instead of condemning them for not reaching it my goal now is to build them up to meet it head on. My exhortations are not soft, but there is a soft encouragement behind them. My hope is that you hear the Lord of hosts whispering to you from behind the exhortation: “Come and follow me, come and know my ways and my statutes for manhood.” That quiet encouragement draws me into scripture and makes me what it knows to be a man after God’s own heart.
But here it is brothers, this journey, though different for all of us, should be one we actively pursue as we pursue God. To know His standards and build others up so that they too can know the standard.
So, for the sake of my significant other, my sisters in Christ and the church, which is the Bride of Christ I will take the lead in being a biblically minded, Christ centered man of GOD. Will you join me?
Jonathan David Faulkner is the executive director and found of 10:31 Life Ministries, as well as heavily involved in music, preaching and mentoring in his local community. He also writes the 10;31 Life Ministries “Take the Lead’ column appearing the first Wednesday of every month.