Archive for July, 2007

Manhood

Dpark, in his ever provocative way, has a post about Asian-American manhood, and asks the question how can the church work more effectively in spiritually forming Asian American men in a redemptive way.

I find the post provocatively in part because Asian American men are doing far better, by and large, than Black American men in all the ways that health and success is measured. They are healthier, wealthier, more educated, have more stable families, and of those who are Christian, have higher levels of participation in church.

I do not minimize the struggles and challenges Asian American men endure in coming to a healthy, God honoring appropriate understanding of masculinity that will help them to live as disciples of Jesus more effectively. Since I’ve waded waist deep into the waters of Asian American ministry, I get extremely annoyed and frustrated when I see emasculating images of Asian men, though they are becoming rarer. I do question however, both for Asian Americans and for my own people, if the proper way of moving towards such a healthy understanding is to begin with affirming what is already healthy and godly rather than beginning with a posture of critique.

One problem of holding up Black men or Asian men to some imagined standard of manhood and masculinity is that such standards are too often the standards of White culture dressed in the clothing of Christ. Another problem is that such standards are impossible targets to meet, and most of them are not explicit in scripture. Despite all that is written and talked about around Christian manhood, there is remarkably little in scripture about it. What we have mostly available to us are examples, positive and negative, about manhood, and a few commands having mostly universal applicability with the exception of those dealing with wives and children. Those specific commands can be boiled down to loving your wife and disciplining your children wisely. Beyond that, there just isn’t that much to go on.

This paucity of scripture increases the possibility that minority men, already under the pressure of negative images of who we are, will simply assume that the White way of being a way is better. This simply cannot be helpful, healthy, or godly.

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