The Important Things of Great Importance
Worldview maturity sufficient to understand what is really important.
An inversion of values marks our postmodern age, and the predicament of modern manhood is made all the more perplexing by the fact that many men lack the capacity of consistent worldview thinking. For the Christian, this is doubly tragic, for our Christian discipleship must be demonstrated in the development of a Christian mind.
The Christian man must understand how to interpret and evaluate issues across the spectrum of politics, economics, morality, entertainment, education and a seemingly endless list of other fields. The absence of consistent biblical worldview thinking is a key mark of spiritual immaturity.
A boy must learn how to translate Christian truth into genuine Christian thinking. He must learn how to defend biblical truth before his peers and in the public square, and he must acquire the ability to extend Christian thinking, based on biblical principles, to every arena of life.
One of the best things I learned in graduate school developed from a Religion and Literature class with Dr. Ralph Wood. We were examining Christian approaches to the modern world, and different ways religious writers have approached the post-modern problem. One of the salient points from the class that has affected me immensely is this:
There is no such thing as a “worldview.”
“Worldview” implies that there are different lenses from which you can view the world, that there is some way that you can be entirely and completely objective and consistent in how you develop a life philosophy apart from your lived experience. It implies that there are pairs of glasses you can use to switch out ways you view the world.
That is fundamentally flawed. You cannot separate yourself from your experience, and that lived experience will ALWAYS color the way you view the world. So for me, the phrase “worldview maturity” is entirely meaningless. If, for example, I was raised in India in a Hindu household, and then converted to Christianity, my “worldview maturity” would still look quite different from Mohler’s born and bred American Christianity.
To imply that there is one consistent “Biblical” worldview is intellectually dishonest – there is no such thing. Even within American Christianity, there are massive disagreements (this being a prime example). Additionally, Mohler seems to be thinking in an us vs. them mentality, including the action of apologetics in a “biblical worldview,” which neglects the idea that not everyone is good at apologetics.
There’s a reason apologetics is considered a “field.” It is something people study and focus and put their time into. Not every Christian – much less every Christian MAN – has the time nor desire to engage in us vs. them debates about aspects of the Christian faith. Should we know enough of our own doctrine that we’re able to talk about it when asked? Sure, but that’s not the situation Mohler is discussing – the specific phrasing he uses (“defend biblical truth before his peers”) screams apologetics, not mere “ability to answer questions.” It also implies that a Christian should have all the answers to the questions that face the faith, which is ridiculously immature.
What people need to realize is that having “all the answers” or even being able to "defend your faith" is not a mark of maturity but rather just a mark of having a lot of knowledge. A true mark of maturity (philosophically and theologically) is the freedom and ability to say “I do not know.” Where’s the defense of the faith in that, Mr. Mohler? Asking for 1. A consistent “biblical” worldview, 2. An ability and desire to do apologetics in all situations as though we live in a tense “us vs. them” world, and 3. “the ability to extend Christian principles to every arena of life” is an incredibly untenable burden.
Does any man exist who fulfills Mohler’s oddly specific and yet somehow very vague characteristics? Let’s review. A man must:
- Be spiritually mature enough to be the guiding light for his wife and children.
- Have a wife and children and the ability to be a good dad.
- Be the “provider” for the family and basically a jack of all trades financially speaking.
- Not get involved in porn, or lust, or temptation, or even look at their wife in a way that doesn't lead to procreation. Also, probably not masturbate.
- Be physically capable of defending hearth and home, which for many men would be an extremely time-consuming task.
- Be a moral authority and make “good moral decisions,” despite the natural existence of decisions in which neither choice will be the moral one.
- Be an ethical, decisive leader, willing to make the “hard decisions” so your little wife won’t burden her tiny brain with them.
- Somehow still have the time to study Scripture to the point of being able to defend it from every philosophical or theological attack, and maintaining a consistent Biblical worldview at the same time.
I do not envy the burden that this places on men. We’re just over halfway through the list, and already I imagine that men who are trying to follow Mohler’s principles would crack under the pressure (which, of course, must mean that they are not “real” men). Not to mention, many of these things are not exclusive to men, and placing them in the men’s sphere actually turns them into a bigger burden than they should be. Men, wouldn’t you like it if you could not be the tie breaker in a decision every time? Wouldn’t you appreciate being able to pass off the “apologetics” of the faith into the realm of a smart girl like me (wink wink)? Wouldn’t it be nice of you could have discussions about lust and sex and children WITH YOUR PARTNER and not have to cop to someone else’s standards of purity?
Being that girls have similar untenable standards placed on them simply because of being born with a vagina, I can only imagine that some men will look at Mohler’s list and wonder how in the world they can measure up.
Gender roles, as a whole, create this idealized image of what a man should be, with no man actually fitting into that role. They function to guilt people into behaving, rather than encouraging people to figure out who they are and the best way for them to live – which may or may not align with a narrowly defined set of “biblical principles.”
Again, there is no indication of what "biblical principles" means. Does that mean never voting for a Democrat? Does that mean selling your daughter to the highest bidder? Does that men sacrificing your son? Does that mean not wearing clothing made from mixed fibers? Does that mean never divorcing, no matter how screwed up your marriage becomes? Does that mean giving your coat to your neighbor when he asks for it? Does that mean turning the other cheek and refusing to engage an opponent who is trying to trap you in an issue? Does that mean not being violent and not raising your hand against another human? Does it mean having 300+ wives?
Seriously, man, you can’t just say “biblical principles” and expect us to understand!
The man Mohler imagines is both unrealistic and kind of scary, and yet it is a resurgent and prevalent theology in the church today. I suppose I will just have to keep raising my womanly voice in protest, contrary to some "biblical principles."