The man-boy syndrome is not confined to an age, race or economic status. It is Peter Pan, chanting “I won’t grow up, I won’t grow up… I’ll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up!” It is Charlie Sheen, reveling in his addictions and selfish life – so much so that he sold tickets to a show of his sins. It is Ronnie on Jersey Shore, Hugh Hefner, Adam Sandler’s repeat man-boy movie characters, Russell Brand’s character in the movie ‘Arthur.’ It’s the nameless-faceless ‘baby daddy’ that refuses to pay child support.
The Man-Boy Syndrome is characterized by a total disregard for anyone other than themselves. The wife, children, girlfriend, world exists just to meet his needs. He always chooses the convenient over the responsible. He has very little care or compassion for others, especially those weaker than himself. He demands all the benefits of marriage/adulthood without ever having to make the commitment or take responsibility. It’s not the guy sitting on the couch playing x-box to unwind from a busy day. It’s the guy sitting on the couch day after day playing x-box while his wife makes dinner, cares for the children and supports their family.
The man-boy, kind of like the horse-man from fantasy movies… is a creature that God never intended. And his existence is partly our fault. As a society, we have abdicated our biblical roles of femininity and masculinity, and facilitated the development of this monster…. the Man-Boy. As the feminist movement swept the country, liberating women to live, work and act like their male counterparts; it had the unexpected side effect of liberating men from being men. Feminism didn’t create the Man-Boy, he’s been around since sin entered the world, but the feminist movement provided the perfect environment for the Man-Boy to flourish. The Feminist and the Man-Boy are a match of co-dependency and convenience, both allowing the other to wallow in the preferences of the flesh. . . . pride and apathy.
The Purpose of True Femininity
In direct contrast to the feminist and the Man-Boy, are true femininity and masculinity. True femininity was created by God as the perfect complement for masculinity. Genesis 2: 20-24 tells us that no comparable helper could be found for Adam among all creation, so God made woman as his perfect helpmeet. “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’” (Gen. 2:23)
But masculinity and femininity are not purposes unto themselves. While woman was designed to function as the perfect helper for man, the purpose of woman is not man. The purpose of femininity is not to encourage or promote masculinity. The purpose of femininity is not to be a submissive helpmeet. God’s purpose for femininity is much greater – our purpose is the Gospel. John Piper, in Voices of the True Womanhood Movement, says “God created the universe and governs all things to magnify His own grace in the death of His Son for the salvation of His bride… [that] leads us to the mind-boggling truth that womanhood and manhood – femininity and masculinity – belong at the center of God’s ultimate purpose.” The purpose of woman is to worship God. Just as the purpose of man is not found in ruling the earth or having authority over a woman, the purpose of man is to worship God. How we worship and glorify God is found in masculinity and femininity. Piper says, “He created us male and female precisely so that we could display the glory of His Son. Our sexuality is designed for the glory of the Son of God – especially the glory of His dying to have His admiring bride.” (aka… the Gospel).
It is in and through our femininity (and for men, through their masculinity) that we worship God and proclaim Him to the world. Paul unfolds the beautiful mysterious relationship of Christ with His Bride, the church, through the analogy of a husband and wife. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5: 22-33) He quotes Genesis 2:24, reminding his readers that masculinity and femininity as a reflection of the Gospel was God’s plan from the beginning. The Gospel is why we were created male and female. We were created feminine because that is an indispensible part of displaying the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world!
And because man is not our purpose, whether married or single, we can every day fulfill the purpose for which we were created feminine – the Gospel.
How True Femininity Proclaims the Gospel
Now the helpmeet part from Genesis 2 comes into play. It is how women proclaim the Gospel through our femininity. True femininity is displayed through loving submission to authority (Eph. 5:22). True femininity reflects Jesus in functioning as a complementary helpmeet (Gen. 2:20-24). True femininity proclaims the Gospel through mothering, sometimes physical, but always spiritual mothering (Titus 2). True femininity is not dependant on outward adornment, but proclaims the work of Christ through her inner beauty and moral character (1 Peter 3). True femininity uses her gifts to serve the Body of Christ, but knows that reflecting the Gospel is far more important that a title or position (1 Tim. 2:9-15). True femininity can only be fully realized through the power of the Holy Spirit through the saving work of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). True femininity isn’t confined to romantic relationships, but encourages every man, woman and Man-Boy to become reflectors of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Prov. 31:10-31).
True Femininity brings out True Masculinity
Because of God’s beautiful complementary design, true femininity draws out true masculinity and vice versa. Not so the world would be teeming with masculinity and femininity, but so that the Gospel would be on display for all to see …. in biblical marriages, godly families, the raising up of little worshippers, spiritual mothering, in lives obedient to Scripture. Just like the Savior it proclaims, true femininity is not easily ignored. It calls for a reaction, a response from men and women, lost and saved.
Man-Boy’s in the World: Sadly, our society is overrun with shallow, vain, self-centered Man-Boys. They’re most often characterized in tacky teen movies that exchange hot for plot. While they’re not all teenaged boys, they do all seem to act like petulant and rebellious 15-year-old’s. They won’t understand true femininity; it might as well be Greek to them. Some will mock it, others will find themselves irresistibly drawn to it. A perfect example of True Femininity and Worldly Man-Boy is Esther and King Xerxes in Esther 5. A violent, troubled Persian ruler swayed by the courageous and gentle appeal of a strong woman of God.
Men of the World: The opposite of a Man-Boy: these men are responsible, dependable and strong. But they haven’t personally experienced the Gospel, so they cannot fully understand true femininity, but they usually respect it. The amazing example of True Femininity and a Man of the World is the military commander Naaman and the Servant Girl in 2 Kings 5:1-14. In charge of the entire Syrian army, Naaman wasn’t a man to be messed with. He could have eaten Man-Boy’s for lunch. Yet when he was sick, he trusted and respected the recommendation of a young Israelite servant girl in his house to find healing. What her belief in God must have been like, to have such a profound influence on her master!
Man-Boy’s in the Church: You know exactly who I am talking about, the kind-of rebellious boy (who could very well be 35) who’s grown up in church but their faith in God is pretty weak. They find the whole idea of true femininity and masculinity crazy, because they don’t truly understand the entirety of the Gospel. A great example of True Femininity and a Churchy Man-Boy is Deborah and Barak in Judges 4. God commanded Barak to lead the armies of Israel to war against their captors, but he was scared. Deborah, a respected prophetess, even reminded him of God’s command, but Barak wouldn’t go into battle without Deborah.
Men in the Making: These guys really do love God and want to do His will – when it doesn’t interfere with Monday Night Football. They admire true femininity and it can encourage them to become the men God created them to be. True Femininity encountered a Man in the Making in the story of David and Abigail in 1 Sam. 25. While David was fleeing from Saul with his mighty men, he was treated very rudely by a man named Nabal. In anger, David organized his men to go kill every man in Nabal’s house. But Abigail, a wise and gracious woman, intervened and was able to defuse the situation.
Men of God: These are already men when you meet them. They already have a personal, intimate relationship with God. They are spiritual leaders who cherish the women in their lives and aren’t ashamed of it. They have, or are ready to, step up to the plate to be protector, provider, and prince. When you challenge them by being a woman of God, they will challenge you right back. You being a woman of God challenges them to be men of God – and they love that about you. That isn’t to say they will want to marry you, but they greatly appreciate being around you and will be encouraged by your obedience to God’s Word. One of the most beautiful pictures of True Femininity and True Masculinity is seen in the relationship of Ruth and Boaz in Ruth 2-3. She caught his eye from the very first moment he saw her, but it was her character that won him over. Because he was already a man of God, he was able to act quickly in making Ruth his bride, redeeming the family property, and living out God’s purpose for their lives.
A Call to True Femininity
True femininity draws out true masculinity. True femininity encourages other women in true femininity. True femininity reflects Jesus Christ. May we not fall in the easy, natural rolls of our flesh – the Feminist and the Man-Boy – but rather strive daily to live out true masculinity and femininity. Because the purpose of male and female isn’t marriage, or children, or pleasure, or romantic bliss….it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.