Nate Pyle’s debut book, Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood, contributes a much-needed perspective in our churches’ debate over gender roles and what it means to be a man (or woman, as the case may be). Steering away from cultural stereotypes of wilderness surviving, football playing, car fixing men devoid of any emotion other than jealousy and anger, Pyle points us to a more accurate and biblical perspective right from the start: there is no single template for masculinity (19) and that “being a man is not dependent on what one does; rather, a man is a man because he is made in the image of God. . . . Masculinity does not need to be proved; it needs to be affirmed” (25). The same thing can be (and is) said of women! When we look to Genesis, both man and woman are addressed in the mandates to be fruitful and rule—there is no gender distinction between the two (173). Leaping to Paul in his letter to the church in Galatia, Pyle also points out that there is no gender distinction in the fruit of the Spirit that is indicative of Christians, even though our culture (and churches!) tends to think of most of these attributes as being feminine (love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness), Pyle notes how faithfulness and self-control are often perceived as masculine (be faithful to your wife/family, and exercise self-control to be competitive and successful) (158). This certainly needs to change.
Much of the book is a journey through Pyle’s husky childhood to an athletic, adventuresome adulthood and still not “feeling like a man.” I’m sure many will be able to relate, especially in an American culture where bread-winning and other struggles are no respecters of gender and churches tend to push a “man works, woman stays home” mentality (yes, this sort of scripture twisting is still quite prevalent). I’ve recently tossed my hat into the pool of applicants for a “Men’s Ministry Coordinator” position at a local university despite its desire to promote “Biblical masculinity” through “initiatives that are specific to men,” like “Fantasy Football League.” I like to think it’s just a poorly written job description and that it isn’t indicative of an actual university-wide perspective, but either way, I pray it is filled with someone who thinks like Pyle in this regard!
(Kudos to Dual Identity for their cover design! This sucker pops!)
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”