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Will the real manly man please stand up?

March 24, 2011

Ruth and Boaz by Gustave Dore

Yesterday, Stephanie gave us a beautiful look at femininity from the perspective of Ruth. Today, we are digging into one of my favorite lessons from this book: Biblical ‘manly men’ don’t always appear the way our culture describes “manliness.”

Our culture is certainly confused when it comes to gender identity, and sadly this confusion is vividly present around us in the church. Just as women are pressured to reject traditional femininity and pushed toward gender neutrality, it seems that men often are forced into more effeminate roles, or encouraged to embrace a caricature of “manliness” that is cheap and shallow. Manly men, our culture teaches us, love sports, hunting, big trucks, big guns, and have women hanging on them everywhere they go.  They are terrible listeners, aren’t nurturing, don’t really care about people, and sit around drinking beer and grunting at one another.

As I think through the men described in Scripture, few seem to fit this description of pseudo-manliness like Samson. Samson is a perfect example of perverted masculinity. He is a man who was set apart by God from birth, given super-human strength, and commissioned for leadership among God’s people. Instead of embracing his calling, Samson uses his strength to humiliate and destroy. He flagrantly ignores God’s calling of purity on his life. He treats women as objects, spends the night with a prostitute, and tells his parents about a woman he desires to marry with the phrase, “I have seen a woman. Get her for me.”

I want my sons to be manly men. I do not want them to be Samsons who demand and take and destroy. I want them to be men who fight for what is good and right, tenaciously cling to what is holy, protect the weak and vulnerable, nurture those under their leadership, love even when it is inconvenient. I want LB to understand that it is not his love of NASCAR that makes him masculine ;); his masculinity is an integral part of who God created him to be. It is a high calling to be a manly man like Jesus and lay down his life for others. So, what does this kind of manly man look like?

During this corrupt time period of the judges, we find in Boaz a real manly man. A man with undeniable godly masculinity along the lines of great men like Joshua, David… Jesus.

Boaz is a giver, a server of those even beneath his own social status. Every time Ruth comes to him empty and vulnerable, and he sends her away full and protected (Ruth 3:15). He is known as a spiritual leader. Notice even the way his workers greet him when he meets them in the fields! Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The LORD be with you!” “The LORD bless you!” they called back. (Ruth 2:4) He always refers to Ruth with utmost tenderness and respect, and seeks to spare her any embarrassment or disgrace (Ruth 2:15-16, Ruth 3:10-13). He is aware of the needy around him (Ruth 2:5), encouraging and affirming (Ruth 2:10-11), arranges provision (Ruth 2:14-16), provides protection (Ruth 2:8-9). I love that Boaz makes a point to present Ruth’s situation to the kinsman-redeemer who is a closer relative, offering him the opportunity to redeem before marrying Ruth himself (Ruth 4:1-6).

Manly men protect, give, sacrifice, shield; they are considerate, aware of others, willing to be inconvenienced to do what is right.

God uses this one godly man to preserve and bless both Naomi and Ruth, and then we find at the conclusion of the book that he would become the great-grandfather of King David. (and therefore Jesus is in his line, as well!)

Ladies, we need to raise our sons with a better understanding of their masculinity. May God raise up a generation of Boaz-men- deep, strong, godly men committed to do what is right; Samson-men are destined to be blind-sighted and crushed beneath the weight of a culture that appeals to them, enslaves them, and ultimately will destroy them.

What do you think? What version of masculinity do you see being promoted both inside and outside of church culture?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2011 8:20 am


    We need men like Boaz to show the “men of this world” how to be a man. It’s a scary thought to think that women want to be men and men want to be women. No wonder our children are confused.

    I want my boys to see what a man is – they’re strong, protecting, sensitive, caring, a man of their word, and a lover of Christ. And they can find that, hopefully in my husband and their father, but more importantly through reading about Boaz and the other Men of the Bible – especially Christ.

    Thanks again for another well-written post.

  2. stephanieshott permalink
    March 24, 2011 9:52 am

    Kristi ~ I love the detail you use to describe Boaz’s manliness and I love the verses that demonstrate him as a real man! What a wonderful reminder to us all to teach our boys how to understand their God-given masculinity!

  3. Jared permalink
    March 24, 2011 4:46 pm

    You’re absolutely right, Kristi. Nicely written. Our culture these days offers very little in the way of modeling, so we’re best off looking to the Bible for inspiration. I suppose growing up we, as boys, admired Samson for just what he did and could do…I mean lifting city gates, catching foxes, and slaying thousands with a donkey jaw, that’s pretty cool stuff! But in reality he did have some very fatal flaws and what he COULD have accomplished far outweighed what little he did do. It’s really not too hard to imagine a man, being indwelt by the Spirit, performing mighty feats, nor should we be too impressed with the feats, themselves. Good to “see” you again, say hi to Nathan…and you do have kids, right? Tell them some tales of Jared killing groundhogs : )

  4. March 24, 2011 7:20 pm

    I agree. As a Mom of 5 boys and {1 girl} married to a “Manly Man” not so much for what he does but who he is ad a Christian Man. We need to encourage our boys to be more like Boaz. Great Job

  5. March 25, 2011 12:09 am

    When I think of godly men in my life, my thoughts immediately go to my husband (of course). The adjectives that first come to mind for my dear husband are gentle, committed, honoring, a heart willing to serve, faithful, loving, patience, persevering, strong, and guiding. All of these characteristics of his are present not because of anything he does, but rather because of Christ through Him. I see many of these characteristics in Joseph (both of the OT and the NT), Boaz, David, Noah, and of course, Jesus.

    I love the distinction you made here. We want our sons to see that being “manly” is not in what they like or how they look, but found in their God-focused hearts and faith. I pray that we can help guide our son to seeing this truth and looking to God for his “manliness.”

    I love yesterday’s post and today’s post side-by-side like this.

  6. March 25, 2011 2:16 am

    My prayer is that my boys will grow up to be men like Boaz. Even at their young ages of 11 and 7 they know I expect them to be different. We’ve talked about it in different situations. There’s an entire life of learning ahead of my boys.

  7. March 25, 2011 8:08 am

    Thank you Kristi! Wonderful summary of Boaz as a true man the way God intends.

  8. Sarah B permalink
    March 26, 2011 2:47 pm

    I love this story! I also love the name Boaz (and wished I could name a son of mine by that name [maybe even “Bo” for short?]; however, Alex wasn’t a fan and said it didn’t go with our last name… point taken!). I’m sure it is a daunting task to raise boys in this day and age with such animosity toward true masculinity. I can only pray for those parents with that task, as they will be the future leaders of the collective church and husbands to our daughters!


  1. » Blog Archive Manly men -
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