A Negative Model Of Manhood In Judges 19 -- By: Craig S. Keener
Volume 9:2 (Spring 1995) p. 7
A Negative Model Of Manhood In Judges 19
Craig Keener is author of The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (InterVarsity, 1993) and Paul, Women & Wives (Hendrickson, 1992).
Although the circles of young people where I minister rarely have a problem with women’s ministry, many young men and women are looking for more models of what it means to be a “real” man. Although some hold traditional and others hold egalitarian ideals of marriage, many of the young women who would like to someday marry lament the fact that there are not enough respectful Christian young men to go around in society as a whole.
Many young people come from homes where they have seen or experienced abuse. Apart from God’s grace some of the young men now defining their manhood could become abusive, taking “lordship” over a wife for granted. But most of the young men we minister to sincerely want to serve God. Thus they are simple struggling right now to define for themselves and one another what it means to be a “good man” growing up in a society where fathers are too often absent, and where the majority of manhood models they have seen have been abusive toward women.
With these sort of crises in mind, I have begun preaching more often from texts which, despite the very different culture in which they were written, provide sounder models for male identity than the ones my younger brothers in Christ often see. I like to preach from the example of the young man Joseph (probably not much older than 20 at the time) in Matthew 1:18-25, who showed that he was a “righteous” man — not only by taking sin seriously, but by showing mercy to someone (Mary) he felt had deeply betrayed him. Joseph and Mary also showed incredible self-control of their sexuality before Jesus’ birth, although they were married some months before that event (Mt. 1:25).
But I find another kind of man in Judges 19:1-20:7 — an account that has often drawn insightful comments from feminist and womanist theologians.1 This story occurs in a section of Judges lamenting how immoral Israel had become in a period with no higher moral standard than each person’s personal values (cf. 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). This account provides the longest and starkest picture of Israel’s depravity in this period.
The story involves various kinds of characters, some wholly evil and abusive, others more ambivalent. The people of...
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