When I first saw Richard Phillips’ The Masculine Mandate, I confess I was a bit skeptical because I’ve read some books on this topic that I couldn’t even finish. However, after reading it, I have to say it is the best book I’ve read on this topic. It is gospel centered, biblical, pastoral, and churchly; Phillips isn’t interested in giving the reader his opinions on what masculinity is all about. Instead, he does a good job pointing out and explaining the scriptures that apply to being a Christian man.
This book is not about masculinity in terms of beards, beer, and ballistics; it is not about patriotism and federal headship; it is not about being ‘wild at heart;’ nor is it about male domination and making wives submit and call their husbands ‘lord’ or ‘sir.’ Instead, is about what it means to be a man who follows Jesus. Phillips essentially talks about discipleship and applies it to men who follow the Lord in repentance, faith, and love.
While I have no problem with beards, beer, ballistics, and patriotism, I do not think those things are at the core of what it means to be a Christian man. I was glad that Phillips didn’t explain masculinity in terms of old-fashioned cultural customs or Victorian chivalry. Most of the books I’ve read on this topic end up being legalistic because they implicitly or explicitly describe masculinity in terms of extra-biblical things (such as my above list). Thankfully, Phillips doesn’t do that. Here are a few of my favorite quotes.
“Such a giving of a father’s heart [to his child(ren); cf. Prov. 23:26] is not a one-time event but a continual demonstration of love, patience, grace, mercy, and dedication over time.”
“One of the best ways for us to serve the Lord, to reflect his glory in the world and fulfill God’s calling on us as men, is to step off the sidelines of life, to offer our time and compassion to friends in need, and to speak words of truth and grace that lead them to (or back to) the Lord.”
“To be a Christian means not merely that I am saved from my sins, but also that I am saved to he his (Jesus’) disciple. That is what Christian men are: followers, disciples, and servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. The certainty of his return, and his commendation of faithful men and women, is the great and colossal fact that should dominate our view of the future.”
Having read The Masculine Mandate, I think it will be a great book to go through with the elders and deacons at the church I serve. If you have a book club, Bible study, or men’s prayer group, I would recommend this book. Also, I encourage wives to get this book for their Christian husbands. This is one of those books I’ll be recommending for a long time.