I love the way God teaches us through his natural creation to help us understand the deeper, more intricate facets of life. God is a masterful artist and poet, creating connections out of everything he made to describe us, him and our relationship. I can’t help but use biological metaphors to describe God’s relational presence woven into this world.
For instance, men are called to be the “head”. Now there is certainly a context to what Paul is talking about in Corinthians, but I want to add another angle to it. Biologically, part of the head’s function is to see and know and respond. Signals from the rest of our body fire messages to our brain which cause us to turn our attention to, or focus on, and respond in healing, caring ways. For instance, when we cut our finger, pain signals travel up to our brain informing us that something is wrong and needs an immediate nurturing response to care for the pain. Same thing if we are hungry, or tired, etc. The Brain is the response center for our action.
However, and now speaking relationally, if we have received very wounding relational responses from our caregivers towards our emotional/physical/connection needs, our brain records such and we will then care for our own selves in the way that we have been taught. Consequently, when we care for ourselves in distorted ways of trying to nurture the emotional cries for care, we will do the same towards others in our intimate circle (a future topic I will discuss).
So, it adds clarity to when Jesus highlights the greatest commandment, which is to love God with every fiber of your being and to love your neighbor as yourself. There is an order to healthy loving, which begins in the healing closeness with God that inevitably pours out to others. It is a natural, unforced outpouring. It also adds richer understanding when Paul likens the man’s love towards his wife to the treatment of his own physical body.
For when a man has encountered the merciful, peace-giving, gracious, forgiving, tender, caring, nurturing love of the Creator, he will reflexively do so in like, almost unconsciously.
But what I truly want to highlight is how Paul connects the man’s calling in the marital bond to Christ and His church; how Christ’s objective is to present the church as beautiful, restored, transformed, pure, and abundantly rich with his love. And how did and does He do this?
Well…he wrapped himself in the flesh he created, intentionally sought intimate communion with the Father; cared for those who were blatant in their pain and weakness; calling them out of their shame; spent time with the outcasts, wept, expressed intimate love towards both men and women; lived a life of dying to the self all the way to his death; never building walls of defense, for there was nothing for him to defend in himself; and revealing the truest form of vulnerable love…sacrifice.
And who did he mostly teach this to? Men. Why? Because in our human brokenness, men elevated and constructed societies and religion built on the elevation of the self, which included shaming and objectifying women, restricting their freedoms, abilities, worth and value. When religion consists of elevating and protecting the self, then it must objectify and subjugate others to fuel and sustain the ego.
He taught men true love, by dying to the desire to hoist up the self. He modeled vulnerable and sacrificial love symbolically through washing feet and allowing others to do so to him (the prostitute that poured expensive oils on his).
There is something indescribably beautiful when a man pursues a woman, caring for her emotional need and health; to which when a woman is seen and heard, nurtured and loved on an emotional level, the beauty that radiates is unmatched; it is a beauty that can never be manufactured or surgically constructed.
Jesus taught that kind of vulnerable pursuit, especially to men.
Jesus taught authentic manhood.