Every American evangelical is familiar with the phrases “I just don’t have a peace about it” or “Let me pray about it.” To many these comments seem deeply pious and spiritual, but they can just as easily mask the sin of a lazy and indecisive Christian. This is particularly a problem among Christian men, who often are paralyzed for months or years about decisions ranging from wedding engagements to career choices because they are still “seeking a word from the Lord.”
Author Mark Chanski hits this problem head on in a new volume, which has to be the worst-titled book in Christian history, Manly Dominion in a Passive Purple Four-Ball World. It is a pool metaphor, comparing Christian men to the ball that most often gets knocked around on the table.
Chanski rightly notes that the fear of the Lord never leads to weakness or passivity but to bold decision-making informed by divine revelation. As Chanski points out, Christians are called to seek wisdom, not some Zen-like sense of peace. In clear straightforward language, Chanski challenges young Christian men who are effeminate, not in their mannerisms or their sexual identity, but in their failure to demonstrate any sense of direction or leadership. This is an ideal book for the young man in your congregation who, when asked what he plans to do with his life, responds with a muffled “I don’t know” and eyes turned toward the pavement.
Unlike John Eldredge and the Wild at Heart phenomenon, Chanski doesn’t attempt to baptize Iron John or any other men’s movement. Instead, he just offers a plainspoken biblical picture of how a man is to train himself in self-control to make decisions and to make sacrifices.
The book resonated so much with me because it identifies the precise problem several of my friends and I have noticed in a new generation of evangelical men, most of whom have grown up in the soft therapeutic ethos of our contemporary church life. After reading this book, my friend Randy Stinson, executive director of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, challenged an audience of evangelical college student men to consider that the Scripture created them to rule creation and yet “some of you don’t even have dominion over your hair.”