If you visit any of the popular (non-heretical) Christian blogs, you will probably notice the issue of Muscular vs “Effeminate” or Gentle Christianity come up. To be honest, I understand the basic principles behind each perspective, but don’t really want to get into a discussion about the whole topic here.
This post is more of a personal analysis of how I believe I embody both sides of the debate. On one side, the side of Muscular Christianity is embodied by quite a few 19th-century theologians and pastors, as well as Tim Tebow, Jeremy Lin, and quite a few MMA/UFC fighters. On the other side, there aren’t really any embodiments of the movement, but more of a collection of ideas and ways of doing Christianity and ministry that labeled, possibly erroneously, as “effeminate.”
As a Christian, a husband, a church member, and as a student of God, I don’t know fully where I stand on this issue. However, without trying to draw too many conclusions on each side, I believe Christianity could use and needs both ways to approach daily Christian living.
As a man of God, God demands of me to do whatever I healthily do to be healthy and in good shape. I am also called to worship God the Father and bow before the Savior King who is Jesus the Anointed One. Following on this, as a man and as a believer I am called to publicly and privately proclaim the Gospel and the power of the Gospel in my life and the power it holds to transform the lives of others. I am also called to be a man in the way the Bible calls me to be and to be responsible in leading, protecting, and being a representation of Jesus and God the Father to my family.
But there is also room for Gentle Christianity. The Savior King is an epic and beautiful representation, and title, of Jesus. But Jesus is also our brother, God the Son, a friend of sinners, and a representation of the type of humility we are to at times embody by looking at what He did at the cross. Not only do I see myself as a follower of Muscular Christianity (and not just because I am a tebowmaniac!) but, as a Christian who isn’t afraid to cry when God moves me to tears, a believer who isn’t worried about being moved by images of suffering and the need the world has for Christ, and as person who has been called to bring the comfort, hope, and grace of the Gospel of Jesus to billions around the world.
I hope this makes sense to you. I guess, from my perspective, Muscular Christianity is a great foundation for a healthy church (physically and spiritually), but it’s a tough way to really show deep truths of the Gospel to the world. It is much more easier, in my experience, to show Christianity and the heart of the Gospel by embracing a gentler aspect of the Gospel.