John Eldredge didn't start the discussion on what it means to be a "real man," but his 2001 book Wild at Heart certainly ramped up the conversation in Christian circles. In the decade-plus since, pastors, scholars, pundits, and regular shmoes like me have all weighed in on what manhood really means in the context of Christian faith.

Eldredge wrote that for a boy to "become truly masculine," he ultimately needs "a battle to fight" and "a place for the warrior in him to come alive." Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll, fond of cage fighting and occasional cussing, believes in an "Ultimate Fighting Jesus," lamenting that the church has produced "nice, soft, tender, chickified church boys." Paul Coughlin, author of No More Christian Nice Guy, writes that "a meek and mild Jesus is a bore. He doesn't inspire us." Even Christianity Today senior managing editor Mark Galli joined the fray with the 2006 book Jesus Mean and Wild.

However such notions go down in the annals of scholarship on Christian masculinity, this is certain: Men of faith—studly, manly men—were everywhere on the big screen in 2011, ready to kick some butt and spill some blood. They were Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Norris all at once.

The trend even trickled down to Sherwood Pictures—the church production company behind Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and, now on DVD, Courageous—whose films are typically more "meek and mild" than "mean and wild." Leading men—a football coach, a fireman, cops—have always carried Sherwood's movies. But the coach in Giants was too whiny, and Fireproof's Kirk Cameron was too much of a pretty boy. Maybe we could relate to their issues, but not to a guy whose name is oft preceded by the phrase "former ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

July/August
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Tags:
Read These Next
Current IssueAre Evangelicals Donating Too Directly to Missions?
Are Evangelicals Donating Too Directly to Missions? Subscriber Access Only
When helping hurts the professional helpers.
Also in this IssueTeaching Natural Theology as Climate Changes Drown a Way of Life
Teaching Natural Theology as Climate Changes Drown a Way of Life Subscriber Access Only
Pacific Islanders relearn God’s care as rising sea levels threaten the future.
Current IssueWhat Brilliant Psychologists Like Me Are Learning About Humility
What Brilliant Psychologists Like Me Are Learning About Humility Subscriber Access Only
Measuring meekness can help the church as long as we remember the only One who had something to brag about.
RecommendedWhy We Need Wonder Woman
Why We Need Wonder Woman
Even when it falters, the new female-led film brings freshness to the superhero flick.
TrendingKay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Kay Warren: 'We Were in Marital Hell'
Through God's work in our lives, we've beaten the odds that divorce would be the outcome of our ill-advised union.
Editor's PickFinding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
Finding My ‘True Self’ As a Same-Sex Attracted Woman
In my young-adult struggle with sexual identity, both legalistic condemnation and progressive license left me floundering.
Christianity Today
Masculinity in the Movies
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

January 2012

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.