Part 2: What It Became
*This is the second post in a three-part series. You can read the first post by clicking here.*
Part 2 of 3. In the first post, I proposed that every man possesses an indwelling, God-given impulse that drives him to subdue, to conquer, and to exercise dominion over his given sphere of life. In the beginning, Adam was created to lead in this meaningful mission of bringing creation under the visible lordship of the living God. He was created to represent God, reflect God, and worship and glorify God in this task. Through his work, his righteousness, his marriage, his relationships, and his descendants, Adam was to actively cover the canvas of creation with the glory of the Creator King. Created for this God’s glory, he had a mission, a vision, a calling, a purpose, and he was fulfilling it perfectly. Adam radiated as an exemplar of God-glorifying masculinity…until sin, which exploded everything into anarchy.
This is the horrifying heritage of Genesis 3. Eve ate. Adam, consenting by silent abdication, was with her. He then ate and willfully transgressed. This was more than munching on a small fruit. It was high-handed rebellion against a loving Creator, a shaking of puny created fists at the One who had just breathed into them the grace of existence. Instead of glorifying God through the cultural mandate, they opted for a futile creature’s attempt at dethroning him and becoming God themselves. It was a ridiculous grasp at self-deification that essentially said to the Sovereign God, “I would have you dead, and I would have me rule the universe in your place over your rotting carcass.”
The living God, never to be overthrown by insubordinate creaturely maneuvering, pronounced righteous judgment. The Curse. Sin. Death. And men were ruined. Adam, in all of his masculine exemplariness, fell from grace. Healthy purpose fizzled into self-destroying passion. God-centered affection devolved into self-worshipping egoism. A rally cry for the cause of God morphed into a campaign for the cause of sin. Worship of the infinite Creator atrophied into an irrational worship of His finite creation. When we spit on the Creator and kissed the serpent, we embraced style over substance, sin over glory, and death over life.
Yet stubbornly remaining after the entrance of sin is this indwelling principle, this masculine drive. The image of God remains, along with this particular impulse that is inherent to being a man created in that image. It was terribly perverted but not annihilated. We still see this drive in boys. Doug Wilson calls it their “tree fort impetus.” Wilson argues, “Boys want to conquer and subdue, and if the terrain before them is the back yard, then that is what they want to conquer and subdue.” We see this when boys have natural dispositions to fight bad guys and save people who need help and build blanket forts and enter into various other kinds of real or imagined missions and adventures. So the impetus remains.
But as we boys become men, the perversions in our sin-ridden masculinity manifest in the most perverse and damaging ways. We produce rotten fruit shooting forth from a sin-poisoned root. Our original function has malfunctioned, but we still want to subdue and exercise dominion. We then seek to gratify this corrupted drive in whatever ways our sin nature, satanic father, or world system craftily invents. So what do we become in our fallen efforts to stir up the ruinous ash heaps of our fallen masculinity?
We become sluggards, who sit around all day watching television shows and movies. The TV and the cinema give us a false sense of dominion through adventure and accomplishment. We can go anywhere, be anybody, and achieve anything, all through that pixilated screen, while doing absolutely nothing.
We become slackers, who pour our mental and physical resources into conquering video game levels. We lack any real vision, purpose, or mission, except that which our electronic Call of Duty commander dictates to us. This is not real life. This is not real purpose. This is not real dominion. This is deceptive, synthetic, purposeless, tame dominion.
We become selfish do-nothings, living only to conquer the next thrill, achieve the next high, or subdue the next pleasure. While we do many fun recreational things, we do nothing of any true, purposeful, eternal worth.
We become losers, who fester in porn for untold hours as we “subdue” and “conquer” thousands of willing women in our virtual harem. We neuter our masculinity in the process of gratifying our libido. Yet we are rulers with exceptional dominion, so we tell ourselves, in our own personal realm of free and always-available cyberspace sex. But God has spoken to this issue, and the herald of reality shouts that we have become lust-driven losers.
We become cowards, who are deathly afraid to be assertive, to have a backbone, and to love one woman for a lifetime. Sin has ruined us. We become abdicators who shirk the responsibility to lead, to combat injustice, and to act with courage. All men know that cowardice is bad and courage is good, but the siren song of sin drowns out the call to the virtue of true courage.
Even when fallen man seems to get it right, he gets it wrong. He may subdue and conquer his life terrain with apparent external excellence, whether that is through vocational success, philanthropic altruism, or academic achievement. He may achieve personal moral reformation through conquering self-destroying tendencies or others-damaging habits. Yet all of that achievement, when detached from a relationship with and not motivated by a worship of the Creator, is most foundationally a worship of the creature. It is self-deification, the ‘self-godding’ of yourself. And that’s bad. After all, creature worship is the sin that sent an entire world to hell. See Genesis 3 for further details.
We now know what it was at creation and what it became after the entrance of sin. In the final post in this series, we’ll see what it could be after the miracle of conversion, as men are redeemed and spiritually reconstituted to embrace the cause of God in Christ with Gospel-clinging abandonment.