A Bizarre Scripture about Testicles
Born-again family, kingly blessings.
Early in my ministry, after being in ministry a few years, I noticed a bizarre scripture in action, a scripture about testicles: Deuteronomy 23:1. More on that in a sec.
Though mothers are critical in what they impart to developing children, they are not men and cannot impart the masculine flame. This is why born-again churches, God's ekklesia and oikos, must provide sound, powerful father figures for men who did not have an adequate father at home. But what if a church does not provide this, and becomes a farm that enables male weakness?
Deuteronomy 23:1 says (NKJV first, then Young's Literal Translation):
He who is emasculated by crushing or mutilation shall not enter the assembly of the LORD.
One wounded, bruised, or cut in the member doth not enter into the assembly of Jehovah.
First of all, ouch.
Second, questions firecracker everywhere. What if the structural disfigurement was not the man's fault? What is "the assembly of the LORD"? Since God operates from moral and intellectual perfection, we need more eyes for a 360-degree roundabout vision (Eze 1:18) to understand Him in this peculiar Mosaic command.
What It Does Not Mean
This verse does not mean that sexually deformed males could not have a relationship with God. Old Testament eunuchs could even have "a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters...an everlasting name" if they pleased God and obeyed the Old Covenant (Isa 56:3-5). Jesus honored eunuchs in the kingdom (Mt 19:12). The high-ranking Ethiopian official was a eunuch (Ac 8:27-39). He was worshiping in Jerusalem (v27), where the temple was.
These scriptures rule out Deuteronomy 23:1 as a total ban from the community of Israel. We must uncover, then, what is meant by "assembly of the LORD". This particular assembly is what sexually disfigured men were banned from.
The Assembly of Jehovah
Deuteronomy 23:1 is an expansion of Leviticus 21:16-23, which say, "...none of your descendants who has a defect may come near to offer the food of his God...damaged testicles." (v16,20 NIV). The ban here is on the priesthood. The Deuteronomy version expands beyond the priesthood to "the assembly of the LORD". Since other scriptures show eunuchs accepted and blessed in Hebrew society (Isa 56:3-5, Mt 19:12, Ac 8:27), we realize God is referring here to a smaller, more technical assembly. This smaller technical assembly was an all-male, all-Hebrew council responsible for the governance of Israel.
Many scriptures describe this fascinating group. It was formed after the exodus (Ex 18:13-26) and reinforced before entering the promise land (Deu 1:9-18). A prophetic dimension was added to the group at Kibroth Hattavaah (Num 11:16-27). Even after the monarchy began the assembly continued underneath it (1Chr 13:1-4). Here are a few more scriptures on this important group: Numbers 16:2,3,8-10, Deuteronomy 31:28, Judges 20:2, Micah 2:5.
This body was called the assembly of the LORD because its deliberations and decisions were to happen in the very presence of God, a function of dependence on Him (Deu 1:17, Num 11:16,17, 1Chr 13:2, 2Chr 19:6,11) as His governmental medium. It was this leadership assembly from which the sexually disfigured were banned.
This ban pertained to a man's diminished sexual structure and capability--a true calamity in the ancient world. A man who could not have children could not raise a family workforce, and thus, could not generate economically, and thus, could not purchase servants or a militia, which would create even more overall children, workers, and money (Gen 14:14). He could not keep property in the family. If castrated, his aggression would droop, making him docile and soft in a lawless time of endless fighting and piracy. With omniscient foresight, God deemed it unwise to have these men in Israel's decision-making assembly.
Maimed Masculinity Today
The Old Covenant rules were merely shadows of timeless realities discoverable in Christ (Col 2:17,3). Today's male may have his manparts working nicely, but his inner masculinity may be mutilated or malformed. He may be deeply afraid. Fidgety in his own skin. Lacking bite force. Dependent on strong women. Unable to initiate, pioneer, or follow through. Cannot generate new economy over time. Cannot fight and win socially. Feels like a little boy inside. Or a woman. Wants a man sexually. Wants no one at all. Wants only weak women.
These and other signs of miniaturized manhood exist in the soul, transcending time and culture. This is the Lord's deeper concern insinuated in the Mosaic ban. This bruising, trimming, or crushing of masculinity has lured many western churches into becoming "beta male farms", Christian zones where male weakness is enabled and exploited.
Beta Male Farms
Is your church or ministry a place where males can become sound, powerful men, as defined by God in Scripture? Or is it a beta male farm growing court eunuchs?
Alpha & Beta Biology
In the animal kingdom, social species instinctively organize themselves into a hierarchy. The most powerful individual becomes the "alpha", while the others are downgraded to a weaker and obsequious "beta" zone. True competitors to the alpha will persist in fighting to displace the incumbent, or wander off to find a new group to commandeer.
The New Testament Greek word for our flesh or body is sarx, the same word used for an animal's biology. See Revelation 19:18,21. God designed our biology to be similar, in some cases identical, to animals. Our DNA is 60-85% parallel to mice, 95-98% to chimpanzees. In practical terms, this means the biological imperatives that drive animals drive us too, drives for food, safety, sex...and social layering into alphas and betas.
Spirit & Theology
Reality would end there if we were animals only, but we are not. We are spirits with an animalistic dimension (our genome or sarx). Furthermore, when we became born-again we became a type of "king" (scriptures below). King is a categorically alpha term. This means every born-again believer, male and female, is an alpha individual by identity and mandate. How can this be? For the purposes of this article, how can many churches be beta male farms when Scripture says every born-again male is alpha potential, a king?
Churches that Enable Beta Masculinity
A church that enables beta males, as opposed to developing kingship males, is saying in the spirit of Deuteronomy 23:1, Even though your manhood has been bruised, trimmed, crushed, or totally removed, we will just use all that for the organization's benefit (and your own good, of course), but not provide pathways to heal and mature that manhood.
When that is the unspoken culture of your church or group, guess what happens? Beta masculinity is enabled and multiplied, creating an obsequious workforce of court eunuchs.
The alphas are nowhere to be found.
We'll come back to this and necessary adjustments at the end.
Christian Kingship in Scripture
The first Biblical statement on Christian kingship is in God's promise about Sarah. Genesis 17:16 says (NIV, underline mine): ...kings of peoples will come from her.
Here God tells Abraham that, from Sarah, a lineage of spiritual royalty on earth would come. Job 36:7 says the same, referring to all who live righteously before the Lord (NIV, underline mine): He does not take his eyes off the righteous; he enthrones them with kings and exalts them forever.
The New Testament picks this up seamlessly. Paul says, in identical language, born-again Christians are children of Sarah (Gal 4:31), and the blessing given to Abraham is ours in Christ (3:14). Later he tells us we are to "reign in life" (Ro 5:17) as "more than conquerors" (8:37). Ever wonder what "more than a conqueror" actually means? A ruler, a king. A foot soldier is vital to an army's conquest, yet his responsibility ends after victory has been won. To be more than a conqueror is to then be ruler of what was just conquered--a king.
The apostle John, in the plainest language in all of Scripture, says we are "kings and priests" (Rev 1:6, 5:10 NKJV). We are co-heirs with Christ of the Melchizedek identity, who is king and priest forever in the order of Melchizedek (Heb 7:1-3,17,21).
To A Degree Now, Later Fully
This kingship identity will be fully actualized only in the Millennium. Paul sarcastically emphasizes this to the arrogant Corinthians (1Co 4:8). In that day we will govern the post-apocalyptic nations, regions, and cities with Jesus (Rev 2:26,27, 20:4,6, Lk 19:17-19, Isa 54:3), depending on our spiritual maturity level accumulated here and now (Lk 19:17-27).
We can, however, experience this identity to varying degrees now. This is the spirit of "reigning in life" (Ro 5:17) as more than conquerors. Practically, this means ruling over personal sin (6:14), ruling over earthly hardships (8:35-37), and ruling the sphere God destined for us individually (2Co 10:13-16, Ro 15:20, Ps 16:6).
The perfect, to-the-point scripture that articulates "to a degree now, later fully" is 1Corinthians 6:2,3 (NIV): Or do you not know that the Lord's people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!
Male & Female Kings
This kingship identity is imputed to both male and female born-again Christians. It is a reiteration and restoration of God's original intent, that man and woman would co-rule together (Gen 1:26-28). For the purposes of this article I am addressing only the male side.
Responses & Adjustments
The following applications are important starters. Adapt as fits your congregational or ministerial situation.
Correct your service/servanthood message.
Beta male farms have misrepresented the meaning of service and servanthood (benefitting the organization, like an assembly line in the Industrial Revolution), and have minimized individual creative potential and distributed leadership. When Jesus said the greatest must be the servant (Mt 20:26), He did not mean male congregants should become servile court eunuchs with little or no creative power in the group. He was contrasting authoritarianism with humility (v25). When Paul said to serve one another in love (Gal 5:13), he was not thinking of western churches with stupefying organizational complexity, requiring an army of service animals to prop it up. He meant largely spontaneous acts stirred by heartfelt lovingcare.
If you are serious about mobilizing the potential in born-again men, you cannot send a servile service message. The New Testament ideal of service, in church life, is individualized to a person's giftedness (1Pet 4:10, 1Co 12:5). Every male in your church has a gifted fire burning within. That is what your language and efforts must appeal to. Do not plug people into roles just to keep the machine running. Strong, dynamic males will never submit to that.
Simplify your operation so less baseline servants are needed, and more leaders, pioneers, and creators can be made room for.
Baseline servants are the lowest number of people needed for essential operations. Someone has to carry the equipment, clean up, cut grass, make deposits, set up chairs, etc. The deacon body is supposed to do most of this, but in larger groups or events more help may be needed. In churches that do not rightly practice deaconship (or even have deacons), all the baseline servants are congregants, which marginalizes and suppresses creative potential.
Simplify your operation so less baseline servants are needed, and more leaders, pioneers, and creators can be made room for. Use prayer and wisdom, but deal with stale ministries, programs, modules, and anything else draining human resources. Some of these might be retained, but streamlined or simplified or redeveloped by an individual with anointed ideas. But you thought all he could do was drive the church van and stack chairs.
Address maimed masculinity in understanding, all-male, regular settings.
This could be a weekly or bi-monthly meeting, coupled with occasional retreats. A solid and understanding male leader would guide heart-level conversation, confession, prayer, healing, and sensitive masculine-themed teaching. These are not times to casually confess "pride" and "lust" and watch Fireproof. These should be surgical times where the deepest, most vulnerable mutilations can be uncovered and healed. Such transformational surgery can never be forced, however, the space can be created for the men and the Holy Spirit. The subject matter should start shallow and gradually escalate in depth and sensitivity.
Alpha/kingship and beta/servility are not personality types or spiritual gifts. Message correctly.
Alpha/kingship and beta/servility are psychosocial ways of being. They are social dynamics, not raw personality. You can be introverted by nature but a bona fide alpha in your social sphere. Actually, some of the greatest alphas (male and female) I have known were not bubbly extroverts or chatty charmers. They were reserved and soft-spoken, but impressively strong silverbacks when occasioned. Moreover, some of the weakest betas I have known were natural extroverts or sanguines. They were not strong or leaderly when occasioned. Do not confuse personality type with psychosocial ways of being.
Similarly, alpha and beta are not spiritual gifts, which are "manifestations of the Spirit" (1Co 12:7) through a Christian. The manifestation may, for a brief time, make a person seem kingly or seem service-oriented, but this is merely the intermittent nature of gifts. I know leaders with one or more of the leadership gifts, but strangely, in their daily lives they are weak and obsequious. And, I know deacons, or Christians with the gift of service or helps, who are dynamic leaders in their daily lives. Our history conditioned us to be more kingly or more servile based on what was rewarded or shamed. Unlearn and learn!
Do not confuse social dynamics with raw personality or spiritual gifts. Teach the men correctly. If you enable their beta frame they will always be consolation prize men.
Imagery, ambience, and music cannot be only or mostly feminine, it must be equal.
Many churches are Christian versions of Bath & Body Works. Weekly attendance is a baptism in estrogen. I am referring to imagery, ambience, and music. While a handful of men might come anyway (around 30-40% of a church population), many men will sniff the air, look around, sense the overwhelming gynarchy, and not come back.
Congregational leaders need to design a place that reflects both genders equally, in the spirit of Genesis 1:26-28. Instead of flowers at every prominent spot in the facility, replace half of them with swords, snazzy electrical fireplaces, images of John in the wilderness or Elijah calling down fire or the prodigal son returning to the father, etc.
Instead of a pastel padded cell, equalize and balance with stronger colors. This is one reason I schemed my main website with strong colors, neutral colors, and pastel colors; both men and women tune into my work so I want to affirm and colorize both.
Musically, every worship song does not need to be femspeak about being held and cuddled as God's wife. Yes, there is a dimension of bridal-themed worship, certainly. But God is much more than the perfect boyfriend you never had and He needs to be honored as such. He is a Man of War, Wine Grower, Adventurer, Risk-Taker, Commander, Thinker, Planner, Farmer, Confronter, Carpenter, and other qualities that seem to evaporate in Bath & Body Works churches. Worship His total nature and a gender-balanced gravitational pull will emanate from those songs.
Create "pride area" destiny discovery modules and pathways.
Lions live in "prides" or territorial spheres presided over by an alpha lion, a nice metaphor for the individual calling of every Christian, male and female. Paul writes about "spheres" and "territories" God entrusts to us to lead (2Co 10:13-16, Ro 15:20). David does too (Ps 16:6). For the purposes of this article, my focus is on men discovering their pride area.
How is your church helping men with destiny discovery? What modules and pathways do you have in place? If you are not proactively helping your men find their lion's pride, you are likely using them as service donkeys.
In 1991, rock band Metallica released one of the most profound songs ever composed, "Unforgiven". It is a confession of lead singer James Hetfield's experience with Christianity. He sings of how it oppressed and suppressed him as a boy and a man, turning him into a "whipping boy" (1:10) until he no longer cared or wanted to live. He uses the nail-in-hand crucifixion image (2:52) to convey Christianity did to him what was done to Jesus.
Why am I sharing this? Throughout Metallica's career Christians have tongue-lashed the group as "Satanic". This may be true on some level, but do we have the hindsight, insight, and foresight to recognize that how we minister to men directly contributes to the type of men they become? James Hetfield will be responsible for how he used his freewill, but the Christians and churches who were in his life are responsible for much of what I've said in this article.
Listen to this song with the heartbreaking lyrics. The video is even more heartbreaking, sometimes making my eyes water. The video's symbolism is extraordinary. Leaders, remember this song and remember it well. You can blast every rocker and rapper until your church shoes feel goody goody, or you can realize the deeper problem and create ways to love, save, heal, and transform men while they are still open to Jesus.