Many know here that my wife is a Confessional Lutheran, so, naturally, I am acquainted with some of the theology of Confessional Lutheranism. What has always impressed me with several conversations with Confessional Lutheran pastors is their rich theology of the Incarnation; the importance on St. Athanasius work on the topic, and Christ’s role, as the new Adam, means for all of humanity–especially men. A topic, I think, lacks in many Catholic circles.
A good book written by a Lutheran Pastor named Jeffery Hemmer on this particular topic is “Man Up.” Pastor Hemmer addresses every man’s call to live by the virtue of Christian masculinity exemplified by Jesus Christ. It is in Christ we see the perfect man by the offering of ourselves in service to our communities either by charity, clarity, or sacrificially we embody what God meant for men to be men. Men need structure and order; Men need to pray; Men need to sacrificially love; and men need to be bold against sin.
All of this Pastor Hemmer tackles in his book. An interesting point Pastor Hemmer makes in his book in regards to the Genesis story is the failure of Adam’s role as protector of Eve within the marriage. So, to flesh this out a bit, I’ll take a look at another part of scripture from Ephesians 5:25-33. It’s a shame with modernity’s worship of feminism, we often lose the true focus of St. Paul’s words in Ephesians 5. Our society will object, “How dare you subjugate women with your backward religion.” Of course, those same voices never make objections to the next part of the chapter:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body.[b] 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
The husband’s love is a sacrificial love in which is a love that calls for the obedience of the wife in respect of the Church’s obedience to Christ’s sacrificial love on the cross. A husband must love his wife more than his own flesh, he must love her to his own death to sanctify her. Of course, this what Adam gets wrong in the garden. Pastor Hemmer explains that we often suppose that Adam is somewhere else in the garden when the serpent tempts Eve, but how the narrative follows is that Adam is present with Eve; and he does nothing to protect her from sin! Furthermore, when God comes and questions Adam, the protector, Adam does not protect Eve but places blame on both her and God for being tricked.
As such, we’re reminded of the role of the Incarnation; and the proper role of man, displayed by Jesus Christ in this Sunday’s Gospel reading:
Jesus said to Nicodemus:
“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
And this is the verdict,
that the light came into the world,
but people preferred darkness to light,
because their works were evil.
For everyone who does wicked things hates the light
and does not come toward the light,
so that his works might not be exposed.
But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,
so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.
Jn. 3: 14-21