After becoming children of God,
our most important calling is to be Men of God,
by becoming Sons of the Father.
That is, all the other things we worry about — our relationship with God, our families, our work, our ministry, etc. — must ultimately flow out of who we are. And we are not — can no longer be — passive children, but Men of God. But the only way we can become Men is to experience the Father, as Sons. He alone can give us the power — and the knowledge, and the inspiration — we need to become True Men.
So, how does that work? One of the things I love about Gordon is his integrative, comprehensive approach. Many books and seminars have a “I have a hammer, so all your problems look like a nail” attitude. Because of what has worked for them, they see everything in psychological terms, OR in terms of spiritual warfare, OR as a matter of accountability.
Gordon’s conference in Reno (which I suspect is typical) broke the problem of Becoming Men down into three parts:
* Healing the Father Wound (relating to God)
* Sexuality and Spirituality (relating to Women)
* The Wolf Loves the Lone Sheep (relating to Men)
I experienced these three as (respectively) psychological, spiritual, and relational — though of course there’s a lot of overlap.
1. Healing the Father Wound
The first section (which I actually didn’t attend, though it was reviewed elsewhere) focused on why we fall short of manhood. The Father Wound refers to our damaged image of manhood based on a father’s absence (physically or emotionally) or unhealthy presence (abuse or shame). In fact, shame appears to be at the heart of the father wound.
The solution is twofold. First, we need to accept our fathers: both celebrating their many good aspects, as well as grieving their failings (rather than continuing to carry grievances). Second — or perhaps necessary for the first — we need to connect with Father God. We need to release the shame that makes us hide our woundedness from Him (and often ourselves), and allow Him to Father us back into wholeness.
This is also at the core of Gordon’s theology. Addiction is one of the ways we cover (instead of deal with) our shame, and one of the worst forms of addiction is religiosity. This is manifest by an obsession with legalistic morality and human-directed efforts, rather than being transformed inside-out by the Living God.
2. Sexuality and Spirituality
The second section focused on sex. The key insight here is that sex is a spiritual act. That is why our purely intellectual and volitional attempts to control our sexuality are doomed to failure. It also means that illicit sexual experiences (pornography, fantasy, fornication, etc.) turn a positive spiritual bond into a negative spiritual bondage.
Of course this relates back to our father wound, in not having been Fathered into a proper understand of sex. But it also creates an added spiritual dimension, which requires spiritual warfare to break. In addition to renouncing the bondages to particular women and activities, we also needed to take authority to expel the spirits which had attached themselves to those bonds. At our conference, interestingly enough, the three spirits he sensed were:
* Lust (obvious enough)
* Abandonment (the absent father)
* Emasculation (especially significant for geeks like us)
Gordon was also adamant that as Men, we can’t simply ask God to remove these bonds: we need to take authority to remove them in Jesus’ Name. A Father is someone who will do what we cannot, but not do what we can — because He wants us to grow into His image.
3. The Wolf Loves the Lone Sheep
I don’t remember the exact context, but I think this was a Word which God gave Gordon when he was feeling extremely frustrated with the Church, as well as other Christian men. The key point is that if we try to do this on our own, we’re easy prey for the enemy. But more than that, it is in banding together with brothers that we both experience and practice manhood the way God intended.
That is what — on both an intellectual and practical level — I admired most about the conference. He not only showed me *what* was important, but I felt like I finally understood *why*. Why our earthly fathers’ failings distort our view of God. Why a morality based on rules rather than relationship is so deadly. Why sexual sin is so terrible (and unstoppable by human efforts). Why we need each other.
And most of all, what it means to be a man. Or should I say, what it means for ME to be a man!