White Horse Inn Modern Reformation

Be A Man: A Discussion On Biblical Masculinity

Published Monday, September 24, 2018 By Adriel Sanchez, John J. Bombaro, Nicholas Davis

You don’t have to look too far to see that there’s been a significant backlash against what’s commonly termed as ‘toxic masculinity’.  As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to reverberate through the country in every area of public life, questions about the nature of male-female interactions—personal and professional—and the very nature of masculinity itself flood social media and the blogosphere.  What is ‘male behavior’?  What is ‘toxic masculinity’?  What exactly does it mean to be a man?  We asked three pastors (two PCA and one LCMS) to examine the Scriptures and take a pass at answering those questions.

Nick Davis:     Let’s start off with provision, seen exclusively in financial terms. If a man stays at home to care for his children while his wife works, he’s looked at as less manly. So what do you guys say, is he less manly?

John Bombaro:         I don’t think so, not anymore. I think those days are gone. Would you say that?

Adriel Sanchez:         Not these days. But in some circles, yeah.

JB:      It’s curious though. We use this phrase in one of our prayers y as part of the liturgy of holy matrimony; that the Lord would bless such-and-such in their battle for bread, like vying for dollars. There’s a sense in which you have to go out in the world and forage, as it were, for your income. It is curious how acceptable it is for you to send your wife out to do that while you stay at home and domesticate. One would think that there would have to be some kind of ramifications for that, positive or negative. But isn’t it true that, more so today, both parents are out in the work force?

ND:     Speaking to our area around here, Southern California, a lot of folks have to have dual income households just to pay a mortgage or rent.

AS:      And think about the divorce rate. A lot of people like myself were raised by single women, because there wasn’t a father around, so a lot of women are in the work force, providing for their families. That mostly speaks to the dissolution of the family in general in the United States, but that’s a real thing. I do think that 1 Timothy 5:8 is interesting, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives and especially for the members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” There’s a lot there.  1 Timothy 5, is contextualized in terms of caring for widows, and  we later in the chapter that e widows are also contributing to caring for their households and for their relatives; so it’s not  as though only the men were caring for family members.  I think it’s an interesting passage to contemplate as we discuss what it means to men to provide.

JB:      The implications of it have been well-articulated by Mary Eberstadt in her book How the West Really Lost God. She read through Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age and said, “There’s a missing piece here. He’s not making the connection with family at all. Why is it that there has been a denouement in terms of religion—religious attendance and religious affiliation, famously now being tracked by the growth of the ‘nones’—and its correlation to families and family size?”  She plays that out and says that there are clearly implications for both parents being in the work force. What we’ve done is adopted a different ideology in terms of how we define ‘the good life’. ‘The good life’ for us today is bound up with the image of consumption and the kind of consumption that you do, whether it be homes or cars or the sticker on the back of your car that says where your kid has gone to university.

AS:      Paul says the same thing in Ephesians, when he says, “Let the thief no longer steal, but let him work, so that he can give.”

JB:      That’s right; there’s a sense in which our notion of citizenship entails not just participating politically, but in producing economically—not just so you have a higher standard of living, but so that you’re able to serve your neighbor and share your surplus with those in need.  Luther brings this up in the Ten Commandments, when he’s talking about the eighth commandment—it’s not only “Thou shouldst not steal,” but you ought to go get a job so that you can make a contribution and bless your neighbor.    This is something I just heard from Pew: In 1960, the five indicators of maturation or having emerged into adulthood, were (1) completing your education, (2) getting married, (3) buying a house, (4) having a job, and (5) parenting children.  In 1960, 77% of women had accomplished that by the age of 30. For men, it was 69%. Today, women are at 13%, and men are at 10%, so there’s a significant decline in leadership from men in that regard.   We’re decidedly more selfish, and I think that is antithetical to true manhood and masculinity; the living for self.  One of the greatest marks of maturity is the ability to put others before yourself—in John 15:13, Jesus said that there no greater love is there than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. That’s not happening when you’re in the basement nursing drinks from Mom’s fridge.

AS:      That’s a great text to bring into play as we think about what it means biblically to be a man, in light of today’s culture—a passage like that that highlights sacrifice that’s grounded in the sacrifice of Christ.

JB:      The idea that Nick has brought up about provision not being limited to the self, is more like the innermost circle of concentric circles. There is my family, my extended family, my neighborhood, my community, my country. These are all areas in which we are to be making some kind of provision, or, translated differently, contribution.

ND:     And not just for my neighbors, but even my enemy—to be able to provide for those who don’t deserve provision.

AS:      The idea of sacrifice is not something people would think of when they think about what it means to be a man, and it was the same in the first century. When Paul was writing his letters, the wives would stay home while the men would go out and advance their status in society. They kind of were moving forward apart from their spouse, so the idea of serving your spouse or sacrificing for the good of your spouse would not have come into play at all.  When Paul talks sacrificing for your family the way Christ sacrificed himself for the church, it was considered crazy.  It still is.

JB:      The kind of resiliency that Jesus has called for amongst his disciples—being willing to endure the hatred and persecution of the world, taking up our crosses daily and follow him—is antithetical to a victimization mentality.  It’s not an ethic that allows for constant receiving without giving.  But it’s so easy to receive today, isn’t it?  You don’t ever have to truly encounter and engage with anyone. How many homes do you see that don’t have front porches? There’s a sociology of porches that extend you out into your community. It’s all the backyard barbecue now.  It’s that aspect of isolation or collapse into the self that does not comport well with Christianity, which is constantly asserting itself outward. And I think that’s a hallmark of masculinity too. Luther said that, “The Holy Spirit is not a skeptic,” meaning that the Holy Spirit makes assertions. The mark of the Christian man is that we make assertions; we confess that there is one God, the Father, Maker of heaven and earth, and his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, etc.  That’s different than keeping it to yourself.

AS:      I think all of this is really helpful, and even comparing it to what people think of when they think of what it means to be a man today in our culture. Even in the church, you have this alpha-male personality upheld as in ideal.

ND:       What exactly does that look like?  People have different definitions of what it looks like to be a man. We should outline what we think, biblically speaking, manhood looks like.

JB:      Well first of all, we should say that imitation gets high marks in the New Testament. St. Paul says on multiple occasions, imitate me, follow me as I follow Christ. So the icon for masculinity, for manhood, is going to be Jesus. Jesus wasn’t here living his best life; he came to serve by laying down his life for his bride, the holy church (Ephesians 5).  If we really want to know what masculinity is supposed to look like, we look at Christ, who reveals to us the Father. The Father, in great love and heroic actions, protects, provides for and prepares his bride.   One of the things that Jesus did in terms of protection was stepping in the gap of judgment for us—he absorbed the punishment that we deserved. That’s why we call him the Passover Lamb. That’s something that men do. They have a voice, they step in, they act like the adult.  I think that’s part of that assertiveness of Jesus; he addressed situations with what is true and right and good. That’s kind of a mark of manliness that we ought to emulate as well.

ND:     To your point, John, I think it’s good to identify the relationship between being manly and  ‘earning your man card’—those are loaded categories. Speaking of being a man and having sex, look at the life of Jesus. This is a man who is true God and true man—he never had sex.  But in North American society (and others) sexual experience is a necessary prerequisite in order to fulfill that image of the ideal man, of any age.  Yet Jesus lived a perfect life without it, not exploring that area that has become the idol of many eras.

JB:      But the thing about Jesus is that he’s faithful in that he never betrays his bride. Be she ever so unfaithful, he calls her back to repentance. He’s Hosea with Gomer. That’s what a true man does. He wields the power of forgiveness, and he gives it up liberally—his union with his bride isn’t a means of dominance and control.  In holy matrimony, that’s where the potency and the potential of sex is made manifest for both bonding and communication, but also healing, the power of forgiveness, intimacy—all of that happens in that marital act. Christ is doing that faithfully and being an exemplar to us of true masculinity. And even if you’re single, then Nick, you’re exactly right: he’s that paragon for the single man of faithfulness now to the bride of Christ until he has a bride, if indeed he does.

AS:      Nick, I like what you said about dominance and how today in our culture, if you want to be a man you need to dominate, whether it be women or other men.  There’s a sense in which we see how not needing to dominate or control; not needing to exact that which we believe belongs to us demonstrates a power and maturity in itself.  I wonder if that’s not something we’re really missing today—the ability to forgive; to be gracious.

JB:      This is the great irony of the cross. It looks as if Jesus has no power on the cross, and yet he has complete, ultimate power.  What does he do with it?  Does he call down twelve legions and exact judgment on us? No: “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That is how true manliness is exemplified.  It shows humility as well as strength, and is as willing to not use its power for the service of others, as well as use it.

ND:     That really gets at virtue—the virtue that Christ exercises there is self-control, which in the New Testament is a pretty big theme for men. In 1 John 2, he says, “I write to you fathers because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you young men, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you and you have overcome the evil one.” There is this tidbit of what manhood looks like for the older and for the younger. He says, “Your faith is strong by believing you have overcome unbelief and captivity to the evil one, to the devil.” It has nothing to do with how much you can bench press; it’s about self-control.  The image or type of the ultimate man today is one who would have sent the legion down, crushed everybody’s heads and said, “I’m victorious.”  That’s manhood for a lot of people.  Imagine what would have happened if Christ had done that, rather than continued to suffer for our sakes.

AS:      Another thing I’d like us to consider is the idea of spiritual leadership in the home.  Do you feel like you see men leading and caring for the spiritual welfare of their families?  I know there are a lot of women out there who are sometimes frustrated because they feel like they’re spiritually driving the ship.  What is the biblical obligation for men, and what does that look like in our day-to-day lives?

JB:      I love this passage from Ephesians 5—it says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  And then we see that clause, “so that.”  There’s a purpose to this: “…so that he might sanctify her, having washed her with the water of the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself.”

Think of all these aesthetic terms that are in here—they have to do with beautification.  The mark of a godly man is to beautify his wife.  In doing so, he provides for her most basic need, which is security.  That’s to be done in every dimension of her being: intellectual, emotional, spiritual, physical, and sexual.  But there’s also the element of spiritual beautification, which begins first of all with not abdicating that responsibility of spiritual headship.  If a husband abandons that, and puts it on his wife, he’s abandoned his vocation.  We can also see the nature of this headship in Psalm 23—shepherding is another metaphor for the biblical man. You lead her to still waters: holy baptism, reminding her who she is in holy baptism—her fundamental identity, grounded in Christ—to the green pastures of God’s word, making daily provision for us.  You’re living your life between the font of baptism and the altar of communion as the Christian man—that is his spiritual responsibility.  To beautify his wife is a deeply masculine thing, and what we ought to be doing is rearing our boys and training the men in our parishes (married or not) how to fulfill that responsibility to their future spouses and sisters in Christ.

AS:      I love the imagery of shepherding. You think of all the other things that shepherds would do in the ancient near east as well, like guarding and protecting them.  There’s a sense in which men in our church should understand God’s word, because we need to be able to refute those who contradict. Paul uses that terminology obviously for the leaders in the church, but there’s a sense in which the men in the church should view themselves as over and caring for and shepherding their families.

JB:      Protection doesn’t mean being able to wield a double barrel shot gun and have a black belt in jiu jitsu. It means protecting your churches, its members, your families, your wife’s reputation above all things, and that usually means guarding your own heart so you don’t, by implication, besmear or slander.

ND:     Since we’re on Ephesians 5, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the section about submission we see there.

JB:      We need to get that passage right. If you look at the Greek, the pericope doesn’t begin in verse 22 as we have in our ESV, KJV and NIV Bibles. It actually begins in verse 21 where it says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” So the context is mutual submission.  The women get three measly verses on that, while men get nine.  Men get triple the amount of the inspiration from the Holy Spirit in this passage concerning our vocation of submission, which has to do with yielding ourselves in love, yielding our own wills, wants and desires, conforming them to the pattern of Christ, so that our bride might be beautified.

ND:     Someone might say, though, that you would expect a patriarchal society to have more verses allotted to the man than to the woman.

AS:      Yeah, but not verses saying lay down your life and die. I think that’s what was so shocking about this for a first century society—self-denial is not something a man would be called to.  If anybody’s going to lay down their life for the well-being of the other, it’s the wife—she’s the one who’s supposed to deny herself for her husband’s advancement, pleasure, and social prestige.  It was a perverse society, not unlike the one that we live in today, in many respects.

JB:      It’s about rightly ordered things.  You think back to those societies—it wasn’t patriarchal with respect to the pagan religions; they were glutted with temple prostitutes and priestesses. Women in those positions wielded a lot of power in those societies.  Paul is saying that there’s a proper orientation to God that’s reflected in matrimony and familial structures; that it’s significant of the relationship between the Father and the Son and those who represent the Son.

It’s difficult to communicate in this day and age because we don’t have the same societal and religious priorities of vocation, education, matrimony, home and family anymore, which is why those numbers have dropped from 77% and 69% to 13% and 10%.  I think the goals of men today between the ages of 18 and 30 are completely different.  We don’t live in neighborhoods anymore but we live in markets, which is why so many young men have more of a consumerist bent than not.  How many people have you heard time and time again pushing off holy matrimony until they have enough money, or until they’re established enough in their careers?

ND:     Or having children.  You hear people talk about how they’re “Not ready yet,” all the time.

AS:      My wife and I will walk around our neighborhood with our kids, and when we  go into a restaurant and people will say, “Oh gosh, you have those?”  But other people bring in their dogs and it’s like the greatest thing on earth.  The fur babies are welcome, but the real babies are not.

JB:      That’s because kids are seen to be environmental hazards.

ND:     The norm is to leave the kids at home; pay the extra money for the babysitter so that we can have our peace and quiet when we’re eating out—don’t invade my space with your children! That’s a pretty common theme.

AS:      They require so much sacrifice, which translates into less time for getting ahead and being successful.  That’s one of the reasons why being a mother or staying at home with children is viewed as a cop-out today.  There have been a number of recent studies that highlight how today in today’s society, busyness is a virtue. Thirty years ago you were successful if you had leisure time —today, that means that you’re lazy.  Hyperactivity has become a status symbol.

JB:      The reoccurring theme that I keep hearing between the three of us is the word sacrifice. This has to be the hallmark of the true man. We see it, of course, supremely in Christ, who sacrifices the glory of being with the Father, condescends and is born of the Virgin Mary.  There’s sacrifice throughout his entire life—he doesn’t exploit; he doesn’t come grasping or taking from others, but to give his life to the point of death, even death on a cross.  What kind of sacrifices are we called to?  The sacrifice of time on our iPads; time with the boys because we need to be at home with our wives, children or aging parents; time for ourselves.  Self-sacrifice is something you don’t really hear about today.  You might give a bit of money to charity; that’ll pad your conscience a little bit—but sacrifice your Sunday morning? Sacrifice to serve in your church?  It gets back to what David Morrow wrote in his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. It was interesting: he said that when the man takes spiritual headship of the family and hasn’t abdicated his responsibility to his wife, 90% of the time he brings his entire family to church, but when the wife has the spiritual headship, 17% of the time.  It’s resulted in the feminization of the church.  We ourselves have the responsibilities to be placarding before the congregation what Christ like self-sacrifice looks like, and yet not at the expense of our family.  It can’t be.  In fact, they ought to be seeing that we won’t sacrifice our family before ourselves, because that is the hallmark of Christ and the Christian.  I think we need to exemplify that in the church.

ND:     Pew Research says that on average, Christian congregants across the world skew to 53% female, 46% male, and the split in America is even wider.

JB:      David Morrow’s book said it was 70%/30%. It was published around 2004 or 2005. That either tells me that things are getting better, or men are more feminized. Their expectations at church are more feminine expectations (expectations that the message conform to more relational issues). As society gravitates toward the transformation of masculinity into femininity, hence Bruce Jenner is the iconic woman, hence the female athlete of the year in 2016 and the female entertainer of the year in 2016 were transgender men who became women. In other words, society is saying that the iconic male is a female, as it were. There’s a diminution of ‘the male’ and masculinity that is sacrificial and virtuous. What about the king who comes and slays the dragon, establishes his kingdom in power and then sends forth his people as ones who assert the truth in a contrarian culture?  But when it’s all hallmark, drippy stuff and the music of “Jesus, I love you”, it implies that all traditional expressions of masculinity (in their best and worst forms) are dated and chauvinistic.  But neither is it the other thing.  My sister-in-law recently told me that her parents are attending a very gimmicky church, where the pastor will have a Harley-Davidson up on the stage and go out of his way to present a tough masculine image. But isn’t that just buying into the same consumerist mentality of what society is telling us is permissibly masculine as opposed to what is truly masculine—being Christ-like; for he is the icon of the Father?

AS:      It’s interesting to note that even the church seems to have adopted this ideal of masculinity, to the point where it’s reflected in her liturgy.  The feminization of the church has been going on so long that the pendulum is now beginning to swing back to the point where we’re overcompensation by having mixed martial arts men’s groups and Harley onstage in order to attract men.  The problem is that it doesn’t solve the crisis of masculinity; it just shoots us toward another non-biblical type.

ND:     It’s interesting to note how highlighting God in Christ as the warlord sort of jumps the eschatological gun.  Christ the conqueror is certainly coming, and we will see that in all its power and majesty at the end of the age.  But the picture leading up to Christ coming in the flesh and the picture of what the church is right now in between the two ages is very different from Christ the warrior king.  Instead, ‘I came not to conquer, but to save,’ is the emphasis. We get a sense that it’s okay to be a man and to be a poet as well as a prophet and a king. I think it’s easy to cave to cultural assumptions about what biblical manhood looks like.  I think for the Boomer generation, the Christian man looks a lot like John Wayne; for younger men, it might be John Cena. They point to examples like Samson destroying the Philistines with the jawbone and Jesus overturning tables in the temple and come up with a sort of sanctified version of some juiced up, ‘roided out dude with fifteen-inch biceps, and justify it as ‘being strong in the Lord’.  Culture defines what a man looks like—and what he should look like—so we have to take care to examine those assumptions in light of Scripture (which, you’ll notice, doesn’t tell us anything about what Jesus—or Samson—looked like).

AS:       I love what John said earlier when we were talking about shepherding and guarding from false doctrine. To see the guys who are really excited about guns and fighting being equally excited about sound doctrine and true piety would change not only the church, but how the church relates to the world as Christians.  It really emphasizes the centrality of the gospel to everything we do as pastors, placarding Christ before the people through the ministry of the word and sacrament, getting a vision for this sacrifice, guidance and leadership. That’s what we need if we want to change the men in our church, if we want them to be leaders in the home, leaders in society. We need to have the gospel front and center.

JB:      We are shepherds of churches, but every man can be an under-shepherd by mentoring, by taking another man or young man under their wing and guiding them in the way of godliness.  We all have the capacity within the church as men to lead another man through discipleship, but that means manning up ourselves and living a sacrificial life, owning our holy faith, and being willing to sacrifice for it—whether it’s on a Sunday or a Wednesday night to read, go on a retreat, do whatever we’re able to equip ourselves so we can equip other saints to be the men that God has created them to be.

ND:     If we look at Paul and Timothy as a model for discipleship, we see actual, embodied  relationships that require real time with one another, which is something that a fatherless generation is really ill-equipped to provide.  That’s a reality that I think needs to be addressed—a lot of people out there have grown up either without fathers or with fathers who had no idea how to relate to their sons.  We, as pastors, deal with a lot of men—young and old—who have never really dealt with that, and we see the effects of it in society.  When we’re trying to recover a picture of who Jesus is, I think it’s important to emphasize that he is fully, truly human, to the point that when a beloved friend of his dies, Jesus doesn’t just man up and say, “I’m a tough guy, it doesn’t affect me; I’m good, I’m chill,”—Jesus wept.  He enters into sorrow and expresses his grief visibly.  This is something we need to recover in our definition of masculinity: it’s okay to cry.

AS:      We still struggle with the same stereotypes—women are supposed to be emotional; men are rational.  We’re perceived as being disconnected from our emotions; almost stoic.  But when you look at the gospels, you see Christ ranging the entire spectrum of emotion—love for the rich young ruler; rage at those who defiled the temple, grief and anger over the effects of the curse on his friend.  It’s unfortunate that in our culture, men who are able to express themselves emotionally are sort of suspect; as less manly.

JB:      There’s nothing more masculine than being moved by the passions that come along with love. Jesus is moved by love; he’s moved to action, he’s moved to speak, he’s moved to assert himself as a man who represents the Father perfectly; without sin. Nick mentioned John Cena—he has made more Make-A-Wish Foundation fulfillments than anyone in history, and it’s because this good looking, ripped, wealthy guy, is moved by love and compassion for the vulnerable.  There’s nothing more manly than using your strength and power for others.

AS:      I’m reminded of Acts 20 when Paul meets with the Ephesian elders and says, I didn’t count my life as valuable to myself. I was with you guys night and day for a period of three years, in tears, warning you about the truth of God’s word, and that people were going to come in, not sparing the flock. There’s this deep passion and love, as you say, which is sometimes exemplified in turning over tables, like Jesus does in the temple. It’s a zeal for God’s house and for the true worship of God. That’s what we need to recover today.

JB:      James K. A. Smith writes that true discipleship isn’t just about a data download; it’s not an intellectual endeavor, but it’s a reorientation of our loves and desires. What is it that fathers want for their children today?  They’ll sacrifice Sunday to make sure kids are there for sports. What do they want for their sons and daughters that’s going to endure?  Is it the scholarship that leads to a good job and a big house?  And then what?   I think that what we need for men in the church is a reorientation of our desires away from the world’s definition of ‘the good life’ and toward that which St. Augustine said is the only true and authentic human life: to know that we have been created by God and that our hearts are restless until they find rest in him.

AS:      Do you guys have any closing thoughts as we’ve talked about masculinity in the church and in broader society?

JB:      If we want to understand true masculinity, we need to make a thorough study of Jesus of Nazareth and pull out those masculine elements for our male auditors in our parishes But then, as we’re doing that—since tell them about the grace of God where they fail at each and every step to measure up to the level of Christ our Savior—which is why he is our Savior.

AS:      Definitely an important encouragement—the standard that we’re striving toward is intimidating, and each of us would say that we fall short.  Another great point that John brought up is the idea of assertiveness which is really undermined in our culture today.  It’s not okay to be assertive; you have to be a skeptic about everything lest you offend someone by having an opinion.  There’s a sense in which stating your opinion is conflated with imposing your opinion, and they’re not the same thing.  Jesus spoke with authority—he didn’t equivocate or overqualify; he said what he said because he’s God incarnate; he had a duty to speak and act on that authority.  There’s a sense in which we also have a responsibility to exercise authority in a biblical manner.

ND:     The authority that we have been given is that of a vice regency—we’ve been tasked with the stewardship of creation by God himself; it’s not something we’ve taken upon ourselves.  The authority that we have is a gift, and we are not to misuse that gift in the way we’re continually seeing it misused by politicians, heads of industry, and entertainers today.  As the father of three boys, it’s a sobering responsibility—I’m positioned culturally, biologically, socially, in terms of my understanding of what masculinity looks like and how to execute my responsibilities as a husband, father, pastor, and churchman.  What does that actually look like?  I think about my own upbringing.  How was I raised to define manhood?

AS:     We want to be assertive about the right things, because there’s a false masculinity that’s perverts assertive strength into control—instead of appropriate action grounded in pious duty, it becomes a need to conform someone else to your will.  The kind of assertive virtue we’re called to is one that stands its ground on the things where no compromise is permissible—the grace of God, his Word and his gospel.  Biblical masculinity is not about men defending the things worth defending—that’s male chauvinism—it’s about men conforming themselves to the image of Christ in both his strength and his humility, and thereby defending things worth defending.  Jesus didn’t mince words when he reprimanded the Pharisees and the disciples, but he also bowed down and washed his disciples’ feet and allowed women to learn from him as well as men.  That’s a man, and as John said, we desperately need God’s grace to follow our Lord in that.

JB:      It’s also about knowing our own place within the cosmic order, isn’t it?  He doesn’t over-assert himself and take on duties that he was never intended to carry; he obeys the rule of law and accepts the responsibilities he’s been called to right now.   He’s not the rebel—it’s the rebel mentality; the idea of taking what we believe should be ours that started all the trouble in the Garden.  The true man is satisfied that the ultimate True Man has come and fulfilled the law and it has wonderful implications. That’s the same icon that’s set before us, and the grace that comforts us when we know we’ve failed.


John Bombaro (Ph.D., King’s College London) is a LCDR in the US Navy, serving as a Programs Manager for the USMC at The Pentagon. 

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a co-host on the Core Radio radio program. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their three children.

Nicholas Davis is lead pastor of Redemption Church (PCA) in San Diego, California. Nick has worked for White Horse Inn for several years, contributed to Modern Reformation and other places, and is a writer for Core Christianity. Nick and his wife, Gina, have three sons. He blogs at nicholasmartindavis.com, and you can follow him on Twitter @MundaneMinister.

  • Adriel Sanchez
  • John J. Bombaro
  • Nicholas Davis