What does it mean to be a man? That is the question Carolyn Custis James seeks to answer. And a thought-provoking question it proves to be, since “maleness” differs from culture to culture. James seeks to discern God’s definition as she examines the lives of men from the Bible, such as Judah, Boaz and Joseph of Nazareth, and women, such as Deborah and Jael. She notes modern-day individuals who show the same spirit: Malal Yousafzai, a 15-year-old- Pakistani schoolgirl who defied the Taliban and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state.
James opens her book with this statement: “The maelstrom is the seaman’s nightmare, but the ‘Malestrom’ poses an even greater threat to men than the hidden dangers of the open seas.” She discusses “The Genesis of the “Malestrom,” how a biblical culture of patriarchy may not mean it is divinely ordained. Since we are made in God’s image, both genders are needed for complete representation of that image, working together in what James calls a “Blessed Alliance.”
Her analysis leads to the manhood of Jesus, his image bearing, his actions and his relationships with women. In a final chapter titled “Liberating Men from the Malestrom,” James spells out how the gospel of Christ can free men from the grip of the malestrom, since it freed even a leading religious terrorist named Saul of Tarsus.
Each chapter ends with discussion questions, and end matter offers plenty of notes to back up James’ points. She is well known for writing books relating to the roles of men and women in Christian life. I appreciated this book because it reminds us that men and women can work together and are desperately needed to reach a world pulling farther away from Christian principles, values and Christ Himself.