Because traditional gender norms so obviously restrict women’s freedom, the extent to which norms of masculinity limit men is often overlooked. Jesus’ teachings free men as well as women. Jesus’ statement that men should not treat women as sexual objects (Matt. 5:27-28), addresses concerns about sexuality that play a dominant, and unpleasant, part in men’s lives. “Aggressiveness, virility [and] sexual prowess” were important parts of a man’s claim to honor in the Greco-Roman world (Osiek and Balch 1997). Placing sexuality back into its Creation context as a tool of relationship, not as a contest in which “manhood” is judged, Jesus began to redefine what it means to be a man.
Similarly, Jesus redeemed men from a system that pressured men to: measure their worth in terms of material wealth (Matt. 6:19–20; Matt. 4:8–10; Matt. 19:16–26); subordinate themselves to the absolute power wielded by powerful patriarchs (Luke 9:59–62); participate in the endless cycles of strife, competition, and vengeance typical of honor/shame cultures (Matt. 5:38–41); or struggle to dominate, control, and be honored by other men (Mark 10: 35–45; Mark 8:27–33).