Masculinity And Les Miserables
A few weeks ago I saw the latest movie adaptation of Victor Hugo’s famous novel, “Les Miserables”. The story of Les Miserables is one of my favorites. Days after seeing the movie, I was still finding myself thinking about some of the more compelling scenes. I started thinking to myself, “besides the theme of law and grace, what is it that’s so compelling about this story?” And then it hit me. One of things that’s so compelling and so attractive about the story is the masculinity of the main character, Jean Valjean.
**Spoiler Alert** You may not want to read this if you’re not familiar with the story and you plan on seeing the movie.
- He takes responsibility for his sins, for his city as mayor, for a dying prostitute, for the prostitute’s daughter Cosette, for his future son-in-law Marius, for Javer (his enemy), for a man being crushed by a wagon, and for a man falsely accused, to name a few.
- He provides for Cosette.
- He cultivates a business and becomes the mayor of his city.
- He respects women and is not swayed by perverse sensuality.
- He protects Cosette from danger and saves Marius.
- He uses his strength to help and to save people.
- He voluntarily takes on shame by trudging thru sewage in order to save Marius.
- He leads Cosette, a business, and a city as a mayor.
- He lays down his life for Cosette, her future husband Marius, and for a falsely accused man.
Jean Valjean was one serious example of true masculinity.
For many people the topic of gender roles is very offensive. Apart from the unfortunate abuse that many have experienced within a distorted context of men’s and women’s roles, I believe that one of the main reasons that people reject distinct biblical gender roles is because they’ve never seen them fleshed out before.
Masculinity and femininity in their purest forms are attractive, because our sexuality uniquely images God (Gen 1:27). What makes them attractive is that when fleshed out appropriately, they give us a glimpse of God himself.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to give people living, breathing examples of what true biblical manhood and womanhood look like, so that they can have a proper view of what God is like.
Jean Valjean’s character was a living, breathing example of manhood that inspired me to be more proactive in laying down my life for other people.
About Josh Christophersen
Josh is a software engineer, church planter, and blogger with a passion for helping people do their life well. He lives in KC with his wife and 7 kids.