Today I was to give the invocation at the Texas Trailblazers Awards put on by The Family Place. I got to the luncheon ten seconds too late. Long story, involves a kid driver and my car, needless to say I missed giving the invocation. Very disappointed. Disappointed because I truly consider it an honor to pray with and over men and women who fight against family violence. I didn’t get to pray but I did get to eat…and listen to the guest speaker, Don McPherson. He’s some retired football player. Here’s his picture and a link...that may help. Now he considers himself a social activist.
“As a social activist he has founded several outreach and mentoring programs, and regularly speaks at college campuses as a critic of gender roles, stating that the standard constructions of masculinity and femininity both limit men’s emotions and overall well-being as well as contribute to gendered violence such as domestic violence, stalking, and rape.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_McPherson)
Yup he said stuff like that. “The worst thing you can call a boy growing up is……(You guessed it) a girl…a sissy (or gay). McPherson challenged the way we talk to our boys about being a man. He said things like, “When we talk like that we are saying women are less than men… (Yes, yes we are!)… I don’t need to teach my son how to be a man by lessening my daughter. (Yes, that’s is right!)
Things like… When we teach our boys what it means to be a man we teach them by telling them what they shouldn’t be. Don’t be a girl. Don’t be gay. Then we add language like…Man up, don’t cry, don’t give in, stand up and fight.” (I’ve always wondered why don’t tell our girls to woman up?)
He continued with things like…This is too small of a box to capture what masculinity means…a box that leaves few options for men…(his conclusion, those small options) can lead to violence against women. (Yes…I’ve been saying that too!)
I’ve never heard a man speak like this…a man willing to challenge the way we speak, challenging the language we use. Where have the men like McPherson been?
For years I’ve been pointing out the language we use when talking about masculinity and femininity. Things like what Don McPherson said…The language we use is not helpful and yes, I’ll say it…it’s not biblical. I’ve come to believe how we talk to boys and girls (about being boys and girls) isn’t what God intended and offends what Christ accomplished on the cross.
So here I am today, sitting in this huge auditorium, listening to this retired football player, a man of great influence, say what I’ve been saying for a long time. And I’m wondering, where are the other men? Why aren’t more men speaking up and out about these things? Why is what this guy is saying such a non conversation in our churches? Why aren’t we addressing how much abuse is going on in the home. One out of four women are killed every day by domestic violence. When’s the last time you heard a teacher, preacher or sunday school teacher address this issue with Scripture? Does Jesus have anything to say to this? Is it something we only hear about outside the church? And shouldn’t we be talking to our youth about date abuse? I’ve pastored families where the daughter has been abused by the boyfriend. It happens more than you think. And shouldn’t we ask if the way we talk about being male and female lends itself to abusive behavior towards women?
So let me ask. How do you speak to your boys about what it means to be a man? Do you tell them not to throw like a sissy, or cry like a girl? Do you tell them to man up? How might that impact how he relates to his wife (both positive and negatively) later on? I wonder how it impacts men’s ability to be emotional, tender, caring towards their wife and kids in later years. Is there any connection? How we talk about things influences how we live every day life.