So if anyone reading this has probably not figured out by now, I’m by no means a “brawny man.” And further more, you should also know that I have issues with accepting the “quick fixes” both the world and church try to give for the transgender and homosexuality issues facing men today. So you can imagine what my feeling were when a few months ago my church announced a one day men’s conference. Plus it was being organized by men that I would to some degree consider to be brawny men — or they at least try to be.
Without going into too much detail let me touch on these so called “quick fixes”. As anyone should be aware gender identity has become a huge issue in today’s society. No surprise when there is evidence of gender oppression throughout history, most notably is the oppression of women during the 19th and early 20th centuries. But today we are seeing the opposite, as men are now being oppressed from expressing feminine traits, or I should say “feminine” when going by today’s standards. When men show these traits, the world likes to say “Are you sure you aren’t gay?” or worst “Maybe you were suppose to be a women.” While the world might not always say it in those exact words, it still works in deep for most men and even such words could sit dormant for years. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the “church” or more so Christians from various denominations, will say something just as equally hurtful. I’m not going to say what most of these things are precisely since it would be flee breeding cesspool for nasty theological debates but I’ll at least say that Deuteronomy 22:5 is probably on of the most commonly argued verses.
First off, I personally have minor fears of most Christians as most of my opinions are not very popular with the masses. Being that I’m connected to such as wonderful church, it still yanks my chain when I’m not actually 100% certain where my church stands on gender identity. I do know they fully reject homosexuality, much like myself and to be perfectly honest, I’ve yet to encounter any theological beliefs that I disagree with. So I’m sure you can understand that when it comes to transsexualism or the brawny man, I’m feeling a bit lost and in many way fearful of ever just asking. I do want to make it clear that I have very little fear that my theology is wrong in the eyes of God, honestly I actually believe every Christian will one day learn they had something wrong but this is besides the fact. For me, it could be the devil’s voice trying to hold me back much like when I was faced telling my mother about my “hobbies” but nonetheless, I do find myself agreeing so much with my church that I fear that this might just be one thing we will disagree on. But I will note that I’m open and willing to hear them out if the opportunity was ever given. I’ve yet to encounter anyone from my church or in my family that disagrees with me to the level they would outcast me and for this I’m thankful.
So getting back on topic, I was somewhat dismayed when I learned of this men’s conference. And not because I feared this would be the time they finally show their true colors, no! Instead I feared it was going to be nothing but a speech that men need to be more MANLY and that they would probably not take into consideration the reasons why I believe so many men have issues with their masculinity. Rightfully so I had reason to worry, many of the Men’s Group nights were exactly this and it’s one reason I’ve not been so keen on attending every two weeks. Even my mother understand this point when I brought it up.
But then came Saturday morning (6/18) and while the sermons were on the level of a really good Friday night revival service, it was one comment made by our senior pastor that caught me off guard. He got up front and made comment about the bathrooms, which I’ve neglected to note by this point they relabeled the women’s bathroom as being acceptable for the men’s use for the duration of the conference. Which made me think back to a men’s conference I attended in Indianapolis years ago where they did the exact same thing, but much like then I didn’t think much about it. Our pastor got up and said “You know what the world needs to know about gender identity? … Knowing if your a man or women is easy; if you bend over… and pickup… the ice cube…. you’re a women!” and the room grew strangely quiet for a moment. I am of course paraphrasing but he continued with “No matter if you wear pants, dresses, or whatever. If you kick the ice cube under the fridge, you’re a man!” and the room broke out in laughter. Of course, I understand that he was joking but he admitted to intentionally never saying very much about gender roles or identity, which just proved my theory that he chooses his battles. He is known as a very controversial preacher already when it comes to his beliefs on revival and the end times, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would actually choose to stay away from possibly such atomic issues. In the end he patched it up, saying he would most likely ask they remove that comment from the conference CD but nonetheless it was said. Him saying it proved, as I suspected, he at least does not believe in the “brawny man” image that I somewhat feared he did.
In the end, it became a very enjoyable conference. We had great fellowship and we didn’t have any farting nor burping sessions. In fact it was funny that coming to the end of the conference the general opinion was that not all men are like Gideon and I think Cliff Graham said it best. He said that the common ideas of what makes a man is not a man and that you don’t have to be the muscular man to be a man. He said a man is someone that when his home and family comes under attack he goes full Hulk and rips the throat out of the threat and spits on it’s corpse, of course he talking spiritually here and not so much physical. He even said that World War 2 was won because a geek figured out the Japanese encryption code and this guy was mocked by not only his superiors but also his fellow men. But in the end the war ended because he used his God given abilities.
And this is stuff that I can stand behind. While I disagree so much with the hurtful opinions from both the church and the world, I do understand that I was put in a position to defend my wife and my future children. Because I’m under 6 feet and have very youthful posture, I’ve been constantly underestimated by people. But I now understand these are not weaknesses, they are strengths. I was intended to be who I am and prove that even an underdog with questionable hobbies can archive great things. In my opinion I will also extend these characteristics to the women. Women who have no husbands or need it in a time of crises can benefit from developing valor and courage. This also allows for them to back their husbands up when the husband may take a fall or is not available, this is something my wife does for me from time to time. I believe simply as children of God, we ALL need to show the fruits of the spirit and be prepared to take the lead. God never intended for one gender to be subservient to another, so why do we treat it like he did and that men and women are so opposite. But I digress, this is a discussion for another time.
So in closing, I want to say that I was really taken back from this conference. I want to thank the men that spoke and showed that Men can be who God created them to be, even if they wear a dress and have somewhat flamboyant personalities. Thanks for reading.