Men... I'm not getting it

What is it with the recent overflow of gender discussion in evangelical circles?

Everywhere I turn there are conversations and conferences about what it really means to be a Christian man or a Christian woman. What we need, what we want, what we don't need, what we should never ever be like.

I'm finding it odd. The way I grew up, all our energy went into what it meant to be a Christian. Following Jesus, not finding out gender, was the important thing.

Take for example, a brochure I saw recently for an unnamed series of conferences for men, coming up in Australia shortly. It's only focus seems to be on masculinity, what it is, what it isn't, how to get it and then what to do with it. It calls it biblical masculinity. Is masculinity really something the Bible spends a lot of time talking about?

Surely you could equally run a cooking conference on biblical nutrition. I would think the Bible talks as much about food as it does about masculinity?

The brochure identifies what it calls the six needs of men. Here they are:

--- First men need a safe place where they know someone understands them and they are not alone.

Doesn't this apply equally to women and children? And don't we all find it in God, who is frequently called our 'strength and refuge'? Aren't we all 'hidden in Christ', and not alone because we are part of Christ's body?

--- Second, men need a compelling vision of biblical masculinity that they can grasp.

I would have thought that men, like women and children, need a compelling vision of the God of the universe and his son Christ, who died for them, and the Holy Spirit who lives in all of us to work in and change us to be like Christ.

--- Third men need time to effectively process their manhood.

I'm sorry, what? What about time to effectively meditate on and consider the word of God and process their Christian commitment?

--- Fourth, men need practical applications they can use and taste success with.

Not sure the apostle Paul would have gone for this 'taste of success' (check the passage where he enumerates his beatings, shipwrecks, imprisonments etc), and I think he gave us enough practical applications at the end of every epistle. If this is a euphemism for a woodwork elective where the men get to make something, why not just say so?

--- Fifth, men need male mentors to encourage them through their manhood journey.

Here, finally, is something I nearly agree with. Yes, men need mentors. But so do women and children. And it's not a 'manhood' journey. It's a journey with Christ, a marathon with the Holy Spirit - destination heaven and righteousness through God's forgiveness.

--- Sixth, men need a 'sacred moment' whre they know they have become not just a man but a biblical man

This is just previewing the special emotive altar call the conference organisers are planning at the end, so that every man can be called to put his hand to up to say, "Yes, I've become a biblical man" and hug (but not look at) the fella next to him, feel great for a week and then come back next year for the same emotional high.

Cynical? You bet. Look, if you've got a Y chromosone, you are a man. And if you follow Jesus and believe the Bible and do what it says, you're a Christian (and gasp! a biblical) man. Get over it.

--- Finally men need the church. The church needs to lead and encourage men to pursue biblical manhood.

The church needs to lead and encourage people to follow Jesus! And to tell others about him. Especially the millions in the world who have never ever heard and who will never ever hear unless Christian men and women and children get out there and tell them.

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Is it just me, or is this whole conference dealing in comfy little side issues? What this brochure says is "It's all about YOU", not "It's all about JESUS." Once we take our eyes off Christian mission, this must be where we end up.

If you were thinking about attending this conference, let me challenge you to go and do some pushups (which are harder for men than women), save the registration money and send it to your local missionary instead. And then write to the conference organisers and ask them to save their money and spend it in ways more glorifying to Jesus and his gospel message.