It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of Mark Driscoll or his Acts 29 movement. It’s also no secret that I have some major issues with some of the theology of Harvest Bible Chapel. But when it comes to this issue, I’d like to say for the record that “this” is not about “that.”
There’s a conference going on in Hamilton this week. It’s a conference put on by some of our American friends and by golly, aren’t we lucky that they managed to add a Canadian city to their tour. The “Act Like Men” conference has been held in Hamilton this weekend. Here’s the description:
Look around. What’s so desperately needed where we live, in our country and in our world, are men who embrace all that God created them to be. Men who are loud and ruthless about their own sin, but patient and full of grace in leading others. Men who follow God without limits and meet the needs of those around them without hesitation. To get there need radical surgery. It’s time to cut deep and get it all, and not be afraid of what that means. We challenge you to join thousands of men for a two-day conference this fall – to step up with us and Act Like Men.
Their title is based off of 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong, let all that you do be done in love.” (ESV) Although many translations choose to omit the phrase “act like men” and simply add “be courageous.”
I heard that this conference was coming to Hamilton a few months ago and couldn’t help but wonder if people would actually want to attend. I’m curious to know if it’s the idea of a group of men getting together, or the call to rise up and “be men” that draws the crowds? Perhaps guys get something from Mark Driscoll standing in front of them and yelling at them? I’m not really sure I’ll ever understand it.
Here’s the thing, I don’t have a problem with a conference for men. There’s lots of conferences that are have a gender specific focus like “Promise Keepers” or “Women of Faith.” I think that events like these can often be beneficial for people. But I do have a problem with a conference owning the title “Act Like Men!” And I have a problem with a few complimentarian male leaders standing in front of a group of men telling them how to be men.
Who defines what it means to be a man?
Does Mark Driscoll? Or Matt Chandler? Or James Macdonald? Does Driscoll yelling at you empower you to go out and get a job and be a leader?
What happens to those guys who just don’t make the cut?
I’ve asked this question before after listening to one of Mark Driscoll’s rants about men but I’ll ask it again. What happens to those guys who just aren’t so cookie cutter when it comes to the definition of a “man?” We all have those guy friends that are just not what the world defines as “manly.” We so easily label these guys as “gay” or “feminine,” and are quick to put them into a box. But what about them? Does this type of message and language actually demean those guys who don’t exhibit certain qualities? Because I have really good guy friends who wouldn’t know what to do with a hammer, and who aren’t always quick to “take the lead” or who tend to excel in areas we would label as “womanly duties.” So does this make them less of a man? While the conference obviously aims to focus on the ability to show love, I wonder what other messages will be slipped in the cracks. I wonder if there will be some guys in the room who leave secretly feeling like they just don’t reach the bar.
If someone held a conference that was called “Act Like Women,” how do you think that would go over? I can tell you right now that the feminist movement would be
Because who defines what it means to be a woman? Does it mean that she exemplifies the qualities of a proverbs 31 woman? Does she sew and cook? Do she work outside the home? Does she stay at home with her kids? Does she obey her husband? Is she quiet and submissive?
Can I look at a group of women with unique personalities and gifts and tell them what they must do to act like a woman? If they didn’t follow those rules then are they any less of a woman? Is there a double standard here?
Why are we sending the message “Act Like Men” when the message that we should be sending is “Act Like Christ?” Does Christ not reach out and unify male and female, Jew and Greek, those who are free and those who are slaves? Shouldn’t we instead seek to act more like Jesus instead of acting more like the disputed roles that society continues to argue about?
I don’t pretend to know what is actually spoken at this conference, especially since it’s clear that women are not allowed. I’d like to hope that some men do leave feeling encouraged and empowered to love Christ more and love those around them more. However, I can’t help but wonder about the type of message that a conference like this sends to people. I can’t help but feel compassion for those guys (and girls) who silently struggle to feel like they are enough and to feel like Jesus loves them right where they are. Does this type of conference leave room for those people? Could they feel safe there? I have my doubts.
It’s hard for me to picture Jesus standing before a guy struggling to find his identity in such a mixed up culture, and yelling at him to just “ACT LIKE A MAN!”
I have an easier time thinking Jesus might take the guy out for a drink and help him work out his junk.
But then again, I’m just a woman.