The topic of gender roles has been coming up a lot in conversations I’ve been having with friends.
What does it mean to be a man?
How do we distinguish between God’s call for men and our culture’s call?
In what ways has the church confused the two?
I grew up at a church that held an annual event called “Man Sunday” in which the men of the congregation would compete in physical competitions like a timed race and weight lifting. The message that is communicated by such an event is clear: being a man means having shear physical strength and athletic ability. Looking back I can’t help but wonder at how many men in our congregation felt ostracized by such a message. Men who would prefer artistic expression to physical competition or those who lacked the coordination required in athletics were excluded from the domain of manhood, left on the sidelines to contemplate their lack of masculinity with the women and children.
In so many ways I’m still recovering from this view of masculinity that tells men that we need to dominate, suppress our tears, fears and anxieties, be physically strong and athletic, avoid confrontation with our own emotions, etc. Changing the way I think about manhood has been a process and I still catch myself falling back into the traditional framework. This prayer expresses my desire to continue the process of redefining what it means to be a man around a Messiah who epitomized weakness, vulnerability and love.