Mark Driscoll has a new conference heading our way this fall called “Act Like Men”. According to Matthew Paul Turner, “It appears to be just like Promise Keepers, except with beer drinkers and free rulers for measuring things”. God knows, Pastor Mark has plenty to say on this subject (manhood, not measuring…, things); in fact , he won’t shut up about it. And, God knows, I wish he would, because I think he’s wrong practically every time he opens his mouth. Truth be told, I disagree with almost everything Driscoll says from the pulpit, on video, in books and pretty much everywhere his voice is heard. He’s the poster boy for the New Calvinists and I’m…, well, I’m not sure what I am anymore, but it’s damn sure not Calvinist. He’s also a complementarian and I’m not. And, his views on manliness, well, that’s another spot where we differ.
There is a definite need for conferences that deal with men’s issues. In a recent Facebook post, Pat Morley said “But we’ll never solve these “symptomatic” problems without treating underlying disease – the cause – that men don’t understand biblical manhood. If you are trying to solve the wrong problem, you can only succeed by accident”. While I don’t think the idea that “men don’t understand biblical manhood” is really the problem, I do think he’s right in saying that, unless we get to the root of the problem, success isn’t in the cards anytime soon. And, what maybe the taproot of that problem can be found in the name of Driscoll’s conference, “Act Like Men”.
When we bother to teach young men anything at all about leadership and manhood, we teach them the wrong thing. Instead of teaching them to be men, we teach them to “act like men”. We hold up an unnamed chaplain credited as the inspiration for the song “Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition” and never mention Lt. Commander Joseph O’Callaghan.We teach them to value greed by idolizing sports figures who act like petulant children by going on strike when their exorbitant demands aren’t met. We show them aggression is an appropriate response to any offense by attacking other countries for made-up reasons and that violence is an acceptable answer when provoked. And, often, we do all these things with the flag in one hand and a Bible in the other.
Instead of conferences to teach them to “act like men”, we older fellows, Jews and Gentiles, Christians and Muslims, atheists and believers, need to get down in the trenches with young men and mentor them, set examples for them and, most importantly, love them as our brothers. Because that’s exactly what they are.