There has been a bit of push-back to a Facebook status that Pastor Mark Driscoll posted last Friday, asking folks to tell a story “about the most effeminate anatomically male worship leader (they’ve) ever personally witnessed.” While not stated explicitly, it was implicit in the note (and from Pastor Mark’s overall demeanor) that these would probably not be primarily positive stories.
I’ve read a number of posts about this. On Monday, Rachel Held Evans invited her readers to consider writing a letter to the leadership at Mars Hill Church, asking them to address the issue of bullying. I had a moment of hesitation in writing a letter because I don’t know Pastor Mark and I don’t really know any effeminate worship leaders (some metro guys for certain, but no one that I would consider to be effeminate).
And then I read a post from Tyler L. Clark that compelled me to write a letter. In his piece, Tyler wrote, “When you put out a call on Facebook for people verbally attack “effeminate anatomically male” men, I find myself back in high school—shoved against a locker, with the bullies calling me a faggot.”
Reading that, I knew I had to write.
You see, there’s a really good chance that’s going to be my son. He is a funny, creative, smart, good-looking kid. But he’s not the most masculine boy you’re going to meet. He’s more likely to play Super Mario Brothers than to play football. He collects Pokemon cards, not baseball cards. He invented the game “hug ‘o war” at our house. He says “I love you” to people he’s just met.
This kid wears his emotions out there and as a result, he gets teased by his peers at school or at day camp. Most of the time we’re able to talk about it and he’s able to blow it off. And honestly, most of the teasing isn’t too bad yet. He’s still mostly a little boy, so things haven’t turned really nasty. But I can see it, looming. He’s getting older and expectations of “manliness” are going to start to become more and more persistent. And odds are good that some day, my son is going to tell me or his dad or some other trusted adult a story similar to the one that Tyler referenced above.
There’s one place where he should be absolutely free to be who he is, and that’s the Church. He should never have to fear that he’s going to be verbally assaulted or mocked or torn down or gossiped about when he steps through the doors of the church. Instead, it should be a place where he can go to have wounds healed. A place where he can be encouraged. A place where he can have his talents nurtured and used.
Pastor Mark’s call for stories about effeminate males was a call for stories about someone’s son or brother or friend. The post dehumanized a group of people by reducing them to a single trait. Of course, if I look at Pastor Mark as just a bully, I risk doing the same. He becomes a caricature instead of a person.
So I wrote my letter. Because I don’t want Pastor Mark to be reduced to the part of villain. And I don’t want my son to be reduced to the part of anatomically correct male. They are both so much more than any single negative trait. When we choose stand up for one person, we are standing up for all of them.