It isn't uncommon to see guys with babies strapped to their chests or backs walking Green Lake or riding a bus. Every day I see men pushing strollers, jostling crying babies in restaurants, and getting up (before their wives do) to change diapers. I know several men who decided to be stay at home dads while their wives continued with their day jobs...and they are completely unfazed by this arrangement. I know men who take their daughters rock climbing and pack up all three of their kids to go to the zoo. I know men who are contractors by day and bath time daddies at night. The men who reach out with their calloused hands to offer the gentlest of loving hugs to their children, you are magnificent! These are men who understand that their "manhood" isn't conditioned on their testosterone. These are men who awe me.
The reason this is on my mind is that Seattle megapastor Mark Driscoll of megachurch Mars Hill Church recently co-authored a book with his wife Grace on marriage and sex (not referencing it directly, sorry). The reviews have been passionate, simply fascinating to read. Like most things undertaken by Driscoll, this book has heated up quite a debate. Such attention is not new for Driscoll. Occasionally, he steps into the national spotlight because of his less than "orthodox" (pun intended) use of language, i.e. "harsh" words, his theology, and his off the cuff remarks. For those of us in the Seattle area, we hear more about Mark Driscoll than probably the rest of the world does, but he has made and continues to make an impression in the lives of new Christians all over the country.
Driscoll and his church are what are known as "complementarians," which is a word that describes people who believe that men and women are ordained by God to serve complementary but different roles in life. The flip side to complementarianism is often referred to as "egalitarianism" - men and women equal in all things. In complementarianism, men are the leaders of their churches and their homes and should love them as Christ loves the Church. Women are to serve men and to support them as the Church does Christ. This is an oversimplification, but you get the gist. There are many forms of complementarian thought. Mark Driscoll's form, and thus Mars Hill's form, not only prescribes roles, but teaches that "real" men behave, move, and act in very particular ways, and this view has periodically put Driscoll in the hot seat with other Christians, including Evangelicals and even other complementarians.
I don't want to take this whole post and focus on Mark Driscoll. Rather, I started this post because I wanted to thank those loving men whom I know and those whom I will never meet but see every day. I thank them for their kindness, their ability to withstand the Mark Driscolls of the world, their complete comfort in being who they are and loving the ones close to them. For all of the guys out there who have not been held prisoner by examples of brutal dads, distant dads, stern dads, harsh dads, and hands off dads, thank you. Every time you tuck in a child, give a bath, teach a child a song, show a child how to ride a bike, say I'm sorry, kiss your partner with gentleness in front of your child, hold hands, read a book out loud, embody humility, wash the dishes, laugh with joy, make the bed, do the laundry, cry, throw a ball, build a birdhouse, plant a garden, pray with your family, take out the garbage, celebrate your spouse's success, or do any of the millions of other things that you do every day, you are teaching the world what it really means to be a man - a responsible, comfortable in your own skin, adult man. When you embody these things without apology and with grace, you make the world a better place.
For all of the pastors out there who have told guys that they have to like and do Mixed Martial Arts, shoot animals, like guns, swear like a sailor, use anger as a first defense against all vulnerable feelings, or belittle others, I apologize. They may not know the damage that they have done, but I do. You may like some of these things. If so, go for it. But, if you don't, your worth as a man is not predicated upon your affinity for all things testosterone driven.
So, to all you Daddy Dudes, thanks and keep up the good work! For the men I see every day in the PNW, keep showing the world that you can build a house, a great community, and a lovely family all at the same time. We need heroes like you.
PS Another reason I love the PNW: Seattle Stay At Home Dads. Check them out!