I was taught two spiritual disciplines that have at times helped me to grow in my pursuit of a Christlike life. On the occasions where they did not help me it was because I did not practice them, not because they did not work.
The one I learned from a friend who shared his father in laws practice of "embracing my own confession". What this means is that before we act, especially in attempts at reconciliation, we must discern our own sin. The way we do this is to recognize that there is always our own sin that causes us to react in anger. "YOU WHO JUDGE ANOTHER DO THE SAME THING" When we can embrace our own confession, and seek God's forgiving mercy we can then in humility speak to another. In other words, deal with your own log, before dealing with the speck in your brothers eye.
The second I learned from, (gasp, dare I say it), my wife. To be fair she learned it from one of her friends, who learned it from someone else and I think they were all women so I shouldn't let them teach me, but in a moment of weakness I did. The discipline is this, when ever you say "so and so is a such and such" you follow it by "and so am I" So, "Mark is a judgmental jackass... and so am I"
The truth is, that was the point of my rant yesterday. I see in Mark, and in Marks depiction of "manliness" many of the traits that I am convicted of myself. I am judgmental. I am mean. I make fun of people that I differ with or disagree with. I am overbearing, rude, and obnoxious. I am prone to shouting, anger and even violence. I feel uncomfortable about expressions of sexuality that are different than my own. And I believe God wants to drive this sin from me, so that I, might be perfected in Love like Jesus was. Which is why when I see my sin reflected in others, it makes me angry. Easier to get angry at others than myself.
My point on Tuesday evening, was not that I am above Mark. But rather, in being a visible leader, Mark encourages a part of me that the Spirit is trying to discourage. Not so I can be less the strong, courageous, man I am, but that I would be tempered with goodness, kindness, gentleness and empathy. My letter was an attempt to give voice to this, and perhaps, help other tough guys to see a different way, and hear a different voice.
I do understand the idea that church in America can be ostracizing for some men, but it is also so for lgbt community, for anyone not of the same race as the church they go to, for people that are ADHD, ect. Mark often criticizes churches for compromising to be more palatable, yet isn't encouraging a male dominated, power based sexism a compromise to the 20-35 year old male demographic? Lets look at Christ for who he was, someone who breaks out of all of our boxes, strong, yet gentle, Non violent, let passionately zealous, loving and just.