It gives me great pleasure to introduce to you the other JKK, my partner in crime and my partner in this life, Jim Kast-Keat. For the past 6 years Jim has been a creative force at Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids Michigan working as a Student Ministries Pastor. When my pastorate lead us to New York City Jim began working with Augsburg Fortress Press as a product designer for Sparkhouse. So while I’m currently in sunny Florida meeting with Brian McLaren, Diana Butler Bass, Wes Granberg-Michaelson and a few other colleagues from the RCA I thought this would be a very fitting time to welcome Jim as a guest writer on my day. He gave this preach/teach to hundreds of middle school students and their leaders titled Boobs, Butts, Muscles Misogny: What does it mean to be a man? Thank you Jim for letting me share this with the world and thanks for using your privilege wisely.
This past Tuesday was the Relationship Month finale at The.element. We spent three weeks talking about love, relationships, and sexuality. And as a part of the “let’s talk about sex” night, I had a “what does it mean to be a man?” rant. (And in case you’re wondering, the image above is what was on screen. Expanding people’s vocabulary, one West Michigan junior high student at a time!)
What does it mean to be a man?
It means that I am called to love others. (Because yes, men can – and should – use the word “love.”) It means I accept myself as God made me. I don’t try and become someone or something I’m not. I accept all of me: lanky arms, big ears, weak calves, and everything. Because God made all of me and accepts all of me.
It means I respect myself and I respect others. Women are more than boobs and butts. So stop staring. They are a person, not an object. And they’re made in the image of God. Being a man means I respect everyone and treat them as equal. This isn’t chivalry; this is humanity.
It does not mean that I pick on someone else because they’re weaker than me or different than me. If you are making fun of someone or picking on someone because they’re gay or a lesbian, you need to stop right now. It’s not ok. And if you are getting picked on because you are gay or a lesbian, God hears your cry. And it gets better.
Being a man does not mean you have to live up to some more-muscles-than-Matt-Boyle mentality. (But if God gives you muscles, more power to you.) It does not mean that you have to fit into some I-love-sports-and-belching-and-hunting stereotype. (But if that’s your thing, go team!)
Men can be warriors and poets (all the while sidestepping and subverting the myth of redemptive violence). Men can have muscles and emotions (because we are whole people with feelings). And being a man means I am free to be exactly who I am.