Stand in the Gap
By Commissioner David Edwards –
They used to tell me when I was growing up that “big boys don’t cry.” Well, it would appear that things have changed since that time, at least in America. Big men no longer seem to be ashamed of shedding a few tears.
A recent issue of Time magazine headlined the story of the Promise Keepers rally in Washington, D.C. It showed on the cover a picture of the crowd at another Promise Keepers rally. In full focus were two men, one of them crying. The lead story begins with reference to a service at the First Assembly of God Church a few miles from Fort Sill, Lawton, Oklahoma, where “dozens of men are weeping openly in the pews, men who have come from the base, men who ain’t supposed to cry.”
Yes, things have changed. Thanks to the Promise Keepers.
I do not think that our society did us men any favors when it taught us that to shed a tear was an unmanly thing to do–especially men of my generation. The idea was obviously passed on to us and we passed it on to our sons. Any public show of feelings of fear, pain or affection and you were considered “chicken,” a “wimp,” a “sissy.” Even though common sense told you to run for your life, you’d rather stand and let them beat the stuffing out of you.
I rather suspect that what resulted was a generation of men who did not just lose their ability to show their feelings, but who became quite confused about what to feel or, as has happened in some cases, lost the ability to feel anything except anger, rage or frustration.
Recently, I witnessed a scene that shocked me. I was sitting having a meal in a restaurant when I overheard a man’s voice raised in annoyance “Why don’t you get off of me…” It was the voice of a father who had just pushed his 8-year-old daughter away from him, as she was trying to climb on to his lap to give him a hug. She sheepishly moved to the other side of the booth in which they were with the rest of the family. To be fair to him, after a couple of minutes, I overheard him say that he was sorry, but the damage had already been done.
Any organization that can teach men it is all right to feel–and give them the freedom to weep if they want to–ought to be commended. I am glad, too, that the organization which has done that is Christian. I rather suspect our Lord would have commended the Promise Keepers.
Jesus Christ was a man’s man. He was as tough as they came. He lived at a time and in a society where men were considered first class citizens. He showed that he had tremendous stamina, courage and discipline. Yet he was not afraid to weep and to do so openly.
He wept outside the tomb of his friend Lazarus. Coming over the brow of the hill, he saw the city of Jerusalem basking in the morning sunlight and burst into tears. The grief of his friends and the plight of the city both so reached out and touched him that he was moved to tears and was not afraid to show it.
Even though the organization of Promise Keepers is now in its sixth year, I must confess that I first became aware of its existence only two years ago while on a visit to the USA. It is only in recent times and as a result of the publicity associated with the “Stand in the Gap” rally that my knowledge of the group and its objectives has improved somewhat.
As a man I can identify with a group which calls on men to commit to…
1. Honoring Jesus Christ through worship, prayer and obedience to God’s word in the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Pursuing vital relationships with a few other men, understanding that they need brothers to help them keep their promises.
3. Practicing spiritual, moral, ethical and sexual purity.
4. Building strong marriages and families through love, protection and biblical values.
5. Supporting their churches by honoring and praying for their pastor and giving their time and resources.
6. Reaching beyond any racial and denominational barriers to demonstrate the power of biblical unity.
7. Influencing their world, being obedient to the great commandment (see Mark 12:30 – 31) and the great commission (see Matthew 28: 19 – 20).
It seems to me that these were just the kind of commitments I was called on to make as a Christian, and Salvationists, in fact all Salvationists–male and female–are called on to make such commitments.
As is to be expected, the organization, Promise Keepers, does have its critics, and while there might be some justification for some of the criticism, I would suggest that our society has more to gain than to fear from “men behaving nobly.”
I understand that they were expecting close to one million men at the rally in Washington. I pray that they realize their expectations. I pray that they succeed in getting more of us, especially us men, to “stand in the gap.”