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'We need to stop criticising our men'

POSITIVE IMAGES: Church leaders must remind the wider society that many men are achieving great things

WE LIVE in a society where it seems to be OK to poke fun at and publicly deride men. Whether it’s because they are unfaithful in their relationships, commit domestic violence, don’t look after their children, aren’t able to multi-task, aren’t emotional, are aggressive, OR more prone to commit acts of crime. The list could go on.

But surely the criticisms levelled at men, even within the church, is only half the story. Shouldn’t we stop and think about the impact all this negativity is having on the young boys in our midst? Not all men are badly behaved.

Too many of the discussions we have in the black community about gender issues focus on the inadequacy of men. Isn’t it time for the negative rhetoric to stop and look at new ways to move forward – together?

Firstly, we can start to look at the valuable contribution men make to the community. From a Christian perspective, I believe that God has called men to be leaders, providers and protectors. That’s not to say women cannot operate in these roles. They do. But there are unique and much needed qualities that men bring to the role.

Some of our communities have imploded on themselves and become no-go areas when men have absconded on their duties. Women are left to fend for themselves and their children. Communities where men are absent become breeding grounds for gang leaders and criminals to train up the next generation in negative behaviour. And many young men themselves are bemoaning the absence of their father, or a father figure in their life, with some attributing the lack of a strong male presence in their life as the reason why they descended into crime and anti-social behaviour.

Seeing as churches are perceived as the key institutions within the black community, they should be at the forefront (which some are) of bigging up men, and using the platform they have to promote the many good men that we have in our community. Not every man is absconding on his marital and parental duties. The black community is filled with lots of men who have integrity, are responsible, successful in their careers and utilising their talents in a God-honouring way. Plus there are the guys, who were, as described by the Bible, ‘on the path that leads to destruction’, but with either the help of God, the church, role models or their own personal discipline, have turned their lives around and are now exemplary role models. These are the guys are community needs to be focus on.

These are the kind of men that should be given opportunities to share their stories, particularly to young boys and men so as to demonstrate what they can achieve despite the obstacles and difficulties that they will encounter.

With regards to the riff raff, they should not be written off. These guys need our prayers, and our support should they decide to turn their lives around.

However, our focus needs to be on promoting exemplary male role models that our young boys can see and aspire to become, as well as to offset the negativity our community is developing towards boys.

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