Over the next few weeks, we're looking at First Man Standing, exploring in a series of interviews how it came to be and what the journey ahead might look like. The series will mix passion and action with the knowledge and experience of some leading voices in the area of male violence towards women and men's ministry within the UK church.
This week we interviewed Carl Beech. Carl is a UK based evangelist and church leader, CEO of Edge Ministries and president of CVM. He's the founder of The Gathering for Men and the Codelife movement, and the author of several books. He's also a Restored Ambassador, passionate about helping men speak up about violence against women. You can catch up on the conversation over on YouTube.
Gaz: What do you think is the key thing for First Man Standing going forward?
Carl: The issue is that it tends to be the women that get engaged. Normally you could put on a men's event with trapeze artists and fire, throw everything at it, and get four blokes and a ferret. At a women's event you can say come out for a coffee and a croissant and you get thousands of women. It's the women who are often stepping out first... that's not to beat men up, that's just the way it is. You do see men involved, but not to the degree you see the women. Then you've got the issue of violence against women, which is perpetrated by men. It can't just be an issue that women are engaging with, because it's a human issue. It's not a women's issue, it's an issue of humanity and control and misuse of power. Too often testosterone is used for evil and not for good. We've got to get the men in front of the message of Jesus Christ. It's the gospel that brings change, but unless we share the gospel things won't change. We need to think about how we engage men.
Gaz: How do we help guys engage with the issue? Often guys are scared to get it wrong, they don't always know the right time and place to do it... If more guys engaged even at base level with something like this, and listened to something like this, they might go away feeling a bit more equipped.
Carl: There’s this thing about not getting involved any more. We’re so scared to get involved. It’s taking someone aside when they’re making a crude joke about their wife, saying ‘I don’t think that’s right, that’s your Mrs’. That sexualised behaviour that’s demeaning and objectifying - if you’ve got a faith and believe everyone is one of God’s precious creations, why would you let that happen in front of you?
Gaz: Where do you think men can go in the Bible to be encouraged about speaking up about violence against women?
Carl: I think we've got to take a counter-intuitive approach and empower men and inspire men to become the kind of men they know they ought to be. Inside of us, we all know deep down who we ought to be, want to be, desire to be. The Bible causes us to look higher, to lift up our eyes from the gutter, and aspire to something greater. To live your life for a more noble cause. So rather than going to specific verses and saying the Bible says 'do this, do that' - my favourite go to is Romans 12:9-20. You've got the Beatitudes... But I love Philippians 4: 'rejoice always... let your gentleness be known to everyone, the Lord is near'. There is strength in being tender and kind. Gracious. Gentle. That's true strength.