I go to an all-guys school, and my friends and I sometimes make fun of effeminate guys. Is that wrong?

It is wrong. To help you understand why, imagine what it would be like to be in their place:

Imagine being in middle school, and as your buddies began to talk about their feelings of attraction and love for girls in your class, you noticed that you didn’t feel the same desires. You listened to their stories and played along with their conversations and jokes, but you always felt that you were on the outside, looking in. As the months and years drew on, you felt all the emotions and excitement of romantic attraction that they did—but not for girls. Because you feared their rejection, you kept silent about your attractions, and told absolutely no one. For months and even years you were afraid to tell anyone what was stirring within you. Feelings of isolation, confusion, shame, loneliness, and despair seemed to suffocate you at times. Finally, once you were in high school, you found others who felt the same way you did. At last, you felt understood and accepted. But the more you associated with them, the more you felt rejected by others. You suffered repeated humiliations from bullies, and wondered what your parents would think if you ever told them. Would they reject you as well? Because you sometimes struggled to accept yourself, you even wondered if God Himself would accept you.

Now that you’ve taken a moment to enter into the life of one of these individuals, imagine the impact your jokes would make on him. At an all-boys high school, it’s common for guys to be concerned about whether they’re athletic enough, smart enough, popular enough, and so on. But the way to find acceptance is not to tear others down. That doesn’t make you any more of a man. In fact, it is a sign of male insecurity for a guy to belittle other men in order to establish his own masculinity. A real man is secure enough in his manhood to treat all guys with dignity, including those he considers to be effeminate. Keep in mind, though, that not all effeminate guys are attracted to other guys, and sometimes the most masculine-looking men experience same-sex attractions.

I went to an all-guys high school, and I sadly confess that I took part in mocking such guys as well. Our jokes, mannerisms, and impersonations were a constant announcement to the world that none of us understood manhood yet. Lurking under the mockery, though, was the knowledge that we would feel equally afraid and alone if we were the ones experiencing same-sex attractions.

If you want to prove your manhood to the world, be virtuous. In fact, the word virtue means ‘‘manly strength.’’ As a display of such character, I would challenge you to go and ask forgiveness from those you have mocked. Such an act of humility might go a long way to healing some of the abuse that these individuals might have suffered in their lives.

In the future, stop such conversations and refuse to take part in the behavior. Whatever we have done to another, we have done to Christ Himself (Matt. 25:31–46).

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