Last month I had the luxury of moderating a discussion called “The Man Cave” at a statewide conference for public health professionals and stakeholders.


     The purpose of “The Man Cave” was to be a safe space for men to discuss issues men face when having to encounter the healthcare system, and how we could overcome barriers to men receiving the healthcare they need to improve their health outcomes.


     My wife wanted to come, and I told her she couldn’t because this session was only for men. Then I walked into a conference room packed with women. It made for invigorating discussions, but in post-day reflections I realized that the room was full of men who sleep with men (MWSM) and healthcare workers who serve them to help mitigate the spread of disease in their community.


     I got to thinking that as a straight man in healthcare, I often limit myself to serving either women or seemingly straight men, because as a Christian man, I was taught that MWSM are sinners. I had come to terms with the idea that if I couldn’t influence a person’s behavior and empower them to make better decisions, then I didn’t want to serve them. How shallow of me.


     Sin is sin, and judge it, but I wasn’t judging the people who came in visibly obese. I wasn’t judging people who have Type 2 diabetes or other preventable diseases brought on by poor decisions. So what gave me the right to judge this one? I would like to apologize to them formally and publicly. I felt like I was bound by my Christianity to not extend my practice into their community, when the Lord called me to serve, not to judge. Their community faces the same disease risk as anyone else, and “The Man Cave” helped me see their humanity.


     All actions — whether it be consistently eating too much, sedentary behavior, cheating on your spouse, or sleeping with someone of the same sex — have an outcome. We as Christians aren’t here to judge the people who commit those actions, even when the outcome is unfavorable or visible. We are here to serve everyone regardless of their decisions.


     One of the main things that stands out about men’s health is the reluctance of men to do their due diligence, take control of their health, and make better, informed decisions. Men’s reluctance to visit a primary care provider or inform themselves on their health is astounding, and their reasons vary from distrust to fear of condemnation.


     If we are to reach men properly, we must look inward first and understand that our job is to serve humanity with the gifts, abilities and resources God has given us, judgment free. Once we do that, we will begin to see God move in men’s health like never before. Just because we serve the sinner doesn’t mean we are condoning the sin. Jesus served the sinner to forgive the sin.


Chris Fields is the founder and executive director of H.E.A.L. Mississippi and a graduate in kinesiology with advance studies in nutrition. He serves as a clinical exercise physiologist/CPT and is credentialed in Exercise Is Medicine through American College of Sports Medicine.