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Men and the Evangelical Church

March 30, 2012

Will S. of Patriactionary directed my attention to Bwana Simba, a fairly new blogger who’s documenting his experience of misandry in evangelical churches. This passage resonated with me:

It has gotten to the point where I no longer go to church, as I have yet to see one that draws in strong men.  I even hate going to my college Christian groups and typically skip the message and singing simply to get right to the social atmosphere as I believe nothing said is healthy.  I have seen strong and wild men filled with spirit go into churches and church groups and come out docile, nice, spiritually lifeless and filled with self-hatred.  Simply put, I do not believe God is in the church anymore.

I hate attending evangelical churches. I almost invariably find that the only thing of any value is the socializing. Sermons are emotive but lacking in content; the worship is even worse; and I find myself filled with contempt for the other men in the building for even putting up with it (though I admit that’s not a very Christian of me).

Start with the worship music. Here’s Blessed Be Your Name, chosen pretty much at random from the CCLI chart of the top worship songs.

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

There’s plenty of emotive first- and second-person language here, but absolutely nothing here for the analytic (male) mind to latch onto. Perhaps a man can endure that. But he could not sing Tim Hughes’ Here I am to Worship without demeaning himself:

Light of the world, You step down into darkness.
Opened my eyes let me see.
Beauty that made this heart adore you hope of a life spent with you.

And here I am to worship,
Here I am to bow down,
Here I am to say that you’re my God,
You’re altogether lovely,
Altogether worthy,
Altogether wonderful to me.

I hesitate even to allow that this is genuine worship. There is a difference between saying “I worship you” and actually worshipping. Compare, for example, the first stanza of How Great Thou Art:

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder
Consider all The worlds Thy Hands hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout The universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

This classic begins by actually observing powerful demonstations of God’s glory, and not by merely saying “oh, you’re great.” Moderns worship music rarely does it this. It cultivates an entirely artificial emotional state through repetition and introspection, rather than by invoking a sense of wonder through concrete ideas. That’s not good for women either, but it’s plainly insulting to men. (Yes, ‘men’ wrote these songs, which just goes to show what everyone already knows: church guys are sissies.)

I’ll pass over sermons, because they’re pretty similar: lots of “here’s how any given passage is about your life this week“—which is sheer pandering to women.

But nothing reveals the sorry state of the evangelical male like is the pathetic state of a few popular recent attempts to reclaim masculinity. For example, there’s John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart.

Eldredge, Wild at Heart

It looks like a romance novel, and reads worse:

There is something else I am after, out here in the wild. I am searching for an even more elusive prey… something that can only be found through the help of wilderness.

I am looking for my heart.

Repulsive.

Mark Driscoll’s church is supposed to be another beacon of manliness. But, as I’ve pointed out before, he’s also a sissy who tells men to treat their wives as gods.

Of course the whole highly feminized environment suits women, but even they know that something is wrong. Especially younger, single women, because they heavily outnumber the single men, and they aren’t much impressed by those men who are available anyway. They are very willing to hear you out on the points I’ve covered. Don’t shy away from it.

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2012 7:53 pm

    The sissiness / mushiness of evangelical worship was one of the other factors, along with their anti-alcohol attitudes, that made me quit evangelicalism, ultimately embracing the Reformed faith; the churches in the Reformed fold sing traditional hymns to an organ or piano (or a capella in some); decidedly NOT a praise band singing “Jesus is my boyfriend” songs, the way evangelical churches do.

    And the sermons in Reformed churches are expositional, teaching what the Scriptures mean, not trying to tie them to newspaper headlines of today or too focused on application. And there aren’t special sermons for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, so no opportunity to praise mothers / bash fathers, like evangelical churches all too often do.

    Get thee out of evangelicalism, and to a trad Prot (Reformed or Lutheran) church! 🙂

    • March 30, 2012 10:17 pm

      My church growing up was Reformed, and it was just like a typical evangelical church. I should probably look at others, though. Do you by any chance have recommendations for something in Toronto?

  2. March 30, 2012 7:55 pm

    I, too, spent a couple years mostly NOT attending evangelical churches, despite having spent a decade prior in them… Then I discovered the Reformed faith. I’ve never looked back.

  3. March 30, 2012 10:00 pm

    Christianity is feminine. It’s a great corrective for the aggressive man, or a masculine world. But for a submissive man and a feminine world?

    But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

    I’m sure that drives women crazy.

    • March 30, 2012 10:09 pm

      Men need some kind of project or vision—a lot of different things wil work. Similarly with what women like: having a passion, standing out in some remarkable way, is appealing. Jesus had plenty of female followers, and women still love him today.

      Nevertheless, I do think there’s something to the suggestion that Christianity itself is feminine—though I’m not sure exactly how to put my finger on it at the moment. But that’s a reason to be especially careful that churches are hospitable to men.

      • Obstinance Works permalink
        March 31, 2012 8:37 am

        A lot of feminists claim the teachings of Jesus for philosophical basis. I have been to all kinds of churches as I am a Christian libertarian in the deep south and not many are without latent or potent pernicious pestilent feminist overtones.

    • March 31, 2012 1:11 pm

      That’s an interesting point about Christianity in a feminine world.

    • March 31, 2012 4:15 pm

      Only in its modern incarnation.

      Do you think that during the Crusades, it was feminine?

      Or during the wars of the Reformation period?

      No, Christianity was vigourous and masculine, back then; it’s only from about Victorian times onwards, that Christian churches became feminized. Prior to then, that wasn’t much the case…

      • March 31, 2012 4:23 pm

        And the reason is quite simple: around about that time, in Protestant, English-speaking churches, there arose the idea that women were morally superior, far less prone to sexual immorality than men. This is utter bullshit, but unfortunately, the meme gained currency, and was promoted by chivalrous doofs who bought into it. Feminism has kept this mindset, simply secularizing and liberalizing it. Which is why one observes feminists and all too many social conservatives working together, teaching that men are utter beasts, whose sexuality needs to be highly policed – which is only half-right, because we have seen what happens, in our feminist, misandrist times, what happens when female sexuality is unchecked (women riding the cock carousel, chasing bad-boys, finding good men too boring, until their bio clocks are ticking and they want to find some chump, and the church encourages men to “man up!” and marry them, despite their far-from-virginal statuses) – we can clearly see, in our day, that women are sexual beings too, equally in need of having their sexuality held in check as men, if not in fact more so, because they are more willing to submit, to pressure from cads, whereas men are more able to resist such, and in any case, if women are kept ‘good’ by social stigma against being sluts, as in the past, men will fall in line. IMO, it’s far more important to police female sexuality more stringently than men, simply for this reason, that most men will fall in line if women are kept from giving in to their base desires so readily.

      • March 31, 2012 4:58 pm

        We should distinguish between periods when religious choice was free from periods when everybody was Christian by default. In those periods of choice, women dominate the church numerically (both now and in the early church).

        In other periods, there was no distinction between Christianity and the rest of society. On the one hand that limits the actual impact of Christianity, because it is assumed rather than demonstrated. On the other hand, no doubt it had some kind of softening impact (in a good sense) – as I said, it is a good corrective in a violent world.

        To further clarify what I mean about Christianity as feminine: consider those traits most emphasizeed by Christianity: self-abnegation, humility, meekness, pacifism. And consider those traits most associate with masculinity: striving for dominance, aggressiveness, self-promotion, etc. The worldview that Christianity is turning on its head is a masculine one.

        If one is going to start down the road of seeing the world and everything in it as one of stark gender dichotomies like active/passive, dominant/submissive, etc. I think some of the main world religions: Christianity, Buddhism, Daoism – are clearly coming down on the feminine side.

  4. will permalink
    March 31, 2012 4:58 am

    @sharphedin

    In middle eastern culture a backhand is an insult and honor features majorly in middle eastern culture like killing the offender notice:(right cheek).

    That passage definitely tells you not to take revenge just because someone offended your honour.

    • March 31, 2012 5:56 pm

      Yes, and there’s a reason people in those kinds of societies are so defensive of their honour: it’s all they have. They have no law to support their rights – if they can’t show that they won’t be trod on, then they’ll be trod on.

      The Christian message is: let yourself be trod on, give up concern for your honour. Those are, perhaps, noble messages, but do women actually find them appealing in your average guy? (ie. someone who’s not an already remarkable person like Jesus, or Buddha).

      ‘Game’ is based on the idea that women do not find these things attractive.

  5. Obstinance Works permalink
    April 1, 2012 10:01 pm

    Yeah the “man up” mantra is pretty in your face in most churches around here in Greenville SC. I went to Bob Jones Academy for high school and 1 year in college btw. The Old Testament is far less feminized but those less pc parts are forgotten.

  6. Bwana Simba permalink
    April 3, 2012 12:20 am

    For those advocating straight up Christian pacifism, Jesus overturned tables in righteous fury. Yes, He said turn the other cheek and He who lives by the sword dies by the sword. But, Jesus lived by the sword (see Mathew 10:34) and He died by it too (but He got better), and He told his disciples to buy a sword (Luke 22:36) There are a couple ways to determine this differences in answers.

    1. Jesus was a hypocrite.
    2. He was a warmonger/ pacifist and He meant the other verses only as metaphors.
    3. They were all metaphors.
    4. He was a sane, rational person who knew there was a time for violence and there was a time for peace.

  7. April 5, 2012 9:55 am

    To everything there is a season,
    A time for every purpose under heaven:

    2 A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
    A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what is planted;
    3 A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
    A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
    4 A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
    A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
    5 A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
    A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
    6 A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
    A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
    7 A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
    A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
    8 A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
    A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

    Meekness and humility are not feminine virtues. There is a place for justice and righteous indignation. However, we are not to promote the gospel using the weapons of war and fleshly dominance. Yes, men and women alike are to be willing to suffer indignity for the sake of the gospel to signify our understanding that we are not equipped to defend God.

    Being willing to suffer indignity for Christ is not the same thing as laying down your dignity and/or masculinity in order to be more readily identified as a Christian. Please don’t make the mistake of assuming the weak, negative modern definitions of meekness and humility are synonymous with the Bible’s presentation.

    There was nothing weak about the apostles, who willingly walked into precarious, life-threatening situations for the sake of the gospel.

    • April 5, 2012 10:14 am

      Quite true, Elspeth; the gospel isn’t to itself be spread by the sword, but indeed, we must be willing to stand up for our faith, even if it means risking or offering up, our lives…

      And a church, of the old-fashioned kind, is one men will lay down their lives for, unlike the modern weak versions…

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