Thursday, April 12, 2007

Why Men Say No To Church

A friend recommended I read this article in the current Christian Century, which goes by the above title on the cover of the magazine and inside is called "Missing Men: Is the Church Low on Testosterone?" by Lillian Daniel. It is a review of a book by an evangelical preacher named David Murrow, who directs something called Church for Men.

As my friend said when she recommended the article, What the hell is wrong with people?

Ladies, it's all our fault. We have driven the poor men away, what with our feminizing things and our wussy music and our emphasis of that old, tired "God is Love" message. This is not what the guys want! They want-- seriously, this is right out of the book-- explosions, and car chases, and loud thumping music with lyrics like

We've been beaten down
Feminized by the culture crowd
No more nice guy, timid and ashamed
We've had enough, cowboy up
In the power of Jesus' name
Welcome to the battle
A million men have got your back
Jump up in the saddle
Grab a sword, don't be scared
Be a man, grow a pair!

These folks obviously haven't seen Brokeback Mountain.

These men, who gather in a warehouse where all the things they like are projected on big video screens and boom through big loudspeakers, want to "grab their swords" and take back their Christianity from us. They want to talk about their sexual sinfulness (like the pastor who admits picking up a prostitute on the way to Christmas Eve candlelight services), a lot. As my daughter, reading over my shoulder, commented, "I think that's what teenage boys want."

I'm going to take a stab here and say that I think this crowd is more interested in the Christ of Revelation, the future judge, than the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus, who does not resist the Roman efforts to put him to death, and who says to his disciples "Put away your sword" has no place in this brand of faith (and I use that word deliberately: make no mistake, this is a "brand").

And I would have no problem with all that, frankly, if not for this one tiny problem: this is, among other things, about the subjugation of women a la the Ephesians household code. There is much language about "headship," the man/ husband being "head" of the woman/ wife as Christ is head of the church. This, evidently, is part and parcel of the explosions and thumping music. Are we surprised?

I just had a thought: is this the source of conservative discomfort with gay and lesbian relationships? That there is no obvious "head"? Or two heads? Or (horrors!) no head?

I wonder what the ManChurch folks think of the Christ of Paul in the Philippians key?

Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
~ Phil. 2:5-11

Do you suppose Pastor Murrow would tell Jesus to grow a pair?


Share Cropper said...

Gad, this sounds like the crusades! or Nascar!

Cecilia said...

LOL... yes, NASCAR Christianity, just the thing!


KJ said...

Oh my. Talk about your anti-christs.

don't eat alone said...

Why is it, when I finished reading your post, the song running through my head was, "I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK . . ."


Wormwood's Doxy said...

I can remember a conversation I had with a group of older, religiously conservative women in my family after my first husband and I were married.

They were *appalled* at the egalitarian nature of our relationship--and I do not exaggerate their discomfort with it. They could not understand that it was possible to have a marriage in which no one was "in charge." They argued vehemently with me that SOMEONE had to be in charge...and that the Bible said it was to be the man.

I bit my tongue and did not point out the irony that all of them had been widowed at an early age (accidents for all 3 of the main disputants) and that they had lived for decades making their own decisions without a man in sight.

But they were truly bothered by the notion of no control in a marriage. I was shocked by how angry and upset with me they were---all because I made the comment that we shared decision-making about everything.

We Do It Too said...

Amen sister.

Cynthia said...

I've read several articles about the Men's Church and have been rather disturbed. I nearly wrote appalled, but that may be taking it too far. What gets to me is that some of the voices in that movement seem to be applying the worldly standards of masculinity onto what should be the divine role model. I think that men worshipping with just men and women worshipping with just women can be a wonderful, enriching thing, but this really highlights the weaknesses. I have the feeling that preacher would probably tell that to Jesus. Just so sad.

Nina said...

Some other possible names:
Jerks for Jesus
The Head Ship
Cretins' Crusade for....well, you get the idea.

It's sickening and scary, so I jeer.

Weiwen Ng said...

Suffering and dying for the sins of the world is manly enough for me. Jesus would ask these people what they're trying to prove.

Another blog's author ( posted a little piece where Nancy Pelosi's daughter interviewed Ted Haggard before the (ahem) scandal, and he was bragging about the quality of his sex life with his wife, about how Evangelicals had the best sex lives.

We all know how that turned out.