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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Feminization of the Church

One of the subjects I have always wanted to approach is the subject of feminism, especially feminism and the church. I think it is abundantly clear that feminism as a mindset has so thoroughly washed over the church that we don't even recognize anymore how feminized the church has become. My problem is this. I don't think I recognize how feminized the church has become nor do I have a clear picture of what a non-feminized church would look like.

Look around. It's in most churches. (I'd say all, but I don't know all.) It's in the pews, given the large absence of males. It's in the music, aimed almost solely at emotions. There is even a segment of church songs that are today referred to as "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs. It's in the decor, with quilts on the wall, plants as decoration, even in the common artistic representations of the effeminate Jesus we see around. It's in the "care groups" and the drive to be "intimate with Jesus" (where "intimate" is so misunderstood today). It is explained in books like David Morrow's Why Men Hate Going to Church. In her book, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from Its Cultural Captivity, Nancy Pearcey says it's a product of the Industrial Revolution, when men stopped working around home and bifurcated "work" and "home", "secular" and "sacred". This may be, but studies suggest this is primarily a Christian distinctive, not bleeding over to other religious gatherings. Whatever the reason, since women have outnumbered men in churches, pastors began to tailor their message to their primary demographic -- women. There are "ladies clubs" like women's Bible studies and book studies and social gatherings, but not much for men to do "men things". While women are typically relational and nurturing -- characteristics we think of as "Christian" -- men are more goal-driven and competitive, largely characteristics ignored in churches. So they aim at the sharing of feelings and comforting one another without addressing male needs, nature, or issues. If they have a men's ministry it is typically poorly attended often because it is ... well ... feminized. Then, of course, the new Christian ethic that says that women ought to be doing all the same roles that men do even if Scripture seems to think otherwise. To even reference some of these Scriptures (Gen 2:18; 1 Cor 11:3-17; 1 Cor 14:34-35; Eph 5:22-24; Col 3:18; 1 Tim 2:9-14; 1 Peter 3:1-6; etc.) is considered sexist.

I think it's a problem. Worse, I think it's a specific attack by Satan. Is it a product of feminism? Perhaps in part, but I don't think so. I think it's a product of Satan. I think it's an attack on males and I think it is an orchestrated attack. We know, for instance, that school teachers are predominantly female. Why? Watch TV for very long (I'd guess 3-4 minutes ought to do it) and you'll see a common message: men are stupid, useless beings outranked first by women and, ultimately, by children. Real men, we're told, are bad things. What a "good man" would look like would be one "in touch with his feminine side". Otherwise, our entire culture is telling us, "men are jerks." It's not just in the church; it's everywhere.

But beyond the satanic attack, I think a major problem is that we've become inoculated to it. Like the proverbial frog in the pot, we've become so used to it that we don't even recognize it. Not seeing the problem, we will likely do little to address it. But it is a problem. Did you know, for instance, that statistically something like 90% of boys raised in church will abandon it by their 20th birthday? That's a startling number.

What we need, then, is for men to be men and for churches to embrace (See? Another feminist concept.) male needs and male lives. The problem, though, is as I've already said. We don't really know what that looks like. It's obviously not the "male jerk" concept, the chauvinist posturing like a peacock, the hypermasculine guy looking for a fight and demeaning women. Clearly not that. But what is it? What does the godly male look like and how does the church include that influence again? Do we even know how to do it anymore?

I have always wanted to address this because I really do believe it's a major problem, but I don't know that I know what the alternative is. That alone speaks volumes.


Bob said...

i noted that class rooms are more suited to female temperament. Girls have no problem sitting still in class and being submissive to the teacher. what if class or sunday school took boy's out of the classroom and let them learn by actually handling things. boy's are tactile. they need to explore, solve problems, break stuff, get physical. all these traits are view by female teachers as disruptive. instead of looking at a blackboard, have the boys actually handle challenges in a real world environment. if you want to teach boys/men about being fisher's of Men then take them out fishing. if you want to teach them about being good husbands, have them take care of animals. it's just that we love hands on stuff. and we are a little reckless...

Stan said...

So ... you're saying our adult Sunday School groups should meet on fishing boats? :)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

You might find this article to be enlightening - I thought it was very good, but the site it is posted on is a bit off.

Stan said...

Thanks, Glenn. That's a whole series I'm going to have to read.

Bob said...

what a different world it would be if all Sunday school classes were taught from boats.
i bet you would have the kids lining up to go. maybe go one step further and have entire churches built upon the water. ok i went a little over board...
instead of having sunday school in an enclosed area, what about sunday school day hikes.
or sunday school, farming day. ah never mind.. what were we talking about?

Stan said...

I'm not a big fan of fishing, myself. Maybe we could expand it to include ... oh, I don't know ... hunting blinds and football fields?

But I think fishing is biblical, isn't it? "Fishers of men."

Or maybe I'm being no help at all.