Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Is church for wimps?

I saw this posted over at Ray Ortlun's blog:

"Emasculated men are the norm. Most young men have brokenness with their fathers. Macho men are typically posers. They are hiding behind their toughness so others will not see their frailty. They hide behind their academia, their success, their busy-ness, their sexual prowess, etc. Emasculated men are not necessarily effeminate, but they are hiding from their own weaknesses.

"The problem is that only men can build men and too many pastors are broken as well and have their own father issues. That’s usually why some go into ministry—to get validated.

"Anthony Bradley said at an Acts 29 event, “Your church will suck if you do not have strong men.” The typical church is made up of 39% men and 61% of women. Most boys raised in church will abandon it as a young man. If a mother comes to faith, the rest of her family follows 17% of the time. 93% of the time it is true with the father coming to faith (Barna Research).

"We prefer the men in our church to be mules. A mule does not act like a jackass and they are able to carry larger loads and endure longer than a horse. They are tamer than a jackass but do not seem to want to run like a stallion. I think many pastors prefer a mule to a stallion. Stallions are designed to run and not be penned up in a stable. We are generally afraid of stallions because we are afraid of our own masculinity, our leadership, and our “importance” to the Christian community. We are afraid that the stallion will steal our oats and our affirmation by “our” people. Since our own fathers did not affirm us, this is seen as a threat. We value Steady Eddie instead of Daring Dan. Christianity is a radical following of Jesus. The problem with being a mule is that it is almost always sterile.

"The Heavenly Father delights in us as His sons and expressing this fact advances the gospel. We are accepted in spite of our sin through the person of Jesus and thus, we are reconciled to our Father. Jesus came to men and called them to follow; to leave their nets and to follow Him. Men are looking for others to lead them into a radical adventure of the gospel. They are attracted to the crazy ideas, not the boring. Most churches invite men to pass out bulletins and mow the grass as the great adventure. That’s why they prefer staying home on Sundays watching masculine sports on TV or doing masculine things at home."
- Scott Thomas

Agree? Disagree?


Belle Geary said...

I believe he speaks a lot of truth. Our society and our churches have tried very hard to take the man out of men.

nailed to the doors said...

Agree most emphatically. Christian men are wimps!

Don't be a "jerk" mentality, don't hurt their little feelings, don't speak the Truth except in love. True -- but what do you mean by speak in love? I always find "I love you poor little backsliding Christ dishonoring sining brother (see pat on the head) as needing to reconsider your actions," as totally insincere. When the deacons come and say "Man you are excommunicated till God is through dealing with you as you are now committed into the hands of hell!" as more loving.

OR, "That's too risky, we might fail and look bad to the world or to those old rich members who left anyway." The world already hates us, we can't look any worse.

It is better to be a fool for Christ than safe and liked by christian lites.

The call is not to come live but to come die "in" the joy of victory.

Tim said...

First things first:

LOVE the Dirty Harry pic.

Ray's post seems to delight in male stereotypes which I find only slightly offensive because a lot of it is true. A church can be ripped apart by the egos of "stallions" and die with a quiet whimper at the hands of the "mules." However there's another option a man has between emasculation and bravado. I would caution Ray not to confuse meekness with weakness. There are a number of us who speak softly but carry a large stick (no innuendo intended). A pastor might think me a mule... until he utters his first word of heresy.

rmc said...

I'm not certain this is the whole story. Part of it is that men like action. That's probably part of the reason baseball is not as popular as football. The lack of action, the lack of lots of lives really being changed by the gospel, contributes to the boredom one sometimes finds in church. The key would be to learn from areas of the third world that are experiencing revival. For example, in the story of the transformation of Cali, Columbia, the former cocaine capital of the world in the Sentinel video Transformation, a recent convert who was also one of the country's leading sportscasters was asked as he was in an all night prayer meeting that was filling the city's largest sports stadium as the churches came together in unity to pray, what was more exciting, the soccer matches in the sports stadium or the prayer meeting? His answer was the latter. If we can accelerate our progress in learning how to storm the gates of hell in this country, church will be anything but boring and men will be there.

Mike said...

agree with Tim about the Dirty Harry pic...great...loved it

Because I don't like labels I have a hard time with statements like "Christian men are (fill in the blank)" BUT...sometimes labels do give us insight into our own failings or failings of a group and can therefore be helpful...if not overapplied.

So what is wrong with Christian men? I think a lot has to do with our church model...I think it is a feminine-infused model (much like education today) so that men who do come to church are the ones that are OK with the model...the ones that aren't are sitting at home and not coming. I don't think it is the message itself but in the "churchifying" of the message...that is all of the stuff we put around the message...music, robes, flowers, etc.

Harley A. said...

Other than the fact that the post seemed to ramble and never really come to a point that I could discern, it has a kernel of truth, but smacks too much of Eldredge’s stuff. The reason that men (or women for that matter) aren’t in church is that they don’t value it – either they aren’t believers or they are living in disobedience – that simple. Do churches have problems. Yes. Big problems? Some do. There are things I would change about my church, but my brothers and sisters in Christ are there worshipping together and I want to be there with the body.

In reality, the church needs more mules - not stallions. Stallions won’t plow the field or pack your supplies up the mountain. In fact, a stallion (inference is that it is wild) must be broken before it is very useful to its owner (Christ) at all. Mules to me exemplify service which is how Christ taught us to be great. Sometimes serving does mean doing hard things like refuting a preacher or teacher who is errant – doesn’t mean you have to be a wild stallion. The analogy is a bad one I think…

Dirty Harry pic is cool, though

toothdoc said...

I should just let Harley post for me. I read through twice and it simply seems to ramble and not sure what point he is making. Seems to me that we are all mules (not just the men).

Anyway, enough of the tough guy talk. Todd, how are the cats doing and have you planted your Hostas yet?

Todd Pruitt said...

I'm happy you all enjoyed the picture of Dirty Harry. Gotta love Clint!

I had the same question that some of you raised about the difference between a stallion and a mule. The metaphor falls short for the reasons already stated.

I do think however that church has, in many ways been feminized. Often times niceness is valued far more than truth.

Did someone steal the prize out of "nailed.." cerial?

I agree that we need to avoid the Elldridge type of mythic or romantic notions of manhood. He overplays his hand. Plus, he's a terrible theologian. But I digress.

I can't wait for spring. I shall plant a colorful array of delicate pansies!

dotK said...

As a Christian mom, I can tell you it has been important to my sons to follow their dad's lead, whether it be about his faith, or becoming a man.
Their conversations with me as they were growing up showed an instinctive need for this. My husband is not a born again believer, but they looked to him after I came to faith. One of my sons is a believer, and I'm praying and hoping for the others. All dad's should know what a powerful influence they are on their sons. To their daughters also to know how they should be treated by a man.

Todd, I want to encourage you to keep preaching strong messages, which, by the way, my husband loves. He much prefers the hard, firm truth of Scripture over let's just be good type of message. There's a place for that, though, and you find that balance well.

I assume there are varying reasons men stay away from church. I don't think my husband stayed away from the church I started going to because it was feminised, although I understand the points stated here, but rather it is difficult to bring yourself away from your heritage. I see it as being hard to break family ties which is the decision it comes down to for many of us. Or at least the fear of losing family members. Praise the Lord my relationship with family is still good, but we went through many rough patches. You have to get to the point where our Lord is all that matters, and then we are able to let go of the rest if need be. And our Lord tells us if we put family first, we are not worthy of Him. I think it might be easier for women to be broken in this way than men, but you guys could tell me if that's not so.

Todd Pruitt said...


Thanks for the encouraging words.

I have had multiple conversations with unconverted people who after attending services confirmed just exactly what your husband has said.

Two men in particular come to mind who were agnostic when they began attending. They both related to me that had I preached what they described as postitive thinking pop-psychology (should I name names?) they would not have continued to attend. It was wonderful to baptize those men!

Harley A. said...

Speaking of Clint, go see “Gran Torino” – good illustration of a tragic “masculine” figure as relates to Christianity (or Catholicism, at least). Perfect example, I think, of that irony – often what appears as masculinity is in reality extreme weakness.

As a movie, it was decent. The caricature was a bit overdone. I prefer to see him shootin’ it up vs. his gritty “reality” stuff of late. I’d like to see a post on favorite Clint Eastwood lines. I know what mine is...

Todd Pruitt said...

"This is a 44 magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and can blow your head clean off. So the question is, do you feel lucky? Well, do you, punk?"

Mike said...

greatest movie of all time? "The Outlaw Josie Wales"

best line from that movie? (and there were many)..."dying ain't much of a livin' boy..."

Todd Pruitt said...

LOVE The Outlaw Josie Wales! When I was a kid my brother and I watched it every time it was on TV.

That's a great line. He says it to one of the bounty hunters in the bar. Cool as it gets.

Mike, don't you love it when we agree?

Mike said...

yeah...I love that scene in the barroom; it's a classic...and as far as agreement goes...that works too.

Harley A. said...

Mike - the Josey Wales line is what I MEANT to include in my post but forgot to...