From My Heart, Out Of My Mind

Is the church under-masculinized?

Posted by Don Bryant on March 31, 2008

Below is a blog article from The Constructive Curmudgeon. Actually, I have been trying to follow Mark Driscoll’s description of Jesus as a man with big biceps. Actually I think it easier to be holy, but I think the big biceps should come first.

Real Men or Followers of Jesus?
A new movement is afoot, inspired in part by John Eldridge, author of Wild at Heart. Call it the Christian men’s movement. The thesis is simple and wrong: the church is feminized and, therefore, cannot attract me (or at least cannot attract “real men”). The solution is simple and just as wrong: to masculinize the church and create separate associations where men can beat their chests, spit, scoff at all things “feminine,” and glory in the power of testosterone.

One Brad Stine has formed a group called GodMen (sounds a bit pantheistic), which, according to Christianity Today, “provides a space in which ‘men can be men; raw and uninhibited; completely free to express themselves in a uniquely male way that only men understand’” (Brandon O’Brien, “A Jesus for Real Men,” April, 2008, p. 49). Pastor Mark Driscoll says that men are drawn to Jesus’ “calloused hands and big biceps.” This is, he says, “the Ultimate Fighting Jesus” (p. 49). I have never been drawn to these features of Jesus, if he even had them. They are not the point of the Incarnation. I am drawn to Jesus’ holy personality (perfect love and justice), his truth, his miracles, his death, his resurrection, his ascension—none of which require macho muscles and calloused hands. Those hands were pierced for us; that body was broken for us. That is what counts—for men and for women—for time and eternity.

The problem with the church is not that it is presenting a feminine Jesus, although some of the depictions of Jesus are such (another argument for not making any image of God.) The problem is that the biblical Jesus, in all his uncomfortable glory, has been eclipsed by worldliness. Now Jesus is not the crucified and risen Lord, but an idea to comfort us, inspire us to be who we already want to be. Instead of coming with a whip and driving out the money changers, he helps us make money to spend on stuff. Instead of heaving with paroxysms of grief and outrage over the death of Lazarus, he is saying nice things to get us to distract ourselves from the brutal realities of sin and death in our broken world. One could go on.

The answer is not to create a Jesus that fits the stereotypes of today’s masculinity. That is just more worldliness and should be repented of. Humans, male and female, are equally made in the image of God. The fruit of the Spirit is for both sexes. The gifts of the Spirit are for both sexes. The way of life for both women and men is to deny themselves (and the current worldly views of masculinity and femininity), take up their crosses and follow Christ.

Yes, men and women are different, each tend to have different strengths and different weaknesses in some areas. For example, how many women are addicted to pornography? How many men over idealize romance? But the answer is not to become more masculine or more feminine (unless one has sexual identity problems). The answer is to become more broken before God, more biblical, more filled with the Spirit, more of a sold out agent of the supernatural Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

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11 Responses to “Is the church under-masculinized?”

  1. John said

    >>>men are drawn to Jesus’ “calloused hands and big biceps.”

    I can’t remember the last time I was drawn to a man b/c he could open a jar of pickles.

  2. John said

    >>>>how many women are addicted to pornography? How many men over idealize romance?

    Actually, more than you think. Women, unlike men who discuss this struggle every chance they get, are often ashamed to talk about lust, masturbation or pornography. Also, many men are addicted to porn b/c of imagined versions of acceptance.(translation: idealized romance)

  3. turbidity said

    The truth is that the church IS feminized. In order to attract people, the church has had to downplay the aggresive, outspoken, truth at-all-costs Jesus. As well, many churches have added more programs, plays, musical, choirs – happy, happy, joy, joy!! When was the last time any of us has heard a message with passion, truth, conviction, and authority – as Jesus and Paul spoke? When was the last time any of us has heard a strong, sin-condemning message? What about the issue of hell? Jesus himself, many times in the gospels, was a hell-fire and brimstone preacher who was not controlled by the politically correct ideas and agendas of the time. He preached truth at all costs and at all times. But, do we see that today? No, not much at all – we see and hear preachers, teachers, leaders who, for the most part, do not want to offend anyone because their listeners might not come back; or because the preacher does not want to come across as judgemental. God is love – but He is also a God of judgement who will punish the unbelieving sinner with eternal hellfire!

    Men will be more attracted to the church when it stops compromising the preaching and teaching of truth. Jesus is our example because He was the perfect example of a man. He was weak AND strong at the same time. He could wash feet AND throw tables and chairs around when He had to. He could speak gently and kindly when necessary – but He could speak forceful truth when needed – to the Pharisees and scribes, to Peter, etc.). His followers increased in number because He spoke through the Holy Spirit with boldness, truth, and authority. He was not a Mister Rogers type of preacher with a milquetoast personality. He cared more about the praises of His Father than He did about the praises of men. Can we, as leaders, preachers, and teachers say the same?

    Real men want the real Jesus; men were created to be leaders and they will not follow a man who only displays his feminine side. Men want to hear about the Jesus who rocked the world, the Jesus who preached that FORCEFUL men lay hold of the kingdom of heaven. A real man is not evident in the outward appearance but in the way he speaks, lives, and believes. How can the church expect to appeal to real men when the Jesus that the church wants men to follow has been stripped of His manhood?

  4. Don Bryant said

    I do admit that John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah and Jehu, is a model that has some real attraction to it. Jesus thought so, and Jesus identified with John’s revival. But, of course, Jesus was accused of being a party goer and a lover of wine. I don’t think the latter picture of Jesus fits into the John paradigm. It say of him that he would not cry out in the streets and that a flickering wick he would not snuff out and a bruised reed he would not break. Unquestioningly Jesus lived out and demonstrated the softer side. Moses – truth. Jesus – truth and grace. I think it can “feel” good to be a John the Baptist. But in many ways Jesus resisted the Old Testament model of the prophetic – not because he disagreed with it but because he came with another dimension. Driscoll’s dramatics (and mine)come and go, like Billy Sunday’s or many others. What stays is when the hearts of the fathers turn to the children – loving wives and sons and daughters. I think I grew up with too many bullies in the pulpits.

  5. John said

    turbidity, do I understand you to be saying that compromise, weakness and lack of passion are feminine characteristics? Do you believe, when we become more manly, we’ll start preaching the truth with strength and passion? That’s funny since the majority of christian men take no spiritual role in their family. We may need to become more “feminine”. That is to say live out our wives spiritual commitment and passion that we have previously lacked.

    Get over it, the church is “feminine” and “masculine”. We are the bride of Christ and His army. that goes for men and women.

  6. turbidity said

    Firstly, Jesus came across as a bully in the pulpit many times. His message of the truth that He shared made Him to a bully. He Himself was a man who caused division by His words and many were offended and walked away because His words either brought reconciliation or division. – and His words frequently brought division. Again, it is not the outward appearance that defines a man (or the church). It is what proceeds from the heart and tongue of a man that defines him. In the case of the church, it is evident that most of us have forgotten that most of the New Testament was penned by a “John the Baptist, the New Testament Elijah and Jehu” type of a man; that is, PAUL. Well, obviously, Jesus approved of Paul and we therefore cannot exclude that the characterof this godly man has a solid place in the heart of a true Christian man. Yes, “Unquestioningly Jesus lived out and demonstrated the softer side.” But the point is not whether He lived out His “softer side” as WE see it. God has two sides and He commands us to be like Jesus in the outward appearance, but like FORCEFUL MEN in the inward parts. The armor of God is put on by those who BATTLE as forceful men. And we must still be forceful as we “work out our salvation” with fear and trembling. Be a Mister Rogers and see how many burning hearts will follow. I suspect that you have already found this out.

    2CORINTHIANS 11:3 “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

    Women (in general) are not only weaker physically, but also emotionally. Thus, they are more easily deceived by “smooth-talkers” (like the serpent). Men are stronger both physically and emotionally (in general) than women. Did you ever wonder why the serpent did not try to directly deceive the man instead of the woman? Instead, the serpent used the women to get to the man and the man did what the woman suggested. Because the woman was so easily deceived by the serpent, God does not want a woman to teach His Word to men or to lead them since, like Eve, a woman may be more easily deceived into believing false teaching and leading him down the wrong path. As well, a man in his weakness is (like Adam) more prone to heed what is being said by a woman due to his natural desire to please a woman and not because of the truth of her words.

    John:

    Eve COMPROMISED what she knew to be true to please herself.
    Adam COMPROMISED what He knew to be true to please HER.

    Men must remember that we must please God first, then our wives. And when we do strive to please our wives, whatever that may involve, our actions must first please HIM!

    Women are the “weaker vessel” as the Bible says – not me. Take this issue up with our Lord.

    Also, women were not created to be the leaders in the church or the home. You have simply highlighted that women are doing more because men, as leaders, refuse to step up and lead in love. Instead, they allow the woman to usurp their God-given authority. Just because women can be more passionate, forceful leaders, does not mean that this is what God intended or desires.

    His Word is truth – we must TRY to live by it. If not, we will find ourselves becoming drawn into a form of godliness that denies HIS TRUTH.

  7. John said

    Men and women are certainly different.

    However, You seem to think it is important for you to put women in their “proper” place. Fortunately, scripture tells us that’s not your job(unless you are and old, godly woman — i’m guessing you are not) – see Titus 2

    Yes woman are called the “weaker vessel” but that is a place of honor. If we do not honor our wifes properly, our prayers will be hindered. –see 1 Peter 3

    The curse tells us that women will sinfully desire their husbands and men will sinfully dominate them them. It is a reality but it is not God’s way. If a woman puts her husband before God or a man dominates his wife, they are not living in God’s will. that was a punishment – a curse. It is not the way things are supposed to be. That is not the marriage that God calls “good”—see Gen 3

    Why does every discussion about how men should act turn into a discussion about how women should act? I think Jesus had something to say about that. — see Matthew 7

  8. John said

    women have not usurped anything. Men have relinquished it, and women have stepped up to the husband and the wife and the father and the mother and every other thing that men are supposed to be. We could should learn (from them) how to be men again.

  9. turbidity said

    1. The reason tha the topic of women cam eup is that the original topic was about the “FEMINIZATION” o the church. So, naturally, what chracterizes feminine behavior and influence must be discussed.

    2. It is true that men have ignored their roles throughout time. This includes Adam, who ignored his role as leader and protector of Eve. As mwn, we need to stand firm as men and take back that role as leader from women. It can and will be difficult; but the husband must not allow th ewife to control him and negatively influence him. Adam was not able to do this – and here we are.

    3. Men should not be learning from women – women should be learning from men, men who have studied to show themselves approved. See the Lord and His Word about it, not me. He makes it very clear. Women have done many great things, but women will always want the men to be leader and take charge – no matter how much they claim the opposite.

    In the same way, the church is to be led by FORCEFUL men. Jesus was no wimp and we should not be either.

  10. John said

    1. the question is really what does it mean to be masculine.
    2. wow, so Adam sinned first by not protecting eve?
    3. The disciples learned from Mary’s action of anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume. there is a difference in preaching and teaching by example. Do you really think men have nothing to learn from women?

    Jesus could be harsh. Generally, He was very upset with hypocrites and oppressors. He was compassionate towards the poor, weak, and powerless. Do you feel that defending the oppressors and attacking the “weaker vessel” is Christ-like?

    We may have to just leave this as a disagreement. at some point, please consider the passages I posted. I’ll give you the last word, if you like.

  11. turbidity said

    Bottom line:

    Q. Has the church veered away from being a balanced (Jesus was balanced)institution, portraying a masculine Jesus as well as displaying that masculinity can and must include a softer side?

    A. Yes. Jesus is a man and His church must reflect who He is. Most, if not all, agree that the church has been compromised (or has compromised itself in this area) in many ways.

    You perceive that being weaker means that a woman is inferior; God does not see it that way
    We all have different roles, none of which mean that one is inferior because of that role. Women have certain roles and men have certain roles. The issue is whether we are living out those roles for ourselves as men and women. When we try to live outside those roles as God has determined, we go against His divine intent – and we contribute to the confusion of the man/woman dynamic. As a result, the “War of the Sexes” rages on; and both men and women don’t realize that we are really fighting Him when we go against His Word.

    His Word is th ultimate judge. Read it for yourself and you will see that it is not about inferior or superior. It is about His created order and the roles He has assigned.

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