In the April 2 issue of Christian Century, Lillian Daniel reviews Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. While not the most timely review (Murrow’s book was released 2.5 years ago), her article "Missing men" intelligently lampoons Murrow’s excessively narrow understanding of masculinity while acknowledging that he nonetheless has hit on a problem – the disconnect between the culture of masculinity and the culture of the church. (I can’t find a link to the article – sorry).
Most disturbing in her article are the graphic depictions of raw masculinity espoused by advocates of a masculine church. These fools argue that men need a church that is more like a Bruce Willis movie – exploding buildings and world-saving heroics – rather than a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. Or take this more disturbing analogy: a church that is like a pornographic magazine – visual and enticing – rather than the word play and emotional sensuality of a romance novel.
Yes, these men sure know how to sing praises to God, too. Amazing Grace? Beautiful Savior? No way, too wussy . . . How about "Grow a Pair"?
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!
I guess the Ethiopian eunich, one of the earliest converts to Christianity who was without his "pair," wouldn’t be welcomed by this crowd . . .
Murrow is not without a point – there is something disturbing and sad about the absence of men in our churches. But if we take culture’s definition of manhood as our gauge for injecting testosterone into the church, what would result is a church with Hooters Girls as ushers, cheap beer for the sacrament, and Homer Simpson in the pulpit. Spoken responses by the congregation would be replaced with belches and farts, and within a few weeks the place would smell worse than a high school locker room. The kiss of peace would be replaced with a quick nod of the baseball cap-covered head and a greeting of "yo dude."
Worse yet, the masculine church would have little time for such effeminate tasks as listening to others, praying for the weak and lowly, feeding the hungry, caring for the sick. There is no horse or sword or ass-kicking involved in these acts of faith and love. One’s manhood, these manly Christians might say, is not used in such tasks.
I thank God that my identity is not wrapped up in cultural definitions of gender roles. In Christ – the man who wept at the death of his friend, who refused to take up a sword, who rode a donkey rather than a horse, who humbled himself in countless ways – in Christ I have a model not for masculinity, but for humanity. Jesus is the model of the Godly life, a model that is for women and men.