Grow a Pair

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.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

4 thoughts on “Grow a Pair

  1. I’m not against women pastors, obviously, but I was concerned that when we got a woman pastor, we have more women lectors, more (all??) women worship assistants, all women in the church office, all women staff, not to mention the traditional roles with the Sunday School, that we would become “too feminine.” Hmmmmmn, surprisingly, not so. For example, this week at our Wed. night soup supper, I counted twice as many men and teen boys as women and girls. A couple of our Wed. night lay preachers were men. There were men in the kitchen washing the dishes. Some of the men were helping pick up the dishes when people were done eating. And at the last council election, a few more men were elected than women. Only seven on the council, and the last bunch had many women.
    What is most amazing isn’t that the men are there, but that they are pitching in AND sharing their faith, not just being pew sitters like the older generation was.
    Now we just have to get more men involved in Sunday School.

  2. We just need attractive young women to enter seminary…oh wait..I am…ha ha.
    Interesting lyric…I didn’t realize that Jesus was a cowboy.

  3. I thank God that my identity is not wrapped up in cultural definitions of gender roles.
    Chris! Woah! Hold on! Do you want to explain that statement? How can you possibly have divorced yourself from cultural gender roles?
    I’ll let you clarify/answer before continuing to harangue you about post-modernism.

  4. Bill,
    Surely my identity is informed and shaped by culture, in ways that I am aware and numerous ways in which I am unaware. But when I say that my identity is not wrapped up in cultural definitions of gender roles I mean to say that cultural definitions of manhood are not the sum-total or primary concern of my conscious identity formation. The men in this article seem to be mining some sort of raw, stereotypical definition of masculinity, and I find such an endeavor to be quite sad, narrow and harmful. I am more than a testicle-posessing, raw-meat loving, ass-kicking kid of man. In fact, I like my meat medium, I really don’t kick ass in any way, and I enjoy antiquing. I am surrounded and influenced by gender roles, of course, but I find the uncritical reclamation of some misplaced manhood to be counterproductive and, frankly, unholy. Just my two cents.

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