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Monday, February 19, 2007
(2:44 PM) | Stephen:
Our Eucharist Today is Pretzels and Budweiser

The Christian Church has a man problem. No, it isn't about Ted Haggard or Catholic priests or anything like that. The problem is that apparently the typical congregation on a Sunday morning is 61% female and 39% male. People have noticed this, and have worked on ways in which they can reach out to men.

That's a great idea, but the way they're going about it reads like a Saturday Night Live sketch than a real movement. Pastors are being called "coach" and guys are preaching while wearing orange hunting vests. Crosses and stained glass are out; axes and swords are in.

There's a picture of one macho pastor who put an axe and a sword on the wall of his sanctuary to represent the year's theme, "rise up and stand firm." It's a reference to Psalm 20:8. Perhaps they should have paid attention to verse 7: "Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God" (NLT). I guess it doesn't mention swords specifically, so they're in the clear.

Then there is, of course, the old battle of macho vs. feminine. This quote from one of the movement's leaders while discussing the book Why Men Hate Going to Church is illuminating:
That book talked about the feminization of the church, the feminization of Jesus. Jesus was a warrior, not a wimpy, pathetic individual that you wouldn’t want to take care of your cat. Men need to follow a hero.
See, if Jesus is "feminized," then he becomes a "wimpy, pathetic individual that you wouldn't want to take care of your cat." Now, I'm sure his "wimpy, pathetic" wife is a wonderful person who is relieved that she doesn't have cat duties at their house. But that's obviously a horrible view of what constitutes femininity.

David Murrow, the author of the aforementioned book, uses quite a bit of sexual imagery, as one might expect: emasculation, homoerotic, impotence, macho-deficit. He says "the Christ I found in Scripture was a wild stallion, but the church seemed intent on turning me into a gelding"

This isn't making sure that all aspects of Jesus' character are given their due. This isn't celebrating every facet of human existence. This is grown men acting like they are 9-year-olds in their He-Man Woman Hater's Club. They're taking this culture's historic gender roles and views and then applying them back onto the Bible.

Jesus was certainly a human male. As a carpenter I'm sure he had rough hands and pretty good muscles, and probably had his share of back hair and propensity toward flatulence of any other human male. But that doesn't make him Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, Larry the Cable Guy or any other juvenile caricature of the male gender, standing on stage and telling "jokes" about how women like to shop and talk on the phone.

Whats truly sad is that they're trying to start this movement in order to close the church attendance gap between women and men, yet they completely miss the point of the relevant statistics. The attendance gap is even greater when it comes to married couples. Considering that many people in this country go back to church when they have children and children are still largely considered to be the mother's responsibility, these numbers don't surprise me at all. That the leaders of this movement are only strengthening traditional gender roles like this one means they will never be able to make any real progress in solving the problem.

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