Why men stay away from the feminized church

On the Biola University site, I found a book review of a new book by David Murrow called “Why Men Hate Going to Church”.

Here’s the problem:

There are generally more women than men in every type of church, in every part of the world, according to church growth experts like Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World. A traditional explanation is that women are more spiritual than men. But the leaders of this new movement suggest that the church’s music, messages and ministries cater to women.

…In America, among evangelical churches, 57 percent of members are women and, among mainline Protestant churches, 66 percent are women, according to a 1998 book American Evangelicalism (University of Chicago Press).

The problem is that the church has become feminized, and men don’t like that, and so, they leave.

Here’s more:

To describe many women, Murrow lists traits like “relational,” “nurturing” and “peace-making.” He describes many men as “goal-driven,” “competitive” and “adventurous.” These differences show up in the types of movies many women and many men like: romantic vs. adventure films, Murrow said. In sum, women thrive when secure, and men thrive when challenged, he said.

As Christianity became more feminized, it began to focus more on producing emotional satisfaction. But men want something different.

The article goes on to quote one of my favorite Christian writers, Nancy Pearcey, an expert in apologetics and theology.

…many people think of church only as a nurturing place that addresses personal needs, Pearcey said. Think: sitting in circles, sharing feelings, holding hands, singing softly, comforting members. An example of the feminization of the church is its music. Typical praise songs refer to Jesus as a Christian’s lover and praise his beauty and tenderness. Rarely do they praise his justice or strength, or refer to him as the head of an army leading his church into spiritual battle, like “Onward Christian Soldiers.”

All of the outward facing disciplines within Christianity, such as apologetics, theology, ethics, etc. are de-emphasized, censored or resisted in feminized churches. There is no place for rationality, moral judgments and boundaries, debates and disagreement, confrontations and persuasion, or other manly Christian practices.

Christianity is evangelical, and evangelism takes study and preparation, which culminates in confrontations and discussions. The object of these discussions is not to win the argument. It is to win the person over to your side. So facts and arguments play a huge role in  evangelism, but there has to be gentleness too, if you actually want to win. And this is what Christian men are supposed to do. But does the church support it?

Another turn-off for men is touchy-feely sermons. Pearcey said the modern church stresses emotions and inner spiritual experiences while neglecting the intellectual side of the faith.

“The more traditionally masculine side of Christianity enjoys crossing swords with hostile secular worldviews. So, as long as Christianity appeals to the emotional, therapeutic, interpersonal, relational areas, it’s not going to appeal to men as much as to women,” Pearcey said.

Churches should engage men’s intellects to help them see the relevance of Christianity to the “real” world of politics, industry and business, Pearcey said.

“We have to recover the notion that Christianity is true on all levels, not just for your emotional life or repairing relationships, as important as those things are,” she said.

Christian men love apologetics and they also love theology, philosophy, ethics, science and history. We love competition. Anything testable that can be debated! Anything where there is a clear winner and loser.

Many churches emphasize Jesus’ softer teachings, like his love and his desire to save, and they ignore the doctrines of sin and hell, according to Podles. But men dislike liberal Christianity — “a mild religion of progress and enlightenment” as opposed to a battle between good and evil, Podles said.

Men want to expend their lives for a great cause, even if it involves risk, according to Murrow. He said that’s why the U.S. military’s “Army of One” campaign was effective. But American churches rarely teach about Christian suffering and martyrdom, Murrow said. Instead, today’s Christianity is presented as an antidote to these things, he said.

And men thrive on risk, adventure and achievement:

“Men are more attracted to religion if it presented as a quest, an adventure, a heroic exploit,” Pearcey said. “They want something challenging, bracing, demanding.”

To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ — including Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, according to Podles.

Yet, men should be reminded that the sacrifice won’t always be a “huge, glorious display like William Wallace stepping out on a battlefield,” Erre said. Many times it will be staying in a troubled marriage, raising a handicapped child, or working a hated job to provide for a family, he said.

Many women believe that the purpose of Christianity is to be happy and to make others happy by not discussing controversial things like religion. They do not attach the same importance as men do to the duty to be an informed ambassador for Christ, trained in apologetics, and able to persuade others about God’s existence and character. They do not believe that the Lord’s reputation needs to be defended in public in the same way that men do.

Many women also don’t want to be confronted about their beliefs by informed men, because their beliefs are based more on intuition and emotion. They would rather be accepted and affirmed – and so they favor men who don’t know much about the details of Christianity. So manly Christian skills; theology, apologetics, ethics, philosophy, history, science, etc. are not valued in the feminized church.

Touchy-feely sermons come from touchy-feely pastors. A feminized church tends to attract more “gentle, sensitive, nurturing” leadership,” according to Pearcey.

“If religion is defined primarily in terms of emotional experience and is therapeutic, then who is it going to attract as ministers?” she said.

Pearcey said to consider a typical youth pastor.

“He’s really into relationships, very motivating, but is he teaching good apologetics? Is he teaching youth to use their minds and to understand deeper theological truths? At least the ones I’ve known haven’t,” she said. “Today, the common trajectory is for youth pastors to become senior pastors,” she added.

Maybe women should be more sensitive to male needs and character, and more concerned about what the Bible teaches about the the role of apologetics in the Kingdom of God.

If you want to know what Christian men look like, check out this profile of Christian philosopher and apologist Paul Copan on Truthbomb Apologetics. If you want to see one tough and effective Christian lady, visit Denyse O’Leary’s blogs: Post-Darwinist, Mindful Hack and Colliding Universes.

UPDATE 1: Here is an essay I saw on Truthbomb about the need for apologetics, by Norman Geisler.

UPDATE 2: Welcome visitors from the Anchoress! Thanks for the link. Forgive me if this post was a bit mean, but consider it a cry for reconciliation between men and women in the church. I recommend that everyone make the Anchoress a daily read, as she integrates her faith very well with the issues of the day!

UPDATE 3: I noticed this post linked over on the Anchoress. It talks about what men like and don’t like in the church. But keep in mind that this is a poll of men ALREADY in the church, so these ones are more accepting of the feminization of church already. The men outside the church would be less likely to put up with the feminization of church.

Just one quote:

Sixty per cent said they did not like flowers and embroidered banners in church, while 52 per cent did not like dancing in church…Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.

There’s a list of hymns that men do like, as well.

97 thoughts on “Why men stay away from the feminized church”

  1. WK,

    Great post! I too am amazed at the lack of interest in defending and thinking about our faith. One of the main reasons I became a Christian and have remained one is largely due to the evidence.

    I recently listened to a message by William Lane Craig that closely relates to this post. Craig explains how men have become disinterested in “church,” but attend his apologetics class consistently. The wives attend with the men and admit that while they do not understand everything in the class, they attend with their husbands because it’s the only spiritual activity they can do as a couple. In my mind, this one again highlights why apologetics needs to be a focus in every local church.

    You can hear the Craig message I mentioned here:

    http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009/01/apologetics-in-pastoral-ministry-mp3.html

    Also, thank you for the link!

    Godspeed

    1. Yeah, I heard Craig’s talk on that. It was an awesome message. It’s like the church has become completely insensitive to the needs and character of men.

      Speaking as someone who has tried to integrate apologetics into churches and campus clubs, it is like herding cats. Christianity is a religion that engages the most masculine inclinations of men. But you would never know it by looking at the feminized church of today.

      1. That feminized church will never be able to resist Islam, and muslims know it. Sadly many Christian women live in a fairy tale world where all is love and tenderness… but this is not the reality as weakness is was never and will never be rewarded.

  2. This sounds a lot like what I was saying a few days ago about sacrificing important elements of faith to transient cultural attitudes (in this case: the feminization of everything) and how it eats away at the base of faith in the process, rendering it impotent and wishy-washy in a vain attempt to attract a broader base of weak-kneed worshippers that are only interested in the ‘good’ parts while ignoring/minimizing the ‘bad’.

    Again I point to a hyper-masculine faith like Islam where they certainly are not having many of the problems that Christianity faces, and certainly aren’t wont for a lack of men to take up spiritual (and literal) arms in its name. (And for those late to the party, I am not, in any way, condoning a monstrous faith that has none of the balance that true Christianity has as its heart and soul assuming that that form of Christianity was actually still taught anywhere outside of certain precincts in the evangelical community.)

    I’ll say it again: being weak in the profession of a particular faith will almost always lead to a supine, watered-down, and denuded one–how do you think it is religious atheists have so much success at driving the debate despite their laughable numbers? They believe in what they preach (even if it’s based on a lot of false or outright mis-leading suppositions) and they don’t get side-tracked and undone by a liberalized, weak tea, version.

    (Incidentally, this sort of thing also explains the problem for the GOP in general: they profess a weak, watered-down, version of conservatism and, surprise!, they get blown out election after election when people start flocking ot the strong, no compromises, version of liberalism espoused by people like Barack Obama, who’s protestations that he is not a socialist, are laughable on their face.)

    1. Great comment. I am arguing for balance – I think that things have gone too far in the wrong direction. By the way, do you mind if I repost your comments as full posts? Other people need to see what you are saying about the issues you’ve commented on. Let me know.

  3. You may reproduce anything I post here as long as you do a quick copy edit for any grammar/spelling mistakes ;) (And thank you, again, for your kind words.)

  4. No, no blog–I’m just a compulsive commenter on matters that pique my interest (which, if I actually had sufficient time/motivation might make for sufficient blog content ;)

  5. I read Pearcey’s book Total Truth and found it to be top-notch…and although I think the whole feminization component is relevant, it is only one of many to consider when looking at the decline of Christian worldview among both men and women in the US. The thinking man loves to focus on the apologetics aspect (and no doubt all you have to do is count the number of times Paul “reasoned” (apologia) in the book of Acts to know it is a key component of evangelism (or pre-evangelism))…but the broader issue IMO is simply decline in Christian worldview across the board. The more it is relegated to a tiny corner in the upper story, the more men and women will push it further down the priority list on their busy schedules. It may just be women are getting more enjoyment out of going.

    1. I totally agree that the feminization of the church is only one component in the decline of the Christian worldview. And I should have said so. I am grateful that you mentioned it. Some of this is due to men stepping aside voluntarily, as well.

      1. I agree with your last statement and I believe it’s probably part of the main reason that the church has gone this way.
        Perhaps WW2 really screwed up the generation of sons following just after it, and the torch of male leadership was dropped.

        I have been on and off with church in recent years because of this problem, but it has been hard because of my raging passion for Christ and His truth.

        I love apologetics and am reasonably versed in it, so now I am planning to start the first chapter of Reasonable Faith (William Lane Craig)here in Australia, and try to integrate it with the new local church I have recently switched to.

  6. What nonsense!

    There’s no way the church can be “feminized” when all the priests are men. Way to blame women for men’s problems, though.

    1. Elmo, you are only talking about the Catholic church, I am talking about ALL the Christian churches. But regardless of that observation, if two-thirds of the congregants are women, do you think that the church is not going to make adjustments to appeal to the majority of the people? That was my point.

  7. This straw woman unifying theory of what’s wrong with women in the church (they scare away men) rears its ugly head every so often on the Christian blogosphere. I find it usually is a result of very poor knowledge of scriptures, church history, and rationality.

    There have always been women apostles up to this very day who don’t let their feminity discourage them from rational thought. Preaching. Apologetics. Evangelization. These are the qualities of a Christian of either gender.

    In the Catholic Church (sorry, I stick to what I know and that’s my denomination), we just celebrated the feast days of two women martyrs, Perpetua and Felicity, who decided they would rather die than denounce Christ. One of these women was pregnant and the other had just given birth. So much for women’s wimpy need for security. Women such as this can still be found in Christianity but you won’t notice them if you feel victimized by them.

    It isn’t women who are into “relational” ways of worship. Jesus was very “relational”. Read the Gospel of John and you’ll see, i.e., God is love.

    As far as those hymns describing Jesus Christ as a lover, these come from the Song of Songs written by that pansy King Solomon. The SoS are considered a model by the RC Church for the relationship of the soul (men and women alike) and Jesus. Another noted wimp, King David, wrote the psalms, another source for Church hymns, that also take a decidedly “relational” view of God’s actions (there’s that word) towards those who love him.

    Likewise, the prophets likened God’s relationship with the people of Israel as that of a man married to a whore. They told us over and over that the souls of men are unfaithful to God.

    Would anybody allow himself to be tortured and killed for another for any other reason than an intense, passionate love for that person? If you believe this happened with Jesus Christ and yourself, would you stop at anything less than an intense one on one relationship with him? Christianity is nothing but a relationship with Jesus Christ. Either you believe that or you don’t. If men have a problem with that the problem is more likely to be something other than the fact that women find this love affair easier to comprehend.

    So, as you can see, I find a lot of fault with your theory and as I said, I have come across it plenty of times already. It’s very sad that so many men are willing to blame women for their own inability to submit to God’s will. If I am harsh, I do not mean to be, I just feel that theories like this are divisive and we are to be unified in Christ.

    1. Thank you for your fine comment. I am largely in agreement with what you said. But I do not see how this addresses the problem that male needs are not being met in the church.

      You argued that Christianity has elements that are more friendly with feminine priorities. I do not disagree. The purpose of my post was that male ways of practicing Christianity were being marginalized. I did not see anything in your comment that addressed that. Instead, you just restated the feminized view of Christianity and implied that men better get used to it. Which was my point – that’s why men leave the church.

      The love between the believer and God is a two-way street. Apologetics (1 Pet 3:15, 2 Cor 10:3-5, Acts 2, Acts 17, etc.) is one of the major ways that we show our love for God. By defending his reputation in public when it’s called into question.

      I’ll leave it to you to decide how much time the church spends on singing, rituals, community, emotions, prayer and other female-oriented activities, versus the amount of time spent on male-oriented activities, like apologetics. Is it 50-50? How about 60-40? Or is it more like 90-10?

      1. Wintery, I think you missed one of elmo’s points.

        Western civilization has relegated normal human behavior, behavior that strong men like David and Solomon engaged in, into a catagory called the ‘feminine’. It is not feminine. It is human.

        This over obsession on the part of Western men on relational things being ‘feminine’ is not healthy. Nor should it be viewed as a contest.

        I say this in all respect for apologetics. In fact, I have recommended ‘On Guard’ on a private forum for writers so that they will be better informed of this important discipline.

        I do see it as a neglected discipline that needs to be taken up again. But you make it hard when you divide normal human behavior into relational(feminine) vs intellectual (masculine) and make it an us(guys) vs them(gals) contest.

        1. Well, you’re one of the good ones, then.

          But I have been doing some investigations of Christian women using interview questions and just wait until I write about what I found. Christian fiction and “The Shack” as far as the eye can see!

          1. Well, you sure didn’t ask me. I haven’t had time to read a real book for a while. More’s the pity. But today I read an article on an interview with Bertrand Russell on the subject of morality and another article about Adam Smith and how his view of morality affected his economic theory. So there! :-P

          2. You’re one of the good ones, too! So far I have only been able to find ONE person who has read Thomas Sowell. That’s the only one out of about 20 interviews who read ANYTHING good. No William Lane Craig, no Stephen C. Meyer, no Lee Strobel.

    2. You are so very wrong! Men want to sacrifice themselves for a cause that is greater than themselves not because they are in love with any one person. simple proof – Ask any young man in the military why they choose to serve ?.Their answers will almost be about some thing greater than their individual lives. It is the same reasons men accomplish and build civilizations. Very few women are ever willing to take one for the team.

      1. Wow. I’m very sorry for your low opinion of women. You should read Fox’s Book of Martyrs and find out about women taking one for the team.
        You also ought to watch my daughter’s basketball team play, get knocked down and jump back up with narry a tear because of their willingness to take one for the team.

        http://www.amazon.com/Foxes-Book-Martyrs-FOXE-JOHN/dp/0883680955

        Present day Christian teachings, obsessed with roles, stress the heroic among men encouraging them to join the military while actively discouraging women to do so.

        Some (emphasis on some. Most of present company is exempt from this) anyway, some of this ‘Christian’ teaching also equates heroic behavior among women as demonic or acts of Jezebel because being assertive and heroic aren’t viewed as ‘feminine’ by their narrow definition.

        And just because men write women out of history doesn’t mean women weren’t a part of accomplishing things or building civilizations.

        Get over your dim view of women and then maybe you could see a few of their great and many contributions to society.

        Says Mara, whose ancestry worked hard to win and civilize the west, both male and female.

  8. The purpose of my post was that male ways of practicing Christianity were being marginalized. I did not see anything in your comment that addressed that. Instead, you just restated the feminized view of Christianity and implied that men better get used to it.

    I did not restate a “feminized” view of Christianity. I stated that Christianity is itself relational, and always has been. Again, see John’s Gospel as an example of how God tells us who he is, i.e., “God is love”. So, if you have a problem with having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you have a problem with Christianity.

    I’ll leave it to you to decide how much time the church spends on singing, rituals, community, emotions, prayer and other female-oriented activities,

    In my church, this is known as “liturgy”, and it is presided over by men. So much for beng “female-oriented”.

    versus the amount of time spent on male-oriented activities, like apologetics.

    Where do you get that apologetics as for men? I just mentioned two of the Church’s greatest apologists, both women.

    Is it 50-50? How about 60-40? Or is it more like 90-10?

    In my church, it’s more like 90-10, simply because we believe that worship drives apologetics, i.e., it’s not a 50-50 proposition. Could it be higher? I agree it can be but don’t blame the women. Church history includes many women martyrs and saints that show evangelization/apologetics is not a “male-oriented activity”. Saying so is divisive and non-productive.

    1. Ok, on my blog, the protocol is that the challenger (you) always gets the last word, after my rebuttal. Now, I don’t think that I was very nice to you, and you can put that down as a failing on my part. So I want to apologize for being overly snarky. Thank you for being so gracious. Please stop by any time, you are welcome here. I have a good post scheduled for 6 AM EST tomorrow and another good one scheduled for 6 AM on Friday, if I can finish it. Please stop by again!

  9. Ironically, the fact that robust debates like this happen in the blogosphere rather than (in my experience) face-to-face inside of real, physical churches only reinforces WK’s main point.

  10. Not mean at all. You are right on. Wish I had the guts to print this out and send copies to my pastor and our music director, sigh, but whenever I praise something to them, it just disappears.

  11. Elmo said:

    What nonsense!

    There’s no way the church can be “feminized” when all the priests are men. Way to blame women for men’s problems, though.

    First off, this is a non-sequitir of epic proportions: it does not automatically follow that a male-dominated ‘profession’ is, inherently, masculine nor does something being masculine or feminine in a philosophical/religious sense have much to do with chromosomal arrangement, as you desperately want/need to believe (probably in order to keep floggin your pet strawman and trying to turn this into a debate over women vs. men, when it’s a debate about masculine vs. feminine philosophy.)

    Wintery’s point was simply that the ‘touchy-feely’ (i.e. feminine) elements are played up in Christianity today while the ‘judgmental’ (i.e. masculine) aspects are played down or minimized as much as possible and, in turn, men are turned off because they are (surprise!) drawn to the ‘harsher’, more concrete, elements as women are drawn to the ‘softer’, less asthetic, values much as just about anybody halfway honest would expect from human beings (see: chick flicks vs. action movies and where’d you’d expect the audience to breakdown via gender lines; or where men vs. women stand on going to war in general; or how women will tend to attempt to navigate a gray area to resolve a conflict while men lean more towards black and white solutions; and on and on and on.)

    Note: and before you waste my time (and everyone else’s) I am not saying that there aren’t exceptions to every rule, every diocese, every denomination, etc. but what we are stating here is that, by and large, it is true that Christianity plays up its ‘nicer’ (feminine!) side at the expense of its ‘darker’ (masculine!) aspects when there should be a balance between the two.

  12. Every branch? She is mistaken. We have at least as many men in Orthodox churches as women. As Podles said in The Church Impotent, “The Orthodox are the only Christians who write basso profundo church music, or need to.”

  13. ECM:

    There is no darkness in Christ and niceness is not a feminine quality.

    You say I am flogging my pet agenda (and for having never met or encountered me, you claim to know me so well!!) but I am not the one pitting men against women; it is those who say that a so-called “feminized” pastoral approach makes men stay away who are pitting women against men and men against women. Meanwhile, men continue to stay away because other men tell them they will find nothing “for them” at Church due to it being “feminized”.

    Even your claim that there is a masculine vs. feminine philosophy makes no sense. Women and men view the world differently, but they both are capable of thinking, feeling, and acting in accordance to the Gospel. Men can be and are receptive vessels of God’s grace, and women can be and are theologians and philosophers. Church history, as I keep saying, proves this.

    The fact that nobody cares to acknowledge this simple fact tells me that there is an agenda being flogged but it is not by me. It is an agenda that seeks to blame others for one’s own failings as a Christian. If you are so into apologetics, lead an apologetics class. If you want to preach then preach. But no, the men whining about the presence of women in the church find it better just to stay away and let women be the ones who actually do the heavy lifting. They complain so much that other men feel like going to church is not so manly and what happens? Women end up being the only ones who do go to church. The same complainers then blame women for the things they don’t like about church. Perhaps men aren’t going to Church because they don’t want to be challenged by the Gospel, or because they are lazy, or because they want to sin, or whatever ….

    Yes the Church has many problems, a lack of emphasis on the Gospel, a lack of knowledge of Church history and tradition (which I’ve seen evidenced on this thread), and the lack of study of Scripture (Old-New T) are all problems.
    They are not caused by the presence of women in the church. They are probably the result of a lack of authority, poor catechesis, and few resources, among others. If you are serious about Christianity then you will educate yourself as to what it is and bring your gifts as a man or a woman to serve the community. Just as the apostles did. Maybe then you will be too busy to complain about what others are doing.

    1. I can personally attest to numerous times where my efforts to show lectures and debates on DVD, bring in scholars to address evidential issues, organize public debates or similar activities have been shut down by male and female leadership in feminized churches and campus clubs. Some of the people who did this were not orthodox Christians, but they were still in leadership because they had been promoted based on getting along with others and making them feel at ease.

      For example, you could find that there were people in leadership who denied that God was bound by the laws of logic, that scientific evidence should not be discussed in the church, that the Bible spoke clearly about morality, that Hell and/or the Devil were real, or that the Christian life involved taking on burdens in the service of the Lord, that universal salvation was true, etc. I could go on. The church was interested in a head count, and that meant unbalancing things in favor of femininity against masculinity.

      I remember we hosted William Lane Craig to debate at my university one year and the chaplain, who was a left-wing atheist in the mold of the Jesus Seminar scholars, was deeply resentful at how hundreds of people had shown up to see the debate, including a large number of non-Christians. He declined to sponsor the debate, you see, on the grounds that claiming to know the truth was judgmental and divisive.

      Sorry if this is mean, because I want you to keep posting and keep talking! We need a good debate about these issues. Try to be forgiving of me if what I am saying comes out the wrong way. (And by the way, ECM is not a Christian, but an ex-Catholic who has read widely about these issues)

  14. elmo:

    You’ve made a grave error: I am not arguing from a theisitc (read: Christian) perspective, I am arguing from a non-Christian, deistic or philosophical viewpoint (indeed, perhaps, a soft atheist’s point of view) as I am not a Christian of any sort. This also affords me the ability to view this a bit outside of the fishbowl unlike others on this thread, with whom I generally agree.

    But forgetting that for a moment: your repeated attempts to turn this into a war of the sexes proves exactly one thing you’ve said as correct: someone here has an “agenda”, and it certainly isn’t me since I don’t have a dog (or god) in this hunt other than ferreting out the truth of why there is a general decline of Christianity in the West (is this debatable?!) and, apparently, an even steeper one amongst males.

    Furthermore, instead of actually refuting anyone’s points, you keep telling us that our viewpoint is one of men versus women (this is a strawman) then riding off into the sunset on an argument no one (except you) is engaging in. Heck, if you prefer, we could label them hard and soft perspectives instead of masculine and feminine, but I’d wager that wouldn’t matter one bit in your eyes, since you are wedded to this being about misogyny* when it is obvious to everyone here (except you) that that isn’t at all the case–even to the non-Christians such as myself.

    *Which sounds suspiciously like someone crying ‘racist’ if you engage in debate critical of income inequaltiy or ‘creationist’ in debate critical of scientific materialism, i.e. an attempt to shutdown the conversation by inflaming it with ad hominems and resorting to strawmen to save a losing argument.

  15. I’d just like to add that there are also plenty of women who don’t like the so-called “feminized church.” I’m one of them, and a goodly number of my friends are also.

    I’m not so sure that the turn-off is strictly turning the church into a specifically “girly” world as much as it’s turning the church into a place where emotional coddling trumps all else, including good teaching, real biblical literacy, and sound doctrine. This in a world where the largest church in America (Lakewood) is basically a glorified self-help, self-esteem movement led by a motivational speaker, not a pastor.

    I don’t think the church problem is really “girlification” as an end in itself. It’s the abandonment of solid principle. Besides, this argument of feminization is not just a little offensive to all the good female Christians out there who are just as dismayed as the guys are at the ongoing debilitation of the church.

    Oh, and for the record, I’d rather watch an action movie than a “chick flick” any day of the week.

  16. ECM is exactly right. It isn’t a male/female issue. It’s a masculine/feminine issue. Yin/yang, if you like that better.

    Wintery’s point, if I am understanding him correctly, is that the masculine and feminine approaches to religion are both valuable, and that they are complementary. But in (some of) today’s churches, the yin predominates at the expense of the yang, which results in a weaker church.

    Since (in general) men tend toward the yang end of the spectrum, they’re turned off by a church that’s all yin all the time. A church that’s all yang all the time would similarly turn women off (again, in general – I’m one exception).

    1. Mrs. Peel, we’re needed. Sorry about that. I had a wonderful fight with Nancy Pearcey by e-mail about this in 2007 and she set me straight. I totally agree with what you said, Mrs. Peel. And it’s not even a one-size-fits-all. It’s a 70/30 thing. Women are 70% feminine, 30% masculine. Men are 30% feminine, 70% masculine.

      You are right. I am arguing for balance. If there is 30 minutes of singing, then I want 30 minutes of something competitive, like watching lectures on the origin of the biological information in cells, or debates on the big bang theory between a Christian and an atheist, or something on the problem of evil, or something about how the size of government relates to the family’s autonomy. I just want balance.

      By the way, ECM is an amazing commenter, he makes this blog look good. I’ll be posting some of our exchanges as actual posts this week.

  17. Great post, Mr. Knight, and great comments, ECM.

    Let me waste no time. I am a Christian, and a man. I have tried on several occasions since my rebirth in 2004 to get with a good, solid, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, CHRIST-LED church (small ‘c’). Every place (except for one, but then I moved unfortunately) I attended was about presentation, comedy, multimedia, softened message, or – MOST importantly – WEAK in the fact that we are FALLEN and in need of Forgiveness and Salvation. Affirmation of us has been the message, rather than worship of Him who laid His Life for us – except for the litany of empty contemporary ‘Christian’ songs designed to spark an emotional response disguised as a ‘Spiritual Experience (TM)’. It’s just too hard to hear that you’re broken and in need of Him, despite your good deeds. It’s better to just hear that as long as you try, you’ll be OK. As long as you ‘believe’ (I’m starting to question just what this means) you’ll be saved. And if you pray for good things (money, good job, etc.), they’ll happen. There’s almost no talk of God’s testing us. No talk of us STILL being sinners. No talk of FEARING GOD. Only talk of ‘nice’ theology. No God who Destroys, just a God who accepts you as you are, despite your sin stained life. No Narrow Way or Strait Gate, just a wide-open path with your own personal ‘Jesus’ or ‘God’ of your own definition walking side-by-side with you rather than leading.

    The so-called ‘small-group’ stuff breaks down into personal relationship discussions, self-help, public discussions of marriage, confession of sins and behaviors to peers, and feels a lot like a pop-psychology class. They tend to teach directly out of a book by some Christian author, and supplement this book with the Bible, rather than the other way around. I often leave a church when I sniff this stuff out. I want no part of any of it. I want to go to learn and discuss BIBLICAL TRUTHS, not behavioral science and emotions. I have never, and will never make my marriage or my behavior a subject of a classroom. I admit my mistakes openly to GOD and GOD ALONE.

    Things like Prophecy, Defense of the Word, Standing up for the Truth, and being a solid Christian are missing in general, while the focus is on entertainment and feelings. Apologetics and Prophecy seem to have no place in the modern ‘church.’ Being a soldier for Christ, battling evil on every front, has no place. It’s too ‘harsh,’ meanwhile our culture decays. But few want to stick their neck up above the foxhole, lest it get hit in the battle because there’s no intensity, no fighting spirit left in modern ‘Christianity.’ There is War all around us, yet the majority do not and will not even acknowledge it, much less engage it.

    (As an aisde, please keep in mind these have been MY experiences over the past 5 years. I also realize I’m painting with a broad brush. I understand there will be protestations that this or that person doesn’t fall under this umbrella. Accept my apology and understand that it isn’t my intent. Though this is getting lengthy, I do not have the time to address denominations, splinter groups, and individuals.)

    So if I sound cynical, it’s because I am.

    But bear this in mind. I agree that Christianity in a big way is about our relationship with Jesus. However this in my view is personal. Jesus views us in both a collective (the Bride) and a very individual (did He not know the Samaritan woman’s condition?) way at the same time. My relationship with Him, including my faults and stumbles, is no man’s business, unless I make a public fall or invite someone in. God AND GOD ALONE knows my heart. I like hymns of praise, but it can overwhelm a service, or worse, become the ‘object’ or the ‘fun’ time of service. Why can’t learning the Word be fun? Sure, it’s serious stuff, but I love the Word, and I love hearing it way more than I love singing or even listening to music. I pray ALL DAY LONG in my mind and my heart at work, and with my mouth when I’m alone. I don’t need to be led by a pastor in prayer. I understand the need for collective prayer at times, but I’m not a collective in and of myself, nor am I always in a large crowd of believers 24 hours a day. And prayer is certainly not to be sequestered to Sundays.

    My long, droning point here – without once relying on gender aside from pointing out I am a man – though you are free to conclude that I am connecting me being a man to my needs not being met in the current ‘church’ climate – is that there is a stunning lack of balance in the church. This balance is NECESSARY. You NEED the hard edge of the message to DEFINE the BOUNDARY of TRUTH. Without this edge (otherwise known as the undiluted, rightly interpreted Word of God), truth becomes muddled, and the message gets diluted. Distractions come in, and style becomes more important than substance. I categorically reject the notion that because culture has changed that the message or even delivery has to change. The Word of God is unchanging, period. It remains relevant WITHOUT DRESSING IT UP. This world will pass away before one jot or tittle of the Word does, so says Jesus. Of course there will be hard sayings and a tough message and there will be divisions. Jesus Himself said that He was not bringing peace to the world, but a sword (He Himself as the Living Word of God is that Sword, dividing the Truth from what is not) so it should surprise nobody if this happens.

    We fail to embrace the dichotomy of a God who Loves Whom He has Called and Hates Evil to our doom. This dichotomy should be reflected in the proper balance of the church.

    1. You’ve got let me post this as a separate post. Can I? What you wrote is a great summary of the masculine perspective on Christianity. And we need to get people to care about what we think.

      Here’s the part I’ll comment on now:

      I have never, and will never make my marriage or my behavior a subject of a classroom. I admit my mistakes openly to GOD and GOD ALONE

      And:

      But bear this in mind. I agree that Christianity in a big way is about our relationship with Jesus. However this in my view is personal. Jesus views us in both a collective (the Bride) and a very individual (did He not know the Samaritan woman’s condition?) way at the same time. My relationship with Him, including my faults and stumbles, is no man’s business, unless I make a public fall or invite someone in. God AND GOD ALONE knows my heart.

      I’ll just point out that this is one of the reasons why we are so guarded (cowardly?) in public. This is the whole point of my blog. We need to discuss Christianity in public by linking it to public areas of knowledge. Stop talking to people about their feelings and personal moral beliefs and failings. Talk about whether Christianity is true, and let them decide whether to believe it, and how to change their lives.

      Paul himself says that it is stupid to judge the individual morality of outsiders. (But you can vote and discuss public policy) First, give your reasons, second, let them change their minds, then third, support their lifestyle changes. Don’t jump into people’s personal lives! That’s just evil. No wonder we don’t talk about Christianity, we have forgotten how to discuss it as a worldview, instead of as a personal experience. Stop meddling in people’s lives and stick to the evidence.

      Sorry to be mean, but I’m not being mean at you. We marginalized ourselves by dropping truth claims and majoring in emotions.

      Take a look around the block, there is a lot of meat here for you to digest.

    2. “The so-called ’small-group’ stuff breaks down into personal relationship discussions, self-help, public discussions of marriage, confession of sins and behaviors to peers, and feels a lot like a pop-psychology class. They tend to teach directly out of a book by some Christian author, and supplement this book with the Bible, rather than the other way around. I often leave a church when I sniff this stuff out. I want no part of any of it. I want to go to learn and discuss BIBLICAL TRUTHS, not behavioral science and emotions. I have never, and will never make my marriage or my behavior a subject of a classroom. I admit my mistakes openly to GOD and GOD ALONE.”

      While many men shy away from small groups, the Bible teaches us to “confess our sins to ONE ANOTHER so that you may be healed”. Vulnerability is not a sin or feminine. Admitting our faults and asking others to bring them to the throne of God in prayer to help change them is scriptural. Hiding your faults in a private, personal way is not. You free yourself of Satan’s strongholds when you obediently repent of what he’s conned you into. Small groups are places where we can question and grow. The church service, where we have become the “audience”, is not usually a place where you can shout out a question or question a doctrine. Understanding comes through discussion, challenging our beliefs and is strengthened by accountability. Personal accountability is easy to hide from if you only attend a once a week lecture/service.

  18. May I suggest Leon Podles, “The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity.” It’s enlightening, and points out that this is far from a new phenomenon, although it may have accelerated over the last century. He dates it to the eroticizing of Christian mysticism, in the 13th century.

  19. Mr. Knight, thanks for the response. Feel free to post what I wrote if you like…it’s not my best writing, though I tried to do what I could while writing at work.

    I’m not sure, but I think you might have misunderstood me. This is not uncommon, since my writing style has long sentences (run-ons too) and a lot of interruptions and parenthetical asides. That said, I may have misunderstood your response as well.

    Basically what I was trying to say was that I do not need self-esteem classes on Sunday’s to relate to God. I do not need to share my personal feelings in a group setting to be a ‘better Christian.’ I do not need a man’s book, supplemented with the Bible (it should be the other way around if even that) to direct my walk. I do not need to perform a pseudo-confession to my peers, nor do I need to hear about their marriage woes, sins, financial woes, etc.

    I try very hard to have no ‘self-esteem’ and choose to work to make God my whole esteem.

    The above stuff certainly has nothing at all to do with evangelizing and apologizing. Sure, it might be OK for some sort of pseudo-Christian edification, but that’s about as far as it goes. Some of this stuff smacks of marketing, new age techniques, and general eastern spirituality. These have no place in the church.

    The soft-edged stuff does not seek to confront untruth. It does nothing to arm Christians to go to War. It does not seek to change minds. It does not speak to the unsaved Elect except in some abstract, ‘experiential,’ SHALLOW way. It’s about as deep as a mud puddle. Many will be shocked when Christ returns and looks the other way while they shout ‘Lord Lord!’

    I did not mean to say in my post that I choose to withdraw. I chose not to attend churches that push this soft-edged stuff to the point that it is done at the expense of expounding God’s Truth. Balance is what I seek in a church. Service to the Body, while perpetually going to War for the Faith (figuratively, of course). Not this passive garbage. Sit there on Sunday, listen to one guy speak, then go to work Monday through Friday; mow the lawn Saturday. Maybe meet for some type of church-related study during the week. But it’s PASSIVE not active. It takes on the APPEARANCE of action, but it’s really just activity – busy work. It’s fine to meet with and share with other Christians, but it is empty if you only share with them and don’t venture to the deep water OUTSIDE the church. I do NOT need to meet in a building on Sundays to do God’s Work if this is what goes on in that building. Period.

    No, Mr. Knight. I don’t just withdraw, nor am I cowardly. Though I am not a member of any organized church, I have sought and found other believers at work. I have spoken with them, and specifically about Apologetics and contending for the faith. I keep hearing this repetition about ‘it’s too confrontational.’ I share and am open about my beliefs. Some have chosen to speak to me openly, and others aren’t comfortable. But it’s this ‘confrontational’ stuff that bothers me.

    Nobody says you have to shake the bony finger in someone’s grill. You just contend. Speak factually and firmly, but with the Love of Jesus. The Christian’s ONLY responsibility is to point the unsaved to the Word. The rest is God’s Work. Any idea that we have more to do than that is arrogant and shoves God aside, making His Completed Work to no effect. If it is God’s sovereign Will that that person be His, then they will convert because what He has Willed, so it WILL be. If not, they will stop their ears, harden their hearts, and turn away. It’s so simple, yet God tells us that this simplicity will cause many to stumble. Sure enough, He’s right. But this all doesn’t make the mission to evangelize and apologize hopeless. We don’t know whom God has elected, so we are to go to all and let His Sheep hear His Call. When we fall into distractions within the church body (this soft-edged stuff) and outside the body (political garbage – the church is not to take over the world, it is to save God’s elect FROM it! We already KNOW what God is going to do with this world!), we lose focus on this mission. Neither of these should ever come to prominence at the expense of speaking God’s Truth.

    We should truly look to the definition of meekness to know how to operate. Meekness is not weakness (sounds trite, but it’s true). It is quiet, assured, confident strength. The strength given from God can overcome anything. We are to be strong, yet loving, as the meek man – Jesus was this meek man. At once the Lamb and the Lion. Why else be called Christians if we aren’t like Him and just choose this lazy ‘I believe but don’t live that way’ stuff? Just like it is with political liberals who are lazy with their generosity, wanting you to give your time and money in their place; this Lazy Christianity does the same. Retreat inside the church building, and let others contend while you believe you are righteous because you prayed a prayer once and made an altar call. Like Xerxes riding on the backs of his henchmen, so too does the lazy Christian ride on the backs of others, believing himself to be righteous. This lazy Christian is the product of the unbalanced soft-edged church; a species of the compromised church. Laodicea, thy face is unmasked!

    Please, I don’t take offense to your response, however I do hope I’ve clarified myself somewhat.

    I will certainly look around this blog site. I already like what I’ve seen.

    1. You’re right, we do disagree. What do you make of 1 Pet 3:15 and Paul in Acts 17? Just wondering. Apologetics is not about apologizing, it’s about defending the faith. Apo = From, logos = Logic. From Logic.

  20. Help me out, here.

    I have no quarrel with Paul’s actions in Act 17. In fact he is a model for Apolgetics, both in delivery and content. Along with Stephen’s defense, and others. 1 Peter 3:15 is what I hold in my heart.

    When speaking to others who have a tough time understanding, I use the example of the Bereans. I ask them to search the Word of God for answers. They were able to come to understanding by searching the Word, and the Word has not changed one bit since then, so searching the Word is every bit as valid today as it was then. Absolutely, 100%.

    Perhaps semantically we mis-understand each other insofar as my use of the word ‘apology.’ But I mean it exactly as it is defined. To wit: Webster’s Dictionary, definition 1a of the word ‘apology’: a formal justification, defense.

    I meant exactly what I said.

    I did not mean to make an excuse or offer up an ‘I’m sorry.’ I mean the exact opposite of that; that is to stand ground in defense. I meant it in the very definitive sense of the word as it relates to our discussion. Yes, indeed Apologetics is absolutely about apologizing.

    In my latest post, I stated that we should ‘look to the definition of meekness to know how to operate.’ Is this not the same exhortation in 1 Peter 3:15?

    I figured my arguments would bring these things to light, but alas, my style has probably lost another person in its verbosity. I thought I was making the points that you brought up in your response.

    I am in complete agreement with and wish I could live up to the actions of Paul in Acts 17 and I try to live as best as my amateur self can 1 Peter 3:15.

    Where is our disagreement?

    1. Our disagreement (which I will lose, because you’re smarter than me) is that I think it’s good to appeal to external evidence. Peter appealed to the historical evidence for the resurrection in Acts 2, Paul appealed to the creation and design of the universe in Romans 1. That is why I make a case for the resurrection on historical grounds (here) and cases for the origin of the universe from science (here) and for the design of the universe from science (here), as well as many other appeals to testable features of the universe. I mean to confirm the claims of Christianity in the Bible by looking at the world outside the Bible.

      I love to talk to non-Christians. Paul did not insist that his audience assume the Bible or even read it before he could speak to them. Instead, he appealed to the historical evidence of the resurrection.

  21. His actions in Acts 17 and elsewhere bear your point about his audience out quite well.

    However, he also wrote the epistles – both specific and general encyclicals – to a Christian audience. Paul was as concerned with speaking to God’s unsaved elect as he was with keeping His (Jesus’) flock on the Narrow Way.

    I agree with your statements about the historicity of the resurrection as well as the Biblical recording. I also agree with scientific means of defending the faith. But I do this to a certain point, and maybe we’ll just call this my conservative (small ‘c’, and not political) instincts at play. Let me explain as best I can:

    I tend to favor the Bible as, we’ll say, ‘central thesis’ for Apologetics. After all, it is God’s Word that draws His Called to him, not something else. However we have methods (like you pointed out) that draw us and them to the Word, and from there to Him. It is not to say that other evidences are not valid for speaking to others, but I just favor heavily God’s Word, as it is His Word, and not scientific evidence, that leads to Faith in Him. The other modes of attack, if you will, are good methods of getting people to His Word. As the Spirit says, from hearing the Word to Faith. Note Paul spoke to the Bereans…and they SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES to validate Paul’s evidences. From this, they had Faith.

    In the amateur-hour that has been my Apologetic life, God’s Word hasn’t failed me yet. Even when I fail to convince in one discussion, I’ve gotten people to at least look to the Bible to support THEIR incorrect suppositions, which gives me the ‘in’ to convince them.

    The Bible was what led me back to Him. It remains the most powerful and relevant tool in the arsenal.

    I used to speak with a die-hard ‘atheist’ at an old job. I put atheist in quotes because after some time he admitted to me that he just thought there was ‘too much religion.’ This is an assertion I agree with, if we’re talking about man-made rules and organizations. But this thought led him to rebel and believe in his own mind that the Bible was a fake, and it was full of contradictions. I was able to speak openly about this topic with him, without ever taking what I would consider a ‘traditional’ Apologetic track. I was able to reason with him, and I let him start the conversations. The topic of God usually came up in political discussions about the ‘Religious Right.’ I like to let the conversation happen naturally so the other person gets disarmed and non-defensive. After a few more normal conversations with him, I had him looking to the Bible to challenge his own misconceptions of it. Why not? Isn’t the Bible the best source for this argument? After a time our work shifts no longer overlapped and I didn’t see him. Before this time he had confided in me that he had changed his mind, and that though he wasn’t ‘converted,’ he was interested in looking to the Bible instead of just bashing it. I count this as a mild victory. If he is God’s, then God will finish the Work in him. This all took place over months.

    But in my conversations with this man, I learned something important. Once we entered the arena of God, when I kept the conversation centered on God and the Bible, our conversation was even-tempered. I always tried to be, but this guy was a hot-head. When the topics ventured off into, we’ll say, ‘contemporary’ topics, he became very political and the conversation lost direction. Defensiveness and ‘us-vs.-them’ attitude came barging in. I would hold back until the next time and wait for my next opening to try again.

    If you look to Paul’s actions, you can see that he did not walk into a city, speak, then leave. He spent time there. This Apologetics process takes time. It is not settled in one or even a series of debates. To work with one person at a time sometimes takes weeks and months. It is a process of growth for all involved.

    I don’t mean to invalidate your points, in fact I’ll reiterate that I agree with them to a point. I just draw a warning line if it appears that the Word of God is lost in the shuffle. God’s Word is the Truth. It is His Truth that we should cling to.

    It isn’t about smarts and winning. I have no education in Apologetics. At all. I just read the Bible, think, and pray.

  22. By the way, I will give your other posts you cited in your 2:49 rejoinder a good read. I skimmed one of them and it was interesting.

    Besides reading the Bible, thinking and praying, I also read lots and lots and lots and lots of outside sources to learn. I have, over the past few years, discarded many of these sources as junk. Not because of intellectual disagreement per se, but because of tainted doctrine and twisted Gospel; which I came to discover as my own learning and growth matured.

    I do not read other Christians to fight with them; it seems too many people like to do that. I am a naturally inquisitive and argumentative person, but I do not like indulging the argumentative person in me. I have never posted on another Christian site before (you may have heard that one before, but it’s true of me). This is mainly because I see too many ‘Internet fights.’ I’m a guy who used to fight for real, and I grew weary of that practice, so why waste my time with fake Internet brawls? But I liked this article you posted. All I wanted to do was post my agreement with you on men leaving the feminized church and speak to a subject that has been on my mind for a long time.

    However I have welcomed the conversation. My boss might call this a wasted day since I didn’t get everything done I had planned, but I do not. This has been the opposite of a waste of time for me.

  23. Back at you, and thanks. I suspected we aren’t far apart…like I said before, my writing style can be tedious and I think my language got in the way of you understanding my point.

  24. Julia Duin author “Quitting Church: Why the Faithful are Fleeing and What to Do About it”, does blame feminisation of the church. Listen to her online intervies
    [audio src="http://mp3.olivetreeviews.org/OTM2008_11_08B.mp3" /]

  25. Wintery: as an overly-rational, overly-intellectual woman who was raised in a very masculine household, I won’t address the generalities in your statements (because I’m the wrong person to do it). I will, however, address this one:

    Many women also don’t want to be confronted about their beliefs by informed men, because their beliefs are based more on intuition and emotion.

    You have NO IDEA how much men lose their *(&@^ when confronted by a smart woman who does challenge them!

    Now, as I’ve aged, I’ve found a guilty pleasure in smacking liberal men around, but it gets really tiring to have every man on the planet complain about how “intimidating” I am. It makes them sound like wilting pansies, really.

    So it’s not just that women don’t want to challenge men – it’s that we are actively discouraged from doing so (at least in our youths and twenties).

    That isn’t to say that men are entirely at fault, nor women blameless, but is to say that it’s not as simple as you make it out to be. Also, you did say that men are into winning and losing (which, being somewhat masculine and having quite the competitive streak, I understand), but… is church the best place for that? And… every happily Married man I know says that he loves his wife because she is the one person he does not have to compete against – and with her, alone, is the one place in which he doesn’t have to show himself to be a man but is just accepted for who he is.

    Which is to say: why make church about winning and losing? why make it about manly men v. a “feminized church”? why not integrate what both men and women have to offer, because good theology weaves reason and emotion together?

    I’m not unwilling to believe that the scales in Protestant churches have been tipped too far towards the emotional part and need to be moved back, but am thoroughly unconvinced that the world will end if churches communicate with both men and women. It irks me that the Catholic Church is more into “social justice” and “distributive justice”, which it tends to define as “socialism” and not “charity”, than it is into the pro-life movement, the sanctity of marriage, and the traditional family, so I hear your complaints, but don’t think that all of the blame lies at women’s feet. After all, every change that happened was with the full accord of men, and it might be useful to ask yourself (or the collective wisdom of your readers) why men succumbed, and what can be done in the future to prevent that.

    1. “You have NO IDEA how much men lose their *(&@^ when confronted by a smart woman who does challenge them!”

      Yep! I get that too…

      “So it’s not just that women don’t want to challenge men – it’s that we are actively discouraged from doing so (at least in our youths and twenties).”

      Been there…

      Most men want us to nod and smile and not think. When we argue with them for being anti self defence or weak on pro-life issues or having a poor understanding of capitalism, they think we’re just too much trouble to be bothered with. Sad to say this is often true of men in the feminized church. (So yes, I do think that the church is feminized in some sense.) So we single, Christian women are left with the conundrum that most Christian men in church are feminized and unsuitable for marriage and most of the men we meet outside of church are non-christian and unsuitable for marriage. It makes things very hard on those of us who DO like the idea of being married to have to keep turning down non-christian men who show an interest in marrying us.

      1. You are describing what women have been dealing with for a very long time.

        Dorothy Sayers was a lay theologian and apologist and a contemporary of C.S. Lewis and Tolkein. She met with their writing group, the Inklings, from time to time. She had this to say about the women mentioned in the gospels.

        “[They] had never known a man like Jesus–there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deeds of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about women’s nature.”

        The part of this quote that I kept thinking about when I read Mary and Roxeanne’s comments was this:

        “…who never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female…”

        Because, you see, there is such a push for ‘Biblical Womanhood’ and urging women to be feminine, like what Mary and Roxeanne talk about, and yet you get ol’ donavan jeering at women for not being like men and not accomplishing manly things and establishing civilizations.

        I don’t think most men realize how mixed up they are concerning women, how God made them, and what their pupose is.

        1. Thinking further on this topic of what it means to be female, I remember reading this post by a Baptist preacher concerning adolescent girls.

          Since men are confused as to what women are for, they send mixed and false messages that women have to do a lot of sorting through. Some women do better than others.
          Some adolescent girls completely lose themselves because of the pressure of our culture.

          http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/2010/09/sexism-and-culture-deform-masterpiece.html

          1. That guy has it exactly backwards, and no wonder – he is quote Simone de Beavoir. I do not think that narcissism, selfishness and the dismissal of obligations in a relationship is good for men or women. But that’s what men and women seem to be doing by treating the opposite sex as objects instead of as employees in a business designed to please a Customer. We can listen to the guy you linked, and most men and women do, and the result is that marriage is dead. Narcissism, which is what this guy is advocating, killed it.

            To be fair though, I do think that women should dismiss all societal expectations that are inconsistent with Christianity, and marriage, if they are interested in marriage.

            What would you do if I refused to work, save and avoid spending, and also studied apologetics because I was rejecting “expectations”?

          2. I think you missed the point he was making.

            I have been an adolescent girl and I have two daughters and teach Sunday school to adolescence. I have lived it and watched it in action.

            I worked so hard to become what the culture told me that I was to be that I lost who God made me to be. I reduced myself down to fit the box.

            I had to go back and redefine myself back into what I was to begin with. Going back and doing that didn’t make me selfish and narcisstic. I didn’t abandon my husband and children. It made me find my true self so that I could relate to people on a real level rather than a superficial level, the level both secular and many Christians push for their women.
            And being real is better than being fake.

            Being fake is hypocrisy.

            Girls are taught to be fake.

            Then, walking around fitting this fake mold, they are not able to do the things you are calling on them to do. Things like, change the world, don’t look to bad boys to make you happy, and study apologetics.

            You know, I see the need for apologetics and more left-brained stuff in church. There is a definit off-balance there. But often girls are specifically taught NOT to pursue the left-brained stuff.
            Both Mary and Roxeanne pointed out their personal experience with it. But they are strong women. They pushed on through the bad messages.

            I was only pointing out what a fight it is for women to be true to who and what God created them to be.

            And I’m only telling you so that you will realize that it is a fight for any woman to get to the place you think should be the starting point of their development.

            That’s all.

          3. Well, I agree with the way YOU say it. I agree with everything you said, but not what he said. You said that women should be what God wants them to be – what’s best for his purposes. I agree with that, and what’s needed now are scholars and debaters. The quotation in that posts says that women should be what they want to be. I disagree with that!

            There’s too many challenges arrayed against Christianity right now for us to be ourselves. Consider a soldier on the battlefield or a Christian husband in the home who wants to watch television instead of doing his job because he wants to reject expectations and obligations and be true to himself. We can’t do that! There’s too much at stake.

            We need every available person to defend Christianity. I don’t have time to separate people into groups. If the church is holding you back from being William Lane Craig or Marco Rubio, then the church is wrong.

  26. Erg… just saw that this is an ancient thread (found it because Mara commented!), but will throw this thought out there: women are often hit the hardest by straying from Biblical doctrine. No amount of social engineering can change* the fact that we are the ones who get pregnant, we contract STDs much more easily than men, we are the ones to bond with a child for nine months before having to try to put it up for adoption (which is nearly impossible, emotionally). As but one example: there are so many women who have had abortions and then seek something more out of their lives – and forgiveness! – that they find God.

    To me, the old-school feminist, I would say that the high numbers of women who seek faith do so in reaction to a dysfunctional modern world that is unconstrained by tradition or religion. If someone put me in charge of running a church (a terrible idea on many levels, but bear with me), I would do things like put more emphasis on the personal part of charity (i.e. it is diametrically opposed to socialism), therefore roping in emotional/loving women but steering them in the right direction. Problematically, a lot of men are too busy painting women as emotional to try to reason with them on their own terms and by their own values.

    *which is why, being a pragmatist, I hate social engineering that is designed to undo reality!

    1. Sorry about that Roxeanne. donavan put up a not very nice comment recently and I wanted to address it.
      Didn’t mean to drag you back into ancient history.

  27. Dear Wintry Knight
    One of the things that have always put me off Christianity is its obsession with gender. I am a Senior Lecturer in philosophy (my field of expertise is, among others, Nietzsche, and philosophy of religion is fast being added, and I just wondered: why do you insist upon defining as’female’ the silly add-on activities, and the intellectual ones as ‘masculine’? I thrive upon intellectual activities, in fact helped to arrange Dr William Lane Craig’s debate in South Africa. Recently, in Oxford, I asked Richard Dawkins, first thing after his lecture, whether evolution is a theory of abiogenesis. (It is not, ha-ha, it does not explain the origin of life at all.Believe me, there is more, check out that chapter 4 of the God Delusion again… ). As for the flowers in church, why are they necessarily feminine? They are after all natural objects of beauty and symmetry, as thinkers like Kant and Schiller have said. And they were not women! I will soon participate in a mini-debate against an atheist myself (defending theism). Should I rather abstain, and not run the risk of ‘not understanding’ the arguments, or ‘losing my feminity? I do happen to think that men are in a crisis, and it is perhaps possible to see broad general trends, but by acting the way you do, you are not doing much for the intellectual image of Christianity. You are giving atheists a weapon on a silver plate. as well as making it very hard for female intellectual believers. (Granted, we may not count that many, but sometimes quality is more important than numbers).

  28. I’m lasped a Christian but I find this stuff interesting. A lot of the criticism of the feminized church hints at the problem but is still either vague or piecemeal. WK, you have a good start here but you need to build on this. By itself, the “Jesus is my boyfriend” music would more of an annoyance rather than a serious problem. Does your church shift the balance of power in the marriages and LTRs of its congregation in favor of the women, if so how? Some bloggers or commenters are talking all the responsibility being shifting over to men, promoting female moral superiority. All this needs to be fleshed out more.

    As an aside, I saw this one video of a Christian women’s conference of some kind where the (middle aged!) women on stage were dancing around to Ke$ha’s Tik Tok. It was all very WTF.

  29. If men don’t like church the way it is, they are free to step up and try to change it.

    But they don’t. Many would rather stay home and sleep, or watch football.

    If they fail to attend, that is their failure, to which they will have to answer to God.

    1. I agree. But when the real men do show up will the women submit and defer to their leadership in today’s church? This is the question.

      I feel that most probably would, as there is no denying the “real stuff”, and by that I mean the genuine authority given to men to lead by the Holy Spirit. I think the whole thing really starts and ends with the actions of men primarily. In Genesis, God held Adam chiefly responsible even though Eve was the instigator, and that’s because the whole thing was a failure of leadership on his part at the end of the day.

      Moreover, the fact that the Lord did hold him chiefly responsible confirms that he WAS the chief, as appointed by the Lord. To not hold him responsible would be to abrogate the order of divine authority (God-Man-Woman) that God originally set up (and that He wants to restore), the very thing that Satan was seeking to subvert in the first place.

      I do think women have something to answer for with regards to the feminization of church, but I think that the solution rests with men. In short, men need to man up and provide proper leadership first and women submit second.

      1. The Bible does not call on women to be submissive to men, but wives to husbands “as the lord.” That’s a big difference.

        What does it mean for husbands to be “as the lord?” That’s asking a lot: to be Christly. To be pure. Not simply to have XY chromosomes.

        Christ healed, raised the dead, ascended by submitting to God: he didn’t do it by going to church, he remained single, no kids, never asking/requiring human submission to himself, but to God. He did it by healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out devils.

        GIven the sinfulness of mankind, I’d say that men have a pretty long way to go before they can count themselves “as the Lord.” So lay off the submission claims, lads. To quote Garth from “Wayne’s World,” you’re not worthy.

  30. Interesting article. I agree that some churches really overdo the emotionalism and touchy-feely aspects of worship, something I personally dislike. I’m not sure that this is really a masculine vs. feminine debate, though. I think maybe it is more of a “how men and women are socialized in western culture and its impact on the church” kind of debate. I’ve studied gender roles extensively, and I’m led more and more to believe that what we define as inherently “masculine” or “feminine” behavior is largely the product of our culture. For instance, my husband and I were sitting in church a little while ago, and there was a statement made that men like action movies. I had to roll my eyes because I like action movies, and I’m a woman. I also hate chick flicks, but I don’t think that impacts my femininity in the least. As a previous poster pointed out, an object (such as a movie) is neither masculine nor feminine, and the action of watching it isn’t either. It frustrates me when people try to categorize and define entities like “logic” or “apologetics” or activities such as engaging in debate as being masculine pursuits because they are more aggressive. Since when was aggression inherently masculine, anyway? We have simply defined it that way in the process of categorizing our western society and cultural norms.

    Perhaps the church has failed in some ways to appeal to what men stereotypically enjoy, but maybe we ought to also look closely at how and why our culture channels the sexes into such rigid definitions of gender roles. I think our issues within the church often have to do with stuffing men and women into predefined roles and stereotypes (at least, that’s something I’ve often noticed at churches I’ve attended).Maybe we ought to take a closer look at how we have raised men and women to function in society and how certain narrow definitions of masculinity and femininity may in fact be quite detrimental to the health and vitality of the church.

  31. I agree totally that the church is being feminized.
    I have been a believer who was gloriously saved as a dopehead and drunk 33 years ago so I have seen the feminization of the church grow to the point where it is now a feminine evangelical church led by evangelical christian men with touchy feely sermons and girly music.

    1. The fact that men don’t like it is unfortunate, but men frequently don’t like things they deem “feminine”. That doesn’t invalidate it. THe true test is, does the church afford proof of its utility. What good does it do?

      1. I think the true test of the church is whether they are capable of knowing the truth about God’s existence, character, actions and purpose, and whether they are capable of demonstrating that truth to their unbelieving neighbors using reason and evidence. And indeed, that’s exactly what you see Christians doing in the Bible, like in Acts 2 and Acts 17.

    2. This is just a thought, I could be wrong, but I’ve been going over this in my head for some time now. Do you (and the you is a general you) think church services tend to be more emotional now because people think true repentance is birthed from an emotional experience? If the answer is yes, then there is the answer to why church services have “touchy feely sermons and girly music.” If we can have our guilt removed by an emotional experience and have it called repentance then people will support churches that give them that.

  32. Good observation. I think that people are moving closer to defining what repentence is. To repent means to rethink at a very basic level. The more authoritarian churches of the past (what WK would probably call “male”) historically told followers what to do/think. Now, people are less inclined to accept that but are approaching repentence from within their experience, no longer willing to accept that there is one paradigm for it that gets handed down from above. One can only repent from within one’s own experience, and the process of doing it should be felt and demonstrated, not merely intellectually reasoned out. WK and many apologists act as though intellectual arguments and efforts alone are some kind of grail. Too much time is spent fighting over one approach vs another. Neither is perfect, but it’s a process and obviously, most of us are somewhere along the spectrum. The true churches will continue to evolve to the point where male vs. female issues cease to dominate as they do for so many believers.

  33. The issue isn’t necessarily that worship is too “soft” or “tender”. The Church should not apologize or change because our culture has a skewed view of manliness (Rambo, John Wayne, etc.) In most cases, the world portrays real men as loners. This certainly isn’t what the church should teach. God has called us to run and fight together for each other’s inheritance.

    I think the Church in general is not engaged in the culture. Men want to make an impact in the world. For example, babies are murdered every day sometimes within just a few blocks of our churches and we worship, hear a sermon, hug each other, and turn the lights out and go home. There has to be something more! We must stand for those who cannot stand for themselves. We must defend the innocent. That’s what men do! But the church does not give them an opportunity to be courgaeous and honorable.

    Thanks for your post. It was very good!

  34. A man needs a reason to come to worship a powerful, almighty God. He needs a challenge, a task, and to know that his presence is needed. He needs to know that his family is his flock, and that he is responsible for leading them to spiritual safety. He needs to be stirred in that deep part of him that honors courage, sacrifice, and manly determination. The gospel contains all of that, but for too long we have been too afraid to stir up a man’s inner core. It is explosive, daring, and unpredictable. But it is what God instilled in him, and it is sorely lacking in today’s church. Also, a man does need other men to help him grow, but he grows best through mentoring, not in groups. Churches that crave growth need to mentor men towards Godliness in an informal and powerful way.

    1. I have been a Christian for 33 years and am concerned about the move toward a feminization ot the church.
      I came from a Roman Catholic background and the masculinity of the bible believing preachers and Godly mature Christian men was a great breath of fresh air to me when I was saved in 1978 but there is a radical shift toward feminine, not homosexual, male pastors and leadership in the church and this trend leads to the feminization of the church.
      This is a radical departure from the church of the 1970s.

  35. I run a Chrsitian mens group. This article was very, very good, as the topic needs to be addressed. The reason it is so good, is because it addresses the intellectual-more mental side of masculinity. Not the “hoo-raw, I’m a man hear me roar” stereo type. Guys need more than ‘’traditional’’ mens ministry, which is throw on a football game, and buy a pizza on Friday night. The material in this article discusses the cerebral dimension of why guys stay away. And that’s cool!

    They want Jesus the leader not Jesus the lover

    They want to embark on a quest not fall in love with a man

    They want adventure [save the world, win the lost] not safety [hold hands at the altar, foster relationships]

  36. “In sum, women thrive when secure, and men thrive when challenged”

    This is true, because we all know a woman’s biggest need is security. Think, do todays churches make us feel challenged [win the lost, follow the Christ] or do they make us feel safe [salvation from Hell, wrapped in Jesus arms]?

  37. “As Christianity became more feminized, it began to focus more on producing emotional satisfaction.”

    I wish they had an “Amen” button on here. But yea, its like EVERY Christian leader, be it a singer, pastor, or author, equates the showing of emotion with success. I am so tired of being pressured to shout because of a sermon, cry because of a slow love jam to Jesus, or those testimonies where you ministered to someone who ended up crying when you were done [like that’s a big accomplishment]

    Come on!

  38. “Typical praise songs refer to Jesus as a Christian’s lover and praise his beauty and tenderness. Rarely do they praise his justice or strength, or refer to him as the head of an army leading his church into spiritual battle”

    This one is really a shame. Because we do serve a just, and strong God. This element of Gods character is so very needed by our young men, who are comparing the hippie pictures of Jesus picking lilies and holding sheep, to photos of the Terminator!

    Honestly guys, which one would you follow into battle?

    I rest my case.

  39. “The more traditionally masculine side of Christianity enjoys crossing swords with hostile secular worldviews. So, as long as Christianity appeals to the emotional, therapeutic, interpersonal, relational areas, it’s not going to appeal to men as much as to women,”

    No confrontation is sort of how Christianity has been viewed. Guys love confrontation, and before you pick up your bat [the stereotyping of masculinity], I will have you know that the greatest wars are fought with the mind [Proverbs 24:5-6]. Sun Tzu talked about this in “The Art of War”

  40. “Churches should engage men’s intellects to help them see the relevance of Christianity to the “real” world of politics, industry and business, Pearcey said. We have to recover the notion that Christianity is true on all levels, not just for your emotional life or repairing relationships, as important as those things are,”

    [Sigh]

    Finally, somebody said it!

    It seems like EVERY Christian resource, be it a book or a teaching series is about relationships. That word NEVER appears in the bible.

    What about “business”, “leadership”, “war” and “sports”? Proof of feminization.

  41. “Christian men love apologetics and they also love theology, philosophy, ethics, science and history. We love competition. Anything testable that can be debated! Anything where there is a clear winner and loser.”

    Same thing as my last comment. The gospel today is more about having a loving relationship with a man who will never leave you [sort of like a chick flic]. The gospel as told in the bible is more like an action film [embark on the quest to save the world from damnation].

    We no longer teach the bible version.

  42. “Men are more attracted to religion if it is presented as a quest, an adventure, a heroic exploit,” Pearcey said. “They want something challenging, bracing, demanding.”

    Right. To repeat the statement, women thrive on safety, men thrive on challenge.

  43. “To reach men, churches should stress the cost and dangers of following Christ — including Christians’ conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil, according to Podles. Yet, men should be reminded that the sacrifice won’t always be a “huge, glorious display like William Wallace stepping out on a battlefield,”

    Erre said. Many times it will be staying in a troubled marriage, raising a handicapped child, or working a hated job to provide for a family, he said.”

    This is the ultimate. It’s annoying that many Christian women complain today about their men, when I believe the very antidote is the above. They don’t like a masculine approach to the gospel, yet it is that approach that is going to win their men, and make them the loving leaders they want within the home.

  44. Ok, I fought you on this for a long time. While I still think that unrepentant people who refuse to be under godly authority in the form of a group of elders or a godly small group are dangerous, now having gone to a campus where it’s open season on Christianity and Jesus, I get that some church communities just aren’t equipping people. It’s like showing up to a military base expecting a tank and getting a water pistol and a praise flag.

    1. Yes, and this is why I run screaming out of churches, unless I have friends in churches who bring in speakers and plan conferences and debates. I go into most churches and I think “this is like some horrible ballroom dance before the French Revolution, and the pastor thinks that we should let them eat cake!”. It’s HORRIBLE! Thankfully my friends make plans, and I support them, and then I have a place to go where I can feel accepted.

    2. Also, you should know that my typical night is spent listening to Wayne Grudem, William Dembski, J. Warner Wallace, etc. So it’s not like there is no authority. Just today I rushed out of work to come home and found 1) an autographed Scott Klusendorf book, 2) a Scott klusendorf DVD from prolifetraining.com, and 3) the audio version of J. Warner Wallace’s new book, on CD (unabridged!). The paperback arrived on Thursday.

      It’s Christmas in February here!

  45. I am a soldier in The Salvation Army, and at my corps we have the opposite problem. Lots of single men, and very few women.

    The open sacrament at the Salvation Army of wearing a “uniform” is very unappealing to many women evidently.

    The Army allows women to preach and teach the Gospel, but the Army also has a list of “doctrines” that all must follow who are members or in leadership.

    In today’s world of “I’m okay, you’re okay” and not standing on sound principles of a world needing Christ’s love and a “turning away” from past sinful and unrighteous behavior turns most people off.

    Too many people today want a “church” and “Jesus” that fits their personal needs, wants, desires, and justifies their wrongdoings.

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