If you’re a man and you’ve attended an evangelical church, you’ve probably been uncomfortable with some of the customs, the music, the forms of worship, and even the style of the sermon. There’s something off about so much of it. My life, as much as I’m able, is oriented around God, and yet I struggle to get to church; it’s always a battle. The snide response is to “man up and go”, but if I’m honest, few churches seem open to masculinity.
There’s a reason for that, I think, and one that takes another swing at the already weak trunk of egalitarian thinking. The egalitarian has no answer for why a church might be inconsistent with masculinity because the egalitarian doesn’t really see differences in the sexes as anything meaningful. It’s God’s arbitrary will that makes men and women different, not anything in the nature of men and women.
However, for everyone not caught up in that stupid ideology, it’s obvious that just like near everything else in the world, there are gendered differences in piety and religion. Men are inclined toward things that women are not, and vice versa.
The modern evangelical church, in it’s overwhelmingly feminine bent – even trending into feminism – is so far gone that it conflates feminine piety with piety itself. Put another way, the way a woman worships is normative. The way a man worships is defective. Just as with education the male must be fixed to be a female.
This is why we often here the claim that “women are more spiritual than men” and so many women want to know what to do when they are “more spiritual” than their husbands. They probably aren’t more spiritual than their husbands, and women are as equally prone to sin as men, but if femininity starts to look like spirituality to you, these become natural products.
There may be many church leaders who simply don’t know how naturally repulsive the environment they are building is to men. This revulsion is natural and given by God, and being offended by it is yet another indication that one has confused the spiritual for the feminine. Much as revulsion toward perverse sexual acts is also natural and God-given, and we should encourage it, because it actually makes sinning more difficult.
Although I’ve never attended a strongly liturgical church, I suspect liturgy may provide some alternative to this overly feminine model. Churches without liturgy certainly wouldn’t go wrong if they spent less time trying to cause an overtly emotional reaction and focused more on ritual.
You totally had me until the last paragraph. I’m sure liturgy may provide some sort of alternative to the overly-feminized model. I’m just afraid it’s not a good alternative.
As for the rest of the post, I see this all the time: You get good, solid, fresh and deep Bible teaching going on, and some evangelical women will sit there like Mary at the feet of the Lord and absolutely eat it up. It’s refreshing to see a woman eager to understand what the scripture actually says and why it says it, rather than rhapsodizing about me, me, me. It’s a masculine exercise to really exposit the Word, but some women genuinely take to exposition and profit from it.
Then the other sort of evangelical woman says, “Let’s share a bit about how that verse makes you feel…” and it’s all over.
Thanks for bringing this up. I am circulating the post.
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I’m definitely not sold on liturgy as a cure, but there is something masculine in being rooted to a tradition I think. I have no idea how to translate it to typical evangelical church services.
The real masculine corner seems to be the intellectual side. You mention expositing Scripture, and I agree. I’d add apologetics, Christian philosophy, and maybe even history. Those things resonate so much with men that in the past I’ve led apologetics/philosophy groups and men would join in a heartbeat while women tended to avoid them. Those are harder to incorporate in a service than either liturgy/ritual or exposition. Sunday school seems like an easier fit.
I think that liturgy definitely has its place. One of the many things that troubles me about the modern western church and evangelical churches in particular is an almost obsessive level of desire to avoid ritual while at the same time being some of the most ritualistic “services” I’ve ever seen. I’ve been told by pastors at one of the larger local churches in my area that they won’t regularly do communion because it’ll be “too ritualistic.” Liturgy, when properly done and understood, is an intellectual and physical exercise akin to meditation in that it gives flawed humans an easy means to redirect their mental focus towards God. However, it’s meaningless without good exegesis of Scripture as demonstrated by many Anglican/Episcopal churches.