Church Life, Outreach, Missions
Men of God, Not Just Persons of God: A Taste of Our Men's Meetings
by Ed Vasicek
I have recently read a couple of books, written by angry Christian men who lash out at the church for its feminizing ways. Although these guys have no doubt felt stifled and as though they have now have broken free, they are spewing forth reactionary responses rather than nailing the problem with the hammer of truth.
The truth is that many churches ARE feminizing in nature. This is especially true within the liberal mainlines with their feminist agendas; it is true within Catholicism by virtue of its celibate priesthood; and it has been true within some evangelical churches.
In my mind, I ask why a masculine man would even mess with a feminizing church in the first place, especially in locations where there are many evangelical churches to choose from? The weak enslave themselves. The problem, then, is not that churches are churning out men who will not assert themselves: the problem is that so many men are already nonassertive to the point that they tolerate about anything, including feminizing churches. It reminds me of a person moving to Alaska and then complaining that it is cold.
When reactionaries write, "The church today is this way..." or "The church today needs this...," I ask myself, "What is 'the church?'" By "the" church, do we mean the universal church? If so, who could speak for this church other than its head, Jesus Christ Himself? Do we mean the evangelical church? Who, then, is its spokesperson? If one has dependable statistics from someone like pollster George Barna, for example, one might be able to say, "most evangelical churches." But not, "the church." Since these authors have no statistics, what they should say is, "The churches with which I am familiar."
To label "the church" as feminizing because Joe Schmo was brought up in such a church is unfair to other churches that may not be guilty of such abuse. Setting up straw men is a tried and true way to persuade without facts, figures, and statistics. Straw men cannot fight back, nor can they defend themselves against inaccurate statements and lies.
The Bible-emphasizing churches I have known best have always been pro-masculine and have sometimes been condemned because of it! They preach the whole counsel of God, so their Jesus is not the nice, feminized Jesus, but, instead, the Jesus who died for us because He loved us AND the Jesus who also trashed the Temple Courts on two occasions, provoked by His holy anger. When it comes to relations within marriage, the Bible is unblushingly clear that this is important and should be regular and frequent (1 Corinthians 7:3-5), and Bible-intensive churches teach this (discreetly).
In the Word, godly men are pictured as hunters, warriors, and anything but wimps. The Bible is filled with battles and stories of brave men who trusted God as they defended their land. Even God Himself is called a "warrior" (Exodus 15:3). These solid, Bible-intensive churches never present Jesus as a "lover" to fill in as a husband substitute.
I would love to see a controlled study contrasting congregations with a higher than average male attendance, like ours, to churches in which males are relatively scarce (in some churches, females outnumber males 4 to 1). I would be fascinated to see the theological differences, the preaching style, leadership expectations, and service ("worship style") format. That would be most revealing.
So what does it mean to be a "man of God" in contrast to a "person of God?" Here are my opinions in a nutshell. Men of God take initiative, protect their families, challenge irrational thinking, and can handle it if their wives are angry; they are willing to compromise and very much concerned about others. They communicate what they are thinking and choose not to be afraid of their wives. (Most, not all, men are afraid of looking bad to their wives and so agree verbally but later renege.). They can be tender and sensitive, but they can also be tough and bold. They make no apologies for what they enjoy (unless condemned in Scripture). They make no apologies for their inability to divide their attention as women can: when they are reading the paper, the rest of the world doesn't exist. So be it.
Not all men are alike, nor should they be: some are introverted, some extroverted. Some like to cook while others prefer playing football. There are Jacobs and there are Esaus. But good churches have never apologized for men being men, and wise women do not try to feminize them. Although all of us guys need to be civilized (and to civilize our sons, including teaching them manners and courtesies), we should recognize that God wants us to be men of God, not just "persons" of God. A godly man and a godly woman may have a lot in common, but they value different qualities. Paul wrote to the Corinthian men, "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13). The ability to take a firm, unapologetic stand, to take courage, and to embrace strength rather than fearing it or looking at strength as evil might serve as a summary of what it means to be masculine.
Yet Paul tempers his advice in verse 14, "Do everything in love." Our wives and children will more likely respect our masculinity if we are out for their best interests. Selfish masculinity is still masculinity, but not the kind a Christian should want! Biblical masculinity may be bold, but it is not selfish. Yet, on the other hand, it is not manipulated by claims of selfishness. Bible-oriented men recognize that both men and women are equally sinful. They do not attempt to convince their wives of this! Instead, Biblically masculine men honestly examine their hearts and ask the opinions of other godly men.
When we get serious about studying and applying the Bible, we find that we will respect and cater to BOTH genders.
Men, as a footnote, let me encourage you to participate in our monthly "Men's Meeting" on selected Sunday nights. We are NOT out to feminize you. We are out to encourage a godly masculinity. Join us October 30th and November 27th at 6:30 pm!
Ladies, I have a footnote for you: at the same dates and times above, join Janie Martin, Debbie Pemberton, and Lorrie Cabush as they lead our "Women's Meeting." Addressing gender-specific concerns is part of why we meet!
Reprinted from the November 2005 Body Builder, a publication of Highland Park Church.
Highland Park Church