Thursday, July 28, 2011

Masculine Christianity

Mark Driscoll at Mars Hill in Seattle has a take on the feminization of the faith.  He also has an idea of how he thinks the faith might appeal to men.  Though it is a little dated, this is what he said:

“…When I came to Christ in college, reading the Bible, and realized the gospel, and I went looking for a church; and a few of the first churches I went to were just completely uncomfortable. It was like walking into Victoria’s Secret. The décor, at first, it’s like fuchsia and baby blue, and there’s pink, and it’s just like, “What in the world has happened here?” And then the songs are very emotive, and it’s like love songs to Jesus, like we’re on a prom together or something. And I didn’t get that at all, ‘cause that made me feel real odd. And then – and then the guy preaches, and he’s crying and all this stuff, and trying to appeal to my emotions. And I was just like, “This didn’t work.” So, I kept looking for a church. So, I found a church where the guy got up and he said, “This week I was out bow-hunting.” He used that as an illustration. So, I became a member of that church. True story. I didn’t have any theological convictions, but if a guy killed things then I – he could be my pastor.

“And then we moved back to Seattle, my wife and I did, after we got married in college. And we were looking for a church. Couldn’t find a church. Finally ended-up at a good Bible-teaching church with a guy, Hutch, over at Antioch that, you know, he’s a line-backer and played football; and he carries a gun; and he has dogs; and he lives in the woods and he kills things. So, I was like, “This will work.” So, we went there. And I never consciously put this all together until fairly recently; that the average church has primarily older people, small children, and women.

“…And we have to get into this issue of masculinity, ‘cause of all cities in the country ours is one of the most confused; completely confused. No idea. What’s a man? What’s a man created for? What’s a man to do? 1 Corinthians 11 says, “A man is the glory of God.” Well, we don’t think of men that way. Either we want them nice and soft and compliant, or they’re thugs and they’re dangerous, and we need to defend ourselves against them. That’s the image of men.

“…What I want at Mars Hill is men. I’m gonna say it as clean, as plain as I can. Did I say I don’t want women and children? That’s not what I said. But women and children with men who abandon or abuse or avoid, that’s not nice for women. Ask a single mother how nice it was that the man abandoned his obligations. Ask a woman who’s getting beaten by her husband how much she would like someone to be stronger than him, and to give him the truth? See, I think the nicest thing we can do for women, the nicest thing we can do for children, is to make sure that the men are like Christ; in a good way; in a loving, dying, serving way. Pouring themselves out. That’s why I get frustrated when I see churches that have enormous children’s ministries, and enormous women’s ministries, and no men.

Now I am normally in agreement with the complaint about the feminized face of faith and church that evangelicalism and the entertainment worship style folks have given Christianity.  Liberal Christianity has also give the faith a facelift that emphasizes feelings, emotions, and desires over truth, order, and clarity.  But... I am not at all sure that his prescription for the problem is any improvement.  We do not need a macho faith and church to counter the feminization of the faith.  What we need is truth, evangelical and catholic identity and worship, the strong Savior who willingly suffers and dies as the sacrificial substitute for sinful men and women.  What we need is doctrine preached form the pulpit and ordered liturgical life rooted and shaped by the Eucharist, the ever present Savior who makes Himself accessible still.  We have gone from Jesus as my BFF to whom I sing love songs to the Jesus who is my hunting buddy and who gets off on brutality in hobby and sport as a real man.  In neither picture of Christ is there much truth or authenticity.

Having never been to Mars Hill, I got my taste of it through the actual experience of a confessional Lutheran.  You can read his complete account here.  His experience did little to suggest that Mars Hill was better equipped to provide a counter to the feeling oriented or truth-less proclamation of evangelical or liberal Christianity.  What we need are strong congregations, who do not shrink from the truth and who are secure in their identity as evangelical and catholic Christians in identity, faith, and practice.  We need to be apologists but not apologetic, if you know what I mean...

BTW since I posted this I have heard of something of a firestorm by what is called "bullying" comments from Mars Hill's leader;  it started with a Facebook post:

Here is a sampling of some of the comments against such a comment.  I expect that there will be more to come on this... we will see...


Colleen Oakes said...

"I didn’t have any theological convictions, but if a guy killed things then I – he could be my pastor." - What a horrible reason to join the church. I think you can make a church friendly for men AND women, simply by maybe not trying to make it gender friendly. Preach the gospel, do good service, emulate Christ, and you'll be golden.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT the kind of man that I want to be with. Why can't we just go back to the olden days where nobody stood up in church and spoke? Where people respected clergy, the liturgy, the gospel, and the altar? I yearn for those days. But, then again, I don't want to go to a Catholic church, necessarily.