01 May 2009

More on the Sissification of the Church

by Phil Johnson

Let's face this honestly, like men: by every statistic you could possibly use to measure the growth and operation of evangelical churches worldwide, it is clear that church membership, church attendance, church leadership, and church activities are more and more dominated by women.




on't you think effeminate evangelicalism is yesterday's problem?" an e-mail correspondent asked. "Why write about that now? Over the past 15 years there have been some very influential men's movements like Promise Keepers; fantastic books for men like Wild at Heart; and other books honestly talking about this subject. Cage fighting is practically the favorite sport for Christian guys in my generation; beer and cigars are the main attractions at some men's groups in forward-thinking churches. You're the one rebuking young men for using virile language in church. What right do you have to complain that the church is too effeminate?"

Let's look at the examples my correspondent singled out. Have these things actually helped reverse the trends that are feminizing the church?

No, they haven't.

Most of the seminars, rallies, and books targeting evangelical men have actually made the situation worse. They are either dominated by feminine themes (personal relationships, dealing with your emotional hurts, learning the various "love languages," and other forms of sensitivity training)—or else they tend to paint a picture of masculinity that sounds like it is taken from The Brothers Grimm rather than Scripture.

And here's the clincher: despite all the chatter and attention this problem has received over the past decade and a half, men are still less likely to participate in the church today than they were two decades ago.

Even those who talk the most about the need for the church to reach men usually have a very childish perspective on manhood. "Virile language"? Cusswords? That's your "proof" that men in the church are coming to grips with their spiritual duty to act like men? Really?

One of the recurring figures of masculinity that John Eldredge keeps bringing up in Wild at Heart is Maximus from the movie Gladiator. A fantasy character! The subtitle of the book is Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul. But here is the secret of a man's soul according to John Eldredge: "Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue."

That's a fairy-tale perspective. It's an irresponsible little boy's notion of manhood. It lacks any biblical foundation whatsoever. But Wild at Heart is the single most influential book on Christian manhood published by any evangelical publisher in the past three decades. That says something about the state of the church. Meanwhile one of the best books actually dealing with the subject biblically is The Mark of a Man: Following Christ's Example of Masculinity—by Elizabeth Elliot.

Doesn't it say something about the state of the evangelical movement when so many men are writing bad books on Christian manhood, and the one current book that comes to mind dealing with the subject soberly and biblically was written by a woman?

Incidentally, it needs to be said that the crisis in the church is not primarily the fault of women who have shifted the focus of the church away from men. It's the fault of men who are too timid, too lazy, too fainthearted, too self-absorbed, too immature, too emotionally dysfunctional, too crude, too in love with fleshly values, or whatever. They have turned the church over to women.

In short, the problem is not that Christian women have overwhelmed the church with their feminine charms and seduced its focus away from where it ought to be. The problem is with Christian men who aren't manly enough to balance the equation.

That's a serious problem, and it is by no means a new problem. The tendency for men to abdicate their spiritual duties to women began in the garden of Eden at the fall.

And that in turn underscores the fact that the feminizing tendency in the church is not merely a cultural or sociological phenomenon that can be solved by sensitivity training or mere chest-thumping. It is a sin problem that cannot be remedied until we recognize the failure of men to lead the church properly and take significant steps to correct the problem—at its theological root, and not just in a way that masks the symptoms.

Here's the thing: manliness is not about bravado, and it's not about boyishness. Going out into the woods with a bunch of other men, putting on war paint, making animal noises, telling scary stories around a campfire, and then working up a good cry might be good, visceral fun and all, but that has nothing to do with the biblical idea of manliness.

Real manliness is defined by Christlike character, and not just the Gentle-Jesus-meek-and-mild-style character, but the full-orbed fruit of the Spirit rounded out with strength, courage, conviction, strong passions, manly love, and a stout-hearted willingness to oppose error and fight for the truth—even to the point of laying down your life for the truth if necessary.

That's what Scripture portrays as authentic manliness, and it's the duty of every man in the church to be a model of that kind of manhood. Until men themselves stop listening to those who define manhood in terms of beer, stogies, and cage fighting; until Christian leaders quit fooling around with various tokens of artificial manhood; and until Christian men en masse seriously begin to cultivate real courage, conviction, and commitment to Christ and the gospel, the problem will persist.

Phil's signature

139 comments:

Andrew J. Nicewander said...

excellent words, Phil. thanks for the encouragement.

Fred Butler said...

At the risk of stirring up a stink with some beloved Reformed folks who may read this blog, I think a lot of their current fixation with ultimate fighting as some sort of "spiritual" manly experience for the truly reformed, falls into the sort of immature fleshly "mannism" John Eldridge promotes.

Ebeth said...

Yes.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

From a female POV...

THANK YOU.

Julie

PS And what kind of time warp are you in, that you're posting May 1 and that is more than three hours away?

Mark C Tubbs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark C Tubbs said...

(Re-posting due to a lack of prepositional agreement)

"They have turned the church over to women." Spot on, Phil.

And as we all know from the biblical account of the Israelite Dark Ages, the Lord's use of Deborah and Jael as judge and warrior, respectively, was an indictment on the cowardice of the Israelite men of that period.

Bishop Charles Wordsworth (nephew of poet William) took Will Shakespeare to task, ever so gently, for "putting a sword into the hand of Deborah":

Bp Wordsworth: "I am not sure that our poet is justified in [what] he does in King Henry VI 1st Part" (Act I Scene 2).

He goes on: "All that we know from the sacred narrative is, that she consented to accompany Barak in the successful expedition against Sisera. See Judges iv. 9."

Deborah knew her place in God's economy, even while raised up as a judge in the face of men's cowardice: she accompanied Barak as his situational consort - his helpmeet. Imagine that.

PuritanReformed said...

Phil:

Excellent article. Thanks!

David said...

Well said Phil.

"the problem will persist." Appears the problem HAS persisted, when even Spurgeon was deeply concerned about it.

Couldn't help thinking of Genesis: "And your desire shall be for your husband" - I wonder if what you describe is part of current judgment - the giving over of the pulpit and church to women by men who abdicate. In WWII terms, we're a nation of Edwards instead of Georges.

Sad.

The Squirrel said...

"In short, the problem is not that Christian women have overwhelmed the church with their feminine charms and seduced its focus away from where it ought to be. The problem is with Christian men who aren't manly enough to balance the equation."

Phil, that short paragraph is like a laser-beam straight to the heart of the issue. It isn't pushy women taking over... the men just aren't there. And if they aren't there at church, I would venture to say that they aren't there at home, either. Not the way that they should be.

Men, go be men! Don't know how? Go find the older men of God, and learn from them. No, they won't want to go to a rock concert or a WWF match with you, but they'll tell you how to love God and how to love your wife and kids, and how to serve them all, as you should.

(My Dad was a man like that... He went to his reward in 2005 and I miss him.)

And they'll do that without using language that they shouldn't!

~Squirrel

Jmv7000 said...

Spot on Phil! It seems like us men have a worship problem. We want to worship that which entertains us, feeds the ego and allows us to pursue peace and prosperity.

And yet it seems like the more the church down-plays the Truth the worse the problem gets because the true character of Christ is masked by false doctrine or "we cannot be sure" theology thus masking our Savior beyond visibility so we men don't know who we are suppose to imitate or worship.

theologyofbobby said...

I think your point on being 'Spirit-filled' is the best point of your post. There is nothing to 'muster' up (that is rather Pelagian), only someone to trust upon (by His power no-less).

If we want to be 'men' like Paul admonishes the Corinthian males to be, then it's all about 'crucified living' . . . it's all about being so broken that the only thing left is for Christ to shine through our 'cracked-pots'. There's where 'manliness' is situated, in Christ.

Marie said...

Maybe the Lord is just calling more women to Himself right now. There's no particular reason we should expect the church to be 50/50 at any particular point.

Bishop said...

Marie, I think you completely misunderstood the point of Phil's post. First, I didn't hear him advocate for a perfect 50/50 split in the church. Second, He is exhorting CHRISTIAN men to act like such. Are we not to do this? Or do we look at a problem in the church and just resolve to let God handle it while standing silently (idly) by?

I'm pretty sure part of being a man is standing up and proclaiming the word 2 Timothy 4:2 style. And Phil said as much.

danny2 said...

excellent post, phil.

it certainly is not just a current issue either. why would churches realign to a congregational form, instead of elder led, than that men in the church would rather forfeit what God has called them to do? often cloaked under the guise of humility.

but a refusal to stand up and do what Jesus tells you to do is not humility, but the worst for of arrogance that tells Jesus He doesn't know what He's talking about!

Johnny Dialectic said...

The kind of "manliness" the church needs is that which stands up for the truth and does not waver. And does not go around thinking of extra-biblical ways to be "manly."

Just do your duty, and pray for the strength to do it.

DJP said...

Oh, that first paragraph is so funny! Did the correspondent sign his letter, "Someone Who Doesn't Know You From Adam And Hasn't Read A Syllable You've Ever Written"?

stratagem said...

Great addendum. Two points:

1)If beer, stogies, and cage fighting are the supposed antidote to effeminate Christianity, then we've merely replaced one problem (effeminate church) with another (riotous living).

2) I think the problem with effeminate Christianity in our age begins with cultural feminism, which has totally dominated the broader culture, and has largely dominated even the Evangelical culture. Men can't be the decision-makers in their own homes without provoking their wives' wrath, and this carries over into the church. Just look at how many female "pastors" there are, and you'll see the effect of this. Suggest that women can't be pastors at your next Bible study, and note how many grimaces are provoked. Why would men want to attend one more female-dominated orgainzation? They don't, so many just drop out and go fishing.

The Doulos said...

Gee Phil, sounds to me like you need to do some inner searching and discover the wound that's causing all this anger...

NOT. Thanks for these words, I can see them playing out even in my own local church. Still dealing with the effects of a previous pastor who was an Eldredge type and who has left a legacy of this kind of squishy effemenist (is that a word?) "masculinity" being promoted among many of the women of the church. Another result of what happens when we substitute therapeutic self-focus for the pursuit of true holiness.

DJP said...

Going out into the woods with a bunch of other men, putting on war paint, making animal noises, telling scary stories around a campfire, and then working up a good cry might be good, visceral fun and all, but that has nothing to do with the biblical idea of manliness.

Again I say: so much for my plans for the weekend.

donsands said...

"Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue."

The battle belongs to the Lord. I do want to fight the good fight of faith though.

My adventure isn't like Frodo and Sam's, but I am excited about being part of God's kingdom, and I realize I wrestle against spiritual wickedness, and I need the sword of the Spirit, and my shield of faith.

There's only one beauty in my life, my wife. Jesus is my Rescuer, and actually my wife had more to do with rescuing me, then I her, from the darkness, and from the god of this world.

John Eldridge is very popular, and I have discussed him with a lot of my friends, and they all say, "Yeah, there's some goofy things in his book. But, there's some good stuff to."

I say, "Why even waste your time reading goofy stuff."

I don't get it. Sort of like "The Shack".


Another excellent post. Well done.

Tim Bushong said...

Great article, and timely as well. This series has been very edifying, cutting to the heart of biblical masculinity.

One thing though- when you reference the consumption of beer and stogies are you reacting to some emergent guys who use them in their Bible studies as a measure for manliness? Or are you just not 'down with either of them?

The reason for my asking is that although there's absolutely nothing wrong with beer (or stogies) in and of themselves, they do seem to be specifically singled out here as examples of bad machismo.

I admit: I'm sheltered here in Indiana. I have no personal experience with "Fight Club" or chest-beating in the woods with a bunch of guys (I do have loads of experience actually working in the woods!), and I could never countenance firing up a delicious Hoyo or capping off a Sam Adams during the time allotted for the study of God's Word. “Time and season”, you know... I would equate that with the practice of having coffee bars in Church and sipping it during the worship- it's the same irreverent principle at work.

However, in a social context, surrounded by family, friends, even fellow pastors- fire up to the glory of God! And do so, not because it's hip or 'manly', but because you actually enjoy the subtle nuances of taste and flavor that a good cigar or a well-brewed beer can afford. Of course this is all in obedience to the numerous passages dealing with weaker brothers and not giving offense.

Sola Deo Gloria.

Ryan Hayden said...

Paul Washer has some great sermons on this topic at sermon audio.

Phil Johnson said...

theologyofbobby: "it's all about being so broken"To be clear, what I was talking about was "the full-orbed fruit of the Spirit . . ." etc.--not a docile, feelings-driven approach to spirituality.

I perhaps ought to add that in my assessment, the two theological trends that have done the most to exacerbate the sissification of evangelicalism over the past 100 years are Pentecostalism's redefinition of what it means to be Spirit-filled, and Deeper-Life doctrine's let-go-and-let-God approach to sanctification.

One other thing: the answer to Pelagianism is a stress on human depravity and the primacy of divine grace in regeneration, not a plea for human passivity in the sanctification process. The necessity of being diligent to "add to your faith virtue," etc. (2 Peter 5:1-8) is a biblical (not Pelagian) principle.

David Rudd said...

Pornography appeals to men because it is an air-brushed, ungraspable fantasy with a large enough hint of reality to encourage a second (and third...) look.

I've always thought Eldridge's picture of masculinity (battle, adventure, maiden) uses the same approach to embed itself in a man's heart.

Hayden said...

Phil,

Books like the 'Barbarian Way' by McManus are also attributing to this silliness. (Have you read the workbook that tells you to have a barbarian meal at the end of the course study?? folly!)

Zack said...

Preach on!

I have been amazed at my church the amount of real men that are starting to stand up and do their job. I have never seen this before. I am so blessed to go to an elder-led church that focuses on the Lordship of Christ in the life of the believer. As the book "Why Men don't go to Church" teaches pastors they need to have funny quips, bright, flashy powerpoint and a host of other stupid things, this church is just quietly and humbly going about the true work of the gospel and *gasp* it appears to be working.

Brazen Hussey's said...

Not to bring up old hat, but isn't this why Sarah Palin was recently a fave amongst many Christian evangelicals? Sadly: the men in the political arena (from the two major parties) were simply not man or conservative enough to vote for, but Sarah seemed, for a time, to shine.

Doug Wilson wrote several books to this issue, such as Federal Husband, in which he wrote a line that stings no less now, to the effect of, "If there is anything wrong in your household, it's the husband/father's fault."

How I hated reading that line! But how true it is. As men, the lion's task of raising a family with resolute conviction lies squarely on our shoulders. There aren't any excuses: man up.

That isn't easy to say for this dad of 6, but fighting the flesh tooth and nail is paying off as seen in my eldest daughter (now 15). She blogs at:

http://adifferentkindagal.blogspot.com/

DJP said...

Not everyone thinks Wilson is right. Like, for instance, I don't.

stratagem said...

Somewhere between using 'activities that carry the stigma of a "vice" as enticements to draw worldly-minded men into our circles of Christian fellowship' and scaring men away by singing sissy songs, having sissy emotion-centered discussions, and hearing nicey-nice sermons, there must a nice balanced middle ground.

stratagem said...

"If there is anything wrong in your household, it's the husband/father's fault."

This is nonsense. Some of the things may be no one's fault - or, the fault of a disobedient wife, or child, or...
Is there any Biblical support for what this man says?

Citizen Grim said...

For the record, I liked Wild At Heart, but you are correct that it is still essentially feminine in its conclusion that men are passive because we need to grapple with some sort of emotional hurt from our past.

This may apply to some men out there, but I suspect the real reason men are passive is because the world pushes against us, and we dwell in cowardly flesh.Most of us don't need to grapple with emotional hurts. What we need is to draw a line in the sand and say "This far, and no further."

When Jesus says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the church (Matt 16:18), take note where the battle is taking place... The forces of hell are on the defensive, mounting a last-ditch defense of their own gates!"Let the high praises of God be in their throats,
and two-edged swords in their hands!"
- Ps. 149:6

Phil Johnson said...

Sorry to repost this comment out of order, but I needed to correct my spelling. Also, I hate that formatting glitch Blogger has recently acquired.

Tim:

Good question. Glad you brought it up.

Scripture condemns drunkenness (Ephesians 5:18) and addiction (1 Corinthians 6:12). Beyond that I would not dare to venture in the making of rules regarding individual behavior.

I plead for neither teetotalism nor total abstinence from tobacco products. (See this page for my reply to those who write Spurgeon off because he smoked.)

On the other hand, I am suggesting that such activities are not (by any stretch of biblical principles) authentic badges of real masculinity.

I am likewise saying it is inappropriate to make such activities prominent features in church-sponsored men's events (especially if the point is to use activities that carry the stigma of a "vice" as enticements to draw worldly-minded men into our circles of Christian fellowship).

And I am emphatically saying that the way such activities are breathlessly extolled by immature, gung-ho "Calvinists" is embarrassing and, frankly, unmanly (in the little-boyish sense).

donsands said...

"For the record, I liked Wild At Heart,.." -Citizen.

Can you give a short and sweet explanation what you liked?

Gary said...

"If there is anything wrong in your household, it's the husband/father's fault."

I think perhaps the take-home message from Wilson, regardless of how well he says it, is that it's the husband/father's RESPONSIBILITY to work towards a solution, regardless of where the actual blame lies.


Great post, but I wonder -- how much of this was birthed not in male laziness but in the fight against complementarianism? In my experience I've seen a biblical understanding of leadership calls men out of laziness much more so than a call out of laziness leads to an understanding of leadership.

Sir Brass said...

"And I am emphatically saying that the way such activities are breathlessly extolled by immature, gung-ho "Calvinists" is embarrassing and, frankly, unmanly (in the little-boyish sense)." ~ Phil


Phil, as one who does greatly enjoy good tobacco (pipe not cigar, though, but that's splitting hairs for this topic) and a well crafted beer, I couldn't agree more.

I have some friends who are like that (Driscollites), and it drives me nuts. The immaturity is so obvious that it almost makes me feel embarassed to be a Calvinist who enjoys his beer and his pipe simply b/c I don't want to be associated with their immaturity over these things.

Zack said...

"I've seen a biblical understanding of leadership calls men out of laziness much more so than a call out of laziness leads to an understanding of leadership."

And that is what Douglas Wilson is doing in his book _Reforming Marriage_ or _Federal Husband_. If the husband is the covenantal head of the wife and Christ is of the Church then everything that happens in his family is his responsibility. Just like if your 16yo hits someone it is going to be YOUR liability insurance that gets tagged, so if you have a disobedient child the responsibility to lead and to stand in the gap for their sin rests on your shoulders.

I have read no better book that clearly presents the responsibilities of the husband to be the leader God calls him to be.

Solameanie said...

You know we're in trouble in the culture when Fox and Friends" Brian Kilmeade hawks "manbags."

wattsbot said...

Phil,

I really appreciate your words here. All three of you Pyro guys do a great job, in my opinion.

What I want to ask, though, is from whom should/will men learn this?

I was out of college before a dear friend of mine took me aside and threw me into teaching. He was patient with me, he helped me think through my convictions, but he expected me to be able to read and explain Scripture to other men. Up to that point, I had mostly just coasted in the churches I had been a part of.

Without someone like that coming along side these men, who or what will put pressure on them to pick up the mantle of leadership? And who or what will instruct them once they do?

Just some thoughts.

JK said...

Great Phil and right on. Let's see: Eve was deceived; Sarah laughed; etc. David sinned; Elijah complained; etc. "All have sinned..." This being said - #1: ask any "smaller" church pastor from whence most of his problems originate. #2: ask those same pastors how well or much the men in those marriages lead. Which leads to #3 for husbands and pastors: Matt. 5:3 "Blessed are the poor in spirit...", pray, abide, and shepherd - shepherd - shepherd. In my experience (what little I have) there is NO silver bullet on this issue other than #3 above...

GUNNY said...

True dat! I LOVE camping, making a big fire, and shooting things as much as the next guy, but those things don't a man make.

Phil, your clarification comment above was a most helpful amendment as well. I think it might even make guys less feel like "bad boys" if they had the maturity to realize they have some freedom in that area, but not the kind you pat each other on the back with because you're bucking the system.

Jon Speed said...

I could not agree more.

I'll add a thought to these. Even Reformed churches are sissified these days when it comes to their evangelism. Comments such as, "Evangelism must take place in the context of relationships", popular Rob Bellish cliches in Neo-Reformed churches (a la Mark Driscoll and others) about "missional living", etc., attempt to springboard off of these feminized notions of Christianity. I do not see Jesus or the apostles, in the vast majority of instances, inviting their "buds" over for a beer and a barbeque. No, they preached the gospel boldly in the open-air and did not try to "help" the gospel along with their warm personalities. The gospel is to be "preached" which simply means "proclaimed publicly."

Want to appeal to godly men and teach them to be real men? Teach them to study the Word, be men of God, and then proclaim what they learn publicly.

Sir Aaron said...

Sir Brass:

LOL, I have had the same problem. I enjoy an occasional drink and once in a blue moon, a good cigar. But when I am with immature Christians who regard this in the manner you described, I flatly refuse to participate with them. I'd rather have a beer with a heathen, then with a Christian brother who acts like that.

Jmv7000 said...

Has anyone read Nancy Pearcy's "Total Truth"?

Read Chapter 12,

"The awakening reached more women than men . . . because the revivalists stressed the emotional side of religion, their message seemed to be pitched especially to women. they began to speak of women as being more naturally religious than men, and urged wives to be the means of converting their more worldly husbands."

she goes on to say,

"American churches still typically attract more women than men, . . . [YET] Interestingly, this is not true of other faiths . . . So the pattern cannot be explained by saying that men are just naturally less religious women."

Has anyone read this chapter? What did you think?

Aric said...

Great post Phil. As I was reading it, this thought kept coming to mind (not prophecy mind you :0): “It is infinitely harder to die to myself and serve my wife (and children) than it is to partake in manly activities, which ultimately are meant only to cater to my self-centeredness.”

I fail (often) at dying to myself, because it is REALLY hard. I’ll admit I don’t want to do it! Following Christ requires sacrifice. I pray that I will raise my 3 sons (so far) by providing them with an example of a Godly man.

I must now find a quiet place to repent for not being a true man more often . . .

stratagem said...

True confessions. I don't like watching football or sports of any kind. I think stogies smell like a pile of burning horse manure. I drink beer, but mostly light beer and have a strict self-imposed limit of one per day.

I have no problem with Christian men who do like those things. However I also think some men feel they have to act like they like stogies, football, and beer whether they do or not. I always got the sense that the Wild at Heart fanatics that I knew (in its heyday) were compensating for some imagined shortcoming. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some men who didn't particularly like the book but couldn't admit it for the same reason they couldn't admit that they didn't really like football.

Frank Turk said...

After we moved into the new homestead, the labor crew was out in the woods behind the house rounding up the left-over timber and junk and they built this massive bonfire and put whole trees-worth of wood out there, and it was burning like 2 stories tall ...

... and me and the boy just sat there in the window looking at it.

Who wouldn't?

But at the same time, that wasn't a spiritual moment. It had nothing to do with Christ. It had to do with fire.

I'm just sayin'.

Solameanie said...

I wonder if the effeminate men smoke Swishers?

Just askin'

BTW, Frank...I could make a spiritual application out of that bonfire.

CT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Citizen Grim said...

me: "For the record, I liked Wild At Heart,.."

donsands: "Can you give a short and sweet explanation what you liked?"

Two things:

- It argues that it's valid for the Christian male to be martial. Much of the feminization of the culture (and sadly, the church) is due to the mistaken idea that masculinity, strength, muscle, force, etc are undesirable. Verses like Psalm 144:1 give the culture (and much of the postmodern church) fits. "David, a man after God's own heart, praises God for training him in war! Barbaric!" Wild at Heart is an antidote to that sort of thinking, even if a mild one.

- It argues that a man needs to pursue a woman. Finding a wife is not like fishing, where you cast out some lines and see if anyone bites. I know way too many guys today who are afraid to commit, because they worry that they might be missing out on a better girl, a bigger fish. To its credit, Wild at Heart rejects that, and says it's the role of the man to set his eyes on one woman and pursue her, and not worry about what other women might be out there.

Yes, there is quite a bit of silliness in the book, but I still think it's at least decent baby food before moving on to heartier fare.

donsands said...

"Yes, there is quite a bit of silliness in the book, but I still think it's at least decent baby food before moving on to heartier fare." -Citizen

Thanks for sharing.

Stan McCullars said...

CT whose Profile (is) Not Available:

Thus, when a man is singing amorous songs to Jesus, this inevitably suggests homosexuality to many others.If churches were not singing Jesus is my boyfriend songs this would not be a problem.

dan said...

highly interesting article. i read some of it out loud to my wife, especially the part about Wild at Heart, to which we had a good chuckle. i dislike the way the eldridges write - they veer off into blatant error at times. good on you phil, as always, for approaching this and other subjects soberly and with Biblical sense.

The Armchair Theologian said...

Okay, I don't know about many of the older fellas on here, but this whole topic frustrates me TO DEATH. Most of us younger guys get that we stink and don't know how to be men. We hear that a lot, and it only confirms what we already know.

I honestly do not think many of the older, more godly men in many churches understand exactly how bad things are with the younger guys. Most of the younger guys I know are so brainwashed on the whole issue that they think that "manhood" is some for of 'exhibition of testosterone'...i.e.:

- yelling
- fighting
- making money
- not being a virgin when you're 18
- dating the prom queen
- having a tough car/truck
- having a big stereo
- having a 'tough guy' attitude
- not being told what to do
- listening to heavy metal/rap/whatever is on WWE/ultimate fighting
- playing sports that involve drawing blood
- wearing tough clothes that have skulls and look like tattoos
- being able to stomach more liquor than a horse

and so on...

And when older Christian guys tell them to "be a man", they hear that message in behavioral categories; they think they need to do what they are already doing, but do it for God and not (self, girlfriend, wife, kids, etc). They do NOT hear it in biblical, theological or moral categories.

Most young guys change their secular heavy metal for "christian" heavy metal.

Most young guys smoke at small group instead of the bar.

Many young guys stop fighting with fists and start fighting with theological debates.

OR, they think that they need to add a "Christian" behavior to their other "manly" behaviors to balance things out, being both "Christian" and "manly"...

...i.e. "You need to bench 350 BUT also help out in children's ministry."

And so on.

Most young guys are so culturally brainwashed that they need a foundational, ground level renewal of the mind; a renewal of the categories in which they think about manhood. Most do not have a CLUE how to do that, and when an older, frustrated gentleman tells them to read the Bible and be a man of God, they throw on their cultural glasses and consistently misread the scriptures.

I mean, read 1 Samuel 25 with contemporary cultural glasses on:

- David was tough and people feared him.
- David responded to an insult with violence.
- Abigail recognized that David was going to destroy her husband and pleaded with David for Nabal's life (because Nabal was all mouth)
- David held back and didn't lay the smack down on Nabal.
- Nabal heard about his impending doom, was overcome with fear and died of a heart attack.
- David gets the girl.

Now that's not what the text means, but it is how many guys I know read it.

Just saying, because I get frustrated when older guys say "read the Bible" and "be like Jesus" and then don't recognize that most young guys have on such culturally colored glasses that they don't see the forest OR the trees.

CT said...
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sem said...

CT-
When did the "church's latent homosexuality" become an established fact? That's a big leap from what the actual post is about. So what I'm wondering is, from where is assertion coming?

stratagem said...

Grim sed:
Much of the feminization of the culture (and sadly, the church) is due to the mistaken idea that masculinity, strength, muscle, force, etc are undesirable.

Amen. Go to any of the nutty Quaker / Anabaptist pacifist websites out there for a triple espresso dose of Christian effeminate wimpiness. www.ekklesiaproject.org is a good example (one of many).

John said...

Thank you Phil for this teaching and for the converstaion it has sparked. I couldn't agree more with your analysis of Eldridge and Elliot. It is important to recognize the difference between what men are and what men do. Much of the focus on "masculine" activities (and yes, pugilism is decidedly masculine!) is a reaction to the cultural resentment to males expressing their masculinity. But participating in or celebrating such is first of all not Christian (I did not say unchristian). The values of such a perspective are still carnal and self-centered. Secondly, such a view confuses cause for effect. Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken. Last, truly Biblical masculinity will not result in a sudden desire to drink or smoke or punch someone in the face. Many awesome Christian men have preferred quiet, introspective lives. Thomas A'Kempis wrote a great book on imitating Christ (the ultimate man) and was yet decidedly weak physically. Spurgeon enjoyed a good stogie, but he would have passed out in a cage, and would probably have scorned spending time watching such when one could instead be reading...
Perhaps you could write a detailed but succinct post on what characterizes Biblical masculinity (with Bible referrences)? I would certainly appreciate it.

P.S. I believe you meant to use the adverb "too" in paragraph nine, rather than the preposition "to".

Sir Aaron said...

This latent homosexuality point is utter nonsense and should be treated with the same contempt as any other puerile comment.

Stan McCullars said...

CT: What do you mean by "Jesus is my boyfriend songs"? Do particular hymns or worship songs come to mind?
"Jesus is my boyfriend songs" are just that, songs that sound like a middle school girl wrote for her boyfriend. Sappy drivel.

For an example, let's go with Katina's "You're All I Want."

Draw Me Close to You
Never Let Me Go
I Lay It All Down Again
To Hear You Say That I'm Your Friend
You Are My Desire
No One Else Will Be
Cos no One Else Can Take Your Place
To Feel the Warmth of Your Embrace
Help Me Find the Way
Bring Me Back to You

Chorus
You're All I Want
You're All I've Ever Needed
You're All I Want
Help Me Know You Are Near

Draw Me Close to You
Never Let Me Go
I Lay It All Down Again
To Hear You Say That I'm Your Friend
You Are My Desire
No One Else Will Be
No One Else Can Take Your Place
To Feel the Warmth of Your Embrace
Help Me Find the Way
Bring Me Back to You

Chorus
You're All I Want
You're All I've Ever Needed
You're All I Want
Help Me Know You Are Near

You're All I Want
You're All I've Ever Needed
You're All I Want
Help Me Know You Are Near
Help Me Know You Are Near
Help Me Know You Are Near

I would say a good rule of thumb is this: If you could sing the song to someone of the opposite sex that would cause them to think you were trying to seduce them, it's a "Jesus is my boyfriend song."

stratagem said...

Stan - that is a great example of a BF song for Jesus! I hate that song!

Now that you've mentioned it, I bet there is a whole set of different categories of Jesus songs that drive men away from the church. I always get nauseous when I hear the words "I can feel the brush of angel's wings, I see glory on each face," for instance. (No I don't feel the brush of angel's wings, nor do I see glory on each face, so why should I sing about that?).

Cogent point Stan!

Mike Riccardi said...

The Armchair Theologian nailed it.

The antitode is the unadulterated Gospel. We younger guys need to be constantly confronted with the implications of Jesus' command to take up our cross and follow Him. That command to die to ourselves, entirely. It's not worldliness with a new trajectory, it's total renovation.

His points about liking heavy metal and then turning into a Christian heavy metalist is spot on. All of our affections, all the things that bring us pleasure and joy are supposed to flow out of our delight in Christ. It starts with Him. It doesn't start with our interest, and then He tweeks our life a little bit.

Again, that captures the mindset so well. Even if folks disagree with that, it's the way many of us younger guys are 'taught' to think by the lack of actual teaching.

trogdor said...

The Armchair Theologian wrote:

"I honestly do not think many of the older, more godly men in many churches understand exactly how bad things are with the younger guys. Most of the younger guys I know are so brainwashed on the whole issue that they think that "manhood" is some for of 'exhibition of testosterone'"

I don't know whether I would be counted in the older or younger camp, but assuming they'd regard me as a whippersnapper, I think I can guess how the older folk would answer. They'd probably acknowledge everything you said about false ideas of manliness, and ask how exactly that is different from their generation, or the one before that, or in Calvin's Geneva, or the young men in Corinth or Crete... The name "Rehoboam" is coming to mind here as well, for some reason.

I don't want to pick on you, but the cry "it's just so much harder for young men these days" is similar in form to the cry to adapt the church to the culture. You know, the idea that maybe the gospel faced mild cultural resistance before, but now it's really bad, and you older folks just don't understand how people won't like us if we believe the pure, uncultured gospel. But the thing is, the true gospel has never been popular or acceptable, and never will be. Same with authentic, Biblical manhood. It has never been popular, and has always faced distortions towards both effeminate passivity and uncontrolled machismo. Real manhood has always been hard, and it always will be.

CT said...
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Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"More on the Sissification of the Church"Ummmm, there's a lot of men who affirm and support Christians for Biblical Equality.

stratagem said...

Such songs drive some sorts of men away, but they attract other sorts of men. It is also difficult to believe that such worship practices are without effect on a boy's sexual development.

I simply don't understand that whole 'the church is loaded with latent homosexuals' rabbit trail you're off on, to be honest with you. It almost seems like it's something you are hung up with for some reason. Most of us men stay in the church despite these effeminate music and sermons, etc., I don't know anyone who stays because of them, and I've been to a lot of churches. Maybe you've just had an ususual experience. I also don't understand why anyone with normal male role models around them would be affected in their sexual development by the songs they sing in church. Just being honest here.

cal said...

Stratagem said:
Amen. Go to any of the nutty Quaker / Anabaptist pacifist websites out there for a triple espresso dose of Christian effeminate wimpiness.

I must respond to this comment as I come from a long Anabaptist heritage (Mennonite Brethren). I know men who served in WWII by digging outhouse pits for the poor, fought forrest fires, served as orderlies in asylums all in order to live out their commitment to love their neighbors, including their enemies, and pray for those who hurt them - all scriptural commands. I witnessed my father lose much by turning the other cheek in a difficult situation rather than fight it out in the courts.

These are manly, Godly men. The particular sites he references may be nutty but to paint Quakers and Anabaptists with this brush is untrue and unkind.

Jmv7000 said...

Songs, hymns and spiritual songs do not make the church effeminate. It is the fruit of their theology. period.

The effeminate church is a result of wrong thinking and the wrong god as the center of worship.

If you want to make money in the Christian book industry, you cater to women. If you want church growth, you cater to women. Why because our theology is wrong.

Pearcy does a good job in Chapter 12 of her book in explaining the change in church culture.

When we realize who We worship and see Him for who He really is, then I think our churches will lose the "effeminate" edge. The solution is not change songs, hymns, or spiritual 'things.'

The solution is never to "stop" wrong thinking and practices, but emphasize right thinking and practices.

The answer is Gospel, pure and simple. People need to understand that normal Christianity is a perfect reflection of the one whom we worship and are being conformed into His image - Jesus Christ.

When we make Him the head of the church and focus on Him, these "little" problems will seem minute.

CT said...
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sem said...

CT-
Whaaa? So now we've hopped from sissification to the assumption of the "church's latent sexuality" and then taken the giant leap to "worship as an outlet for homo-eroticism?" Then throwing in some homophobia in the midst of all that. I will again ask the question that you formerly ignored, from where are these assertions coming? So far you are the only venturing this far out. Why?

Rosslyn Elliott said...
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DJP said...

Welcome!

Every Tuesday 5-10pm is Ladies' Night.

DJP said...

Just kidding. We have lots of lady commentresses.

CT said...
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sem said...

Rosslyn,
Nope. You're not the only woman following today.

DFR said...

Excellent post and great discussion. Let's clearly expose false "masculinity" and show how it differs from the Word of God. False masculinity is widespread in all segments of world culture and needs to be clearly denounced in our teaching to men. This just isn't done enough or clearly enough.

False vs. true masculinity:
Sexual license (“I am a man; I have needs.” “Women love me.”) vs. Sexual purity and faithfulness (“Treat …women as sisters, with absolute purity.” [1 Tim. 5:1-2 NIV]; “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” [Eph. 5:25])

Domination and control (“I am The Man”) vs. Servant leadership (“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, ‘You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’”
[Mark 10:42-45 ESV])

Pride and violence (“Nobody messes with me.”) vs. Defense of the powerless (“Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” [Proverbs 31:9 NIV])

Autonomy (“I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.”) vs. Loyalty (1 Sam. 23:15-17)

Conquest and acquisition (“It’s all about winning.) vs. Industriousness and generosity (“In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” [Acts 20:35 ESV])

Risky behavior (“Nah, nah, nah-nah-nah-nah, Live for today!”) vs. Bold obedience to the will of God (“Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’” [Acts 5:29 NIV])

Cleverness (“There’s a sucker born every minute.”) vs. Integrity and Wisdom (“I have taught you the way of wisdom; I have led you in the paths of uprightness.” [Proverbs 4:11 ESV])

Self-indulgence (“Grab all the gusto you can.”) vs. Self-control (“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness…. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled.” [Titus 2:2-6 ESV])

Kim said...

Rosalyn Elliot:

I'm a female reader; and a long-time reader at that. I used to comment a lot more than I do now.

Sometimes, though, there isn't much to add when the post is powerful. It's been said so well already.

sem said...

CT-
Thank you for posting for my benefit but I've read everything else you've posted today. The question still stands. You're making these pronouncements about latent homosexuality but that doesn't make them true. What do you have to back them up? It sounds a bit more like propaganda used by the homosexual lobby.

There's a disconnect here. Fill in the rest of the dots.

CT said...
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sem said...

Sure. I'd agree to that. But I find it understandable. If I were a guy, I would probably be uncomfortable as well. As earlier covered, those songs are mushy and dreamy. I'm a woman and I don't like singing them because think they cast Jesus in the wrong light; more like a suitor than a Savior.

Rachael Starke said...

Mike R. -

Perhaps another way to state what Armchair Theologian is frustrated with might be this:

The point of knowing Scripture isn't to know how to be a man, or woman, for that matter. (a la the 1 Samuel 25 example - I'm guessing you could go out to Beliefnet.com and find 10 sermons that teach that passage just that way by men that "know their Bibles".)

The point of knowing Scripture isn't to know doctrine.

The point of knowing Scripture is to know Jesus.

That's what Paul wanted, and Peter and John, and David.

All real men. Wanting to know the Realest Man.

That, in this one lady commenter's opinion, is what we need our brothers to preach and teach and model every week. It's the lack of that that leads to men thinking they need movements like Promise Keepers to teach them how to keep their promises, and leads women to think "well, if that's all there is to it I could do so much better."

CT said...
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DJP said...

It's a man's responsibility to be a man, a godly man.

But there are definitely ways the women in their lives can encourage or discourage their growth in godly masculinity, make it easier or agonizinger.

sem said...

CT-
At this rate, I won't get the answer to my original question until some time tomorrow. I trust that you are sincere and I mean no offense. I just have kids to take care of and husband to encourage, so I can't do this conversational thing. I'm really sorry to seem abrupt but can you just spell it all out in one post? The direction you are heading right now is a little unclear. I didn't ask you so much about the homophobia as your assertion of the presence of homosexuality in the church. Can you please clarify where you get this information. Thanks!

Stan McCullars said...

CT: She wants to know your source. It's a simple request.

Stan McCullars said...

Rachael Starke: It's the lack of that that leads to men thinking they need movements like Promise Keepers...

I hear what you're saying. I'm over generalizing here but it seemed like it was the more "sissified" of the men at my church that got cought up in the madness.

I was hoping to never hear of that organization again but I see they are still around. :(

CT said...
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Daryl said...

CT,

Men should be put off by apparently homo expressions or actions. If they evoke homo feelings the evoke an abomination.

That much is clear.

What is not clear is why you imagine that there is a latent homo undertow in churches. I think you misidentify misplaced feminity with misplaced homo-ness.

The real reason we should feel unsettled with the boyfriend songs is that they are unscriptural (besides the obvious creepiness of singing like that to a guy...)

The reason many men don't care or don't get it is not because of some imaginary latent homo movement in church, it's because they don't understand scripture. Pure and simple I think.

webbo6 said...

Well it like I heard Joyce Meyer say the other day....

Sharon said...

DJP: We have lots of lady commentresses.
I even pop in with my 2cents' worth on occasion. My initial thought to Phil's excellent post was, "This is why you see more and more churches embracing women in the role of ushers, deacons, elders, and even pastors."

CT said...
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Stan McCullars said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon said...

P.S. Even I feel uncomfortable in singing "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs in any situation. He is my Lord and Savior, almighty God, awesome Creator, not some guy I have a crush on across the room. Ick.

vw: moola (as in, there isn't enough moola in the world to change my mind)

DJP said...

"Breathe" (with the chorus "I'm desperate for you.... I'm desperate for you....") equally gives my wife and me the heeby-jeebies.

Stan McCullars said...

CT: the reason for the questions is simply to uncover what it is that you disagree with, or find unclear.
What she asked originally was: When did the "church's latent homosexuality" become an established fact? That's a big leap from what the actual post is about. So what I'm wondering is, from where is assertion coming?
She followed that up a few comments later with: I will again ask the question that you formerly ignored, from where are these assertions coming?
In a later comment she continues to ask for support: The question still stands. You're making these pronouncements about latent homosexuality but that doesn't make them true. What do you have to back them up? It sounds a bit more like propaganda used by the homosexual lobby.
In her latest comment she asked: Can you please clarify where you get this information.
As far as I can tell she is NOT looking for clarity but rather support for your assertions.

Apparently the support will not be provided, only empty assertions.

sem said...

Stan-
Yep. Thank you.

Daryl-
Thank you. That's what I was getting at but you stated it much more clearly.

CT-
I appreciate your response but I am still looking for your source for this presence of latent homosexuality. You have repeatedly stated it as a fact. You are the only one taking it to this level. I'm not sure what's unclear about my question. Thanks.

Dan-
I'm with your wife on that one, too. I just cannot make myself sing it. It's too Bryan Adams for me.

CT said...
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Jmv7000 said...

CT,

In principle, this sounds a lot like, "Clean the outside of the cup and your problems will be fixed."

I think your whole analogy has poor presuppositions.

A man who feels the way you described understands nothing of the Gospel, so your problem / and potential remedy is, "Look at the outside of the cup, clean it!"

Men who think the way you describe are probably not saved. This is a response to your 2:22 post.

CT said...
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Stan McCullars said...

CT: I wonder if we're just talking past each other...

No. That's not it at all. You're simply being a pompous ox. You're not answering direct questions and playing ignorant.

Dr Bill said...

The 2008 Baptist Hymnal:

#481 Breathe
#482 Draw Me Close

Actually, it's a pretty impressive resource, so why'd they have to go and do that?

wv: buhjack
N (colloq.) Smack talk for a man's name, as in, "Hi buhjack, howya buhdoin'?"

Tim Bushong said...

"I am likewise saying it is inappropriate to make such activities prominent features in church-sponsored men's events (especially if the point is to use activities that carry the stigma of a "vice" as enticements to draw worldly-minded men into our circles of Christian fellowship).

And I am emphatically saying that the way such activities are breathlessly extolled by immature, gung-ho "Calvinists" is embarrassing and, frankly, unmanly (in the little-boyish sense)."

Thanks Phil- amen and amen.

CT said...
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Phil Johnson said...

To all:

I apologize for our failure to police the comment-thread today. I was flying home from Tampa and was off-line most of the day.

I'm home now.

"CT" was the first person ever banned from the blog, the first year we were blogging. We banned him/her for serial language infractions, including some of the sickest, vilest things I have ever seen in the Christian blogosphere. (As you know, sadly, that makes room for a whole lot of vileness.)

CT sometimes poses as a man; and sometimes calls herself "Carolyn Trace." Given his/her/its own confused sexuality and mile-long record of offenses both here and on several other Christian blogs, this is a particularly inappropriate thread for that particular person to be engaging discussions of the nature he/she/it tried to provoke today.

For the record, our ban is still in place, and it is not revokable. If CT or "Carolyn Trace" posts here again, please do not engage him/her/it in any conversation whatsoever. Notify one of us and we will make the necessary deletions.

Thank you.

KM said...

CT -“I have no reason to believe that the church's pro-homosexual elements are a recent phenomenon,”

I don’t want to speak for CT but since he’s not doing it I’m going to give what I believe is the answer to sem’s question:

CT interprets some of the effeminate character traits present in the church as homoerotic/sexual in tendency. It’s a simple misinterpretation by someone from a culture that has learned to look at people and decide without saying 2 words to them whether they are or are not homosexual (no judgment CT. I”m just saying). So, his source for this implication is his own eyes. He sees some men that look a lot like what he defines as gay, perhaps, in his church. Maybe he sees them passionately involved in worship times with this type of music as the main style. He is making conclusions based on what he observes.

In addition, it may also be that CT is one of these people. In which case he may not want to give any information about his resource as perhaps it is himself he is observing. That is of course assuming that he is in fact a “he” and that I know what I’m talking about with regard to him/her at all, since his/her profile is not open, as mentioned.

Uh...if I’m totally wrong my deepest apologies to CT for any implications. But, you have been evasive and these are the conclusions I have come to by your statements.

sem said...

I feel I should apologize for engaging CT so much. I assumed he/she was sincere, if not a little obtuse.

Again, I'm very sorry.

Phil Johnson said...

Also, please stop replying to "CT." There's no need to dignify his/her filthy-minded perspective with polite deference.

CT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KM said...

Phil - My reply was to "sem" and not to CT. I'm sorry. I didn't realize that wasn't clear, though in retrospect it was obviously not clear so I'm a ding dong. Also, I just noticed your comment about CT a couple of seconds ago so I'm sorry I responded at all. My bad.

Sir Aaron said...

Also, please stop replying to "CT." There's no need to dignify his/her filthy-minded perspective with polite deference.Yeah, exactly what I said at 10:49 AM.

sem said...

Sir Aaron-
I should have heeded your advice.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

One more woman chimes in with disgust at the "Jesus is my boyfriend" choruses.

They bother me on many levels, not the least of which is reducing Jesus to my own. Yes, He saved me and knows me personally, but it's not, actually, all about me. God is much, much more than that

I'm not wise, and I'm not a deep theologian. I do know that the church is the bride of Christ, and that is a mystery I can't fully understand. But I understand enough to know that the "ew" feeling those dreamy/gushy songs give me isn't what God intended.

I'm likewise bothered by the trend among some women (some very godly women), to call their quiet time their "tryst" with Jesus.

Julie

Rachael Starke said...

"I'm likewise bothered by the trend among some women (some very godly women), to call their quiet time their "tryst" with Jesus."

WHAT?!

Ewww.

Are these married women?

I'm guessing not.

Sir Brass said...

One of the greatest reasons for the regulative principle of worship:

Jesus is my HB/BF (homeboy/boyfriend) songs. blech

*starts humming "All Hail the Power of Jesus Name"*

DFR, right on. That was an excellent comparison.

stratagem said...

Cal

In your post where you concluded:
These are manly, Godly men. The particular sites he references may be nutty but to paint Quakers and Anabaptists with this brush is untrue and unkind.

You need to read what I wrote, and the context in which I wrote it. A comment was made that Eldredge is popular because of certain misguided teachings that martial activity is off-limits for Christians (i.e., soldiering, policing, etc). I agreed with that comment, and added some example Quaker/Anabaptist websites where these misguided teachings are not only taught but taken to the extreme (these sites are pacifist to the point of being borderline anarchistic - read them).
I wasn't referring to your relatives, unless of course they adhered to unscriptural teachings in conflict with Paul's teachings on the role of the state in maitaining order, but that is for you to judge whether they did or not, because I didn't know the people you are talking about.
My own experience is that the churches that have been taken over by pacifist Christians have engendered the worst form of what we are talking about on this thread, effeminately passive Christian men. I've seen this many times. It stems from ignoring or explaining away Paul's teachings in relation to the role of the state in keeping order, and like all false teachings, it bears bad fruit, including Christian men who shirk their responsibility to help the state maintain order, protect the weak, and put down anarchy, as well as in some cases even making them passive and effeminized. Maybe they are indeed godly men, but massively misguided on this point of doctrine.

Sir Aaron said...

From what I've noticed, a lot of the songs which seem more like love songs than worship songs, are a result of adaptation of popular music to worship for the mere purpose of attracting more regular attenders. Also, people like to repeat phrases over and over again to create a self induced emotional state which they mistake for being filled with passion by the Holy Spirit.

Sir Aaron said...

What was that movie with Tim Allen where he had to pose as a Quaker? That was a good movie...

Sir Brass said...

Sir Aaron, you mean 7-11 songs?

7-11 meaning "the same seven lines repeated eleven times". I HATE those. My mind begins to wander when I ought to be singing praises/prayer.

It's hard enough to keep focused sometimes with a proper, theologically rich hymn; let alone a candy pop "Jesus is my bf" 7-11 CCM "worship" song (yech!).

Sir Aaron said...

Sir Brass, there were songs with seven lines? I don't remember there being that many. What's worse is that I don't think they had more than two or three songs because they managed to play the same songs every week!

I do think the sermon had seven lines although most certainly it had fewer than seven Scripture verses.

Thank God for my current church! Hymns are really beautiful.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

The one that just kills me is the "heart of worship" song.

Is that meant to be irony? Because the song is all about the singer.

Sir Aaron said...

Is that song sung by Matt Redmond?

PuritanReformed said...

DFR:

good comparison.

C.B. Shearer said...

One of my new goals when I get to Heaven is to get Charles Spurgeon to say the word, "Sissification."

Tim Bushong said...

If you really want to "man up", in the worship service, start singing Psalm 2- see especially the end of verse 1:

"The one enthroned in highest heaven, higher; mocks them to scorn, on them derision rains."

Ooo- that's the good stuff!

Yes, sing that, loudly, with all the church- men, women, boys and girls- and AWAY with the wimpy and insipid music.

stratagem said...

Thank you for pointing out what's wrong with that "heart of worship" song. I always knew that something about it really bugged me, but it remained inchoate until you said what you said about it being all about the singer.

Separately, just for the record, I do like Quaker Oats.

Rabbit said...

Excellent post and discussion.

"Jesus is my boyfriend" songs appeal to our flesh. Feel-good preaching appeals to our flesh. “Tryst”ing with Jesus feeds our flesh. A cigar session with Bud light in hand, talking like a pirate, appeals to the flesh.

Being allowed to remain in the flesh appeals to our flesh. So we prefer to remain unchallenged, feeding fleshy habits, and believe the lie that we are "godly" because we do these things with the name of Jesus on our lips.

In the meantime, churches turn their focus toward “outreach” to goats and trying to add more goats to the attendance rolls while letting the immature sheep remain immature and fleshy. Or worse, we glue cottonballs on goats to make them look like sheep.

Church leaders, I beg of you; stop pleasing goats...stop trying to please the flesh of the believers in the congregation...we need leaders who will stand up and say, 'young man, you are a husband and a father yet you are immature and weak in your understanding of Scripture. Let me show you how to grow up because that is what Christ commands us to do.'

It is an issue of the maturity of the flock and the willingness of the more mature to come alongside and shepherd them, with a Biblical standard.

Rabbit said...

I stand silently when “heart of worship” comes up in the queue because I am not in church to sing to myself. “longing just to bring something that’s of worth, that will bless Your heart”? What can I possibly bring to Him that is a worthy blessing via a song that I am singing about myself?

stratagem said...

Church leaders, I beg of you; stop pleasing goats...stop trying to please the flesh of the believers in the congregation...

That's a good word. It will have no effect upon the megachurch leaders who are all about numbers... nor upon the small church leaders who are all about numbers. But it's a good word for the remaining church leaders nonetheless!

Lisa Nunley said...

Trying to keep up with this post and comments... life is busy right now, but I really don't want to miss this. It is excellent.

Rachael Starke said...

I can't believe no one has brought up "In the Garden" yet. When we first joined our current church, our (wonderful)music pastor told me it was on his banned list, which encouraged our hearts tremendously.

Then not a month later, at a, ahem, womens' prayer conference, there it was, in all its' warbly, treacly, Jesus-is-my-paramour fabulousness.

Turns out the women had been allowed to put together the whole day kind of on their own.

Hmmmm....

Lisa Nunley said...

...which makes me so thankful that our women's ministry has the headship/ covering of our men.

Marie said...

I'm glad someone (several someones) brought up the question of nightclub-style love ballads to Jesus. I didn't want to be the first.

Nothing, repeat, NOTHING, is worse than standing in the sanctuary with 600 other people (roughly half of them male) when the praise team starts singing Matt Redman's "Let My Words be Few" the one where he sings "Jesus I am so in love with You" slowly, intently, many times.

I'm a woman and the lyrics even embarrass me. You should see the awkwardness of 300 guys trying to force themselves to at least lyp-synch. Sorry - that song should be perma-banned from every church everywhere.

Rant over

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"More on the Sissification of the Church"

Would this book Finally Feminist by Professor John Stackhouse be helpful in furthering the "sissification" of the Church?

stratagem said...

Maybe Stackhouses reasoning went thus, when he proposed his path forward:

Option 1: "Equality is the biblical ideal, but patriarchy is allowed and regulated by a God who has larger kingdom purposes in mind."

Option 2: "Male leadership is the biblical ideal, but matriarchy is allowed and regulated by a God who has larger kingdom purposes in mind, and realizes that the women are too proud to follow, and the men are too wimpy to lead."

Since proposal #2 would have drummed him out of whatever job he has, it was probably an easy choice.

KM said...
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A. Friend said...

Even those who talk the most about the need for the church to reach men usually have a very childish perspective on manhood. "Virile language"? Cusswords? That's your "proof" that men in the church are coming to grips with their spiritual duty to act like men? Really?------------------

This showed up in the last post which began veering towards "I drink bear and try not to swear too much!" within a heartbeat and by the time I found the comments, people were looking for sissies to beat up ("Should we be friends with homosexuals?").

I think the issue is pure nonsense altogether.

God does not call us to be "masculine" but to be holy. All this is is a cultural distraction (and a very American one at that.)

If people would stop worrying about every pop-fad and make their focus becoming like Christ (by beholding Him night and day in personal reading and prayer) then God will guide them into all truth--particularly the truth that they personally need to hear.

Why incorporate the culture wars into your spiritual life?

stratagem said...

Pay no attention to that homosexual activist behind the screen!

Michael King said...
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Michelle said...

Oh boy, what an excellent, excellent article.

As a mother of four, two of them boys who will one day be men (Lord willing), I am so thankful to God for the godly men He has raised up in our generation who understand that Christlikeness, and a commitment to and defence of the truth of God's Word, are at the heart of real manliness.

I have always made the excuse for the wimpy men (who, among other things, let the ladies lead at home and at church) that the militant feminism of our culture is to blame for their crisis of identity/purpose.

Thanks for showing me that it is not a cultural phenomenon and it's not a new problem, it's a sin problem.

Sir Aaron said...

I'm still scratching my head over the "heart of worship" song. I don't particularly like it, but I don't see anything blatantly wrong with it.

Of course, my church sings hymns so we don't have these issues.