Friday, January 2, 2015
The Feminization of the Church
"Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. It is the world's largest religion, with over 2.4 billion followers, or 32% of the global population, known as Christians. Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the savior of humanity whose coming as the Messiah (the Christ) was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Christian theology is summarized in various creeds. These professions of faith state that Jesus suffered, died, was buried, descended into hell, and rose from the dead, in order to grant eternal life to those who believe in him and trust in him for the remission of their sins. The creeds further maintain that Jesus bodily ascended into heaven, where he reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, and that he will return to judge the living and the dead and grant eternal life to his followers. His incarnation, earthly ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection are often referred to as " the gospel", meaning "good news". The term gospel also refers to written accounts of Jesus's life and teaching, four of which— Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—are considered canonical and included in the Christian Bible." 1.
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"And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:" 2.
The following is a quote from a book by Leon J. Podles (Spence Publishing Company, Dallas, 1999) entitled: " The Church Impotent:
The Feminization of Christianity":
"Men still run most churches, but in the pews women outnumber men in all countries of Western civilization, in Europe, in the Americas, in Australia. Nor is the absence of males of recent origin. Cotton Mather puzzled over the absence of men from New England churches, and medieval preachers claimed women practiced their religion far more than men did. But men do not show this same aversion to all churches and religions. The Orthodox seem to have a balance, and Islam and Judaism have a predominant male membership. Something is creating a barrier between Western Christianity and men, and the something is the subject of this book." 3.
The following is a quote of the entire article by Holly Pivec entitled : The Feminization of the Church, Why Its Music, Messages and Ministries Are Driving Men Away:
"The leaders of a new, Christian movement think they’ve solved a centuries-old mystery: why men are absent from church. But their answer isn’t politically correct.
They believe Christianity has become feminized.
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. One of the leaders is David Murrow, author of a provocative book Why Men Hate Going to Church (Nelson Books), who spoke with Biola Connections.
The result of this feminization is that many men, even Christian men, view churches as “ladies clubs” and don’t go — or they often go to please their wives. Murrow’s solution is to restore a masculine ethos. Many men’s ministers, including some Biolans, agree.
But isn’t the reverse true — that the church is controlled by men?
True, 93 percent of senior pastors in America are men, according to evangelical pollster George Barna. But, the majority of attendees in a typical church are women. Barna goes so far as to refer to women as “the backbone of the Christian congregations in America.”
“[I]t’s not too hard to discern the target audience of the modern church: a middle-aged to elderly woman,” Murrow said in an interview with Faithreader.com.
The same claim was made by an earlier, more academic book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity (Spence Publishing Company), by Leon J. Podles, a senior editor of Touchstone Magazine. But Murrow’s book has had a bigger impact among evangelicals and has been featured by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
The book has resonated with many men — like Max West, from Payson, Ariz., who wrote in a review on Amazon.com: “[It] opened my eyes as to why I have had such a miserable church experience for the last 30 years.”
Robert York, from Tigard, Ore., wrote: “It has … helped me identify why I've been so frustrated with church so many times.”
But Murrow said he addressed his book mainly to women, including married women who have been disappointed over their husbands’ lack of involvement and to single women who have bemoaned the lack of single, churchgoing men. He said women — who have felt powerless getting men to attend church — actually have the most influence in the churches and, thus, the most power to reverse the feminization.
Even Murrow’s critics — who accuse him of promoting a “hyper masculinity” — agree that Murrow has drawn attention to an alarming gender gap.
Mind the Gap
The gender gap began as early as the 13th century, according to some church historians. Others say it began during the Industrial Revolution. Nancy Pearcey, a visiting scholar at Biola, outlines this theory in her book Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity (Crossway Books).
Pearcey said industrialization forced men to seek work away from home, in factories and offices, which created a split between the public and private spheres of life. The public sphere became secularized through the new values of competition and self-interest, and the private sphere came to represent the old values of nurturing and religion, Pearcey said. Thus, religion came to be seen as for women and children and not as relevant to the “real” world of business, politics and academia, she said.
Soon, in churches, women began to outnumber men, Pearcey said. So, male pastors began to adapt churches to their female demographic, she said.
But, interestingly, the gender gap is distinct to Christianity, according to Murrow and Podles. Other religions seem to have a gender balance or even more men than women — including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, they said.
Men’s absence is especially noteworthy, they said, given that men were a strong force in the early church.
An exception to the gender gap may be found in some Muslim countries, like Morocco, where churches of Muslim converts are sometimes almost entirely men, according to Johnstone. But he estimates that, worldwide, the church is 66 percent 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 imbalance is greatest in rural churches, small churches, older churches, traditionally black denominations, and in liberal churches, Murrow said, citing research from the 1998 National Congregations Study. It’s smallest in non-denominational and Baptist churches, he said.
About 23 percent of married women attend without their husbands, according to Murrow.
The men who do attend show less commitment, including less participation in Sunday School, small groups and service activities, according to Barna. Men also report less practice of spiritual disciplines like tithing, Bible reading, evangelism and prayer.
Gender differences explain why more women are drawn to church than men, according to Murrow and Podles. They believe these differences are revealed by the Bible, biology, anthropology, psychology and human experience.
Stereotypical gender differences have become so accepted that they are assumed in standardized psychological tests. The MMPI, for example, seeks to measure whether a person is more masculine or more feminine based on the person’s interest in activities that are typically preferred by men or women.
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.
But Dr. Gary Strauss, a professor in Biola’s Rosemead School of Psychology, warns that Murrow may be promoting a “hyper masculinity” — the idea that all men should fit the stereotypical norm of a “man’s man,” like the Marlboro Man — tough, outdoorsy and self-reliant.
“He seems to place such a strong emphasis on the hyper masculine image that he doesn’t adequately affirm men of a different type,” Strauss said. “To me, from the hyper feminine woman, on the one end of the human spectrum, to the hyper masculine man, on the other, and every person in between (assuming psychological health), reflects the breadth and image of God,” he said.
Strauss added that a study by Sandra Bem, of Cornell University, indicates that men (or women) with a blend of both masculine and feminine traits may be more psychologically prepared to handle the range of challenges life presents than “hyper masculine” men (or “hyper feminine” women).
Yet, because churches have more women, Murrow believes their stereotypical strengths are more valued — and are even seen as more godly. Masculine strengths are often seen as unneeded or as threats to the peaceful status quo, he said.
Johnstone believes the feminization of the church reflects a feminization of the larger culture.
“Our whole society has tended to deprive men of their biblical and creational strengths and empower women,” Johnstone said.
As a result, 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.
Love Songs and Feminine Spirituality
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.”
“There’s definitely a trend toward a more intimate music style, like the music from the Vineyard,” said Dr. Barry Liesch, a professor of music at Biola and author of The New Worship (Baker Books).
Feminized music concerns Steve Craig (’05), a graduate of Biola’s degree completion program and the director of a men’s ministry of over 400 men at Yorba Linda Friends Church in Yorba Linda, Calif.
“In our men’s ministry, we’re beginning to take out the flowery songs and replace them with the warrior-type lyrics and more masculine things that men identify with,” Craig said.
Mike Erre (M.A. ’04) — the director of a men’s ministry of over 400 men at Rock Harbor Church in Costa Mesa, Calif. — said feminine expressions of spirituality are more validated than masculine expressions.
“The classic example is the worship pose of the eyes shut and the arms raised in this tender embrace, singing a song that says, ‘I’m desperate for you. You’re the air I breathe.’ Guys don’t talk to guys like that,” Erre said.
A feminized spirituality began in the 13th century, Podles said in his book, The Church Impotent. One cause, he said, was women mystics who popularized “bridal imagery,” the metaphor of an individual Christian as the bride of Christ. (The biblical metaphor is of the corporate church as the bride of Christ, not the individual person.) They also used erotic imagery to describe their soul’s relationship with Christ. This feminization explains the abrupt departure of men from the church beginning in the 13th century, according to Podles.
Today the bridal imagery continues. Many books, for example, have titles like Falling in Love With Jesus: Abandoning Yourself to the Greatest Romance of Your Life (Nelson Impact), released, ironically, by the publisher of Murrow’s book. This may be because Christian publishers know women are the main consumers of Christian books. Seventy percent of customers in Christian retail stories are women, according to Bill Anderson, the president and CEO of the Christian Booksellers Association and a member of Biola’s School of Business Advisory Board.
Even some men’s ministries have encouraged feminine expressions of spirituality, like Promise Keepers, whose advertisements in the 1990s showed men singing, holding hands, hugging and crying, Murrow said. But Promise Keepers is now using more masculine tactics. The advertisements for their 2006 conference, titled “Unleashed,” depict flashes of lightening and say: “It is not about learning how to be a nicer guy. It's about becoming the powerful man God designed you to be.” Whether their new approach works remains to be seen.
Men's Ministry-A Church's Lowest Priority
Another example of feminization is a lack of ministries for men. Women have Bible studies, prayer groups, support groups, teas, and retreats and, of course, children have a plethora of programs. But some churches offer only an annual retreat for men. Yet, this is the opposite of the way Jesus did ministry, according to Murrow. He said Jesus focused on men, knowing that women and children would follow.
According to an oft-quoted statistic from Promise Keepers, when a mother comes to faith in Christ, her family follows 34 percent of the time, but when a father comes to faith his family follows 93 percent of the time.
“It’s very seldom you have a man in church whose wife is staying home,” said Dr. Erik Thoennes, a theology professor at Biola and the teaching elder at Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, Calif.
So, what will it take to get men into church?
They need to see the greater purpose — their role in the advancing the kingdom of God, according to Erre.
“The gospel that Jesus and Paul preached is revolutionary, and it’s worth giving your life to,” Erre said. “But part of the reason guys aren’t involved is that we’ve sold them a milquetoast gospel. We don’t paint it as big enough — or God as awesome enough — to be compelling,” he said.
Instead, the church often leaves the impression that, once people get saved, their role is to bide time until they go to heaven, Erre said.
“If men think they’re going to church to check off a box, that leaves them totally uninspired,” said Danny Wallen (’88, M.Div. ’93), a director for Every Man Ministries in Trabuco Canyon, Calif. Wallen was raised in a Christian home, but said he was bored by church into his adult years. Looking back, he realizes he didn’t see purpose.
Also, many church service opportunities are geared for women — like working in the nursery, teaching children, cooking and hospitality. So, many men feel their options are limited to ushering, directing parking, or sitting on a committee — activities that might not allow them to use their skills or challenge them.
When men can’t contribute, they feel worthless, according to Gentry Gardner (’83), the founder of Sure Passage, a men’s ministry in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“Once they feel discouraged, they pull back and disconnect,” he said.
Even professionals who join church committees, like a building or finance committee, often complain that the skills they contribute to the corporate world — like taking risks, making hard decisions, and thinking outside the box — aren’t welcome in many churches, whose governing boards tend to play it safe, according to Murrow. As a result, less gets accomplished, which can be frustrating to men who are results-driven, he said.
For example, some businessmen might suggest that a church cut an ineffective program that is costing time and money and replace it with a more effective one. But inefficient programs often remain because a more feminine value — of not hurting people’s feelings — wins out.
The reason younger churches typically have more men than older churches may be because more of men’s gifts — like vision casting and risk taking — are needed until a church becomes settled.
One way Murrow’s church involves men is through an automotive ministry that takes donated vehicles, fixes them, and gives them to single mothers and the working poor. A side benefit is that men develop friendships with other men in the context of doing things together, which is more natural for them than sitting in a circle talking — the typical church format, according to Murrow.
Social justice ministries — that allow men to use their skills to help the weak and provide interaction with business and politics — are especially appealing to men, Podles said.
Craig said mission trips are exciting for many men in his church because they offer challenge, adventure and specific goals: “like construction projects, where they can get their hands dirty and see a finished project in the end,” he said.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Murrow argues that the church needs strong, masculine leadership because men follow men.
He said Jesus’ disciples are a prime example of this principle. “Bold leadership attracts men. But even more attractive than a dynamic pastor is the sight of men in the pews who are true followers of Jesus Christ,” Murrow said in his book.
Morrow anticipates concern from some women that he is promoting unilateral male leadership. He said he is not seeking male dominance, but male resurgence.
Thoennes is also concerned about a lack of strong, male leadership in the church. But he said, if the church has become feminized, then he doesn’t see that as the fault of women or the church — but of men — who, he believes, have abdicated the involvement they should have.
“If the church doesn’t have enough strong male influence, that’s not a reason for men to stop going, but a great reason for them to go,” he said.
To help male Biola students become leaders, Student Ministries plans to launch a chapter of Men’s Fraternity next fall, led by Jonathan Morrow, a seminary student at Biola.
Yet, much of the church is seeking further feminization, through attempts to increase female clergy and to create gender-neutral Bibles and hymns. Many liberal seminaries now graduate equal numbers of women and men, or more women than men, like Yale Divinity School and Harvard Divinity School.
(Currently, Biola’s seminary, Talbot School of Theology, is about 76 percent men.)
Johnstone believes the feminist movement in mainline churches has contributed to the decline in male membership.
Murrow said churches that seek to reverse this feminization might face opposition, as the leaders in his church first did.
But he and other leaders in the men’s movement, like Gardner, believe a masculine spirit will bring men, and gender balance, to the church.
“Once you start attracting a man’s full heart, soul, mind and strength — and he sees that there are ways he can use all those in the church — then we’re going to start seeing a turnaround of the absent man,” Gardner said." 4.
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Many, if not all, of Christian denominations and their spiritual leaders have noted with great sorrow, the highly deleterious effects of feminism on the Christian Church, Christianity and society,in general. The following is a quote of the entire article, by Madeleine Teahan entitled: Radical Feminism is assaulting the Church, says Cardinal :
"The Catholic Church has been assaulted by radical feminism, leading to the marginalization of men, an American cardinal has said.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, said that the rise in the influence of radical feminism had distracted the Church, causing her to address women’s issues to the detriment of men.
In an interview with NewEmangelisation.com the outspoken cardinal said: “I think there has been a great confusion with regard to the specific vocation of men in marriage and of men in general in the Church during the past 50 years or so. It’s due to a number of factors, but the radical feminism which has assaulted the Church and society since the 1960s has left men very marginalized.
“Unfortunately, the radical feminist movement strongly influenced the Church, leading the Church to constantly address women’s issues at the expense of addressing critical issues important to men; the importance of the father, whether in the union of marriage or not; the importance of a father to children; the importance of fatherhood for priests; the critical impact of a manly character; the emphasis on the particular gifts that God gives to men for the good of the whole society.”
He continued: “The goodness and importance of men became very obscured, and for all practical purposes were not emphasised at all. This is despite the fact that it was a long tradition in the Church, especially through the devotion of St Joseph, to stress the manly character of the man who sacrifices his life for the sake of the home, who prepares with chivalry to defend his wife and his children and who works to provide the livelihood for the family. So much of this tradition of heralding the heroic nature of manhood has been lost in the Church today.”
The cardinal also attributed a decline in male participation in the Church to the “loss of the sacred” and said that a “restoration of the dignity of the liturgy” was necessary to attract men back to the Church. He said: “The loss of the sacred led to a loss of participation of women and men. But I think that men were really turned off by the loss of the sacred. It seems clear that many men are not being drawn into a deeper liturgical spirituality; today, many men are not being drawn to service at the altar.
“Young men and women respond to rigour and precision and excellence. When I was trained to be a server, the training lasted for several weeks and you had to memorise the prayers at the foot of the altar. It was a rigorous and a carefully executed service. All of a sudden, in the wake of Vatican II, the celebration of the liturgy became very sloppy in many places. It became less attractive to young men, for it was slipshod.”
He also said the presence of female altar servers deterred boys from serving on the altar. He said: “The introduction of girl servers also led many boys to abandon altar service. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. The girls were also very good at altar service. So many boys drifted away over time. I want to emphasise that the practice of having exclusively boys as altar servers has nothing to do with inequality of women in the Church.”
Overall, the Church had become “feminized”, the cardinal said. He continued: “Women are wonderful, of course. They respond very naturally to the invitation to be active in the Church. Apart from the priest, the sanctuary has become full of women. The activities in the parish and even the liturgy have been influenced by women and have become so feminine in many places that men do not want to get involved.
“Men are often reluctant to become active in the Church. The feminized environment and the lack of the Church’s effort to engage men has led many men to simply opt out.”
Cardinal Burke also lamented the “terrible loss of home life”, demonstrable in the fact that families don’t share meals together anymore. He said: “Families should have at least one meal together each week where the whole family is together. A boy or young man is unlikely to build proper manly identity and the manly virtues unless he lives with a father and mother, where he can witness that unique and complementary interaction between the male and the female in a home life in which human life can be welcomed, nurtured and developed.” 5.
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With regard to the aforementioned, feminism's many adverse effects on men, the Church,men in the Church and society, in general, are described in detail by Christianity's clergy and spiritual leaders. Many other articles by the Christian clergy and spiritual leaders further delineate and support the aforementioned The same, of course, is decried and condemned by feminists and their political, cultural, and social supporters, inclusive of many in the Christian ministry, as misogyny. However, these feminists counters to the aforementioned do not effectively address the reason, logic,facts and justice which the aforementioned delineates. Further, ecclesiastical facts and arguments support, very effectively, the arguments of the Christian clergy and spiritual leaders condemning feminism's extremely adverse effect on Christianity, men, men in the church, and society, in general.
Such being the case, for the end of this article, the following quote from Genesis from the New King James Bible is appropriate:
The Temptation and Fall of Man
" 3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 So the Lord God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this,You are cursed more than all cattle,And more than every beast of the field;On your belly you shall go,And you shall eat dust All the days of your life.15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman,And between your seed and her Seed;He shall bruise your head,And you shall bruise His heel.” 16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;In pain you shall bring forth children;Your desire shall be for your husband,And he shall rule over you.” 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake;In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,And you shall eat the herb of the field.19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground,For out of it you were taken;For dust you are,And to dust you shall return.” 20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life." 6.
Posted by Marcus Aurelius at 4:02 PM