I've read blogs, articles and thoughts on this current movement towards the masculinzaiton of the church. I am pretty sure that this is another "phase" which will soon pass and be a memory. I was alarmed a bit as I read the article in Newsweek titled Real Men Talk About God by Eileen Finan. This article highlights a movement out of Nashville that seeks to create a worship space where guys can be guys.
As I read the article my reaction was one of awe. It seems to be another simplistic attempt to grapple with a very real issue, that women out number the amount of men who go to church in the United States.
Rhett Smith wrote a great post, "The Feminization of the Church? hmmm...." back in April, and I appreciate his thoughts very much. I would encourage you to read it.
I attended Mars Hill church in Seattle, WA where Mark Driscoll is the pastor. Driscoll waves the flag high for masculinity in the church. Many articles have been written, discussing the popularity of this church where Driscoll is a proponent for traditional gender rolls in the midst of a secular culture.
During his sermon in the series "Vintage Jesus: How Human Was Jesus?" Driscoll tangented into talking about how the evenings go at his home. He shared that when he comes home, the Driscoll boys wrestle with their dad. He went on about how manly it was for them at the Driscoll household to watch Ultimate Fighting together.
I liked what I learned of Mark Driscoll as I sat in the 2nd row of this Warehouse Hip church, Mars Hill. I flinched though, wishing he would express a broader definition of masculinity and not create such a narrow space for men to live in.
I find myself reacting in a protection of men who do not like sports, who don't have an interest in Ultimate Fighting and who may not ever desire to watch an episode of Jack Ass. As a girl raised by a man who is an Eagle Scout, Scuba Diver, Backpacker, ER Technician, Elder in the church, Youth group volunteer, Off pitch hymn singer, Science enthusiast, lover of all things nature...I have a significant understanding that masculinity is not defined as narrowly as some would like.
As I left Mars Hill, my friend looked at me timidly and asked "so, what did you think?". I told her the truth, that I really liked the church and that I felt like they were much more socially liberal than I had expected. I kinda expected to feel suffocated by some of the fundamentalist theology I also had expected. I did not find it. I did however, find some immature interpretations of gender rolls that I wished to have been expressed a little better. Why can't a man's masculinity be expressed in music, hiking, running, writing, art?" i asked her.
What I did appreciate was that Mark Driscoll had qualified his statement by saying "at our house we..." and did not say "you all should..." However, in his position where his congregation is naturally going to seek to emulate his example, he must be careful with these old stereotypes that have been entrenched in our culture for hundreds of years.
Back to the Newsweek Article, as a woman who works in the church, on an almost all male staff, I am well aware of the patriarchy that still resides in the fabric of the church culture. What is so feminine about that? Perhaps my experience has always been with male pastors who have a healthy egalitarian approach to women in ministry and the church.
I think the problem is found more in how we engage our culture to transform. If church is tame, diluted, and neutered of it's power, then it is of no appeal to either gender. I think that much of this hypermasculinization movement is very sexist at it's core. I watched the clip on the MSNBC site and found the song to glorify and worship testosterone, not Jesus. The man did not seem to resemble Tim Allen, but seemed to be awkwardly leading a cheesy service with some flashy bells and whistles to shock some people into being "men" which will do no good accept to do damage to the women they love and the boys and girls they raise. Gender differences, sure....but traditional gender roll rewind...oh geeze! I really hope this GodMen doesn't catch on with too much vengence. I bet Jesus would want his money back if he went because he wouldn't be the topic...but sex therapy would be.