Is Church Too Girly For Men?

In Christian RealTalk by Antwuan Malone

I came across and article today from Clash Daily (with Doug Giles) offering the reason men avoid church. It’s titled  “Why Men Avoid Church Like Lindsay [Lohan] Shuns Sobriety.”

I decided to blog a response to this article because this idea of men “hating” or “running away” from church has come up several times in the last few weeks. Doug, apparently a man’s man, with his GOP signs and rifle toting banners splattered across his website, explains the church experience in America as too girly for most real men. To quote him:

[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#000000″ cite=”Doug Giles: Clash Daily” citeLink=”http://clashdaily.com/2013/02/why-men-avoid-church-like-lindsay-shuns-sobriety/”]So why do most men avoid church? Here’s the veneer stripped-away answer: going to church for the majority of men is an exercise in unwanted effeminacy.[/pullquote3]

While I agree there are far more women attending and engaging in the church than there are men (always has been in my life), I’m not sure it’s because we haven’t colored the church halls deep brown, and decorated in rugged decor. Or, as Doug mentions, that we haven’t decked “out the sanctuary with serious transcendent art work that stops us in our tracks, rather than ubiquitous prints of fat baby angels who look like they’ve got a good buzz going from too much Mountain Dew and children’s aspirin?” That may have something to do with it, but not likely.

Alpha Dogs and Alpha and Omega

I’ll grant his wording is for style and shock value, and I his intent is to show us that churches aren’t targeting men like they could. Even in the way we decorate. But as a guy, I take issue with the caricature of men his words paint. He suggests most men need forceful, aggressive communication from church leaders. And because such aggression is largely absent, men basically can’t relate. As a result, we’re contributing to a nation leaking morality, and facilitating the “Left’s re-definition of life, sex, marriage, and law.”

Clearly for Doug, freedom, family, and flag are of the utmost importance, and our unwillingness to acquiesce the macho mentality of “strong” (read, aggressive, blunt, sarcastic and condescending) men, incriminates us as participants of such moral degradation . In other words, if the Church doesn’t start appealing to Alpha Dogs, then we are equally at fault for the growing sinfulness around us.

His answer: Prune the church of weeny preachers and worship leaders.

Well, he didn’t say it quite like that, but I’m not too far off. His quote was…

[pullquote3 quotes=”true” align=”center” textColor=”#000000″ cite=”Doug Giles: Clash Daily” citeLink=”http://clashdaily.com/2013/02/why-men-avoid-church-like-lindsay-shuns-sobriety/”]Put an end to preaching by cheesy, whiny, quiche eating, preening Nancy Boys … right now! It freaks us meat eaters out. Get it? Hire a pastor who throws off a good John Wayne vibe instead of that Boy George feeling. Know what I mean? And cheer on “Pastor Wayne” to serve up the solid meat of the scripture … the stuff that prods the congregation to biblical maturity rather than prolonging their infancy. Ditto regarding the worship/music leader. And make sure your new testosterone laden songmeister is outfitted with weighty worship music instead of the saccharine-laced slush we have had to sing ad nauseam et infinitumfor the last, oh, 100 years. That’s a pretty simple can-do? Don’t you think?[/pullquote3]

While we’re at it, let’s do away with that sissy coffee and donuts thing, and bring in a beer tap and some beef jerky.

Look, I get it. Men need contextualization just as much as children, women, singles, young adults, and teens do. And I’m fine with that. What I don’t see is this aggressive mentality at work in any of Jesus’ interactions save a temple tantrum and a speech to Pharisees about how much like a brood of vipers they were. Whenever aggression and dominance tried to appear as the modus operandi for the Gospel, Jesus shut it down. He tells Peter to put away the sword. He admonishes us all to turn the other cheek. He solicits us to lay our burdens at His feet. He tells us his burden is easy, and his yoke is light. Some of the darkest points in Christian history come at the hand of macho men leaders claiming Christianity, not excluding the deplorable Crusades — the darkest stain in Church history.

And when Jesus is aggressive, it is not colored with masculinity and macho. He tells us to take up our cross and follow him, and that we will suffer persecution for his sake, and that we must be willing to forsake all for him… but He doesn’t seem to be banging his chest while saying these things.

Might it be that the reason most alpha males don’t respond well to the gospel lies in their inability to dominate it, like they do everything else? Might it be that pride and sense of strength and aggression is the very thing that must be sacrificed in order to really follow Jesus? There is only one Alpha male in God’s house, and that’s God himself.

In my view, one of the many reasons men don’t come to church is because they don’t think it’s a safe place. And that’s both a good and bad thing. That could mean they recognize Christian men must exercise humility and surrender, and a sort of transparency that looks weak, instead of strong — and that they are not willing to participate in such humility. In my view, most men are either repelled by the notion of looking weak, or by the fact that not enough men show such humility and surrender in the church community. In other words, either they are afraid the church is too different from the rest of the world, or they are afraid the church is too much like the rest of the world.

Strong men, then, would have nothing to do with aggression and meat and art decor, or even the “suck it up” attitude with which Doug later describes. However, it does have something to do with being strong enough to appear weak and vulnerable before the people you lead and have a beer with. Kind of like how dying on a cross makes Jesus look to those who waited for a mighty warrior Messiah to come rid them of the Romans.

Doug touches on a significant issue in the church, but in my view gives few real answers to them in his blog. I did, however, pick up a book called “Why Men Hate Going to Church” by David Murrow. I’m hoping to find some better ideas there.

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Antwuan Malone is a Ministry Director at ELEVATE Young Adult Ministry (elevateministry.net) where empowers young adults toward Christian leadership. He is passionate about seeing young adults take their place in church history by drawing near enough to God to hear his call on their life, and courageously living in obedience to that call.