Our culture loves women. In fact, I would venture to say that our modern culture celebrates and caters to women more than any previous generation ever has. Look at the evidence: many top-rated shows have a female in the lead, most sci-fi series revolve around women, and many of the top-selling books (can anyone say Twilight?) are aimed at female readers. The top selling author in the world is a woman, J.K. Rowling, and she also managed to singlehandedly get an entire new generation of boys reading books. Women are very “in” right now, and that’s not really a bad thing. I enjoy seeing strong women on screen and in books. Women can multi-task, and they can do it in heels. They can also be writers, directors, producers, and spiritual leaders.
So what is there not to like?
Not much, unless it carries over into the Church. Then, we start having the problems that we are facing right now. I’m not the only one to have noticed a lack of marriageable men in the modern church. It has been a rising problem in recent generations but has actually come to a crisis in recent years. Over and over again, I hear the same thing from young women and something I have seen for myself: “where are the young men?” Not in Church, that’s for sure, and surprisingly, there are fewer and fewer of them single on Christian campuses. So where are they? Why are they not in Church? What is happening to our culture?
Certainly, prolonged adolescence has something to do with it, but I think there is something far worse involved and much of it is the fault of the church. Yes, the empowerment of women has hurt men to some degree, but it has by no means intimidated an entire generation of men into moving into caves away from civilization just to get away from a smart, intelligent female. No, our loss of men in churches has to be more than that… and the other night when I couldn’t sleep and had nothing to do, I decided to browse Boundless for awhile. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s Focus on the Family’s offshoot online magazine for college kids. I read an article on why there are no young men in church these days that concluded that the church has been “weeding them out” over the last couple of generations by catering so specifically to women, and elevating women to in-church responsibilities much more than men. (Whether this is out of preference or necessity, I don’t know; it could be the cause, or the effect.)
I had to think about that one for awhile, but I can see their point. Many churches are invested in “wimpified Christianity,” which is what I like to call the “touchy feely kind.” It doesn’t work for me either. You know why? I’m not emotional. So singing for forty-five minutes and expecting to feel some kind of powerful, moving experience doesn’t work for me, and neither does the mental image of a scrawny Jesus. He was a carpenter in ancient times. He was not scrawny; He had muscles!
As our culture shifts more toward women in positions of authority, is the same thing happening in our churches? Do we really expect little boys to act like little girls in a service? To sit still and sing and glue buttons on things? Do we expect teenage boys to sit through endless lectures on abstinence, rather than digging into the real meat of Christianity and how hard it is? Do we expect them to stick around when there is nothing in church for them? When there are no male teachers for them to look up to and respect? No mentors to keep them in line and set an example for them? No one hammering into them how incredibly challenging it is even in the modern world to be a godly man, worthy of admiration?
The problem here is that Church, and as a result, Christ, has been turned into a chick thing. Women do tend to attend Church more, so it naturally caters to them. But Christianity is not for wimps! Jesus was not a wimp, his disciples were not wimps, and to identify with Him in modern times is just asking for abuse. Deciding to follow His guidelines in a world overrun with immorality and ambition is not easy; it is much harder than it would be simply to follow the culture.
Christianity isn’t touchy-feely, or just a “chick thing,” and it doesn’t need wimpy guys. It needs guys who are strong when it comes to their faith. It needs leaders, and fathers, and brothers willing to take on rolls in the Church so that women don’t have to. It needs to cater to men as well as women, and it needs to start when the future men of the church are young. We have an epidemic of young people leaving the Church out of high school, in part because they haven’t been integrated into the church body, but instead segregated. What happens when you are too old for youth group? Instead of sticking around, because your faith is grounded in serious reality and Christ rather than how fun it was to play games and hang out with the girls at church, you leave, and men get out particularly fast, which leaves a lot of young women hoping for a godly marriage left with no prospects.
Is this a problem we can fix or will it take a few generations of godly Christian women having to remain single their entire lives for us to realize that we cannot allow the culture’s emphasis on women to distort and distract us from the reality that men need fed in Church in a different way than we do? Culture would have us believe that men and women are no different, that we all need and want the same things, but as Christians, we know that is not true… so why do we pretend it is? And how can it be changed?