[anzac] WHY MEN are MISSING

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From: "REVIVAL List" <prophetic@...>
Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2006 12:50:30 -0500
NOTE:  We have discussed this issue before - and it is certainly
topical right now. But actually, I believe this is a 'Revival' issue as
well. I believe that the coming Revival will halt the 'feminization'
that has been going on in the church - and bring true balance
back to Christianity again.

-Extracts by Leon J. Podles.

You may have noticed that, in general, men are not as interested in
religion as women are. In fact, if men speak honestly, they will tell
you that men have a general feeling that the Church is for women.
They may add that women are more emotional than men are, or
that religion is a crutch that a man doesn’t need.

In my book, 'The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity',
I examine the lack of men in the Western churches. In what follows
I will first summarize my thesis that men stay away from the Church
because they regard it as a threat to their hard-won masculinity.
Second, I will explore how the Church has become identified with
femininity. Third, I will consider how this feminization has
undermined fatherhood, and how the Church can reach men and
help them to be Christians and Christian fathers.

Sociologists have gathered statistics about both practice and
opinion, and the studies confirm the popular impression: religion,
especially of the Christian variety, is largely a feminine affair in
Western society. James H. Fichter asks, “Are males really less
religious than females? Most of the studies made on the question
seem to indicate that they are, and this appears to be true for all
the Christian churches, denominations, and sects in western civilization.”

Of Americans in the mid-1990s, George Barna writes that “women
are twice as likely to attend a church service during any given week.
Women are also 50 percent more likely than men to say they are
‘religious’ and to state that they are ‘absolutely committed’ to the
Christian faith.” The differences seem to be increasing rapidly. In
1992, 43 percent of men attended church; in 1996, only 28 percent.
Church attendance in the United States is about 60 percent female
and 40 percent male. The more liberal the denomination, the higher
the percentage of females. Fundamentalists are almost evenly
divided, but the only religions that sometimes show a majority of
men are Eastern Orthodoxy, Orthodox Judaism, Islam, and
Eastern religions such as Buddhism. Men say they believe in God
as much as women do, but the more Christian a practice or belief
becomes, the fewer men will own up to it.

Wherever Western Christianity has spread, the Church has become
feminized. Rosemary Reuther observes: “In Germany, France,
Norway, and Ireland women are 60 to 65 percent of the active
churchgoers. In Korea, India, and the Philippines, women are 65 to
70 percent of the active churchgoers.” Anecdotal evidence indicates
that this pattern of greater female piety goes back far before the
Reformation. Even medieval preachers made reference to women
as being more active in the church.

A closer analysis of the sociological data shows that it is not
exactly being male or female that makes the difference, but being
masculine or feminine. That is, men who have feminine personality
characteristics tend to go to church far more often than other men
do. Women who have masculine personalities tend to go to church
less than other women do.

Masculinity & the Church

Anthropologists and developmental psychologists who have studied
masculinity have come up with a fairly widely agreed upon topology
of masculinity. I will begin with child development, because that is
something almost all of us are familiar with. A boy is born of a
woman and has an intense and close relationship with a woman for
the first years of his life. At first the child is not even aware of his
mother as a separate being. He gradually realizes that his mother
is a separate being, a separate person. He then starts realizing
that his mother differs from him in an extremely important respect:
she is what he cannot and should not become—a woman. The boy
must break this intense, close relationship with his mother to
establish his separate identity. The girl is separate, but she can
become feminine by imitating her mother. The boy cannot become
masculine by imitating his mother; he must turn from her to other
models, usually his father. Intense pressure is put on the boy to
make this break. If he does not make the break, he is called a
momma’s boy, a girl, and much harsher things. He learns that at
all costs he must become a man.

A man has other responsibilities in life; he takes up the dangerous
work of a society. He may work himself to death as a lawyer, or
get shot in war, or anything in between. Even in the United States,
men hold almost all the dangerous positions in our society, as
measured by the chance of death or serious injury. Only after he
earns his spurs as a man can the male reconnect to the world of
women by marrying and becoming the father of a family.

As a boy the male is protected and provided for; as a man he must
protect and provide for others, even at the cost of his own life. This
pattern is almost universal. Societies in general have what Yale
anthropologist David Gilmore calls an ideology of masculinity. Boys
all over the world are subject to initiations and trials to break their
relationship with their mothers. Boys must learn to endure pain and
suffer deprivation, so that they will undertake the dangerous and
destructive work that all societies have. The feminine world is (for a
man) far safer: he doesn’t have the hazard of childbirth. Therefore
he must be constantly pressured to distance himself from the
feminine world. He is given a higher status in return for assuming
the masculine role, but he pays a price. Michael Levin says: “If sex
roles are to be regarded as the outcome of bargaining in which men
received dominance in exchange for the risk of violent death, it is
hardly clear that they got the better deal.”

Western Christianity has become part of the feminine world from
which men feel they must distance themselves to attain masculinity.
That is why men stay away from church, especially when they see
that the men involved in church tend to be less masculine. The
most religious denominations, those that have the most external
display, have the worst reputation. Anglo-Catholics were lambasted
in the Victorian press as unmanly because they devoted themselves
to lace and plaster statues (in some cases, this criticism was
justified). Psychological studies have detected a connection
between femininity in men and interest in religion.

There may even be a physical difference. Among men, football
players and movie actors have the highest testosterone level,
ministers, the lowest. Success and self-esteem can even change
hormonal levels.

Why Is the Church “Feminine”? Is there something innately
feminine about Christianity? Many traditionalist Christians believe
this. But God became incarnate as a man, and Jesus’ life follows
the classic masculine pattern of development. He even had to place
some distance between himself and his mother: he left her as an
early adolescent to teach in the temple, to do his Father’s work;
he left her to undertake his public ministry; and he had to leave her
behind when he died.

The God of Judaism and the Father of Jesus Christ was masculine
because he was a holy God, which meant he was separate from
Creation. The Hebrew word for “holy” is kaddosh, “separate.” The
Jews came to know the nature of God through his actions, which
were actions of separating. He separated a people, the Jews, from
the pagan nations; he separated light from darkness, the land from
the sea. He created by separating, and his people were a separate
people, set apart from the rest of the world. Jesus’ actions were
those of God. He created a new people by separating them from
the Jews. He came not to bring peace, but a sword that divides.

As Christianity spread, it has provoked opposition, violence,
persecution, and murder, from the Crucifixion to the contemporary
Christians who are being crucified in the Sudan. This new people is
called to be holy and separate from the world. The age of the
martyrs and the Fathers, the first millennium, evinced no great
signs that Christianity was especially for women or that it was a
threat to masculinity.

The feminization of Western Christianity can be dated rather
exactly. Suddenly, in the thirteenth century, during the lifetimes of
St. Dominic and St. Francis, women began to get involved in the
Church to such an extent that both Francis and Dominic warned
their followers not to spend all their time preaching to women and
ignoring men.

What happened in the medieval Church?  In his immensely
influential sermons on the Song of Songs, Bernard of Clairvaux
taught that the relationship of the Christian soul to God was that of
a bride to a Heavenly Bridegroom. In this he continued an
allegorical exegesis that goes back to Origen, but his preaching
fell on fertile ground, and was taken up by popular piety, which had
undergone a mysterious transformation into what we might call
affective, or sentimental, piety, although these words are not exact.
Emotions and sentiments had always played a part in Christian life,
but now for some reason the emotions were those of women.
Bernard’s language expressing the union of the soul with God in
erotic terms was highly congenial to women. Valerie M. Lagorio in
her survey of mystical literature concludes: “In the works of the
women visionaries, one notes the prevalence of Brautmystik, the
love affair between Christ and the soul, leading to espousal and marriage.
”Birgitta of Sweden usually referred to herself in the third person as “the

The bridal union of the soul with Christ is not simply other and
higher than earthly marriage; it replaces it, and takes on some of
the physical eroticism of the missing sexual union. Margaret Ebner
feels Jesus pierce her “with a swift shot (sagitta acuta) from His
spear of love.” Jesus had spoken to her these words: “Your sweet
love finds me, your inner desire compels me, your burning love
binds me, your pure truth holds me, your fiery love keeps me near.
I want to give you the kiss of love which is the delight of your soul,
a sweet inner movement, a loving attachment.” She had learned of
this kiss from Bernard: “I longed for and greatly desired to receive
the kiss just as my lord St. Bernard had received it.”

The explicit eroticism of the medieval mystics is still around, as
anyone who has read Mariette in Ecstasy knows. Pseudo-mystics
who have erotic fantasies about Jesus plague the Catholic Church.
This is extreme, but much of popular devotion has a watered-down
version of this eroticism. Both Catholics and Evangelicals talk
about a personal relationship with Jesus. Respondents to my book,
The Church Impotent, have made it clear that what people
understand by this language is a romantic relationship with Jesus,
“falling in love with Jesus.” Not only old hymns like “O How I Love
Jesus” bear this mark. Frederica Mathewes-Green reports that there
is a genre of Christian rock that Christianizes love songs by
substituting the name of Jesus for the girlfriend.

I think that even doctrine has been affected by the feminization of
the Church. Femininity is characterized by themes of union, of
integration, and of maintaining relationships. Universalism is the
received wisdom in almost all churches today. Universalism is the
doctrine that all human beings (and some add even the fallen
angels) will be saved in the end. Hell, if it exists, will be empty.
Julian of Norwich heard Jesus say to her, “All shall be well.” She
questioned how, and was told only, “All shall be well.” Other saints
argued with God, asking how he could send even sinners to hell.
This affects the highest levels. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a favorite
of John Paul II, wrote Dare We Hope That All Men Be Saved? His
answer was yes, and he clearly leans toward universalism. He was
heavily influenced by a woman mystic, Adrienne von Speyer.

While we all devoutly hope and pray that this will be so, Jesus
gives us many harsh warnings about hell fire and the worm that
dieth not. He will separate the sheep from the goats on the last day.
Even in ordinary Christian life, judgment, damnation, and hell have
vanished from the ordinary consciousness, as has the practice of
confession. If we are all going to heaven why worry about
repentance? If everyone is going to heaven, why do people need to
become Christians? If Christianity is a mere verbal game, a
decoration, men have better things to do with their time.

Men have sought their religious fulfillment outside Christianity. The
Freemasons and similar organizations provided a confrontation with
death and a rebirth as a new man. Sports became a new religion,
as did war, nationalism, fascism, and Nazism. Men have sought
and continue to seek the transcendent not in Christianity but in the
new religions of masculinity. Men know the pattern of death and
rebirth because they have all had to die to the boy and the safe
maternal world so that they could be reborn as men. They know
that to be fully masculine they must die and be reborn and they
therefore seek this death and rebirth wherever they can find it.

Christianity is a religion of death and resurrection, but masculinity,
separated from Christianity, too often provides an ersatz
resurrection and a real death.

Making Men into Christian Fathers

Men can be taught to be men only by other men, and all too many
pastors are not real men. A pastor called me about my book. He
had been ordained in the mainline Presbyterian Church. When he
entered the seminary, he had to take a battery of psychological
tests and talk to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist looked over the
tests, and the first question he asked the candidate was, “Are you
a homosexual?” The candidate responded, “No, I’m not, and why
do you ask?” The psychiatrist replied, “You have the psychological
profile of a homosexual. But don’t worry, all the successful
ministers in your denomination have this profile.” The problem, as
the minister realized after reading my book, is that pastors too
often become pastors because they enjoy working in a feminine
world, and they adopt the mental attitudes of women, who are their
principal audience. In men, such a psychological profile is effeminate.

Although obviously fatherhood is a fulfillment of manhood, it involves
a reconnection with the feminine, domestic world that men may
feel is a threat to their masculinity, or at least to that aspect of
masculinity that they achieved by rejecting feminine safety and
facing challenges and dangers. The role of protector or provider is
also a challenge, and a deeper one, that young men must take on
to avoid getting stuck in the stage of adolescent thrill-seeking. If
the young man does not experience Christianity as a threat to
his masculinity, he will more willingly accept its guidance in
becoming a father of a Christian household.

Christian fathers should instruct their sons, primarily by example.
Fathers should lead family prayers and read the Bible, and take the
lead in getting the family to church. Fatherhood should be stressed
in sermons as it is in the Bible. Much of the Old Testament is
instruction in how to be a father, and the father is of key importance
in the Christian household in the New Testament. Preach the whole
gospel, including the uncomfortable parts. Hell and damnation are
realities, and it does no one any good to forget them. Christianity is
a matter of infinite seriousness, far more serious than economics
or politics. Christianity can give the true initiation into the mysteries
of life and death, of heaven and hell, of spiritual warfare and the
destiny of the human race. Men need training in spiritual discipline,
and will think it worthwhile if they see the importance of Christianity.

The father’s job is to separate his children from juvenile dependence
and send them out prepared for the battle of life...Christianizing our
culture. Anyone who has tried to do this knows that it is a battle
and that the Church needs more than just a few good men.

(To read the whole article, please visit this Website-
http://www.touchstonemag.com/docs/issues/14.1docs/14-1pg26.html )