The "feminization" of the Church is an interesting topic introduced by one of my blogging friends [sorry Debbie..I don't know how to link yet] on her blog last week. I and a few others chose to comment on that issue and it spurred a thought in my mind that would be too long for another's blog so I decided to put those thoughts here.
Is the Church being "feminized" resulting in men having little to do with Church life? Like most issues, there is no simple or easy answer to that question at all from my perspective. I do have to say, however, that in discussing subjects such as this... definitions are everything.
I remember witnessing to a teenager one time years ago and asked him a simple [to me] question. I asked him, "have you ever been saved?" His answer was "oh yes." I was pleased. So I asked him to tell me about it. His response was "I was going under the third time in a river and my brother pulled me out." [He was dead serious...excuse the pun.] Needless to say a few definitions were in order and promptly delivered with a wonderful result when those definitions were properly understood. That may be as much the problem in our question on the "feminization" of the Church as anything else. It's definition.
For example, if by "feminization" one means you find more women involved in Church life than you do men, one would have to agree, I would think, that such a thing has been true all along. Even in the NT the women were involved with the person of Jesus, in many more ways than were men. [The tomb situation.. the Cross moment.. the teaching and washing of feet..no record the guys, other than Jesus, ever did.. to mention a few.] That may be a testimony to the courage of women as a gender and their ability to face the prospect of pain. Following Jesus brings us pain often and women may be more adept at this as evidenced by their going to perhaps the highest pain level in life in child bearing. Men will never experience that , for obvious reasons, and will, if wise, concede the point that women may be stronger than are men, where pain is concerned. That is just a thought.
If by "feminization" of the Church it is meant that men, as a gender, are less likely to be involved where relationships are concerned or small groups are being created because men don't talk as much or show emotions/feelings as do women, I'm wondering if that isn't an unhealthy generalization on false premises. [Perhaps even as my own generalization in the preceeding paragraph about pain might be if taken as a fact.]
I've always been suspicious of categorizing men and women with certain assumed gender characteristics as if they were absolutes. Women love to shop. Men hunt. The difference? Women look and look and love the looking. With men it is..I see..I shoot..]buy] I go home. At the risk of destroying any perceptions about Mary and me, [those who know us know this] Mary is the one who sees..shoots..[and would rather see and order off the Internet] and goes home. I, on the other hand, love to look and look whether I buy or not.. be it cars.. clothes..or garage sales.
Another characteristic I've heard is women are more emotional and men are more intellectual. So the movers and shakers must be male in gender if things ever get done. [Forgetting, I guess, a Margaret Thatcher and her husband whoever he was.] But, again, at the risk of alienating many, Mary is the factual, intellectual, analyzing one and I'm the one who feels the moment, acts, and thoughtfully works through the consequences later. Of course, she has helped me to measure the cost and look ahead and I've assisted her with being spontaneous and seizing the moment. It works for us. Just don't call me a "girly man" because, emotional or not, I'll bust your chops. ;)
It is obvious to all, I'm hoping, that the reverse may be true also. A woman MAY look and look and love the looking. A man MAY see, buy, and be on his way. The point is simply that the characterizations don't always hold water and, in my judgment, may be more a cultural bias, [which in and of itself is not an evil thing] than a biblical reality. But this could be a detriment to the Church if completely accepted as fact.
Do you see that definitions are important?
Then there is the possibility that by "feminization" of the Church is meant a diluting of the message of Christ. In other words, the message of commitment and sacrifice is lost and a "feel good" message is being presented and accepted. This is sometimes identified as "psycho-babble" which is a Siamese twin to "feminization" in the minds of many. The assumption here is that women will fall for this [as evidenced, I guess, by Eve's proneness to deception] but men don't/won't. But I would like to ask someone, if this is a fact, why the meetings of so many TV preachers that I believe have diluted the message are being attended by multitudes of people which, if my TV shows a correct picture, [ it's a new hi-def digital 44 inch] includes tons of men in those multitudes. Am I to assume those guys are ONLY "girly men" [there may be a half a ton of those but who really knows for sure?] and no real men are there?
I think it is part of our fallen nature and flesh to be drawn to the big.. sometimes easy.. sometimes feel good.. something that doesn't cost me a whole lot in terms of sacrifice.. kind of thing that I see happening all over in Church life today. I think most of us may be falling into that trap if we examine closely. We CAN get men together if we want. We can do it by emphasizing real "manly things" like hunting.. fishing.. [though I know women who love those things and men who don't] and sing triumphant songs with soldier lyrics. But we still wind up with a big, sometimes easy.. sometimes feel good.. something that doesn't cost me a whole lot in terms of sacrifice kind of thing. We've just changed the content.
I'm not discounting the diluting of our message that may have taken place. I think it has happened. It is damaging. I hope to address this later. But the real problem with this "feminization" of the Church thing is perhaps far beyond all these things mentioned so far. What is that problem? I think we have no genuine, satisfactory, biblical idea of what the Church and her life really is about...so we see something that appears to attract women and repel men and call it the Church and assume we've "feminized" the Church. It well may be that were we to "masculinize" [made up word] the Church we haven't solved our real problem either. So, again, what is our problem? One more time...
I don't think we adequately... biblically... understand in our day... what Church life really is at all.
What do I mean? Next time I'll say.