"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." [Galatians 3:28 NIV]
Some people are asking the question, "Is the Church becoming too "feminized?" Whatever that means!
If by "feminized" is meant that you will find more women involved in Church life, when gathered, than you do men, I would have to agree. But I don't know that that is a problem. It seems to me that's been true of the church all along. Even in the NT the women were involved with the person of Jesus in many more ways than were men at times. The tomb situation, the Cross moment, the teaching and washing of Jesus feet are all illustrations of that fact. [Not many men mentioned in those moments.]
That, however, could be more a testimony to the courage of women as a gender and their ability to face the prospect of pain than anything else. Following Jesus often brought pain [and still may in many quarters] and women have shown their ability to endure pain quite well 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.
Some might mean by the "feminization of the Church" 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 or show emotions/feelings as much as do women. But, if that's what is meant, I'm wondering if that might not be an unhealthy generalization based on a completely unprovable premise. Much as I did above with the pain thing. frown emoticonI have to say, I've always been suspicious of categorizing men and women with certain assumed gender characteristics especially if those characteristics are viewed as ABSOLUTES. You've heard it said of women that they love to shop, but 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 well know this to be true] Mary is the one who sees, shoots, and go home, but she would rather see and shoot [buy] off the Internet] truth be known. I, on the other hand, love to look and look whether I buy or not, be it cars, clothes or__you get the idea. So, I'm thinking generalized gender characterizations MAY NOT be very helpful when speaking to this kind of question about the church at all.
Then there is the thought that by "feminization" of the Church is meant a diluting of the message of Christ into an "easy believism." In other words, the message of COMMITMENT and SACRIFICE is lost and a "feel good" message is being presented and accepted in our day and that turns men off. [Some say.] This is sometimes identified as "psycho-babble" which is, evidently, a Siamese twin to "feminization" in the minds of many. The assumption here is that women tend to fall for "easy believism." [As evidenced, I guess, by Eve's proneness to deception.] But men most likely won't be led astray. [Forgetting that Adam was EASILY led astray by the woman.]
I guess we COULD get men together, if we wanted to, [there is NOTHING wrong with having programs for men/women/children, just don't call those programs the "CHURCH."] by emphasizing real "manly things" like hunting, fishing, [though I know women who love those things and men who don't] and singing triumphant songs with soldier lyrics. But we could STILL wind up with a big, sometimes easy, sometimes feel good gathering that doesn't cost us a whole lot in terms of a sacrificial kind of thing at all. We will have just changed the content of the gathering.
But really, is the Church being feminized to the loss of attracting men? My personal opinion is it's impossible to do such a thing. My thought is to talk of programs that are male attractive OR female attractive as if those programs are the church is to miss the point of the REAL Church anyway. Biblically, the Church is genderless in nature and cannot be feminized. In Christ there is neither male nor female as stated in the opening text of this post. That statement is obviously NOT speaking of a physical fact of creation but of the spiritual nature of the Church or all the people "in Christ." The Church is a living, breathing, GENDERLESS organism that is to be seen as spiritual in nature and cannot be masculine OR feminine.
So the REAL problem with this "feminization of the Church" thing is perhaps far beyond any one of these ideas mentioned above.
Then what is the real problem?
One more time__I don't think we adequately__biblically__ understand in our day__what the Church REALLY IS.
At your leisure, check the scriptures and see how all the duties placed upon believers, any believer, whether it is to love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, or whatever the Church is to be doing, are NEVER based upon which sex they are, whether male or female, but ONLY on the basis of being "in Christ."
That's the nature of the Church. That's what binds us together. That's WHY the nature of the true Church must never be defined by programs, race, cultural, or gender characteristics. The Ekklesia is being built without reference to race, gender or any such thing and no cultural idea or even hell itself can change that reality in this world.
Add to that the BASIC issue about whether or not the goal of the "gathered church" is to be one of ATTRACTING outsiders anyway. [Non christians] That idea may be entirely non-scriptural, if not un-scriptural. Our concern about NOT being too feminine or about NOT being manly enough to attract certain people may show we've lost the battle already.
The New Testament identity of the nature of the church may have been lost in our zeal to be attractive to our culture, it seems to me. So, I don't think it's the way we are DOING things when gathered that is the issue at all. Remember, the point of the Great Commission is to GO and gossip the gospel to the lost. It is not to invite the lost to COME and hear my pastor preach.
Were NON-BELIEVERS to actually come to our gatherings and find us LOVING on them whether they are male or female, anglo or otherwise, moral in their behavior or not, and were they to see our ability for experiencing shared lives based on grace and acceptance, while all the time EXPERIENCING the real presence of God, we would be going far, as Paul put it, to NOT..."defiling the Temple of God, which you are," [1 Corinthians 3:17]
With that happening, non-believers visiting our gathered group might not understand us, but they might be strangely drawn to us, so that they might be willing to give the message of our Christ a hearing anyway. That, to me, makes any gender problems a moot issue totally.
As to the question, "Is the Church being feminized," my answer is obviously a resounding "No!"
[In my humble opinion of course.]