In The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, Leon Podles captures the pervasive masculine attitude towards church in a quote from John K. White:
A devastating criticism of Christianity is many men see it as not only irrelevant, but as effeminate. Words and phrases such as “unmanly,” “for women and kids,” “wimps,” and “they can’t make it so they hide behind God” are common.
The effeminacy of Western Christianity, as Podles see it, is directly related to the effeminacy of its ministers:
- “…liberal Protestants ministers…had a reputation for being soft and working best with women.”
- “…all [clergy] had to face ‘the popular stereotype that men of the cloth were neither male nor female’”
- “As one layman put it, ‘life is a football game, with the men fighting it out on the gridiron, while the minister is up in the grandstand, explaining it to the ladies.’”
- “Moreover, [ministers] were typically recruited from the ranks of weak, sickly boys with indoor tastes who stayed at home with their mothers and came to identify with the feminine world of religion.”
- “Masculinity is vanquished in the congregation and, even more significantly, in the pulpit…”
The pews were mainly populated by women and the pulpits by womanish men. Consequently, in the 1800s, “the English identified weakness and femininity with saintliness.” Podles explains, “To be Christian, for the mid-Victorians, was to lack exuberant physical masculinity of the normal boy, to be weak, to be helpless, to be a victim.” He then moves from “victimhood” to the latent homosexuality of the Anglo-Catholic ministers:
The whole atomsphere of Anglo-Catholicism, its preciosity, its fussiness, its concern for laces and cassocks and candles, struck the average Victorian (and later observers) as unmanly.
He points out that this tendency to have “weak masculinity” is still present among the Church of England to this very day. And it is no surprise that the Church of England is also infamous for its liberal theology now. Softness in ministers always leads to softness in doctrinal standards. But the problem is widespread. No denomination today is unaffected.
The Apostle Paul was relentlessly positive—but he wasn’t Pollyanna.
He was very aware of the widespread darkness of his age, but he still was joyful and hopeful. Like Nehemiah, the joy of the Lord was Paul’s strength.
Many Western Christians fail to grasp this.
Consider Acts 16. A mob assaults Paul and Silas for their ministry.
Their clothes were torn off. They were beaten with rods. They were struck with many blows. They were thrown in prison, with their feet in stocks.
And yet they sang “hymns of praise to God.”
Acts 16 wasn’t an isolated case. Paul lists his many sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11. The 1st century was a difficult time for the Christian church. They certainly had grounds to be despondent.
And yet Paul said, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”
The church again finds itself in a difficult time.
There’s widespread apostasy. Child slaughter is commonplace. Our nations have become overbearing nanny-states. Men live as women, and women as men. Etc, etc.
It’s a dark day.
And yet there’s reason to be hopeful.
The reason to be hopeful is the promise of God:
He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5).
We’re on the winning team. Rejoice!
Christians know that this world is passing away.
We can have pleasures in this life, but they aren’t much compared to the pleasure of the world to come.
This eternal mindset helps us bear under difficulty, and protects us from despondency.
It’s why we aren’t hopeless.
Joyless and hopeless men are faithless men. They are bitter, envious, and resentful because they want their best life now.
James says their wisdom is earthly, sensual, demonic.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”
Steer clear of such men. Their hope is in this world. They live for the pleasures of the flesh. Therefore, anything that denies them this pleasure is cause for a pity party.
Don’t let them rob you of your joy. Christ is King. We will overcome in time.
Live by faith. Remember the Rome that took Paul’s head has been reduced to rumble. The kingdom of God has only grown. It is unstoppable.
It’s why we have confidence. It’s why we have joy. It’s why we are relentlessly positive. Life is vapor. But to live is Christ and to die is gain. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
So bring it.
Our words for tradition and traitor have the same root. It is the difference between handing on or handing over. —Douglas Wilson
New content this week: #
Michael’s church will be hosting a conference on a Christian approach to localism on September 2-4 this year.
Here’s Aaron Renn previewing his session on “The Importance of Owned Space”: https://twitter.com/thisisfoster/status/1399778363309391875
You get get tickets here: http://countybeforecountry21.eventbrite.com
Canada Makes Handshaking Criminal. The commentary on the nature of absurd laws to establish tyranny is on point.
If Martin Luther were around today, he’d probably be accused of being a “discernment blogger” with no accountability to the church, lacking “winsomeness,” and full of arrogance.
This is also true of Calvin, Knox, and nearly every hero of the Reformed faith, in some way or another. 90% of “Reformed” churches today would excommunicate them all for “damaging the church’s witness” with “scandalous conduct” like:
- Holding “disturbing” views about women (patriarchy)
- “Adding to the gospel” with “neonomian” or “FV” views about the necessity of works for salvation (piety)
- Unrepentant “reviling” of “respected theologians” (polemics)
- “Rebellion” against the civil authorities (resisting tyranny)
Be like the reformers. Don’t be like those who dress their tombs (Luke 11:47-48). Let the reader understand.
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael