She said, “Jesus is our bridegroom, and we’re his bride. And that’s great, because he’s kind and gentle and forgiving, and he wants us to worship him with pretty music and poetry and floral arrangements all over the place.”
He said, “Jesus is a masculine dude… he was a carpenter and rebel. He was always stickin’ it to the man. You know, calling the Phrisees vipers and battling Satan and driving the crooks out of the Temple with a whip he made himself. He wants us to worship him with rock music and shouting and gut-level honesty and risk-taking and bending metal.”
Good Morning America this morning featured an organization called “GodMen”, that wants to give the Christian faith a shot in the arm… the big, muscle-bound arm. And it turns out that muscles are a very important aspect to this brand of faith, because some participants actually get the opportunity to bend frying pans.
GodMen’s founder Brad Stine says the point is to “toughen up Christian men.”
Here’s the problem, as they see it: apparently only 4 out of 10 church-goers is male (and it’s not unlikely that 1 of those 4 was dragged there by his wife.) Some men have looked around at the total package experience of Church, and found the reason was obvious. Everything seems tailored to appeal to women: the music, the décor… Even the target virtues (grace, love, peace, etc) have a feminine slant.
They’ve got a point. But if you think you know where I’m going with this… hold on.
Stine says, “There’s nuances to Christianity; there’s elements that we haven’t been taught as men because we’re different from women. So when we walk into a church, we don’t see metal, we see ferns. We’re not used to that. We want something that shows the masculine side as well. We’re not trying to take over. We love the feminine side, but we think there should be a balance so that both sides are represented.”
So I’ve gotta ask… Is the Church a democratic republic? Is the goal to evenly represent the characteristics and personalities of its members?
We have no excuse in this day and age to ignore the role that culture plays in our spiritual development. Because we are “in the world” we can never get away from that influence. And if you’re a man, you may indeed be feeling somewhat left out of the equation… much like a Spanish speaker in an English-language service. “Is anyone here trying to relate to me?”
But at the end of the day, these “GodMen” need to recognize that God is not a man. Nor is he a woman. God transcends masculinity and femininity… and it’s a good thing, too. Because our gender, our language, our nationality, our personality… these things are just launchpads from which we embark our spiritual journey. And although we will never fully escape them during our lifetimes, we are foolish to strap ourselves down.
Kudos to these guys for keeping it real, and for driving the message home in a fresh and relevant way. But when they go back to their home congregations, let’s hope they take with them far more than a penchant for gender equity. Let’s hope we can all learn to die to ourselves, and be found alive in Christ.