A lot of men hate church.
To understand why, you have to understand one central point: the contemporary church, in most of her incarnations, telegraphs her hostility to traditional masculinity.
Rollo hints at an important point when he writes about the lack of virility in the church:
“this is attributable to a generation of feminized men being raised into a church culture, and eventual church leadership, that has been taught to prioritize and identify with the feminine and reinforced with articles of faith now defined by the Feminine Imperative. The modern church has trouble reaching men because the church no longer has a grasp of what it means to be ‘men’.”
Yes, the problem has to do with leadership, specifically, the way that the leaders of most churches are chosen.
As I mentioned in the previous post, while I am not an Evangelical, I have been around Evangelical institutions long enough to have a good sense of how future leaders are trained. To understand the hostility of the contemporary church, you have to understand the way these training programs work to discourage, if not outright exclude, more traditionally masculine men from church leadership.
Rollo refers to the church as a “Beta Farm.” That’s not entirely incorrect, but the men who run most churches are actually grown not in the church herself, but in her auxiliary training institutions. The importance of this will be clear later.
Before I go on, let me clear something up.
You can spare me the emails and tweets saying, “Oh yea? My pastor is a masculine man! He hunts, and he once fixed a flat tire on the church van!”
Look, that’s great. I am grateful for pastors who engage in traditionally masculine activities and who have practical skills, but that’s not really what I am talking about. I am talking about men who, even if outwardly he enjoys watching traditionally masculine pursuits, has a deeper mindset characterized by a particular set of traits.
Four, usually unspoken, beliefs come together to create this mindset. These beliefs, or at least most of them, also operate in general society but have found unique power in the Evangelical church. The undermining of Evanglical Christianity is, or ought to be, a concern for those outside the church as well because as more vigorous forms of Christianity disappear from our culture, the vacuum it leaves behind is continually filled by manifestations of cultural decay.
The four insidious beliefs that have undermined evangelical Christianity by filtering out more traditional men from both leadership and membership are:
- The belief that feminist depictions of women’s nature and situations are true.
- The belief that traditional male attitudes, especially those regarding sex, are inherently immoral.
- The belief that what the world needs is more warm-fuzzies, not moral leadership.
- The belief that approval from secular society is necessary or important.
In subsequent posts, I will explore all four of these, but for now suffice it to say that Evangelicalism is replete with feminist understandings of reality. Dalrock has documented this at length. Still, most evangelicals don’t grasp the degree to which it’s true.
It’s impossible to understand how this situation arose without understanding the evangelical zeal for conversion. At the heart of Evangelical thinking is the conviction that the worst thing a Christian can do is make someone feel bad about the church. The unspoken idea is that people, including hard-core feminists and leftists of all stripes, will convert to Evangelical Christianity if only Evangelicals can show that they are open to criticism and willing to change. What most Evangelicals now practice is a form of evangelism through self-hatred.
As feminists ratcheted up their criticisms of the old-school, patriarchal religion, many evangelicals responded not with vigorous defense of their practices or harsh denunciations of modern falsehoods. Instead, the bulk of evangelicals responded by seeking to show that no, actually they were really modernists too. The naive hope was that by doing so, they could remove the stumbling blocks feminists had pointed out and thus bring them into the fold.
The results of this strategy are obvious. The attitude of appeasement adopted by the Evangelical church has resulted in total failure, ultimately bringing in few converts and undermining the most attractive aspects of the movement. The road back to relevance for evangelical Christianity lies not in hip pastors wearing skinny jeans backed by a rocking worship band, but in reviving the hearts of its men which now lie dormant, made still by years of false and misandrist doctrine. That is the narrow way and, I fear, few will be able to walk it.
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