So I’ve been reading this book called “The Church Impotent: the Feminization of Christianity,” Leon Podles. Good stuff, nothing there I find disagreeable. My only compliant would be he’s terse. “Terse” is an odd word that I never use, so it’s a bit amusing that it kept popping into my head while reading.
Terse, as in short on words and abrupt right to the edge of being rude. I don’t do well with terse people, they have a cold informality that I find off-putting. However, I am aware it can be a masculine style of communication and thought, not intended to be rude at all, but simply focused and detached from empathy. Guy’s busy fighting dragons, he doesn’t have time to address people’s needs. People’s needs are women’s dragons, so you can see different mindsets going on there.
The masculine and the feminine, interpersonal relationships, culture, gender and the church, these things are all my cup of tea, so I appreciate having read it. For those who don’t know, issues around masculinity and femininity are huge, and perhaps one of the least adequately addressed issues. At least in my opinion, the church has either mangled its response and teachings or else outright avoided discussing it at all. Here we are living in a secular culture that is just a train wreck of sexual identity, gender confusion, homosexuality, 50 shades of gray, and Miley Cyrus riding her wrecking ball across the TV set, and we of the church tend to just cover our eyes politely and look away or stare in grim fascination, as if we can just kind of pretend that culture stops at the church doors and can’t touch us.
I live in a land of extremes, so much of my time is spent hearing how the church is oppressive, patriarchal, and hates women, while also residing in the midst of some churches so liberal there is some question as to whether or not they should be called “churches” at all. Conversely however, there is also this huge unchurched church where I live too, and lots of men will speak to me of preferring to worship in God’s cathedral outdoors, rather than entangling themselves in the people politics of “church.”
A bit ironic too, when I speak of masculinity and femininity, I am not necessarily talking about male and female so much. When I was walking away from feminism, my male dominated, male run church was walking towards it, eventually embracing gay marriage. So in crazy upside down world, I was mostly talking to men about the feminization of the church, and you know, all in good humor here, but being totally over ruled in that oppressive, patriarchal way. I’d say, but scripture and they’d say, but church leadership…
So, I’ve spent the past 30 years or so sorting out gender issues, exploring masculinity and femininity within faith, how it all impacts our churches, what it means to us personally, how it affects our perceptions of God Himself. Are we driving people away from Jesus Christ or towards Him and how do we do a better job of leading or guiding people?
The church is actually not a building or an institution, it is us, we the people who follow Christ. I suppose Leon Podles being Catholic could have some different views on that, but that is how I see things. I also believe we all have to work out our own gender issues within faith, I mean one cannot simply declare the church has been feminized or the church is this oppressive patriarchal entity, therefore I have arrived at truth, condemned the church one way or the other, and can now just wash my hands of the whole matter. I think this is one of those times were a bit of subjective, self relection is called for. Yes, the church has masculinity/femininity issues, but which issues are actually your problem versus the responsibility of some 2.2 billion believers who make up the Body of Christ?
Myself, I tend to have a very masculinzed view of faith, something Podles touched on which I found very interesting because I’ve never heard anyone say it before, but I too believe we are all somewhat masculine in faith. That’s a complicated concept to put forth, especially as the Bride of Christ, which is clearly feminine. The church as an entity, a whole, is the Bride, but we as believers are actually emulating Jesus Christ, and often called to be warriors, soldiers, of a spiritual sort at least.
Meat, substance, power, authority, these are all masculine things, and indeed, the very same things one struggles so hard to find within the church. As Podles so aptly said, to reject the masculine is to render The Church Impotent.