We have a problem in the church. It appears that nearly one-half of the church is made up of carnal, fleshly-minded people whose only thoughts are with satisfying their appetites, and have no desire nor ability to truly seek after God. They hide behind a facade of Christianity but, in fact, are incapable of self-control and are unable to submit to the direction of the Holy Spirit and pursue spiritual goals.
I can only be speaking, of course, about husbands, for it is well-known that wives are more spiritual, more holy and more godly than any ordinary man could possibly be. I know, I know; in the past, I’ve said that there are two sinners in every marriage, but today, I repent of such drollery. I have seen the error of my ways.
Ok, I’m back…
… from that alternative universe; you know, the one with The Sensitive Librarian? Now that I’ve shaken off the effects of quantum travel, let me state that I believe that the first paragraph, above, while written with a hefty slug of curmudgeonly snarkasm, is not too far off the mark in describing what is accepted in today’s church . I believe that what I wrote in that paragraph encapsulates an unarticulated but accepted belief of today’s church. I am tumbling to the idea that the Church, through implicit means, is communicating the belief that women, by dint of mere gender alone, are more holy, moral and godly than men.
If it were just me who was hearing this message in church teaching, you would be correct in writing me off as a member of the tinfoil hat brigade. However, just last month, a link to a two-year-old Generous Husband blog post came across my Twitter feed; upon opening it, I was greeted by Paul Byerly defending himself from the charge of believing this very idea. In a post asking Are Women Better than Men?, Paul B. makes a statement about the idea:
What baffled me was why these guys would claim anyone thought these things. Recently I think I’ve figured it out. There actually are women who think they are superior. Maybe they think the X chromosome limits development. Maybe they think testicles interfere with being moral. I’m not sure why they think as they do, but clearly, some women think their gender as a whole is better than men as a whole.
My reply to Paul B. might be an un-saint-like “Ya think?” Well, I guess I probably wouldn’t do that. After all, he is the MacDaddy of all us marriage bloggers. And a nice guy (how’s that for sucking up?)
Last year, I picked up Emerson Eggerichs’ book Love & Respect, because for several years I had seen recommended in many places, and by many different people. When I finally got around to reading it last year, I was impressed by Eggerichs’ material and his solutions to marital problems. One of the chapters had me shouting “Amen! Preach it, brother!” because I had never heard any Christian teacher, speaker or minister address this issue, the problem of assumed female superiority. Here is what had me shouting:
You may well believe, as many women do, that you are a better person than he is and that he needs to change.
What I see happening in some marriages is that the wife believes—or appears to believe—that she does not sin. In many other marriages the only sin that a wife will readily admit to is her negative reaction to her husband’s failure to be loving or for losing patience with the children. Beyond these areas, women do not see themselves as sinning, even though they readily admit bad habits and wrong attitudes. They write these off to chemical imbalance, hormonal problems, or dysfunction due to family of origin.
Women Don’t See Themselves As Sinning?
Is it possible that this idea truly has cachet in our churches today? After all, isn’t the basic tenet of Christianity that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?” Note that it says that “all have sinned,” not “those with penises have sinned.” Eggerichs has to be mistaken; this just doesn’t seem to be a tenable claim. But this does seem to hold up.
One comment that I came across said that “any time you have a supposition of superiority, you have a root problem of pride.” I can see that pride might just be the source of the matter. There is no doubt that we are awash in a sea of misandry today, what with the all the toxic masculinity writings and speeches we find around us. And as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m pretty sure that if you are online (the only way you can read CSL) then you have come across those treacly Sisterhood or Queen memes in your inbox. There does seem to be a supposition of feminine superiority in our culture and in our media today.
The problem for Christian homes and marriages is that the Church, like it has in so many other areas, sought relevancy by buying into the same message of the culture which holds that masculinity is a pathology in search of a systemic solution. I realize that the statement is inflammatory and that the only support for it is anecdotal. Whether it be the large number of classes and workshops on college campuses dealing with the problem of masculinity, new problems being created (manspreading, mansplaining, etc.) to illustrate the problematic nature of the gender, or any other number of stories that are wending their way through the news, these are not empiric .
However, I believe that there is one empirical study that demonstrates that the church is, indeed, buying into the toxic masculinity concept and creating a church culture that devalues men.
A business guru once said, “Your system is perfectly designed to give you the results you’re getting.”
In my reading, I came across a paragraph that piqued my interest:
Cotton Mather puzzled over the absence of men from New England churches, and medieval preachers claimed women practiced their religion far more than men did. But men do not show this same aversion to all churches and religions. The Orthodox seem to have a balance, and Islam and Judaism have a predominantly male membership. Something is creating a barrier between Western Christianity and men, …
~ The Church Impotent
When I read that paragraph, I was spurred to see if that was true and found out that the Pew Research Center had done a Religious Landscape study, and the findings support the statements in the paragraph. Here is the chart from that study:
Note that of all the Christian groups, only the Orthodox have more male adherents than women. Note also that Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam all have more male adherents than women adherents. So it would appear that the claim is true: there does appear something that is creating a barrier between Western Christianity and men.
Maybe it’s how we see men? (Ya think?!)
As always, more to come….