May 18, 2017 Matt Pennock

Is the Church Feminized?

To introduce you to this growing concern I point you to Brett and Kate McKay’s well-researched article here: Brett and Kate have done their homework and rightly identify that the Industrial Revolution was the major “fertilization”, or turning point, that led to a mass “feminization” of the Church in the West. Books such as Leon Podle’s The Feminization of Church and David Murrow’s Why Men Hate Going to Church are a couple of prominent works on the subject. What did the Industrial Revolution do to promote this? Mainly, it separated the man from his family, and split society into two spheres: the “man’s sphere” and the “woman’s sphere”. Yes, it wasn’t always so. Society was a singular reality. But because this was a couple of centuries ago and all spheres of life since then have been subjected to feminization, especially in the last century, it is almost impossible for us now to think of what a masculine society was like. Or what masculine churches were like.

But there are books out there preserving these realities. From the 17th century, to the mid 18th century prior to the Industrial Revolution, one can see a stark contrast in the character of Christianity when compared to today. In the rugged frontiers of early America, pioneer men would be obliged to bring their rifles to some churches because of the threat of hostile and violent Indian tribes. Churches were raided. Other churches were under constant threat of wolves, and again the men had to hunt and protect. Talk about feeling useful as a man. This was also the time of preachers such as George Whitfield, John Wesley, Jonathan Edwards, George Fox, and Martin Luther. Ironically, these men are treated as though they were the last great heroes of Christian spirituality.

Whitfield throwing his head back on a pedestal crying out, “If you won’t weep for your sins, George Whitfield will weep for you!”
Fox getting kicked out of faithless churches and beat up all the time. Luther locked up in a house for years to translate the Bible into the common man’s language.
Edwards preaching the famous Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
Wesley’s preaching on sin and damnation.

Since then, it’s as though history has failed to produce men of the same caliber. All one needs to do is read their work and life stories to see how tough and thick-skinned they were as men. They were strong and authoritative. These were aggressive preachers and evangelists, highly devoted fighters for the cause, manly in every sense of the word. As the industrial revolution appeared, this Christian manliness seemed to have disappeared. By the end of the Industrial Revolution (1850-1900) preachers appear to be scrambling to deal with a male crisis in the Church as books like The Manliness of Christ and J. Thain Davidson’s Talks with Young Men began to be published and organizations and guilds for men were established (YMCA, athletic guilds, etc.).

Feminization has been happening to the Church, no doubt. Its slow process has made it largely undetectable, and before you knew it, men were complaining that it was “a place for women”. It’s not just something that inadvertently happened—there are many who promote the feminization of Church and even the feminization of the Bible (if that were even possible). But there is more to the puzzle of why more women go to church than men than this. It’s not merely a church problem. George Barna’s research found that women are 29 percent more likely to read the Bible than men. Is the Bible feminized? No. If it was, women would not be so bothered, as they often are, about the Old Testament being so harsh and brutal making it a challenge for them to take interest in it. One of the big reasons men are lacking is because for men Christianity is really, really, hard. Simple to understand and even simpler to believe, the Christian path is anything but simple to follow. It is the absolute hardest thing a man can do.

You have to understand it this way:

If the whole Bible targeted mainly women for their short-comings; if it called Eve out for letting sin and death enter the world; if God beat up a woman (instead of Jacob) to make her the founder of a set apart nation; if God commanded women to go to enemy nations to tell them to repent and stuffed them into the belly of a sea creature if they refused; if God handed over a successful, renowned, and obedient mother and wife to Satan to smash her family, reputation, and life to pieces and plague her with boils all over her body; if God commanded female prophets to speak all the unpopular truths and judgments against the nations (the books Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) that incited people’s fury and brought wrath on their heads; if Jesus selected twelve female disciples and sent those women out as apostles to suffer, face hostilities, and die for his cause then you would perhaps find that there would be a lot less women than men in the congregation.

Too many women are completely clueless about just what it is that men have to face and deal with if they seek to follow God. This is  the primary reason the Bible teaches wives to submit to their husbands. Christian women are too often under the false impression that the teaching of submission is because of what they are—that is, they need to submit because they’re women. It’s not because of what women are, but because of what men have to face. Because men were made first, they must face hell first. She gets behind him and helps him in his battle—a battle she should be grateful she’ll never have to face first. If she was subjected to what all these men of God in the Bible were, it would easily be called abuse. But as it is, a man’s tolerance for pain is much, much higher than a woman’s. Abuse by definition is inflicting harm on something that cannot handle it. Discipline is inflicting a harm that can be handled.  The man is not abused but being disciplined. The writer of Hebrews says to men,

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? Heb 12:7

Her support, help, and respect to him in his battle earns her love and cherishing that cannot be measured in return.

The very Bible itself is a violent breach into the sphere of men. Far from apologizing for itself, it burns and breaks men like dried twigs.

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? Jer. 23:29


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