July 12, 2018 Matthew

Why Men do not go to Church (1899) by Cortland Myers ★★

The imbalance of men vs. women in the Church was a painfully obvious thing by the end of the 19th century. Numerous Presidents were noted to be Christians but not interested in going to Church or becoming members while their wives did.

This book misses the mark by miles.

Taking in the low numbers of men compared to high numbers of women in attendance Myers asks the question, “Where are the men?” The correct question should be, “Why are there more women?” The answer I think is plain. The biblical doctrine of manhood and all its tenets were suppressed, forgotten, or lost and the men were impeded or put off.

This book is strong evidence that manhood has been suppressed in the Church for at least 120 years. With so many crucial doctrines squandered—the image of God, sonship, brotherly affection, and agape love—how in the world are men supposed to feel like men in the Church? The reason women showed up in greater numbers is because womanhood, motherhood, and wifehood were not being undermined or suppressed. And since that time, womanhood has been consistently and perpetually extended to include manly attributes. This has resulted into what we have in the Church today: overburdened women troubled by way too many things and men who don’t have any idea what the hell to do.

Myers book also revealed something to me that was particularly enlightening. His response to try to get more men into Church was to make it more attractive and to eliminate the “unwarrantable distinction between the secular and the sacred.” He then goes on to say regarding Jesus, “His incarnation was the secularization of divinity” (p.59). I was unaware that this idea extended so far back in history. My thinking is, if the Church has been pushing this agenda of removing the distinction for so long, and this is where it’s gotten us today, maybe we were very wrong about this? Maybe what really happened over the last century was not the removal of “the sacred and secular” but a mating of the sacred and secular?

We also find the excuse “we do not care for the church, but we do care for Christ” (p.92) was used by men in the 19th century which Myers rightly challenges as being never true.

Relevancy has clearly been a key word on the Church’s plate since the late 19th century. Where has it gotten us? Churches that preach a gospel of affirmation ruled by ordained lesbians? Churches that deal in different weights and measures depending on the color of skin or gender you have? Churches where the men dress like women and the women dress like men? The abominations in the House are stacking up by the minute and seem to show no sign of stopping.

There is virtually no scripture quoted in this book. I think I saw only two or three. It was written in 1899 and is not at all unlike 98% of the Christian books published today. This is further evidence of a significant change that happened in the Church in the 19th century. The Captivity Narratives show us that somewhere between the 18th and the 19th century, quoting scripture in books went out of vogue. This is also evident by plugging in the word “God” in the BYU American English corpus research tool where you can see word usage rates in literature over time. In 17th century American literature the word “God” was used at a rate of 6000 times per 1 million words. By 1890 it was down to 500 per 1 million.

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