Why Some Men Don't Like Church
- Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Promise Keepers held a Media Day in March where they discussed the problem of why men don't go to church as much as women. I heard about this event from my friend Dave Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church. His book is worth your time. I'm glad Promise Keepers took this issue head on because the facts are staggering. More women attend church throughout the world than men, with the possible exception of Eastern Orthodox. The discrepancy is greatest in African American churches in the United States. Attendance is more equal in Judaism and Islam.
Many of my readers have told me why they stopped going to church and what they would like to see in order to want to attend again. So here are the "Top 10 Reasons Why Some Men Don't Go to Church," and when they do go they spend more time checking their watches and working on their To Do lists than partaking in soul work.
1. Men are told over and over to be innocent as doves, but are not shown or encouraged to be wise as serpents. This has handcuffed men in all major aspects of life, robbing them of power and strength. Jesus never said that personal piety alone will get us to the abundant he has for us, but you wouldn't know this from a typical church service. The same word for 'wise" that Jesus used can also be translated as shrewd and cunning. Jesus commendsshrewd behavior as found in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16). We largely condemn shrewdness and think it's synonymous with criminal behavior. The church wants nice men. Jesus, according to his own words, wants shrewd ones.
2. We preach from the NGB: Nice Guy Bible (Retail Price: Your Soul). We emphasize the sweet stuff and let the tougher stuff go right on by. That sweet stuff won't save a man (or woman) from the Dark Night of The Soul, a highly mentioned phrase first written by St. John of the Cross. But the more rugged Scriptures can and do. For example, it was the book of Ecclesiastes that brought President Abraham Lincoln more solace during the Civil War than another other writing. Unfortunately the meatier and more penetrating scriptures aren't emphasized much today. As a result, much of what we label as spiritual living just isn't "real" to your average guy.
3. We contend that the ideal Christian man is unemotional and if married, sacrifices everything for his wife. But Jesus was anything but stoic. If we were honest, we would say that Jesus was a bad Christian man because he got angry so much. According to the latest study from the University of Virginia, this false expectation toward stoicism sets men up for divorce from women who want an emotionally engaged husband (Our upcoming book Married But Not Engaged takes this issue head on by showing wives of passive and unemotional husbands what they should and shouldn't do to help.) And men who sacrifice all their wants and needs for their spouse eventually bore their spouse. Following such advice increases their chances of divorce.
4. Men have been told to avoid anger at all costs, which isn't what the Bible says. They have not been shown a better way: how to properly handle this primary emotion for guys since unresolved anger can lead to depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and even impotency.
5. We promote a dangerous caricature of "gentle Jesus meek and mild," an infamous and ludicrous term penned by the late John Wesley. This dangerous caricature is as fictitious as anything you'll find in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. We can't blame Hollywood or the mainstream media. We can blame ourselves. This caricature has encouraged Christian men to be nice to a fault, damaging their lives and those who are under their timid care.
6. Men, compared to women, are a problem to be fixed instead of a gender to be appreciated at church. This is mighty unattractive and unbiblical. Some of these churches have also given men the unbiblical belief that women are more moral and spiritual, an intrinsically shame-filled message that is also a form of gender bigotry.
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