Petere Kirk has written Why real men don’t go to church and I have responded to the first part in 42: The dangers of blogging.
Now I want to consider some of the meat of Peter's post which I think raises interesting points.
Peter feels that the church can be feminised by men due to the
kinds of men who lead churches. I hear his point, but it is not my
Firstly behaviour: We don't really go in for
dresses in my tradition and I have not come across many camp Methodist
Ministers. When I was a young teenager my minister, Don Hailey, had
been a bomber pilot during the war so I did not grow up thinking
ministers were wimps. With the exception of myself far too many
Methodist Ministers seem to want to talk about football all the time
which is probably the most boring subject ever invented. While I know
that many people like quiche the only times I can think it has been
served at Raunds Methodist church is when families have served it as
part of a meal after a funeral. We tend to do roast dinners, BBQ's or
standard basics such as cottage pie and apple crumble (the two
favourites at WOT). We also usually serve filter coffee (is it very
feminine that it is decaff so I don't get hyper) which is far more
popular than tea. The exception is when the refreshments are for older
members of the community who do prefer tea.
Secondly: I just
don't recognise these supposedly "feminine" and "masculine"
stereotypes. When I was nearly 17 I joined Venture Scouts which was
mixed, my experience there has been mirrored ever since. You don't get
to do less adventurous and exciting and crazy things because there are
girls/women there. In fact their presence usually seems to spur things
on rather than wimp them down.
I think of my very first
evening at Venture Scouts which on a wet cold October evening included
building a haymaker bridge across the River Mole. Unfortunately due to
the slippy concrete bottom to the river at that point every time someone
got to the middle it tipped up and in they went. All those who had
fallen in were then supposed to be holding the bridge so the same thing
would not happen to anyone else. Of course instead they deliberately
tipped them in, after all why shouldn't they get wet too. One of the
ringleaders (as always seemed to be the case in crazy stunts was Linda,
who soon after became the chairperson of the group).
I see the
same thing in Church today. A couple of years ago several of us a had a
fun day demolishing a stone lean to at the back of the Church. Pam was
the one who clearly enjoyed using a sledgehammer more than anyone else.
member, J, is really into motor bikes with full leathers and going to
festivals etc with loads of friends in that community. She recently
passed her motorbike test and rides a classic bike of some sort.
My problem is that to me it seems that much of this masculine/feminine argument comes from the
male headship camp who are trying to enforce a separation and
distinction between the genders that should not exist. God created all
people equal and all in God's image. Continually trying to reinforce
stereotypes in order to maintain a false male headship is wrong, Peter
is not doing that but the complementarians are.
Now in no way am
I saying that people should all be the same, I am not saying that
people should be forced to take up interests that they don't like. But
I am saying that this idea that x & y are for men and a & b are
for women is social conditioning and not the way we are made and should
not be enforced.
Peter makes another point:
Anyway, I’m sure Dave and Pam have realised by now, even if they don’t
want to admit it, that at the local level churches like theirs are not
really controlled by the mostly male official hierarchy, but by the
armies of mostly women volunteers who keep their churches running, and
who exercise their control by implicit threats to quit their activities
if the minister dares to do anything which they disapprove of – which
would probably include almost anything likely to attract men to the
this one I do reject. Within the Church men hold far more authority and
power than their numbers suggest they should. Yes women may much of the
work but power has not been shared out equally. It is often subtle but
women in the church are frequently not empowered to lead. As for the
impicit threats I ignore them, anyone who is a block to mission and
threatens to resign is a wonderful – I always accept.
I am glad
that Peter thinks my suggestions are not so bad, however, I reject the
idea that they are masculine or in anyway supportive of the original
post about masculine ethos. There is nothing about male power in my
It is also amusing that Peter things I was being
all masculine in my use of language in the theory that the Wars caused
a significant change. That language came directly from the woman shared
the theory with me – so much for stereotypes.
Now I recognise
that Peter and I are not as far apart as these posts imply. His last
paragraph confirms that. We have different experiences and traditions.
It seems as though my experience of Methodism has maybe fewer elements
that are identified as feminising than Peter's CoE tradition – but we
too do not have significant numbers of men.
I do believe that
the gospel directly challenges many of the masculine stereotypes that
some sections of our society promote (violence, power, pornography, do nothing
culture, alcohol & drugs addiction, focus on money). It is a
difficult balance for Christians to engage with these influences
without being consumed by them. Maybe too often we do not engage,
however, it seems to me that those who advocate male headship and support violence etc have
As some of the comments have pointed out the theory I shared (not one I created but thought was worth thinking about) does not answer the whole issue of why men are not in the church. But equally it seems to me neither does the feminisation argument, especially when some, clearly and obviously not Peter, in attacking feminising end up compromising on the gospel.