Evangelical Masculinity: Some Historical Perspective

John D’Elia brings some much-needed perspective to the latest John Piper kerfuffle over masculinity:

There’s a fair amount of manliness popping up in churches these days.

This is nothing all that new in American evangelicalism. Dwight Moody said similar things back in the late 1800s, but for far more sensible reasons. The massive shift toward industrialization and urbanization in post-Civil War America kept working men away from home and church for six or seven days out of every week. The work they did was often dirty, dangerous and dehumanizing, and their time off was spent sleeping or drinking. As a result the Christian faith became associated with the women who were its most visible practitioners, and Moody believed that if men were ever going hear a credible expression of the Christian message, preachers were going to have to butch it up a little. He didn’t say anything against women, though. He simply wanted men to feel more welcome—as men—in the Christian culture of the day. We can credit Moody with a part of our contemporary emphasis on reaching out to the marginalized people around us (the working men of Moody’s time), and making them welcome in our midst.

READ THE REST: An American Minister in London: Through a Glass Manly.

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  • jay

    “True men” like myself 😉 should not fear the feminine expression of God and faith in God. We should only be happy that there is a counterpart to our stubbornly narrow male perspective.

    • Jay,

      You point out that men are stubborn in narrow perspectives. What is the negative characteristic of females? I would like to know.

      • jay

        I speak as a man about men. I’ll let you ask a woman to share her perspectives on what she feels are possible negative characteristics of females. Let me know when you find out what it is.

  • Probably the reason for no comments is that upon following this link, I had to follow another link to read everything.

    Who cares if Piper does this. Let those that follow him be allowed to frame the Bible in this social context if he likes. I don’t see anyone getting hurt from it.

    • JoeyS

      “I don’t see anyone getting hurt from it.”

      No you wouldn’t, because of the aforementioned, “narrowness.”

      • Ad hominem. Please, don’t think of me as narrow. It hurts.

        I should jump in with Piper and write “No Balls Theology”.

        • JoeyS

          I meant no ad hominem. I simply meant that we, as males, tend not to see how these views hurt others as our own view tends to be myopic.

    • Carey

      What about women that are truly gifted by God to be teaching? What about those women either being raised in this sort of environment or living in said environment? For them to hear that somehow their gifting is second-rate simply because of genitalia and chromosomes is heartbreaking. I know many women that can teach, illuminate scripture (in its original text) or simply offer a Truth in ways that are just as meaningful as a man’s. So why would God have given us minds, smart minds, if we were not to use them to their fullest?

      In many ways I see no harm being done, these faithful are choosing to live their faith in this way and, hopefully, growing and being fulfilled in it. But what about little girls being raised in this environment? Would they be encouraged to go to university, to learn the original languages, to sharpen their minds and soften their hearts? All so that they can teach other women? This logic becomes faulty at some point. Explain the women teachers in the early church, the OT, women prophets, the fact that in Judaic tradition one’s Jewishness(?) is passed on by the mother, not the father. God has used men and women throughout history in powerful ways to further the power of his grace and truth. God gifted us all differently and we are not truly living until we are living to our fullest potential. Simply put some women were born to teach so is it not harmful to limit their gifts? To make them question themselves or cause them to not fully trust their gift? For the woman that has a burning need to illuminate God’s word she must feel as though her gift is only suitable for other women and not all of humans? And the be told that these are God’s truth? How could that not be harmful?

      Note: I don’t think its narrowness just perspective and I have not actually lived under said ideals (Thank GOD!!). But my heart breaks for women that do and those that believe that they are not adequate to teach all. Maybe Piper is saying it in a different way but thats the way it comes across.