Welcome to the Big Picture Podcast, I’m Joel Fieri and I’m back to hopefully bring come clarity and keep the conversation going about what’s happening today in the Church and greater society.
And, I’m not alone this week. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dave Murrow, author of Why Men Hate Going to Church and host of the Church for Men podcast, along with e2 media network’s own Jefferson Drexler, to discuss the “Feminization of Today’s Church”. With so many people today hesitant to stand up and say there is something tragically wrong with the course most churches are heading toward, the three of us tackle some tough issues head on… like men are prone to do. So, without further ado, here’s part three of our roundtable discussion…
DAVE: The modern Church system is designed to weed out the “jock” men during their childhoods; so that by the time they are 18, they don’t participate in church. How do we do this? It starts in Sunday School. When I was a young man, the skills you needed in Sunday School were: to color inside the lines; sit quietly; memorize Bible verses; and be able to speak and articulate ideas. If you put a seven-year-old boy and a seven-year-old girl in a place where those are the rules, the girl will almost always win.
Then you get to Youth Group. Now, Youth Group used to be “guy-oriented”. In the 1970’s, every Youth Leader was a man. He was usually a jock. He was the kind of guy you hung on and he’d throw you against the wall and shove pizza in your mouth. It was a testosterone fest and guys loved it.
Today, about half of the Youth Leaders that are graduating from Bible Colleges and Seminary are female. And, another thing that we’ve seen is a rise of praise and worship in Youth Groups. When I was a kid, praise and worship at Youth Group was a couple of songs on a guitar:
Give me gas in my Ford,
Keep me truckin’ for the Lord,
Keep me truckin’ for the Lord, I pray…
Dumb songs that everybody could sing… just stupid songs. And then we’d get to the message, and then more pizza! Every week, it was a big “win” for the guys. Now, Youth Group is becoming a music-centric experience: 20 – 40 minutes of singing led by a Youth Praise Band. So, what that’s doing is eliminating the non-musical guy.
The guy who loves music, plays in the band, knits his own hat, and is totally into coffee-culture… he’s totally into Youth Group. But the guy that isn’t into that? We’re eliminating the high-testosterone, high-achievement type guy. He’s going out of church. So, by the time they have reached 18, we’ve pretty much eliminated most of the guys who would typically be more toward the “manly” side of the scale.
JOEL: What you’re talking about describes my son. He’s a baseball player. He’s very competitive. He’s very much a right-and-wrong, black-and-white kind of guy. He sees a lot of what’s happening in our culture and he doesn’t understand why in the world something that is obviously so wrong continues to go on. He can’t sit through those long worship sessions. He went to camp and said that they sang for 45 minutes, while he and his buddies secretly played on their phones. So, he and his buddies don’t have a place at church. They have a place on the ballfield or on the basketball court. But outside of that, they know that they are Christians and they shouldn’t be doing the things that the other guys are doing, so really the only other option is video games – a world that is still paternalistic, filled with conflict where there are winners and losers. If you lose, you pick a new character and go at it again, much like the pick-up basketball games we used to play. Those types of games are now on screens. And that’s where he retreats into; because he doesn’t have the answer at church and he knows not to go out with the guys who are drinking or doing whatever else.
JEFFERSON: And that is turning into the 28/30-year-olds who are still playing video games and that’s where they are finding where they can be comfortable.
JOEL: Yes, and we see more and more men disengaging into that world. And there are not a lot of women out there who are that concerned about it.
DAVE: You ask any 15-year-old Christian gal, “What’s the dating scene like in the Church?” and her face will fall and she will tell you it’s not good. Right here in Southern California, I know a 26-year-old gal who is an absolute knock-out. I don’t care how Christ-like you are, if this gal walked past you, you would have a nice long look. Nevertheless, she has been on ZERO dates. She’s never been asked out by someone at church. This is because there are almost no “men” left in the Church – young men who are dateable material, who have goals and dreams, and understand that our mandate is to subdue the earth. Instead, there are all these guys who want to sit around and drink coffee, knit their own hats and play in the worship band.
My daughters dated these guys. I was not impressed.
So, what we’ve done is we have screened out the guys with ambition and the guys with a modicum of testosterone. So, now there’s a saying:
The men in the Church are like parking spaces. The good ones are either already taken, or they’re handicap.
So, we may not have a problem now, but we will have a gaping problem in about 30 years when these guys are asked to step up and lead in the Church and they’re just not there.
JEFFERSON: That all also plays into the phenomenon you’ve been talking about, Joel, known as MGTOW.
JOEL: MGTOW – Men Going Their Own Way. It’s really a worldly, much harsher version of men in church disengaging entirely.
DAVE: For our listeners’ sake, MGTOW is a philosophy that men should not marry or engage with women at all, but just do their own thing, because of the divorce rate, and expenses of punitive and family laws after divorce.
JOEL: Right. As I said, it’s secular and much harsher with no sense of a Judeo/Christian moral compass. Where, at least in the Church there is a sense of guys saying, “I’m a Christ-follower, so I’m supposed to be different”.
DAVE: Are you seeing MGTOW in the Church?
JOEL: It’s not named MGTOW, but in many of the young men that I talk to and many of my son’s friends, there is a sense of “I’m not ever going to get married. Why would I? I’d lose my freedom. The chances of divorce are too large…”
DAVE: You’re seeing that at church?
JOEL: Yeah. And I think your example of the young lady shows that there is a sense of it and that’s why she isn’t getting any dates. If she’s the hottest thing going, then the guys who see her are either thinking, “She’s out of my league” because guys have been told that they don’t measure up to women (women are smarter, they’re better leaders, they are more spiritual). “Therefore, why would I ask her out?” Or, the guys are just so into their video games and other hobbies that finding a wife and having a family just isn’t in their world.
DAVE: And you know what? We have baptized this. In 1996, a guy by the name of Joshua Harris wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye. That book has done more to destroy the future of Christianity than any other book I can think of.
JOEL: When I was single, it ruined one of my relationships.
DAVE: So, for those of you who have not read this book, don’t read the book.
JOEL: Yeah, I would recommend staying away from it.
DAVE: It set such a high Old Testament bar on dating, basically turned anything beyond hand-holding into rape, and made a generation of single Christians so afraid to date one another that Christians don’t date each other anymore. And if they’re not going to date, how are they going to get married and have Christian kids?
JOEL: And that book and that movement was instilled into so many Christian women and now we see it coming out in our Christian songs. So many of them have the message that: “Jesus is my perfect Lover. Jesus is the One who will never let me down. He’s the perfect Boyfriend.”
Well, there are two things wrong with that on the surface: 1) That’s not who Jesus is and that’s not how you should be looking at Him. 2) For single men, if they want to date a good, Christian woman… they are competing with Jesus! No man can compete with Jesus.
DAVE: Jesus never has bad breath. He’s never late. He never misses an anniversary. He’s perfect.
JOEL: Exactly. So, how can I – as a man – compete with that? If you’re “dating” Jesus, there is no way I will ever measure up. Spiritually, men just can’t win.
And, if men can’t win, we simply won’t play the game. If we know there is no chance of winning, we’ll just go somewhere else.
DAVE: Right. We can’t win in dating relationships. We can’t win in church. So, where exactly are men winning? They’re winning in virtual worlds.
JOEL: And that’s my big fear – that in the future, if society keeps going in this maternal direction, then more and more will come against men and there will be more and more pressure for men to either retreat into their video games and just check out.
Thanks for listening to the Big Picture Podcast. Dave, Jefferson and I will continue our discussion over the next several weeks regarding the problems and possible solutions facing today’s Church.
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