Can Manly Men Worship?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There is a trend that is spreading through the American Church that disturbs me. You may not have heard of it but I have noticed a sudden surge in activity on the Internet in discussion forums, blogs and leadership groups in what is called "The Defeminization of Worship." The basic ideology of this movement is that Church has become unfriendly to men. Their chief complaint is about the worship. Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in the Seattle area lamented in a recent interview that modern worship songs have been reduced to nothing more than "Prom Songs to Jesus, led by effeminate, male guitar players." A book that is hugely popular right now is "Why Men Hate Going to Church" by David Murrow. There is also a church in Florida called "Men's Church." I will agree that at times we have made church hard for men to relate to and we should find ways to make the Church more relevant to the male species. However, I see some extremely dangerous warning signs in this movement that warrant us to take a hard look at and see what God's Word has to say about this issue.

First, we must take great care not to go to extremes in addressing this issue in the Church. Balance is the key and imbalance created the problem in the first place. This movement is an extreme reaction to a legitimate problem but does nothing but create more problems. I'm all for incorporating more manly expressions in our worship settings like "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" or "The Battle Belongs To The Lord." But men need to also sing songs like "As The Deer" and "Jesus, Lover Of My Soul." It makes us better men.

One of the hazards of being a man is that, left to ourselves, we avoid intimacy. We're not good at it and many men are frankly scared to death of anything that smacks of intimacy. When we sing about God's warm embrace the average man almost chokes on the lyrics. But it would be a huge mistake to avoid that form of worship expression (which is found in much of the Bible by the way) because we rob God of the opportunity to make men more like Him. God made men after His own image and that includes a lot of things we aren't always comfortable with. Worship is a tool that the Holy Spirit uses to change us into His image. Men tend to focus on facts and intellect. We need to experience God in a way that goes beyond just what we know. We need to experience Him, to feel Him. In the same way, if we stop using manly expressions in our worship, we will then rob women of the ability to go beyond feeling and emotion in their worship experience. So, we need both forms of expression because it makes both men and women balanced in their worship.

Another danger I see in this movement is that it frankly isn't very Christ-like. You may not agree, but it is nothing more than a handful of angry men demanding everything be done their way or else. That is an immature way to handle conflict and men should know better. We are commanded in scripture to humble ourselves before God, to become like Him who emptied Himself, to honor the needs of others above our own, etc. Here is where it gets dangerous. Men in the Church have a notorious reputation of twisting scripture to meet their own needs by misinterpreting the passage that says wives submit to your husbands. What men fail to get right is what precedes that verse when it says we are to love our wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her. How does He love the Church? He lowered Himself and came to us. He didn't demand we come to Him. As a man, I have a mandate from scripture to model giving up my rights, needs and demands and serve those around me. That is the spirit of Christ and we as men must be nothing less.

Lastly, this philosophy reduces worship to something God never intended it to be. Worship is not about getting what I want, feeling good, etc. It is all about me bowing before the King and honoring Him. We too easily make worship about us and that is what is so wrong about this movement. Worship is about Him and we need to get rid of everything that makes it about us. Any man who approaches marriage as a means to get what he wants won't be married for very long. Marriage is a wonderful picture of what worship is all about - relationship. 25 years of marriage have made me a much better man than I ever could have been without my wife. I have become a lot like her in a lot of ways and that is healthy. She has helped me be more loving and gentle, more in touch with my emotions and feelings. She has made me a more balanced man. That only happens when I swallow my manly pride, stop demanding my manly ways, and become more like Jesus.

Some of the manliest men I have ever met were ones that had a tender heart for God and weren't afraid to show it. They weren't afraid to fall on their knees before God and weep before Him. These same men were also very capable of snapping you like a twig if they had to. I challenge all men to be real men, the kind of men God wants us to be, not demanding, self-centered, unemotional brutes. It's time we as men grow up and act like men and stop being so afraid. So the answer to the title of this post is, "Yes, manly men can worship!"


Dawnmarie said...

This was an interesting read. I did not know that this trend was so prevalent. Even still, much of what you said makes sense. It seems to come down to the thought that it takes a real man to show his tender side.

Recovering Church Lady said...

wow, this is a wonderful and clear explanation of this issue! I totally agree with your observations and understand how many will run to an opposite extreme when they see an imbalance, but it seldom solves the problem.

Thank you for your words, hopefully they will help make a difference for many. I also strongly agree with your words about worship being about HIM, NOT US!

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