And why Catholics and Protestants should revive the imagery of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress[Ted Byfield Blog] Visit almost any Christian church on any Sunday and you will quickly notice, if you’re looking for it, a preponderance of female worshipers over male. The percentage varies. It might be anywhere from sixty percent female to as much as seventy-five or even eighty. What is almost never seen is a Sunday congregation where the men outnumber the women. It happens, but it is very rare.
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This so-called “gender gap” in Christian congregations is one curiosity. There’s another. While it has been the subject of several studies, this deficiency of males is never publicly mentioned in church. In my 50 or so years as an Anglican, I can’t remember a single sermon on the absence of men. Nor did I hear one in my subsequent nearly 20 years as Orthodox. However, there’s less reason for such a sermon in Orthodoxy. One study found the Orthodox churches closer to a fifty/fifty male-female balance than any other Christian denomination.
However, the question remains: why do so many men have this anti-church attitude? Various theories are advanced, but central to them all is the conviction that the church has been feminized. What captures the mind and imagination of most males — risk, pain, fear, uncertainty, adventure, heroes, villains, transient defeat and ultimate victory. Things that Christianity once promised and often delivered to its practitioners have all but vanished. Today men find more of them on a ski hill or a golf course than anything they might experience in church. “Church “is all about emotions and study, sitting in circles and sharing your feelings,” writes David Morrow in his book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. “In the last hundred years our understanding of what the Gospel is, has changed from a dangerous mission to being all about relationships.”
Meanwhile, women generally run the church. “While the pastor is male,” says Morrow, “almost every other area is dominated by women. Whenever large numbers of Christians gather, men are never in the majority. Not at revivals. Not at crusades. Not at conferences. Not at retreats. Not at concerts. With the exception of men’s events, can you think of any large gathering of Christians with more men than women?”
So where are the men? Morrow quotes the “men’s pastor” of a Milwaukee megachurch: “Men want to be challenged. They want to get out of the pews. They want to do something. Work with the hungry. Build homes for poor people.”
All of this is no doubt true, but there is another task, with far more risk attached to it than feeding the hungry or building houses, and that is the task of defending the faith when the faith needs defending. It’s a task that arises when people meet socially and the subject turns to the alleged wrongs of religion, particularly the Christian one. These are the battlefields in the Culture War, a war the Christians have been consistently losing since it began and became serious in the 1960s. Our ongoing defeats in that war have been costly. Most of the Sixties generation was lost to the church. Most politicians, bureaucrats, judges, and social planners regard Christian opposition to their vast plans as little more than a trivial nuisance.
This article continues at [Ted Byfield Blog] Why many men shudder at the spectacle of ‘feminized’ Christianity