Sunday, September 14, 2008

Where did all the men go?

"Where did all the men go?"

Now this may make lots of women want to turn off, it may make a few men turn off. But recently I've been beginning to sense that this is a real question Christians are having to face up to.

The number of single men and women I see in the church seems to be bigger than ever.

Now there's nothing wrong with being single. No there isn't. I myself am single.

However, sometimes I wonder why this is happening. I also wonder if, in the argument regarding women in leadership, and the church being too sexist, that the real argument has been lost.

The argument for me is not about women in leadership.

Women can be equally called to leadership, teaching/preaching, worship leading etc as men. If you look at the correct interpretation of scripture in the standard teachings on the issue and look at their correct meaning and context, and look at how Jesus treated women, then I believe it makes that pretty clear.

That's not the issue.

Its about men being men.

I've talked to single female friends of mine about this. From what they said, it became clear to me that one of the issues facing the church today is about allowing men to be men. Allow them to be masculine. Allow them to be initiators, to take the lead, to set the example, to make bold courageous steps of faith. Allow them to go on adventures and be risk-takers for the kingdom.

This isn't to say women can't be initiators or leaders - indeed I know several very anointed Christian leaders and initiators who are women, and I believe women should be allowed to lead and to speak in church if they are called and gifted in that area. I have no problems with women in leadership.

But this is the problem. Some people think 'allowing men to be men' somehow automatically means women can't use the same gifts or have the same callings.


Of course they can. But part of being a man is having an adventure. Being bold. Being fearless. Taking the initiative.

A large proportion of women I know prefer the man to ask them out. Its the man who asks the woman to marry him.

Women like to be made to feel like women as well. That can only happen if a man is a man.

Now what I'm not saying is that men should always be macho and never show emotion. That's equally ridiculous, and some Christian leaders seem to preach this view.

Jesus didn't. Jesus wept. Jesus, the ultimate example for any man, wept in public. He wasn't afraid of expressing his emotions publicly.

My pastor is very much the same, and that makes him more of a man that someone who refuses to ever cry or won't cry because its somehow less 'macho'.

Real men do cry.

The point I'm trying to make, is that we shouldn't afraid to let men be men - if we are men, we should be in touch with our masculinity, in a sensitive and loving way, not in a patronising sexist way.

We shouldn't be afraid to show emotion publicly.

We shouldn't be afraid of being assertive, of being adventurous, being bold, taking the initiative.

Women also need to allow men to be men, and I believe the more women allow men to be men and the more men act like men, in the appropriate way, rather than in a macho sexist way, the better it will be for the church and for Christian marriages.

Let me get this straight, sexism or prejudice based on gender is totally wrong, and not Biblical. Marginalising women in the church and saying they can't preach, or teach, or lead, or speak in church, is NOT what I believe the Bible means when it talks about women.

I believe that whatever anyone's gifts are, they should be allowed the opportunity to use and develop them, whatever their gender. We're all equal before God.

But men need to start being men. Too much today the culture of the world and even the church tries to suppress this, and we don't even realise it. It seems we talk so much of men being in touch with their feminine side - which is important - that we start to forget the masculine side.

So men, may you not be afraid to be men. To go on adventure. To take risks. To be initiators. To be bold and fearless. And yes, do not be afraid to cry, and be in touch with your emotions.

And women, may you allow men to be men, because I believe when men start acting as men in the truest sense - not in a macho sexist way, but in a masculine way following Jesus' example - that both women and men will be blessed in a new, fresh way, reflective of the way God created us to be.