Thursday, February 09, 2006

New church fad, part 2

[Read my previous post for context!]

This whole "men hate church and need a church just for them" idea strikes me as a bit ridiculous for many reasons. Just one example:

A woman I know invited her boss to church. Her boss was a successful businesswoman who had never before attended any church. Unfortunately, this woman found the whole experience so odd and off-putting that she said she would never feel comfortable returning to church. Here are some of her observations:
  1. The whole church service was obviously planned for men, to the point that women like her were made to feel unwelcome.
  2. The only role for women in the church that she could observe was to sing in a group. Men did all the talking: preaching, making announcements, leading the worship, etc. Men also took up the offering, handed out bulletins, seated people, and served communion. Why were the women restricted from doing these things? she wondered.
  3. The sermon was geared to men. All the illustrations had to do with sports or male topics. The applications were male-centered. She almost felt as if she were eavesdropping in on a message that was not intended for her.
  4. To her shock, the Bible also seemed addressed to men only --- at least all the passages that were read out loud and the others that she managed to skim through during the service.
She concluded that Christianity was a male-centered religion, and she was amazed that any woman would feel comfortable in that church. "Even if I did become a Christian," she later said to the woman who had invited her, "I couldn't go to a church like that. I'm the type who wants to get involved and use my talents and skills. It seems your church won't let women do anything besides sing. I really don't think your church wants me to be there --- or that they want any women there. I felt as unwelcome as if I'd tried to invade some sort of 'he man women haters club'."

The saddest thing is that she later said, "A friend of mine once told me that Jesus was a friend of women. But, after going to church and reading some of the Bible, I don't see that at all."

Was this some isolated situation? No. Even over two decades ago, I was meeting single women who didn't want to go to church because it was "for men". ("Let's face it. The Bible is written for men. Church is full of men. Women are just supposed to sit there and listen. There is nothing for them to do but cook and clean. I guess that's the way all religions are that have men in charge.") I've had women ask me, "I know Jesus loves and cares for men, but does he really care for me?" One of the saddest conversations online that I've ever had was with a woman who, after years in the church, doubted whether God extended salvation to women. "I just can't get past the fact that the Bible is addressed to men," she said. The only verse about salvation for women that she could find made it clear, in her mind, that only mothers could be saved.

Frankly, as someone who has grown up in the church, I hardly notice that I interpret Bible verses to include me also. I'm used to churches being run by men, with men in almost all the visible roles. In fact, it's what I have grown comfortable with. But a lot of women have not grown up attending church and, to them, it can be a huge culture shock when they walk into something that is so "male-dominated".

Yet the church is supposedly all "feminized". I just don't get it.

1 comment:

  1. Yet women make up the majority of church memberships.