Friday, March 16, 2007

GodMen? GodWomen?

The following comment was made by simplegifts3 to my "Masculine Piety" post. While referencing the GodMen movement and their website, she wrote:
Right off the bat, I think this site is hitting on a problem that plagues both men and women, and that is we cover up so much when we go to church, and we sit in pews and listen, and anything most people in church get to say is according to the script of a liturgy, or a hymn book or overhead screen lyrics.

So there isn't really an outlet in formal church for the human soul. And a potluck isn't the place for it, either. And some kind of outlet is necessary for confession and true encouragement and forgiveness and healing.

I have a friend, who is a psychologist, and years ago she told me people are willing to pay just to have someone listen to them, and to have a close friend, and that is one of the real needs counseling and psychology meets, if people don't have this in their lives. I think there is a lot of truth to that, and I think this is what many men are reacting to.

I don't think it is a "feminization" issue as much as I think it is an "isolation" issue, and a "we need some place where we can be real with each other issue," and this plagues women, too.

I had heard of GodMen and decided to check out their website. As I read what they were about, I couldn't help but wonder what sort of outrage would be raised if someone created a similar organization for women...

Welcome to GodWomen, where you'll find power, honesty, courage and your tribe of sisters.

The truth is that on any given Sunday, 60% of church attendees are women, and yet something about church today is not meeting the deepest needs of women. We are attempting to create a worship place for women that looks nothing like church. It is a place where women of no religion and women who have left the church break bread with followers of Jesus. Where simply being a woman, created in God's image, is celebrated. An environment familiar with and conducive to the way women are made comfortable and the unique way women interact.

We have committed to see what would happen if, for one day, our faith and its struggles would be discussed with absolute honesty, transparency and openness - not sugar coated or framed in church language but instead spoken in frankness and maturity where women can see their innermost fears, shames, and secrets brought to light in a safe environment. Not for judgment but instead to reveal a commonality of unique female struggles shared with their own tribe, a band of sisters who promise to walk this journey with them to the end. The GodWomen event is:

  • More powerful, raw, and real than any other women's event you know.
  • A place to explore issues like fear, isolation, numbness, aimlessness, sexual temptation, passivity and more.
  • An opportunity to discuss sensitive subjects without using sugar coated or safe church language.
  • Speakers who speak honestly about their struggles through short messages.
  • A place to ask questions and receive honest answers.
  • A chance to celebrate the feminine spirit.

This is a place of worship where we engage in laughter for laughter's sake, music for the sake of music, and female-specific elements that let women be women. We are unique in that we provide audience-speaker dialogue and interaction in order to teach women how to shoulder each others’ burdens, never to be alone again. Our ultimate desire is to encourage women to leave committed to daily acts of courage, guiding them into a new and fresh journey. Does this resonate with you and your search for meaning and truth? Then you are of our tribe - come walk with us and bring your unique life experience and perspective to our journey.

We don't want you....we need you.

Welcome to GodWomen!

In some ways this would appeal to me. It would certainly appeal to me far more than many of the women's events I'm familiar with, that seem so cloying. I can't help but think it would be a wonderful thing to be in a setting where being a woman is thought of as a good thing, where we do not have to make apology for our femininity, where everything is not centered around men, where we are defined as being ourselves rather than defined by our relationships with men.

Frankly, I would want our worship to be one in which we engage in music not for music's sake, but for the sake of Him Whom we worship. I would want the focus to be more on God than on me and my gender.

At the same time, I am drawn to the idea of a band of sisters who will shoulder each other's burdens, who will be honest about our struggles --- even the ones that make us appear less than the current ideal of godly womanhood --- and who will encourage each other to acts of courage.

Simplegifts3 is right: we have an issue of isolation in the church, a lack of real and meaningful fellowship and soul ministry, and this plagues women as well as men.

But isn't it funny how I can't shake the nagging feeling that the very idea of GodWomen seems dangerous and subversive?


  1. I subscribe to the regulative principle of worship: that which is not required in worship is forbidden in worship.

    We find biblical warrant for: preaching, praying, singing, offering tithes, benediction, and scripture reading in worship. So that's all we do. Basically, it's a puritan way of doing things.

    So, when I see GodWomen or similar things, I quickly reject them on that basis alone. Although I very much like to FEEL good, to share, to express, and so forth - believe me, I do - I can't use that as a criteria for worship. I can't see from scripture that worship is about helping me or healing me, although I do experience being helped and healed.

    I think it's about worshipping God, and the focus is 100% on Him. Any benefits to ourselves are secondary.

    The Puritans are made fun of in this day, like they are a bunch of killjoys. Actually, outside of the public worship they had a lot of variety and interest in their lives. They smoke, they drank, etc. It was just in the public worship that they adhered to the regulative principle.

  2. First, I just wanted to make clear that, to the best of my knowledge, "GodWomen" exists only in my imagination. Part of the intention of my post was to turn the concept of GodMen around in order to make a point.

    Also, as far as I know, GodMen is not trying to be a church or trying to replace the church, so I'm not convinced that the regulative principle should apply to their events.

    I used to belong to a church that followed the regulative principle. During that time, I found it interesting to note how different churches disagreed sharply on how exactly to apply the principle. I also found it a bit artificial and silly to observe the hairsplitting that sometimes took place. For instance, in our church, it was OK for a woman to speak in the church meeting BEFORE the official call to worship, but not after. In another church, the saved the singing of modern choruses to after the benediction.

    At the same time, I greatly appreciate the intent of the regulative principle, as well as the intent of many within liturgical traditions. Certainly there is much that has crept into the church that does not belong there. Too many have forgotten that the intent of worship is to glorify God. We are not the audience; He is. We are certainly not the object or subject of worship; He is.

  3. OOPS. "In another church, the saved the singing of modern choruses to after the benediction" should have read "...THEY saved the singing..."

    I am not called the Typo Queen without reason.

  4. I have the same nagging feeling, Rebecca. I wrote about this on my blog back in early November.

    I think if there was a "God-Women" conference it would be quickly shot down as some feminist event which was trying to subvert all males and their power. And to think that we could sing songs about our private parts and their powers (after all birth is a very powerful experience not to mention carrying life inside you).

  5. I just can't imagine starting a website insinuating that the church is too masculine, that there is nothing in church for women, and that we need to get together as women because of this.

    My SS teacher just got back from Cuba, and talked about what is going on in some churches there. I also saw some people from Ghana today -- there is a mission there to help release those who have been sex slaves to fetish priests.

    There is just so much work to be done around the world that makes all this kind of trivial, somehow, when you hear details of Castro's Cuba, or of little children being forced to be soldiers in the LRA (Uganda), or of enslavement of women to pay for the sins of their ancestors (Ghana), or of similar things in Sudan.

  6. Corrie, there is such a thing, but it's pagan. The feminist influence is big in the New Age/neoPagan movement, and those involved would have us think that goddess worship is older than the patriarchal forms of religion. But most of the ancient fertility cults involved a god and a goddess, and phallus worship, the worship of male sexuality and potency, is OLD, at least as old as Phoenicia and Baal. (the word Baal means, Lord, Master, and Husband)

    Patriarchy is even older than humanity -- among apes and other animals, alpha males use copulation as a means to dominate females and lesser males alike. The most powerful male rules the roost, and passes his genes on, ensuring a form of "immortality".

  7. CJ,

    If feminists are big into goddess worship then masculinsts are big into god worship. They are both a pagan notion, right? :-) In either case, their eyes are off of the Lord and on themselves.

    They need to remember that it isn't about them. :-)

    God can use a donkey if He wanted to. Being female or male does not make us special but being in Christ does.

    Thanks for bringing out the pagan aspects of these movements.

  8. Well... I think that whenever we stop looking at God and start lookng at ourselves, we risk sliding into idolatry. From there it's only a short step into all sorts of aberrations (and, glorifying one sex to the extent of scorning the other is hardly healthy. Men and women are not supposed to hold one another in contempt, they are supposed to love and complement one another):

    Rom 1:23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
    Rom 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Rom 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.