Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The masculinization of the church, part 4

Numerous men have told me over the years, in person, in sermons, in articles, in books, in blog posts and emails, that men NEED a certain amount of power and respect in order to "feel like men". Apparently, masculinity is all about being in authority, and femininity is all about being under authority. Men NEED to lead; women NEED to follow. At least that's what I keep being told.

So, as men have masculinized the church, turning into an organization where they will feel more comfortable and at home, and remaking it in their own image, the church has become all about power and control.

I read about one church where the men on the "Leadership Team" were adamant that no women ever, ever be allowed on this board. The pastor, however, was frustrated that there were not enough qualified male leaders, and that the women with leadership capabilities were not being allowed to minister. It began to occur to him that perhaps the men were so eager to "lead" (as in, exercise authority over others) that they had forgotten they were supposed to be serving the church. So he announced a major restructuring of the church board. In actuality, all he did was rename the "Leadership Team", while retaining its same function. At the next board meeting, he handed out the new board description. The men read it in silence for a few minutes, and then began protesting. "Why are there no women on this proposed 'Servant Team'?" one demanded. "Why is it that the men are supposed to do all the serving?" "Why don't the women have to do any of the work?" "What happened to the Leadership Team?"

Men sometimes like to call themselves "servant leaders". They like to say that they "serve by leading". What that usually means is, "I serve you by exercising authority over you in a kinder, gentler way than a selfish tyrant would." But the emphasis is still on exercising authority, and on being the "boss".

Jesus had a different idea.

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave..."

We like to remind ourselves that, if we are the "boss", we shouldn't "lord it over" those under our authority. What we like to conveniently forget is that Jesus didn't seem to be recommending the idea of exercising authority as something we are supposed to be doing, even if we try to pretend we're doing it with a "servant heart".

But, in the masculinized church, we are all concerned with authority, with control, with power, and with all those things that no real slave should even be trying to exercise.

How far the church has come from what God intended!

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  1. Why are there no women on this proposed servant team? What happened to the leadership team? hahaha!!!!

    Thanks for that. Great insight.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. There are very few comments that I delete. However, I deleted the above comment for several reasons:

    1. Its length was completely inappropriate.

    2. It did not address the topic of the post, nor did it address any other post on my blog in a meaningful way.

    3. In fact, it was not really meaningful --- at least not in any sort of coherent way.

    4. It contained language I find extremely offensive --- and many of my readers would not doubt be equally offended.

  4. I think we women have to be careful not to go to the opposite extreme. I don't think men are taking over the church. I think if a woman is called to ministry than she should do as she is called the same for a man. Personally, I've never liked the idea of a woman pastor because I see a pastor as fatherly. But that could be because my pastor was also a father me when I had none. I think we are coming into times of reconciliation between men and woman and we have to let go of old hurts that may hinder the restoration process.