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  • Daniel Botkin

The Feminizing of the Faith

I recently read a quote: “The average church today is an institution supported by the husbands of its members.”

This quote appeared in 1600 Squibs and Quips by E. C. McKenzie. It was published by Baker Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1966, during a time when husbands were the primary breadwinners in the family, and often the only breadwinner. Thus the author’s observation that the average church is (or at least was in 1966) financially supported not by the members, most of whom were female, but by the members’ husbands.

Now, over fifty years later, most churches still have significantly more women than men. Thank God for the women, but where are the men? Why do so many men stay away from church? Probably because they view church as something mainly for women and children and old people. And for men who are sissies. Many men do not view church as something manly.

Why do some men view church this way? Because the faith has been feminized. Biblical faith has aspects which can be thought of as feminine, and these aspects are important. But the picture is out of balance at many churches.

I do not blame women for this imbalance. I blame the men who are not there. If the majority of members are women, with very few men present, the church is naturally going to be imbalanced and feminized. If the great majority of members are females, then the church will naturally provide and promote activities for women, and this is understandable. But it can make church unappealing to men, because they will feel that they do not fit in.

Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has talked about what he calls “the chickification of our culture.” This “chickification” has occurred over the past few decades due to the efforts of a small but very vocal minority of radical feminists.

The feminist movement of the 1960s was spawned primarily as the result of Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique, which was published in 1963 and soon became the modern feminists’ bible. Betty Friedan was a native of Peoria. A few years ago I was reading an article about her in our local newspaper. According to the article, when Betty was preparing for her bat mitzvah, she told the rabbi that she did not believe in God. But the rabbi didn’t have a problem with that, because the rabbi didn’t believe in God either.

I have never read The Feminine Mystique, and I have no need nor desire to read it. I can see the rotten fruit which has been spawned by the writings of the pro-abortion atheist Betty Friedan.

Having said all that, let me say this. Contrary to what some GOE readers might think, I do not believe the feminist movement of the 1960s was all bad. I believe women were right to expect equal pay for equal work. If a woman is doing the same amount of work and is doing it as well as a man, then she should be paid the same wage. I also believe women were right to object to physical abuse by husbands or boyfriends. Grievances such as these were and are legitimate. The problems caused by the feminist movement are not the result of legitimate grievances, but of illegitimate and imaginary grievances. The pendulum had swung too far one way, to allow exploitation and abuse of women. But now the radical feminists have pushed the pendulum too far the opposite way. As a result, our culture has been castrated, emasculated, chickified. And because so many churches are so very worldly, they have likewise embraced this change in the culture, and the church has been chickified. The faith has been feminized.

Let me give you a few examples of things that illustrate the imbalance I am talking about. Some months ago I received Christian Book Distributors’ 80-page summer catalog of Christian fiction. Out of curiosity, I counted how many of the books in the catalog were Christian romance novels written by women. I counted 218 Amish romance novels and 599 non- Amish romance novels. That’s a total of at least 817 Christian romance novels, written by women, about fictional women, and obviously for women. (I say “at least” 817 because some of the book titles did not have a description, so I did not include these in my count.) The catalog had a few novels that were not romance novels (suspense, mystery, drama), but they were very, very few compared to the number of romance novels.

I’m not suggesting that it’s a sin to read a Christian romance novel. But 817 titles in an 80-page catalog? It’s no wonder that nonchurched men feel alienated in the Christian world.

Another area of the faith which has been feminized in some churches is in the praise and worship music. Many popular praise and worship songs are sung from a female’s perspective. Songs with themes like “Dance with me, O lover of my soul.” This is a wonderful song, and men can sing it. After all, we men are part of Messiah’s Bride just as much as women are. But if the music is not balanced by the inclusion of some songs that are more macho - some hand-clapping, foot-stomping songs about doing spiritual warfare, for example - then men can feel alienated at church during the praise and worship.

One other area that shows the feminizing of the faith is in the interior decoration in many church buildings. Go into a typical church building, and what do you usually see? Feminine decor. Soft pastel colors. Glass tables bearing big vases with pretty floral arrangements. Glittery, shimmering, delicate things hanging on the walls.

All this is fine, but where are the swords and shields and suits of armor? Where are the rifles and muskets, and the stuffed and mounted deer heads and moose heads and bear heads?

No, I don’t really want to see guns and stuffed animal trophies hanging in church buildings, but you get my point. The feminine decor is fine, but if it were balanced with some masculine decor, it might help men see that church is not just for women. The Tabernacle in Exodus had lots of feminine decor. Soft, fine-twined linen, curtains with cherubim embroidered upon them, fabrics dyed with blue, purple, and scarlet. But it also included masculine decor, items made of hard metal. A hard brass altar, a brass laver, a gold table, a gold menorah, a gold incense altar, the gold ark, and gold-covered boards that stood erect like sentinels, resting on hard silver sockets. And of course it had male priests. The decor in the Tabernacle was a balanced mixture of masculine and feminine.

As for decor in a church building, it’s nice but not necessary. Some old-fashioned denominations prefer the plain look. I do not think the plain look is necessary, but I can see some advantages. The people are there to worship God, not the building. Ostentatious decor can be a distraction for some people. Instead of focusing on the Lord, they focus on the fancy architecture, the stained glass windows, and the beautiful banners.

If I were in charge of decorating a church building, I’d like to have two rough-hewn stone tablets with the Ten Commandments carved on them. Hanging down around the tablets of the law, I’d have a delicate curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet, torn in two from the top, torn far enough to reveal the tablets of the law. This would be a nice balance of both masculine and feminine.

I might also like to hang twelve big tribal banners with the names and symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel, six on one wall and six on the opposite wall, banners with a balance of masculine and feminine imagery.

But church decor is not the main problem. I would not even call church decor a problem. I’d just call it a symptom, a sign that reflects the fact that the church has been chickified, the faith has been feminized.

Again, I do not blame the women for what has happened. I blame the men who have neglected their Divine calling to be the spiritual leaders in their homes and in the church. If men will do their duty, balance will be restored. So rise up, men! Take your place and do your duty! It may be too late to restore balance to our culture, but we can try to restore balance in the Body of Messiah. Be the man God wants you to be, and help to un-chickify the church.

| DB

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