Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 6

Does Christianity need muscles? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Pearcey continues writing as to how when male behavior changed, Christianity began to be seen as less masculine. There was an attempt made to make Christianity more muscular. One way to do this is with sports, so you have institutions rise up like the YMCA. Interesting fact she shares is that the inventor of basketball was actually a Presbyterian minister who set up two baskets for that had been used for gathering peaches.

Such an idea is not unheard of. Paul used analogies of athletes in his writings. Not only that, but he used soldiers as an example even including the armor of God in the book of Ephesians. Thus, using “manly” interests to give examples of how Christians were to live is not unheard of.

Why bring up the military? Think about hymns like “Onward Christian Soldiers” or “Stand up, Stand up for Jesus.” We are told to fight for the faith and we are told to be good soldiers. Examples like this are appealing to men.

Many men take pride in their work and see it as a defining feature of their lives, but how often do preachers talk about work?

The biblical teaching on work and vocation should be a key part of the Christian message. Yet it rarely is. One survey found that 92 percent of churchgoing men have never heard a sermon on the subject of work. Christian essayist Dorothy Sayers comments that if Christianity does not speak to our work lives, then it is silent about most of what we do: “How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?”

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 181-182). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Nowadays, I find many sermons just seem to be self-help therapy. I’m not saying that’s how it is with my church or every church. I am saying that we rarely seem to have sermons that have meat on them. We often preach at the lowest common denominator and send our church members out into a world above that. We train them on how to use bows and arrows while our enemies have rocket launchers.

I have a professor here who did a dissertation on Billy Sunday, an evangelist of the past who impacted Billy Graham. I was surprised to see how confrontational Sunday was as Pearcey says:

Sunday taunted his audiences, saying if they were hesitant to convert to Christianity, it was because they were “not man enough”: You haven’t manhood enough to get up and walk down the aisle and take me by the hand and say, I give my heart to Christ. . . . Oh you aren’t man enough to be a Christian! It takes manhood to be a Christian, my friends, in this old world! No man can be a man without being a Christian and no man is a man unless he is a Christian. Billy Sunday’s testosterone-laden style appealed to men, and he became the most influential revivalist of his day. Even H. L. Mencken, the acerbic journalist known for his attacks on Christianity, called Sunday a “gifted exhorter” and remarked that he was “constantly struck by the great preponderance of males” coming to the front to be saved at Sunday’s crusades.

Pearcey, Nancy. The Toxic War on Masculinity: How Christianity Reconciles the Sexes (pp. 183-184). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Notice the emphasis on manhood.

Unfortunately, looking at our time, it hasn’t seemed to work in the long-term. If anything, men are now the object of ridicule. How so? That will be looked at next time.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)