‘Men emasculated by the Church’ came up in a conversation with my husband and I just listened, somewhat dumbfounded, but then curious.
For years we’ve heard about emasculated men. Self help books abound with the concept. The blame is always on females, feminism, and macho-women. And while a shift did occur in the sixties with Gloria Steinem, she is/was secular, so how could this relate and translate to a Christian man?
Often, most often, men will point out a television commercial or a sitcom in which the man is portrayed as a subservient idiot. This role playing on television is considered the cornerstone of emasculation. But it is hardly a Christian perspective, Hollywood is nearly completely secular. In fact, most deference to the term is from the secular indoctrination that has invaded culture.
Some contend that because the church shames sexual sin, this is a form of emasculation. But is it the church creating the emasculation or the culture of sexual sin? If you are Christian, adultery and porn are not accepted. Period. So if the church calls you out on your sin, it isn’t the church emasculating you, it is your sin that has, and now your guilt and shame need a force to blame – the church. The blame then further sends you into the secular world and the circle is complete – you are fighting Biblical teaching with secular psychology.
I looked it up and interestingly, the topic was quite gainful during 2008 and then seemed to lose its luster. It was more of a book club topic than something real. It was something Hollywood capitalized on, helping to indoctrinate the notion that in order to not be emasculated, men must pursue even greater sin, ‘it is a man’s nature to lust and have women’. Pulled into the Hollywood rhetoric, men use this example to justify their impurity. And thus deny their Christianity. And the more they sin, the more angry they become at the women who are not sinning in this way thus emasculating themselves into a deadly spiral.
But there is more to it. Liberalizing churches has recreated the message. Men say they want to hear more of the warrior messages, more of the clashes and battles, more about holding up the cause and protecting family. When the sermons are relegated to gentleness and nurturing, men say they feel feminized. This becomes further convoluted by the fact that in the Christian church the elders and pastors and leaders are all – men.
Are men feminizing and emasculating themselves?
The Bible certainly does not emasculate. King David comes to mind! A warrior! A savior! A murderer. An adulterer. Masculine and beloved by God, he was also subject to sin. What gave him masculinity was that he confronted the sin, hated the sin, cried out in repentance against the sin and recognized that as a warrior he would not become slave to his sin! He did not sit around and fall prey to shame and guilt, he fought sin like he fought all battles. He didn’t blame Bathsheba. He blamed himself.
Blaming your wife for your emasculation, blaming the church – does not address the battle or repentance, it instead justifies and pushes a man further away from Christianity into secularism.
When reading men’s self-help books and men’s articles about what makes them ‘feel’ emasculated, the typical jargon lists the ten or fifteen things a female imparts: having to borrow his wives/girlfriend’s car, when his ego feels deflated, when the woman brags about past sexual relations, when she doesn’t laud him for his financial wizardry, when she tells him he’s a wimp, etc… Some were really goofy; when she tells him he needs a haircut, sitting in the store while she shops, being beat at a sport or a game, or chiding him for forgetting something. I imagine these guys egocentric heart could ‘list’ a thousand reasons why someone else has caused them this misfortune. But the Truth is, they’ve fallen prey to their own battle.
So what would a non-emasculated church look like?
By even claiming emasculation, men would seem to have fallen victim to the secular word. The Bible is quite clear that God calls for men to act like men and women like women. Ephesians 4 verse 14 says: “That we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes”
John MacArthur goes further in his warning: “You want to be a man as opposed to a little boy? Grow up in your grasp of the truth. Get a grip on sound doctrine and quit being influenced by every new trend and every undulating breeze that blows across the evangelical landscape. Quit chasing the evangelical fads. Get anchored in the truth, and learn to defend it.”
He’s not saying the church is to blame for your feeling emasculated, he doesn’t blame your wife or Gloria Steinem, or your mother or vacant father, he tells each of us to take our own leads, our own ownership, and learn what is right, what is good, from the Biblical Word while not honoring our desire to be a slave to sin or justifying our chemistry, ie testosterone.
MacArthur further chastises John Eldridge as succumbing to a boy’s heart instead of a man’s in Eldridge’s famous quote, “Deep in his heart, every man longs for a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue.” Instead, MacArthur advises: “Scripture says what motivates real men is a love for the truth; a contempt for error; and a passion for being used by God in the work of snatching people from the grip of the father of lies.” It is about leading others instead of falling prey to self as the central theme.
MacArthur admonishes, the idea that men need to sit at a bar, smoke cigars and drink beer while discussing theology is no different than a ‘hen house’ of women who substitute tea for beer and crumpets for cigars. If you want to be a manly man, go out into the real world and speak Truth where it is under attack. Be disciplined, knowledgeable and anchored, understanding the Truth well and devoted to it.
Does this mean you can’t love adventure and fishing and crabbing, sailing the sea, and rescuing a damsel in distress? Absolutely not. It simply means you won’t find your masculinity there, you will find it rooted inside you when you have taken the Biblical Truth and made it yours. Amen.