Friday, August 24, 2007

American Christianity: Emasculated and Feminized!

Brandon Vallorani of American Vision examines how the church in America has "been slowly emasculated and feminized" in his aricle entitled "Wonderful Wednesdays" and other reasons most men hate going to church...

32 comments:

gordan said...

Don't even get me started on this one, bro.

If my homework assignment was to compile a list of 50 unbibilical ways in which the modern church has become feminized, I'd fly into that one like a fake passenger jet into the Pentegon.

Exist~Dissolve said...

I have to say that was fairly ridiculous. The author provides no criteria by which to define what masculinity--as an objectively determinable characteristic--actually is. Rather, he myopically assumes that being a "real man" is rooted in, well, being hairy? How moronic. Surely masculinity is deeper and more meaningful than drinking beer, wasting brain cells on watching cars drive in circles and celebrating the destructive violence idealized in every John Wayne movie.

If the church is being feminized, it is because the males of the species have deluded themselves into thinking that masculinity is somehow rooted in these things, rather than investing in the difficult and time-consuming self-introspection that is necessary to fully comprehend the depths of being male. Of course, such is understandably difficult to attain when there are so many hours of NFL, Nascar and war-mongering which has become the pseudo-standard of the short-sighted and helplessly uncritical author cited in this post.

Rhett said...

Exist,

I appreciate your comments on this subject. They carry alot of weight.... Especially coming from a guy who thinks it's cool to refer to God using feminine pronouns! ;)


RK

gordan said...

Exist, you've hurt all my hairy, NFL-loving feelings and now I'm going to cry.

Actually, I agree with you that we need to be careful to watch how we define masculine or "manly" as opposed to "feminized."

BUT, the point of the article was not that masculine is defined by things like NASCAR. The point was that if you actually have an unchurched "manly man", then the powdery, weeping Jesus the church portrays is probably not going to arrest that guy's attention.

I'm all for defining masculinity rightly (Biblically.) But even by that standard, the church is a little light on its feet, shall we say.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Especially coming from a guy who thinks it's cool to refer to God using feminine pronouns! ;)

I don't know about "cool"--I have advocated only that it is appropriate and acceptable.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Actually, I agree with you that we need to be careful to watch how we define masculine or "manly" as opposed to "feminized."

Exactly. Just because true masculinity is diminished does not mean, inversely, that the reason is because of an over feminization. Such conclusions, like Vallorani, are uncritical and foolish evaluations that are based on not much other than enculutured prejudices about the nature and expression of masculinity and femininity.

BUT, the point of the article was not that masculine is defined by things like NASCAR.

I'm not so sure about that. The very fact that this characterization of masculinity exists in the context of an article about the "emasculation" of the male would seem to strongly indicate that the values engendered in things like Nascar are entirely in keeping with what Vallorani would consider "masculine." My pastor, interestingly, has made the same errors, suggesting that masculinity somehow finds its expression in violence, crudenss, etc., values above which we should be attempting to evolve, not condescending to embrace in order somehow express our "inner male."

The point was that if you actually have an unchurched "manly man", then the powdery, weeping Jesus the church portrays is probably not going to arrest that guy's attention.

So? The non-violence and intimate care which Jesus expressed to those around him are inseparable from who he was. Take him or leave him, this is who Jesus was. If the culturally valuated male--moored in the celebration of violence and suppression and oppression of the feminine--is that to which one is attempting to introduce Christ, it must be recognized that the masculinity of Jesus will call the cultural value to task, ever requiring it to radically change.

I'm all for defining masculinity rightly (Biblically.) But even by that standard, the church is a little light on its feet, shall we say.

I'm not sure what you mean by "a little light on its feet." Such a characterization would seem to indicate 1.) that a vacuum of masculinity [however defined] is invariably replaced by an equal displacement of femininity and 2.) that this displacement of femininity is somehow a negative and destructive thing.

I'm not entirely sure that I understand the rationale for such an assessment, and this, of course, does not begin to broach questions of how masculinity is defined "biblically". IMO, movements within modern Christianity towards equality and respect between the sexes is the first time in a long time that "masculinity" has even had a chance to begin to attain to the biblical ideal.

Rhett said...

"The non-violence and intimate care which Jesus expressed to those around him are inseparable from who he was. Take him or leave him, this is who Jesus was."

Yeah! And the time he ran all those folks out of the temple with the whip was manly too!

gordan said...

Liberals and postmoderns can't have it both ways.

1) Either the Bible is oppressively masculine and/or paternal, and thus the great need for things like Womynist Theology, or

2) You can't possibly hope to develop a Biblical portrait of masculinity.

Which is it, then? Testosterone dripping like corn syrup off the pages, or no discernable difference between the sexes?

I still contend that the evangelical and liberal Jesus bears more resemblance to Davey Jones than to King David.

Exist~Dissolve said...

King David was an adulterer and a murderer--not to mention horrifically brutal and violent. That Christ would bear no resemblance to such is a good thing.

Rhett said...

"Which is it, then? Testosterone dripping like corn syrup off the pages, or no discernable difference between the sexes?"

That might depend on if you are reading a TNIV or not!

gordan said...

Well, that's partly my point, there ED. The Scripture says the Messiah would be the Son of David, meaning there really is some resemblance (I'd say strong) between King David and the Messiah. Yes, David was fallen and he sinned greatly: no one has suggested adultery and murder is the masculinity we're talking about. You have to ignore a great many portions of the Gospels to get a Jesus who is all about being gentle and indiscriminately compassionate. Jesus was not a Republican, but He wasn't a Peace Corps volunteer either.

Rhett said...

"Jesus was not a Republican, but He wasn't a Peace Corps volunteer either."

Amen to that... Judging by the things some people say about the Lord Jesus, you'd think their Bible translation was totally lacking Matthew 23 -and other such passages!

Exist~Dissolve said...

The Scripture says the Messiah would be the Son of David, meaning there really is some resemblance (I'd say strong) between King David and the Messiah.

I would suggest it is quite a stretch to apply this to notions of masculinity. The prophets seemed to imagine the resemblance between the two operating on the level of mission, not the measure of each man's maleness in comparison to the other.

Yes, David was fallen and he sinned greatly: no one has suggested adultery and murder is the masculinity we're talking about.

Okay, fair enough. Your last post did not really specify what it was that was to be the points of comparison between the two, so I assumed it was an open-ended statement.

You have to ignore a great many portions of the Gospels to get a Jesus who is all about being gentle and indiscriminately compassionate. Jesus was not a Republican, but He wasn't a Peace Corps volunteer either.

A commitment to non-violence and compassion has very little to do with the kind of gentleness which you obviously have in mind.

gordan said...

Not sure what I "obviously have in mind." But I do know the Jesus that is preached in patriotic Ameri-gelical churches, liberal churches, and emergent unchurches; and I know it isn't the same one proclaimed by the four Evangelists.

gordan said...

I meant to add that, then, it follows that if you're modelling what it means to be a godly man on that former Jesus, you're missing the mark.

Exist~Dissolve said...

To me it comes down to being suspicious of 1.) attempts to formulate a schema of masculinity based upon the recorded stories about Jesus, the man and, intimately related, 2.) failing to be careful to separate out propositional language about the nature, form and function of masculinity (and femininity) from culturally defined parameters concerning the same.

That is, while Christ is, to an extent, certainly a model for masculinity, I would argue that it is not primarily because Jesus was a male. In the same vein, I would equally argue that Christ--as the God-human--is a model for femininity. Such a conclusion removes consideration of gender "roles"(or even anatomical differences) as being the primal differentiation between sexes and rather roots the discussion primarily in the beginning points of submission to the will of God and love for God and neighbor. It is here--and only here--where true masculinity and femininity can find legitimate foundations, and any potential theorizing about their natures and limits which begins anywhere else is bound to fall upon the rocks of cultural mores concerning gender relations, never even approaching the unity and harmony imaged in the Incarnation of God in Christ within the human community.

gordan said...

"Christ...is a model for femininity."

And you're worried about other peoples' theorizing falling upon the rocks. Nice.

There is a vast difference between asserting that all humans should follow Christ and be conformed to His image, and saying that Christ was the epitome of what it means to be female.

Would you also assert that Mary is a good model of masculinity?

Exist~Dissolve said...

And you're worried about other peoples' theorizing falling upon the rocks. Nice.

So the fact that the eternal Logos became incarnate in humanity has no meaning for defining the feminine? Surely you cannot be serious, for denying such would be to evacuate the Incarnation of meaning for the feminine.

There is a vast difference between asserting that all humans should follow Christ and be conformed to His image, and saying that Christ was the epitome of what it means to be female.

Agreed. However, I do not understand what problem you have with the notion that the Incarnate Logos becoming incarnate in humanity is meaningful for defining femininity. If the image of God--delineated by the two-fold union of the masculine and feminine--is that in which all humans participate, then surely Christ--the incarnation of the God in whose image both males and females are created--is the model of each. To deny such is tantamount to denying that the feminine has a share in the imago dei.

Would you also assert that Mary is a good model of masculinity?

As Mary is not the Incarnate Logos of God, I hardly see why this question is relevant.

Rhett said...

Aye yie yie yie yie...

Exist~Dissolve said...

Aye yie yie yie yie...

Perhaps you could articulate just a bit more as to your objections concerning what I have taken the time and thought to write.

Rhett said...

Nah... I think I'd rather stick to inserting sarcastic remarks every now and then.

gordan said...

The incarnation has meaning for defining humanity. Agreed. Jesus is the fulness of the Imago Dei. No doubt. In Him all things hold together, not merely people; so you could just as well postulate that He is the model for trees and roaches. The infinite took on the finite: that doesn't make the finite infinite, or else the mystery of Incarnation is lost, having merged the two constituents at the price of eliminating one. Both the finite and infinite are harmonized in Him. The finite flesh can only do so much, even in the Incarnation. Man cannot become woman, for instance, any more than Christ's body could be in two places at once. The divine logos didn't take on a hermophroditic body. The Word chose to become (male) flesh.

As incarnate God in human flesh, He is equally the model for males and females, then; but He is not the ultimate in femaleness.

Exist~Dissolve said...

The incarnation has meaning for defining humanity. Agreed. Jesus is the fulness of the Imago Dei. No doubt. In Him all things hold together, not merely people; so you could just as well postulate that He is the model for trees and roaches. The infinite took on the finite: that doesn't make the finite infinite, or else the mystery of Incarnation is lost, having merged the two constituents at the price of eliminating one. Both the finite and infinite are harmonized in Him. The finite flesh can only do so much, even in the Incarnation. Man cannot become woman, for instance, any more than Christ's body could be in two places at once. The divine logos didn't take on a hermophroditic body. The Word chose to become (male) flesh.

I am not denying the maleness of the man Jesus. What I am proposing, however, is that the fundamental nature of incarnation is necessarily consummative of humanity en toto, both male and female. Historically, the church has understood the work of Christ in Incarnation to be recapitulation, the summing up within Christ of humanity, recreating humanity in the imago dei. If this recapitulation is to be complete, however, Christ must sum up within his person all that humanity is. Therefore, as humanity is unalterably defined by the duality of gender, it must be firmly asserted that Christ recapitulates the feminine as well. To deny such would be to fall into the errors engendered in writings such as the Gospel of Thomas wherein it is affirmed that the female must become the male in order to be reconciled to God. While I am not asserting that you would suggest this, the train of your thought leads inevitably to this conclusion as you would dissolve the meaningfulness of Christ's incarnation in the phenomenology of the Logos' incarnate gender.

As incarnate God in human flesh, He is equally the model for males and females, then; but He is not the ultimate in femaleness.

Is Christ, then, the ultimate in maleness? If recapitulation is to occur, surely the female would need an equal representative? Or is feminine salvation only proximate to that of the male?

gordan said...

Yes, Christ is the ultimate in "maleness." However, the fact of His male body prevents Him from being the ultimate female. However, this does not prevent the sort of recapitulation you advocate from happening. I believe it did happen. Females are equally represented by His work and Person, but femininity is not.

I would say that the different gender roles are culturally determined. And I think that religion and language and culture are basically three wheels which turn on the same axle. (Culture being an outgrowth of religious concepts, expressed in human languages, etc.) So my contention is that there is a Biblical culture (not synonymous with Western culture, btw)which results from the implementation of Biblical ideas, as well as the use of Biblical language (in terms of how we speak of things.)

Thus I believe that as we get better at studying and implementing Scripture in our lives, we will organically be better at defining true masculinity, etc. In reverse, I'd contend that if you have funny or fuzzy ideas about the gender roles (what it means to be male or female in society and in relationships) that points back to funny and fuzzy ideas about more basic concepts like the nature of life itself and its relationship to the Creator.

Exist~Dissolve said...

Yes, Christ is the ultimate in "maleness." However, the fact of His male body prevents Him from being the ultimate female. However, this does not prevent the sort of recapitulation you advocate from happening. I believe it did happen. Females are equally represented by His work and Person, but femininity is not.

Okay, so is masculinity represented in his work and person? If one is represented and the other is not, there are only two conclusions: 1.) Masculinity and femininity (e.g., genderedness) are not proper objects of recapitulation. Of course, such a conclusion would invariably deny the nature of the imago dei en toto, for it is masculinity AND femininity that, at least in part, demarcates the special nature of the imago dei as imaged in humanity. 2.) It is only masculinity which has been recapitulated by the man Jesus' special association with it. Of course, if only masculinity and not femininity has been recapitulated in the genderedness of the man Jesus, then one must seriously question the viability of your assertion that the female person could be a proper partaker of the recapitulating work of Christ if this very work, by nature of the genderedness of the Incarnation, is necessarily exclusive of half the imago dei as imaged in humans.

You say that "you believe" this recapitulation did, in fact, occur. However, by the philosophical looseness with which you treat the categories of discussion, you categorically deny your own (now apparently vacuous) assertions.

I would say that the different gender roles are culturally determined.

Would you equally assert that masculinity partakes of the cultural variability of "gender roles?" If such is taken as a given, then how is the "absolute male" Jesus meaningful in an culturally transcendent way to non-ancient Near Eastern understandings of masculinity? That is, if masculinity is recapitulated in Christ, yet this very masculinity is itself culturally variable, then perhaps the masculinity which Christ recapitulated is only applicable to those males which share a common set of cultural mores concerning masculine "roles."


Thus I believe that as we get better at studying and implementing Scripture in our lives, we will organically be better at defining true masculinity, etc.

If masculinity is culturally variable as you assert above, such a quest is ultimately impossible as the cultural mores concerning masculinity which you have inherited from your geo-socio-political environment will invariably skew how you go about defining masculinity.

In reverse, I'd contend that if you have funny or fuzzy ideas about the gender roles (what it means to be male or female in society and in relationships) that points back to funny and fuzzy ideas about more basic concepts like the nature of life itself and its relationship to the Creator.

Okay, but who is determining what funny and fuzzy ideas about these things are? As you have already suggested that these very "ideas" are themselves culturally conditioned, one person's "fuzzy" is another's terror.

Rhett said...

“The female is as it were a deformed male” - Aristotle (The Generation of Animals)

gordan said...

Rhett, after much thought, I've decided that we should just admit that E-D's reasoning here is iron-clad. Let's rejoice in the truth: Jesus is the ultimate girl.

Exist~Dissolve said...

I never said that Jesus is the ultimate girl. All I am advocating is that the eternal Logos, incarnate in humanity, recapitulates the totality of humanity. As the imago dei, in which humanity is created, is demarcated by masculinity and femininity, it must be asserted that Christ likewise encapsulates the fullness of the imago dei in personhood.

Dusty McDust said...

The only thing I find truly ridiculous about the article is the author's thought that an aversion to consuming alcohol is somehow a feminine trait. I wonder where this guy went to school.

Exist~Dissolve said...

I wonder where this guy went to school.

From the vacuous content of his writing, I would suspect that it is a school that is not overly concerned with critical thinking and/or substantive argumentation.

...For my money, it was probably a baptist seminary.

Rhett said...

"...For my money, it was probably a baptist seminary."

Probably not. The guy who wrote it is a Presbyterian.

"The only thing I find truly ridiculous about the article is the author's thought that an aversion to consuming alcohol is somehow a feminine trait."

Had to be a joke, or maybe a bit of sarcasm. I think he's from Georgia, so he ought to know that here in Georgia, most of the gals cuss like sailors, smoke like freight trains, and drink like fish!!

Exist~Dissolve said...

So Gordon, no more responses to the questions I have raised?