In last week's eNews, we overviewed the treatment of women in the Bible. In contrast to some religions that treat women as hardly better than the possessions of men, the Bible values and honors women. Yet, human beings have a tendency to mess things up and skew God's original intent and design. There is order in God's delegation of authority, and when men fail to take their proper responsibilities, and when women usurp the authority that men are supposed to exercise, everybody can suffer.
Surveys in recent years have shown that women consistently outnumber men in Christian churches. It doesn't matter which denomination, women are more likely to attend church – and attend faithfully - than men are. According to the US Religious Landscape Survey of 35,000 people by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 45 percent of women and 34 percent of men attend a worship service weekly. A Barna Research survey of 1,006 adults in 2008 showed that 77 percent of women compared to 65 percent of men considered their faith very important in their lives. The reasons, though, may go beyond something like, "girls are better." In fact, the problem may be that many men find church to be "sissified."
In his book, The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, Leon Podles writes:
"Western Christianity has become part of the feminine world from which men feel they must distance themselves to attain masculinity. That is why men stay away from church, especially when they see that the men involved in church tend to be less masculine."To the extent that this is true, it can be addressed in simple terms. First, Christian men need to behave like men, and not like women in male bodies. They need to take seriously the responsibilities of spiritual leadership that God has given them. Second, women must not usurp men's authority in the church body.
Men have too often been lax in their jobs before God to be the spiritual leaders in their homes. Too often mothers have been the ones who make sure the kids go to worship, say their prayers, and learn their Bible verses. Mothers, though, are not the spiritual heads of the family; fathers are. Of course, it's better if Mom takes the kids to church than if nobody does. People who went to church without either parent as children are only 33 percent likely to now attend regularly as adults, compared to 50 percent of those who went to church with at least Mom. The best way to make sure children attend church as adults, though, is to have both Dad and Mom taking them. Sixty-two percent of adults who attend church regularly were taken by both parents as children.
Ross Sawyers pastors a church in Grapevine, Texas dedicated to reaching men.
"I have read that if a child comes to Christ, 12 percent of the time the whole family will follow," Sawyers says. "If the mom comes, there's a 15 percent chance the family will. But if the man comes to church, 90 percent of the time the family will come along behind."We need our Christian men, and we need men to take on their roles with strength and courage and passion, without fearing they'll be hounded by a group of church ladies who don't like the way things are done. As sad as that sounds, it is actually a problem in some churches.
There are some wonderful women in churches, whose acts of service are a blessing and inspiration to many. Churches need those women. However, when women start to take over everything, men need to stand up and take charge again. It's not sexist, it's simply part of the order of things. Men have a natural tendency to be more business-oriented, and women to be more relationship-oriented. Women complain that men are too harsh and men complain that women are too emotional. Yet, God fashioned each gender for specific purposes and functions. Each gender has their vital role to play in their family and community and church lives, and those roles are meant to complement each other. Even in the very beginning, God made man to tend the garden and woman to be man's helper, and when both do their jobs conscientiously, in a partnership, fruitfulness is the result.
While there have been many benefits to women's liberation over the years, there has also been an imbalance as women have tried to break free from what has been seen as a bondage to male authority. As far as men have abused their positions of authority, they bear some responsibility for that. Even many Christian women, though, have ceased to understand the high value God places on women respecting their husbands and their husbands' position as head of the family, and as leaders in the church. There is an order that God has ordained, and both genders have – in a large way – failed to understand and maintain that order.
The Bible consistently tells women, "Submit to your husbands" (Eph 5:22, Col 3:18). Those words are obnoxious to many women today, and yet, they are just as important as the words, "Husbands, love your wives" (Eph 5:25). They do not mean that women should be doormats, or that they are relegated to the position of house servants with no voice or opinion. They do not mean that women become robots who lose their own responsibility for their own actions. In Acts 5, Sapphira was held accountable for agreeing with Ananias' to lie about the money they were donating. Yet, many Christian women want to control their husbands, and they hang desperately onto their own self-righteousness, all the while hiding a heart of rebellion and pride.
The reality is that God has given men the position of headship, and they have the final responsibility before God for what happens in the family and in the church. Women need to respect their husbands' position under God. It pleases God when women aren't constantly railing against their husbands, rejecting their authority, and neutering them in general. It pleases Him when they submit themselves to their husbands out of respect for Him. And when women are obedient to God in this way, it encourages men to be men and to do the jobs that everybody needs them to do. When women are doing all the work, it's very easy for men to sit back and just watch the ball game.
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered (1 Peter 3:5-7).
A Little Order
- Women are not supposed to teach or usurp authority over a man (1 Tim 2:12-14).
- Older women are to be holy, teaching the young women (Titus 2:3-5).
- Older men are to willingly teach and oversee the flock, not lording over them but being good examples. (1 Peter 5:1-3).
- Young men are to submit to the older ones (1 Peter 5:5).
- Everybody is to be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5).
What About Nan?
Here at Koinonia House, Nan Missler teaches The Way of Agape series, and sometimes men attend her sessions. She leads those sessions, though, under the authority of her husband, and the men who attend come of their free will. Most of those who do attend her sessions are women, but we're not going to turn folks away from hearing about God's way of love just because they are wearing neckties or suspenders.
In the end, it isn't each other we should be fighting against. We are not the enemy; Satan is.
"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:10-13).
At Nation's Churches, Guys Are Few In The Pews - USA Today
The Feminization of the Church - Blog
Way of Agape: A New Way of Love - Koinonia House
Nan's Articles - King's Highway