Sunday, December 17, 2006
Read about this in the paper:

NASHVILLE -- The strobe lights pulse and the air vibrates to a killer rock beat. Giant screens show mayhem and gross-out pranks: a car wreck, a sucker punch, a flabby (and naked) rear end, sealed with duct tape.

Brad Stine runs onstage in ripped blue jeans, his shirt untucked, his long hair shaggy. He's a stand-up comic by trade, but he's here today as an evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man — one profanity at a time. "It's the wuss-ification of America that's getting us!" screeches Stine, 46.

A moment later he adds a fervent: "Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"

It's an apt anthem for a contrarian movement gaining momentum on the fringes of Christianity. In daybreak fraternity meetings and weekend paintball wars, in wilderness retreats and X-rated chats about lust, thousands of Christian men are reaching for more forceful, more rugged expressions of their faith.

Stine's daylong revival meeting, which he calls "GodMen," is cruder than most. But it's built around the same theory as the other experimental forums: Traditional church worship is emasculating.

Hold hands with strangers? Sing love songs to Jesus? No wonder pews across America hold far more women than men, Stine says. Factor in the pressure to be a "Christian nice guy" — no cussing, no confrontation, in tune with the wife's emotions — and it's amazing men keep the faith at all.

< sarcasm >Finally! One more Christian men's ministry that can tell me how I'm not living up to God's ideal for me as a manly-man because I'm not an aggressive, crude, insensitive alpha-male that just wants to be able to hang with the guys more. That's exactly what we need more of in the church.< /sarcasm >

A song from the GodMen rally:
Forget the yin and the yang
I'll take the boom and the bang….
Don't need in touch with my feminine side!
All I want is my testosterone high.

And from their website:
GodMen believes that being a guy is a reason to be proud - not a problem to be fixed. We connect men to their spiritual masculinity - making them dangerous in a righteous way.

We don't force men, Christian or otherwise, to wear "spiritual bras."

I think there's probably some good things that can come out of conference like this... for men who fit their stereotype of masculinity. My problem with groups like this is that they generally don't have any room in their views for men who don't fit their stereotype. In their view God designed men to be one way (aggressive, physical, "dangerous", crude, "not nice", emotionally unaware, etc.) and if you don't live up to that ideal you're not a real man.

Of course, I do notice that they tend to use the word "guy" a lot, instead of "man". I guess that's good, because in my mind there's a big difference between being a "guy" and being a man. A "guy" is the kind of male they've designed this conference for - the jock/jerk kind of alpha-male I've never been and never been able to relate to.

A man, on the other hand, is a male that has the courage and strength to be himself, regardless of what society or other men tell him he's supposed to be like. A real man is not afraid to let his feelings show. A real man recognizes that "feminine" and "masculine" are just culturally created boxes that don't do justice to the complexity of real individuals. Thus, he's not afraid to get in touch with his "feminine side" because he understands that he does have one and there's nothing wrong with that.
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posted by Mike Clawson at 6:09 PM | Permalink |


At 12/19/2006 10:58:00 AM, Anonymous kent

Oh good, we make the paper again. Guys behaving badly. This is certainly going to help the kingdom.


At 12/19/2006 02:04:00 PM, Anonymous J. Michael Matkin

It's funny because, being so not a 'guy', I can see that there is definitely a need for addressing those who are and getting them to take on the yoke of Christ. This, on the other hand, is a kind of adolescent response to that need.


At 12/19/2006 04:48:00 PM, Blogger Mike Clawson

I agree that there is a need for churches to connect with those kind of "guys". In fact, I've been a fan (for the most part) of John Eldredge's Wild at Heart stuff. But I think Eldredge brings a balance to it that I don't see reflected in this group.

And even with Eldredge, I tend to balk with any kind of absolutizing language. Yes, some men are like this, and need a spirituality that connects more with their "masculinity". But whenever you start implying that all men need to fit these so-called "masculine" characteristics, that's when I think it becomes oppressive and wrong-headed.

If I were more impressionable, I think I would come away from a conference like this feeling very emasculated, like I didn't fit in as a male and therefore there must be something wrong with me.

I think there are a lot of guys who would feel the same way. I have a lot of (straight) guy friends that are into classical music, theater, the fine arts, poetry, literature, cooking, etc. How well do you suppose most of those guys would fit in at a rally like this? :)


At 12/21/2006 01:31:00 AM, Anonymous J. Michael Matkin

Like a pork chop at a kosher wedding.


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