Near/Far: 2nd Iteration

My reaction, when I first heard people complaining about churches becoming too “feminine” was, quite frankly, that it sounded incredibly sexist. Whats the criteria for measuring a church’s femininity, and – if guilty as charged – why is that considered  substandard?

I’ve never been a fan of forced/false dichotomies, so the fictitious choice between masculine vs. feminine worship set off alarms bells in my mind.

The more I dug into it, I discovered that the majority of concerns centered around prefabricated and emotionally manipulative events masquerading as worship. And yes, there are worship leaders that appear skilled in the dark arts of  manipulative “experiences” that are ultimately hollow and unsatisfying.

But equating prefabricated worship with the church becoming “feminized” creates confusion and needless offense. The problem isn’t the “genderization” of church; it’s passion in worship, or the lack of it. A connection with the Divine, or the lack of it.

If intimacy with the Father is eschewed as too feminine, or otherwise substandard for 21st century He-men, that probably says more about men than it does about church.

I love this pair of comments left on the Near/Far post:

“I think it’s not so much ‘feminization,’ because then we’re basically saying that feminine is wimpy and weak … I think it’s just that we’ve turned Christianity into white bread and twinkies. The gritty is taken out, the raw passion, the hungry searching.”

“If intimacy = feminized, seems to be a synonym for ‘weak,’ then we’d have to discard many of the Psalms and selected passages where the prophets bare their hearts to God in complaint or distress.”

A quick perusal of the Psalms reveals David’s intimate relationship with God. David was a soldier, king, and worship leader, whose masculinity was not in the least threatened by telling God that he loved Him (Psalm 23:6, 36:5–6, 103:8–12).

The Shema, considered to be the heartbeat of Judaism, boldly proclaims: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Deuteronomy 6:4–5).”

Or consider Jesus’ reply, when questioned about the greatest Old Testament commandment, “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these (Mark 12:28–31).”

Jesus reinforces the acceptability – nay, the assumption – that intimacy with God is important, and proceeds to go beyond the Shema to add humanity to the equation (another topic with huge implications).

Worship that communicates and expresses our love for Jesus is not – nor has it ever been – wimpy, feminized, or “just a 1980s thing.”

If the recent proliferation of sappy “Jesus is my boyfriend” song lyrics fail to capture this Biblical reality, the problem is (a) the songwriters and (b) worship leaders who foist their songs on us.

Hmm. Maybe it’s time we held songwriters’ feet to the fire (metaphorically speaking). Now, there’s an intriguing avenue to explore ...

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