June 21, 2014

Lament for the Evangelical Male, Part I: Ductus Ad Mortem

[Translation: Ductus Ad Mortem ~ Leadership Near Death]

"Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!" ~ Psalm 130:1

Where are the godly men of this age?

O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; by night…" ~ Psalm 22:3

Where O' Lord have the Godly men gone?

This is an issue that has been severely troubling me and grieving my spirit. It is about the slow disappearance of modern evangelical male. It is also about the church seeker-sensitive movement’s influence on the male churchgoer that has predominately been a catastrophic negative towards men in general. I lament the modern evangelical male and his growing irrelevance in the church and in the culture at-large. Basically the new way of doing business in a seeker-sensitive age has spiritually castrated men. Those that have not been neutered are, as a body of men, growing smaller and insignificant. 

The modern church has removed the concept of masculinity from spirituality and feminized men to appeal to the modern societal norms. Based on my first-hand experiences the modern church is now geared to reach the emotional and spiritual needs of women. This of course is deliberate and saddening in that it is biblically topsy-turvy. It should be geared towards the spiritually designated leader of the family which is the male and those men are to assist the sisters and wives as teachers and exhorters. Instead, the evangelical church immediately sends the message that men are subordinate in roll, an afterthought or a hangers-on. An accessory to the church experience but certainly not necessary. This is not biblical and churches geared towards this are sorely misguided. They are spiritually doomed for failure right from the start.

For men to be relevant in these types of churches they must take on more effeminate roles and mentalities. If you ask the men in these churches why they go to these types of churches the answer will most often be that it is fulfilling for the man’s wife and the daycare goes all the way up to teen years for his kids. Spiritually this is wrong on two fronts. It is a failure of men to take a leadership role not only in their church but also in the home. If society produces the leaders that lead the local communities and country, it stands to reason that the things which underlie the society or community/culture holds direct sway on the leaders society produces. It is clear that true Christian men cut from the leadership cloth are not part of this failing cultural equation. I suggest that this is because the churches are not producing them. This therefore destroys society which produces the leaders we see in charge now. Our civic leaders are utter failures and many spiritual ones are the same.

Second, it shows a failure of the church itself to properly educate the body. What is even more disturbing is that many pastors and elders in these churches rarely make matters any better. They often condescend and talk down to the men. They don’t speak in the language of other men, they speak a combination of metrosexual gibberish and emotionalism that rarely touches the hearts of men.  

It should not come as a surprise that this is pretty much the cultural mold for men too. Accessories and add-ons but not active players or primary movers in the game. Sadly, I believe we are just seeing the feminist mentality move from the culture into the churches. Why? Because the church has allowed too much of the culture to enter the church and not enough of the church is released to the culture. The church is no longer the molder of the society but rather the society is shaping the church. 

Postmodern subjectivity and pluralistic truth is dictating to an entity (the church) that should be broadcasting objective God truths to the world. We are not being the city on a hill. We are becoming a hidden safety box for hording sin and godlessness.

I blame this erosion on Gospel-less preaching and Christ-less Christianity. The “preaching” of morally neutral "sermonettes" and inoffensive self-esteem speeches from the likes of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers. I also blame the men themselves for not taking hold of their God-given birthrights to spiritual leadership. I place the failure on spinelessness and lowered standards of some church leadership. The rest of the responsibility is to be placed on the postmodern idea that all truths are equally valid and the feminization of the Church by gender / sexuality driven agendas of the culture that we’ve allowed to subvert the Church.

What I am NOT blaming are the Biblical standards themselves. Some will say they are too high. I in turn will say that you are challenging an omniscient God and it is a fool’s errand. If you lower the standards, anyone can meet them and that is exactly what is happening in the church. God calls us to more….He has called us to holiness. It needs to be a love for God and love for our brothers and sisters that bring us to church. As men we cannot be dragged kicking and screaming to the pews by our wives and girlfriends.

Men that are willing to step forward and speak and teach truth are usually categorized and labeled as “harsh” and “unloving” because they are not soft enough about hard truths. As soon as a man stands on the hard truths and authority of Scripture he is classified as too archaic and old-fashioned…a relic of the past (aka: hell fire and brimstone). Never mind that the Body of Christ was vastly more biblical and masculine in days past as evidenced by its effects on the society. The same effects which we rarely see nowadays except in rare cases. The Bible itself is abounding with statements of condemnation for sin and that one must be convicted of their sin before they can honestly repent of it. A conviction of sin requires a sense of guilt. That guilt comes when we see how far short of God and Scripture that we fall. Again, I see a watered-down message of the Gospel at the core of this plague…and it grinds me to powder.

What has happened to the masculine male biblical leader O Lord? The man who encourages other men upward without shaping them into effeminate shapes or squashing them into female molds so they are more palatable for the culture? Where is the standard-bearer who makes rising to standards spelled out in Scripture attractive? Where is the man who makes spirituality appear desirable and even necessary and do it without lowering the standards of holiness? Where is the shepherd that will lay down his life for his sheep? A shepherd that, when they get close to other men, their words and behaviors speak things into actions? Where are the men whose behaviors speak of innate strength given by God. That when others see these men together at close range they see even tighter bonds not hypocrisy and religious trickery? A leader that emphasizes the diversity of the men and celebrates the uniqueness and unity that builds a grace-emboldened and spiritually defensible assembly?

Where are these men Lord? Men who can sleep soundly at night with clean consciences? Where are the morally and ethically pure men of this age that can live comfortably in their own skin? Where have the men gone that lead others to follow suit in living their lives so that their families, finances and free time are all filtered through the lens and the life of Christ? Where are the men who will unabashedly proclaim the Gospel within their own homes to teach their own wife and children to fear and love the Lord? Men who treat their wives like Jesus treated the Church? Where are the men who orbit closely to the Gospel daily, hourly…every second of the day? Where are the mainline pastors that treat the other men as brothers struggling with sin, not children lost in their immaturity?

Where are the men that instill a sense of responsibility and actually expect the men to live up to that bench mark of accountability? Where are the firm pushes (not prodding and finger-pointing) towards Christ and the Gospel? Where are the leaders who are not afraid to tell other men exactly why their lives are such a mess because of sin they have not dealt with or sin that has not been repented of? Men that will empathize with other men's struggle over unfilled lives and deadend careers at midlife. Where are the men that inspire but do not coddle? Where are the men that are not belittling but encouraging and builders not destroyers?

Where is the man that will not mince words and “tell it like it is”? The man who wears his heart on his sleeve and is never afraid to. The man who will intelligently use words to educate his brethren and will pull them upward to higher ground spiritually and intellectually without insulting their intelligence? Where are the leaders of Christ’s body that will challenge men in a way that will draw them forward in a compulsion even they themselves won’t fully understand once the Holy Spirit gets hold of them?

Where have the men gone that will go out and buy Sibbes, Calvin, Owens, Baxter, Tozer, Lewis, Warfield, Spurgeon and hundreds of others to hand out generously to their brothers (and sisters)? A man that understands the shared and manifold grace of these types of writings and their positive effects on the Body of Christ? The amazing amount of blessing that comes from these now deceased godly men that came decades and centuries before this generation we live in. Men that have faded into obscurity in our culture for the same reasons today’s men have but are as sound as the apostle’s teaching?

I was guilty of being faint of heart when proclaiming the Gospel…but no more. I was shallow and self-serving. I was living down to the low standards set on men by the culture. But no more. I am calling prophetically to these men to step forward in boldness before the culture completely takes over and inundates our churches with postmodern apathetic mire. Do we really need to accept the cultural stereotype that evangelical males are ignorant backwoods country hicks? The stereotype that says they are ignorant, unthinking, dense “haters”. Do we really need to accept this mindset as the norm not only in the culture but in the church also? 

I scream NO!

The truth is that the evangelical male is quickly becoming a myth. A mysterious piece of American (and world) folklore that was once talked about by our fathers and grandfathers but is now rarely seen or heard from. They have been badgered and hunted to the verge of extinction through unrelenting cultural strangling that has plagued the Body of Christ. They have been led astray by bad doctrine and Biblical illiteracy to become the stragglers of the pack. Therefore these men have become easy prey for the predators of the world. A generation of men who have little or no fear of God but are afraid they might miss the 1:00pm kickoff of their beloved football game if the 11 o’clock service runs over. A generation of men who have lost God and therefore have totally lost their way.

Where are these men Lord? The men with the fear of God? A fear of God which is the true beginning of wisdom? Where have they gone? I lament their disappearance. Please come home to the Lord gentlemen. It is where you belong. It is what you’ve been created for. I call to you to come with me as we seek the face of the Lord together.

Where have you gone brother? How do we turn this unbiblical monster around?

I'll offer some Scriptural support in the next post...

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