Randy Stinson, executive director of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood has observed, “The current feminization of Christianity reflects a larger trend in pop culture where women are pushed to be more masculine and men are pushed to be more feminine.” He lamented that men are being marginalized, becoming passive,while being pushed to the side. “Men,” he contends, “should not be made to feel that having a relationship with Christ mean that you have to check your masculinity at the door.” Stinson maintains, “Men generally do not verbalize all their feelings….Men do relate differently, but they shouldn’t have to change all that in order to be a success in the local church.”
I take exception to his last comments. While I agree with the notion of feminization being a problem in the church (I have written about this issue), I firmly believe that the church needs to be a place where men can explore their emotion life. “Men need to rediscover and accept, not deny and repress, their own range of feelings.” (Rohr) The church should be in the forefront in helping with emotional intelligence, being a safe place for men to gain a healthy view of a “male mode of feeling.”
Men are fragmented, confused, and even frightened by their emotions. This is a reality that needs to be embraced, not brushed aside as feminine or the evidence of weakness. Men have for too long been taught to be detached from their emotions. The testimony of Scripture is that we are “embodied souls,” every bit an emotional being as women. Just read the Psalms with an open heart. For example – “All my longings lie open before you, Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you” (Ps. 38:9).
What is needed are churches in which the male leadership, lives out a life that demonstrated an integration of heart and mind. But in so many cases those in leadership have never done their own”inner work.” The emotional life is held in suspect as a dangerous place to visit. This is a false narrative that has caused many men to leave the church because they receive little help in the integration of their emotional life with every day relationships, especially at home.
It is far to easy for men to hide behind the stereotype of having to control of their emotions. That is exactly the problem. Many men dutifully come to church full of emotions that they have tried for years to hide. The church has not been seen as a place where men can gather to talk about and process their emotional life. The evangelical church, far to often, has taught men to stay in their heads, thinking about God, while trying to be “good.”
I realize that some of my readers will not appreciate my commentary on men’s emotions and the church. But I contend that there are men who are tired of playing the game of “having it all” together. They are ready for the inner journey that is so vital for Christian maturity. Men, we have to do this deep and painful work of cleansing our souls, without the nurture of our wives. This is a man thing. We have to do it for ourselves, so that we can be secure in our maleness, allowing ourselves to be there for our wives and children. I exhort you not to look to your wife for your healing. This needs to come from a “band of brothers” who will fight for each other’s soul. I strongly encourage you to find a few guys who will join you on this journey.