“Men don’t go to church because it’s full of stuff men don’t like. Stuff like singing and sitting around listening to someone talk about stuff. Men like football, and cars and playing Xbox, not singing girlie songs and talking about loving another man.” I’ve heard this garbage trotted out for years now. But here’s the thing: last time I checked, I was a man. I have no interest in football, I think cars are useful but dull and I have managed to avoid donating hours of my life to shooting imaginary people on a screen without ever losing my Y-chromosome. And the weird retrograde stereotyping of what men are and are not isn’t even what makes me angry about that sort of nonsense.
What makes me angry is that it’s stupid. Men don’t like singing songs? Really? Have you ever been to a football match? Or a rock concert? And men can’t sit passively and listen to someone talk? You mean like in universities, institutions dominated for centuries by a gender other than women without much complaint? Like stand-up comedy? Yeah, men hate that stuff.
I know there must be men who reject church for just those reasons, but honestly, I don’t know many. Perhaps the cliché-mongers who perpetuate this myth are talking about some cartoon version of a working-class bloke. But since Britain’s working class is under-represented in our churches as a rule, I doubt whether the genetalia of the sermon-dodger in question are really the key factor.
I may be taking a leap here, but perhaps they’re not coming to church because they’re not Christians. Perhaps it’s the musicianship, lyrical quality and style of the music rather than singing itself that bugs people. I know it bugs me. Maybe it’s what is being said, rather than having to listen to anyone speaking at all, that fails to capture the imagination. I know it’s been a long time since I thought the man or woman preaching up front was saying something that they would find challenging if they heard it. Maybe what bugs people (men and women) is that our subculture is willing to dumb down so consistently and buy into nonsense so uncritically.
Church is not a football match or a pub. Those things already exist. Church is something different. Don’t like reading or listening to people speak? Learning will be hard for you. Don’t like singing? I don’t believe you. Don’t like hanging out with girls? Grow up. Don’t like people going on about God? You are going to hate church.
Men are not children. We are adults, we have different personalities and tastes and we are perfectly capable of doing things that don’t suit us perfectly without having a nervous breakdown. We just need a good reason to do so.
Church is a place where eternal truths are expressed and shared, where the Creator God is worshipped and I am sure we do it wrong all the time. But I don’t think we do anyone any favours by making it stupider.
Image by Emily Martin
threads asks: Is church stupid? Is church too girlie? And what does that even mean?