Man Gifts

I don’t have anything against offering Dad a beer on Father’s Day.

Though I do find it a bit odd when it’s a church doing it.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5587035/Church-blesses-fathers-with-beer.html)
There are a number of rather odd statements in this story.  
We give away wine every Sunday
…we wanted to give a laddish, blokeish gift to the men.  A bottle of beer hits the mark.”
There are several issues to be had here.  From a religious point of view, the church is not handing out glasses of wine to men or women every Sunday.  Referring to one of the holiest sacraments of the Church in such an offhanded way is, if nothing else, incredibly tasteless (pun intended).  Equating the wine received in the sacrament with a bottle of beer is most certainly irreverent and completely missing the mark.
The story notes the dire lack of men in church on any given Sunday in Great Britain (under 20% of British men polled attend regularly, apparently).  Let’s think about this for a moment.  The church is lamenting a lack of male involvement in the church.  Fair enough.  So the church assumes that men need to be bribed to attend church – at least on Father’s Day (though the article mentions other more ongoing lures, such as bacon rolls).  And the best incentive the church has to offer men to attend worship is a free bottle of beer or a bacon roll.
Doesn’t much sound like a church I’d want to go to either.
Much has been said of the feminization of many Christian churches.  Articles have been written about how hymns have been replaced with love songs.   Praise teams and bands fronted by attractive women enthusiastically singing love songs into cordless microphones seem to be the aspiration of all hip churches in America.  Or at least that’s what popular Christian media (television, magazines, etc.) would lead us to believe.  Many of these songs could easily be about a boyfriend or a husband if the name of Jesus was replaced with Brad, or Dave, or Mike.  I’ve heard worship songs that sounded downright risque to my admittedly jaded ears, and I’ve had to ask a musician during a practice session that a specific song never be played again.  
If we’re going to stereotype men as beer-guzzling primates who can be lured into a church with a cold bottle of brew, then what of the stereotype of men as not being particularly fond of sappy love songs?  A manly man does not purchase Kenny G albums (CDs for you whippersnappers), or Michael Bolton, or Yanni, or Barry Manilow.  They may listen to them in the relative privacy of their car or home, may even furtively download them from iTunes, but certain appearances must be kept that preclude the stereotypical male from being seen in public seeking out this sort of music.
So why would the stereotypical, beer-guzzling male want to come and listen to it in church?  
And why would a man be interested in coming to a church that appears to think so little of his intelligence, his theological thinking, his abilities, his willingness to serve, and his general capabilities as to try to tempt him in to the church with a beer?  Are they going to let him drink it during the sermon?  How about during the sappy praise songs?  Is there a farting and no-farting zone as well?  Belchers and non-belchers?  Can he just wear his boxers and t-shirt to the service?   Should the pews be replaced with recliners?  Should the there be remote controls to turn down the preacher during sermons, or to allow guys to watch the race/game/fight in a picture-in-picture format along with the sermon?  
I find it appalling that a church that seeks to draw men into community could be so manifestly insulting as to how it characterizes them.  The Bible speaks of men as leaders in the family and in the church.  Yet the church seems to assume that if men are not turning out for worship, it’s because of some sort of deficiency in the men themselves, rather than how the church is seeking to engage and honor them.  And if the church’s expectations of men’s interests is so low, this wouldn’t seem to bode well for how the church must view the gifts that men bring to a community of faith, or the plans the church has for how men can play a meaningful role – every bit as meaningful as the role women play – in that community of faith.  
I’d avoid lowering the bar, personally.  Actually, I’d consider raising it.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s