Friday, February 13, 2009

Men or mommy's boys?

"A church should have a masculine ethos. 1 Corinthians 16:13 commands a whole church, 'Act like men.' There is cowardice, even effeminacy, in [North] American churches today."


Blogger PamBG said...

How about people of courage?

The like courage of Christian women to expose the untruth of this kind of theology that seeks to devalue us in the eyes of human beings.

4:49 AM, February 14, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Pam, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It sounds like you take issue with the term "Act like men" in 1 Cor. 16:13. I've gone back and read both Ray Ortlund's and the Apostle Paul's writings, and I don't see how either man in any way devalues women. Please feel free, if you'd like, to continue the discussion.

9:05 AM, February 15, 2009  
Blogger PamBG said...

I'm not one of those people who reads Paul as being anti-female.

What do you mean by wanting a church with 'men' rather than 'mommy's boys'? That sounds horribly anti-female to my ears?

What does Ray mean by 'masculine Christianity'?

Are women not capable of knowing right from wrong? Are we not capable of courage and challenge and getting through tough times? And if we are, why do we have use the kind of gender-specific terminology that appears to be excluding the other gender? (Wrong also when women do it.)

I think that what bothers me is that I'm not convinced that the institutional Christianity of the 1960s - when more men were in church - was anything like what I believe Jesus taught. It was based on the concepts of worldly power and control and it was another place for men to occupy the 'places to the right and left of Jesus'. When people call for masculine Christianity, is this what they are talking about? Mark Driscoll seems to be, for one.

Over to you.

10:35 AM, February 15, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Good questions.

I really don't know or care much about the institutional Christianity of the 1960s or Mark Driscoll, and I certainly don't think women are incapable of telling right from wrong.

I do know that before sin entered the world in the fall, God created human beings male and female. Both male and female, then, are good qualities. Quite simply and in the purest sense, the terms are descriptions of what it means to be a man and a woman, respectively. That's stating the obvious, perhaps, and so is this: there's a difference between the two, and between some of the roles men and women play.

The church should have no use for theology that seeks to devalue women, but at the same time it should have no place for one that devalues men. The former undoubtedly existed in many quarters for quite some time (and undoubtedly still does in some). In my lifetime, however, I have more often seen and experienced something quite different: the disdain for and assault upon manhood in both the church and the wider Western culture. I'm not really concerned with dwelling on or giving evidence for this issue, but if you really don't know what I'm talking about, I recommend reading some of Helen Smith's writings at

If for centuries the Western church suffered from the denigration of the feminine, in our own day the church is threatened by the denigration of the masculine. Both are needed for the church to be healthy. Thus Paul's words for the Corinthians to "Act like men" are particularly poignant for today.


3:04 PM, February 15, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Pam, it occurs to me that some might indeed take issue with the idea that "a church should have a masculine ethos." But there's a difference between femininity (female qualities where and how they ought to be) and effeminacy (those same qualities where masculine qualities are called for). In the context of a loss of masculine virtues, at least, I would still agree with Ray's statement. Peace.

2:27 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger PamBG said...

I have a real problem with the concepts of 'masculine' and 'feminine' which I think are stereotypes that belong to the 'world' rather than to a Christian context.

To me - and maybe you didn't mean it this way at all - the phrase 'mommy's boys' invokes images of an adult man who believes that in order to have fully emerged from adolescence, he needs not only to have engaged in the very healthy and proper process of understanding that he is different from mother, but he also needs to reject anything that is stereotypically 'feminine'. Possibly to the point of seeing such qualities as lovingkindness, grace and sympathy as being close to useless. To quote something someone actually once said: 'I can see why God doesn't want women to be pastors. Women tend to be kind and sympathetic and you can't be kind and sympathetic and also have wisdom.'

Anyway, I 'translated' the 1 Corinthians verse as 'people of courage' which seems to me to be genuinely closer to the sense of what Paul meant.

As an aside, I do not deny that there is much in our current culture which views men pejoratively. I'm not convinced that I've seen this as an overall theme in the church, though. Nor am I accusing the church of being sexist against women. My own personal experience has been one of people who value understanding and high standards (for example) and sympathy and courage (for another).

2:49 PM, February 17, 2009  
Blogger Milton Stanley said...

Thanks for your comments, Pam. I always welcome your input. Peace.

6:26 PM, February 17, 2009  

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