This seems to be the strategy that many churches across the country are taking to take the woman out of the man who has been feminized by the contemporary American church and American style Christianity. I can’t disagree that most churches in America cater to the female crowd both in music styles (the lyrics of many songs are crossover love songs) and preaching (it’s much too soft) and consequently more and more men feel that they are not welcome in the pews and so stay away. Or even worse, they do come and are further feminized even more than what the culture has already done to them, the culture that constantly encourages them to be wearing panties instead of pants. Do you doubt my conclusions? How many churches do you know that post signs on their doors “Guns Are Banned on These Premises” compared to churches that expect most of their men to be licensed to conceal and carry and prefer they do, carry that is.
But, is the solution to de-feminize the American Christian male to encourage more and more of their pastors to try out for MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighting and put them into the cage? Seems as if 700 churches around the country think so because they have added MMA activities and events to their cafeteria of ministries, like Pastor Paul Buress pictured above preaching bare chested from inside the fight cage. This phenomenon is being documented in a new film by Daniel Junge and Bryan Storkel, called “Fight Church”. You can view the Fox News article at this location: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/09/17/fight-church-is-modern-christianity-feminizing-men/
As always, I want to filter this through a Jesus grid, who happens to be to me the most masculine man who ever lived. Would he encourage pastors to excel and participate in MMA fighting to prove their masculinity, and would He Himself do it to prove the same? Well, in one sense, Jesus was the Ultimate Extreme Fighter, because he took on His arch enemy at the cross and hit him not just where it hurts, but where it did the most fatal kind of damage (Romans 6:20; Hebrews 2:14). And, I would challenge any tough guy to take the kind of beating Jesus took on our behalf. Guaranteed, they would have surrendered in round 1, of the many rounds of torture, floggings and finally crucifixion Jesus endured for His people. So yeah, I have no doubt Jesus could and did, “kick butt”.
The problem isn’t for me a soft and feminized Jesus (despite how much Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and many other Hollywood revisionists try to depict Him). He’s a man’s man and if you haven’t seen that side of Him yet, I strongly encourage you to explore just how manly He really is. My problem instead is this distorted expression of masculinity, the distorted expression that implies I can’t be a man unless I am willing to nearly concuss someone into early dementia.
My struggle, again, is with this distorted definition of masculinity. If anything, this depiction is one-sided at best because they single out and focus on one aspect of masculinity which is strength and toughness, but is that the only definition of manhood, toughness? And is this the best place to demonstrate that toughness, inside a fighting cage where the measure of masculinity is measured by the degree of meanness and by the number of bloodstains on the mat?
What about the pastor who is 140 pounds of brain and little muscle, is he disqualified from being a masculine pastor because of his size and lack of brawn? What about a pastor with a physical handicap, or who is on the far side of 40 (or the near side of 60 like me), are we disqualified from being masculine pastors because we would be eliminated in the ring before we could say “Hi, I’m glad to meet you, wanna be friends?” to the half-naked machine-like humanoid who would be my opposition? And why does he have to be my opposition? Aren’t we on the same side?
Now I’m not saying that men can’t enjoy rugged competitive sports, even extreme fighting sports and still be solid Christian men, even pastors. That’s not my point. My point is, please do not make this a definition of manhood when it excludes the majority of men from this narrow definition. Please use a biblical definition of manhood. For that we should turn to the attributes of our Heavenly Father and find in Him the true measure of masculinity that all men are capable of.
Let’s start with faithfulness. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, (Deuteronomy 7:9 ESV) The most masculine men I can think of are those manly men like Robertson McQuilkin, former president of Columbia Bible College who resigned his prestigious position and chose to take care of his wife of 40 years who was suffering with Alzheimer’s, or men who have chosen to stay with their unfaithful, yet repentant wives because they wanted to do all they could to save the marriage and family (just like Hosea who followed God’s example and instruction in the book of Hosea).
For space purposes, let’s string what I consider to be more of God’s masculine qualities together such as gentleness (1 Peter 3:7), forgiveness (it takes a real man to forgive) Exodus 34:7, humility 1 Peter 5:5, provision Philippians 4:9, protection Psalm 91, courage Matthew 21:12, and finally (to keep this short) strength Psalm 28:7.
Maybe it’s just me, but the most unmanly of all traits I detest right now is whining. I don’t care how many points Pastor Buress might make inside the cage, the moment he whines to a colleague about his salary, his staff, his marriage or any other grievance he may have (not saying he does now, this is hypothetical), he just surrendered his masculine credentials. That’s the moment he needs to take lessons from an old TV series called the Rifleman starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain who weekly taught his son Mark McCain (starring Johnny Crawford) what it means to be a MAN. Let those bullets fly Lucas, the bad guys don’t stand a chance when you let ‘er rip.