Baptizing “Masculinity”: The Real Reason Men are Leaving the Church by Luke T. Harrington

Baptizing “Masculinity”: The Real Reason Men are Leaving the Church

The link to the page by Luke T. Harrington is farther down the page.

Churches sure do invest a lot of time investigating why men are supposedly fed up with church and churches then bend themselves into pretzels trying to cater to men to retain them.

If churches cared as much about women and appealing to them, perhaps more and more women would not be abandoning churches or the faith (I’ve seen studies come out the last few years saying more and more Christian women are either leaving churches, or leaving the faith itself, because they are not being welcomed due to their gender).

Churches need to be just as concerned they may be offending or excluding women as they are men, but they don’t. Most of them remain stubbornly fixated on soothing the egos of injured males, but don’t care how they are hurting or alienating women.

Hyping “masculinity” to appeal to men alienates a lot of women.

One way in which this occurs is that churches think the way to build up the masculine is to mock anything and everything feminine, so by extension, Christian women, who are taught to express so-called (stereotypical) feminine traits in the extreme (be nurturing, passive, quiet, sweet, etc) end up feeling even more like trash.

The very characteristics Christian women are told by pastors to possess (such as be passive, gentle, meek) are the very same ones that the churches denigrate week in and week out, and that they try to stamp out in churches, and at that, in order to attract men.

This is not a winning strategy for keeping women active and involved in a church.

It also turns off “normal” men, the ones who are maybe Non-Christian, secure in their manhood, who find the super “cave man,” manly man antics of some churches totally bizarre and irrelevant.

(Link): Baptizing “Masculinity”: The Real Reason Men are Leaving the Church by Luke T. Harrington


  • …The dominant narrative at the moment is that, while church attendance is down across the board, men in particular are staying home on Sunday mornings ( (Link): some stats here). And while there has been much hand-wringing over this reality, there has, to my knowledge, been very little serious introspection over it.

  • I remember once, during my college years, having a conversation with a fellow parishioner of the (Link): Presbyterian Church in America, an evangelical denomination that at the time was my de facto home sect. She lamented how hard it was to get men to come to church or campus events, and I asked her why she thought that was.
  • …. Is it really true that Christ built a Church only capable of appealing to a certain kind of person (mainly women)? That seems unlikely.
  • …Unfortunately, for most evangelicals, when we talk about attracting people — men or otherwise — to church, we talk more like marketers (Link): trying to make Big Macs cool again to the 18-to-34 crowd than people who sincerely believe in the power of the Gospel and want to genuinely disciple others.
  • …Too often, when we talk about “attracting men” to church, what we mean is tricking men to walk in the door by baptizing whatever infantilized conceptions of masculinity the broader culture has invented.

(( click here to read the whole page ))

Edit. One person had this to say in the comments on that blog page (I don’t know if I necessarily agree or disagree with any, all, or most of this comment, but it’s interesting food for thought):

comment by Carole McDonnell
  • I suspect it has nothing whatever to do with intellect versus emotion. Women like philosophy as much as men, and men are as emotional as women.
  • The whole idea that churches are havens for emotional people sounds like something my atheists friends would say, and of course some christian writers/ministers often end up saying stuff that atheists say in a “spiritual” way.
  • God’s spirit works teaching, healing, discernment, prophesy in both sexes and all these gifts are above emotion and philosophy.
  • Men don’t go to church because church doesn’t give men stuff to do.
  • Women are good at visiting the sick, witnessing to strangers by building relationships with them, taking care of children, knitting, cooking, baking. Churches should have groups where men build houses for the poor, share and give their work expertise to fellow congregants.

comment by Kit:

  • I dunno…this seems to be the same story that’s been told since at least the 1730s, probably earlier.

    The supposed declension and feminization of the church (in an American context at least) has been decried for for centuries, and most frequently blamed on emotionalism in worship and a decline in rigorous theology.

    Women have outnumbered men in Protestant church membership since the early seventeenth century, and this has remained consistent across most (if not all) Protestant denominations, among different races, and in different regions.

    Now that doesn’t mean that men aren’t leaving the church, it’s just to point out that people have been worrying about men leaving the church since the 1600s.

    And another way to look at this trend is to say that women’s participation in religion is at an all time high; that is, it’s not so much male absence as it is female presence.

    I am highly skeptical of any argument that suggests that men are inherently drawn to ideas or are inherently intellectual while women are inherently emotional and somehow less drawn to ideas. (Although the critique of the notion that manliness=steaks and guns is something with which I wholeheartedly agree.)

    I’m all for injecting theology and tradition into Protestantism, but why does that project have to be a gendered corrective?

    Check out Ann Braude’s essay “Women’s History Is American Religious History” or the book Southern Cross by Christine Leigh Heyrman. The latter argues that concerns about the supposed decline in the church’s intellectual rigor and increasing feminization not coincidentally come to a head in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when evangelicals began reaching out to both blacks and women and allowing them to preach.

    For some reason white men found that an unpleasant development and some of them didn’t feel like going to church anymore…


Related Posts:

(Link):   “We Make Too Much of Gender… Manhood is Not Something to Be Proved or Achieved” Book Review by B. Lea of “Man Enough” by N. Pyle 

(Link): Three Ways Christian Patriarchy Harms Men – 1. Defines Men By Their Sexuality

(Link):  American Churches Idolizing Fatherhood: Churches Want Your Dad, and Will Give Him Bacon, Guns, and a Grill

(Link): On Biblical Manhood: A Q&A with Author Carolyn Custis James author of MaleStorm (how gender complementarianism and Christian patriarchy harm men too, not just women)

(Link):  The Masculinity Myth: The Real Reason Men Don’t Go to Church by the Evangelical Pulpit

(Link):   The “Feminization” of the Church by K R Wordgazer

(Link): The Irrelevancy To Single or Childless or Childfree Christian Women of Biblical Gender Complementarian Roles / Biblical Womanhood Teachings

(Link):  Church must avoid becoming Fight Club to attract men by H. Coffey

(Link): There Are No “Biblical Men” by B. Robertson

(Link): Why Men Don’t Go To Church

(Link): There Are No “Biblical Men” by B. Robertson

(Link): Why Unmarried – Single Christians including MEN Should Be Concerned about the Gender Role Controversy

(Link):  The Masculinity Myth: The Real Reason Men Don’t Go to Church by the Evangelical Pulpit

(Link):  The Rise of the ‘Done With Church’ Population by T. Schultz

(Link):  Regnerus’ Misplaced Blame – Blame the Wimmins! Common male refrain, even from Christian men

(Link): Christians Blaming the Woman – again: Regarding: How Women Can Make Church a Safe Place for Men by D. Gresh

(Link): Interesting Links Re Christianity and Gender Roles (A.K.A. Church and Christian Approved Sexism)

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