Warning: The following in religious in nature and since it’s written by me, should not be taken seriously.
I recently listened to a “Art of Manliness” podcast titled Why Men Hate Going to Church. The interview and topic was centered around the book with the same title and the author David Murrow.
As someone who enjoys religion from more of an academic viewpoint as opposed to a spiritual one, I found the discussion quite fascinating. Without getting into the specifics, here are a few reason(s) why men are fleeing the church:
- Churches – in their teachings, outreach and even building decorations – are more feminine in nature.
- There’s a difference in the ‘type of God’ that people worship. Women gravitate towards the nurturing image of God while men tend to be more interested in the dominance and power of God. (There has also been a sharp decline in the old-school “Battle Hymns” to more worship and praise focused songs.)
- Smaller, start-up, churches attract men earlier on in the planning and building phases – often considered more male-oriented traits – but then lose them as attendance levels peak.
- The growth of technology and the ability to Google specific types of sermons, songs and messages have given men more options and can be done 24/7: at their own schedule.
For me, I’ll never forget when I first began to question religion. I was around 12-years old and for whatever reason had put my shoes on the kitchen table. I was told that doing so was a sin and that I should include it in my next confession.
Think about that for a moment:
Putting my shoes on the kitchen table was somehow a grievous enough act against God that I needed to seek forgiveness from a religious leader.
No. That’s not right. That’s not something a supreme deity should be worried about.
So after listening to the podcast and to the various reasons, trends and sociology behind the decline – I got to thinking as to why I hate going to church. Perhaps some of the following could be considered a bit nit-picky, but I believe a cumulative effect exists.
Sing a song of sixpence
Growing up (Catholic), a typical church service had a few songs and the occasional prayer ‘sung’ by the priest. The service was predictable and usually lasted :45 minutes.
It then progressed to where the priests were ‘singing’ just about everything they once spoke and the choir began adding more verses to the hymns and/or inserted a hymn where there was none before. Services grew to be an hour or more. No offense, but my attention span for that is very limited.
Raise your hand if you’re sure
When I was a kid, we didn’t hold hands during the “Our Father” nor did we raise them above our heads. Over time, this has become the norm and for some reason it bothers me.
More than that, though, are those who close their eyes and hold up their palms. To me this is nothing but a form of showmanship. I just find it improbable that people are so overcome with the Holy Spirit, or a love for God, that they feel the need to reach up in some mock-attempt to be closer to Him. I could be wrong, but if God has such an overwhelming presence in these people – why doesn’t this happen other than Sunday morning between 9 and 10 a.m.?
Christianity and the Competition
There was a time I skipped out of my (Lutheran) services to attend a few church-sponsored lectures titled “Christianity and the Competition”; a series presented by Dr. Paul L. Maier which is meant to educate Christians about other faiths and religions.
As the title insinuates, however, it wasn’t about educating parishioners about other world religions. It was about bashing those beliefs and exposing the inferiority of any religion that isn’t Christianity. It was tough listening to the speaker call some non-Christians “savages” and referring to the silliness of Islamic or other practices.
Granted, I’ve never met God – though apparently He once told Pat Robertson He needed $30 million dollars – but this NOT what Christianity should be. I just can’t believe that. An all-knowing, all-loving, God doesn’t encourage the belittling of others in His name.
Yet here I sat in the presence of Christians laughing at Dr. Maier’s jabs while having their own feelings of religious superiority reinforced.
Politics and Religion
Do I really need to get into why it’s wrong for politicians to inject religion into government? Or why churches tell their followers who to vote for? Or about the killings and violence done in name of God?
Now. If none of the above ever happened, would I still be going to church on Sundays? I don’t know, though I doubt it. For me, there’s little appeal to it; I just don’t get anything out of it. I guess I just see too many flaws (or maybe contradictions?) in not just the message itself, but also how the message is delivered.
Is that somehow related to the arguments outlined by Murrow in the podcast? That the church has evolved into more of a feminine-focused institution than masculine? I don’t know. I do know, however, that for all the good that churches do – from charity to teaching morals and values to creating a strong sense of community – that they should be more inclusive and appealing and accepting in an ever-changing world.
And on somewhat of a side-note: the golden rule that says Do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matt. 7:12) should not include a list of exceptions based on skin color, sexual preference, political affiliation or religious declaration.