It does not happen very often that one email makes me think for one whole week. But Toms response about the “Bride of Christ” question did.
“Roman Catholic scholar Leon Podles dealt length with this issue in his book about the feminization of Christianity. Something about contorting one’s soul into the bridal posture is contrary to nature, perverse, and unbecoming to a Christian man. A devotional life centered around emoting/emitting effeminate, sweet, pious thoughts towards God is not Biblical, nor appropriate to real Christian living in the real world.”
Wow! What a statement!
I have not come to a clear conclusion yet. But here are some thougths:
– feminization of Christianity
I agree that this is happening to a large extend. I am sometimes frustrated, when I hear people ending their messages with an invitation to come to Jesus that sounds like: “come to Jesus and he will heal your heart and all your inner wounds. Just come to him…” Of course Jesus does that, but to many men in my nation this would not sound like an invitation but like a threat (Jesus forcing them to deal with that emotional stuff. No thanks.). I remember a very different sermon I heard one day. A man preached about the cost of commitment, the possibility of matyrdom and so on. Not the kind of stuff that I find inviting. But I recall sitting there and thinking “this is a sermon for men” And sure it was. When the preacher invited those to the platform who wanted to follow Christ at any cost and commit there lives to him fully and totally eight people came forward – ALL of them men. This made me think a lot abotu our presentation of the gospel.
To me meeting Christ is like entering our eternal home. But somehow this home seems to have different doors. Some people search for truth and then walk through the door of truth and find Christ, others find him through the doors of healing, forgiveness, comfort or challenge. However it seems to me that we keep opening the soft feminine doors (healing, comfort) when we preach the gospel. But in our communication we keep the “male” doors (challenge, commitment, male passion and rawness) closed…..and wonder why so few men enter the family of Christ.
– individualization of Christianity
We – as a body of believers – ARE the bride of Christ and can meet him as such. And when we are together we can express our love and passion to him. It may seem inappropriate for an individual man to express love to Christ in a “feminine” way (I can not tell, I am a woman – living in a country where even the women tend to be masculine and need to learn to be feminine). But when we as a body of believers togehter express our love for him, it could have all sorts of expressions: soft worship (guess we have too much of that), strong exclamation of his power and so on. Jesus expressed tenderness as well as strength.
– roles and shapes – and extremes
There are so many pictures the bible expresses to describe our relationship to God
shepherd – sheep
master – servant
friend – friend
potter – clay
commander – soldier
wine – branch
None of these make me less of a man / woman when I express that part of my relationship to him. I am his child (and at the same time a grown up business woman), I am the clay and yet called to rule over the earth in christ. I am no less of a woman when I see myself as a soldier in his army….I think the problem comes when one thing goes to the extreme i.e. if I would only see myself as a soldier it might be “off”….
As I said I am not finished with thinking….would appreciate your input, Tom – and the input of anyone else, too!