Is your faith manly enough? Lots of Christian bloggers have been talking about the "Godmen" movement, as exposed in a recent LA Times article. A quick excerpt from the article, which is worth reading in its entirety:
[Brad Stine is] stand-up comic by trade, but he's here today as an evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man--one profanity at a time. "It's the wuss-ification of America that's getting us!" screeches Stine, 46.
A moment later he adds a fervent: "Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!"
It's an apt anthem for a contrarian movement gaining momentum on the fringes of Christianity. In daybreak fraternity meetings and weekend paintball wars, in wilderness retreats and X-rated chats about lust, thousands of Christian men are reaching for more forceful, more rugged expressions of their faith.
Yikes. I won't spend too much time discussing the Godmen piece, because other bloggers have done a great job of that already (see thoughts by Al Mohler, Fernando's Desk, Crossroads, and GetReligion for some good thoughts on the movement's concept of "masculine Christianity"). But I want to point out a good post at the First Things blog that sees the "Godmen" phenomenon as very closely (and somewhat ironically) related to the touchy-feely, uncomfortably romantic Christianity that Mikey talked about here last week. Mary Angelita Ruiz at First Things sees both movements as two points on the same spectrum--earnest if misguided attempts to better understand Jesus by remaking him in accordance with our own needs and sensibilities:
[The Godmen movement is] mockable—and yet all such movements are trying to react against the bad and seek the good. The Jesus Mean and Wild men are confronting a serious problem. Many Christians are frustrated by the Christianity presented to them: too polite, too sunny, too nice to help them in their struggles. GodMen uses the straight-talking, guns-blazing atmosphere of its meetings to help its participants deal with sexual temptation and sin.
Meanwhile, the Jesus Is My Boyfriend contingent, seeking a deeper relation with Christ, is echoing a millennia-old spirituality that uses the language of sexual desire to express the soul’s longing for God.
She closes by observing that re-decorating Jesus in the image of our choice is not how we come to truly know him:
The aim of meditating on Christ is to know him and love him—all of him: the judge, the spouse, the brother, the child, the friend, the king, the shepherd. The aim of imitating Christ is to become like him. There are no shortcuts. Slogans, self-help books, rallies, makeovers—these will not substitute for worship of Christ, not as we might like him to be, but as he is.
(Read the whole piece--and pardon my lengthy quoting above.)
Both movements--both the "masculinization" of Jesus and the "Jesus is my boyfriend" trend of romanticizing Christ--make more sense to me now, looking at them as attempts to apply our own templates to a Jesus who has always defied expectations and easy categorization.