Sunday, July 09, 2017

From The "Why Don't Men Go To Church?" Files

I wasn't going to comment on this but Doug Wilson did and I think his piece is worth reading. Doug was following up on a piece from Tim Bayly that I read a few days ago and it had to do with an offertory "performance" at Redeemer Church, home of famous pastor, author and speaker Tim Keller. I am not sure I can describe it so I am just going to embed the video even though it makes me a little nauseous. Keep in mind that Tim Keller is considered to be conservative.

Life Together from Redeemer Video on Vimeo.

OK, I am just a knuckle-dragging chump from Indiana so what do I know about art and stuff. I mean this is Manhattan, man! That was like classy and artistic and cultured and all that! If I were a sophisticated city slicker I might give that performance two snaps up!

Back when it was OK to mock that which deserves to be mocked

I do know this. If I was sitting in a gathering of the church and three dudes started flitting around the stage, holding hands and pawing each other, I would not put any money in the offering plate. I would also not sit silently by. You would last see me walking out the back doors. I would assume any normal guy would do the same, unless their conditioning that tells them to sit down and shut up overrode their revulsion. I am not a fan of ballet or whatever form of dance this is. I am especially not a fan of three guys swishing around the stage together, doing lifts and such. I guess it would have been more tolerable if it was a guy and a girl dancing together but even still, what exactly is supposed to be the point here if not cultural virtue signaling? Yeah we believe in the Bible but look, we are still cultured! I don't know if these three fellas are homosexuals or not but if I looked at and/or touched another woman the way these guys are fondling and gazing at each other, my wife would feed me to our pigs, one piece at a time. You can guess which parts she would start with.

No surprise, Doug Wilson had something to say about this and it starts with the title of his post, in true vintage DW fashion, Gayer Than the Kiwi Queen of the Fire Island Fruit Festival. He goes on (in pink instead of my traditional green).....
What is the problem with this? Summed up, it is that this performance is gayer than the kiwi queen at the Fire Island Fruit Festival. This performance is gayer than an HR memo at Google headquarters. How gay was it? It was gayer than an NPR tote bag full of rainbows. It was gayer than a unicorn parade through the Castro District. It was gayer than a lavender sparkly pen.
He has a real flair for this. I can only hope to be that eloquent someday. It can be easy to get caught up in Doug's, um, vivid wordplay and miss the meat of what he is saying. Please don't because what he is saying is important. This is important because it gets to the heart of a couple of issues, like the feminizing of Christianity and the way that our modern "worship" tends to drive men away. This is going to sound incredibly chauvinistic, even by my standards but I don't care.
The church will only ever be as strong as the men who lead it.
Don't misread that. The Church is the Body of Christ. It was ordained by God, chosen by God, called by God, redeemed by His Son's blood, and will be sustained and triumphant by the will of God. If the very gates of Hell will not prevail against the church then you can be sure that three fellas prancing around a stage will not defeat the church. What I meant by my statement above is that the local, visible expression of the church where God has decreed that the church equips and encourages us for the work of ministry is only as vibrant and effective in that task as the men who lead it. You can have all of the money in the world, great programs, a kickin' "worship" band, every advantage but if you are led by weak men, the church will be weak. That is not to denigrate or diminish the role of women in the church, but simply to recognize what the Bible has made clear. God has placed the privilege and the burden of leadership in the home and the church in the hands of men.

Doug continues, emphasis mine....
It is no sin to watch this video clip and not know what the particular problem is. Human self-deception can occupy the heart like a rabbit warren under a large meadow. The particular problems can be hard to identify and trace. But the general problem is screamingly obvious. If you can look at this clip and not know that there is a grievous problem somewhere, then the self-deception involved is truly profound.
It is troubling that so many would watch this video and not know something is terribly wrong here. Whether because we are conditioned to never, ever judge or because we just are so Scripturally illiterate that we can't recognize when something is wrong, if you can watch that performance and realize that it is being done under the authority of elders in the church and not see that it is a gross imposition on the created order, then something is broken in your discernment. More and these are the critical passages:
I referred above to the problem of confusion. Scripture obviously refers to blatant sexual sin as abominable, and the term abomination is sometimes lost on us because we think of it as merely some strong form of Bible-ese. But the Bible also talks about this kind of sinning, and the antecedent rationalizations, as inchoate confusion. “Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion” (Lev. 18:23). “And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 20:12).
In our case, the confusion depends on the fact that, in the Christian world, we have limited the sin to actual genital contact. Stay away from that, and you can be as much of a swish as you want. But this is not what Scripture teaches. Adultery does not begin in the bed; it begins in the heart (Matt. 5:28). Homosex begins, not in the bathhouse, but rather in the kind of cosmos a man imagines himself to live in—provided it is not the cosmos created by the living God. Underneath the passive homosexual act is the sin of wanting to be soft, and underneath that desire to be malakoi (1 Cor. 6:9) is the sin of pride and arrogance.
That is so very important. If adultery is at the core a heart issue, then it makes sense that homosexuality is as well. Homosexual behavior is not sinful just for the act, although the act itself is an abomination. It is also sinful because it tells God the Creator that you reject what He has ordained. Whether it is men lusting after other men or women after other women, or if it is a man that feels compelled to dress like a woman because he is mentally ill or even worse if he is driven to mutilate his own flesh, or an adult who is sexually aroused by a small child or an animal, all of it stems from the same rebellion against God. God has made you a man and called you to either marry one woman in a lifelong covenant relationship or to remain single, but instead that man shakes his fist at God and declares: No, I will not! I will have sex with women who are not my wife. I will suppress the natural desire of a man for a woman and debase myself in lust for another man. I will declare God made a mistake in giving me male genitalia and chromosomes and start to act like and dress like a woman. Instead of seeing that small child as someone to protect and nurture, I will instead see that child as someone to sate my foul lusts with.

That sort of talk probably constitutes "hate speech" in much of the Western world. Heck you can probably get arrested in some European countries if the cops catch you with this post on your screen. Equating "transgenderism" and homosexuality with bestiality and pedophilia is simply not permitted but regardless it is all part of the same sexual rebellion against God's created order. The only permissible and blessed sexual unions are monogamous, permanent, heterosexual marriage or celibacy. That is it. "Living together", divorce and remarriage, adultery, homosexuality of any kind, bestiality, pedophilia. All are merely different points on a single spectrum of sexual sin.

The problem in that video is not just three guys swishing around together on stage. Instead it is a symptom of a much broader problem, even in "conservative" churches. It puts a sexually confused message on display for the entertainment of the church with the blessing of elders who should know better. This isn't some Episcopalian church, this is supposed to be a "conservative", Reformed, orthodox church. I am seeing a lot of troubling signs coming from "conservative" groups like The Gospel Coalition, 9 Marks and the Southern Baptist Convention, subtle slides toward political correctness and compromise to try to appease the world. The Gospel Coalition's Twitter page has for some time now featured a banner promoting an upcoming conference next April, the MLK50 conference recognizing the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

A conference celebrating a known adulterer with clearly a clearly unorthodox theology who also espoused borderline communist beliefs? From a group that styles itself the "Gospel" Coalition in celebration of a man who didn't seem to know what the Gospel was? So much for the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation this year, dead white theologians namesakes don't tickle the ears of the world. Let's focus on a conference celebrating a heterodox philanderer because he is a larger than life cultural figure and maybe, just maybe, the world will like us better if we put on a show. As a nation we should certainly remember with sadness the slaying of Martin Luther King, Kr. but as the church our focus should be on the Gospel. In 2014 TGC even ran a piece about Martin Luther King, Jr titled: 9 Things You Should Know About Martin Luther King, Jr. and point number 6 recognizes that he held heterodox (and heretical although they didn't use that word) beliefs:
6. King held unorthodox views on theology, which he expressed during his time at Crozer Theological Seminary. In a paper he wrote for a systematic theology class he cast skeptical aspersions on the doctrines of divine Sonship, the Virgin Birth (”. . . the evidence for the tenability of this doctrine is too shallow to convince any objective thinker”), and the Resurrection (”. . . the external evidence for the authenticity of this doctrine is found wanting”). In the conclusion of another paper he writes, 
"Others doctrines such as a supernatural plan of salvation, the Trinity, the substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the second coming of Christ are all quite prominent in fundamentalist thinking. Such are the views of the fundamentalist and they reveal that he is opposed to theological adaptation to social and cultural change. He sees a progressive scientific age as a retrogressive spiritual age. Amid change all around he is willing to preserve certain ancient ideas even though they are contrary to science."
So here is a man that apparently rejected or at least was highly skeptical about such minor issues as the Resurrection and the divinity of Christ and yet the "Gospel" Coalition is going to honor him with a conference next year? So I guess for TGC virtue signaling > orthodoxy. Hey, next year is also the 40th anniversary of the slaying of homosexual pedophile Harvey Milk, why not a conference for him? They could have twice divorced gay "bishop" Eugene Robinson as the keynote speaker!

One more from Doug, again emphasis mine.

Incidentally, I am aware that some will say that I obviously don’t understand art, or ballet, or culture, or something important to blue state urbanites. That’s as may be, but I understand men who still have their spiritual gonads. And if you can look at that clip and fail to understand why the church is so deeply unattractive to real men, then there is very little hope for you. And speaking of art, if you can look at that clip and fail to understand why real men are so repulsed by the artistic “community,” then there is even less hope.

I am not interested in running into the woods to build fires and beat drums or MMA party pseudo-machismo but I am even less interested in androgynous religious observations. Why would any self-respecting, Scripturally literate man be willing sit and watch three men cavorting with each other on stage? The answer is that they don't. They just stop coming. The same is true with wailing "Jesus is my girlfriend" contemporary "Christian" music or sappy sermons or even Christian teachers on the radio with their shows started with frilly acoustic guitar playing. Real men don't eat spiritual quiche, they want spiritual red meat. They don't want to sit around passively listening to warbling, crappy music. They certainly don't have any interest in the sort of "art" on display in that video. A man doesn't have to look like Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson to be manly, Doug Wilson isn't someone who you will see in an Ironman competition anytime soon, but a man has to at least know he is a man and not be ashamed of that.

The church has been playing defense for too long and the relentless infiltration will never stop as long as there is a single orthodox believer alive. It is time to be on the offensive, not to be offensive necessarily, but to take the fight to the Enemy. For decades the church in the U.S. has been doing whatever it can to drive men out. For every gathering like Together for the Gospel with thousands of men gathered under the authority of the Word of God, there are hundreds or thousands of slow drips of compromise like was on display at Redeemer. We need to reclaim the priority of masculinity in the church and that starts with redeeming the false image of Jesus as a sissy. We have confused the meekness of Christ with weakness. As I have written before, Jesus was meek because He chose to be at that time. His was infinite strength held in check by sheer willpower, not a lack of strength. The fact is that He could have but chose not to crush those scourging Him and nailing Him to a cross likely fleshy pop cans with a thought and He did that to redeem us, not because He was helpless, but because He loved us. That is not weakness, that is the epitome of strength. Jesus came as a man and not a simpering weakling. He rebuked and chastised without apology, He tolerated no nonsense, He drove those blaspheming the temple out with a whip made of cords, He commanded the seas and the winds, He faced down without fear the most powerful men around in the Jewish Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate. He spoke the truth without nuance and made no apology for it. When He comes again He will come in His full power and righteous fury:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (Revelation 19:11-15)

I don't know if Christ will return on a literal white horse but I do know with 100% confidence that He won't come back sashaying on a stage to flute music. It is a testament to the power of deception that the Enemy has managed to replace the Jesus of the Bible with the peace sign flashing, fair trade soy milk drinking, ballet dancing "Jesus" of modern religious culture.

We need to get back to worshipping THAT guy, the one who comes in fury and righteousness and wrath, not the peacenik hippie Jesus of modern church culture. How is a man supposed to worship as King a guy that he could beat up? We need to get back to Jesus who commands every man to repent and that all mankind will bow the knee to and confess as Lord instead of a false Jesus that gets sand kicked in His face at the beach.

If you want to see the church healthy, vibrant and powerful, you don't need better "worship" music or more relevant sermons or a better program for kids or more "inclusive" attitudes. You need to get the men back, the real men. If you do that the church will thrive. If you don't it will wither. There are no other options.


Dancer said...

I'm surprised no-one has commented on this... I am a trained dancer myself so here's my two cents:

There is one thing I really want to say: ballet is not "soft". Ballet is one of the hardest and most physically demanding activities there is (I can say that from personal experience - have you ever done a ballet class?). The three men who danced at Redeemer are clearly professional dancers and I can assure you that they are as fit and strong as any Olympic athlete.

And, by the way, don't think that I am a sissy man - yes, I am a man - because I dance. I can do all the other things you would deem "manly" - from wielding a wrench to fix my car through to leading and managing people with confidence and authority - you name it, the chances are I've done it. I also have an academic degree from a top university. I am proud to be a man and see no conflict between being a man and dancing.

Rant over, I don't actually think the dance at Redeemer was a good idea. It's clear from responses like yours that many people (women as well as men) have found it extremely unhelpful. I am also happy to agree with you that church isn't particularly attractive to men at the moment and some serious self-examination is needed.

But spare a thought for the three men in the video. They are probably devout Christians who presented their gifts and talents to God, and they have received some incredibly harsh criticism. They are not just anonymous figures on a platform, they are real people, struggling to be a witness to Christ in the performing arts world (a difficult task at the best of times), and it must be very demoralising for them to see how their sincere offering has been received by the church.

Dancer said...

Arthur, I want to thank you for publishing my previous comment. It didn't appear for a while so I wondered if you hadn't approved it for some reason. I am pleased that you will allow interaction and even a bit of dissent.

Arthur Sido said...


I am terrible about checking my comments so I apologize for the delay in publishing it.