“Men just aren’t as spiritual as women.”
Or, so goes the common saying that we’ve come to embrace. Though surveys in recent years have shown that their attendance has declined somewhat, women have long been in the majority at the weekly worship times in most of America’s churches. One 2005 report said that women make up 60% of the attendance in America’s churches and 20% of married Christian women attend church alone. The way we talk about men and women and what we often expect from men (particularly younger men) in the church tells us that we’ve accepted this as just the way things are.
And maybe that’s true, maybe churches, homes, and communities are filled with men who can’t seem to be dragged into embracing spirituality. But in agreeing that it’s true, we’re forgetting to ask the obvious question: should that be true? Did God create men to be less spiritually inclined? Did He create a few strange men with greater spirituality in order to be preachers and elders while the rest were given mediocre levels of spirituality? Did He create women to be more spiritual, dragging their husbands to church events and begging them to be spiritual leaders in the home?
Absolutely not.
In placing men as the head of the home (Ephesians 5:22ff), God expects men to get their families to heaven. In placing men as the head of the church (1 Timothy 2-3), God expects men to step up and be the defenders of His truth. And when God expects something of us, He gives us everything we need to carry out whatever that task may be (2 Peter 1:3).
When we buy into this myth that women are more spiritual than men, we’re forgetting that God wants every single one of us to give ourselves to Him. The command to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength was first given to the men of Israel. God expected men to set the tone spiritually then, and we have no reason to believe that should be different today, despite what the statistics are telling us.
There are some things our culture (despite some who might protest) still expects men to do for women. We are to hold doors open. We are to let them go first. Husbands should be the ones to fix the car or make repairs around the house. Husbands should protect. In fact, we not only generally observe these principles, we look down on a man if he lets his wife do these things for him. It’s time to add spiritually leading in the home to that list. A Christian man doesn’t let his wife handle all the discipline, Bible teaching, or church involvement in the home because it’s easier on him or even because she may be better at it. A Christian man steps up to the plate and does what God expects of him. You’re not spiritual, you say? Get spiritual.
Unfortunately, those few remaining expectations we place on men are in the realm of marriage, and most twentysomething men aren’t even thinking about marriage. Because we’ve extended adolescence nearly to the age of 30, any man under that age has almost no expectations placed on him, particularly in the area of his spiritual life. That’s not okay for the church (generally speaking) to continue to expect next to nothing from young men. How will they spiritually lead one day if they aren’t interested in picking up their Bible today?
Not married? Now is the time to develop your spirituality, whether you plan to get married or not. Too many young, single, Christian men are too busy playing video games, watching sports, and having a good time rather than focusing on building a relationship with God. None of those things are wrong in and of themselves, but when we pursue those interests while not being all that interested in the Bible, prayer, or our church family, by implication we’re telling God, our church family, and a potential spouse that we think it’s perfectly fine to live a life without God being at the center of everything we do. The church needs your gifts and abilities right now, and your potential future family will need you to lead some day as well. Don’t believe the lie that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable for you to be spiritually disinterested.
The way I see it, Christian men have two options. We can either accept things as they are and assume it’s just fine for us to continue to be the less spiritual of the two sexes. Or, we can see things as they are, reject it completely, and get busy on rewriting the narrative. We don’t get to make the choice as a whole, though. We won’t be holding a vote on which option we’ll choose. We make that decision as individuals, each day deciding to pursue God whole-heartedly and passing that on to the men around us – sons, brothers, friends, and whoever else will listen. The only way to change the way people see us is to make that choice and start living by it.
By Jack Wilkie
Jack Wilkie is the author of “Failure: What Christian Parents Need to Know About American Education” and is the speaker for Focus Press’s “The Lost Generation” seminar. To schedule a seminar at your church, contact jack@focuspress.org.