Apparently god, li’l ras­cal that he is, is start­ing up a He-​​Man Woman-​​Haters’ Club (actu­ally it’s called GodMen), since there isn’t enough phal­lo­cen­tric­ity or misog­yny in mod­ern Christianity.

It seems to be a cross* between PromiseKeepers and “youth min­istries” — a way to get men into churches by allow­ing them to relive the Glory Days of fra­ter­nity par­ties and other, anal­o­gous pointlessness.

Brad Stine runs onstage in ripped blue jeans, his shirt untucked, his long hair shaggy. He’s a 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.

The atti­tude seems to be that church has become “emas­cu­lat­ing”, some­thing Real Men are nat­u­rally ter­ri­fied of. Here’s one descrip­tion, for instance, from David Murrow, who wrote Why Men Hate Going to Church:

Murrow, 45, blames men’s lack­lus­ter atti­tude on the fem­i­niza­tion of main­line churches: “Lace cur­tains. Quilted ban­ners on the wall. Pink car­pet. Fresh flow­ers at the podium.”

How dread­ful that must be. A sanc­tu­ary set aside specif­i­cally to bring one closer to a uni­ver­sal cause, or to a uni­ver­sal sense of under­stand­ing; a place for con­tem­pla­tion of pro­found ques­tions such as the nature and mean­ing of human­ity; a place where one goes to feel, how­ever ten­u­ously, a sense of con­nec­tion with some­thing far greater than one­self … that is peace­ful, and com­fort­able, and has flow­ers in it.

Fuck that!, say the GodMen. We want naked con­crete, half-​​naked women, fart-​​lighting con­tests and grease all over our hands! That’s the way to get in touch with Jesus, right?

Right! Looky here:

[Jesus has] been domes­ti­cated,” says Roland Martinson, a pro­fes­sor of min­istry at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. “He’s por­trayed now as gen­tle, lov­ing, kind, rather than as a full-​​bodied per­son who kicked over tables in the tem­ple, spent 40 days in the wilder­ness wrestling with his iden­tity and with God, hung out with the guys in the street. The rough-​​hewn edges and courage … got lopped off.”

…Okay, maybe they do have one point here. (“Full-​​bodied per­son”? So Jesus is a beer, and the domes­ti­cated ver­sion is the Lite vari­ety?) The pack­aged, Pope-​​approved Jesus is so obvously not the real deal that it’s really kind of shock­ing we have to explain it to anyone.

Given his ances­try and place of birth, the man named Jesus would prob­a­bly be on an FBI ter­ror­ism watch list were he alive today. He cer­tainly would have had the com­plex­ion and cloth­ing for it. Jesus blond-​​haired, blue-​​eyed and quin­tes­sen­tially Aryan? Not on your fuckin’ life.

But con­trast that, which is sen­si­ble, to the fol­low­ing, which is not:

Hold hands with strangers? Sing love songs to Jesus? No won­der pews across America hold far more women than men, Stine says. Factor in the pres­sure to be a “Christian nice guy” — no cussing, no con­fronta­tion, in tune with the wife’s emo­tions — and it’s amaz­ing men keep the faith at all.

Do you see the misog­yny here? I’ll admit that it’s buried in a litany of whin­ing about prob­lems with stereo­typ­i­cal Christian doings, but when you look for it, it jumps right out. It’s in the phrase “in tune with the wife’s emo­tions”, which dis­mis­sively brushes past one of the few things that men must be to sus­tain a long-​​term rela­tion­ship with any­one but their foot­ball buddies.

How much of a woman-​​hating bas­tard do you have to be to think car­ing about your wife’s needs is some­how unmanly? Well, con­sider this com­ment from Stine.

He also dis­trib­utes a list of a real man’s rules for his woman. No. 1: “Learn to work the toi­let seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.”

One could argue that Stine should behave in the same fash­ion with a cer­tain part of his own anatomy, par­tic­u­larly the “put it down” part. And this from his wife, which con­tains a phrase that I find a lit­tle too much like a dis­turb­ing sex­ual metaphor:

Stine’s wife, Desiree, says she sup­ports manly lead­er­ship; it seems to her the nat­ural and God-​​ordained order of things. As she puts it: “When the rub­ber hits the bat, I want to know my hus­band will pro­tect me.”

What … rub­ber, pre­cisely, is hit­ting which “bat”? What is this “bat”, and what does the act of strik­ing it symbolize?

Perhaps there are some things we sim­ply were not meant to know. Absolutely there are some things we prob­a­bly do not want to know.

The idea of a rough-​​and-​​tumble Jesus is inter­est­ing; but just like the Catholic lily-​​white ver­sion, it’s facile. We’re talk­ing about a man who had some pretty damn deep insights, a man who was there­fore arguably com­plex. The gospels hint at it; the Jesus por­trayed in them was not a lin­ear, sketchily-​​drawn char­ac­ter pos­sessed of lit­tle depth. He got pissed; he got drunk; he got horny.

He wasn’t just about whip­ping com­mer­cial­ism away from the sanc­tu­ary; he wasn’t just about social rev­o­lu­tion. He was also inter­ested in bring­ing a new under­stand­ing to the peo­ple around him; he was ulti­mately try­ing to relieve a lit­tle of the suf­fer­ing he saw hap­pen­ing in the world around him.**

The GodMen seem to be a lit­tle con­flicted as well, dis­cov­er­ing quickly that spir­i­tual or deep eth­i­cal explo­ration can lead to what they might deem decidely unmanly sen­si­tiv­ity. What to do about it? Ease off on the hard-​​edged rhetoric, Stine believes, includ­ing the occa­sional pro­fan­ity he uses while deliv­er­ing a sermon.

[John] Eldredge runs “soul-​​searching” wilder­ness retreats in Colorado that prompt men to bare their inner­most needs.

Hmm, I won­der if they bring bats along on these retreats of theirs.


* Not that cross.

** It’s pos­si­ble to be an athe­ist, reject the divin­ity of Jesus, deny the pos­si­bil­ity of mir­a­cles, and still respect what the man was try­ing to accomplish.

Amanda posted a hell of a fine take­down on these clowns too.


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