January 11, 2009

Macho Jesus for men.

"God called [Mark] Driscoll to preach to men — particularly young men — to save them from an American Protestantism that has emasculated Christ and driven men from church pews with praise music that sounds more like boy-band ballads crooned to Jesus than 'Onward Christian Soldiers.' What bothers Driscoll — and the growing number of evangelical pastors who agree with him — is not the trope of Jesus-as-lover. After all, St. Paul tells us that the Church is the bride of Christ. What really grates is the portrayal of Jesus as a wimp, or worse. Paintings depict a gentle man embracing children and cuddling lambs. Hymns celebrate his patience and tenderness. The mainstream church, Driscoll has written, has transformed Jesus into 'a Richard Simmons, hippie, queer Christ,' a 'neutered and limp-wristed popular Sky Fairy of pop culture that . . . would never talk about sin or send anyone to hell.'"


ricpic said...

Sky fairy, way up high,
Sky fairy, in the sky,
Sky fairy, why oh why?
Sky fairy, do you cry?

I cry for, talk open,
I cry for, commands ten,
I cry for, when oh when?
I cry for, fag reign end?

Sky Fai-ai-ry.

vet66 said...

GOD save us from politically correct religion where everyone is a victim (Sheep), nobody is responsible for their actions (Where's the Shepherd?), there is no accountability (Cliff's notes Bible), and Churches more interested in media presentations that include notes on the scrolling monitor that food and drink is not allowed in the pews.

I fully expect the 12 apostles at the Last Supper to jump up and start singing YMCA, after conferring on the proper note to begin their a capella, as a prototype Village People.

I miss fire and brimstone!

Mark O said...

Even a simple reading of the four Gospels discloses that even Jesus’ apostles did not understand who or what he was. Can it be a surprise that monks would paint Him as a castrado? The idea that anyone would know what Jesus would do is laughable.

Ron said...

Weren't the Apostles the Original Backstreet Boys? They really weren't N'Sync...

Even before I saw ricpic's comment I thought "Sky Pilot" also...

Bissage said...

Things might have turned out better for John Walker Lindh had he discovered Pastor Driscoll’s church.

Simon Kenton said...

C.S. Lewis noted that in the Scriptures an angel always says, "Fear not," when meeting a mortal, but modern portrayals of angels look as if they were about to say, "There, there."

former law student said...

1. Jesus was raised by a carpenter. Odds are he grew up muscled from sawing wood and hammering pegs. And, except for the tax collector, his followers were such manly outdoors types as fishermen.

2. "Muscular Christianity" -- to eliminate any wussy stigma -- is a familiar meme in our culture. One wave of which was responsible for creating the YMCA, with its gyms and pools. (I haven't read Sinclair Lewis in years, but I seem to recall he captured this in his novels.)

Ann Althouse said...

To Former Law Student -- my question is whether all that makes him seem less gay or more gay.

John K. said...

I See His Blood Upon the Rose, by Joseph Mary Plunkett:

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

For those who believe that Jesus was the Incarnation of God, our understanding of Who He was should be informed by the Creation as a whole. There is violence as well as meekness in the Creation, hurricanes as well as the gentle dew from heaven which refreshes the earth. The Gospels tell us that Jesus, whatever the size of his muscles, was endowed with extraordinary power. If he could walk on water and heal the sick, presumably he could have kicked some serious ass if he'd wanted to, if that was the message about God he'd wanted to send. The fact that Jesus refrained from such coercion reflects the freedom God's creation has been endowed with, the freedom to do good or do evil. The fact that Jesus went about doing good, that he suffered evil rather than committed it, shows that God's will for the earth is peace rather than the violence that is now permitted to erupt and even prevail within it. Why does God permit evil? That is the classic philosophical and theological "problem of evil." The simple answer is that the possibility of evil follows necessarily from the aforesaid freedom, although this answer, when looked at more deeply, is not entirely satisfying. The message of God's Incarnation and Christ's Passion is that, whyever evil exists, God suffers all of it with us. Every tear we shed is shed also by God. This "answer," while still shrouded in Mystery, is distinctive to Christianity. It has the ring of truth, and for me was a motive for belief in the Gospels.

Joe R. said...

One of the main points of the gospels is to motivate individuals to stop being assholes. Yes, you can start out as an asshole (we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and the like), but you grow and mature in Christ. It seems as if this fool (along with a number of others) started out as an asshole and has just used his religion as an excuse to continue and propagate his assholery.

There is a point where the whole "Macho Jesus" thing crosses a normal expression of masculinity into gayness of the leather daddy kind. Do hetero-folk usually work so many gay references into one sentence?

Dana said...

No matter, Driscoll makes a sound point - the feminization of our culture, all the way from Jesus, to the church, to the emasculization of the modern male...the evidence is indeed everywhere around us.

That said, I believe it is inevitable Driscoll will be taken down a few notches and stumble and fall like all mortals are inclined to because God likes to remind those who are behind the pulpit that He alone is God. Humility is in short supply and nowhere more so than the pulpits of the modern church.

p.s. the ultimate example of pure strength had to be Jesus hanging on the Cross, who although could have called legions of angels down to release Him or caused the heavens to open and destroy those who sought to destroy Him instead submitted to His death in utter obedience and surrender to His Father. Now that's power manifest - meek submission and yieldedness to a higher calling.

Original George said...

The sermon in my church this morning explicitly dealt with "post-modernism" and "deconstructionalism" and made extended reference to Christian themes in the Coen brothers film "O, Brother Where Art Thou?"

Down in the River to Pray

The angelic Alison Krauss.

And no more knockin' over Piggly Wigglies in Yazoo.

The water is fine.

former law student said...

whether all that makes him seem less gay or more gay.

I can't say.

The "macho Jesus" argument attempts to prove that Christianity is not for sissies. But in real life, there is not a one-to-one correspondence between gays and sissies: there are non-sissy gays, and non-gay sissies.

It may be that closeted gays feel the need to act hypermasculine to avoid discovery; I couldn't say for sure.

Ralph said...

Didn't Jesus tell his disciples to put away their swords at Gethsemane? So they carried the ancient version of the handgun on an after-dinner stroll. Biblical basis for the Second Amendment.

save_the_rustbelt said...

Many of the praise songs are screeching nonsense without any rhythm or rhyme. For those of us with limited singing ability most of them are impossible.

Give me old fashioned hymns any day (except Charles Wesley hymns, the boredom is incredible).

somefeller said...

Joe R. has it right. This guy is an asshole, and his "religion" is just blustering, vulgar white-trash dreck.

And the Brothers who ran the Catholic school I went to as a kid were right. Calvinism is bullshit.

UWS guy said...

Obviously what the world needs is for Jesus to be more like mohamad, obviously.

Kirk Parker said...


"And the Brothers who ran the Catholic school I went to as a kid were right. Calvinism is bullshit."

Sure, if Calvinism really were what the NYT writer depicts Driscoll as presenting, then I'd agree with you; but it isn't, so I don't.

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mcg said...

Yes, you can start out as an asshole (we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, and the like), but you grow and mature in Christ.

This is all well and good, except that Jesus didn't define the term "asshole", but man did; and it has come to cover some of the things Jesus actually did.

I mean, I imagine the moneychangers in the temple or some of the Pharisees he called snakes thought the Hebrew equivalent of "what an asshole."

former law student said...

if Calvinism really were what the NYT writer depicts Driscoll as presenting

What is Calvinism? A religion that teaches its adherents that their chance of salvation was determined eons ago, leaving them no opportunity to change their fate for good or ill. Also the philosophical basis for Western capitalism. (Symbol of Christ on the cross replaced by camel passing through eye of needle) http://www.flickr.com/photos/vikingman/2517760927/

Synova said...

In Scandinavia they called Jesus the "white" Christ. White was the color for a coward. Thor was "red" Thor.

In the end, though, Jesus won and Thor lost.

I don't know that Christ has been wussified so much as that the Church has been wussified.

A friend of mine, an officer, got reprimanded by the chaplain service when we were at Clark because he wrote a letter challenging that fear was a sin. He made his case from scripture, most certainly, and there were several people who were having terrible trouble with fear after an earthquake there and other security issues, but they told him he couldn't call something a sin. It wasn't allowed.

He wasn't allowed to say, do you trust God or not? Is your life in his hand or not?

There is a lot of "tough" in Christianity. The demand for self-discipline, itself, compares to any other religious or martial discipline. But these days the church doesn't even bother with sexual fidelity. No one is taught self-denial and no one learns it. No one does anything that's hard to do because their faith demands nothing.

Muscles never used atrophy.

traditionalguy said...

In my limited experence on this beautiful work of art of a planet earth, I have been smitten by the truth condensed into the scriptures. First we are told that our human race has been offered, out of the blue, a complete Covenant Agreement promising more and better promises of protection and favor than you can ever wish for. But then we are required to live by a Torah teaching that we are later told by Yaweh that He had always known we would fail to keep. This is followed by the long predicted appearance of God's heir and son who proceeds to, with a little cooperation from the Roman Army of Occupation,sacrifice himself by the cruelest method of humiliation, abandonment and death ever devised in our place. Next we learn that everyone, Jew or Goyem, can now be freely reinstated under a new Amended Blood Covenant by simply believing and publically confessing that this happened followed by Jesus's resurcetion in our place. The open question has always remained whether or not we are then also back under a requirement to live by the unkeepable Torah teachings. The best answer seems to be that because of what Jesus did, we are now able, by faith, to desire a new life that is regulated by God's Torah teachings. But on the other hand, Jesus is NOT judging us by our Maleness or our Femaleness, or our various mixtures of those two. He simply demands forgiveness of everyone and love for our neighbors. It remains to be seen if Christ-ian people can do those two.

Synova said...

And the judgment of people if you fail is worse than the judgment of God. They demand more and forgive less.

mcg said...

If you ignore the clear statements of free will in Scripture you get (hyper-)Calvinism. If you ignore the clear statements of predestination, foreknowledge, and selection in Scripture you get Arminianism. The Bible may be b.s., but if it is not, it is certainly paradoxical. In my mind it doesn't seem hard to just let that paradoxical tension hang there, since I know I cannot resolve it. After all I do not have a full picture of things---like what it is to stand outside of time like God does. Part of that exercise though is being careful with statements like "God decided everything before ..." which may be how it appears to us but has no meaning for a being outside of time itself.

Nichevo said...

I find no apt words at present, but commend the tone of the thread (so far).

knox said...

...how long til Urban Outfitters comes out with a "Richard Simmons Jesus" ?

Beth said...

the emasculization of the modern male...the evidence is indeed everywhere around us.

Have you been watching the playoffs?

Beth said...

Interesting thread. Synova, your comment on "white" Jesus and "red" Thor make me think of Beowulf. The Christians that eventually put that story down on vellum introduced that same clash: the central characters clearly follow the pagan, heroic code - serving one's king and dying in battle, with fame as a goal, fame based on one's deeds, and ensuring one's name remains known - while the poet(s) intersperse the Christian values of forgiveness, humility, and the fate of one's soul in the afterlife.

Nichevo said...

...in my life," Marian said with a sigh, "but never mind. Did you
read the plaque, Roland?"

He nodded. Nancy Deepneau had used a different word—sign or sigul—but he understood it came to the same. "The letters changed into Great Letters. I could read it very well."

"And what did it say?"

"GIVEN BY THE TET CORPORATION, IN HONOR OF EDWARD CANTOR DEAN AND JOHN "JAKE" CHAMBERS." He paused. "Then it said 'Cam-a-cam-mal, Pria-toi, Gan delah,' which you might say as

"And to us it says GOOD OVER EVIL, THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD," Marian said.

"God be praised!" Moses Carver said, and thumped his cane. "May the Prim rise!"

Salamandyr said...

Seems to me this guy is less "masculine" and more "alternative". Tattoos, wife beaters, and indy rock don't make masculinity. The manliest men I know put on suit and tie, and shined their shoes before stepping into the house of their god, even if their work a day attire was dungarees and boots.

Young men, especially troubled ones, respond better to stratified, rules oriented systems, which is why modernized Christianity often fares poorly against radicalized Islam, and the harsher forms of Protestantism. So this guy has something going...presenting the gospel to include all those uncomfortable people, the megachurch movement is designed to exclude.

However, can we get over this notion that a foul mouth and inability to dress like a grown-up are hallmarks of masculinity?

G. said...

Macho Jesus comes the 2nd time around.
Kickin butt and not takin names (HE already has them)

mcg said...

A Newsbusters response to this NYT article, in which the author is accused of mistaking Calvinism for fatalism. I'm kind of surprised this article hasn't yet been discussed on GetReligion.org, but maybe it is just a matter of time.

amba said...

This is old stuff . . . there was a "muscular Christianity" movement around a hundred years ago. (Pretty interesting link.)

amba said...

You should read Marilynne Robinson (the novelist, author of Gilead) on Calvinism. Calvin was a Frenchman; his real name was Cauvin. His mentor was a brilliant woman. It's a fascinating different take, in her book of essays The Death of Adam.
Muscular progressivism, I suppose; a lot about abolitionism, one of her central obsessions.

Ann Althouse said...

Nice link, Amba -- on muscular Christianity. Thanks.

Gail Bumala said...

So, you all do realize that the stature of men in Jesus' time was different. He was likely not more than five feet tall and probably resembled Osama Bin Laden more than the fair haired Euro Jesus so many adore.
What he said and stood for and the gifts he gave us and the followers he raised up and the personal relationship he offers each one is the true measure of Jesus. This worship of Macho Jesus is little more than patriarchal phallic worship.