Micah Hershberger recently asked my opinion on a question he is pondering.
What are the three greatest struggles facing men and women in American churches today? That is, what are the three greatest struggles facing men? And just so for the ladies, let us make a similar list for the three greatest struggles facing women.
Be warned, my list does not look like most lists you will see or hear when you turn on the radio or listen to your favorite pastor’s sermons on YouTube.
To prepare the ground, I would remind you of Ecclesiastes 1:9 where Solomon tells us definitively: “There is no new thing under the sun.”
Similarly, recall 1 Corinthians 10:13 where Paul tells the reader that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.”
In light of these two passages, my answer to Micah’s thought-provoking question sidesteps the peculiarities of modern technology. The things we often mistakenly suppose to be unique features of American society in its present form are often as not the shiny objects which distract us from what is really going on.
We all alike – whether men or women – have three main responses to the threats inherent to living in a fallen Creation generally. And perhaps in some cases modern American society in particular sees those threats taking some forms more often than others. But I believe these three responses to be universal across all of human history, our present American society and Christian culture being no exception. And they are: Fight, Flight, and Surrender.
However, the ways in which men and women fight, flee, and throw in the towel are and look markedly different. And from my observations and study, here is how I would characterize the marked difference in our particular context.
- Fight – become contentious, acidic, combative, and argumentative; conceited, egotistical, preoccupied with knowledge that puffs up instead of love that builds up; obsessed with doctrinal trivia at the expense of practical demonstrations of a living faith.
- Flight – despairing at the seemingly insurmountable forces of opposition, abandoning hope of meaningful faithfulness in family, church, and society, and neglecting to gird up their loins; retreating to hobbies, careerism, and a life of self-indulgence.
- Surrender – desperate for purpose and belonging, uncritically and in mercenary fashion going with the flow passively, though with the appearance of activity; becoming male feminists and social justice warriors, campaigning for Leftist and secular humanist causes in every facet of society so as to be embraced rather than loathed and detested.
- Fight – ambitiously contending with men for positions of authority which do not rightly belong to them, whether through harassment or nagging or malicious and slanderous gossip; like Amazons cutting off one breast so as to draw the bowstring without hindrance, sacrificing femininity in favor of becoming warrioresses society will hear roaring.
- Flight – withdrawing into quiet, lonesome lives as bookish spinsters who think Biblical femininity involves little more than keeping their clothes on and waiting for Prince Charming, or else ceaselessly meditating on idealized, romanticized visions of yesteryear at the expense of energetically engaging the opportunities for productive use and purpose in the present circumstance;
- Surrender – without strong Biblical leadership, or with forceful and corrupt influences in pop culture and broader society, particularly when such infect the church, women give up on seemingly quaint, antiquated notions of settling down as wives and mothers in favor of doing and being whatever society expects them to be, repeating dogma dispassionately and unthinkingly, and quietly dismissing what God’s Word says about their key contributions to family, church, and society; looking to social media applause to affirm their value and purpose.
Compare and Contrast
You will note as you read through these lists that I do not include a lot of commonly cited struggles – men lusting after women or struggling against the pull of toxic masculinity; women dealing with body image issues and striving to embrace their identity as daughters of the King.
I hold to the position that most of the items which typically make the list for American Christian thought-leaders are actually downstream of deeper root causes. And if the water is contaminated in a city, we should get as near to the source as we can in trying to find the source of the corruption.
In doing that, I believe we will find that most of the particular temptations we see men and women vying against have their origin in the Curse pronounced to our male and female progenitors, Adam and Eve.
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