Masculinity and Worship?

Here’s just one reason why we host a men’s retreat every year focused on masculine spiritual leadership:

Every time I breathe You seem a little bit closer
I never want to leave
I want to stay in Your warm embrace
Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face
And every time I get another glimpse of Your heart
I realize it’s true
That You are so marvelous…
And I am so in love with You

(from the song “Every Time I Breathe” by Big Daddy Weave)

The word “God” belongs where the ellipsis is. But take that word out, and this pretty much sounds like a love song that a man would sing to a woman. And it’s just weird to sing to God the same words you would sing to a woman.

Should Christian men love God? Yes. Should we cultivate a healthy, affective faith – one that involves our hearts as well as our heads? Yes. But think about it: would a godly man sing these words to another man? Naw. And Jesus is a (resurrected and glorified) man. So why would we sing songs to him that we would never think of singing to another human man?

In a day and age when this is a “normal” Christian song, it should be clear that we have some work to do in order to recover a healthy, biblical, masculine spirituality.


Leave a Comment

  1. yeah. . . .that’s pretty hard for me to sing to the Lord.

    “You are beautiful, my sweet, sweet song” comes to mind. I really try, on the songs I write for our church, to write them so that men and women can sing them. You guys should let me know how I’m doing. . . the new album just came out. . . .

    Let me know. . I always point this out in other people’s songs but sometimes things just slip in if you’re careless with a lyric.


  2. I thought I was the only one who has trouble with “My sweet, sweet song”. I just don’t think of Jesus as a beautiful sweet song. And what does it mean to address him that way? I feel like it demotes him to an insubstantial object.

  3. I stumbled onto your blog. I’m a pastor and part time professor. I was recently trying to communicate the feminization of worship within the church to a class. You nailed it with the example you gave. Thanks.

  4. And yet one of the most prominent metaphors in the Bible of God’s relationship to us is that of romantic love.

    So this makes me a bit nervous: Are we redefining our God to fit our perception of masculinity when we perhaps should be redefining the ways in which we think of ourselves as Christian men to fit our God and the way he sees his relationship with humanity?

  5. I think this is a great conversation to be having. It is interesting that God came to us as a man, but God is so clearly not a man. Somehow, the imago dei is found in the interplay of men and women. What do we do with a God who is not either male or female, but is both/and? How do we celebrate, as Cabe mentions, a God who is warrior and lover, mother and Son, as the Scriptures reveal?

  6. I don’t mind having my concepts and affections stretched — the renewing of the mind, as Scripture says. But I really hope for lyrics that make reasonable sense. Maybe one measure or test of that is: Can we teach from this song — is it theologically valid and does it reveal something about God and our relationship to him?

  7. Cabe,

    Good to see you on here. A very good MHGS-style post – questioning assumptions, looking through another perspective, spurring the dialogue… thanks for the contribution.

    And, your point is well stated. However, I think there is a difference between communal metaphors (Bride/bridgroom, shepherd/sheep, husband/wife) and the nature of individual human beings as created “male and female” (Gen 1:27). It may be true that God’s love for his people (communally) is metaphorically described as romantic. But as Kimberly points out, the masculine spirit and the feminine spirit are created distinctly to represent different and complementary aspects of the imago Dei. So I think it’s important to consider whether the church as a whole is elevating femininity and obscuring masculinity.

  8. Bob,

    I agree. I think that what we’re talking about here is how the bible expresses God relating to the church as a whole, and to believers individually.

    Personally, I don’t think romantic love (by itself) is a good metaphor for God relating to men or women, individually. Men, or masculinity is not the issue there. “His banner over me is love” and “bride of Christ” etc. . . as Bob said, are metaphors for the church’s relationship to God salvifically.

    The issue is how men should relate/sing/pray/commune with God. And, that is where. . I believe there’s been bad models/bad songs/and bad exegesis. I’m not a typical “man’s man” . . . . . don’t do alot of work in the garage. . . don’t drive a truck, etc. .

    But, there is still a disconnect for me with alot of worship songs. . .and alot of the marketing of the church that is done in a very feminine way. Also, you just have to look at the stats with males age 18-34 the least likely folks to be in church in America. . . and you realize we have some work to do there.


  9. So are you saying that expressing a person’s relationship with God using romantic language is feminine, and a masculine relationship with God is something else?

    One example that pops out at me of an explicitly masculine relationship with God where romantic language is employed is in the Book of Proverbs, a book that was originally written primarily for men. The seductive figure of Lady Wisdom is the right choice for who we are to dine with and share intimacy, and we are wise to choose her over Folly. And of course she represents God’s wisdom, and indeed God himself.

    Also David and Jonathan’s relationship is often expressed in ways that we wouldn’t today. Two heterosexual dudes, whether Christian or not, wouldn’t ever consider expressing affection to one another like these two guys did. Were David and Jonathan in sin?

    I don’t know that we can make such a strong split, saying feminine worship can employ romantic imagery and masculine worship has to be something else. I don’t think that women and Communities of people have a monopoly on romantic metaphor in the Bible. But I definitely agree that we need to have a spirituality that is authentically masculine, I just don’t think that this should involve distancing ourselves from romantic metaphors when they can be such a beautiful source of connection with our God.

    Once again I wonder if we are allowing God to shape how we view ourselves as men, or if we are shaping how we view God with our preconceived definition of masculinity.

  10. What I find beautiful in this dialogue it that clearly we want to worship God with true engagement and intimacy, and for different reasons, each of us seem to be responding to worship styles/songs that do or do not provoke that in our lives.

    I think Bob’s comment on whether or not the church is obscuring masculinity is an interesting thought. And as Aaron makes a good point to say, there is something to why it is so hard to get men inside church walls. For sure, there is some creative work to do to address this.

    But, just to mix things up, I want to offer something…. It might be hard as a man to sing worship songs that feel more feminine. And I think we do need to look at our lyrics and find some balance there. However, in terms of wondering if our churches or worship are in danger of being feminized, well, have you ever really paused and considered what it is like to be part of a a religion, where let’s face it, more often than not, God is referred to, spoken of, and represented as though God is male? God is not male, but most of our structures of language, most of our loudest Christian voices who speak for this God, are male. I don’t think Christianity is close to feminizing God. But I don’t think as men and women, we enjoy enough celebrating a God who is neither male nor female. I think we would know God more fully if we could, and that thrills me.

    (And as Cabe points out, I don’t think we can so easily assume what masculinity and femininity are…the Scriptures continue to surprise me on this one.)

  11. Cabe,

    I think you are right that Proverbs is written to a community of men and sometimes uses romantic imagery. However, I don’t think that Proverbs uses that language to describe a individual man’s relationship with God. I base that on the introduction, specifically chapter 1 verse five: “let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance”, which sounds more like categories (communities) of people.

    Worship can be individual and commmunal. Romance can have those qualities, too, but the latter is almost always figurative. The trouble comes from corporate worship tunes that present romance like a one-to-one relationship with humans and God. That idea just isn’t possible or biblical, even for girls (I’m thinking Genesis 2:18). It is, as Bob said, lines getting crossed–the “difference between communal metaphors… and the nature of individual human beings”.


  12. Kimberly,

    You make a very good point, and the church indeed has work to do in this area.

    However, I think we should be clear… while God the Father is not male, Jesus very definitely is.

    Therefore as a Trinitarian Christian, I must ensure that my attempts to broaden my language about God so that it’s not chauvinistic do not fall into the opposite error of obscuring the masculinity of Jesus.

  13. Evan-
    I disagree. It seems to be a personal descision whether I am to dine with Wisdom or Folly. Even though it is written to Israelite men in general, it certainly has implications for the individual.

    I think that we may over-individualize spirituality in this individual age, but I do still think that there is an individual element involved in spirituality. We, the church, have a relationship with God, but I, as a part of the Church also have a relationship with God. We probably over-individualize spirituality, but I wouldn’t want to replace that with over-communalizing it, although I would agree that the communal nature should probably have primacy.

    What I’m more concerned about here are the definitions of masculinity and femininity that are being employed. Kim brings up some interesting points in this regard. Are we perhaps over-defining both when the Biblical witness seems to indicate something much more complex and mysterious? I’m very concerned for the state of masculinity in the Church, but could we be going about it all wrong?

    Very good point. Jesus clearly was a man. Do you think that the divine Logos was a man even before the Incarnation though? That seems a bit weird, what do you think?

    And Jesus would certainly be a great model for any man to aspire to! But Jesus has a sort of mystical union with the Father that seems to be romantic and then some. And Jesus busts out a whip in the temple, and says some pretty harsh words to some people, but he also weeps, and mourns. John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” and rests his head on Jesus breast at the last supper. And even Judas kisses him. So Jesus is strong to be sure, but he is also remarkably tender. Are we overemphasizing the amazing strength of God to the detriment of God’s phenomenal tenderness? So what is true masculinity when confronted and challenged by the amazing man who is God, Jesus Christ?

  14. Ok, I have a proposal….

    Jesus uniquivocally is a man. Agreed 🙂 How he shows his masculinity and personhood and divinity, well, we get to spend our lives loving the Gospels to discover the glory of that.

    Now, since God is not male, how ’bout for the next week we all try speaking of and imagining God in our worship as though God is not male.

    I have a hunch that of the many reasons it is hard for some men to sing love songs to God, one of them might be- let’s be honest- that God is really more of a man in our imaginations.

  15. Cabe-

    I’m pretty sure there are numerous biblical references to the fact that Jesus “logos” was present with God “in the beginning” (John 1), and that “even before Abraham was, I am”. So I think Jesus was absolutely a man before the incarnation…not just the “spirit” of Jesus somehow dwelling with God, but Jesus himself.
    Also the kissing thing you were talking about in the last post has less to do with the amount of romantic love they have for each other and more to do with the cultural norms of their day. You would almost never see someone greet a random friend with a kiss in America, but plenty of other cultures in the world you would.
    Lastly, something that I think is important is that we don’t confine the word “love” to mean romantic ONLY, when in the greek they use different words such as “eros”, “phileo”, and “agape” to define what we know only as “love”.

    So I’m trying to figure out how one could even begin to not think of God as a man. Maybe it is indeed as wrong to think of God as a man as it would be to think of God as a woman. But then again the Bible talks about him as God the Father, not God the Mother. So are we suppose to create a middlesex for which we have no context for? It’s intriguing to think about, but I don’t know what to do with it.

  16. Good discussion guys,

    I still don’t think romantic metaphors are helpful, in an individual sense for men. . .or women. I wasn’t saying in my earlier post that women should sing “prom songs to Jesus” either.

    When the bible speaks in these terms, (song of songs,. . Proverbs. . . . bride of Christ) I don’t think we can take our jacked up, 2007 version of romance and shove it in there. The covenental understanding of marriage in bible times was a whole ‘nother level of “romantic” love. That would be a really long post,. . but suffice it to say, the meaning is a bit deeper than a “My best friend’s wedding” spirituality.

    I think, as men, . we should love God,. . deeply. We should say it. . we may even cry Godly tears about it. But, I don’t want to “touch His face” or be “so in love with him” or “never let him go”.

    Kimberly, thanks for the other perspective and for your thoughts. That challenged me.
    . . . . I may seem a bit harsh on this issue,. . but I’ve even seen some gross misdeeds even in women’s ministry with romantic metaphors that are not helpful, and do not represent God correctly (in my view) to women.


  17. Frock,
    Yes, isn’t it hard to think of God as not a man? I have been attempting this for years. I don’t think it is wrong to think of God as a man; I think it is just limiting our sense of who God is. As far as the middle sex route, let’s not go there, either! A middle-sex is very different than an interplay of male/female. You know, church history actually has quite a bit of mother language for God, and I would guess it comes from verses like Issiah 66:12-13 “As a mother comfort her child, so will I comfort you.” (Yahway talking to Israel.)

    Aaron: Yes, sometimes I wonder if our “romantic” notions of God- especially for women, as you mentioned- are because our longing for earthly love (the erotic kind) is such a core desire in us, and it might be the intimacy most reflective of our intimacy with our Creator. To be known and loved and delighted in without shame by a human being is maybe just a spoonful of the feast of heaven, but it is a delicious spoonful.

    Perhaps, though, it feels misplaced to put the desires for earthly love onto our desire for God?

  18. Frock-

    I don’t know what it means for Christ to be a human man before he was incarnate in human flesh. Especially before humanity even existed. This is something I’ve never really thought about, and I’m not eager to put an easy answer to it, though you do bring up an interesting point: Did gender exist before Creation? I don’t know if we’ll solve that one, but it’s intriguing, isn’t it?

    Your point about kissing was exactly what I’m talking about. In our culture, guys don’t kiss, and in Jesus’ day they did. There are clearly some different levels of ability to express affection there, with the average American man having what seems to be little to none. I’m not really advocating that guys start kissing and hugging more, because that would freak a bunch of people out, myself included. What I am suggesting is that maybe we take a good look at how our views of masculinity that we have inherited from American culture are in many ways holding us back, perhaps most notably in the realm of showing affection. I think that a hesitancy to employ Biblical metaphors of a romantic nature to describe “masculine” spirituality is an example of this.


    Good call. I would want everyone to have deeper than “My Best Friend’s Wedding” spirituality. But can you think of your relationship with God metaphorically in terms of a covenant that is not unlike a Biblical marriage covenant?


    Great suggestion. Trying to speak of and imagine God as not male for a week sounds challenging, but potentially rewarding. I’ll give it a try if you do.

  19. Cabe –

    You are right, Jesus is our model of masculinity – and any of our notions of masculinity that are not modeled by Jesus should be rejected.

    Frock –

    I’m with Cabe on this one, Jesus was not a man before the incarnation. But hey, thanks for putting yourself out there. Way to take a position instead of hedging your bets to avoid being wrong.

    I think we have to be as carefully nuanced as the Bible is on this matter. Masculinity and maleness are on the one hand part of God’s creation, and therefore applying those categories to God has limitations. On the other hand, God does choose primarily masculine imagery to describe himself throughout the Bible – not to the EXCLUSION of feminine imagery (i.e. Isaiah 66), but certainly in greater proportion. The root Trinitarian metaphor of God as Father bears this out. So we can err either on the side of thinking of God as a man (which is breaking the 2nd commandment), or we can err on the side of thinking of God as androgynous or feminine, which also contradicts God’s own language about himself.

    Kimberly, though your suggestion is provocative and indeed a good push to us, I have one reservation: according to Colossians 2, Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” – meaning God has made himself visible in Christ. And according to John, anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father. Therefore, since Jesus is very definitely a man, worshiping God as male is not wrong. And so thinking of God as not-male borders on idolatry, since it would require me to think of Jesus as something he is not.

    Great dialogue, y’all.

  20. First, thank you to each of you for staying in the dialogue: for hearing one another and seeking together.


    You make a good point that a greater proportion of the language and the metaphors about God in the Bible are masculine images. However, be careful with the exegesis of “image of God” in Colossians 1:15. The readers of Colossians would already have a pre-existing framework for the language of the “imago dei,” since the First Story has already established the image of God is known in the interplay between men and women.

    Regarding your point about John writing that anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father, how far do we take that? Jesus was not a woman, but he was also not of Inuit or Pawnee or Chinese or New Guinea descent either. Do we conclude that the race and gender in which God came incarnate somehow privileges one race or gender over the other in terms of how we understand the nature of the God who created us all?

    Cabe: Yes, I will take on my own challenge, too- thanks for the offer to try it together.

  21. Kimberly,

    I love ya, thanks for keeping the dialogue alive.

    Perhaps, then, you would prefer to ruminate on Hebrews 1:3: “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.”

    I don’t think I’m arguing for the privilege of any one race or gender over another, for Jesus is the only Savior of any and all who will believe (Acts 4:12, 1 Tim 4:10). However, I am very definitely arguing that for all of eternity, we will be worshiping a (resurrected and glorified) Jewish man. Take that for whatever it means. It is the pleasure of God the Father that “one day every knee will bow, and every tongue confess, in heaven and earth and under the earth, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

  22. Bob,
    I am not sure what to respond to: your exegesis, your saccharine words, or your need to attack me to defend what you have all figured out.

    (Ouch…I think my head is a bit bruised from that Bible thumping.)

  23. Kimberly… I’m afraid you’ve misread my intentions… I was simply responding to your point on Colossians by mentioning a different verse in Hebrews that indicates the same thing. Not sure what you felt was attacking.

    If quoting Scripture verses qualifies as “Bible thumping”… then I guess I’m guilty. I thought this conversation was about the Bible. So I guess if I have to choose one of the three options you’ve listed, I’d prefer you to respond to my exegesis.

  24. I have an exegetical concern. I think that those verses work to solidly establish Christ’s divinity, which was/is a very important issue in the church. But it seems that overly associating the masculinity of Jesus with the Godhead as a whole seems problematic, as it seems to over-emphasize the one-ness of God at the expense of God’s three-ness. So Jesus was a man, but as you have said he was not a man before the Incarnation. I don’t think that we should apply the manhood of Jesus that was acquired in the Incarnation to the Godhead as a whole, as you yourself have stated that you don’t think that God is a man. I feel like masculine imagery is beautiful and true, and should by no means be abandoned, but we should also work on expanding our view of God, who is so much more than mere manhood and masculinity could contain.

    Also, if we are to hold to doctrine of Imago Dei, where both men and women bear God’s image, then I think we would have a more complete picture of our God if we are able to remember that femininity reveals something of YHWH God that masculinity cannot.

    Maybe Kim’s proposal would be improved if instead of not thinking of God as a man, we try to think of God as more than a man, and one of the only ways I know how to do that is to think in terms of femininity. God isn’t a man, and God isn’t a woman, but we don’t have language (or at least pronouns) to refer to a personal being without gender/embodying both genders. So perhaps a “he” reference to God can be balanced by also remembering the “she”-ness of God.

    We can also remember that there is a strong tradition, both in the Bible and in Christian history, of referring to the Holy Spirit with more feminine language. (I know Tremper Longman has done work on the Biblical side of this idea) Not to say that the Holy Spirit is a woman – that doesn’t make too much sense – but this might be a helpful idea to keep in mind when thinking of God and gender.


  25. Bob:
    This conversation is about the Bible, and it is about a lot of other things, too: lenses through which we read; parts of Scripture each of us want to privilege over others; your arrogance and mine; how both of us want God and want control; how we want to worship what we know. It is also about having a voice, listening to each other, claiming our convictions, and somehow being open to being changed, too.

    I would love to open the dialogue back up to other voices. For those who are still in the conversation, I am curious as to what you would like to bring?

  26. Cabe, good stuff… I like everything you’ve written here. Well nuanced.

    Kimberly, I’m with you that all those things play into and influence our perspectives. Objectivity is a myth. But it sounds like you and I might disagree as to the nature and authority of Scripture and as to what level of knowledge is possible concerning God and his truth.

    If that’s the case, I might gently invite you to simply say so, so that we understand each other’s presuppositions. Do remember that you are writing on a blog hosted on our church’s website, where our community’s presuppositions regarding Scripture and truth are plainly accessible. We do hold Scripture in high regard, and so for us, quoting Scripture is not commonly regarded as “Bible thumping.”

  27. Bob,

    I am someone who has been silently reading this blog, watching it progress. I’ve really enjoyed the discussion and hope that it has helped broaden all of our limited understanding of scripture. I am a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, and I, as well “hold scripture in high regard.” What worries me, though, is the exegesis that is being used by you, Bob.

    It seems that while in this blog you agree that God the Father is not male, later on you seem to contradict this idea. By using Heb 1:3 the way you are, do you not imply that Christ being “the exact representation of his being” indicates that God, like Jesus, also is male? And “anyone who has seen Jesus has seen the Father,” implying that we should assume that God literally looks like the bodily form of Jesus? Or what else are you trying to say with these versus. What of John 4:24, saying the “God is Spirit,” indicating he has no bodily form at all. John 1:18 “No man has seen God at any time.” Or 1 Tim. 6:16 “Whom no one has seen or can see.” To think that while seeing Jesus we are actually seeing a form of God in a literal sense is totally contradictory to what these verses are saying. God has no body, or form, and we will never be able to see him in his Glorified self. Your reading of the passages you brought imply more of your culture and world view than a literal understanding of the scripture allows.

    When I read your arguments, I can only believe that you are arguing that God is physically the same as Jesus. This argument is actually much more unorthodox than anything else on your “Church Blog” that “holds scripture in high regard”. The fact that almost no one else in history believes what you argue doesn’t mean it is wrong, but it is a good step towards it.

    Maybe this is not what you were intending to imply, maybe ruminating in past heresy was not your hope, but it really seems that is what happening. It really is a hard thing to not put our own perspective into the bible (as I know I have even in this post). To really objectively exegete the bible is almost impossible, and so we need to be extremely cautious about how and when we use the bible for argument, making sure we are allowing it to speak through us, and not us through it.

    I do not mean to beat you over the head with the bible. I am not calling you a heretic and I think no one reading this blog has any desire to see us fighting over who has the best bible interpretation. I mean to approach you in a way that removes your arrogance. I am trying to come, not as an expert on the bible seeking to win, but rather as someone holding you accountable for the very same thing you are trying to hold others accountable. “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you,” (Matthew 7:2).

    It has saddened me that this blog has become so harsh, and for that we all have fault. Obviously these are heated and impassioned ideas and understandings. However, we need to make sure we never lose site of Christ’s prayer for the church, that we will together be one in Him (John 17). In this way, the real issue is not a high regard of scripture, but rather a high regard for others. This is to you personally, Bob. Everyone has a right to feel whatever they are feelings. By you dismissing Kim and arguing that you have done nothing that could have hurt her feelings, you have once again shown that it is your cultural beliefs on gender that is guiding your arguments.

    I invite you, Bob, to no longer try to win this argument, but rather look for reconciliation. You are the pastor here, and I am sure we can both find bible verses that recommend what you do now.


  28. Trevor,

    I don’t go to Coram Deo, Bob is not my pastor. But, I don’t see any way in which Bob “dismissed” Kimberly. It seems like you may be uncomfortable with someone trying to defend their point,. . .which is what you have done. So, let’s please give Bob the ability and the freedom to answer critics and stand up for what he believes to be right, without labelling him as arrogant.

    I’m sure many of us struggle with sins, as Bob does. But, let’s not turn him (or anyone else) into a religious speaker who talks for an hour, says nothing, and takes no positions.

    Unity in the church happens over what we believe,. . .yes about each other. . .but also about God. There is less unity (covered in a previous post)when less is agreed upon.

    Ironically enough, I read Bob as fighting for unity in this discussion and trying to care for all the bloggers who weighed in.

    Let’s let Bob be a human pastor who has to use words, implicitly and explicitly to make his points.
    And, not wish him to be a religious automaton who is paralyzed by whom he might offend.


  29. Trevor,

    You wrote: “When I read your arguments, I can only believe that you are arguing that God is physically the same as Jesus.” That is not at all what I am arguing. You have entirely misconstrued my whole point. Which isn’t really a novel thing, it’s sort of par for the course as far as this blog goes. So welcome to the fray. Nice to meet you. Or perhaps we already know each other? It’s so hard to tell when commenters have the luxury of hiding behind a first name and a keyboard.

    You also wrote, “By you dismissing Kim and arguing that you have done nothing that could have hurt her feelings…” Could you specify where I have argued this?

    You also lamented that “this blog has become so harsh.” Perhaps you could explain what harshness you have sensed?

    It’s clear to me that I need to be done with this thread, since I clearly cannot make a point without being accused of harshness or unorthodoxy. You are all welcome to email me for further resolution or clarification. It is relatively hard for me to seek any sort of reconciliation (as you suggest, Trevor) when all I know are your first names. I do desire both healthy and rigorous debate AND the love and charity toward each other that Christ has shown to us in the gospel.

    Cabe, thanks for the the charity you’ve shown to me in this interaction. It’s been refreshing.

  30. Bob:
    Thanks for sharing how you are experiencing this exchange. You are right, it is so hard to honestly “see” one another or our hearts or intentions when we hide behind computer screens. That felt important that you reminded all of us of that.

    Regarding the issue of how I hold the authority of Scripture, I am a little curious as to what I said that implies I don’t have a high view of Scripture?

    Secondly, as far as whether I feel dismissed or not, I think I just sense you retreat to sarcasm when the interpersonal gets messy, and that feels dismissive.

    Third, as far as Bible thumping, well that was my retreat to sarcasm. And like all sarcasm, I was bringing my point, but likely not very well. If you are curious as to why I felt the Word of God was used more in harm and arrogance than in kindness and godly conviction, I will share more.

    Thank you, Bob, for allowing your blog space to be a place to hear one another’s voices, even when that attempt is vexing and frustrating. I really have appreciated the opportunity to be a little part of your community, even just for a few days. And that shows your character, that you would allow for my response here, even if you do not agree with what I bring.

  31. Bob,

    You’re a good pastor. Thanks for being sensitive to the feelings of the other bloggers. It would be sad, in my view, though, if you bailed on this thread (unless you’ve said all you want to). Being afraid of misunderstanding or misrepresentation is not a reason to stop talking, or. . .. perhaps it is a fear I should develop 🙂 .

    Anyway, this is a hot button issue (I think masculine/feminine is what we were talking about, around 14 posts ago) and someone will be offended/hurt no matter what is said. Consider yourself in Driscoll’s company. . .


  32. Aaron,
    Thanks for your invitation to stay in this conversation, whether that is via this blog or in other ways in our lives that we search out these questions.

    I appreciate your words about how this issue is a hot button; you are so right, the issue will inevitably bring alot of misunderstanding as we speak.

    I actually wonder if we are too afraid of offending one another? I know that my frustration is more when I feel like myself or another is being cowardly, and not really sharing what they are honestly thinking and feeling (that’s when we get sarcastic and dismissive with one another). I think we can get further if we are more honest, so if we stay in this blog thread, maybe we could commit to that together?

  33. Kimberly, I read through this blog thread yesterday and I did not see where Bob was sarcastic, harsh, or dismissive. You are now asking for honesty, yet I believe Bob and others have been honest already. It seems as though you’ve read posts that were direct and honest as harsh and dismissive.

    I’m sure you can understand why Bob would be frustrated with this conversation, when what he sees as being honest and straightforward, is being construed as harsh and dismissive. It seems that, in order for Bob to continue responding with out hurting your feelings, he would need to dance around the issue and not directly disagree with you. That is not Bob’s style. He is direct and that’s one of the things I admire and appreciate in him as my pastor.

  34. Travis, I am not quite sure that you heard me (or perhaps I have not been clear?) Regardless, I do very much appreciate you bringing your honest thoughts.

    Please tell me where I have said this is about “my feelings being hurt?” Honestly, that assumption is being made by you and others because it is a gender stereotype, and that is frustrating. This has nothing to do with “hurt feelings.” Sarcasm throughout these posts bothers me because it shuts down the conversation and does not lead to a mutual process of looking at the Scriptures. (If you cannot see the sarcasm in this blog thread , please read more carefully). Bob’s proof texting (forgive me for calling it Bible thumping) bothered me at one point because his exegesis was poor and he was using it to shut me down, not to continue the conversation.

    Please, let’s not dance around these issues. But we need to honor each other by listening better even as we speak boldly. As a whole in this blog, I don’t think we are listening well to each other or owning our own logs, myself included.

  35. Bob – What were we talking about again? [sarcastic comment deleted in an attempt to show some sensitivity]

    You raise a good point on masculine spirituality. I hope you find time to post something from the Men’s Retreat as to what that might look like in worship.

    That macho man of a pastor from Seattle presented, with only some tongue in cheek, one version of masculine spirituality. Referring to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, “… while young men are watching tough men compete, the reason they don’t go to most churches is because they could take the pastor …”

    So, let’s get to the bottom line: can you take everyone at Coram Deo? Normally I would take your word on this, but it might be good to have others from Coram Deo chime in here.

  36. JD would watse Bob in 2.9 seconds, but he is also a pastor, so I don’t know if that counts.

    If all of our dudes were thrown in a cage, I would get tossed as soon as someone caught me. That is, unless we are talking about a verbal cage match. I lack hand to hand combat skills.

    Back to the question. Here is a list of dudes in our congregation that could take Bob, in order:

    Tyler Cooper (he has crazy-eye)
    James Chalmers (he played pro hockey, and has years of pent up rage)
    Micah Neely (would have taken Cooper if it weren’t for the crazy-eye)
    Tony Weers (he’s a large man)

    Beyond that, I think Bob has decent chance, because he is wiry and tenacious. I would like him to a mongoose. Plus, he is the only person I know who likes getting into the crawl space below our office.

  37. While appreciating the fact that there’s some possibly much-needed levity emerging here at the end of this wrestling match of a Blog thread, are we aware of the irony of what is now taking place? What was once an engagement (more often, debate) about true masculinity in worship, is now a back and forth on who could beat up whom. Is this really where all this thought, conversation and questioning ends up? I admit, I’m a bit let down.

  38. kj,

    While I admit I was going for some levity, I think there is a real issue here. The pastor from Seattle is Mark Driscoll, who has some influence beyond his church. It’s not uncommon that he makes mention of wimpy looking pastors and says things in a way that would make your mother blush. He’s presenting a version of masculine spirituality. He gets a lot of slack because of his success in reaching young men, but it’s worth asking how much of his version of masculine spirituality is biblical and how much is Driscoll. I think he makes some good points in an edgy way, but isn’t always clear on what is his opinion and what is biblical conviction. Your thoghts?

  39. Kimberly, I apologize if our diversion has offended you (apology is sincere, not sarcastic, just to be clear since it is hard to tell sometimes on a blog).

    I really think the blog-medium is making this difficult. If we were all in my living room talking about this, DT and/or I would at some point crack a joke, which I think you would appreciate without also being let down.

    In that setting it would be easy to see that said joke would not be the end of the conversation, or even an escape rom it. It would simply be a chance to take a deep breath, to look at each other and remember that we are all people who should laugh at ourselves before plunging back into the depths of theological debate.

    For me, it is a pause to remember that I don’t want to get so lost in the conversation that I begin to love my thoughts more than I love the people I am sharing them with.

    That’s what it would mean in my living room, anyway. The blog may be too deficient to handle all those dynamics.

    We would also have coffee if we were in my living room, and that speaks for itself.

  40. Kimberly, I’m not stereotyping you by your gender by saying that you seem to have hurt feelings. I’m just stating what I believe I observe in the words you’ve written. It’s entirely possible that I am wrong in that. If so, I am sorry that I offended you, it is not my intent to do so.

    Are you involved in the Coram Deo community at all Kimberly? I don’t remember if you said you were or not. Perhaps getting to know us better could help solve some of the communication issues. I think the better you knew Bob’s teaching/preaching style, you would see that he’s not proof-texting, but simply getting us to think about something a little differently than we have been thinking. Also, personal context would help show that when some of us joke around a bit, we are not meaning to detract from a conversation, nor are we trying to put someone down intentionally. We just like to laugh ya know? It helps us to take ourselves less seriously.

  41. Thanks Will, dt and Travis for pitching in again. I’ve been following this blog for a couple days, and was indeed concerned when I saw camps emerging on oppostie sides, then seeming to ignore one of the voices. While I don’t know if there’s much more to say on this topic (in the complicated, hard-to-convey-one’s-heart medium of Blogging) I appreciate the shift back to listening and asking, not just joking.

    dt: I’d love to converse around what you’re describing as Mark Driscoll’s definition of masculinity, but I’m not clear which part of it you’re bringing up. What is your opinion of the UFC model of pastorship?

    (PS- I’m glad my comment brought some acknowledgment back to Kimberly, but simply for clarification’s sake, I am not her- don’t want my words to be read as belonging to someone else.)

    -Kj Swanson

  42. And Will- Absolutely! I totally understand- a joke, that between friends is lovingly self-deprecating, riduculous and facetiously celebratory, is hard enough to explain to acquaintences who overhear, much less to strangers in print. Depending on the living room, one group’s laugh is another person’s horror.

    But breathing and coffee (or in my case, Dr. Pepper) are holy things indeed.

  43. That last string of entries was just delightful. Thanks for the humor, and thanks KJ for pointing out (with both lightheartedness and seriousness) some of the irony, too.

    I am really curious to talk more about the questions both DT and KJ raised about Driscoll and his influence beyond his church. He is certainly addressing some important things about masculine identity, but it is definetely worth asking some questions too. So, here’s one: Do you think we can have different models of “biblical masculine spirituality? Or, is there primarily one? What might “Driscoll’s model” be leaving out? I have done alot of listening to Driscoll (sermons, books, reading his training materials for men used at retreats), and i am really wanting to search this one out.

    Let’s see, let me try to respond to a few bloggers in particular:
    Will: Thanks for wondering about how I was responding to the diversion. I admit I laughed out loud, both because of the humor on the surface and the deeper meanings, too. Levity was needed! And you are so right about being in a living room together, and how we would come differently if we were both enjoying community and one another’s different perspectives.

    Travis: Thanks for addressing whether or not I felt stereotyped, and just being honest about what you saw in my words. You know, you are probably sensing quite intuitively the rawness of my experience: that historically it has been hard to feel like i am heard by men in these conversations, and I felt it was happening all over again. But, I was not frustrated because I was feeling hurt; I was frustrated because I was not being heard well, and that bothers me because I was bringing something important about how we worship God, and I am passionate about wanting to worship God more fully as a community and individually. Does that make sense? I think sometimes women do get boxed in that role of “look, I said my piece and now she is hurt,” which feels quite pejorative when you are on the other end of it. Also I am not involved in the Coram Deo community, just friend of a friend, but as I mentioned once before, I feel grateful to be in this conversation with each of you.

    KJ: Welcome to the conversation! It is good to have both your humor and your insight.

  44. I’m so glad that this seems to be back on. I guess maybe a little levity goes a long way.

    In the interest of clarifying relationships, it should probably be made explicit that I am a friend of Will’s, and both Kim and Kj are good friends of mine who heard about this thread because of conversations between them and myself in which related issues came up. We are graduate students at MHGS in Seattle. I hope that neither of them mind me making those connections explicit; maybe that should have even happened before now.

    Trevor is the brother of a friend of ours, though I personally found his post overly accusatory and divisive, something I’d like to move beyond on this issue. Calling someone a heretic, directly or indirectly, is a pretty serious thing, and I think it was way over the top. I can’t really apologize on his behalf, but I do want to acknowledge the fact that I found it inappropriate. I don’t know Bob well, but it seems he has the Church’s best in mind, and as far as I can tell his heart is orthodox and his mind is more open to conversation than most.

    Thanks for that, Bob.

    Now, where were we?

  45. C.S. Lewis wrote some interesting things about gender and God in a fictional book titled “That Hideous Strength”.

    Interesting discussion here on the blog. It gives me some things to think about.

  46. Actually, this discussion reminds me of something that I read last week in an article about the disintegration of the evangelical voting block. The article said the following:

    “Insofar as [young evangelicals are] political at all, they believe Jesus would want them to help the poor and the powerless, not condemn gays or clamor for war. And unlike their elders, these 20-somethings have little inclination to fill their bookshelves with Left Behind novels or sing pseudo-romantic praise choruses in sprawling megachurches.”

    I can give an Amen to that.

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