In order for this new ministry to be successful, I knew that I needed to partner with other leaders who shared the same vision. I needed to work with strong men who were secure in their identity and calling.
Until now, I have waited for all the pieces to come together.
When I partnered with Families with a Mission, and Paul G. Huberty, to handle finances, I knew we were making progress. Paul is a man who has remained in ministry, and didn’t let the label “sex offender” stop him. I admire that kind of tenacity. We can’t let labels force us onto the sidelines when there is so much work to be done.
Then, with the suddenness of a lightning flash, I found out that Idaho Senator Larry Craig was leaving his post from the United States Senate, and would be freed up for ministry work immediately.
This news was truly a godsend!
Larry has long shared values similar to mine, opposing gay rights and gay marriage. He is not, and never has been gay, and I have learned that I am completely heterosexual.
We have both been victimized by rumor, innuendo and smear campaigns. This is all just a sign that the devil is worried. He knows that we are a major threat against the kingdom of darkness, and he will stop at nothing to try and bring us down.
Well, I’ve got news for Satan.
We’re not backing down!
That’s why today I am proud to announce the launch of Manly Man Ministries!
Well, it’s kind of a joke. See, the problem with parody is that, while you’re laughing at it, it’s easy to forget that it’s somebody’s reality. Maybe a frightening amount of somebodies. Entire voting blocks even. It’s easy to laugh at the idea of a room full of men shouting “Thank you Lord for our testosterone!”, until you realize that they really mean it.
The strobe lights pulse and the air vibrates to a killer rock beat. Giant screens show mayhem and gross-out pranks: a car wreck, a sucker punch, a flabby (and naked) rear end, sealed with duct tape.
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.
A moment later he adds a fervent: “Thank you, Lord, for our testosterone!”
It’s an apt anthem for a contrarian movement gaining momentum on the fringes of Christianity. In daybreak fraternity meetings and weekend paintball wars ( see best paintball gun ), in wilderness retreats and X-rated chats about lust, thousands of Christian men are reaching for more forceful, more rugged expressions of their faith.
Stine’s daylong revival meeting, which he calls “GodMen,” is cruder than most. But it’s built around the same theory as the other experimental forums: Traditional church worship is emasculating.
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.
It’s hysterical, until you realize how much muscular Christianity has made its way into our public policy, lo these last eight years or so.
What is Muscular Christianity?:
Because churches had become so associated with women and feminization, in the late 19th century Christian men began seeking changes in the nature of Christianity and Christian churches which reflected “masculine” values. In America, this early form of Muscular Christianity used sport as a conveyor or moral values, like manliness and discipline. Today sport is used mostly as a vehicle for evangelization, but the basic principle that Christianity must be “manly” survives in other contexts.
Muscular Christianity & American Fundamentalism:
An important aspect of early American fundamentalism was reclaiming the Christian church for men. This meant first reducing women’s power in churches by questioning the legitimacy of their authority, and second, injecting the language of virility, heroism, and militarism into Christian doctrine. Contemporary clergy was derided as too weak and feminine; a call went up for manly ministers like the early American pioneers. They wanted a militant, aggressive Christian church.
Muscular Christianity as an Assault on Liberalism, Modernity:
Muscular Christianity was founded upon a radical, as well as theological, distinction between supposedly masculine and feminine values. Becaue of this, it was possible for fundamentalists opposed to modernity to transfer what they disliked about modernity to the “feminine” category. Thus women became bearers of all that was hated about the modern world while men were invested with everything good and positive.
A significant impetus behind the assault on women and modernity was the feeling that women had encroached upon traditional male spheres like the workplace and colleges. Furthermore, women’s leadership in the churches had harmed Christianity by creating an effeminate clergy and a weak sense of self. All of this was associated with liberalism, feminism, women, and modernity.
Although examples of something like muscular Christianity can be found in ancient Christianity and in Europe, it is primarily an American phenomenon and an American fundamentalist reaction against the modern era of equality and liberty. Muscular Christianity pushes masculinity in part by pushing traditional hierarchies and traditional structures of authority — structures which, naturally, are run and controlled by men. Fighting against the “feminization” of church or society is, thus, a fight against the loss of traditional privileges and power.
Indeed, the development of fundamentalism and later the Christian Right can be described, at least in part, as a reaction against equality and an attempt to defend or restore traditional privileges. Because so many privileges are bound up with traditions which themselves are tied closely with religion, it’s natural that assaults on traditional privileges will be seen as assaults on religion.
In a way, they are an assault on religion — religion is partially to blame for the persistence of unjust privileges in society. Just because inequality and privilege have religious backing doesn’t make them exempt from rational evaluation and criticism.
Just something to think about. Or maybe just evidence of how my brain works; I see an obvious parody, and immediately think of how it relates to reality. Like I said, the problem with parody is that it’s easy to forget that it’s somebody’s reality. And while you’re laughing, they’re working hard to make it your reality too.