For a number of interesting reasons, Christian worship in the West has become increasingly effeminate. Leon Podles outlines some of these historical reasons in his fine book, The Church Impotent. Ann Douglas makes a fine addition to the discussion in her book, The Feminization of American Culture.
To emphasize masculinity in worship is not a practice that excludes women. Rather, it includes them, brings them along, and makes them feel safe. If you reach the men, you will reach the women. Moreover, you will find yourself reaching the worthiest of women, the true mothers in Israel. Think tent pegs and mallets.
This being the case, and in the spirit of those lists you see from time to time — “you might be this or that if . . .” — I would like to offer a small checklist for pastors and elders, in no particular order.
Your worship service and church community might be effeminate if . . .
1. Your music and sermons almost never contain references to judgment, wrath, battles, enemies, Hell, the devil, or apostasy;
2. Your music minister is more concerned that the choir trills their r’s correctly than that they fill the sanctuary with loud sounds of battle;
3. One of the ministerial staff has taken to wearing a clerical collar and a powder pink shirt, and no one on the session has the courage to tell him that he looks like a thirteen-year-old boy with rosy cheeks, as painted by Norman Rockwell;
4. The worship team gravitates toward “Jesus is my girlfriend” songs, and their facial expressions while up front are those of guys in the backseats of their cars, having just gotten to second base with their actual girlfriends;
5. The sermons rarely deal with sin or, if they do, they deal with sins found outside the sanctuary, preferably those of secularists in Hollywood somewhere;
6. The worship music rides particular chord changes hard, with special mention being given to the shift from E Minor to C Major;
7. The minister wears a robe, but the effect is not that of being robed for battle. If that same minister were to wear a kilt, everybody would think it was a skirt from a nearby all-girls private school. But, contrariwise, if the minister were able to wear a kilt in such a way as to terrify sinners with the imagined sound of skirling bagpipes, and the sounds of a small version of Armageddon across the misty moors, and the sermon text were a claymore whistling over their heads, then that kind of man could think about a robe if he wanted;
8. The church does not practice church discipline, and not because everybody in the church is behaving. They won’t practice it because the elders are misbehaving;
9. A body of elder wives, or deacon wives, or assorted volunteer women have formed a functional shadow government for the church. A vote is taken at the elders’ meeting, and about a half an hour after said elders arrive at home, the phones start to ring, the emails start to get sent, and the vote starts to unravel;
10. A robust emphasis on truth, goodness, and beauty has gradually turned into a festival for posers and effete aesthetes. The beauty emphasized is not that of Bach, Rembrandt, Wren, or Lewis, but rather with the kind of pretension found at the Woodlawn Hills Literary Society;
11. This list is printed out and handed around at your church, and at least three people are mortally offended.