20 August 2008

Some more thoughts on the Church & men

Being that sanctification is God’s way of extracting from us, a more Christ-like heart, producing an evermore Christ-like life, I think we should expect it to look much different for us all as believers. If we agree on that, I think we can agree that masculinity and femininity, combined with personality and sanctification, will look different for people within the constructs of God’s genders.

I think people are right about Mark Driscoll communicating masculinity narrowly sometimes. I’ve never watched a UFC fight and don’t like fight scenes in movies, so some of his stuff is lost on me. But in general, I guess I just “get him”. I served in combat with all sorts of men around. I love my “band of brothers” and am by nature a very ‘fraternal’ type of guy. I also cry with my girls and my wife…so my masculinity might not look like everyone’s either.

However, I also think that the Church has defined or laid out an expectation of masculinity that is just as narrow as many would see more traditionalists to be. I feel there’s a large segment of the Church and Church academia, that has an expectation of its own values of masculinity. That men are to be only meek, that they are to be only forgiving and never fighting, that men are to be only turn the other cheek and not defend or pre-empt. I hope you get my heart when I say, I “get” what some of these men are preaching. I don’t feel the problems in the Church and our families and our culture is that men are too strong. I think many men are way too weak, passive, indecisive, non-confrontational and accepting…and hide under post-modern cloaks of tolerance and acceptance.

I understand why people have taken offense to some things that Mark Driscoll has said. I do. Some of the things were offensive!

I listen to him, Matt Chandler (our pastor at The Village Church), John Piper, Tim Keller, Tommy Nelson and others, having respect for them because they're a great Bible teachers & preachers. I love their faithfulness to the Word. But they're just men. I loved Ted Haggard for his preaching, teaching and what I perceived of his marriage to Gayle, for years as well. I mean, I love my Dad with all of the love that a son could ever muster, but I don’t idolize him either…far from it. I hold him in reverence and respect, as the loving father & earthly, male head of my life. But...he’s just another sinful, fallen man. When he’s done with his race, if I am given the grace of God to outlive him, or view it from Heaven, I hope that both my Dad and these pastors have run great, beautiful races. But until then, I understand that in even expecting godliness from a man admire, I may be let down as with Ted Haggard. But I digress...I want to talk more about The Church.

(This is not really to be a post on in some defense of Driscoll the preacher & teacher. But I feel his teaching is so faithful to scripture and the movement (Mars Hill, Acts 29, the Resurgence) is so important, I hate to see the Church get caught up in shooting its own. And my thoughts jump around here. Hope that makes sense.)

Frankly, for quite a while now I’ve been increasingly bothered by the “teams” that develop in Christianity, that you can almost depend on to hammer on one guy and love another. You’ve got the missional, emergent crowds, the staunch fundamental doctrine hounds, each with its heroes and leaders, you’ve got the various Seminaries and denominational affiliations…and painfully obvious allegiances within them. I certainly understand that some of that is doctrinally based. I take issue with certain parts of the Church and certain leaders because of it. But as we steward the Church into an amazing convergence of technology and information (see my friends' Rhett Smith's blog and Matt Singley's blog to stay current on this convergence!) But All of these constructs by the way, are institutions of man, or loosely codified ideas of man. "Teams" and allegiances...of man. We need to be careful not to be too ‘religious’ in our affiliations organizations and keep it all focused and preaching, teaching and living Jesus’ transformative power…through His love and grace.

It may be a little off-topic, but I don’t understand the offense to the Ted Haggard blog. And not to justify by implied association, but I’m not alone in that. I’ve talked to many men and women that say, “yeah, we see it in our Church with men AND women. Pastors and congregation.” He clearly wasn’t talking about Gayle. Clearly not talking about Gayle...I don't understand why the reach there. (Not to mention, Gayle couldn't fit the characterization any less; she's a beautiful woman) It was an observation and judgment about some pastors wives. (With a really bad choice of words, worse timing, and horrible choice of forum in my opinion!) I think many that share the point of view are reticent to share less they run afoul of the sensitivity police. Even in sharing this, I debated internally because I don’t want to appear to be the ‘insensitive jerk’ that’s subconsciously labeled as such and dismissed within Christian circles because I’m not offended…and I am willing to take the risk of sharing my views honestly.

(Although, hopefully the good grammar police among you would be offended by my run-on sentence. Whew...sorry!)

Just some thoughts folks, as God continues to turn my heart towards the study of His word, Church, teachers and the revival that I believe we're at the forefront of.