Look, here is a question on the Reasonable Faith web site from a feminist from Canada who objects to the idea of sex differences:
Dear Dr. Craig,
I have usually found your words to be a source of information and reassurance in my Christian faith, and have often sought out your writings and videos in times of doubt or questioning.
So I was really disappointed, almost shocked, when I read your newsletter of April of this year in which you casually stereotypes men and women, and complain that the church is becoming increasingly feminized, and has difficulties in attracting men.
Your compared the audiences at a couple of your speaking engagements to the audience from a clip of a Downton Abbey Q&A at another location – concluding that they were all men at the former and almost all women at the latter “simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.”
I believe that you are using stereotypes here, which you justify by making a ridiculous comparison that holds zero statistical significance. Not only is your statement unreasonable, it is potentially damaging – especially when made so carelessly. Stereotypes are shortcuts in classifying people. They can, and often do, limit and distort the way we perceive others and the world. Stereotypes are a lazy way of thinking that can lead to discrimination, and their use should not be encouraged.
I’m also a little disturbed by your claim regarding the feminisation of the church. What do you mean by that, and how do you support that statement?
I’m curious because the church has historically been a largely male-dominated institution (sometimes criminally so), and the bible’s instructions to and about women are often difficult to swallow. If anything, the church has had difficulty in attracting women. And if we are truly seeing more women in leadership roles at the church (I have to assume this is what you meant by feminizing), I believe this is not something to fear and resist. It would be a welcome change, and has every opportunity to challenge how we think about each other – allowing us to love each other better and see each other more clearly.
This newsletter called your expertise in some areas into question for me. Could you help to rebuild some of the faith I’ve lost in your words? I would very much appreciate it.
Canadians are sooooo liberal, especially on social issues like feminism, abortion and marriage. I’m sure this woman has been influenced by feminist ideology so much that she just can’t deal with the fact that men are women are very different.
Anyway, here’s a snip of Dr. Craig’s response:
Third is my claim that the church is becoming increasingly feminized. What I mean by this is that church services and programs are increasingly based on emotional and relational factors that appeal more to women than to men. The problem of the church’s lack of appeal to men has been recognized by men’s movements like Promise Keepers and books like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. Nowhere is this feminization more evident than in contemporary worship music. Someone aptly remarked that if you were to replace references to God in many praise songs with “Baby,” they would sound just like romantic songs between a man and a woman! This is not true of classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress” or “And Can It be?” Talking with young men, I find that many of them are just turned off by these touchy-feely worship services and would rather not go.
We see this same feminization though relational factors in network coverage of sports, traditionally a male bastion. Coverage of Olympic Games has deliberately targeted women in order to increase viewership by the addition of personal stories about athletes’ lives, rather than simply televising the events themselves. In professional sports have you noticed how in recent years television networks have engaged female reporters to go down on the field and interview baseball or football players, usually about how they felt about this or that? Jan and I had to laugh when, following the Broncos’ recent blowout of the Ravens, the female reporter asked Peyton Manning, “Didn’t you feel bad for the other team when you looked up at the scoreboard?” Uh, I don’t think so!
You’re right that the predominance of women in Christianity is a relatively new phenomenon. It is only over the last 200 years that Christianity has become increasingly female in its demographics. I’m very worried that the church is on a course that will end in relatively few men’s being active Christians.
Fourth is my claim that apologetics is a key to making the church and Christian faith relevant to men once more. People think that by having sports programs or men’s barbecues the church will draw in more men. But I’m convinced that the best kept secret to drawing in men is apologetics. Men need to see that Jesus of Nazareth was not only a tough guy but a smart guy. I never suspected that apologetics would have this special effect on men. I had no intention of ministering particularly to men in this ministry. But the appeal of apologetics to men is just undeniable. In my Defenders class we’ve got guys who don’t even attend church but who regularly come for my lectures on Christian doctrine and apologetics. One woman in the class told me, “I don’t understand a lot of what you say. But I’m glad to come because this is the only spiritual activity that my husband will participate in with me.” Wow!
Wow, indeed. Apologetics gets men to engage more in Christianity, and the church should leverage that to bring men in. That’s a fact. So, I’m glad Dr Craig didn’t give an inch to this fact-averse feminist from Canada.
My own post critical of the feminized church can be read here. Keep in mind that this is from two months after I started blogging – very raw stuff.
By the way, Dr. Craig’s ministry Reasonable Faith has a huge matching grant again this year, so if you’re looking for a great ministry to donate to, Reasonable Faith should be on your list!
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