Now to follow up on my previous post (Toward a Masculine Model of Spirituality.)
In it, I offered the thought that men have largely been offered what amounts to a feminine model of relationship with God. That is, one that is conversation-based rather than action-based.
As I mentioned in the earlier post, men generally tend to build or express friendship by doing things together. For men talking is usually incidental to, and a by-product of, the doing.
I know this leaves me open to charges of sexism from more progressive quarters. But every month I get written scientific evidence from AT&T Wireless about my phone talking and texting habits as they compare to those of the four wonderful women in my life.
Let me just say there is a consistent and astonishing disparity and leave it at that.
As I pointed out to the men in the group to which I spoke last Saturday, for most of us growing up, the most spiritual person we knew was a woman. (Usually a mother or grandmother.) Many men would say the same is true for them today–that their wives are more “spiritual” than they are.
Perhaps they are. Or maybe the current working definition of spirituality is simply skewed to reflect the natural feminine expression of friendship/relationship with God. Maybe deep, authentic friendship with God looks different in a man. As I’ve already made clear, I think that’s the case.
Here’s how that insight has affected my approach to being a Christian man.
The most dramatic difference has come in the way I approach prayer. Yes, I talk to God. And yes, I “with thanksgiving make my requests known” to Him. But that isn’t the meat of it. As I stated in the previous post, I no longer ask, “God, what do you want to talk about today?” I ask, “Father, what do you want to do today?”
The answer that comes back is never dull or lifeless.
Sometimes I hear, “Let’s fight for the future husbands of your daughters.”
“But I don’t know who they are, Lord.”
“Oh but I do!”
Together, the Holy Spirit and I fight for their purity, for their destinies, and for their safety. We do battle with forces of discouragement, pornography, temptation, or deception that would scar their souls, pull them off the path, or damage their future prospects.
Sometimes he says, “Let’s fight on behalf of the persecuted church.” Sometimes we rush to the defense of embattled leaders.
Sometimes we build. Other times we tear down. We attack. We defend. We hunt (for enemy infiltrators.) We fish (for souls.) We travel to the other side of the world–to aid missionaries in perilous places. And we travel forward in time, doing preparatory work in my family’s future, even clearing out spiritual underbrush in the paths of my grandchildren yet unborn.
All of this happens without my ever having left the sitting area of our bedroom. That’s where I have my “quiet time.” Let me assure you, that phrase is a misnomer.
Now none of this spiritual activity is in any way the exclusive province of men. Women can and do make formidable spiritual warriors. Nevertheless, there is something about the way a man is wired that makes this kind of activity appealing and deeply satisfying. It is no accident that a lot of guys’ favorite historical movie is Braveheart and not Sense and Sensibility. And if more men viewed prayer and friendship with God in these muscular, action-oriented terms, a lot more men would be excited about it.
Naturally, this paradigm shift has implications that reach far beyond my prayer closet but I need to wind this up. As I said, I suspect that if men were presented a masculine version of spirituality, many more of them would sign up for it.
My thinking along these lines has also been profoundly impacted by a book I read about ten years ago. I’ll tell you which book, and why, in an upcoming post!