Toward a Masculine Model of Spirituality

manly

It was a good morning yesterday. I spent it with about twenty men–ranging in age from roughly 22 to 82–and shared some thoughts about something I’ve been thinking, studying, and praying about for several years now.

318” is a diverse group of men who meet monthly for breakfast, some worship and a Word-based exhortation. I was invited to be  yesterday’s exhorter. At the heart of my topic was a stunning revelation. Namely, that men and women are different. Very different.

Of course, saying this tends to run counter to what was the conventional feminist wisdom for most of the last half of the last century. Ten thousand Womens’ Studies masters theses were built around the doctrinaire assertion that there were no inherent differences between men and women other than some plumbing and a little difference in upper body strength. It was an article of faith that men and women are equally suited and equally adept at all tasks in all ways and at all times. And that sex roles were social constructs–culturally imposed–and reinforced artificially through the toys we give our children and the expectations we put on them.

These beliefs proved impervious to both common sense and observable experience for decades. But in recent years they have finally begun to succumb to neuroscience. It is now widely understood that brain wiring makes women better at certain types of tasks than men, and vice versa. We’re different in complementary ways (almost as if by design, imagine that!) and those differences are built into our hardware and software. But I digress…

Given that men and women are designed with significant differences in brain wiring, hormonal chemistry, and physical capacities (hardware and software) does it really make sense that spirituality or more specifically, relationship/friendship with God would be expressed in identical ways? I don’t think so.

Yes, every person is comprised of spirit, soul, and body. And the Bible makes it clear that there are no male or female spirits. (Galatians 3:28; Matthew 22:30) But as noted above, there are clearly male and female bodies and, more importantly, souls–the soul being comprised of the mind, will and emotions.

A light came on for me several years ago when I heard Jimmy Evans of MarriageToday say something in regard to the differences between men and women. What he said certainly rang true to my experience and observations. It was, “In general, women tend to express friendship by talking together, while men tend to express friendship by doing things together.”

Certainly you can point to exceptions to every generalization such as the one above. But that doesn’t mean it’s not generally true. Generally when women want to reconnect with a friend and strengthen the relationship, they do this:

lunch

or this:

woman-on-telephone

Whereas men do this:

foursome

or this:

men-watching-tv

or this:

fishcamp

Allow me to restate the truism: Women tend to build and express friendship by talking to one another. Men tend to build and express friendship by doing things together.

Now ask yourself: “What have we traditionally been presented as the exclusive pathway for friendship with God?”

We’ve been told to have “a quiet time.” A time in which we sit down with God and share our feelings. We are supposed to talk to Him and let Him talk to us.

What men have been offered as a pathway to friendship with God and a model for prayer is essentially a sanctified tea party. We are to sit quietly, hands politely folded in our laps, and have a time of sharing.

And we wonder why traditionally women have far outnumbered men where interest in the things of God are concerned. We shake our heads sadly to observe that most prayer groups are filled with ladies.

I submit to you that we men have largely been presented with a feminine model of prayer and relationship with God. Let me hasten to add there there is nothing wrong with a feminine model of prayer . . . if you’re a woman . . . equipped with a female soul and body.

I can tell you that my prayer life and relationship with God has never been the same after that light came on for me upon hearing that factoid from Jimmy Evans. How did it change?

I’ll unpack that in an upcoming post. But I’ll tell you now that I no longer have a traditional “quiet time.” My times with God are anything but quiet. When I carve out some time to be with God, I don’t approach Him thinking, “What do I want to talk to you about today?” I approach asking:

“Father, what do you want to do today.”

More to come.