Why I Walk into Church with my Head Down: A Semi-Sexism Story

Tunnel vision. My motion, my focus, is analogous to that of a Nascar driver. Tunnel vision. I park my car, walk through the double doors, tread softly past the daycare commotion, dodge through the packs of chattering people, enter into the main sanctuary, and finally sit down with my eyes glaring toward the stage. My eyes are closed during the musical worship. During the sermon, my eyes are glued onto the preacher. I make sure I am on my best behavior.

This has become my socially systematic ritual in and around the church service. For almost two years I have been unintentionally trained to be careful around the wives – so much so, that my very personality and natural being is completely different on Sunday mornings. I no longer look at the wives or even try to initiate contact with the husbands so not to risk anything. I refrain from being my normally playful, outgoing self for the sake of others. A few times, I’ve actually avoided going to my church and attended somewhere else…just for a rest-break.

Now I love conservatism: theologically, politically, socially, and even in some professional sports. At the same time, I have found myself in a church culture that surpasses the “imaginary” line that should NOT be crossed. It couples ultra Christian-conservatism alongside the strange relational subculture of the seminarian culture and resulting into  fractured, unfulfilled relationships.

One way in which this fracture has overwhelmed me is the issue of women and men NOT being friends in the church.

I have been stressed with this social climate where many of the wives are timid around me and the husbands show possessive body language in front of me when their wives are present. This is not everyone. Neither do I believe that it is a conscious action by others either; to the contrary, it is a “subconscious” action. However, it still hurts us who go through this. It hurts to not be trusted. We are guilty before proven innocent. I can give NUMEROUS examples that I have been through: primarily face to face; also email and social media. Additionally, I have read books and am very cognizant of social norms, body language, and rapport. In church we may say the right words and use political correctness in our lingo… but our actions and communal fruit tell a completely different story.

For a female’s perspective, you can read this lovely article on The Gospel Coalition’s website.

There are at least 5 side effects of this fracture that risk a retardation of friendly relationships:

1)  It causes a nuance of loneliness: This loneliness grows into a feeling of being unwanted or removed from the body of believers. The scriptural illustration, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, depicts the church as a body. If a finger is removed it does not keep growing or playing its part, now does it? No, it shrivels up and dies. In this case the joy of the individual becomes damaged.

2)  This causes a CHAIN REACTION into OTHER basic types of relationships: This climate becomes the air that everyone breathes. Soon, this standoff-ish nature becomes normal between everyone: between other married couples, singles, visitors and members. There have been social psychology studies to show that we will, in certain ways, conform to our environment. In our general case, relationships will become robotic. This can be seen in the decline of some linear, mathematical, doctrinal types of churches. Now I line up with these types of churches, but there still needs to be a line drawn. Otherwise relationships grow stale, empty and mechanical.

3)  It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: I fully understand we are called to steward our marriages. That is extremely biblical and good. But where is the line that keeps it from becoming fear-mongering. As I said in an earlier blog, some people “suddenly” lock their car doors when I walk past their cars. True, I am black. Statistically speaking, I cannot blame them at all for being extra careful. However, if we are in the suburbs and I am wearing tailored dress clothes with Cole Haan shoes … maaaybe you don’t need to be afraid of me. That said, if we’re supposed to brothers and sisters in Christ … maybe you can trust that I do not want to kiss your wife in the sanctuary and ask her out for coffee. This fear can lead into believing “something” happened before it ever did.

4)  Personal walks with God are affected: If I have to be a “different person” around married couples then I can begin (or Satan can begin) to tell myself that they do not truly know me. How can I can truly allow them inside my walk with Christ if they do not understand or know the real me?

5)  Both the image of the trinity and Gospel community are tainted: Between God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son…there is no hierarchy. Only delight. They freely give to one another and receive from one another. [John 1:18, 16:12-15, 17:3-5]. Therefore we, being made in that image, should being naturally copying that. We should delight in and celebrate each others strengths. We should spent time together [not limited to small group time]. As one pastor cautioned, “without this happening, subconscious frustration and jealousy will lead to overcritical spirits that will erode the foundation of deep intimacy in relationships.”

We know there is no perfect church. Maybe I shouldn’t bring this up about my own. I love my church and I love The Church. But would it not be hypocritical for me to have called out Joel Osteen’s church, single men, young people, the liberation gospel, lukewarm Christians, atheists, and even Michael Jordan in past blog posts… but then stay silent about a flaw in my own community? No way Jose. Nothing gets fixed if we do not discuss it.

Still, social media isn’t going to solve this. Small groups are not going to fix this. Social media plus Small groups does not equal biblical community. It will have to be pursued and fought for. People do not simply “fall” into deep community – they pursue it. We will have to surrender and sacrifice. And once this is attained … oh my how splendidly holy and beautiful it will look!!! May we care for the needs for one another. I pray that we commune deeply with one another. You know, to get a head start on eternity together.

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The Beautifully Hated DNA of a Christian Bigot

Our society is blessed by it. Our society is cursed by it. The very existence of it saves lives. The very existence of it kills. Oh, the ebbs and flows of social media. It has the power to uplift a person and, with the same token, to inflict pain. A few weeks ago, I was spontaneously unfriended by a girl that I was Facebook friends with for one month. When I found out, I was flabbergasted… Flabbergasted.

My first inclination was to suspect that it was a glitch or a mistake, so I requested to be her friend again, ha. That attempt yielded zero results. Weeks later, I finally saw her at a social dance. Without hesitation I innocently asked her why on earth she unfriended me (awkwardness does not affect me). Initially, she was stunned that I had approach her to bring it up. After 10 seconds of silence, she admitted that she deleted me because I was a Christian and she did not want any arguing on her Facebook page. Reason being – she is very liberal, both politically and socially. Additionally, she has a fairly outspoken Facebook page where she posts links and has discussions on trending topics of interest. From my perspective, it is fine that she does that and I have complimented her before on her intellectual endeavors. [In fact, for quality discussions you should encourage people of dissimilar beliefs to comment; but I digress].

However, the question still stands … why did she delete me as a Facebook friend? I was totally nice to her beforehand whenever we were together. Never did I show intolerance. An interesting fact is that in the month that we’d been Facebook friends I was practically absent from Facebook. There was barely a hint given to her to conclude that I was anything more than a typical lukewarm Christian. Therefore, what has happened that caused her to automatically delete me from her social media web when she found out that I was a Christian?

The sad state that our society has grown toward is a state that perceives Christians as hateful bigots. There is now a natural tendency for the public to presume that the very air that Christians breathe at church on Sundays is fuel for us to spew out hate towards anyone who does not follow our holy stance. In reality, that idea is far from the truth. Christians are simply given an awareness of something that is outside this world and we are inwardly transformed to think in a manner that is different from this world (Romans 12:2). Here are four everyday examples that the psychological state of a “Christian bigot” can somewhat be analogous to:

1)   There are women in this world that have experienced the tragedy of sexual abuse. Either directly or indirectly. Many of whom dive into the calling of spreading awareness of sex trafficking, prostitution, child abuse, and rape to the masses. They post links of news articles, volunteer, raise money, etc. The oddity of all this is that most people have a tendency to ignore their cries. For example, we know that each of those types of sexual abuses are tragic, however, how much have we donated to an organization for that cause? When was the last time we volunteered and or even read an article? To be honest, anytime an advocate comes out for those causes, I kind of view them as crazy and as a burden to listen to. The term “ignorance is bliss” has its merit. Those women have gained a deep, tangible awareness of sexual abuse and it has caused them to view the true significance of it in our society. Contrarily, most of us have not gained that same viewpoint and live everyday life as if sexual abuse is not rampant. Which of us are correct? We can say the same thing about people fighting for world hunger, war, genocides, political deception, violence, and other topics.

2)   Extrovert versus introvert comparisons can be enjoyable. Being an introvert, I have realized that extroverts generally view most social events very differently than I view them. Sometimes I can explain to an extrovert that I would prefer to stay in, alone, and watch Netflix. Even with that explanation, because they do not have the same mental DNA/perspective, they cannot necessarily relate to my inclination. And vice versa.

3)   I used to call my parents the Devil #1 and Devil #2 when I was younger. They would discipline me at times and not buy me whatever I wanted. Exactly, devils. As I grew older I realized that their weird viewpoint that was so different from mine was actually in my favor.

4)   Police officers often get a bad reputation. They are called out for profiling and stereotyping. They see hideous activities on a daily basis and get harassed for their inclinations. But looking at their inclination from a hypothetical example– lets say we visibly see that redheaded Irish people are scratching mothers all around the world. Today, you’re leaving your mother’s house and a redheaded Irish person passes you going towards your mother’s house. Are you really not going to turn back around, just in case? Not trying to offend anyone. I’m an African American and any time I walk past an occupied vehicle in a grocery store parking lot, I hear the person “suddenly” lock their doors. The hurt from that sounds hurts each time. But based on statistical evidence, can I completely blame them for their precautions? Police officers have the insurmountable duty to protect us. They have experiences that different from ours and generally want for us to be safe.

With all that said, are Christians being bigots or are they simply burdened with seeing something from a totally different perspective? I think about the girl who unfriended often. I pray that we do become legitimate friends. My friendship with her, however, would not terminate on that. One thing I can say to her in context to her reason for deleting me is that I do, indeed, wish for Jesus to save her. I hope for her. I hope for us. May the world understand that Christians are given a new heart and mind that gives them a perspective on many topics that are different than most Non-Christians. There is a certain way that God designed the world to flow and for people to live. This way leads to eternal joy in our life and in the Lord (Psalm 16:11, John 17:3, John 10:10). We as Christians yearn for everyone to be saved and to seek the face of Christ (Luke 15:7, 1 Timothy 2:4). It sounds weird. But to the Christian, it sounds beautiful and glorious!

5 Reasons Why Christian Males Almost NEVER ASK GIRLS OUT On Dates Anymore

At some point during mid-college, my compass switched from having predominantly guy friends toward a large influx of females friends. For some time now, many conversations with those girls have turned into their wonder of “why Christian men rarely ask them out on dates”.  I have had numerous heart-to-heart conversations with awesome, intelligent, Jesus-loving, beautifully single young ladies that pour out their frustrated hearts at why this is so.

Of course, from the male perspective, there are blinders that hinder me from fully empathizing. But in those moments…as I listen to them…I can’t help but see it in their eyes. The fearful angst in the crackling of their voice. Their stare of credulity as they wait to hear your response of hope. They’ve been taught to rest in Christ and have faith in his sovereign plan. Taught to be content with their singleness until the right man comes along. Ooookay…true, but tell that to the girl that has only been on 1 date in the past 3 years. Or to the girl that is 30 years old and still waiting. If we honestly pay attention we would begin to see a steep decline in the rate at which men are dating. After months of pondering and diving deep into this massive topic, I have five reasons why this “asking out” rate has decreased. These will be generalizations, of course, but what I have on my side is the Bible and a little bit of psychological binoculars.

1)  The Social Media Effect: Welcome to the glamorous world of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram! These three entities have transformed the way that we men view the pressures of finding a girlfriend/wife. Historically a man had, roughly, less than 10 female friends on his radar. From that amount, his choices were limited and there was a certain “weight” or “pressure” he’d feel to find a mate. Today, I have almost 3000 Facebook friends. From those Facebook friends I can see photos and their friends of friends. This naturally gives way to thoughts that develop in my mind that I have an opportunity to date these girls. What was once knowing less than 10 girls has now exponentially increased to thousands for me AND my male counterparts. This gives us a false sense of satisfaction that takes away any weight on our shoulders that we need to pursue a woman right now. Who needs to pursue immediately…we’re content in our gigantically-fictional plethora of options.

2)  A Feminized Jesus & the Nice Guy Complex: I am not sure when exactly this happened, but somewhere along the lines in our recent church history we began to view Jesus is a very feminine manner. He became no longer a God who was authoritative, had supreme leadership over all, filled with passion for His Father’s glory and likeness, and bold in his worldviews and lifestyle. For at least the past 40 years we have shifted focus solely on his love attributes. He is a God with a perm in his hair who spreads pixie dust of love all throughout the Gospels. He never yells, he never rebukes, never upsets others. He is all about love love love! Here’s why this teaching is so catastrophically damaging in this context: Colossians 1:15 says that ‘Jesus is the image of the Invisible God’.  Men are image bearers of God since we were all made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Since the Fall, we have lost that perfect view of God’s image. Now we have Jesus to look to in order to get back to what we were created for. However, with us males looking at a feminized Christ, we begin to reflect these new feminine traits that have been attributed to him. If we are a projector….we project onto a blank screen whatever is shown through us. While seeing a feminized Jesus we’ve, in turn, automatically projected more passivity, less in our boldness, and are more inclined to play a super nice guy role. This nice guy generally doesn’t what to risk boldness but instead wants to play it safe. Most importantly, as we’ve obtained this feminine worldview, we’ve lost some of our male skill/desire/trait to pursue the woman. God’s intended design for the male is being skewed. Very scary stuff. Very scary stuff.

3)  Watered Down GOSPEL Teaching: Similar to before, many churches over the years have become afraid to talk about the “hard” things of the Bible. The things that may scare people or rub them wrongly. Many churches and pastors became more focused on growing their church attendance and pleasing people rather than following thousands of years of church history and preaching for God with God’s word. They rarely teach on sin anymore. The cross and Jesus’ bloody death are rarely deeply studied and reflected on. If the Bible were a movie, many churches have pushed to cross and sin back to the ending credits. And no one pays attention the ending credits.  Ignoring these biblical concepts retard our CONCRETE UNDERSTANDING of Jesus’ pursuit of the church (His people). The Gospel should not only be the focus of the movie but should also be a real-life every day experience. Instead, this has weakened the male’s view in how and what it means to pursue a wife.

4)  Girls, some blame is on you as well: We sometimes feel that when we ask you out, you take expectations too far too quickly. A coffee date becomes an expectation of marriage from your eyes. We understand that we are dating-to-marry, but that pressure makes us uncomfortable at times. It becomes that if things fail to work out then you and your friends blame us for leading you on. We become the evil coffee bandits.

5)  Satan Never Sleeps: Hey, the dude is smart and wise. Satan has culture tugging on our neck collars. Diminishing our number of men in the church. He has society whispering in our ears. The definition of love has changed from a Biblical definition to the cultural “what makes me feel good at the moment”.

So what now; I mean, this is heavy stuff. I have to be honest with you and say these things because I’m more afraid not to point these things out. The reason why I have this insight is because…ding ding ding…I’m in some of these categories. And have close friends in all 5. So what do we do now? The funny thing about being young is that it’s easy to point out a problem. The funnier thing is that in our youth we rarely have the answers. Still, one common sense answer is obvious –  we need to get back to the discussing the nature and character of the triune God of the universe. This is what sustains us as a people. In the context of this blog, that is what will guide us men into the way he designed our relationships to flow. There is a reason why the Apostle Paul pleads with us to stay away from weak teaching and to seek good doctrine (1 & 2 Timothy). We can do that or we can continue to aim for high church numbers with cheap 5-minute salvations, weak teaching, and a feminized Jesus. But that’s a silly trade if we are losing our Godly men. What are we going to do men? Women? Pastors?

……..”Father, may our generation get back to your true reflection. Jesus, forgive us for mocking your image. I pray for those who hear this…really hear this. I pray for the hearts of our sisters. I pray for the strength of our brothers”…….