Hi there! I trust you’ve had a great week? Great year maybe? Okay, I’m pushing it. But it is the season to be jolly! So they said, but really, this post is inspired by the number of times I have had to be dragged into church to celebrate the festive seasons, some of which bear no direct significance to the Christian faith but oh well, such is life. I don’t know how many of you will be dragged to church to usher in the new year through an overnight service, but if you’re a Christian, try looking around your church next time you’re in one. I mean seriously look around and count how many men you see in church compared to the women. I have a friend who told me once that their dad usually drops the rest of the family in church dutifully at 9a.m. every Sunday and then goes about his business then comes back for them when the service is over. How lovely. We certainly need more accommodation like that from the men in our lives right? Well after observing the situation in churches, conducting some amateur research of my own and listening to David Murrow, author of “Why men hate going to church” I’ve come up with five reasons why some African men are skeptical about going to church. Some of these reasons run across the board to feature men all over the world. I hope after this post, you’ll have a little more empathy for we the heathen.
- Men are less religiously-inclined as compared to women:
So this is bound to raise a few eyebrows right? Well unfortunately, it’s true, according to www.pewforum.org/2016/03/22/the-gender-gap-in-religion-around-the-world/ which did research across 54 countries spanning Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism found out that across the board, women are more religious than men in regards to frequency of prayer, frequency of visiting places of worship, belief in the afterlife and belief in mystical beings that watch over humanity. This was standard except in Islam where the balance is more or less equal, except that men visit mosques more often than women because of religious and social restrictions placed on women. This is not in the least bit weird really. I mean, we have mothers at home, they pray over everything really, even when you got that “D” in Physics because clearly you wanted them to see that it just isn’t your struggle. She still prays because she thinks you can put your dander-head brain to better use. No, I’m not talking about myself. Don’t judge me. Whatever. Anyway, point is, women are more likely than men to go to church particularly in Christianity which was outlined in the study. In fact, if you actually care to check the research study out, Kenya has been marked as one of the countries where the difference between women that pray daily and attend services regularly is vastly larger. I wonder why (sips Jameson on Saturday and nurses hangover on Sunday afternoon).
- Well, it’s a bit awkward for a straight man to sing to another “man” as his lover, No?
Really just think about it. Really. Masculinity is currently considered fragile. Especially in this age where masculinity is considered evil and toxic because men should be more “sensitive” and “vulnerable”. Yes Social Justice warriors, I see you. Guess what? Despite all the noise on social media about Hillary and Bernie, Donald Trump still won! What does that mean in this case? It means that there’s the virtual world and there’s the real world. It means that these arguments we wage online don’t count too much in terms of real large-scale life. Men consider some things awkward because we are men, whether due to socialization or not. Think about it. How many times in church do you hear songs like “Jesus, lover of my soul?”; “I will sing of your love forever”; “Still you catch me when I’m falling”; “Love lifted me”; “Unfailing love” Like okay, we get it guys. Sometimes I just stand in church during praise and worship, all awkward, thinking about how we’ve personified God to the point that it’s actually awkward to sing all these commercialized praise and worship songs. This all came about because of the “Bridal Mysticism” age in the 12th Century by-the-way. It was a time when women in the church were picturing Jesus as the bridegroom of the church, and everything became gay, which made it difficult for straight Christian men to worship. Why? Because you can’t worship by declaring your love for another man who should be cleansing your soul and drying your tears and catching you when you’re falling. Like why. Anyway, long story short, that depiction of Jesus is weird to some of us men who engage our minds so for those of us who are too fragile to bear giving our love to other men, we would rather stay away from church. Straight. Keep our fragile masculinity alive.
- Men are looking for a leader and a warrior, not a best friend and a comforter:
Well, this one is clearly a follow-up from the second point. So often these days, God and by extension Jesus is portrayed as a nurturer and a comforter, which are definitely not things that an overdose of testosterone are really about. We want war, and strategy, and conquests and all that hard stuff because the mushy stuff is saved to be discovered by the women in our lives or a brown bottle. We want to know how we can defeat the devil the way Jesus did, we want to know how to convert other men through debate and sports and doctrine. We don’t necessarily want to dwell on how Jesus wept when Lazarus resurrected or which brand of perfume was used to clean his feet. We want our God to lead us through the battle into hell and out the other side with the devil’s ass on a pitch-fork and demon blood all over our chests and women running to congratulate us; like in 300. We look up to people who make us think, who inspire us to be as tough as they are, who shove us when we are wrong and who achieve things the way we want to achieve them, not the people who hug us when we are sad. Like why.
- Of homosexual priests and wife-stealing pastors:
In his book, Rev. Donald B. Cozzens (www.amazon.com/books/dp/0814625045) suggests that 58% of priests were gay by the year 2000, with the percentage among the younger priests being higher. Well, my views on homosexuality actually lay no claim here but you must admit that for a religion whose main teachings condemn homosexuality, that’s a hypocritically high number, no? So whether it’s because some men are just against homosexual practices or against hypocrisy, take your pick, men just would rather not go to church if the priest will most likely be gay or to literally listen to a priest preach water and drink wine. The inconsistency of the doctrine vs practice brings in a fertile ground to poison the entire faith you know? And it really does not make sense for those who have apparently been charged to spread the kingdom of God to spray their seed in a place that was forbidden explicitly by the author of the faith and existence. That does not sit right. Like why must the little alter-boys suffer. Why. Another thing is, well, women, even married ones, have been known to do anything the pastor says, like it’s some weird fetish. Remember Kanyari and his 310-demanding-boob-grabbing-ass? I remember one of the house-helps we stayed with who was very forthcoming with her escapades, told me an interesting story. She’s a member in this church in Kawangware, rather, she’s like one of the women who facilitates visits of other members of the same church umbrella but in different parts of the country (say Kisumu) to visit churches of the same denomination all over the country. In fact we used to call her “Mama Assembly” at home. So she told me this story where one of the women visiting Nairobi from Kisumu was found having sex with the pastor, and a fight ensued between her husband and the pastor. The rest of the congregation dragged her out into the open and beat this philandering woman as the pastor fled the scene. She was beaten to within an inch of her life, Mama Assembly told us. It was fascinating really. But how then can you expect a man to trust the “Men of the Cloth” who steal their wives and who command so much adoration from the women that when he says “Rain drop” she drops her top and lets him cup a feel? Like WHY?
- We don’t want to just nurture, we want doctrine and action!
So there was a point I was a church youth leader, which is ironic really, and we had a meeting with one of the pastors about how to run the service and as the leaders, we had a schedule for the how we would run our service in the main church during the adults’ service. In the schedule, there was dancing, which was usually done by this famous group of guys who were well-known all over the church and all over the city. He pointed at the item on the schedule and said “No. Remove this dancing. We want things that send a message, and dancing has no message.” I was like “Ooookaaay.” I understand where he was coming from because I had to at that point and because I have a curse of objectivity that follows me everywhere I go. Sigh. Disturb someone else cloud. Weeks before that, I could hardly start a rugby club in the church because they did not want to devote workers to cutting the grass in the field yet they were going to Samburu for a mission the same weekend. Basically, most of the activities in church are tailored towards feminine activities like relationship building and Bible studies, choir practice, missions to children’s homes and elderly homes and prisons and sessions with single parents. This is only logical because most of the volunteers and Sunday School teachers and lay people in Church are women, but this just goes on to reaffirm that it is not comfortable ground for men. Like everything is about nurturing, we forget that men also want to explore intellectual doctrine on how we should live, and fellowship through sports and dancing but those are redacted because they pass no message. A church is meant to be a community where believers feel accepted and appreciated and grow closer to God and other believers as well. We can grow close to God but the Church is a collective therefore if there is no collective then the whole purpose is defeated is it not? Let all the women go to heaven nonetheless, maybe there will be a mission crew sent to preach to those of us enjoying soccer in hell. Don’t get me wrong, nurturing has so many benefits, but it only promotes expression from one facet of the congregation, why is there no balance? Like why?
Anyway, long story short, there you have it. Some things go deep with people, like religion. I’ve probably changed my views on religion a million times, but some things need to be critically re-examined such as why men are being left out of this “race to heaven”, so where is the balance in the Church that was charged with The Great Commission? You can say it’s because the world is changing, you can say masculinity is fragile, but I don’t care too much. The point is that the Church is meant to be a zone of confidence for both sinners and the “saved”, for both children and adults, for men and women. It should actually try to accommodate more men.