Thursday, February 01, 2007

God-Men

Stop! Before you read my post check out this LA Times article about this organization called “God-Men”, and their website, if you’re so inclined.

My reactions to this were many, as you might imagine, so I’ll try to keep them brief and coherent.

First of all, this seems to be the latest and greatest (or worstest, depending on how you use the terms) example of Christian ghetto-ism: where evangelical Christians will take something from the “secular” (I don’t like that word, but that’s the subject of another post) culture and make a supposedly Christianized version of it. Left Behind is the Christian Steven King. Bible Man is the Christian Power Rangers. I even heard a band recently that sounded like they wanted to be the Christian U2, as if Bono and company weren’t already model Christians. So here we have God-Men: the Christian Man Show.

Interestingly enough, the guy who is the face of God-Men is a comedian named Brad Stein, who apparently wants to be the Christian Dennis Leary. (Interesting aside- he’s featured in Alexandra Pelosi’s documentary, “Friends of God”- I highly recommend checking it out, and I’ll probably review it sometime soon) He’s aggressive in his style, he’s not afraid to curse (for which I whole-heartedly applaud him), and he’s not afraid to express opinions that not everyone will agree with. That’s fine. I don’t take issue with him personally or his style as an entertainer. Nor do I take issue with the fact that evangelical Christians are saying it’s OK to embody stereotypical manliness. My wife will tell you that I like fart jokes, football, and beer as much as the next guy. What I do take issue with is the extent to which the God-Men take this particular type of “manliness” and claim that it has it’s own ontology that is written into the DNA of every male.

Case in point is the example of the 26 year old construction worker who takes off to go camping with his friends and leaves his wife at home with their infant, despite her protests that she needs his help around the house. His justification: "I am supposed to be the leader of the family." Yes, you are supposed to be the leader of the family. You know what leaders do? They put the needs of those they lead over their own personal desires. You kicking off to go camping when your wife needs your help is not you being a man or a leader. It’s you being a spoiled little kid who does what he wants, gets bored, and expects mommy to clean up the mess. The only way you’re being a leader in this situation is if you say, “I need a weekend away, and I know you do, too. So I’ve booked you a few days at the spa next weekend and I’ll stay home with the baby then. That way we can both recharge.” Something tells me he this was not his course of action.

While God-Men may serve a good purpose and may very well be helpful to a lot of people, it seems that the extremes to which they go in promoting immature manliness will have as much, if not more destructive effect than any positives they may achieve. If I may lay my liberal cards on the table (if you haven’t already guessed this then you haven’t been reading me very closely), what God-Men really represents is the ideological extreme of what George W. Bush has brought to America. It’s the “I’m the leader (or decider, if you will), I have all the power, therefore I’m always right and if you tell me otherwise you’re helping the terrorists/devil/Al Franken/whoever” mentality. Not that W. created this mentality, of course, but he does epitomize it. It's time we moved beyond the "Man Show" mentality, even the Christianized version of it, and realized that leadership is more about responsibility than the use of power.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful to see a man who knows what being a man really means.
You said exactly what I've thought over and over when I hear men talk about deciding things for their wife or how they're the head of their family.
It makes me sad that people are using God or Christianity or anything to try to promote a way of living that is unfair and hurtful to half (or more) of society.
-heather

Chris Reed said...

Kudos to my friend whom I totally agree with. Their extremes are seemingly proposterous, however I think that to a certain extent they are not all like that. If you've ever read the book Wild At Heart then you can see where they get the basis. I too am a drinking, swearing, God-fearing individual who has always believed God didn't intend us to whimp out. Some men take it to extremes but as always there are guys who ruin it for all the rest of us who are genuine. Thank you for bringing this to my attention and I'm seriously thinking of going to their Franklin hosting. Care to join me?

Anonymous said...

This phenom is not as "new" as you would imagine. This "new muscular-christianity" parallels the Billy Sunday-esque revivals occurring during the turn of the 20th century in America. While this trend is disturbing to more liberal Christians, I think it is also prudent to make the attempt to understand the need that programs such as this and, to a lesser extent, promise keepers are addressing. They are drawing people...why?

Christina said...

I think you guys need to read Colossians 3:1-21 talking about the nature of man versus the God fearing man and a Godly household. Then read Galatians 5:7-26. I watched a news show about these GodMen ,it didn't sit right. Someone just learning about God and how to be with his family can be misled. My husband struggles with his anger,cursing,and drinking,but if I show him where it says in the bible about what is right then the arguing stops because the TRUTH will speak for its self. I too have problems with submitting because it feels like control and not love. This is where we pray and developed our relationship with God and save our kids from our mistakes,just as I hope this will shed light for those who want to know the TRUTH about how God wants us to be towards each other and especially our family. Over time womans work isn't just my job,my husband has been helping me alot with our new baby and has taken some of the burden from me so I can recharge. I have c-sections with each birth,which has been 5 times,but this time I recovered quicker with less complications by being given the time to heal and his taking over the cooking,the cleaning,and basic overall caring for our other children.