I've been reflecting on my own journey as a Christian man and my interactions with society and church.
I realise I have many idealistic notions of life: a stable career, healthy spiritual growth and a stable marriage. These goals require effort and more sacrifice than I can comprehend or afford at the present.
As a single man I find the gifts and strengths of men in society, and even churches, are not always being fostered toward a healthy state. Becoming the ideal man seems an impossible goal to achieve!
A question of discernment
At the present I am discerning whether I should commit to a lifelong service of God in the Church as a single man, or whether I should consider marriage and grow in that area.
There seems to be a general consensus in society and my un-churched friends that marriage is a 'tie down' or a contract signing your life away. The repudiation of marriage—even happy marriage—as a failed institution or a dream that can never be achieved is commonplace amongst lots of men, which is why many choose not to marry and rather avoid commitments.
I am not surprised that even though I am a Christian who agrees marriage is a good thing, I am hesitant to pursue marriage due to negative perceptions and examples around me.
The idea that a man can find fulfilment in marriage, or the idea that marriage reflects Christ and the Church in a sanctifying way are shadowed by the potential problems caused by the feminisation of the institution. This degrades a man's positive role in marriage. I think this is why society laughs and mocks married men in media or TV shows.
A call to the Church
In my experience, churches aren't doing enough to foster a good environment for men's growth. This is not to say all churches fail in bringing up godly and masculine men who can achieve great things, but the atmosphere of many churches is one where men are just bystanders whilst their wives and girlfriends pour their hearts out in contributing to the congregation.
I have witnessed a continual trend of men leaving the Church as it is no longer a place where men can foster strengths of working and being. Compare this to the Early Church, the Medieval Church, even the Colonial Church where men found places of adventure, edification, robust theology and an overall drive for the pursuit of God and His kingdom.
Today we see churches capitulating on key moral doctrine, becoming excessively democratic, and leaving out activities which challenge the male psyche. A recent example of doctrinal change is a few English clergywomen pushing for God's pronoun to be 'She' instead of 'He'.
Personally, I have found many male friends or family members who are interested in Christianity but never fully integrate or commit due to the absence of opportunity. Christian men are called to follow Christ and be transformed, yet often, we end up sitting in a suburban church week after week with little progress.
The men who are already in churches are either too busy with ministry or generally aren't involved very much. If this is the case, then why would men want anything to do with an institution such as marriage or the Church, when the pursuit of careers or hobbies is far more attractive?
How can churches in western society regain a place in the hearts of men? How can churches show us that faith is not a weakness or crutch, but the rock of our lives as Christ intended?
Jack is studying Commerce and Arts at Macquarie University, he is part of a family of five, his hobbies include computer gaming, football, learning languages, and church history. He is currently attends Campsie Chinese Congregational Church. He sometimes also attends St. Paul's Anglican at Burwood. He hopes to one day pursue a career in the Church through Classical Anglicanism.
Jack Liang's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/jack-liang.html