I am in the last stages of writing my new book, Meek or Macho: Men and Religion.

This is my current thesis statement:

Because of the influence of Aristotle, theologians thought the feminine was receptive and obedient, and that these qualities should also characterize the Christian, especially the laity, who therefore should be feminine, brides of God who submitted to God – and to the clergy. Men were often unruly and destructive, and they were told that not only did they have to obey laws that restricted their activities; these laws were designed to make them feminine, or at least behave like women. In addition, there was a strong voluntarist attitude: the laws of God were arbitrary and had to be submitted to without question.

Men rebelled. They did not want to sacrifice their hard-earned and precarious masculinity and their independence in order to be made feminine; they might obey rules and follow discipline that purported to make them masculine, such as military discipline, but would reject discipline designed to make them feminine. Men stayed away from church because the church told them to stop behaving like men and to start behaving like women.  Women therefore have outnumbered men in Christian churches for centuries.

Any reactions?

Leave a Comment