Juicin Up Jesus

Let's Juice Up Jesus

Surfin' the net, I came across a great article articulating my concern for how men see themselves and their place within the church. In the online version of Christianity Today, writer Brandon O'Brien outlines the growing masculinity movement in the church with his article, A Jesus for Real Men. Starting with John Eldredge's Ransomed Heart ministry and working his way to the more recent efforts of Mark Driscoll's The Resurgence and comedian Brad Stine's GodMan seminars, O'Brien highlights the key beliefs in their message of a manly, in-your-face Jesus.

At the core is a contention that men are turned off by an effeminate Church dominated by women, as well as an image of Christ as a limp-wristed, male figure skater. To Eldredge, Driscoll and Stine, Christian men should break out of that "nice-guy" mold, and start kickin' butt for Christ. Their bottom line dogma is that the Church is meant to emulate the characteristics of the male psyche, not the current female psyche.

O Brien also mentions the less radical views expressed in books by Paul Coughlin (No More Christian Nice Guy) and David Murrow (Why Men Hate Going to Church), giving credence to the idea that the Church has become less dynamic and more watered down. He then follows this up by using the rest of the article to present his concerns over the potential damage in preaching the message of an "Ultimate Fighting Jesus." Rather than regurgitate his points I'll let you read it for yourself, but O'Brien is thorough in his counterpoint.

He's Serious

After watching Brad Stine give his introduction to the GodMan ministry, my initial reactions was something to the effect of, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ehem! Hmmm...uh, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I half expected him to start flashing images of Jesus wearing a black, leather jacket with West Coast Choppers emblazoned on the back, while riding a Harley into Jerusalem. I'd read Stine was a comedian so I thought maybe this was his style, to play things over the top and then bring it back down, but it wasn't. He was serious. Stine's animated rants reminded me of a Christian version of Dennis Leary, complete with his own anthem ("Got a Pair") to match Leary's "I'm an A-hole" (See a sample of the lyrics to Stine's masterpiece at the end of this post). In short, Stine's "You-can't-handle-the-truth" message didn't exactly grab me by the spiritual cahones, if you know what I mean. (Note: I have not finished looking at Driscoll's message and will leave that for a later post).


For some reason, when the subject of Christ's manliness is brought up, I immediately think about Jesus' call to the 12 Disciples, and I wonder what type of man could simply say "Follow me," and these guys would just up and do it, no questions asked. Obviously, He had some charisma to go with those bulging biceps, and I'm sure no one asked, "Who's that chick?" as he walked into town with his posse of fisherman and armed Zealots. But I also think of the same burly guy, playing with children on his lap and gently touching the sick and elderly, and I take comfort knowing that Christ the Man was as compassionate as He was powerful.

For the fun of it I also think about Matthew, the tax collector. These guys had it pretty good playing middle-man with the Roman officials while skimming the books for themselves. I'm sure it's not out of the question that these guys lived a noticeable life of luxury, that earned the disdain of they're own countrymen. So how much of a brute was Matthew as he sat around with all his money? I imagine him in a pimped out dwelling with a water view overlooking the Sea of Galilee. He probably wore the best threads from Tyre Hilfiger and drove the latest in Visigoth-engineered donkey transportation. If so, I guess you could say Matthew was a Judeo-Sexual (today we'd say metro-sexual). I'm joking, and I don't intend to demean the Gospel, but I also don't think everyone in the group was a ruffian, in fact, they were a pretty fearful group hiding out after Christ's death. Even still, it's hard to see Jesus rollin' into town with his 12 Amigos drinking a little wine, and blowing cigar smoke in some Pharisee face, as some would have you to believe.

Is There a Need?

To be fair, when Eldredge's book Wild At Heart came out, I was a big fan. I attended his retreat in the mountains of Colorado and had a positive, and I believe, sincere experience. His message of men needing passion, adventure and beauty hit home at a time when I felt completely emasculated in my roles as a man at work and at home. But as much as it was needed, I still sensed an underlying tone conveying true masculinity can only come from running through the woods with my hair on fire. Anything else, and I was telling God I preferred Jimmy Choos and white wine spritzers. A week after my wilderness experience, the spiritual high faded, and I felt disillusioned. My life continued to spiral as all that Christian testosterone did little to help as I got a demotion at work and a divorce at home.

Like O'Brien, I do believe there is validity in the idea that the Church has lost an element of boldness and challenge, but I wonder if this "Jesus Christ, Action Hero" movement comes from something bigger than just a revolt against a sissified Church. I wonder, instead if it's really a backlash from the conformity and expectations placed on men by our entire society from boyhood till death? There is so much to live up to, as I've found out, and it feels good to hear I'm not just another knuckle-dragger in sector 7G, I'm a "wild stallion," and I don't have to take anyone's crap because Jesus didn't either. In fact, the message feels so empowering, the emotion can overshadow some of Christ's message (some of which O'Brien covers). So if it's possible to overlook a few truths, is it also possible we might be trying to fit Jesus into the image of something we want in order to justify our behavior?

I guess my fear is, even with chest bumps replacing hand-shakes as the standard church greeting for men, we might be trading one extreme male image for another. This "Juiced Up Jesus" might feel good temporarily; but ultimately, does it still leave men questioning who they are as they sip a latte or watch America's Next Top Model? Ultimately, I hope the "pair" grown in the name of Christ, isn't the same pair that gets kicked by Him for missing the point.


- Is the Church effeminate and emasculated? Why or why not?
- Why are we losing men in church? Is there a solution?
- Why is there such polarization on the issue?

Click on the image to enlarge

Lyrics to "Got A Pair" sung at the GodMen rallies.

We've been beaten down
Feminized by the culture crowd
No more nice guy, timid and ashamed …
Grab a sword, don't be scared
Be a man, grow a pair!

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