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“The Church Impotent” author says men still missing from the church

September 20, 2006

Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, says that in the seven years since the release of his important book, the church has become even more feminized.

Leon Podles, author of The Church Impotent: The Feminization of Christianity, says that in the seven years since the release of his important book, the church has become even more feminized.

In his 1999 work, Podles, a senior editor for “Touchstone” magazine, argues that Western Christianity has become increasingly feminized in recent years, precipitating a mass exodus of men from local congregations.

Podles, who appeared with a panel of fellow Touchstone editors Sept. 14 on the campus of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, says men continue to abstain from church attendance and involvement in record numbers.

“It has gotten worse,” he said. “All the polls say that male attendance continues to fall. A lot of it in the Catholic Church was a result of the pedophilia scandal. Men said, ‘I want nothing to do with this nor do I want my sons to have anything to do with this.’ It continues to fall as a greater percent of the clergy in mainline churches are female the churches are more feminized and become more of a women’s club.”

He estimated that between 80-90 percent of church workers in Roman Catholic congregations are women and said Protestant congregations are largely populated by female workers as well. Podles called on pastors to bring men back into the church because their biblical leadership is desperately needed in local congregations as well as in homes.

“The pastor should think of himself as pastoring the men and then the men are pastoring their families,” he said. “For many good reasons, he (the pastor) should not be the women’s direct spiritual counselor because the husband (often) resents the spiritual influence the pastor has on the wife.

“So he should first of all try to think of himself as the pastor of the men. If they are not there, go out and meet them. Wherever the men are, if they are not in church, go out and find them. If they won’t come to you, go to them.”

Podles bemoaned the eclipse of a vigorous Christianity that views the daily Christian life in the militaristic terms of warfare that Scripture employs. Only a muscular Christianity will be able to contend earnestly in the marketplace of faiths with such a literally militaristic religion as Islam, he said.

“Our Christian culture is feminized and it is not combative and it cannot meet the challenge of Islam,” he said. “I’m not saying we should fight them . . . but in Africa, Islam is violently persecuting Christians and our country does nothing about it. Islam has bloody borders all around it and Christians in general don’t care about the sufferings of their compatriots.

“We have lost both in the visible realm and in our internal lives the sense that life is a battle, that it is a warfare, and that military virtues are a necessity . . . [the Christian has to] have enormous courage, he’s got to have enormous resistance of the powers of evil and temptation, but the masculine virtues continue to evaporate from almost all modern Christian churches. I really see no recovery. Perhaps the challenge of Islam and the prospect of martyrdom will strengthen our backbones.”

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