Are There Any Strong Men Left in the Church?
Sometime ago I read this quote: “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” ― G. Michael Hopf
The Church in the West, in particular in the USA, has been immersed, not only in good times, but ease and comfort. We have moved from scraping and scrapping to find purchase in a shifting landscape, to monstrous footprints in society. There was a time when the Church battled for every inch of ground it took from culture. Now, culture has risen up and actively taken ground from the Church.
The very people who are supposed to protect the Church now appeal to societal and cultural norms to allegedly grow the Church. Instead of standing against the prevailing winds of culture, they set their sails and allow those winds to propel them.
Freddie Mercury is What?
So, I was watching some old clips from concerts from my youth. One of the clips I happened across was a Queen concert. As I watched Freddie Mercury showboat across the stage and perform his life out, I was struck by something. Freddie may have been as gay as the day is long, but his persona was masculine. Yes, I said that. Freddie was unapologetically masculine. He had no problem with his masculinity.
I noticed something else about Freddie that is a stark contrast to what I see today. Freddie was more masculine in appearance than most of the “rock stars” of today. Moreover, Freddie was actually far more masculine than most of the well-known “pastors” today and a good portion of the unknown ones. To the shame of most of these men, what passes for masculinity is passivity and effeminacy. What has happened in the last forty-or-so years is a profound shift in the expectations we have for men in our society. Gone are the strong men of the past. Instead we have replaced strong men with simps and pansies.
We Need Strong Men Again
No one can argue that the beginning of the 20th century for the USA was harsh. We walked from the struggles of the Civil War and westward expansion right into even more struggle and tribulation. The Great Depression and the Dust Bowl years coupled with Prohibition bent the back of the nation.
WWI arrived on scene in just enough time to test the mettle of our country. Especially the men. But the victory that was won by a new breed of strong men that traveled thousands of miles to liberate Europe from Prussian aggression, was to be short lived. An angry German populace wanted another shot at owning the world. But the hard times of the early 1900s had produced strong men. Well not in France.
As Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain embodied the very definition of weakness by appeasing NAZI Germany, the US was different. Conversely, the men of the USA had come to age in hard times. Many of them having lost their fathers to a far-off war. These were men not afraid to fight; so-much-so they often lied to join the military simply to go to war. Seventeen and eighteen-year-old men were storming beaches and jumping out of airplanes to take back places that many of them could not even find on a map.
Having freed the world from the grips of Fascist tyranny these strong men returned to the USA and built a nation from the ashes of disaster. They had families and they led those families to churches of every stripe. And they weren’t put off by preachers and pastors calling things as they were. They appreciated it.
But Something Happened on the Way to Modernity
These strong men forged in the fires of adversity flourished. More technological advances took place from the end of WWII until the late 1980s than at any other time. We developed intercontinental flight and space exploration. Satellites were placed in orbit, leading to the ability to communicate around the world effortlessly. Television and computers, once a figment of human imagination sprang into being.
Entertainment and leisure became household activities and celebrities became guests in our homes. The Great Generation provided their children with everything. Often because they had grown up with nothing. The psyche of American people was that nothing should be denied to us. We had earned it. Even the poor of the USA lived in relative opulence compared to most of the world. The generation springing up after the Great Generation was being born into ease and relative comfort. By-and-large, they were weak and soft. Consequently, this began to bleed into the churches and into the fabric of our politics. American men were losing their spines.
Strong Men Replaced with Emphatic Flowers
The American people forgot the dangers of totalitarianism and authoritarianism. Worse still, they forgot the threat of Marxism, despite living under constant threat of it from all over the world. The American culture went on blithely surging ahead thinking that they had conquered all their enemies. The Boomer Generation thrived under the promise of undaunted prosperity. Totally unaware that the very prosperity and peace that their parents had secured for them was being used to corrupt the institutions of higher learning they were attending. No college or university was safe. Moreover, even then, seminaries were being infiltrated by leftist progressives that embraced totalitarian doctrines.
Certainly, it was obvious in some denominations like the United Methodist and the Episcopalians. Organizations like the World Council of Churches were fronts for Progressive Leftist funded by communist/Marxist nations and movements. Formerly stalwart denominations once led by strong men were inculcated with weakness and compromise. Even the rigid Missouri Synod Lutherans faced an internal war. This resulted in the era of Seminex; leftist seminary in exile. This in turn, led to new branches of the Lutheran denomination.
The Hippie culture corrupted the message of the Gospel leading to the “Jesus Movement”. This movement turned Christ into a pacifistic, flower draped progressive that didn’t judge anyone. Instead of being molded into the very image of Christ, Christ was molded into the image of weak-kneed pansies more concerned with empathy than truth. These soft, sickly, weak men soon became leaders in Christianity.
Where Have All the Strong Men Gone
Here we sit in 2020 faced with a plethora of problems emblematic of decades of weak-kneed leadership. Formerly strong denominations, such as the SBC, held the line against women in teaching positions. Instead, they now loudly cry out for women in the pulpit. In recent years the PCA saw a member congregation host the ReVoice conference.
But make no mistake, these compromises are not reserved to clearly obvious issues. 2020 has seen great acquiescence from nearly every congregation of every identifiable denomination in the USA. As governors and local elected servants issued edicts and commands, leaders willingly closed the doors of their meeting places. Often times for months and months. In many instances, such as California and NYC, cowering before little despotic Caesars.
The very strong men that should have been openly refusing to comply with orders to disband for the time being, should have been leading their flocks from the front. Instead, many of them allowed their flocks to lead by reacting to fear. Fear that was drummed up and fabricated by a combination of the legacy media and corrupted politicians. Politicians on both sides of the aisle.
However, the compromise didn’t end there. In recent weeks, more and more men leading the church have crumbled in the face of prevailing cultural winds. Intersectionality and Wokeness have pushed these weak men to their knees in fear. But fear of what? Fear of the tyranny of being labeled racists or bigoted or compromised “Uncle Toms”. They fear not being Woke enough or they fear exercising the myth of White Privilege.
The Type of Tyranny Isn’t What Matters
The simple fact is that by-and-large, the norm is for men to cave into whatever the prevailing pressure is today. Whether it is government tyranny or tyranny of the masses, the perceived proper response is to knuckle under. Just like Chamberlain in Great Britain at the outset of German aggression, appeasement of the cultural whims is the only answer.
We must acknowledge that we have had it easy in the USA for a very long time. The Church has enjoyed peace and comfort and ease. We are no longer in that place. Our slow slide into acquiescence has resulted in a shift from good times to bad times.
Certainly, we know that the True Bride of Christ will survive until He returns to claim His Own. But we cannot rest on our laurels. We need scholarly soldiers in the pulpits and as elders. We need warrior poets like John Knox to rise up and resist the tyrants that seek to make war on the Bride.
These hard times we are in now may not be as rough as years past. But we must respond in strength and fortitude. The need is for men who know their Lord and are seeking His glory, but are still prepared to fight, and do so with ferocity, may never have been greater.
We need strong men leading the Church in the USA again. A few congregations here and there is not enough. We need them in every city and in every congregation. They need to be willing to risk everything for the cause of Christ and the preaching of His Gospel.
Until we find them, we will flounder and drown in the rising tidal wave of tyranny…
Soli Deo Gloria!