The New York TImes seems to be on a mission to make Christians look stupid, and we keep giving them the stick with which to beat us about the head and neck. To wit, a recent article looks at the rise of "Mixed Martial Arts" churches. The article explains:The outreach is part of a larger and more longstanding effort on the
part of some ministers who fear that their churches have become too
feminized, promoting kindness and compassion at the expense of strength
and responsibility.Now, look. Except for Menikoff, I am the biggest fan of tattoos on this blog (btw Aaron, I told you so about that ink on the inside of your lip... bad news, brother!). And I like contact sports a lot. In fact, I can't even watch MMA because I don't like who I become when I'm watching it.But I hate this "macho" resurgence in Christianity. I'd be inclined to ignore it, but it seems to be growing and being pushed from high profile platforms. Here are my concerns:
It's derivative and unoriginal. It was lame when Billy Sunday was doing it 100 years ago.
It makes the gospel man-centered. Coming to Jesus isn't a way for you to deal with your daddy issues. I get it, your dad didn't hug you when you were little and you want to be a different kind of man. How about you go hug your kid then? Jesus didn't come to help you get in touch with your inner MMA fighter.
Like it or not, the gospel is at least in part about weakness. It's about the almighty becoming weak to save us. It's about us being helpless and unable in our sins. There's no way to Christ that doesn't start with brokenness and an admission of impotence. Yes, Jesus is the strong man who binds the adversary, but he bound him by suffering, humiliation, and weakness.
It discourages and mocks godly men who aren't macho. There is an undercurrent of disdain in all of this. Proponents of this testosterone Christianity can't help but take shots at guys who wear pastels and drink cappuccino. You might not like guys with manicures, but there's absolutely nothing morally wrong with it. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian. Believe it or not.
You can find other thoughts about this article here and here.
There's an insightful and courageous piece in today's Washington Post by Sally Jenkins. In the article Jenkins (who's a great sports columnist, BTW) says that she's adamantly pro-choice but praises and defends Tim Tebow's upcoming Super Bowl ad.It's worth reading the whole column, but here are three gems from it:
I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard
in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism
and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer
Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.
Pam Tebow and her son feel good enough about that choice to want to
tell people about it. Only, NOW says they shouldn't be allowed to.
Apparently NOW feels this commercial is an inappropriate message for
America to see for 30 seconds, but women in bikinis selling beer is the
right one. I would like to meet the genius at NOW who made that
decision. On second thought, no, I wouldn't.
Here's what we do need a lot more of: Tebows. Collegians who are
selfless enough to choose not to spend summers poolside, but travel to
impoverished countries to dispense medical care to children, as Tebow
has every summer of his career. Athletes who believe in something other
than themselves, and are willing to put their backbone where their
mouth is. Celebrities who are self-possessed and self-controlled enough
to use their wattage to advertise commitment over decadence.
As Ben pointed out in the comments, we're actually more like University of Louisville than Duke, in that we're a number one seed in the SBC Voices Blog Madness tournament. I think we might be more like UConn, the fourth #1 seed that is maligned by the haters and feels the need to prove itself by winning it's first round game by the third largest margin in tournament history.But I digress. Go vote for your favorite 9 Marks-themed blog in Round 2... we need more books!
Well, this is a blow to my self-perception. I've always thought of our humble little blog as the scrappy outsider, the contrarian voice willing to speak truth to power about meat sweats and the insidious paedo-baptist plan to undermine clean livin' one covenant kid at a time. Turns out, we're a number one seed in the SBC Voices Blog Madness. The bad news: as a contrarian with authority issues, I am forced to root against myself. The good new: if we make it through to other rounds, we'll be up against the Goliath that is Beth Moore. I think she's been itching for a fight for a while now. Cute baby pictures can't save you when Church Matters come callin'! Best news: the winner gets a honking big gift certificate to the Westminster Bookstore. Maybe we could buy copies of this book and pass them out to the students. So head over and vote for your humble 9 Marks bloggers... we need the free books!