Male Guilt and Mission Guilt

Right now I’m reading a book by Shelby Steele called “White Guilt.” The basic premise of the book is that ever since the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., whites have been driven in everything they do by guilt. You are racist until proven unracist by overtly showing that you are not racist by your words and actions.

We of the MO Synod are plagued by two kinds of similar guilt: Male Guilt and Missions Guilt. Male guilt goes like this: because women were so “oppressed” for many years by our “patriarchal” church body, now, out of male guilt, we have to go out of our way to show that we are pro-women. The same thing goes for missions. The moral high ground in our synod goes to those who are pro-missions. We have to qualify every statement that we make about missions by saying, “I’m not against increasing the number of members of the body of Christ, but…” This is what I call “missions guilt.” That is why anyone who wants to be reputable in the Church must pay lip service to things like “Ablaze” and “The Great Commission.” If you don’t, you will be perceived as being anti-missions, or, if you do not recognize the service of women or the value that they hold in the church, you are perceived as anti-female. Can we reverse this? Doubtfully. It’s just an example of the ecclesiastical culture in which we live.

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About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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13 Responses to Male Guilt and Mission Guilt

  1. Anonymous says:

    Excellent observation, Pastor Beisel.

    Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment (1 John 4:18).

    The guilt-monger-motivators among us improperly use the Law to get us to conform to their wishes.

    “We need more women leaders in the church,” or “you need to support this new outreach program,” etc.

    For them, the “Law” is always what they perceive the injustice or the grave need to be, and the “Gospel” (really more Law) is what they command us to do about it.

    We’re seeing this more and more in our Synodical publication for church workers, The Reporter.

    Rather, let us cling to Christ and His perfect love, a love that declares from the cross, “It is finished.”

    Chi Chi

  2. katie says:

    The irony is, more and more churches are majority women. And we’re not all single.
    The men are elders and officers, groundskeepers and repairmen. They’re not Sunday school teachers or choir or committee members.
    This doesn’t change the facts, or alter doctrine. We certainly don’t need to–and happily our own pastor and elders do *not*–assuage any holdover male guilt, and thus feminize the church. Again, ironically, it becomes more and more–at least in our congregation–incumbent upon us women ourselves, to accept who we are in creation, and thus in the church. We ourselves struggle with the feminized culture, as well as our urges to take up what’s being dropped or left undone.
    It’s difficult, sometimes, to not see the necessity in turning things upside down, just to have the church function.
    I suspect this very thing is turning men away from church, period. They presume it to have been fairly feminized, as a result of women having nearly equal participation (or equal and more-than-equal in some denominations–again, rionically, the sad results of male-guilt syndrome), and leave it to wives, mothers, etc., to play with and, thus, dominate. As if it were a social activity they can (thankfully) opt out of.

  3. Pastor Beisel says:

    I would love to see more male Sunday School teachers, especially for the older grades. I do believe (although I have no verifiable evidence for this) that a congregation where the men are really and truly men (not in a chauvenistic sort of way—see, male guilt!) and take leadership in the teaching and administration of the church, that is a stronger congregation. You’re right–women end up doing more, partially because the men just simply abdicate their responsibility as men. Good point.

  4. Lawrence says:

    Now I feel guilty.

  5. katie says:

    While I don’t disagree with osc–indeed, he clarifies and amplifies my point–it’s not just the church abandoning men. Our whole culture is.
    Society is so debased by feminism, and men are either busy taking advantage of women’s ‘freedom’ with their bodies–and that’s women of all ages–or avoiding women altogether. And the last place they think they’ll find refuge in being real men is in church. Frankly, I think many men think that’s what strip clubs are about.
    I do think the women in our own church do an admirable job of fulfilling their tasks–teaching, singing, cleaning, evangelizing, and let’s don’t discount attending divine service–without using their majority status as a foot in the door. They’re not making noises about being elders or readers or the like. For the most part, I think we function as if we had what Pastor Beisel suggests: strong male leadership. And that’s because many of us are the widows of such men, or their daughters, and because we have a pastor who has not wavered nor doubted the work could be done.
    A blessing, by the way, deserving more than one counting.

  6. OSC says:

    Indeed, Katie. I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a societal issue to which the church has unfortunately and readily bent. And I think the churches are aware, in part, of the problem. The awareness of a fundamental missing of men led to the whole PromiseKeepers thing–which, I’d argue, remains a fundamental missing of men. And as I said above, I believe CPW is a tool in the service of mass feminization of the church.

    And my sympathies lie with women in all this as well. Feminism sells out women, as Katie so aptly stated:

    Society is so debased by feminism, and men are either busy taking advantage of women’s ‘freedom’ with their bodies–and that’s women of all ages–or avoiding women altogether.

    It breaks down all the boundaries that had been established to protect women. Their exercise of that ‘freedom’ comes at an exorbitant price. They get dumped on bigtime. Talk about a sham.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Biola Connections’ Spring 2006 edition highlights this very issue. It’s entitled, “The Feminization of the Church: Why Its Music, Messages and Ministries are Driving Men Away.” Both interesting and informative.

    Perhaps there’s an online version.

    Best said that the feminist movement, while having eliminated some inequalities in society and the workplace, is at its hardest core anti-gender, not just anti-male.

    It’s against women as women, too, which is why it meshes so well with the “gay” “rights” movement.

    Both are Gnostic.

    Chi Chi

  8. katie says:

    Well said, Chi chi.
    It further demonstrates, doesn’t it, that any departures from created order are just recipes for disorder? And it’s all nothing more than running away from the Creator.
    Yet everyone thinks they have destinations so much more pressing.

  9. Favorite Apron says:

    I wish I could fix all this, but I’ve decided that I can’t change the world – I can only be myself and take care of my own. So I fight against unisexism by wearing dresses and a headcovering to church. I try to stop myself from automatically loading feed bags at the mill – instead to stand back and let a man do it. It’s time for men to be men, and women to be glad of it.
    At church, please — just assign me some pies to bake — I don’t want to be SS superintendent.

    By the way, we need to stop using the word “gender” in this context — it’s a grammatical term.

  10. Lawrence says:

    katie said… “Society is so debased by feminism…”

    I am inundated in the work place, daily, in “equality” and “equity”, and “sensitivity”.

    It becomes hard sometimes, when not at work, to throw off the facade of “equal opportunity” that one is force to wear in any given career field. A facade of equal opportunity that is in no way truly “equal” in the face of government mandated quotas.

    Many people simply don the facade and wear it permanently. Assuming it is a requirement of all aspects of life, including family and church. The church and society do suffer for it.

  11. katie says:

    It’s another lie we’re all forced to live. Or live with.
    Which makes a good confessional church such a refuge.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Favorite Apron,

    Know any single, confessional Lutheran gals that wear dresses and head coverings in Church (and, preferably, don’t believe in contraception)?

    I’m serious.

    Chi Chi

  13. Lawrence says:

    Single Lutheran galls like this? Why yes, I do. Except for the head coverings.

    Well, I know a few.

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