Recently I visited a church while the Stations of the Cross was under way and, I observed that there was quite an imbalance in the ratio of women to men, about 7:1 in fact. I began noticing this imbalance (a quick head count) at other times too; the closest call was in a prayer meeting I attend where it was 3:1 in favour of the ladies.
I wonder what the reason is; some say that women are more spiritual than men, that we are more earthy, others that the church has been ‘feminised’ over the centuries and men find little to identify with anymore.I don’t think that the first reason carries much weight, as in Jesus’s day men flocked to him, every hillside and valley were packed with men listening for hours or days on end. They even climbed trees and opened up roofs to get closer and have their needs met.
I don’t think men have changed, and Jesus hasn’t changed either so maybe we lost sight of who he is and our need for him. Maybe those who say that the lion of Judah has had his claws manicured, his teeth filled down and his mane given a blue rinse have a point.
What image comes to mind when we think of our Saviour ? Is he a wild, potent stallion galloping across a plain; or a compliant young gelding being led around an enclosure; do we think of him as being like Ghandi with a beard and a full head of hair or as someone who manufactures his own weapons and unleashes his fury on the temple shopkeepers; a man’s man with rough splintered hands who knew (however unlikely the candidate) who would win the football league last year ?
Or maybe what has men huddled in the car park or running at the fence is to do with the perception of what a Christian man ought to be. Is the objective to become a ‘good boy’ or even worse, a nice guy; or rather should we be extremely dangerous, fighters for justice and truth in the service of the most courageous of warriors and the noblest of Kings.
My brief survey may not be accurate or universal but any deviation from a 1:1 ratio must surely be cause for concern, investigation and remedy. A man without God is weak, and a church without men is weak too; it needs them in the pews and in the world, taking their places on the battlefield that only they can fill.