In 2010 the bold and cutting edge SBC lathered themselves up in a fit of confession and passed a marriage and divorce resolution called, “On the Scandal of Southern Baptist Divorce”. I admit, when that occurred I was pleased with their honesty in admitting the problem. But I was too jaded to expect much from it beyond yet another source of programming aimed at fixing men and thus addressing this problem.
Well, the Men Step Up conference I just wrote about is just one example of the misguided way the church has decided to combat culture’s influence. Its a big one, easy to see and find information about. It is easy to refute and denigrate if it deserves that because its resources are all available online as well as the fact that just before, during, and immediately after the event there will be an onslaught of coverage in the mainstream Christian press about it, not to mention likely a mention or two in lifestyle reporting by print, internet, and even television news. Churches will push it, guiding us to those in our communities where it will be hosted. Van pools will be organized, some will even “send men forth” to travel from smaller towns into larger cities and put these men up in hotels for the duration. The point will be that these men should receive the anointing of the teaching and bring it back to edify the local churches.
Churches large and small will spawn mini seminars, Sunday school classes, and finally mens and couples small groups that draw their teaching material from the Men Step Up seminar. This gives the appearance that we are busy working on the problem doesn’t it? Since many of the denomination wise unaffiliated mega churches pattern themselves after the SBC, many even led by ex SBC leaders, its not unreasonable to lump all this together in one big evangelical blob of festering action that aims to address divorce, undeniably the largest issue to plague the church today. Should we pause to celebrate that finally, oh finally they are seeing whats happening? Isn’t it just a matter of time now before the course correction begins and marriage and a stable family can once again be placed in the sights of the young Christian male?
Not so fast.
In the SBC resolution we find the following:
WHEREAS, The rampant divorce rate in our culture has come with great social and economic cost, with women and children suffering disproportionately in ways that are incalculable;
It is the collective assumption that this statement is true, and a call to action to support the poor women as this sentient monster called divorce prowls our churches seeking them out to devour, it is this that spawns the Men Step Up conferences. The sheer folly, the utter futility to be found in the intellectual dishonesty here is astounding and is something that large numbers of men could only get behind if they are being deceived. Make so mistake, they are deceived in that they react like amoeba to the stimulus that comes from female approval. It is as engendered a response as actual sexual stimulation, make no mistake.
There was no benefit from the mea culpa the church expressed here regarding divorce because they didn’t accept that divorce is happening because the church has so screwed up its basic teaching on marriage, divorce, sex, and gender order and relations. All they did was write a great big resolution that looked like the risky accepting of responsibility for a major problem while foisting it onto the backs of men, and opening the door for some more big popular-with-the-ladies remediation teaching for the troglodytes.
For a tiny bit of good news there is still Mike McManus. Here, he says:
This is an extraordinary “mea culpa” by a national Christian denomination, which ought to be emulated by other national churches.
However, there is a missing element, a failure to recognize that the marriage culture cannot be restored by a decree from the leaders of a national denomination, or even by well-intentioned churches. For example, many pastors think what a troubled marriage needs is to see a Christian counselor. (I wrote a recent column reporting that couples who do so are two to three times more likely to divorce.)
His program, Marriage Savers, works. And for a moment I want to say that frankly, those in this sphere who would research Mike’s group and find that he isn’t sufficiently pounding on women in his articles and stance need to examine their motives, as I must often do mine. I have had several email conversations with him and he gets the problems. He is not hiding things at all. He is just working a system that has empirical data to show that IT WORKS. But I would expect a great indictment of him as a bad guy, a tradcon dontcha know. And babies and bathwater.
Marriage MUST be saved, and that means biblical marriage, not some sham thing that is a supplicant man content with his Lazy Boy and meat loaf (pun intended). Lets give Mike credit for calling the SBC out on their lame resolution, and for actually doing something for saving marriages the right way.
Men stepping up must start with taking your families out of any church that suipports “men step up”. Men step up needs to mean what it REALLY means, not the wink and nudge version that says “figure out how to be a manly supplicant”.
Men Stepping Up would actually be a very very good thing. If men stepped up per our call, women would, in great numbers, be Googling “how to put the tooth paste back in the tube”