My uncle was a priest. I remember when he died. I remember the funeral and my first limousine ride to the church and to the grave site. After some years I found the obituary clipping from the local Daily News. What I found most interesting was something the bishop said about him. He said that my uncle was, “a priestly man and a manly priest.” My uncle died when I was 10 years old, so my memories of him are somewhat vague, but my father is full of stories about him hunting, fishing, camping and going to baseball games. He was a strict man, born in 1912, he was one of the old guard. He cared nothing for the changes that took place in both society and the Church as a whole. He was most certainly an unashamed reactionary.
Later in my life, while in the service, there was a Catholic chaplain named Fr. Paul. He was in his mid 60’s at that time and did not need to take part in any PT as he was past the age limit. Fr. Paul would have none of that! Fr. Paul would run with us daily, keeping up with men who could have been his grand children. Fr. Paul would go to the range with us and shoot. I still remember vividly a scene of him in the turret of a Humvee firing off the grenade launcher. Fr. Paul would later fall off of a cliff while hiking in California. After some time a bicyclist spotted him 20 feet down and called emergency. He was life flighted to the nearest trauma center, the fall had literally split his spleen in half. He recovered and from the last thing I heard was back at his physical activity.
Both Fr. Paul and my uncle were men. They behaved like men, thought like men, worshiped like men. As a result, their congregations were full of both men and women. Times have changed. As I grew up I was often perplexed at how priests seemed to prefer to surround themselves with women. As I became more serious in attending church and learning about my religion, I often felt ostracized for my traditional beliefs and masculine character. It seemed that women were pushed into roles that men had traditionally held. When I questioned why these things were happening I was generally dismissed or treated like a bigot. I can’t think of any instance where I was given an explanation.
These things still happen, they are only getting worse. The mainline Protestant denominations who accepted more female roles in their churches are now rife with division and losing people in droves. The Roman Catholic Church is becoming more and more feminized by the day. In many cases the priest is relegated to a secondary role in the life of the church. Eastern Orthodoxy is the only denomination that has by and large remained true to its roots, although the American Church is flirting with the aforementioned problems. As a result, men are fleeing Christianity in record numbers.
I believe that there are several reasons for the problems that we are facing as well as several solutions.
1) The twin sisters of Socialism and Democracy have spread their venom even into religion. For the past century almost every aspect of western civilization has been tainted with this poison. As a result, even well meaning priests and bishops see religion through the eyes of democratic socialism. Often they look back at both church history and tradition through the lens of democracy and come up with very skewed results. Almost everyone who is raised in the west is taught to abhor tradition. It is a strange phenomenon to see American converts to Orthodoxy rejoice over finding the unchanged Church, then promptly do all they can to start changing it. The focus is now on the people rather than God. Traditional social values are now canned because they may offend someone who would then not come back to church. Women have a greater and greater role in civil society, therefore they must also have the right to greater roles in church. The role of the laity is becoming more and more important. If you are Catholic, look at pictures or paintings of worship before the 1960’s, it will be completely unfamiliar to you. Ask yourself why the priest now faces the congregation, and why lay people now give out communion.
2)Most religious people who consider themselves traditional will almost always label themselves as being anti feminist. While they may not agree with the man hating, aggressive feminist ideals they in fact actively promote a feminist agenda. Any agenda that does not see the man as head of the family, society, government and church is feminist, pure and simple. There is no gray area. If a person believes that women have any liturgical role in a church, they are a feminist. Feminist ideology and the idea of “women’s rights” has become so ingrained in our culture that it takes a radical rejection of said culture in order to step back and see it. Just as men seem to be in such a rush to give up their power in all aspects of their lives, a church hierarchy is no different. You can sit back and watch as women are given more and more power daily. There is intense pressure on all men, priests and bishops included, to feel guilt for being men, to apologize for men and manly things, to actively put women in traditional male roles. Most men in the west are educated in a system run by women. From an early age they spend the majority of their time with female authority figures, this throws off people’s judgement.
3)Male dominated societies adhere to tradition. Male dominated religions adhere to tradition. When men are replaced with women, the innovation starts. When men are in charge of religion the religion is difficult, it is a journey, it is transforming. When women are in charge it becomes softer and more lenient, the bar becomes lower.
4) For some reason people seem to think that the virtues of kindness, compassion and others belong solely to the feminine. If a man displays the virtue of compassion for instance, it is said that he displayed a feminine virtue. People then think that Christianity is something feminine because these virtues are held in high esteem. The virtues are the virtues, they are gender neutral. No virtue is in and of itself feminine. If a heavy weight boxing champion performs an act of compassion is that feminine? I think not.
1) Orthodoxy is the only masculine Christian denomination left. As I mentioned before, there are struggles just as in other churches, but the traditional male/female dynamic is not hard to find in an Orthodox church, particularly in an immigrant church. This is the church of great warrior saints, this is the church of Christian empires, this is the church where Tsar Nicholas II and his family are saints. This is a church where you will find monarchists alive and well. You will not have to look deeply here to find a solid, masculine religion. Here you will find Christianity as it was meant to be, and it is manly.
2) Challenge those in leadership. Always be respectful, but ask questions. Many times those in authority have not stopped to think about these things because, once again, they were raised and educated in this society. Make some noise, let them know that they are not reaching you as a man. Let them know what you think, how you feel, but always approach with respect for the office.
3)Work on yourself. Keep striving to be the better, more masculine man daily. You will soon find other men on the same journey. Establish friendships, groups, do masculine things together. Once people start following the natural order, others will follow, deep down they will recognize it and be drawn to it. It works in attraction and it works in business, politics and religion as well.
Men, lets take back religion and our rightful place in it!
Until next time.