Is Christianity an Inherently Feminine Religion?

Christianity is often characterized as misogynistic, and the Bible seems to promote Patriarchal values. But Christianity’s origins are rooted in women-like figures of Jesus’ mother Mary, his disciple John the Baptist, and a woman named Sarah who miraculously gave birth in her old age. The Christian narrative has been traditionally framed through male perspectives that have shaped it into what we know today but there is more to this than meets the eye.,

Christianity is a religion that has been dominated by men for the most part. However, there are many who believe that Christianity is an inherently feminine religion. The question then becomes one of whether or not this is true. Read more in detail here: christian feminization.

This series of articles is now available as a professionally designed, distraction-free ebook that you can read at your leisure while offline. To purchase, go to this link. 

We started a series last week that looked at the link between masculinity and Christianity, namely why the more a guy embraces the former, the less likely he is to accept the latter.

In our first post, we presented figures demonstrating that women outweigh males in practically every Christian church and denomination throughout the globe. Women are significantly more likely than males to be active in the Christian faith, attend church, and feel strongly about their religion. Furthermore, we showed that this gap is not due to the fact that women are generally more religious than men, since Christianity is the only major global religion in which men are much less dedicated than women.

One theory is that the gender gap naturally comes from a theology and ethos that was fundamentally feminine from the beginning — that the problem is “baked-in” as it were. Today, we’ll look at what this assumption is based on, as well as how Christianity might be seen as essentially male.

The Christian Femininity and the Code of Manhood

The features and attributes that are deemed “manly” have remained stable for thousands of years, and are common to civilizations all over the globe, as we’ve proven in multiple articles on AoM. While a boy was born a man, he had to earn the title of man by skill and self-control tests, gaining autonomy, self-reliance, and toughness, embracing danger, difficulty, and conflict, and competing with his peers to acquire status. Physical strength, as well as other martial traits like as bravery, were prized; combat performance has always been important to the masculine ethic. To be considered a “true man,” a man had to succeed in the “3 P’s of Manhood” – Protection, Provision, and Procreation.

Manhood was never a private matter; a kid was introduced into it by his society, and he had to prove himself in public after that. As a result, a man’s primary preoccupation was his honor – earning a reputation worthy of his peers’ respect. If he was pushed, he pushed back to retain his reputation.

Finally, a man’s major identity was derived from his tribal membership, and his primary social unit was the gang — a tiny, tight-knit honor group. Honor societies were restricted by nature — not every man could join — and were rife with a “we vs. them” mentality. A man’s devotion was fierce — the desire to sacrifice, bleed, and even die for one’s people has always been at the heart of the old code of manhood — but it was limited to his comrades and relatives.

It’s no surprise that some people see Christianity as being diametrically opposed to the core characteristics of traditional masculinity.

 

From this view, Jesus embodies the “soft,” delicate characteristics of kindness, compassion, forgiveness, care, chastity, and humility, which are historically associated with women rather than males. This is the Jesus who walks with you on the beach and comforts you while you’re going through a difficult time.

Rather of using violence to defeat one’s rivals, he encourages followers to love their enemies and turn the other cheek. Christians need to shun pride, avoid comparing oneself to others, and seek genuine humility rather than glorying in rivalry and position.

The body is seen as less essential than the soul, and earthly status has no bearing in God’s kingdom; worldly accomplishment does not make you “better” than others, since all are equal before God. Not only will the strong be rescued alongside the weak, but power and riches are, rather than being an advantage, a hindrance to salvation. The humble and poor, Jesus prophesied, would be glorified, while the powerful and wealthy would be brought low.

The Christian path is available to everybody – rather than being exclusive, it is universal. It challenges Christians to overcome their natural inclination toward tribalism in order to embrace manhood. Strangers should be loved as much as one’s own family.

Others’ views are insignificant in compared to God’s judgment. Thus, a man’s honor is largely private rather than public in character; it is derived from the presence of inner integrity and a clear conscience rather than peer approbation.

Finally, Christianity is founded on submission — reliance on the virtues of a martyr king; followers of Jesus must bow before him and trust only on his merits to be saved.

Many of the aforementioned imperatives might be argued to be components of human excellence, but it’s tough to state they’re specifically tied to masculine perfection. Indeed, it’s difficult not to see such beliefs as direct violations to the traditional code of masculinity.

Christianity, seen in this light, may make you a decent man, but it will not make you a good man.

Slave Morality in Christianity

“From the beginning, the Christian religion has been a sacrifice: a surrender of all independence, all pride, all spiritual self-confidence, servitude and self-mockery, self-mutilation.” –Nietzsche, Friedrich

Because of this, certain thinkers, most notably Friedrich Nietzsche, have condemned Christianity as a weak, restrictive religion unfit for any man who sincerely aspires to “say yes to life.” While Nietzsche admired Jesus as a unique man who developed his own principles, the philosopher mocked him for denying reality in favor of looking forward to a future reign, and he died without a struggle. And Nietzsche despised the religion that grew out of Jesus’ teachings, claiming that Christianity was a creed established by slaves who despised the authority of their masters.

Nietzsche wants to reestablish ancient Greece’s Homeric virtues and resurrect an aristocracy in which might makes right. According to Nietzsche, humanity is essentially hierarchical: some individuals are manifestly superior than others. The masters, the noble ones, were unashamed egoists who used power, bravery, and excellence to force their will on the world and get what they desired. They were driven by a thirst for power and to govern. Masters were drawn to effort and risk-taking, and they tackled life with vigor and vigor. They fought valiantly to be the greatest, and they reveled in their unique accomplishments and awards.

 

Slaves were those at the bottom of the totem pole – weak, spineless individuals who couldn’t exercise their will and despised those who could. “Slave morality” sprang from this anger of “master morality,” the underlings’ desire to flip the powerful’s code on its head. Slaves claimed that the master class’ ideals were not only repugnant to God, but that being weak, meek, and subservient was really more just and great.

Slaves, according to Nietzsche, avoided danger and effort in favor of the tiny, secure, and mediocre — they didn’t embrace this earthly life with genuine vigor and purpose because they were too preoccupied with their palaces above.

Slave morality, he said, was a blatant effort by individuals who lacked the will to power and the skill to conquer to make themselves feel better about themselves by justifying their flaws as virtues. Their whole identity and worldview was nothing more than a pitiful fantasy.

Christianity and Masculinity

Nietzsche’s and others’ claims on Christianity’s intrinsic femininity and frailty have not gone unanswered. Many of the doctrines of the Christian faith are “soft” in character, but proponents of Christian masculinity believe that they are joined by an equal, if not larger, number of “hard” qualities and tough standards that correspond with the code of manhood in many ways. Indeed, others, such as Catholic theologian Leon J. Podles, contend that the path of Christ is predominantly male in nature, claiming that “women may engage in this spiritual masculinity, although men might be expected to have a higher natural comprehension of the pattern.”

According to Podles and others, although Jesus’ loving, forgiving, nurturing, gentle side symbolizes one aspect of his personality, he also has a darker side — a lion in contrast to the more well-known lamb — distinguished by attributes like as justice, boldness, power, and self-mastery. The carpenter, the desert camper, the whip-cracker is Jesus.

The guy who said, “Judge not,” harshly rebuked his detractors.

In a righteous anger, the loving healer who championed children scrubbed the temple.

The gentle sage, who talked of flowers and sparrows, chastised his buddy as Satan incarnate, declaring that he had “came not to bring peace, but a sword.”

The instructor who taught his disciples to “love thy neighbor as yourself” referred the Gentiles as “dogs,” and first only taught his teachings to his own people. While those “others” were finally able to completely embrace his message, the Christian faith did not abandon its “us vs. them” mentality; Jesus had no trouble dividing the sheep from the goats — those who belonged to his tribe and those who did not. Everyone is welcome as long as they follow a strict code of ethics.

Jesus was everything from safe and predictable, with a sharp tongue, excellent debating skills, and an unafraid of controversy, upsetting the existing quo, or causing offense. Jesus was a public person, a rebel who ruthlessly fought the system and preached such a combative and brazen message that he was eventually executed for it.

 

During his lifetime, detractors dubbed him a lestes, which signified insurrectionist, rebel, pirate, or bandit. Despite the fact that the term “social banditry” is often associated with violent thievery, Jesus practiced what anthropologists refer to as “social banditry” — groups of men operating on the margins of society who refuse to submit to the ruling elite’s control and value system and fight for the common people’s justice, independence, and emancipation. While the exploited perceive these outlaws as their heroes, the current power system sees them as criminals.

Jesus, like other bandits of the time, hung out with a gang – twelve friends — and he urged others to join him in his dangerous, subversive, and demanding life — to become brothers in suffering and the struggle against injustice and sin. Taking up one’s cross was not for the weak of heart; physical bravery was necessary at times, and spiritual courage was required in plenty.

While Jesus died as a martyr, the ethos of laying down one’s life for one’s friends accords with the code of masculinity, as does the unbreakable stoicism with which he suffered his death (and its antecedent torment).

While Jesus does not explicitly command his followers to fight human foes (though there have been those who have found an implicit justification for doing so in the name of a just cause), many Christians have interpreted the gospel as a call to continue Christ’s cause by engaging in spiritual warfare. Both conflict — what the ancient Greeks called agon — and battle are mentioned often in the Bible. Individuals battle with God (both figuratively and physically), and Christians are referred to be “athletes” who must “train” their souls and run the race set before them by the apostle Paul. Believers are to empower themselves with spiritual “armor” and wield the “sword of the spirit” in combating unseen forces and directly addressing the good-vs.-evil fight.

Christians, according to C.S. Lewis, should see the world as “enemy-occupied territory,” and Christians as hidden agents. “Christianity is the tale of how the legitimate monarch has arrived, maybe in disguise, and is urging us to participate in a massive sabotage effort.”

After being wounded in a physical combat, Spanish knight St. Ignatius de Loyola formed the Society of Jesus for “anyone wishes to serve as a soldier of God” and structured the Jesuits around a martial ethos. In the call to discipleship, Ignatius perceived something like to the summons of an earthly monarch raising an army for war, seeking for people who are prepared to live hard and die hard in service to the task ahead:

“Anyone who desires to join me in this venture must accept the same food, drink, clothes, and other necessities that I do.” So he must labor with me by day and watch with me by night, and so on, so that, having shared in the toil with me, he may also participate in the triumph with me.”

 

This kind of war summons reminded Ignatius of his heavenly king’s call, which he received via this herald:

“It is my desire to conquer the whole world and all of my foes, and so to share in my Father’s glory.” As a result, anybody who chooses to join me in this endeavor must be willing to work with me so that, by suffering alongside me, he may share in my glory.”

A follower of Jesus gains greater power, can experience and do more, and achieves a greater reward by embracing “the inner life as a spiritual combat” and submitting to the gospel discipline as a soldier submits to military discipline, as Podles puts it, than he could have alone or by giving free rein to his desires. He may become a hero like his king, not merely a soldier for Christ, by following the path of the ascetic warrior.

As a Hero’s Journey, the Christian Way

“I agree that the Christian faith is a source of indescribable consolation in the long term, but it does not begin there… Comfort is the one thing you can’t find by seeking for it in religion, war, or anything else. If you seek truth, you may eventually find comfort; if you seek comfort, you will find neither comfort nor truth — merely soft soap and wishful thinking to begin with, and, in the end, despair.” C.S. Lewis said it best:

Showing how the religion and the life of its founder overlap with the components of the “hero’s journey” might help make the argument against Christianity’s effeminate or enslaving character. From ancient times to the present, the hero’s journey is a narrative pattern that has underpinned many of the world’s tales, rites, and myths.

Varied academics have assigned a different sequence to the voyage, with more or fewer steps, but the three major phases are separation, initiation, and return, with the following elements included within those stages:

  • Hero is summoned to an adventure.
  • He abandons his mundane existence.
  • He receives divine assistance.
  • Crosses a line that divides him from the world he’s known.
  • For his journey, he gathers companions.
  • Tests, difficulties, and obstacles are all part of the job.
  • Goes through a harrowing experience
  • Is it a physical death or a spiritual death?
  • Transforms and reaches apotheosis (becoming godlike)
  • Receives a prize or a magical elixir
  • Journeys back to your hometown
  • He shares the benefits and knowledge he has learned with others.
  • Becomes the master of the two realms he’s traversed
  • Gains more independence

The hero’s journey is manifested in the rites of passage that tribes around the world used to initiate a young man into manhood: a boy would separate himself from his mother’s comfortable world, gather with male mentors, undergo a painful test of skill and/or toughness, die to his immaturity, rise to his manhood, and return to the tribe with new freedoms and greater responsibilities — committed to serve and sacrifice.

 

The tale of Jesus likewise follows the hero’s journey pattern. A son descends from heaven and, with the help of his heavenly father’s magical abilities, becomes a mortal on Earth. He collects allies for his purpose, experiences trials and tribulations, goes through a sacrificial ordeal, dies and resurrects, returns to earth to proclaim the victory over sin and death, and finally ascends back into the heavens.

This trend may also be found in the travels of Jesus’ disciples. A man hears a call to adventure in becoming a “soldier of Christ,” leaves his everyday life behind for the road of discipleship, and journeys into an uncharted realm, finding a new reality and plane of existence he had never known existed before. Both the brothers he encounters along the road and the Holy Ghost, a fire energy Podles equates to thumos and which theologian Rudolf Otto characterizes as “vitality, passion, emotional temper, will, force, movement, excitement, activity, impulse,” empower him in his quest. He goes through trials and tribulations, suffers for and beside his Savior, dies to self in order to live in the spirit, and is gradually changed. He sets off on a voyage back home, giving away the “magic elixir” he now has to everyone he encounters along the road, and becomes a savior to others with a tiny S. He gets greater liberties — the freedom from death and the freedom from servitude to his emotions and bodily cravings — by learning to balance the spiritual and material, and conquering himself. He will eventually reach his heavenly home and get his last reward: eternal life as a joint-heir of Christ, and in certain traditions, such as the Eastern Orthodox, even theosis, or complete unity with God. “God became man so that man may become god,” wrote the second-century bishop St. Irenaeus.

“Life is a battle for all human beings,” Podles claims, “but men recognize that it is their job in a specific manner to be in the midst of it, to face the difficult places in life and attempt to comprehend, in the fullest sense, what the mysteries of life and death are all about.” In his opinion, Christianity provides exactly the type of epic, heroic conflict that appeals to the manly psyche.

Is Christianity a Masculine or Feminine Religion, in Conclusion?

So, is Christianity a more feminine or masculine religion? Is it more suited to males or women inherently? Is it slaves’ or masters’ faith? Milquetoast or valiant?

Well, it depends on who you ask and how you look at it.

Clearly, the coin has two sides to it. Indeed, Christianity is like that optical illusion in which you see a lady one way and a light the other.

Its focus on qualities typically associated with femininity, such as compassion, acceptance, forgiving, and humility.

Suffering, sacrifice, self-mastery, conflict, and competition are all characteristics typically linked with masculinity.

 

Most Christians think that establishing a masculine/feminine dichotomy produces a false dichotomy, and that Christ symbolizes the ideal synergy of soft and hard attributes, and that this beautiful synthesis of everything that forms human brilliance is part of what makes him a deity worthy of worship.

(As a side note, the fact that the standard of excellence is too high, or too goody-goody, to appeal to men, cannot be the cause of Christianity’s gender gap, because a religion like Islam shares the same high standards of virtue ethics — including the elephant in the room, the requirement of premarital chastity — but does not show the same disparity between men’s and women’s commitment.)

The true issue isn’t whether the Christian message is more feminine or masculine by nature, but why the former has been given precedence over the latter. It is undeniably true that the image of the “softer,” more welcoming, and huggable Jesus predominates in churches, artwork, media, political discussions, and popular culture as a whole. There is little discussion of his judgements, fury, or the harsh, bracing quality of his approach, either within or outside the church. It’s uncommon to hear Christianity described as “heroic.”

This may have been different if the lion thread of Christianity had been dominant, or if it had been equally yoked with its lamb side. And it was for a while. Next, we’ll look at the dynamics that transformed Christianity’s story, establishing an ethos that appealed more to women than to males.

Read the Complete Series

An Introduction to Christianity’s Manhood Problem Is Christianity a Feminine Religion by Nature? When Christianity Was Muscular, Feminization of Christianity

 

 

Christianity is a religion that has been dominated by men for centuries. The church is too feminine and the Bible only has male pronouns used. Christianity is an inherently feministic religion.

Related Tags

  • feminisation of religion
  • is religion masculine or feminine in spanish
  • art of manliness christianity
  • how to be a manly christian
  • feminization of american christianity