Way back in the dark ages I did a few posts touching on the feminization of Christianity, some of which were:
And, it got hotter with the Washington Post story on Murrow's book.
Today I came across a particularly good article by Sean Michael Lucas addressing these issues.
Dr. Lucas is a prof at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis and he doesn't exactly follow my train of thought or the train of thought of many others who are commenting on these issues. He describes what he calls a "declension narrative," which is close to what I have argued for:
the declension narrative goes like this: at the end of the 19th century, Victorian culture focused on the subduing of unruly male passions and on the redirection of the outlets for those passions. Hence, temperance became the major battle of the progressive age, which is read as an attempt to shackle men from their natural outlets. In addition, the leaders of that Victorian culture--ironically, ministers and women--authored key novels that idealized virtues that would ultimately serve to de-masculize men (namely, timidity, piety, and a disdain for competition). By replacing passion with timidity, adventure intellectual belief with piety, and survival of the fittest with a disdain for competition, Christianity won the battle of that age, but is now losing the larger war as the next generation of men are leaving the church.
Coupled with this "Feminization" narrative is the larger American movement toward egalitarianism. Beginning at the end of the 19th century and throughout the 20th century, American women have gained larger voices in the political, cultural, and ecclesiastical worlds from which they had been shut out. As they transitioned from leadership of mission's organizations and "women of the church" groups to the leadership of congregations, this is viewed as part of the reason why American men have stopped going to church, why mainline Protestants have lost members in droves, and why the church is in crisis today. The answer, according to these recent books and conservative evangelical leaders, is to "re-masculize" the church, freeing men and their sons to embrace their manhood (by drinking, smoking, risk-taking, and other behaviors in smaller male-oriented groupings or by exercising "male headship" in various leadership roles in family, church, work, etc.).
He proposes some different reasons for the absence of men from the church:
What is it about Christianity that attracts more women than men (or others who see themselves as weak, forsaken, abused, and abandoned)? Could it be that Christianity preaches a Gospel that requires people to view themselves as weak, forsaken, helpless, abandoned, destitute? Could it be that such a message is a stumbling block to males who believe they have strength in themselves to save themselves?
He goes on to say that, in the American church the sins of men did indeed need to be addressed - sins like alcoholism and other things were destroying families.
I think his most insightful comments on the reasons men are not going to church deal with "intellectual vacuity" and failure to preach the whole gospel. Regarding intellectual vacuity, he says:
Another thing to say in response to all this is that the loss of men in the church might be the result, not of the "feminization" of the church, but of the intellectual vacuity of many churches. This was the result of American theology adopting the Kantian dualism between scientific "knowledge" and Christian "faith." Scientific knowledge required the full attention of intellect, while Christian faith was unknowable, a leap in the dark, a decision made at the moment of crisis, a God-consciousness. All that might be nice, but it is not real challenging or attractive: and most men have reacted to this by saying, Give me the intellectual challenge of turning profits, building oil refineries, buying properties. Again, this was the result of intellectual and cultural movements that were not tied to "feminization," but high-brow philosophy and academically sophisticated theology.
Regarding failure to preach the gospel he says:
I don't mean the Gospel of "Jesus dying for my sins." But I mean the Gospel--an all-encompassing vision of God's invasion into the world to bring his reign to bear on every aspect of life. Such a vision (which right now is going under the label of "missional") is not new--you can find it in Jonathan Edwards' The History of the Work of Redemption, for example. It is a Gospel vision in which human beings recognize their profound dependence upon God for all things and join him in his Kingdom mission of vindicating his name in all the earth. In doing this, God does his good work in the lives of men and women, transforming households, networks, neighborhoods, cities, and the world itself for his glory. By preaching a truncated Gospel, conservative Protestants have ended up in the same place as their liberal brothers (and sisters): with a dualistic vision of the world in which science, business, and law have nothing really to do with the Christian Gospel.
And there is much more good stuff in his post - I highly commend it to you.