Women Have Overtaken Christianity


I ran across another Danish language article from the Danish national radio network that discusses an interesting phenomenon in Christianity, or at least one taking place in Denmark.

The article, with the title "Women Have Taken Over Christianity", notes that

In a few years, 2 out of 3 priests in Denmark will be women. Women already fill much of the religious life, in some contexts there are only 20% of men left...

Sixty percent of churchgoers in the Western world are women, while women make up 80% when one considers the more spiritual situations like stays at retreats and pilgrimages. This is true for example in the case of pilgrimage priest Elisabeth Lidell's events, where participants in her latest retreat consisted of ten women and a single man.
What is interesting about this is not just the suggestion that women have become more prominent, but rather the implication that somehow there is a softer female spirituality that contrasts with the strong virtues of masculinity, and that this somehow drives men away from church:
Female dominance is changing both the the contents in church and the role it plays in the community. But at the same time men risk becoming homeless in their belief.

"All the old triumphal psalms have gone out of style. Instead we sing saccharine songs where we ask Jesus to "take my little hand in yours." . This is just not something for men," according to the Christian blogger Peter Beliath. He is tired of the way that love, concern, and other feminine virtues fill the churches. He thus wants that there was something more for men to come for.

"Men like something that is solemn and ceremonial. But rituals and the almighty God fill less and less in the churches today," he claims.
That strikes me as sort of an odd complaint. I had this quaint idea that love and compassion were human virtues, not just feminine ones, and that those were virtues that a certain man named Jesus promoted in his own preachings. I also can't help but think that triumphalism is an expression of a kind of tribalism that perhaps we could do with a little less of.

So what conclusions are we to draw from this? Why are women more drawn to churches than men? Do men and women have different spiritual needs?


Jon said...

Our church had a bit of stuff about this a while ago. I found it intriguing, and posted about it at http://paintingfakes.blogspot.com/2008/09/real-men.html

The debate becomes bogged down in stereotypes of masculinity and femininity. My personal guess about the Danish dominance of the celrgy (happening elsewhere to some extent, at least in those churches that allow woman ministers) is that it follows the western cultural pattern - "caring" professions like nursing, social work and so on are all dominated by women. it's just taken pastoring a littel while to catch up because of the church's ingrained attitudes to women in leadership roles.

Phil&MCTravels said...

just come across the blog. Looks interesting! I was struck by this post because of the reference to the content of much contemporary worship material. There is a view that we are experiencing the 'feminisation of worship'. One prominent local (NZ) theologian (Christopher D Marshall) describes it as 'Jesus is my boyfriend' music. Certainly I get exasperated by song after song that invites Jesus to fluff my pillow, soothe my brow, cuddle me, hold me tight etc etc . Nothing whatsoever to do with the broad sweep of scripture and our call to participate in the redeeming work of God (refer post on Collaborative Eschatology, or Tom Wright's 'surprised by Hope'. It's driving me bananas.