Thankfully, these ideas only very occasionally infiltrate our church thinking. It's not hard to see that such a conception of masculinity has precisely nothing to do with a gospel community. Jesus, after all, embodied a strength which was counter cultural: he willingly suffered, and died at the hands of wicked men, instructing his followers to likewise 'turn the other cheek'. Vindication of such suffering will come when Jesus returns to put the world to rights. In the mean time, humanity, both male and female, are called to be more like Christ in his suffering - and that rules out using strength to assert our rights. 'Standing up for yourself' is not a Christian project.
Very occasionally, however, unbiblical assumptions about masculinity surface in discussions about music in church. The comment 'why are our songs so feminine?' betrays some sloppy thinking about music, and gender, which I'd like to address.
My obvious question is: What on earth is 'feminine' music?
Perhaps the ranges of the songs you sing are difficult for you to sing? If so, this is not an issue of gender but of range. We all have different comfortable ranges, and it's not as simplistic as 'boy' keys and 'girl' keys. One key will work for baritones and altos, another fits better for tenors and sopranos.
Perhaps the songleaders in your church are all women? Fair enough, it would be nice to have variety. I struggle to find men who are happy to sing up front in my church.
Perhaps, though, what you really mean is that you just don't like the style of music that you hear in most churches. That's fine, of course. But I'm bemused by the suggestion that it's a neatly gendered issue. Two things make it not so neat:
First, it's worth noting that this is not reflected in who is writing and recording the songs we currently sing in Australian churches. Of the CCLI top 10 for Australia in the last reporting period, only one of the songs was written by a woman (Shout to the Lord). The rest were written by blokes. So if anything I'd expect the ladies to be complaining about a lopsided repertoire.
But, second, and most fundamentally, I want to question where you're getting you sense of what's 'feminine' and 'masculine' in music. There is a model of masculinity being assumed here which I suspect has little solid beneath it. Is it more masculine to like rock than jazz? Even if a survey of 100 men showed that 70 of them preferred Midnight Oil to Keith Urban what would that prove? Are the other 30 somehow wrong? Unmanly? Effeminate?
The German theologian Karl Barth talks about these assumed models of masculinity and gender in Church Dogmatics (III.4). He observes that these systems (e.g. boys like blue and girls like pink) can only ever be "suppositions and assertions which rest upon impressions and personal experiences and are necessarily problematic" (III.4, p150-151). He asks "On what authority are we told that these traits are masculine and these feminine?"
Most importantly, he asks, how do we possibly make commands out of these "rather contingent, schematic, conventional, literary and half-true indicatives...? Real man and real woman would then have to let themsevels be told: Thou shalt be concerned with things.... This is quite impossible." (CD III.4, p153.)
I play piano as a man. I write songs as a man. I can't do otherwise. But it is entirely possible that there will be overlap with how a woman might play piano and write songs. That's because, while different, men and women aren't strictly speaking opposites. An opposite is totally different in every way. Gender is a variation on a theme. After all, I have more in common with a woman than with a rock. And dividing the world up into 'boy songs' and 'girl songs' seems like a very silly way of saying 'I'd like it if we played more rock and less ballads in church'. (Who knows, you might find a number of girls agreeing with you.)
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