The Sacred Swoon...

(Tim:This from ClearNote Blog, by Pastor Stephen Baker) There's a lot being said these days about the feminization of the Church. It’s an objective fact there are more women in churches than men. This cuts across all denominations, liberal and conservative, Protestant and Roman Catholic. Overwhelmingly, the Church has become the realm of women.

Some contemporary writers have noticed this trend and offered their remedies. Churches can attract men by using sports illustrations, preaching short sermons, showing clips from movies, perfecting the art of the man hug. All these solutions are shallow and superficial.

The key to getting men back to church is worship, but the evangelical Church has reduced worship to an emotional, feminine activity. Case in point: The Sacred Swoon. Here's another version. Go ahead, click on the links.

If you've been in an American Evangelical church for five seconds, you've seen this: eyes closed, head back, hands limply raised, body swaying… (to continue reading...)


We go to a fairly straight-laced church regularly but visited a church to hear a special speaker last Saturday evening. There was a worship band and a middle-aged woman in front of us swaying, dancing, wagging her arms. My two sons who are young men, 17 and 18, were sickened and embarrassed. I wonder if this happens to other families as they attempt to attend such services together. I think something should change, and sensual worship should be called out for what it is.

Here's a comment I posted over at Clearnote:

Stephen - I agree that the feminization of the church is a serious problem, and requires correction. However, I think your vision of what manhood in the church requires fleshing out. I fear you were two paragraphs away from suggesting this:

Strength does not equal violence. Coming boldly to the throne in humility requires our all. How did Jesus show us to be a warrior? Let us follow His example in that way. What does that look like to you?

At least they weren't doing "holy barfing".

I had a chance to explain last night to my children that all too often, there is a lot of worldliness in the church--worldliness masquerading as Godliness, too often.

I've reminded as well of a practice of the Pilgrims that I've mentioned to my own church (where I'm the worship leader who does not lead the holy swoon); Pilgrim men were required to bring their "fowling pieces" in case of attack.

Hard to do a holy swoon and not drop your blunderbuss, or your S&W (for moderns).

>>hands limply raised...

That's where I have modified the practice I learned in the Evangelical churches of my youth. As a man--and a worshipping man--I now frequently raise clenched fists in proclamation of my firm belief in the doctrines and affections affirmed by the lyrics.

_Oh! Praise the One_

_Who paid my debt_

_And raised this life_

_Up from the dead_

I like this post a lot. I was thinking just the other day how hard it is to praise God when all of the songs seem to be written for female vocal ranges.

I've always liked Lewis's depiction of Aslan as a good balance between God's ferocity and tenderness. Yes, he is at times something like a large cat, but his strength is evident and exercised, and I've always gotten the sense that the people around Him are just a bit fearful of what He might do. Not safe, but good.

Kevin, I don't think Stephen was heading anywhere close to where you suggested. Just because some of the verses mention God doing "violent" acts doesn't mean that he was close to saying "in application, let's also be violent."

I believe that he tipped the scales a little bit towards the wrath side of things in an attempt bring the sacred swooners back to seeing all of God and not just the "Jesus is my boyfriend" side of the coin.

To go ahead and suggest that Stephen wants us to start a fight club is a little too much though.

Agree with all of this, and I am coming from the perspective of a Vineyard Movement Charismatic.

Can I say also that the problem of the "God-is-my-cosmic-boyfriend" worship choruses is recognised by at least some Charismatics. I have had occasion to point this out this issue to my own pastor, and in fairly frank terms.

Alex - I responded to Joseph Bayly over at CF for a similar comment. The gist:

From my linked article, you can see what happens if Christian men misinterpret the call to be Godly and masculine. It is what happens when men go too far, and go wrong. So having more to describe how to follow our Lord Christ in this way could only be beneficial.

I admit that I am uncomfortable that none of the examples mentioned are from the Gospels. How do we connect the exhortations of Jesus and Paul to work hard, care for the orphans and widows, and lay ourselves down in love for one another to the strength of these examples? I think it is possible, and has to be carefully, precisely envisioned and carried out by men of the church.

The subject of masculinity in worship reminds me of sporting events. I had the pleasure of attending a Steeler game with my dad two days after Christmas this past year. As we were leaving the stadium after the game, we were talking about how fun it was to be there, with the throngs of people standing and cheering, waving their Terrible Towels. And then he said something like, "But you know what is going to be like that, but so much greater? When Jesus returns and all the saints will be cheering and worshiping like that. What a sight that will be!"
What a sight, indeed:)

Isn't this sort of thing a natural consequence of contemporary worship. Sorry, guys, I know you are into that at your church, but it seems to me that contemporary worship is more about getting your groove on than trembling before the Almighty.

[NOTE FROM TIM BAYLY: This comment is by Kevin Carroll. Kevin, in the future, I'd be grateful if you would please sign your full name and give a valid e-mail address--not this placeholder Facebook page you've been using. Thanks.]

Kevin, dunno if that holds. While I am certainly more in favor of older church music than new, the new genres include everything from "Jesus is my boyfriend" songs to bluegrass to heavy metal. Hard to characterize contemporary worship as excessively feminine unless one first characterizes the specific genre of the music.

(in the same way, really, that some hymns are written more to a feminine perspective than others...)


The problem is that you are taking what "is", what merely exists and baptizing it. The questions is not what "contemporary worship is more about" but what worship truly is and should be.


Kevin, does this sound like "getting your groove on"?

Great God, what do I see and hear?
The end of things created!
The Judge of mankind doth appear,
On clouds of glory seated.
The trumpet sounds, the graves restore,
The dead which they contained before!
Prepare, my soul, to meet Him.

What about this?

The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train.

Or this?

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

This is what we sing. Yes, with electric guitars. Yes, with drums. But, believe me, the music is neither soft nor swoony.

@Tim, sorry about the ID confusion. I fixed it. :) @Kamilla: I completely agree.

Stephen, I certainly hope that your guitars and such don't have that nasal sissy sound that used to characterize "christian rock".

Actually, I'm pretty sure they don't.....but just in case.... :^)

(that nasal sissy sound turned me off from Christian music for a long time....I still haven't found much CCM that I like)

Actually, one bad example of sacred swooning is from the Australian Hillsong ministry. After looking at one of their music videos, though, what I noticed was not so much the 'sacred swooning', but that everyone in effective camera range ... was young, very good-looking, and attractive (in a superficial sense, of course).

I think this is even worse. ;-)


We believe in neither sissies nor noses.

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