The Sacred Swoon...

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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…

The Sacred Swoon.

Now, admit it, men—this makes you want to puke, doesn’t it? It certainly does not inspire the manly instincts of courage, risk, or boldness.

But there is plenty in Scripture that arouses manly emotions. God is, after all, a Warrior:

“Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, ‘I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deeps cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff’” (Exodus 15:1-7).

Can you imagine singing that song with the Sacred Swoon? Not so much.

This image of God as a Warrior is everywhere in the Psalms:

“Gird Your sword on Your thigh, O Mighty One, In Your splendor and Your majesty! And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things. Your arrows are sharp; The peoples fall under You; Your arrows are in the heart of the King’s enemies" (Psalm 45:3-5)

“My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons; He makes His arrows fiery shafts.” (Psalm 7:10-13)

“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones. Let Israel be glad in his Maker; Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation. Let the godly ones exult in glory; Let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand, To execute vengeance on the nations And punishment on the peoples, To bind their kings with chains And their nobles with fetters of iron, To execute on them the judgment written; This is an honor for all His godly ones. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 149:1-9)

What would it look like to have a congregation full of men singing about this Warrior-King? Fists pumping the air? Shouts of acclaim and honor? Battle cries?

Absolutely.

In order to get men back into church, we need to recover the characteristics of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ that are the most prominent in Scripture.

Jesus is not your boyfriend. He is a fearsome Lord:

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands; and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength" (Revelation 1:12-16)

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’” (Revelation 19:11-16)

God is not a kitten. He is a mighty King:

“Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

“The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him And burns up His adversaries round about. His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods. Zion heard this and was glad, And the daughters of Judah have rejoiced Because of Your judgments, O LORD. For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. Hate evil, you who love the LORD, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart. Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name.” (Psalm 97:1-12)

“The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! The LORD is great in Zion, And He is exalted above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He. The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He.” (Psalm 99:1-5)

God is not maudlin. He is the Mighty One:

“The Mighty One, God, the LORD, has spoken, And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth. May our God come and not keep silence; Fire devours before Him, And it is very tempestuous around Him. He summons the heavens above, And the earth, to judge His people.” (Psalm 50:1-4)

“I will feed your oppressors with their own flesh, And they will become drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine; And all flesh will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:26)

He is the LORD of Hosts:

“The nations made an uproar, the kingdoms tottered; He raised His voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, Who has wrought desolations in the earth. He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” (Psalm 46:6-11)

What emotions rise in you, men, when you think of this God? Courage, boldness, gratitude, honor, strength, joy. Don’t you want to follow and serve and risk for a God like this?

What would all of that look like in worship?

I guarantee it would look different than the Sacred Swoon.