It is a documented fact that evangelical Christianity struggles to attract blokes, and does much better with women. Various theories have been advanced as to why this might be. Probably the most popular one is that we're just not doing church right - our songs are overly sentimental, our preaching isn't action-packed enough, our vision of Jesus isn't macho enough. Church doesn't feel very blokey.
Some of those things might be valid concerns, to a certain extent. But I've been wondering whether the Christian message is stucturally anti-male, and I suspect it is - and I suspect that isn't a problem.
Psalm 45 is my jumping-off point here. The Psalm celebrates a royal wedding. It celebrates the greatness of the King, and the beauty of the Princess he is about to marry. If read Christologically (and it must be, both as a general hermeneutical principle and because of the juxtaposition of verses 6 and 7), this is a celebration of Christ's love for the church. And it's magnificent - he the Royal Lover, she the Beautiful Princess wooed away from her people.
A combination of this Psalm and John Owen's insistence that marriage is the primary image for understanding our relationship with Christ leads me into Ephesians 5:22-33. In this passage, two things become clear. One is that the roles of husband and wife in marriage are not symmetrical or reversible; the other is that in the relationship of Christ and the church, he is husband and we are bride.
So the gospel assigns the church a feminine part. It would be interesting to explore exactly what that means, but for now suffice to say this is going to be a problem for people who want a more macho, man-friendly church.
Is this a problem for the gospel? I guess not. Maybe Christianity is more attractive to women - well, so be it. You don't have to follow the modern feminist critique all the way (and I wouldn't recommend following it very far), but it is clear that women have been kept at the margins in most societies most of the time. And doesn't the gospel speak mainly to the sidelines? For me as a man, the question is: can you accept that you are beautiful to your divine Lover and Husband, and not need to be the man in this relationship? Because ultimately, The Man is the man.
Interesting to compare the reactions of the church and the Bible. The church says "we need to man up, we need to appeal to men"; the Scripture says "if it helps, He does think you're a very pretty Princess".