“Goldilocks Men”—Why Aren’t Men in Church?

Why are American men who claim to be Christian so much less likely to actually live out their faith than women? If we want to boil it down to one of the symptoms: why aren’t men in church?

"Goldilocks Men"—Why Aren't Men in Church?

New research supports what most everyone who attends church has noticed anecdotally—women outnumber men in the pews. Christian women are more likely than Christian men to say their faith is very important to them. And it shows. Among self-identified Christians, women are more likely to believe Christian doctrines like the Bible is the word of God and observe Christian practices like praying every day and attending church weekly. The devotion gap between Christian women and men is higher in the United States than it is in other Western nations like Canada, the U.K., Germany and France. So why is that? Why are American men who claim to be Christian so much less likely to actually live out their faith than women? If we want to boil it down to one of the symptoms: Why aren’t men in church?

Goldilocks Men

The research engendered some passionate responses from men who believe the fault lies with churches.

Congregations, they claim, have become too feminine for men. The theology has been watered down and Christianity has been made too soft.

Let’s ignore the ignorant assumptions this makes about women and what draws them to church and the type of theological teaching they desire.

I want to spend my time addressing what these men are communicating about themselves and men in general.

With these excuses, the fault lies not with the men who skip church each week and instead go golfing or fishing or to a game or simply stay in bed.

No, the fault lies with the churches that fail to give them the presentation of Christianity that best suits them.

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But I can think of nothing less masculine than to blame your own lack of devotion and conviction on someone else being too feminine.

The church didn’t measure up on your manly meter so you decided to go home?

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When did Goldilocks become an example of masculinity—searching around for something that’s just right? If it’s not perfectly to our liking, we can’t be bothered. Too far out of our comfort zone.

When we are confronted with our disobedience to Christ commands and we respond by pointing the finger elsewhere, we echo Adam in the garden.

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Aaron Earls is a writer living outside Nashville, TN with his wife and kids. You can read more from him at TheWardrobeDoor.com and follow him on Twitter @WardrobeDoor.
  • DQ182

    Because men like things that are challenging, rigorous, and demanding. Give me a religion that I have to *do something* for – something with grit – not just “clap your hands and yell Hosanna.” Orthodox Christianity attracts me for this reason, with its long and ancient (and not watered-down) liturgies.

  • Robert Skinner

    I’m not in church because chirch as I understand it is based on the bible of Abraham Isaac and Moses. That god has a history of genocide and bringing great harm to humanity. I like my god better. only two commandments. Be good to each other and take care of the earth.

    • Gabriel Wang-Herrera

      Robert, there are some other issues that you need to come to terms with before addressing the premise of this article. Your comment “I like my god better” reveals your willingness to follow a god of your own making – a very dangerous and unsatisfying position to hold, for it indeed goes against the greatest of all commandments which is to Love the Lord Your God with everything you have (paraphrased). Indeed there’s are only two commandments: Love God and love others but we need to get to know and obey (which synonymous with love for God) the One true God before we can truly love others and the world around us. But I know that that these commandments come directly from the Bible which you reject. However, I’m convinced that everyone will be without excuse when we face the Living God one day. We will be held accountable to what He has revealed to us through the same natural world around you that you love (for His power and divine nature is made evident therein) and more so through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Whose death was actually the most tragic and unjust of them all and yet God the Father allowed it because of His great love for you and me and this world filled with his deflated image bearers. I ask you to truly reconsider the claims of Jesus and to revisit the Bible and begin to read it with childlike eyes and childlike faith. I’m not asking you to gloss over the difficult texts like Genesis 6, the different passages in Joshua or even the many instances when Jesus peaks of a literal hell. But see them for what they might be: a patient and grace filled God who gives people many chances to repent and yet who needs to surgically remove sin from the land and the hearts of humanity before it destroys everything and everyone. Keep searching Robert, the One true God is pursuing you. Blessings.

      • Robert Skinner

        it’s presumptuous of you to assume I need to come to terms. Fact is I have. That’s why I reject organized religion in favor of being good to each other and taking care of the Earth. organized religion has been used to the detriment of humanity. A prime example is Evangelical support of Israel. Israel being a major source of crimes against humanity. Better to be good to each other than the things that motivate people toward War. As far as commandments, what commandments are you talking about Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5. two different versions of the Ten Commandments. did god make a mistake the first time? Truth is closer to the ten commandments were plagiarize from Egypt Book of the Dead that predates the Bible.
        You say ” we need to get to know and obey (which synonymous with love for God) the One true God before we can truly love others and the world around us.” Fact is I have been married 41 years to a wonderful woman. Although we have been married 41 years it is true we love each other more every day. You make false assumptions. This is part of the problem with organized religion.
        Noah Gen 6 is not as much of an issue with me as Abraham needing to show a willingness to sacrifice his only kid for the love of god. Really kill your son to show love. That’s wrong. hardened Pharaoh’s heart so God could bring more plagues. I could go on but it’s enough to show my point, Better to be good to each other and take care of the earth. The bible is not about caring for the earth but rather having dominion over it.

        • Michael Dean Brancolini

          you are rejecting GOD NOT ORGANIZED RELIGION smh. You need to open a BIBLE and read scripture PERIOD. I was once like you thinking I can make up a religion to suit my needs. Well LUCKY I am not as you anymore and I pray you also QUIT DECEIVING YOURSELF. I also believe they quit teaching the TRUE WORD in church and we need to GET REAL and get back to telling fools they are DOOMED if they do not change their ways. If YOU don’t come to God, are converted/born again, repent, and change all evil ways you will BURN in HELL period. Good luck with that made up religion and GOD NEVER PREACHES ANYTHING BUT LOVE it is misguided men and women such as yourself that use the Lord’s name for evil. Jesus said it from the cross “Forgive therm for they know not what they do” LOVE, FORGIVENESS, AND REPENTANCE are the only WAY.

          I am an ordained minister and I HIDE BEHIND NO KEYBOARD 540-220-6291 [email protected] meet me to debate if in VA

          • Michael Dean Brancolini

            and if you reject organized religion you then read the Bible at your home you do not reject God. I will pray you come back to him before it is too late. If you die with these beliefs by my beliefs you are doomed to an eternity of UNIMAGINABLE suffering. And so people like you say “see your God will make me suffer he is an evil God”.. No God gave you every chance and he would have put his arms around you forever engulfing you in love. But you chose Satan and to not believe, made false religions and idols to worship. God is The Way and True Love any other way leads to misery.

          • Robert Skinner

            I suggest you study the bible. Study how it came into existence. Learn how the 66 books in the bible were selected to be included in the bible. Learn the time table the bible was written relative to the events. Example Matthew was written long after the time of Christ. Understand the difference between inspired of God and written by God. 2 Timothy 3:16. Think, stuff like Genesis 1 1 through 3 God created the heavens and the Earth then he made light. Learn how solar systems form. Suns exist before planets form. Suns make light. When People wrote the bible they did not have Hubble telescope’s. They did not know how solar systems form. Religion is not harmless. It is a vehicle used gain power for nefarious ends. People die for faith in place of living with reason.

          • Robert Skinner

            Better to be good to each other and take care of the earth than submit to a faith that professes ” If YOU don’t come to God, are converted/born again, repent, and change all evil ways you will BURN in HELL period.” Repent for what, Wanting to be good to others, wanting to take care of the earth. What your really saying is accept my definition of what god wants or else. And I do not have evil ways, im not a sinner and I do not need to repent. You need to stop telling people they are going to burn in hell if they do not accept your ideas. Its your faith not a proven fact.

  • Gabriel Wang-Herrera

    Well written Aaron! Thank you for bringing this topic via this platform. Men who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior must realize that living that life is going to take submission, surrender, commitment and sacrifice. Jesus exemplified that in His death on the Cross which seems foolish and weak to the world but which was true meekness: controlled strength. May we find joy in following that Jesus; the real Jesus. Blessings!