Wheat & Tares ran a fun post earlier this week titled LDS Men Are Incredible … although the URL string shows that the original draft title of the post was “Why Men Suck.” That kind of marks off the two ends of the spectrum, doesn’t it? That’s a nice lead-in for the question: What remarks are going to be directed at LDS men in next week’s General Conference?
Last Conference the message directed to young single men was to get married. That’s not new advice, but it was certainly highlighted. I’m guessing a few thousand young single men who might otherwise tune in to Conference next week will find an excuse to do something else instead. That’s one of the tricky things about giving advice — wrong timing or wrong tone can produce the wrong effect.
I’m thinking that some attention will be given to the ongoing concern of leaders to get more men to attend church (see here for earlier discussion of the Mormon gender gap). It is not a uniquely Mormon concern, as is evident reading the article “Jesus Is Not a Cagefighter” by Joe Carter over at First Things. No, Jesus isn’t a cagefighter, but that might nevertheless be an effective pitch if you’re trying to get the guys a little pumped up about going to church.
But that is an approach to the problem that might work better than just complaining about it from the pulpit. It is a well-intentioned effort (with a long historical pedigree) of combatting the idea that Real Men don’t go to church, they go golfing or fishing or just watch football on TV while their wives go to church. Here’s how a paragraph from the article frames the issue:
Although this has been a problem for decades, it has increased recently because of the resurgent fear of the “feminization” of the church. For a purportedly repressively patriarchal organization, the American church has a peculiarly perennial obsession with being associated with the feminine. No doubt some of the concern is nothing more than a childish “girls are icky” male chauvinism. But there is also a genuine reason why we should be concerned about the church’s failure to attract men.
Interesting last phrase, “the church’s failure to attract men.” In the LDS case, is it the men’s failure or the Church’s failure? And is anything likely to change?