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A Brief Sermon Critique

I am trying to be less rebellious. So when three friends in the span of a week recommended that I check out this sermon (entitled "Trial: Marriage and Men"), I decided to take a gander.

I was surprised to discover that it had a partner sermon, entitled "Trial: Marriage and Women." Why would my female friends tell me to listen to a sermon about men and neglect to say that there was also one about women? So I downloaded both.

I decided to start with the one for women, from 1 Peter 3:1-6. It was pretty good. Nothing that really shocked me with its newness, but a defense of the complimentarian view of women and marriage. We as women are called to submit -to husbands who are loving as Christ loves the Church. And when they don't - we're called to live godly lives that will show them Jesus...This is not a very strong summary of a decent sermon. It was good. It made me think - I'm not a wife, but my character isn't going to change overnight. I am not going to magically wake up the morning after my wedding and Voila! I am gentle. I need to be actively cultivating a Jesus-loving character right now.

Today (I started while doing my morning crunches), I listened to the men's sermon. One verse - 1 Peter 3:7. How long of a sermon could it be? Oh, 1 hour, 12 minutes! That does include Q&A though. So what did I think? Well, I don't think I disagreed with any of the content. It was an overt challenge for men to love their wives, to sacrifice for them, and to be mature (I love that some Americans pronounce this word ma-toor). I believe each of those things is biblical. I believe each of those things is good. I want a man willing to do all those things.

There was, however, one phrase that bothered me. "We deal with men as men." To me, this statement seemed to mean, "We deal with men in anger." Yes, many men are failing miserably to be godly men and husbands. Yes, they need a wake-up call. Yes, they need to take these things seriously. But do I think that yelling at men, calling them "jokes" is the appropriate step to jar them to action?

I have trouble seeing how this would lead to heartfelt, longterm, Jesus-motivated change. I see short-term, self-reliant efforts coming out of this. Maybe because I'm a girl. Maybe men really are okay with other men telling them to shape up. (Maybe that's why so many men join the army). What I'm saying is, I wish this same message could have been given with the same heartfelt rebuke and challenge and a little yes of the angry-sounding yelling and name-calling.

As I write this, I realize that in a sense, I do agree with the statement that men deal with men as men - by which I mean, a man can speak into another man's life in this area in a way which, were it to come from me or another woman, would be belittling or un-loving...I can't see myself telling any of my guy friends that they really should check out this sermon.

So I say a hearty "Amen!" to the call for men to step up to the plate, find a Jesus-loving women and make her a Jesus-loving wife that you can serve. Help her learn to submit. She'll help you learn to lead. And while I appreciate my friends' recommendation, I feel fairly convicted that I should relisten to the women's sermon: rather than joining the lament on the state of man-hood in the church today, I think I need to be a more Jesus-loving woman.


Laura J said…
for the record I did say you should listen to the one for women too! In some ways I do think Mark is right that men need to yell at one another to get their point across. It takes a lot to get through not because they're neandrathals or anything, but because they've spent so much of their lives shoving down their emotions etc.And I think it's part of the male culture. Contextually, when Mark Driscoll planted Mars Hill he knew one of his calllings was to call out the men and to bring male leadership back to a more wholeness. As for women listening to this sermon, I think the point of any woman listening to this sermon is to help recognize a man who meets the biblical criteria and to pray for those guys who aren't stepping up to the plate. I will say that this sermon did tip my struggle with the complementarian viewpoint to the positive.
Beth said…
thanks, laura! i don't know why i don't remember you mentioning the women's sermon...maybe because i was told about the men's many more times. (and did you tell norm that this tipped you in his direction? :)
Laura J said…
I kind of tip back and forth! It's hard especially when I don't currently live in a relationship that requires me to steadfastly stand in one camp. There's so much to process! and just because a woman chooses to stay at home with her children etc doesn't mean she's living in a complementarian relationship at the heart level. All that outward stuff doesn't necessarily reflect the heart. the stay at home mom could still be railing against submission etc. AAAHHHH!

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