“The Canary (NOT) In the River”

As a boy, I was hooked on the intriguing articles of Popular Science and the cool toys and concepts displayed among its pages. While in college, though, I didn’t have time to read it nearly as much, and when we came to Des Moines, we quite simply didn’t have the resources to spare for the subscription. Last year, though, Nicole bought me a gift subscription to the magazine for Christmas, and I’ve been enjoying it again ever since. This month’s issue arrived in the mail Saturday, and I picked it up this morning and started reading. Then, on page 17, I came across an interesting article entitled “The Canary In the River” which relates a puzzling and disturbing discovery: “something in the water is feminizing male fish.”

As someone who enjoys fishing, this caught my attention, and I had to read on. Essentially, the article covers the results of a 9-year-long study by the US Geological Survey which found that 44% of largemouth and smallmouth bass dissected by researchers were found to be “intersex,” or having male sex organs which produced immature female eggs. At some sites, the number was as high as 91%, and intersex specimens were discovered at 34 of 111 sites in 8 of 9 major river basins across the country. The causes of this phenomenon are not yet known, but most theories point to pollution in the form of trace chemicals released into the watershed from sewage treatment plants and agricultural runoff as a primary culprit.

What does this have to do with us? Well, aside from the fact that we still don’t know what these changes in fish mean for the human population which depends on the water that is apparently causing them, probably not all that much. It just serves as a great way for me to raise something that’s been on my radar screen for some time.

Why is it that everyone assumes that, like these intersex fish, Christian men are somehow feminized? Don’t believe me? Walk into a Christian bookstore and tell me which section is bigger: the men’s or the women’s? And in the men’s section, how many of the titles or subjects are truly dripping with testosterone? I dare say that the sedate colors and pretty pictures on the covers of most of these books for men are really intended to convince women that these would be great gifts for men!

Still not convinced? Consider the decor of the churches in which we worship. I still haven’t found one with camouflage or blaze orange as prominent members of the color scheme. And when you look at the faces that populate the pews, how is the balance between men and women? Truly, women dominate the church, and the world tends to think of the men that go as a bunch of pansy sissies.

Now, my objective here is not to criticize the women for driving men out of the church. Indeed, I think that the women have really risen to fill the gaps left by men who left of their own volition. Rather, it is my intention to challenge the men of the church to step up to the plate, if you will. For too long, we have allowed ourselves to be sidelined and marginalized in every area of life – home, church, the culture at large – and kept our mouths shut as the gospel has been neglected, mocked, and trampled by our peers.

Last night, our church started a new discussion in its men’s group which is really intended to enable men to do just exactly that. And in the coming weeks, we will be starting a new Bible study for men only which will do the same. At this point, I’m thinking it will be on Thursday nights at 7:00 pm, starting December 10. This is intentionally set to make it an additional commitment above and beyond those which we already have because I don’t want those who aren’t brave enough to commit to a life of true Christ-likeness to show up.

This study will be a chance for the men of our church to be men and to explore who and what men are supposed to be in a Biblical sense. That means that we’re going to study the men of the Bible. It means we’re going to consider what God had to say directly to men. And it means that we’re going to ask each other tough questions to make sure that we’re not just reading it, but we’re applying it. So that we can be, as Paul called Timothy, real men of God.



1 Response to ““The Canary (NOT) In the River””

  1. 1 Sharon November 10, 2009 at 12:55 am

    “Why Men Hate Church” – this is an awesome book, with some ideas on how we can make church less feminine and feminizing. (Is that a word?)

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