Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bridge Hugging - or, Why Christian Men Won't Kiss God

There's a great post over at Pagan scholar Chas Clifton's blog about Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow. I'll let Chas speak for himself:
But he is dead-on--and even humorous--when he identifies the reasons why most men avoid church: the indoor confinement, the lengthy yackety-yack sermonizing, and church language that places heterosexual men in an uncomfortable role:

I saw a new book for Christian men: Kissing the Face of God. An ad for the book invites men to "get close enough to reach up and kiss His face!" Time out--this is a men's book? Yikes! With the spotlight on homosexuality in the church, why do we increase [heterosexual] men's doubts by using the language of romance to describe the Christian walk?

And then there is "praise music." Here I could not agree with Murrow more: "Not only are the lyrics of many of these songs quite romantic, but they have the same breathless feel a Top Forty love songs."
Okay - I'll admit, both men have a point about the praise music. But the rest of it doesn't wash with me. It may be what is, but not, IMO, what ought to be.

I just watched the movie Iraq in Fragments at the Seattle Arab and Iranian Film Festival, and the image of two Kurdish Muslim male teens holding hands on the way to school is still fresh in my mind. No one would think they're gay. Heck, most Islamic countries are more violent in their oppression of GLBT folk than any Christian in the West left of Fred Phelps. Clear proof that you can give your best male friend a peck on the cheek without going all Will and Grace.

I don't know whether you can pin down Christianity as the cause, but it's clear that most male friendships in the West lack physical intimacy. Touch is one of the best ways to express friendship, solidarity, and love - and most men avoid it like the plague. We're so seized up with homophobia that most of us are afraid even to hug one another. I joked about this with my wife one night by pointing out to her the typical Western male "bridge hug": arms around the shoulders, with torsos leaning in so that groins are as far apart as physics will allow.

While this makes heterosexual male friendships shallow, it makes the lives of gay and bisexual men miserable. It's a type of subconscious programming that can take years to overcome. It's sad to see Murrow suggesting that Christian men not only embrace this homophobia, but form their personal religion around it.

Boys DO cry.



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