Masculine spirituality means becoming feminine?
That seems to be the theme of my men’s spirituality group. I’ve been attending this group for eight weeks now hoping it would give me a glimpse into authentic male spirituality, and it has left me wanting. I can’t take it any more.
Yesterday a visiting priest led the group discussion. He began by telling us to get in tough with our feminine sides. His background in Jungian spiritually drives him to find “balance” in the human person. Men must become more feminine and women must become more masculine. I’m not sure what the nirvana of this Jungian approach would look like. Perhaps we’d have a society of perfectly androgynous people with no real gender distinction. I don’t know. We didn’t get that far.
Our Jungian proponent suggested men need to adopt the feminine qualities of compassion and nurturing. He never adequately explains why those are exclusively feminine qualities, but let’s not get caught up in minutia. He suggested men should help out around the house and take some of the tasks traditionally held by women because it will help men develop nurturing qualities.
One member of the group suggested we could look to the traditional concept of virtue to bring out the best in men. Why do men need to become more feminine when becoming virtuous is what fulfills our purpose? The priest’s response, to the best of my understanding, was that androgyny is itself a virtue worth acquiring.
Permit me a visceral response, “psychobabble baloney!” Androgyny as a virtue is utterly un-compelling to me. I joined that group to get in touch with my MASCULINE side! In growing up during the seventies and eighties, I’ve been getting in touch with my feminine side my whole life. Our church is rife with female spirituality. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to the feminine. The church is the bride of Christ and it is her nature to be female. That is beautiful and good. I love women and everything they bring to this world. However, it seems for too long men in the church have been called only to the feminine. We have been encouraged to be little more than nice guys. I was hoping for something different…something masculine.
I’m not married, but follow me in this hypothetical. If someone tells me I should help with household chores and change the baby’s diapers because it will help me get in touch with my nurturing female side, I’ll have no motivation to do what was asked.
However, tell me I should help around the house because it is the virtuous thing to do, then I’ll listen. Tell me that despite my long hard day at work, I am called to die to myself and help my wife out of charity. I’ll listen. Tell me that I am called to love my wife like Christ loves the church. I’ll listen. Tell me that being a man of God means self-denial and self-sacrifice. I’ll listen.
Tell me to be a man and I’ll listen.
Do not purport to help me grow in masculine spirituality and tell me to be a woman.