Feminine Worship?

This seems like a good topic for a Sunday-morning-before-I-go-to-church post. Steve Sjogren, founding pastor of the Cincinnati Vineyard Community Church recently wrote a blog post with the same title as this post. A few excerpts:
Eventually, I ask men this question, “So why do you come late each week? You can tell me the truth – I’m only here one week – I don’t know who you are. You can be completely honest with me…” It is amazing how consistent men are when they answer me. Almost always they lean forward, they look right, look left, lower their voice then speak…
“The God’s honest truth is, I CAN’T STAND THOSE INCESSANT SONGS THEY SING HERE! My wife told me I’d get used to the songs, but hey, it’s been several months (or even years) now and I still don’t like this singing stuff.”
Then I usually hear one of two things, that they are either:
1) Bored stiff while the singing is going on, or;
2) They feel the songs are too "girly."
Some reading this might think, “I suspect those guys aren’t believers yet.” I thought this as well for a while. But in many cases, these guys definitely know the Lord.
This is tough to hear for those of us who love worship as it exists now, but we have essentially castrated worship, calling it “Contemporary Worship.” True, few would go for this style if we called it “Castrated Worship” or Contemporary Castrated Worship, but it seems to me to be the truth.
I am really not sure what to make of this one. I feel like I need to come out of the closet and say that I like "girly worship". In the same breath I have to say that I do understand where Steve, and these guys, are coming from.

Growing up Episcopal I remember singing my favorite hymn, Onward Christian Soldier ... it really spoke to my masculinity. I guess it is true that many contemporary worship songs have a feminine feel. Often these songs speak of romance and intimacy focusing on our relationship with God. They rarely speak of spiritual battle or use warrior language. Apart from the words the music is also sometimes feminine sweet.

I wonder why there are not more masculine oriented worship songs out there ... or am I asking the wrong question?


  1. "masculine oriented songs..." Gentlemen, could you provide a few examples? Kinda in the dark about this...

  2. Good follow-up Patchouli ... here are a few off the top of my wife's head:

    + A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

    + Battle Hymn of the Republic

    When I think about David the Psalmist I think of these types of songs:

    + from Psalm 3: Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.

    + from Psalm 18: The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn [a] of my salvation, my stronghold.

    + from Psalm 35: Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take up shield and buckler; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin [a] against those who pursue me. Say to my soul, "I am your salvation."

    The imagery in these psalms is very masculine. I am not saying that we should sing these types of songs and exclude others ... just that we should sing these also.

  3. Okay, I understand (just didn't want to assume anything). It's interesting to me that even worship can be labeled "feminine" and "masculine." Men are more comfortable when they sing about DOING. Women feel more comfortable when they sing about FEELING. While I can appreciate human preferences, true worship transcends gender. I've experience this in the middle of singing "Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down" with 300 people. I truly believe that the roof was going to come off the building.

  4. In a culture where men are still encouraged to dial down emotions, to neglect their hearts and always put on a strong face it's obvious many of these men will choose not to engage in the emotions of romance and affection. We often leave those for them women as if to uphold our image and identity. After all, if we did engage those emotions what would our father say?

    But wait... I was raised to be in touch with those emotions... that side of my soul. I have overcome what I think was actually a lie created by the enemy to prevent men from knowing God intimately. I actually enjoy those "songs of intimacy."

    If you really asked me, I'd have to confess that I think a man's (or woman's) inability to engage their heart, mind and soul in songs of intimacy with God is a sign of immaturity and brokenness. It's not a sign of gender.

    The real question is, "Do church leaders cater to the broken and immature or create a culture where growth and maturity is expected?"

  5. I like all those guy songs, too, KB.

  6. This was really an interesting take on the musical worship part of our church services. I've never heard anyone speak of this. I also enjoyed the above comments and I agree with Ellsworths comment.

  7. Ex fighter pilot here (my testoserone credential for this response). In the military, the songs we sang while marching in formation were most often sentimental ballads. I like the love songs we sing at MCF and I like the longer song services. Fight songs and rah-rah songs don't draw me closer to Jesus. I have female friends who don't like long song services so I question that this is a gender issue. I sympathize with those who don't like long song services but they have an easy solution: come later in the service.

  8. More on the songs men sing: http://www.maniacworld.com/American-Soldiers-and-Afghan-Locals-Brown-Eyed-Girl.html

  9. It's Ellsworth all the way. Expressing emotion in a manly way, enjoying beauty in a manly way, all have become somehow suspect in the culture, and it's leaked into worship.

    At the same time, intimacy with God, intimacy with anyone is entirely masculine. He is the Bridegroom and our souls, the church, is His Spouse, and you can't get much more intimate than that. His Love is expressed as tenderness. But not a bit of that is unmanly. The image of strong men's hands holding a helpless tiny baby is emotionally affecting because it speaks to a truth in us all.

    Guys, grab it back! Ignore the whinings of the Boomers and the relativists. If they walk, they'll be back. Take leadership! I as a woman would be delighted.

    Praying guys are studly guys.

  10. I put the worship slides together and the dudes write those songs. If the dudes don't like them then they need to write differently.

  11. LOL, Milly! Nicely and succinctly put.

  12. Great discussion here! Interesting themes have come up: how much of this is cultural? (Ok, forgive me for the stereotyping, but in a culture where men are more pressured to be good at romancing over being good at fighting, say... in France... Do French Christian men feel this way? They are definately not a militaristic culture like we have become). Or maybe it is univeral. Maybe it's difficult for men to relate to being in the position of being the one pursued (rather than the pursuer). I do empathize with the difficulty for men to see themselves as the "bride" of Christ. That must be a bit of a challenge... I don't know.

    I would like to add that even David made some pretty romantic, mushy, feely statements. "As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs for thee."

    And I'll add another kudos to Ellsworth.

  13. Never thought of the French, Sarah ... you have some good non-USA perspectives.

    I agree with what you said about David ... he was both a warrrior and a romantic ... doesn't have to either/or ... guess that was the point that I was trying to make.

  14. Hmmm..as a classical musician- I do have a bit of a say on this. I fully intend to think on this overnight- and will have a remark.

    One thing- almost all of the great masters- wrote church music prior to the twentieth century. I can think of examples- Cantatas, Orotorios, Requiems- that are very much masculine- and also-feminine. So- I will definitly come up with something for this-in the meantime- Onward Christian Soldier!

    J.C. Wolfgang


I love to get comments and usually respond. So come back to see my reply.
You can click here to see my comment policy.