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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    The truth about men and the Church By Thomas W. Karras July 2, 2003 -- Most of us, I suspect, are not great students of the small print. We employ
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7, 2003
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      The truth about men and the Church

      By Thomas W. Karras

      July 2, 2003 -- Most of us, I suspect, are not great students of "the
      small print." We employ lawyers and accountants because we recognize that
      carefully constructed small  print may contain disclaimers, definitions,
      and information that effectively drive a coach and horses through our
      assumptions about the general argument and make utterly null and void the
      common understanding that we thought we had. Allow me to introduce you to
      a piece of very small print.

      Not many will have whiled away the long winter evenings by reading "The
      demographic characteristics of the linguistic and religious groups in
      Switzerland" by Werner Haug and Phillipe Warner of the Federal Statistical
      Office, Neuchatel. It appears in Volume 2 of Population Studies No. 31, a
      book titled The Demographic Characteristics of National Minorities in
      Certain European States, edited by Werner Haug and others, published by
      the Council of Europe Directorate General III, Social Cohesion,
      Strasbourg, January 2000. Phew!

      All this information is readily obtainable because Switzerland always asks
      a person's religion, language, and nationality on its decennial census.
      Now for the really interesting bit.

      The Critical Factor

      In 1994 the Swiss carried out an extra survey that the researchers for our
      masters in Europe (I write from England) were happy to record. The
      question was asked to determine whether a person's religion carried
      through to the next generation, and if so, why, or if not, why not. The
      result is dynamite. There is one critical factor. It is overwhelming, and
      it is this: It is the religious practice of the father of the family that,
      above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of
      the children.

      If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children
      will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending
      irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing
      at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of
      the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further
      59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.

      If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of
      children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend
      irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to
      the church.

      Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father
      is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily,
      the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38
      percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the
      non-practicing, as if loyalty to father's commitment grows in proportion
      to mother's laxity, indifference, or hostility.

      Before mothers despair, there is some consolation for faithful moms. Where
      the mother is less regular than the father but attends occasionally, her
      presence ensures that only a quarter of her children will never attend at

      Even when the father is an irregular attender there are some extraordinary
      effects. An irregular father and a non-practicing mother will yield 25
      percent of their children as regular attenders in their future life and a
      further 23 percent as irregulars. This is twelve times the yield where the
      roles are reversed.

      Where neither parent practices, to nobody's very great surprise, only 4
      percent of children will become  regular attenders and 15 percent
      irregulars. Eighty percent will be lost to the faith.

      While mother's regularity, on its own, has scarcely any long-term effect
      on children's regularity (except the marginally negative one it has in
      some circumstances), it does help prevent children from drifting away
      entirely. Faithful mothers produce irregular attenders. Non-practicing
      mothers change the irregulars into non-attenders. But mothers have even
      their beneficial influence only in complementarity with the practice of
      the father.

      Father's Influence

      In short, if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his
      wife's devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper.
      If a father does go regularly, regardless of the practice of the mother,
      between two-thirds and three-quarters of their children will become
      churchgoers (regular and irregular). If a father goes but irregularly to
      church, regardless of his wife's devotion, between a half and two-thirds
      of their offspring will find themselves coming to church regularly or

      A non-practicing mother with a regular father will see a minimum of
      two-thirds of her children ending up at church. In contrast, a
      non-practicing father with a regular mother will see two-thirds of his
      children never darken the church door. If his wife is similarly negligent
      that figure rises to 80 percent!

      The results are shocking, but they should not be surprising. They are
      about as politically incorrect as it is possible to be; but they simply
      confirm what psychologists, criminologists, educationalists, and
      traditional Christians know. You cannot buck the biology of the created
      order. Father's influence, from the determination of a child's sex by the
      implantation of his seed to the funerary rites surrounding his passing, is
      out of all proportion to his allotted, and severely diminished role, in
      Western liberal society.

      A mother's role will always remain primary in terms of intimacy, care, and
      nurture. (The toughest man may well sport a tattoo dedicated to the love
      of his mother, without the slightest embarrassment or sentimentality). No
      father can replace that relationship. But it is equally true that when a
      child begins to move into that period of differentiation from home and
      engagement with the world "out there," he (and she) looks increasingly to
      the father for his role model. Where the father is indifferent,
      inadequate, or just plain absent, that task of differentiation and
      engagement is much harder. When children see that church is a "women and
      children" thing, they will respond accordingly by not going to church, or
      going much less.

      Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously
      that Dad's absence indicates that going to church is not really a
      "grown-up" activity. In terms of commitment, a mother's role may be to
      encourage and confirm, but it is not primary to her adult offspring's
      decision. Mothers' choices have dramatically less effect upon children
      than their fathers', and without him she has little effect on the primary
      lifestyle choices her offspring make in their religious observances.

      Her major influence is not on regular attendance at all but on keeping her
      irregular children from lapsing altogether. This is, needless to say, a
      vital work, but even then, without the input of the father (regular or
      irregular), the proportion of regulars to lapsed goes from 60/40 to 40/60.

      Of Huge Import

      The findings may be for Switzerland, but from conversations with English
      clergy and American friends, I doubt we would get very different findings
      from similar surveys here or in the United States. Indeed, I believe some
      English studies have found much the same thing. The figures are of huge
      import to our evangelization and its underlying theology.

      First, we (English and Americans both) are ministering in a society that
      is increasingly unfaithful in spiritual and physical relationships. There
      is a huge number of single-parent families and a complexity of
      step-relationships or, worse, itinerant male figures in the household,
      whose primary interest can almost never be someone else's child.

      The absentee father, whoever's "fault" the divorce was and however
      faithful he might be to his church, is unlikely to spend the brief
      permitted weekend "quality" time with his child in church. A young lad in
      my congregation had to choose between his loyalty to the faith and
      spending Sunday with Dad, now 40 miles away, fishing or playing soccer.
      Some choice for a lad of eleven: earthly father versus heavenly Father,
      with all the crossed ties of love and loyalties that choice involves. With
      that agonizing maturity forced on children by our "failures," he reasoned
      that his heavenly Father would understand his absence better than his dad.

      Sociologically and demographically the current trends are severely against
      the church's mission if fatherhood is in decline. Those children who do
      maintain attendance, in spite of their father's absence, albeit
      predominantly sporadically, may instinctively understand the community of
      nurture that is the motherhood of the Church. But they will inevitably
      look to fill that yawning gap in their spiritual lives, the experience of
      fatherhood that is derived from the true fatherhood of God. Here they will
      find little comfort in the liberalizing churches that dominate the English
      scene and the mainline scene in the United States.

      Second, we are ministering in churches that accepted  fatherlessness as a
      norm, and even an ideal. Emasculated Liturgy, gender-free Bibles, and a
      fatherless flock are increasingly on offer. In response, these churches'
      decline has, unsurprisingly, accelerated. To minister to a fatherless
      society, these churches, in their unwisdom, have produced their own
      single-parent family parish model in the woman priest.

      The idea of this politically contrived iconic destruction and biblically
      disobedient initiative was that it would make the Church relevant to the
      society in which it ministered. Women priests would make women feel
      empowered and thereby drawn in. (As more women signed up as publicly
      opposed to the innovation than ever were in favor, this argument was
      always a triumph of propaganda over reality.) Men would be attracted by
      the feminine and motherly aspect of the new ministry. (As the driving
      force of the movement, feminism, has little time for either femininity or
      motherhood, this was what Sheridan called "the lie direct.")

      And childrenour childrenwould come flocking into the new feminized Church,
      attracted by the safe, nurturing, non-judgmental environment a church
      freed of its "masculine hegemony" would offer. (As the core doctrines of
      feminism regarding infants are among the  most hostile of any
      philosophyand even women who  weren't totally sold on its heresies often
      had to put  their primary motherhood responsibilities on the back  burner
      to answer the callchildren were never likely  to be major beneficiaries.)

      The Churches Are Losing

      Nor are these conclusions a matter of simple disagreement between warring
      parties in a divided church. The figures are in and will continue to come
      in. The churches are losing men and, if the Swiss figures are correct, are
      therefore losing children. You cannot feminize the church and keep the
      men, and  you cannot keep the children if you do not keep the  men.

      In the Church of England, the ratio of men to women in the pre-1990s was
      45 percent to 55 percent. In line with the Free Churches (which in England
      include the Methodists and Presbyterians) and others that have preceded us
      down the feminist route, we are now approaching the 37 percent/63 percent
      split. As these latter figures are percentages of a now much smaller
      total, an even more alarming picture emerges. Of the 300,000 who left the
      Church of England during the "Decade of Evangelism" some 200,000 must have
      been men.

      It will come as no surprise to learn, in the light of  the Swiss evidence,
      that even on official figures, children's attendance in the Church of
      England dropped by 50 percent over the Decade of Evangelism. According to
      reliable independent projections, it might actually have dropped down by
      two-thirds by the year 2000. (Relevant statistics abruptly ceased being
      announced in 1996, when the 50 percent drop was achieved.)

      And what have we seen in the societies to which the churches are supposed
      to be witnessing? In the secular world, a fatherless society, or
      significant rejection  of traditional fatherhood, has produced rapid and
      dreadful results. The disintegration of the family  follows hard upon the
      amorality and emotional anarchy  that flow from the neutering, devaluing,
      or exclusion  of the loving and protective authority of the father.

      Young men, whose basic biology does not lead them in  the direction of
      civilization, emerge into a society  that, in less than 40 years, has gone
      from certainty  and encouragement about their maleness to a scarcely
      disguised contempt for and confusion about their role  and vocation. This
      is exhibited in everything from the  educational system, which from the
      1960s onward has  been used as a tool of social engineering, to the
      entertainment world, where the portrayal of decent  honorable men turns up
      about as often as snow in  summer.

      In the absence of fatherhood, it is scarcely  surprising that there is an
      alarming rise in the feral  male. This is most noticeable in street
      communities,  where co-operatives of criminality seek to establish
      brutally and directly that respect, ritual, and pack  order so essential
      to male identity. But it is not  absent from the manicured lawns of
      suburban England,  where dysfunctional "families" produce equally
      alarming casualty rates and children with an inability  to make and
      sustain deep or enduring relationships  between male and female.

      The Churches' Collapse

      One might have hoped, with such an abundance of  evidence at hand, that
      the churches would have been  more confident in biblical teaching, which
      has always  stood against the destructive forces of materialistic
      paganism which feminism represents. Alas, not. Their  collapse in the face
      of this well-organized and  plausible heresy may be officially dated from
      the  moment they approved the ordination of women1992 for  the Church of
      England but the preparation for it began   much earlier.

      One does not need to go very far through the  procedures by which the
      Church of England selects its  clergy or through its theological training
      to realize  that it offers little place for genuine masculinity.  The
      constant pressure for "flexibility,"  "sensitivity," "inclusivity," and
      "collaborative  ministry" is telling. There is nothing wrong with  these
      concepts in themselves, but as they are taught  and insisted upon, they
      bear no relation to what a man  (the un-neutered man) understands them to

      Men are perfectly capable of being all these things  without being wet,
      spineless, feeble-minded, or compromised, which is how these terms
      translate in the  teaching. They will not produce men of faith or  fathers
      of the faith communities. They will certainly  not produce icons of Christ
      and charismatic apostles.  They are very successful at producing malleable
      creatures of the institution, unburdened by authenticity or conviction and
      incapable of leading and challenging. Men, in short, who would not stand
      up  in a draft.

      Curiously enough, this new feminized man does not seem  to be quite as
      attractive to the feminists as they had led us to believe. He does not
      seem to hold the  attention of children (much less boys who might want  to
      follow him into the priesthood). He is frankly  repellent to ordinary
      blokes. But a priest who is  comfortable with his masculinity and maturing
      in his  fatherhood (domestic and/or pastoral) will be a  natural magnet in
      a confused and disordered society  and Church.

      Other faith communities, like Muslims and Orthodox  Jews, have no doubt
      about this and would not dream of emasculating their faith. Churches in
      countries under  persecution have no truck with the corrosive errors of
      feminism. Why would they? These are expensive luxuries  for comfortable
      and decadent churches. The persecuted  need to know urgently what works
      and what will endure.  They need their men.

      A church that is conspiring against the blessings of  patriarchy not only
      disfigures the icon of the First  Person of the Trinity, effects
      disobedience to the example and teaching of the Second Person of the
      Trinity, and rejects the Pentecostal action of the Third Person of the
      Trinity but, more significantly  for our society, flies in the face of the
      sociological  evidence!
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