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Men & the Church: A Man's Place in the World (Judges 7:15-21)

By Stephen J. Pressley
Men in general have become reluctant warriors in a social revolution. Men everywhere are wanting to find their places in the world. Most of us grew up in a world that was very different from the world we now inhabit. Our fathers brought home the paycheck and carried out the garbage. Our mothers raised us kids and kept the house clean.

At church, our fathers went to the men's Bible class and debated the Last Days, while our mothers went downstairs and helped the children try to make it through their first days. In church business meetings, our fathers argued over whether to reroof the parsonage, and our mothers sat at their sides in dutiful -- presumably biblical -- silence.

Not all of that has changed, but the evidence is clear that it is all changing. Middle-class lifestyles require two paychecks, not one. And working mother -- who in more and more cases is bringing home half the bacon -- is beginning to expect working father to change half the diapers and run the vacuum half the time.

The church is also changing -- much more slowly but just as surely. Women are no longer silent. Men no longer make all the decisions. And down in the nursery, men are expected to take a turn just like women always have.

But men do it reluctantly. Most men know they ought to do more to raise their children, but that doesn't mean they really want to. Most men will move over and admit women's voices to the important decision-making processes of the church, but that doesn't mean they really want to. Most of the men -- well, one more than 50 percent, anyway -- in the all-male hierarchy of the Episcopal Church voted to admit a woman as a fellow bishop a number of years ago, but that didn't mean they really wanted to.

And the reason for the reluctance is that so many women sitting in places traditionally reserved for men, and so many men having to sit in places traditionally the domain of women, frankly makes us men uncomfortable. It is threatening. It is challenging. It can be humiliating. And it makes us wonder, just what is "a man's place in the world" nowadays? What is the domain of man in the world? Does he have an exclusive role anymore? If so, what is it?

I. A Man's Place is to be a Volunteer for the Betterment of Life

In Judges 7:15-21, every man was a volunteer. It's a pioneer trait: a barn needs building and all able-bodied men turn out to get it done. The Indians are coming, and every man leaves his plow and shoulders a musket. Well, it was not the Indians who were threatening Gideon and the children of God but the Midianites. The people of Israel had done what was evil in the sight of God, and God had placed them under the thumb of Midian. Now Midian was bearing down upon them to vanquish them; and she was camped in the Valley of Jezreel, preparing for the final onslaught. When God called upon Gideon to sound the alarm, 32,000 men showed up at Mt. Gilead to answer the threat.

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