Men’s Ministries and Patriarchy: From Sites of Perpetuation to Sites of Resistance
In this chapter, Robert Berra discusses the patriarchal strands running through the fabric of Christian theology, history, and practice; these strands, he suggests, bear significant responsibility for creating conditions that allow men to feel entitled to control and access others’ bodies (particularly women’s bodies). Berra argues that men’s Christian ministries may play a role in perpetuating these strands, urging men to live up to the expectations of a dominant and cis-heteronormative masculinity that propagates patriarchal norms in family and civic life. As such, these ministries—intentionally or not—can sustain narratives of control over women as well as the propagation of rape myths that help to sustain rape cultures. Berra considers the appeal and theoretical underpinnings of men’s ministries, analysing their request that churches “invite men back” in order to correct what they refer to as “the feminization of the church.” Critiquing David Murrow’s bestselling book Why Men Hate Going to Church as an example of the ambient level of sexism within some men’s ministry movements, Berra then sketches the difficulties and prospects—both practical and theological—of developing a men’s ministry as a site of resistance to rape culture.
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