If you’ve been thinking that Christian men need a project that turns the Bible into a self-help guide, a collection of individualistic “tools” with just the right amount of machismo and moral shaming, then I have good news for you.
Presenting, the Men’s Bible.. They say in the title, “Why we helped create a Bible just for men: It tackles marriage, pornography, friendship.” Here’s the problem, as they see it:
Even for Christian men, the Bible can be an extremely intimidating book to tackle. After all, it is the Word of God. It contains some pretty heavy stuff. And if you happen to pick up a translation and come across words like satyr, concupiscence and phylacteries, you can forget about reading more than two verses before you’re ready to go throw a football around or make a mess in the garage.
So really, it’s no surprise that men—generally visual learners known for our short attention spans and occasional selective listening—are not particularly excited about reading and owning Bibles.
I find the article’s description of the spiritual needs and mental abilities of men to be incredibly offensive and condescending, but the problems are much deeper than that. I object to their assumption that the biggest challenges for men in this world are porn and getting along with the dudes and ladies in their lives. The Bible has very little to say about those individualistic and peculiarly modern topics.
However, biblical texts go on for page after page about the real problems that do grip this world. The ways in which men are the perpetrators of violence and hate. How men degade themselves and the people around them with greed and the lust for power. How men construct notions of masculinity that reinforce our collective comfort with the oppression and exploitation upon which our lifestyle is based. I could go on.
I would love to have a study Bible that asked men to take a hard look at the world around them and at themselves, and that called men to work together to spread covenant values of justice and righteousness in the world. The authors of this article are correct that Christian men need to engage more and know the Bible better.
But their supposed answer only makes the problem worse. We don’t need a million men trying to get a grip on their web browsers. We need a million men trying to get a grip on their police departments.
(I have academic-related things to say about this project, such as the fact that they never mention what translation they use, but that’s for another time.)