Do Men Hate Church?

I’m currently reading David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church”. A good summary interview is here:

Has any one else read it? It is excellent.

While largely about Protestant and non-denominational Christians, I’ve found it very relevant for me as a Catholic and as a man. I’ve never really enjoyed services, dislike singing in Mass and loathe long homilies. Sometimes I really feel like I’m going through the motions. Murrow’s book is excellent - I just feel I’m not alone in my frustration. And so many men seem to have quit Christianity altogether.

Also, on a personal note, as a never-married man who is an army officer, I often feel I’m a stranger and unwelcome in the Church. There are special days for families, couples, children etc but not singles //// occupation-wise, I feel it is almost like I should be a social worker or teacher, not a soldier.

I would be interested to know what other Catholic men feel and if they’ve read the book. I do not know what the way forward is for Catholic men but this book raises some interesting questions for all Christians. I love being Catholic but just feel unloved in return. I’m not attacking the Church - just want to see what other guys feel.


My current Parish Priest used to minister to Marines. He said they felt very much the same and would not come into Church. he would have them wander up to him as he walked up a mountain and say “where are you off to padre?”

“Oh-- to say mass” he would answer

“Mind if we come along?”

“Not at all boys, not at all”

He march up some hill with them and then get them to build an altar out of stones or whatever was about and say the mass there. The guys were comfortable with that.

I’m a man and I love going to church.

There was a book written a dozen or so years ago from a Catholic perspective, that was similar in its tone. It argued that so much that as men we are driven to think and do is frowned upon by the society. Alan Alda is fine for him but not everyone else. Men run a spectrum like on Little Hous on the Prairie. Charles Ingalls is the most well rounded; manly, handsome but still tender with his family. Mr. Oleson was a family man too but not in the same way. He was not a sissy or queer but not a manly man. Mr. Edwards was a more base example of masculinity; coarse, drunken and disheveled. All were within examples of a range of normal manliness.

Today, too many priests are less manly than Mr. Oleson and raise suspicion as to why not having a wife was an option for him. Not all priests are like this but how many priests are there out there these days that are manly men?

The facilitator of our men’s group was effeminate and has since left the priesthood. He did mention that in Latin America the men feel Mass is so feminine they stay away. Anglican critics of the Mass in the 19th century said TLM Mass was fine for women but not men. I wonder what they would say about today’s NO Masses.

Most men are just not interested in God talk. They will go to Mass if it is expected but they are not going to start going to daily Mass instead of watching sports on TV.

As the husband of a Presbyterian I skimmed the book you mentioned and it made sense. I think this is why mainline churches have lost members. The number one indicator for determining if your child will attend Mass as an adult is does the father go while he is growing up? If men check out in a generation like 85%+ off their children will not go as adults even if their mothers go every week. If only the father goes the numbers are much closer to that where both parents go.

We must stress catechetically why we worship ay Mass and how. Mass is not entertaining and is not meant to be. Maybe one reason to drive out the St. Louis Jesuits is because it does not keep the men coming and actually drives them away.

Yes. Finally someone gets it. I love this quote…

“For example, a search of the Religious Research Association archives turns up hundreds of scholarly papers on how to integrate women, minorities and gays into our congregations, but nothing on how to do the same with men.”

Because it shows that the Church is following in the ways of this world.

I go to Mass every Sunday with my family not becuase I enjoy the theatrics, but becuase I understand the mystical reality of the sacrifice of the Mass. That’s the only thing that appeals to me. The music, the socialization, and the homilies do not speak to me as a man at all.

I have had to apply myself to find the Catholicism that resonates with my manhood. I.e. I have recently purschased Gregorian Chant. I know that Medieval Catholicism had a more masculine liturgy. I started a post a while ago about effeminate priests which also contribute to the point in the article.

Men want the desert experience, a mystical experience of holiness in both body and mind. That’s why they turn to sports.

The change to vernacular, horizontal worship, all women choirs singing femine themed songs, and homilies that almost never challenge our intellect, our sense of pride, our manhood in general-This article is true.

Here’s a Catholic writers take on the issue…

Fred, okay, I am the wife, but my husband is a practicing Catholic too. I’m the one whose mind wanders at Mass and he’ll tease me that I wasn’t listening to the homily. Our priests are wonderful homilists though we have been to Masses over the years when the homily rambles and drags on. So I think it is more an issue with a priest who is not a good homilist. Also, I have noticed that a priest tries to direct the homily so that it has meaning to all present–married, single, old, and kids.

When we met, my husband was a single Army officer and regularly attended Mass on post. From what I have seen of military priests, they are very focused on the soldiers (as opposed to the wives or kids.) In civilian parishes, there is a much greater focus on the families. So if you are a soldier and aren’t going to Mass at a military parish, maybe you should. And talk to the Catholic chaplain about activities that are more focused on single men. Or start some!

Thanks. Unfortunately I’m not posted where there is an Army chapel on base … am in a northern college town. So have been exposed for 3 months to the wider Church in my community and really struggling to find one that I feel welcome in.

I guess I found Murrow’s book very relevant to me. It is difficult to articulate any better than Murrow does. I’m a strong Catholic believer, I just hate that my faith’s practice/m.o. is so hard for me as a guy.I feel excluded and not fulfilled. I’m not alone it seems.

Catholic women on the forum may find Murrow’s book interesting as it explains why even Catholic guys strike problems finding Catholic girls. I don’t think it is anything to do with sexually frigid girls, as a real Catholic guy shouldn’t be wanting that (though I’ve sinned there). Or that Catholic girls are often too good/holy, though this can be the case (no one wants to live with a saint). But good Catholic girls can be boring, unexciting, killjoys to even the best Catholic men, because men are built differently and want a challenge, not a prude.

Thanks to all who contribute.

my husband would disagree with you there on the issue of prudeness. he is german, and was raised in the GDR, women there were very reserved, and tended to be a bit prude.

he doesn’t prefer a wife who is loud, boisterous, demanding,
but polite and quiet and reserved. iam not demanding, boisterous, or loud. iam reserved and quiet except when i get cranky. then i can be a bit loud.

but all in all, it is an excellent relationship. we are reserved and very modest. frank enjoys going to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. we both do immensely.


Thank you … Unfortunately you’ve seemed to have missed what I’ve written (and I don’t mean to criticise you).

One of the major problems for a Catholic ‘guy’ is just this - men and women think and feel differently, and we do religion differently. If Catholicism doesn’t realise this, then we’ll lose many men like me. I at least care enough to show up here and seek others who may be like-minded. A lot of others just give up.

I’ve no idea what men’s ministry should be. I just know that what’s now happening is not working.

I read a good blog post a while back on this subject: Steel Magnolias Church

It basically says men are more action-oriented, and the Mass today is more chick-flick styled.

Although I don’t have first-hand knowledge, I know never been married singles who are involved in “Theology on Tap”. Several have met the women they would marry through the group. If you are in a small college town, available choices may be limited. But that is probably also the function of being in a small, college town. It sounds like you are older and going back to school, perhaps for an advanced degree. If that is the case, you probably are surrounded by younger never been marrieds and your contemporaries are probably married and perhaps have kids. In which case, you are temporarily a fish out of water. When your circumstances change (move somewhere else or get married), you will likely find what you need in a parish.

Thanks Regina.

I am a proud Catholic. I’m not at all wanting Catholicism to become like some banjo-wangling, hillbilly megachurch, with folks jumping up and down feeling ‘saved’, and pastors making endless pleas for money. *

My reading indicates that there was a time when the Church had giants like Fulton Sheen and others who propagated the faith and gave a lead to priests and others. This leadership style had a ripple effect. Being in the Army, I’m probably a strong believer that the example of brave leadership will inspire others to be likewise. Since Vatican 2 the Church has been confused and has no idea.

Personally, I just want to do more than go through the motions. I want to feel challenged, especially intellectually. I don’t want to have to check my brain on entry to Church. The Catholic Church has such a tradition of brilliant scholarship and thought that this can’t be hard. And the Steel Magnolia post is so right about what is wrong.

I’m heartened to find other men out there who are in my position. I just don’t know if this is something we raise with local dioceses or what. But we can’t stand pat.*

I’m a man. I like going to church.

(I like to keep things short and sweet…but not when it comes to mass!)

Depends. I go to a very Christ-cenetered traditional parish. I feel at home there. But I’ve also been to many theatrical music-centered parishes (awful music at that) that are very anti-masculine.

His book was reviewed in the Chicago Tribune religion section last year, and there is another thread in this forum about a similar subject - I think it is entitled “Where have all the real men gone?”.

In my view, it is not so much that the churches are anti-male as much as that certain values that males used in fulfilling their traditional roles (like assertiveness) have been suppressed. For example, the article makes note about the “unwritten rule” that churches are supposed to be nice (unfortunately, that disease has even crept here into CAF!). While I agree that we should not go out of our way to be mean and we should be diplomatic when possible, the very mention of moral truths and the concept of mortal sin and heaven and hell often is greeted with naive silly-sallies who don’t know what they’re talking about whining about “judgmentalism” and “negativity”.

I posted this in the other thread: There is a very false notion today that being Christ-like means always being nice and submissive and agreeable and to always back down from a confrontation. We are expected to imitate Christ when He let people abuse Him and falsely accuse Him, but woe unto anyone who imitates Him when it is time to turn over a few tables or give some blunt words to people who need them like Christ gave to the pharisees! Do anything, and we’re told that we should just do nothing and let God solve everything. Don’t wipe your own butt even if you have a hand and toilet paper on the roller, otherwise you are not trusting in God. The obsession with being non-judgmental, charitable, and nice has been taken to the other extreme that it has castrated our ability to effectively practice the work of mercy known as “admonishing the sinner”.

Yet the same Christ who let Himself be falsely accused before Pilate still turned over tables in the temple, called pharisees very harsh names, and even looked at people in anger.

Also some people act as though any assertiveness or confrontation is a sin. It is NOT a sin to assert yourself and stand one’s ground and defend yourself. And to CONFRONT wrong in the world today. And these skills take practice. So when people practice these skills, don’t criticize them unless they are doing something objectrively wrong and do so in private, because public humiliation will cause a male to lose “street cred”. And if you do a search on the name “Schrosch” you will find an article that I posted about how high school seminarians in Chicago used to have to learn how to wrestle in an effort to teach them assertiveness.

And yes, these skills will be needed. It is the young men who are called upon to defend our nation in times of war. We also need to be able to protect our families, not just from physical danger, but also spiritual and other dangers. And it will also come into play when the time comes to say “No” to our children. And please note that in times of crisis, females will need to exhibit this trait as well. So to all the silly-sallies: stop getting in the way of doing our job and training for it.

As far as singles events…well, I’ve been a veteran of Theology on Tap and young adult ministry functions, and for the longest time it was dominated by the whole “you don’t need a man” mentality that was propagated by the anti-male lesbian feminazi hippos of the 1960s and 1970s. Church leaders need to realize that deep down people want a good traditioonal family life, and we are sick and tired of the “single vocation” and “alternate forms of lifegiving” nonsense being shoved down our throats. Mention that you want to be married instead of single and you’re criticized, and even worse, you’re second guessed with the guilt trip that God may have other plans for you. Now that in and of itself unmasks a few other problems that have crept into today’s church:

  1. The concept of a micromanaging God. I thought we were Catholics and not Calvinists, and that we have free will, as well as personal responsibility for our actions.

  2. Constant second-guessing is robbing people of their decisiveness, which is another trait that males (and females, too) need to exhibit.

  3. The concept of “God’s will” being something hidden that you have to search for like some never-ending Easter egg hunt, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of the time God’s will is staring at us right in our faces in the Bible and Church teaching. For example, the Bible attests to the fact that not everyone can handle celibacy and that the deciding factor in celibacy vs. marriage is (besides knowing what you are eligible for) whether or not you can handle lifelong celibacy. Trust me, I attended a HS seminary (the same one fellow forum member Chicago attended), and if I knew I could handle lifelong celibacy I’d probably already be wearing black! I’ve already done my discernment, and I don’t need anyone second-guessing it and getting in the way of my acting on it; at least I’m doing it in accordance with Church teaching, unlike probably most people out there.

I am stressing the marriage point because I’m sure that many young men are lost to non-Catholic groups or to non-virtuous women who lead them astray because their efforts to find spouses and establish families with faithful Catholic women yield no success.

Oh, and when Fred posted he doesn’t feel loved in return, WATCH OUT! Some of the people who feel that you have to be mean spirited in order to be orthodox might start accusing you of self-pity.

Another thing: the article I read reviewing the book made mention that men and young adults appreciate risk, chalenge, and reward. This in and of itself is heresy to some females * on this very board*, as when I mentioned the concept of reward when I was lambasted by some of the females in another thread (where I was defending a male virgin who wanted to be equally yoked to a female virgin from vile vicious attacks).

(Pardon me if I’m still cranky from yesterday - I’ve even suggested to a few priests that a good parish fundraiser is to auction off a round in the ring with Rex Grossman!).

This reminds me of the pictures and stories I’ve read about Pope John Paul II when he was a priest in Poland, how he would take university students and young adults on camping and canoe trips and say Mass in the forests on those trips.

Oh, here’s another relevant article posted in the other thread called “Where are God’s warriors and wild men?”:

Thanks a lot Norseman. I see I’m not alone on this issue. I hope someone in the Church hierarchy is listening or understanding the effects that alienating men will have.

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