A woman prays at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images) In many parts of the world, women – especially Christian women – are more religious than men. In the United States, where seven-in-ten adults are Christian, this religion gender gap is actually […]
Christian men and women in the U.S. also differ in their private devotional habits. For example, roughly three-quarters (74%) of Christian women say they pray at least daily, compared with six-in-ten men (60%). The gender gap in prayer is especially wide for Catholics and mainline Protestants: 67% of Catholic women say they pray every day while just 49% of men say the same. And 62% of mainline Protestant women say they pray daily, compared with 44% of men. Among the U.S. Christian traditions analyzed in this study, Mormons are the only group in which there is no prayer gender gap, with similar shares of women and men saying they pray daily (86% and 84%, respectively).
Within the Church, we have informally recognized that men were losing interest in the faith. Studies now confirm that fact. The faith includes very manly things such as:
- Sacrificial love
- Battling evil
- Combatting error
- Striving for virtue
- Being a “prayer warrior”
- Spiritual combat
- Fealty (faithfulness) to a worthy Lord
- Swearing an oath (our Baptismal promises) and striving to live it out
- Protecting innocence and goodness
As a man who takes his faith very seriously, my question is, what is it about the faith that fails to appeal to men? Have we really de-emphasized the “manly” dimensions of the faith so much that men just don’t see them anymore?
Or is something else going on here? Are men naturally more self-sufficient, so they’re the first to adopt a faithless culture that says we don’t need God?
Social scientists have been studying the religion gender gap for decades and have put forth a number of different theories to explain the phenomenon. Some have speculated that women are biologically more inclined to faith. Others have ascribed the religion gap to the “time lag” in the way modern secularization has affected men and women, arguing that men have historically spent more time outside the house and so were exposed earlier to social forces undermining religion.
Either way, we need to reverse this trend. The age of the lukewarm Catholic needs to end. We need men and women to step up and really live their faith, to be salt and light in a modernist, secularized world.
What do you think? How can we bring the faith alive for men (and women) so we can bring Christ to the world?
Also published on Medium.