Sam might go to church but he’s afraid he won’t be welcome. He knows he’s not
your typical churchgoer. He’s aware that church folks think his Harley too
loud and his leathers too lowly. They stare at his ZZ Top beard, and the barbed wire tatts on his biceps make them nervous.
A mass of muscle from hours
pumping iron on the back porch and days of pounding nails on a hot roof, Sam still has a weakness – or two. In addition to occasionally enjoying a beer or three too many, Sam likes his women “a little on the trashy side.” People recognize the name in red on his forearm as that of the woman who owns the local brothel.
So, Sam has a problem. He knows missing something spiritual in his life. But he doesn’t know where to go to find it. What would folks at church do if Sam pulled into the parking lot Sunday morning? What would you do if he sat on your pew right next to you?
David Murrow, in Why Men Hate Going to Church, colorfully explains why twice as many women attend church as men. “Men regard churchgoing like a prostate exam; it’s something that can save their lives, but it’s so unpleasant and invasive, they put it off.”
Why would men see church as unpleasant? To be honest, it often isn’t very manly. Churches, for example, decorate in soft colors and flowers; they never put deer heads on the wall. Churches sing about their feelings and talk about being in the arms of Jesus. And, churches sometimes shun “dangerous” men like Sam.
Yet, Sam is much like his Biblical ancestor Samson, a “dangerous” man whose strength could not be separated from his shaggy hair. Every heroic action of his resulted from some encounter with a “trashy” woman. But God made Samson a hero among his people and an example for us.
Jesus picked men for the world’s most important mission, not through interviews at the local university but by going down to the docks for commercial fishermen. He visited a militia camp to get a zealot. He recruited an outcast tax collector.
Jesus himself was a dangerous man. He spent years as a construction worker before being baptized by a wilderness prophet wearing camel hair clothes. He braided a whip and chased people from the temple. He hung with people that caused others to accuse him of being a drunk.
God likes dangerous men. Maybe we ought to offer Sam a place on our pew.