In a previous post, I looked at some of the challenges of reaching men in suburban culture. The two issues I raised were “pragmatic” issues: busyness and scheduling. They are practical realities which affect (afflict?) men in my Northeastern suburban context, about 45 minutes outside of NYC.
Today, I want to explore some further issues in reaching men, more “worldview” or theological issues.
“You cannot serve both God and money,” Jesus said (Matthew 6:24). Money dominates the landscape in NYC and the surrounding suburbs. Some of it is practical: you cannot get a good paying job unless you work in NYC. But some men are driven by money to work crazy long hours and make intense sacrifices.
This is corollary to money but a little bit different. While some men might be driven by greed, others are driven by the need to accomplish something great. This will lead them to sacrifice their marriages, and families, to build their careers. It may not even be the greatest paying job in the world, but the desire to achieve greatness at work pulls many men away from their families and the Christian faith.
Money and work put together creates a commuter culture where people will drive all over the place for work. Mothers will drive their pre-school age children 30 minutes to preschool. It’s insane. The 4 for 1 rule is always good to apply in Monmouth County. It takes 4 minutes to drive 1 mile!
Surprisingly, family plays a huge role in many of the lives of people in Monmouth County. “That’s surprising?!?!” you might be thinking. It is to me, especially since you hear stories of and see the statistics of the family breakdown throughout our country. I think a few things mitigate the factors of family breakdown in Monmouth. The first is affluence. The studies show that wealthy people are still marrying and marrying at a higher rate than poor people. It’s true that the sexual revolution affects the poor much more than the rich. For example, if a daughter gets pregnant at 16 and decides to keep the baby, it may lock in that girl to a cycle of poverty if she comes from a poor area. If she was the daughter of a rich family, they could easily afford an abortion. Or they could bring around their daughter all of the necessary “supports” to keep her going on track for a “good” life: tutors, day care expenses, etc.
There is also a large Italian population with its emphasis on family. Tradition still holds a grip on families quite a bit. Although the theological content of Roman Catholicism seems to have been sucked out of many families, the cultural staying power of Catholicism is actually pretty impressive to see. Even nominal Catholicism still seems to bind families together in a surprising way by today’s secular standards/