This question of why women tend to be more religious is one I couldn’t resist answering.
In the Jewish faith, women are considered more important to the continuation of the faith than are men. As I understand it, it’s much worse for a Jewish woman to leave the faith than for a man to do so because, while the man can teach about God, the woman, through her nurturing and protective behaviors, is the one who actually exhibits who God is.
In the Christian faith, this revelation is not news to me. Three-quarters of the people in my church are women. I think there are several reasons for this.
First, sociological studies have shown that women are more group-oriented whereas men are encouraged to believe that everyone can (and must) succeed on his own. Men consider reliance on others to be a weakness but women see it as a strength. Collaboration in the learning process is a critical factor in the success of all-girls’ prep schools.
Second, men consider God to be a competitor for the loyalties of those around them. That is, they want women and children to rely on them.
Third, women are more Christ-centered because they see the weaknesses and immaturity in their male partners and want someone who is unthreatening and unlike the typical male.
Fourth, because of our predominantly heterosexual nature, women are not offended by getting emotionally close to a male, but men can be grossed out by the thought of becoming emotionally close to another man, thinking it smacks of homosexuality.
Fifth, the image of God as father is offensive to men who were treated badly by their fathers. In many cases fathers are perceived as rule-givers and/or being distant from their sons and/or as communicators of the view that a man must be independent, self-reliant and strong. Weakness, confusion and being in touch with one’s emotions are considered grave weaknesses among men. Men therefore don’t perceive their fathers to be loving, tender, forgiving, etc. Studies have shown that we perceive God in the way we perceive our human fathers, and most dads today don’t know how to be loving, tender, etc., because they didn’t learn those behaviors from their dads. We are talking about “generational woundedness,” about which I wrote last year.
Sixth, men are more likely to be evaluated by what they produce, especially since they are expected to be the breadwinner. It is offensive among men to see God as the provider because it undercuts the one role they think they are meant to fulfill, whereas women are OK with God being the provider. Men and women have different views on what it means for God to be provider. It revolves around the question: Provider of what? Women look to God to receive love, nurturing, encouragement, solace, etc., rather than from their male partners because of the inability of men to provide these things. Men consider themselves to not be in need of such things, which they deem irrelevant or naive.
So, for men, the question often is: Why go to church and worship a God who doesn’t understand what it’s like to be a man, who doesn’t give a man what he really needs, and who is likely to be supercritical of failure, just like their human fathers were?
Mark Azzara spent 45 years in print journalism, most of them with the Waterbury Republican in Connecticut, where he was a features writer with a special focus on religion at the time of his retirement. He also worked for newspapers in New Haven and Danbury, Conn. At the latter paper, while sports editor, he won a national first-place writing award on college baseball. Azzara also has served as the only admissions recruiter for a small Catholic college in Connecticut and wrote a self-published book on spirituality, "And So Are You." He is active in his church and facilitates two Christian study groups for men. Azzara grew up in southern California, graduating from Cal State Los Angeles. He holds a master's degree from the University of Connecticut.