Tag Archives: response

Egalitarians Respond to John Piper on the Source of #MeToo

In a recent Desiring God podcast Q&A, John Piper outrageously said that egalitarianism is to blame for sexual abuse in the church.

As a leading complementarian voice in Evangelicalism (he co-founded the Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), Piper has influenced millions of Christians to follow patriarchal hierarchy in the church and home, with men holding all authority and power, leaving women on the margins to submit and follow.  Egalitarianism, by comparison, teaches that leadership roles and gifts are designated by the Holy Spirit without regard to gender, age, ethnicity, income, or any other qualifier.  All persons are equal in the Kingdom of God, and in the home, egalitarians teach mutual submission between spouses.

Implying that sexual abuse is a new development in the past five decades with the rise of egalitarianism is absurd, as we can see that sexual abuse is a timeless result of sin.

I would recommend reading these three responses to Piper’s analysis.  First, Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, Int., wrote, “Do Gender Roles Keep Women Safe? A Response to John Piper” —

It’s confusing that Piper, who has spent his life preaching the gospel, links human flourishing to male and female roles instead of intimacy with Christ. However, Scripture does not associate male/female roles with holiness/godliness. According to the New Testament, godliness is inseparable from our spiritual rebirth and flourishes through relationship with Christ.

The dividing line that separates spiritual death from human flourishing has nothing to do with gender roles and everything to do with spiritual rebirth through the Holy Spirit. It’s Christ in you—the hope of glory—that imparts holiness, as demonstrated by fruit of the Spirit (Col. 1:21-27, Gal. 5:16-25). Here is where complementarians make a catastrophic error.

By insisting that maleness qualifies men to lead and care for women, complementarians give men responsibilities that rightly belong only to those who have demonstrated a capacity for leadership. Maleness isnot morality. Maleness is not a character quality. Maleness can tell us nothing about a person’s intimacy with Christ, their character, or their commitment to holiness.

God intended humanity to flourish through male-female co-dominion, which sadly, does not endure. Adam’s sin and first failure was disobedience to God, not failure to protect and lead Eve. God did not tell Adam “protect and hold authority over Eve,” but “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat,” (Gen. 2:17). When they disobey God, their shared rule deteriorates into the “he will rule over you” of Genesis 3:16. Male rule, authority, and dominance is a consequence of sin. It is a distortion of God’s ideal for humanity. It wrecks the thriving that God intended.

According to Prepare/Enrich—the largest group studying marriage in the world—domestic violence and abuse are statistically linked with dominance. Theories that advance dominance can only fuel abuse. For this reason, humanitarian organizations “marble” gender equality into their goals for successful impact. Gender equality neutralizes the power imbalances that allow for abuse, which explains why adding women as middle managers and on boards lowers the rate of unethical practices.

Let’s turn our attention to the church. According to Kathryn A. Flynn, clergy-perpetuated sexual abuse (CPSA) is “not an issue of sexuality but rather one of a power imbalance that negates any possibility of ‘consensual’ mutuality. This distorted power dynamic has been accentuated by some clergy abusers through the misuse of significant social, cultural and even supernatural power ascribed to religious representatives as being derived from God.”[1] Further, the World Health Organization found that “traditional gender and social norms [are] related to male superiority.”[2]

The Sinnergists wrote, “No John Piper, Egalitarianism is not to Blame for Sexual Abuse”

Egalitarianism, by its very definition, is the belief that all people are equal and that there is no inherent difference of power, authority, worth, or status between men and women.

Sexual abuse, by its very nature, is about the exertion and the assertion of power. As experts have long noted, sexual abuse is not about lust or desire or even sex; it is about power and it is about control.

Egalitarianism and sexual abuse therefore, by their very natures and definitions, are mutually exclusive. A person who is truly egalitarian would never sexually abuse another person, because a person would never sexually abuse another person whom he or she truly viewed as an equal. To state it another way, a person who sexually abuses another has, by their own actions, demonstrated that they are not actually egalitarian because, as stated above, true egalitarianism is inherently and fundamentally incompatible with sexual abuse.

And Rachel Held Evans’ post, “Patriarchy doesn’t “protect” women: A Response to John Piper” is a must read! —

The #MeToo movement does not reflect some sudden increase in the abuse of women; rather, it reflects a growing awareness of those abuses, and a mounting, collective fervor to confront them. It’s a movement led by and for women, women who aren’t asking for some sort of paternalistic “protection” because they are fragile females, but rather to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve simply because they are human beings.

But what’s most dangerous about this posture is that Piper seems to assume that because evangelicals aren’t confronting sexual assault and abuse the way that Hollywood is, then those things must not be happening in their churches, that abuse only occurs in egalitarian communities where women have more power and influence. I would posit that, based on the many stories I hear from women who have left evangelical churches, it’s far more likely that abuse is flourishing in patriarchal homes and churches where women are given little voice and little recourse; it’s just getting swept under the rug rather than named and confronted. After all, Piper has said in the past that a woman in an abusive relationship should “endure verbal abuse for a season” and “perhaps being smacked one night,” before seeking help—not from authorities, but from her (male-led) church. As we have seen in the unfolding story of Sovereign Grace Ministries, in highly patriarchal churches where women have no power and where abuse claims are typically handled “in house” by the men in leadership, abuse runs rampant.

That’s because contrary to Piper’s argument, patriarchy isn’t about protecting women; it’s about protecting men. It’s about preserving male rule over the home, church, and society, often at the expense of women. 

In addition to mishandling his analysis of the #MeToo movement by blaming sexual assault on egalitarianism, Piper grossly mishandles Scripture in an attempt to proof-text his claims. For example, he points to the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis to suggest that an order of authority was established at creation wherein men are designed to lead and protect women, and women are designed to defer to and follow men. The Fall, as Christians sometimes like to call it, was the result of Adam’s failure to live into the masculine role of leading and protecting his wife. This is an…innovative….reading of the text for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2 to describe Eve, (typically translated “helper”), is formed from the Hebrew word ezer.  Far from connoting helplessness or subordination, the word ezer is employed elsewhere in Scripture to describe God, the consummate intervener—the helper of the fatherless (Psalm 10:14), King David’s strong defender and deliverer (Psalm 70:5), Israel’s shield and helper (Deuteronomy 33:29). Ironically, in Genesis, the woman is literally the “strong protector” of the man!

In conclusion—

Banning women from the pulpit and silencing their voices in the church doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Instructing women to submit to their husbands by “enduring abuse” doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Handling abuse and assault allegations “in house” by reporting them to the male elders of a church instead of to the police doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Misusing Scripture to reinforce gender stereotypes based more on white, American, post-World War II cultural ideals than biblical truth doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

Calling for a return to patriarchy doesn’t protect women; it harms them.

I particularly appreciated C. Allen’s responses to Piper’s tweet (posted above):

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Esther as “Bachelor” contestant who was “In it to win it”

This past Sunday, I visited a Converge church, a denomination formerly known as the Baptist General Conference.  This denomination hosts a rather diverse group of pastors, from fundamentalist, complementarian John Piper to “heretic” Greg Boyd from Woodland Hills Church, of which I am a faithful “podrishoner.”  In addition, our beloved former church in Maine is a part of Converge.

The pastor at this church I visited is a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate and an obvious complementarian, whose demeanor and style struck me right off as being NeoCalvinist and of the Piper-persuasion.  He was opening a series on Esther and I was blown away with his take.  I don’t think it is over-stating to say that I was appalled.

He began with a description of the wicked king, whose wife Vashti did a good thing refusing to strip tease for a room of drunks, but this made the king look bad for not having control of his household, which he oddly publicized all over the kingdom when he threw his “Miss Persia” contest.  We’ve all seen “The Bachelor” and may credit Hollywood with this brilliant idea, but Ancient Persia was ahead of their time!  He described Esther’s year of beauty treatments under the care of eunuchs – “We all know what a eunuch is, right?  Good, I don’t have to explain it.”  Then this young pastor went on to say it is difficult to say who the heroes of this story really are, as Mordecai and Esther stayed in Persia rather than return to their own land with Nehemiah to rebuild, and they hid their Jewish identity, so they weren’t living according to covenant laws.  And Esther was “in it to win it” in a contest with a “sexual component.”  So her character is questionable but God was able to work all things for good in this story (Romans 8:28).

Viewing the context of Esther like this is very similar to Mark Driscoll’s perspective.  He wrote about Esther,

She grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her cousin. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.

This is a really detestable way to paint the life of a teenage girl who was probably around 12-14 years old and was “sought,” “gathered” and “taken” by the king’s soldiers and placed in custody of Hegai, the eunuch (castrated man) in charge of the harem.  Saying that Esther was competing in a “Miss Persia Pageant” is like saying blacks “immigrated”
to Southern cotton farms.  This was sex slavery.  Esther could not refuse the king without risk of execution.  And after her one night with the king, had she not been crowned queen, she would have been discarded/imprisoned in a harem for the remainder of her life.  Calling Esther’s character into question is preposterous.  Would we question the character of Jews in Nazi Germany for hiding their ethnicity?  Would we question a child who was raped at knife-point?

Esther had NO CONTROL over her imprisonment and rape.  She was a child.  She was a victim.  She was a minority.  She was a young girl in a patriarchal world that only valued women as property.  She had no power or agency in the context of this story.

And she is the HERO!!  Do not minimize Esther because she is a female heroine in the Bible!  Stop minimizing the amazing women of the Bible that God used to do amazing things for His Kingdom!  Jews celebrating Purim know exactly who the hero is – they cheer every time the reader says Esther’s name, and boo whenever Haman’s name is read.

It is not difficult at all for us to condemn Sharia law for child marriage.  But when it comes to Roy Moore and Kentucky’s ‘child bride’ bill, Evangelicals can be painfully hypocritical.  And with the on-going conversation about the hashtags #metoo, #churchtoo and #silenceisnotspiritual, the book of Esther is a beautifully relevant story to tell in addressing sex abuse and the church’s historic culpability in covering it up.  Sex abuse among Protestant denominations is a sadly prevalent reality.  The church I was visiting had around 600 people in attendance.  If the statistics bear out, there were probably around 100 people there who have been sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.

The Whartburg Watch gave this analysis of Driscoll’s contemptible statement above:

1.”Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions.”
Driscoll shows an abysmal lack of understanding about the role of women in this culture. She did not “allow” men to make decisions for her; she was forced to do so.  She would be forced to do so if she was beautiful or ugly.

2. “She spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women.”
Let’s get something straight.  Being taken to a harem by a bunch of the kings’ men is not a day at the spa. This was about one thing for everyone involved and that was making the king happy. If the king wasn’t happy, everyone involved would die.   She had ZERO right of refusal unless she wanted a straight ticket to eternity.

3.”She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite.”
Once again, Driscoll demonstrates his unremitting fixation with sex. He assumes that she was some sort of sex machine that serviced the king in such a way that he made her his queen. How does he know that? Could Esther have been kind, thoughtful, smart, or humorous? I guess it doesn’t matter because, in Driscoll’s world, it all boils down to sex. So that was, is and ever more shall be, his final answer.

4. “Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor.”
Driscoll’s attempt to bring this into a modern context shows a bizarre reinterpretation of the historical nature of that culture. Did he ever take a history course?  If he did, I want the name of his professor. Today’s reality shows are based on freedom of choice. One does not have to be Kim Kardashian, although Deb comes pretty close. (Let’s see if she is reading this). But,  from what I have read about Driscoll’s needs, his wife better be on her “A” game or another book will be forthcoming, bless her heart.

5. “She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.”
How does he know that she lacks character? Character is revealed, not when things are going well, but when things are going dreadfully wrong.  In fact, from my observations of Driscoll, he needs to spend some time in study and prayer on the issue of character. Mark Driscoll is certainly no Esther when it comes to this virtue.

Secondly, did anyone read any verses in Esther about her conversion? How does he know she didn’t have a real faith in God? When it came time to save her people, she requested that the Jews fast for three days. Fasting is one of those biblical things, last time I checked. So, did she just get lucky and guess that they should fast or was she just a quick study?

A Bit of Humor

One of the funnier comments I found on this sad example of Driscoll’s Biblical exposition is the following. The author at Kludt said that he had some points of agreement with Driscoll. Here is how he presented it.

[Esther] grows up in a very lukewarm religious home as an orphan raised by her uncle. Beautiful, she allows men to tend to her needs and make her decisions. Her behavior is sinful and she spends around a year in the spa getting dolled up to lose her virginity with the pagan king like hundreds of other women. She performs so well that he chooses her as his favorite. Today, her story would be, a beautiful young woman living in a major city allows men to cater to her needs, undergoes lots of beauty treatment to look her best, and lands a really rich guy whom she meets on The Bachelor and wows with an amazing night in bed. She’s simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line, and then we see her rise up to save the life of her people when she is converted to a real faith in God.

In this article, Marg Mowzcko talks about Mark Driscoll’s preference for Karen Jobe’s commentary on Esther, and the interesting irony that complementarians will read women theologians but will not allow that same woman to publicly teach her wisdom and scholarship on that same topic.  

I just had to log in today for this special rant.  Even though I grew up complementarian, I have been attending egalitarian churches for nearly eight years now, so hearing complementarian exposition first-hand again was jarring.  I believe the patriarchy is the evil result of the Fallen relationship between men and women and is not at all God’s vision for humankind.  We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord.  For there is now no more male or female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, for we are all one in Christ (Galatians 8:28).


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The Beauty of Womanhood

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Desiring God has a new post on their blog today written by Abigail Dodds on “The Beauty of Womanhood” (I am curious to know what percentage of their blog posts are on “biblical manhood and womanhood”?).  Dodds’ writing is lovely but her description of ideal womanhood is a one-dimensional picture of privilege that diminishes the beauty of women who do not fit the complementarian mold, and is also disparaging of men who practice gender equity.  Rather than celebrating the multi-faceted, diverse beauty that exists in global expressions of womankind, Dodds places middle- to upper-class 1950’s-esque Westerners on a pedestal of “blinding beauty.”  I am certain that her intent was not to be unkind or dehumanising to others, but that is essentially what occurs when fundamentalists create firm boundaries around what a woman or man may or may not do.  Those who do not conform are less-than, or in Dodds’ words, “grotesque.”

Dodds describes a woman’s influence as “found primarily in the soil of the home,” and glorious feminine beauty as being found in a woman “who presides over her domain with strong arms and resourcefulness (Proverbs 31); daughters that are corner pillars, whose strong support could only be matched by their exquisiteness (Psalm 144:12).”  Dodds suggests that it is our culture (liberalism!  feminism!  egads!) that draws women away from the home to run on a treadmill of expectations in pursuit of rewards “that don’t require diapering.”  Let’s not mention the treadmill of expectations that come with complementarianism!

 

And what does it offer in return? Women who strive against themselves, at war with the seeming redundancy of two X chromosomes, in a competition we were never made for, and in our hearts, don’t really want to win. For when a woman sets herself up alongside a man — as made for the same things and without distinction — the result is not uniformity, but rather, a reverse order. Indeed, in order for her to become like a man, he becomes less and less like one. And that’s something that most women, even the most ardent feminists, recoil at in their heart. Not because femininity is detestable, but because on a man, it is grotesque.

But wait, there is more!  Dodds says that women who “forsake our feminine glory in pursuit of the uniqueness that belongs to men…become usurpers, persistently insisting that our uterus and biology are equal to nothing, irrelevant.”  Women are meant to “make good men great.”  We mimic our Savior by submitting to another’s will (many complementarians believe in the heretical doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son.  I don’t know if that is what Dodds is referring to here, but I wonder if women are to mimic our Savior by submitting, what are men to do?).

God’s design outlined in the Scriptures is a vision for womanhood that is not just right and to be obeyed, it is experientially better than all the world has to offer. And it doesn’t just apply those who are married or mothers. Single women of any age are meant for full godly womanhood. To be a mother in the deepest sense — that is, spiritually — nurturing and growing all God’s given her.

Complementarians will often say that living a patriarchal life is the most wonderful way to live, without truly listening to non-complmentarians about their life experiences or to complementarian women who suffer in their subjugation (read this! and this!).  It is a black and white issue for them and anyone who believes differently has been influenced by “the world” and could not possibly have acceptable reverence for God’s Word which clearly subordinates women.  I do not know Abigail Dodds personally, but methinks she may not have any direct experience living outside of a complementarian context.  I would guess that she was raised in a patriarchal culture and socialized to see the world through a patriarchal lens.  It makes sense to her, she has a great marriage and a lovely faith community (with male leadership, of course), and she wants others to live as well as she does.  Staying home is financially possible for her family and she does not recognize that this is not the case for most families, that this is privilege and not biblical womanhood.  Her motivation for writing a piece like this is commendable and her heart is pure, but frankly, complementarianism’s rigid gender roles limit both men and women from exercising their full humanity and spirituality and from mutual flourishing.

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I myself fit Dodds’ description of “blinding beauty” for most of my life.  Complementarianism is all that I ever knew and I believed it 100%.   Six years ago, while I was still complementarian, God spoke to me clear as day, calling me to pastoral ministry.  I was blown away.  I knew without a doubt that I had heard directly from God but his call directly contradicted my patriarchal world-view.  That day, the chapel dean from my college days posted a link to “How I Changed My Mind About Women in Ministry” on Facebook, so I ordered it and began my journey to egalitarianism.  For six years, I have been reading on a nearly daily basis from scholarly works defending egalitarianism (e.g. this one or this one) and articles depicting the plight of women living in patriarchal cultures (like this one).  I post what I am reading to The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors FB page. Listening, listening, listening.  Learning to pay attention to the least of these, who have no privilege and power, describe the consequences of patriarchy in their life.  An article like Dodds’ seems benign until you consider it in the larger context of the suffering of women and girls around the world.  President Jimmy Carter’s book, “A Call to Action,” is an excellent place to begin acknowledging the plight of disenfranchised and powerless women.  In my review of his book, I said,

President Carter’s book is a “call to action” to reverse the widespread gender violence that is a result of patriarchal systems that devalue women, an epidemic touching every nation.  He makes a case that denying women equal rights has a devastating effect on economic prosperity and causes unconscionable human suffering that affects us all.

The world’s discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights…Women are deprived of equal opportunity in wealthier nations and “owned” by men in others, forced to suffer servitude, child marriage, and genital cutting.  The most vulnerable, along with their children, are trapped in war and violence…A Call to Action addresses the suffering inflicted upon women by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.  Key verses are often omitted or quoted out of context by male religious leaders to exalt the status of men and exclude women.  And in nations that accept or even glorify violence, this perceived inequality becomes the basis for abuse. [dust-jacket description]

So what do I believe is beautiful about women?  The Imago Dei in them.  By that alone they are astoundingly, blindingly beautiful.  Is it grotesque when my husband diapers the children or supports my work and ministry life?  Not at all.  His love for me and our family is astoundingly, blindingly beautiful.  Our mutual love and submission to each other is what I would wish for other marriages.

You know what I think is grotesque?  Pharisaical, prescribed gender roles.


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Another Abismal Matt Walsh Post – And Some Better Christian Responses to Robin William’s Suicide

My Facebook feed is starting to fill up with Matt Walsh’s response to Robin William’s suicide.  The point of his post is that depression is not just chemical, it’s spiritual, and suicide is a selfish choice.

Here are some more thoughtful and gracious posts from Christian bloggers that are helpful rather than hurtful, and they also come from a heart of solidarity because they actually know what depression does to you.  I would love to see these circulated as much as Walsh’s post.

Ann Voskamp: What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide and Mental Health 

Megan Tietz: the Depressed Christian: why the dark night is no measure of your soul

Elizabeth Esther: Fighting shifting shadows (or what mental illness feels like)

Sarah Bessey: In which depression is NOT your fault

Julie Ann: Christian Response to Suicide

This short piece from Alice Park for TIME is also helpful: Robin William’s Depression Struggles May Go Back Decades

A Response to Matt Walsh: “Christian women: feminism is not your friend”

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Yesterday, popular Christian blogger Matt Walsh wrote a post entitled, “Christian women: feminism is not your friend.”  I recently subscribed to Matt’s blog because I’ve enjoyed several of his posts, which were humorous and smart.  After reading this particular post, I felt compelled to respond.  As a life-long Christian, I think I have a good understanding of Matt’s perspective.  He’s clearly a great guy, husband, father, and a talented writer.  I also deeply appreciate Matt’s passion for unborn children.  All life is sacred; on that we agree 100%.  What I’d like to add to the conversation is the perspective of a faithful believer who feels comfortable with the term “feminist.”

I am keenly aware of the negative reaction to that word among many Christians.  As I was growing up, I heard horrible things about feminists and how they were wreaking havoc on our country’s values and heritage.  In fact, a woman showing a back bone in her family, work and church relationships, or resistance to the status quo, was labeled a feminist, almost as though the term were synonymous with “bitch,” with the implication being that she was rebellious or sinful.  The problem is, we are generally blind to where the status quo is nothing more than a cultural norm.  It is a fact that we are more likely to come to our conclusions about issues according to the consensus of our peers, rather than through logic and critical thinking, as much as we believe we have been logical and critical.  As much as Matt or I blog, it is likely that readers’ viewpoints will remain unchanged.  You can see this from the comments under Matt’s post.  Those who already agreed enjoyed his post, those who disagreed were agitated.  It is in relationship that viewpoints shift.  Therefore, it is very important that we get out of our comfort zones, meet and listen to people of differing perspectives, get to know them and where they are coming from, and honor them as individuals bearing the image of God.  That is how our perspective grows and we gain a fresh understanding of our own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.

So, let me respond to some of Walsh’s points about feminism.  I believe they could be boiled down for simplicity’s sake to:

1.  Reject the term “feminist” because on the spectrum of feminism there are extremists who advocate for the murder of innocent unborn children, and why would you want to be associated with that?
2. Christianity has always been pro-gender equality, as evidenced by a quote from Thomas Aquinas over 80o years ago.
3.  Feminism is irrelevant now because women can vote and buy property.  Feminists are no longer fighting for equal rights, they are redefining “what constitutes a ‘right’ and what constitutes ‘equality.'”
4.  The pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America – and their biggest opponents are feminists.
5. Men and women are equal in human dignity and intrinsic value, but are not the same because of genetic differences of maleness and femaleness that feminism rejects, which is ruining family stability.

1.  Reject the term “feminist” because on the spectrum of feminism there are extremists who advocate for the murder of innocent unborn children, and why would you want to be associated with that?

If you follow this logic, you will reject the term “Baptist” because the extremist Westboro Baptists are hateful to homosexuals.  There are over 1,400 Baptist denominations in the United States, with a wide spectrum of beliefs ranging from ultra-conservative, King James Only Fundamentalism to ultra-liberal American Baptists.  The adjective “Baptist” does not adequately identify the Biblical interpretation or cultural norms of any given Baptist church.  But I know a kind conversation with a Baptist would help you to understand their perspective.  I am a Baptist and have been misjudged by others because of this term.  So should I drop it?  I also know I have misjudged others on a regular basis because of the adjectives used to describe them.

2. Christianity has always been pro-gender equality, as evidenced by a quote from Thomas Aquinas over 80o years ago. 

Here is another quote from Thomas Aquinas that paints a different picture of women:  “As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence.”–Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, 13th century

I certainly agree with Matt that Jesus Christ granted full equality to women, and I would also suggest that the stories of Old Testament and New Testament women leaders are remarkably counter-cultural, set in a strikingly patriarchal world.  But Christianity also has a dark history of patriarchy, with centuries and centuries of teaching about the subordination of women.

Here are more quotes from theologians who have influenced Christianity:

“[For women] the very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215) Pedagogues II, 33, 22

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Woman was merely man’s helpmate, a function which pertains to her alone. She is not the image of God but as far as man is concerned, he is by himself the image of God.” – Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354-430)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” – Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

“Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed, previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude.” –John Calvin, Reformer (1509-1564)

Here is an even longer list of similar quotes.  It is clear to me that Christianity has an ugly history of sexism that cannot be covered up or ignored.  It is something to examine and root out, as it is contrary to the example we have in Christ Jesus.  Christian feminism that casts a light on sexism and patriarchy in the Church is good.  Christ is cleansing his Bride of all her impurities and it is important to follow where the Spirit is leading.  Many Christian leaders see the releasing of women into ministry as the next big awakening coming to Christianity.

3.  Feminism is irrelevant now because women can vote and buy property.  Feminists are no longer fighting for equal rights, they are redefining “what constitutes a ‘right’ and what constitutes ‘equality.'”

Let me tell you about a few of the relevant issues that Christian feminists are fighting.  Did you know –

In the US (links here here and here):

  • Women make up 51% of the US population – but only 20% of Congress
  • 35 women have served as US governors compared to 2,319 men
  • 71 countries in the world have had female presidents or prime ministers – but not the US
  • US women continue to earn 77 cents to the dollar that men earn, but African- American women earn only 64 cents and Hispanic women make only 56 cents to the dollar.
  • Women comprise 46% of the labor force, but 59% of workers making less than $8/hour
  • The more education a woman has, the greater the disparity in her wages
  • Women earned less than men in 99% of all occupations
  • Women own 40% of all US businesses and employ 35% more employees than all the Fortune 500 companies combined
  • The US is the only major industrialized nation without paid family leave
  • Depression in women has doubled since 1970
  • 38% of girls are molested before turning 18, 16% of boys
  • Only 5% of child sexual abuse is reported to law enforcement
  • 93% of sex offenders describe themselves as “religious”
  • Rape survivors are more likely to suffer from depression, abuse alcohol and drugs, or contemplate suicide
  • 70% of women in the workforce are mothers; yet we have no national paid leave child care or flex time policy

And here’s where it gets really important: Worldwide (links here here here here and here:

  • Women represent 2/3 of the illiterate population
  • In 33% of countries, daughters are not given equal access to school
  • Girls receive less food, less medical care, are married off young, and start bearing children at a young age, affecting lifelong health
  • There are 27,000,000 human beings living as slaves today
  • The average age of trafficking victims is 12
  • Only 1-2% of victims are rescued; 1 in 100,000 traffickers convicted

4.  The pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America – and their biggest opponents are feminists.

Last night, I was wondering what Matt Walsh would say about Affirmative Action.  Funny enough, that’s what today’s post is about.  I would highly recommend reading Amazing Grace by Jonathan Kozol, about the systemic discrimination, hopelessness and limited economic opportunities facing the people of the South Bronx.  This was a life-changing book for me, and many of my political viewpoints were changed after reading this heart-wrenching book.  Mostly, Kozol’s book gives an eye-opening snapshot of what he calls the punitive, blame-the-poor ideology that has swept our nation.

I do not agree with Matt that the pro-life movement is the only equal rights movement left in America.  As much as I believe in the sanctity of unborn life, I am equally concerned about the sanctity of post-birth life.  One of the primary reasons that women have abortions is because they cannot afford children and will receive little help.  I am also thinking of immigrants, the homeless population, innocent civilian victims of “just wars”, unequal access to health care, lack of resources for single mothers, etc.  To be a Christ follower is to be moved with compassion for the poor.

5. Men and women are equal in human dignity and intrinsic value, but are not the same because of genetic differences of maleness and femaleness that feminism rejects, which is ruining family stability.

One example of a cultural norm that feminists resist, is the trend of labeling qualities as feminine or masculine, so that there is shame for someone who holds qualities that are not typically designated to their gender.  Shame is dehumanizing, thus to shame someone is to sin against them.  Personalities are so complex that this tendency ends up hurting many, many men and women.  Boys are bullied for “being a girl” or “being a sissy,” and girls are restricted from activities deemed unladylike.  I believe this is an important issue to consider.  How does our culture shame men and women who are not stereotypically masculine or feminine?

In an article entitled, “Embracing the Feminine Side of God” on the Red Letter Christian website yesterday , Tony Campolo said, “Not only do I love the feminine in Jesus, but the more I know Jesus, the more I realize that Jesus loves the feminine in me. In a day and age when so many women are trying to rediscover the side of their humanity that the world deems masculine, I find Jesus is helping me to appreciate those dimensions of me the world calls feminine.”

In Matt’s post, he says, “So I urge you: unbind yourself from the bondage of this term that’s become inexorably tied to a demonic dogma that obliterates the unity of the family, drives a wedge between a wife and her husband, and digs a giant chasm between a mother and her child.”  Tell me if that doesn’t sound a little extreme, like Pat Robertson’s infamous characterization of feminism:  “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

For those who consider themselves to be Christian feminists, this issue of “equal but different” is at the heart of the problem.  The Bible is predominantly understood to designate specific roles according to gender, which restricts women from positions of authority in the home or church.  Matt’s language describing feminine and masculine qualities makes me think he is coming from a complementarian perspective.  An egalitarian perspective interprets Scripture to say that women are equally made in God’s image, equally gifted by the Holy Spirit with the same types of gifts as men, and are equally eligible for leadership if that is what God has called them to.  It is a critical issue in the church and can be a contentious topic of discussion.  All I can say is, from my own experience and studies, the egalitarian perspective has rung truer, and I am always excited to share my viewpoints with complementarians who haven’t really considered another perspective.  I would recommend this article by theologian N.T. Wright as a good place to start as you consider another point of view.

I guess I’ll leave off here for now.  I understand that as a blogger, it is smart to be controversial and keep people talking about and visiting your blog.  Matt is really gifted in getting conversations going!  Thank you for reading this and God bless.


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