Monday, January 26, 2009
The christianist patriarchy movement
I can remember when they began their latest battle against evolutionary theory. Actually, I was stunned, thinking it just wasn't possible. That particular fight was long over, arguments opposing the theory of evolution long since put to rest. Or, so I thought.
Just recently, when someone near and dear to me expressed her desire to be submissive to her new husband, I got a glimpse of a new cultural battle being waged called the "patriarchy movement," the goal of which is to spark "a counterrevolution to the feminist movement of the 1960s."
Kathryn Joyce, at Religion Dispatches, tells the story in her article, "Women's 'Liberation' Through Submission: An Evangelical Anti-Feminism Is Born."
"This October," says Joyce, "more than 6,000 women gathered in Chicago for the True Woman Conference '08: a stadium-style event to promote what its proponents call 'biblical womanhood,' 'complementarianism,' or -- most bluntly -- 'the patriarchy movement.'"
According to the Associated Baptist Press, "an ambitious initiative ... arose from the meeting: a signature drive seeking 100,000 women to endorse its 'True Woman Manifesto,' which, the ABP writes, aims at sparking a counterrevolution to the feminist movement of the 1960s."
Joyce says that while only 3,000 women have signed this "manifesto," it is important to note that the women involved "don't view themselves simply as a remnant of polite, churchy women, holding out against a crass culture, but rather as a revolutionary body waging 'countercultural' rebellion against what they see as the feminist status quo."
They are counting on millions of women becoming part of this movement who are "able to capture all kinds of battlefronts for Christ."
Here's what they believe: "women and men were designed to reflect God in 'complementary and distinct ways'; that today's culture has gone astray distinctly because of its egalitarian approach to gender (and that it's 'experiencing the consequences of abandoning God's design for men and women'); and that while men and women are equally valuable in the eyes of God, here on earth they are relegated to spheres at home and in the church."
Yup. Furthermore, as Joyce notes, "women are called to affirm and encourage godly masculinity, and honor the God-ordained male headship of their husbands and pastors; that wifely submission to male leadership in the home and church reflects Christ's submission to God."
Oh, yeah, they should also be willing to "receive children as a blessing from the Lord."
Okay, girls. Line up and submit. Make your man "godly masculine." Bow down before his decisions. Keep the cooking good, the house clean, the sex kinky and most of all keep your damn mouth shut in church and in the home. God ordained a patriarchal system. That's just the way it is.
This is the kind of ungodly nonsense that derives from a literalistic reading of certain biblical books written by MEN who had no understanding of a real relationship between a man and a woman, but felt threatened by women (and their sexual enticements), and most importantly, wanted to keep women down in order to maintain their own authority.
This is the kind of ungodly nonsense that derives from a lack of knowledge and understanding with regard to the early church in the first few centuries.
Not that it matters. To organize one's life around principles devised by ignorant, superstitious and misogynous males who lived some 2,000 years ago is at best stupid and a losing proposition for all involved.
Furthermore, if it matters, women were an important part of the early church, especially among the gnostics who, in spite of orthodox propaganda, were an extremely large and important part of the church as it developed in the first few centuries. In gnostic (and in some "orthodox") settings, women preached, taught, baptized, conducted the eucharist, and sometimes became bishops.
It wasn't until a couple of hundred years had passed and the "orthodox" Christians had gained enough power that women began to be shut out from their earlier roles. Orthodox writers, scared to death of females, wrote extensively about how dangerous they were because of sex, sex, sex, and therefore were not to have any positions in the church. Indeed, in some cases, the sexes were separated during worship!
Thus, the church father Tertullian writes: "It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the church, nor is it permitted for her to teach, nor to baptize, nor to offer the eucharist, nor to claim for herself a share in any masculine function--not to mention any priestly office."
Tertullian was deathly afraid of women: "You are," he wrote of women, "the Devil's gateway. you are she who persuaded him whom the Devil did not dare attack. Do you not know that every one of you is an Eve? The sentence of God on your sex lives on in this age; the guilt, of necessity, lives on too."
In spite of all this, the women involved in the patriarchy movement would probably find history of no account. Notice their argument that the culture has gone "astray" because of the feminist movement! Some christianists argue that it's because of abortion, or the "homosexual agenda," or liberals in general, or simply that we've backslid from the wonderful religious beliefs of our founding fathers. Whatever, these women think they can make things right if only they submit to their husbands at home and in the church.
John Piper, a Southern Baptist theologue is one of the promoters of this nonsense. Joyce explains that he considers "submission is a wife's divine calling, and truest form of power. 'I distinguish between authority and influence,' he said. 'A woman on her knees sways more in this nation than a thousand three-piece suited Wall Street jerks.'"
It's all so stupid and so sad that women believe this crap and submissively fall in line with what is moronic on the face of it and does nothing but degrade them as human beings and in the end, is not biblical at all (if that matters), but derives from the ravings of angry and fearful old men living about the year 200 C.E.
You can read Joyce's entire article (there's much more) here.