I think the conversation in the previous blog (“Tuning Forks, Iconic Men, and Masculine Resonance”) has pretty well run its course. I thank Seamus and Michael both for their spirited exchanges in the comments.
I’ll not engage each of Seamus’ criticisms as Michael has attempted to do. Rather, I’ll indicate briefly why I mostly discount his criticism. My reasons further explain how I answer a common plea offered by squishy complementarians and egalitarians alike ― why can’t we just get along?
First an observation on Seamus’ reliance on logic …
Time will temper that confidence, though it may take a while. I had similar confidence in logic at that age, and it took me a couple of decades to retreat from it. Actually, it’s not logic per se that captured my imagination. Rather I was captivated by what I supposed was its short, straight route to truth.
I eventually acknowledged what I heard at the age of 21 from the head of my undergraduate philosophy department (philosophy was my major): “Logic makes nothing true. It is a vehicle you may use to travel anywhere you please. The most rigorously logical conclusions may be false; and the most illogical conclusions may be true.”
Next, Seamus’ and others of his generation, when they offer their services as a guide to the unlearned (or, the illogical), lack standing for two reasons: their youth, and the parochialism that attends youth. It’s the parochialism, the historical provincialism (a common feature of youth), that renders egalitarians’ advice suspect. In the case of egalitarians who are a tender 19 years old, I concur with Michael that their entire intellectual, moral, and cultural compasses are fashioned, formed, informed, and motivated by a feminist gestalt.
The result? They do not even understand the things we’re discussing here.
You see, the world underwent a Copernican-like change in the area of the sexes before today’s crop of 20-somethings was born, and they are members of the second generation to be reared entirely within an educational, legal, cultural (and, probably, ecclesiastical) matrix that itself is commitedly feminist. When people like Michael and me, who actually inhabited a pre-feminist culture, listen to apologists of the ascending feminist culture, we recognize that they do not know what WE are talking about as they critique the remnant of Western patriarchal values.
For two millennia, ever since the days of the Apostles, the Church has confessed and taught and practiced the idea that men and women are profoundly different, that these differences are constitutional, divinely designed, and more than merely biological, that the moral and social dimensions of sexual distinctives are the critical differences for human happiness, productivity, and spirituality. Oddly, the Church has never defended these ideas for the simple reason that they were never challenged until the mid 1950s!
In the current disagreements between the sexually orthodox and the egalitarians, our convictions conflict with those of the baptized feminists (aka “egalitarians”) in ways that show up in the disagreements between Seamus (and those who analyze things as he does) and Michael (along with myself and others like us) concerning the notion that men are saviors in ways that women are not and never should be. But, these disagreements are, finally, “symptoms” of a far more fundamental disagreement about the nature and relationship of the sexes.
However, the overwhelming reason we discount the egalitarian critique is this: when it comes to matters where the Christian faith offers true certainty ― based not on logic, but on authority ― egalitarians dismiss this authority. In the final analysis, Michael and I (and others like us) accept the Bible’s authority where it speaks to the issues under discussion here. Modern-thinking folk like Seamus do not.
How do I know this? A couple of touchstones are sufficient.
First of all, the idea that men are divinely created saviors arises from Biblical narrative, pattern, precedence, and prescription. Peter tells us, for example, that women are “the weaker vessel.” Seamus argues with vigor that they are as strong as men. Why should I credit him when Christ’s Apostle has spoken in contradiction to his profession?
Another example ― Seamus is offended that Michael draws a conclusion from his boast that he wears his hair as long as Aragorn. Then he dismisses Michael with a litany of contrary examples from history. Leaving aside whether the historical evidence he adduces is factually accurate (about Jesus’ hair, for example) or relevant, Christ’s Apostle tells us flat out that long hair is a shame to a man. Seamus glories in it. What conclusion (we’re supposed to be logical, right?) am I supposed to draw about Seamus’ relationship to Apostolic teaching? That he feels no shame with long hair is irrelevant. I’m sure he feels no any shame at all. But, either Paul or Seamus are correct; one of them must be wrong (logic again, right?). I choose Paul; Seamus does not.
That he chooses as he does is a touchstone for me as I ponder his view of the Bible. If the Bible tells me that women are weaker than men, that long hair is a shame to a man while it is a glory to a woman, if it tells me and shows me a great many similar kinds of things about the nature and relationship of the sexes, I will take those things as a starting point in my ponderings on the implications.
Egalitarians do not do this. They routinely dismiss egalitarian-unfriendly narrative, patterns, precedents, and prescriptions in the Bible. This is one reason Michael and I discern the feminist framework from which Seamus critiques us. We’ve heard these kinds of critiques many times before, from those who do not quibble with wearing the feminist moniker.