Category Archives: Feminism

Meat and Potatoes

avlxyz at flickr.com

Lord willing (and assuming the flesh is not too weak to frustrate things) I’m returning to blogging here after a long hiatus occasioned by (among other things) diminished health. As before, I intend to comment – mostly polemically – against sexual insanity in the world and in the Church as well as against sexual shilly-shallying among those who deem themselves to be guardians of evangelical Protestant orthodoxy in America (and, occasionally, in Europe).

But, to this I intend to add a focus not heretofore present in this blog, namely to begin pounding out something I have long complained was absent within Broadly Evangelical American Protestants (hereafter BEAPERs). When it comes to things sexual, BEAPERs lack the meat and potatoes of the subject. They are like a gaggle of culinary amateurs who stumble upon the Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery (check out the customer reviews!). But, rather than learning from it, they simply display it prominently in their kitchens while they make endless creations out of Jello and Cool-whip.

In this case, however, the situation is worse. The religious feminists are now firmly in charge of BEAPER-land. They prominently display the Bible in their offices of power, but they never learn from it. Instead, they’re taking their cues from the World’s latest fashions tregarding he sexual analogs to Jello and Cool-Whip, as it were.

So, since BEAPERs won’t do serious theology about sex, I’m going to  undertake that project in this blog, toward two ends:

First, whenever I find a serious effort to do theology about the Bible and sex, I’m going to attempt to engage these works in this blog, in blog-sized chunks. Second, I am going to use this blog as a sort of “test kitchen” for my own contribution to the conversation I think has been badly needed for a very long time. That contribution will be to bring to completion a book I’ve had steeping on the back burner for over a decade now: The Masculinity of God.

I think I’ll begin in the next blog by introducing a work by Matthew Lee Anderson in which he attempts a preliminary engagement of a theology of the body. His subject is broader than human sexuality, of course; but, human sexuality must needs be a large idea in his discussion. So, I propose to take his book, chapter by chapter, summarizing what I find in it of significance for the building of a Christian orthodox consensus on sexuality generally, endorsing anything I can support as orthodox and Biblical, and criticizing some things (not everything) I find heterodox or sub-Biblical. Perhaps Matthew may eventually find his way over here and offer his own replies to what I present about his work.

Interested? Stay tuned. You won’t have to wait long.

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Filed under Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Feminism, Patriarchy

Promise Keepers and Crossing Fingers

Special promisesIn 1997, Promise Keepers fielded an event that was supposed to be epoch-making. Stand in the Gap brought together eight hundred thousand men (or one million men, according to PK accounts) to the National Mall in Washington on October 4 th, 1997 to recommit to marriage and family.And the aftermath? Within a few months, Promise Keepers had all but closed its main offices. The collapse of the movement was far more spectacular than the Washington event.

What happened?

David Usher provides a compelling analysis  of the movement’s catastrophic contraction in an article published in Men’s News Daily. Usher’s overview of Promise Keeper’s collapse begins with a widely read article by Bill McCartney on the eve of Stand in the Gap. Usher explains:

The collapse began with the widely-publicized article in the September-October 1997 issue of Policy Review, titled “Promise Makers”, which hit the newsstands just a few days before Stand in the Gap. This article received tremendous national attention.

Many conservatives were quietly expecting this watershed article would signal the beginnings of a real marriage movement. Instead, it was perhaps the most spectacular public display of self-deprecation witnessed in modern history.

The first few paragraphs of Bill McCartney’s Policy Review article were a shocking adoption of knuckle-dragging neanderthal feminist theory. It blamed men for all of society’s problems. In fact, it was so feminist I thought it could have been written by the National Organization of Women.”

Bait and Switch

Bait and SwitchIn the above-linked article by Usher, he demonstrates the radical feminist critique of American Christian manhood with copious quotations from McCartney’s article in Policy Review. I strongly urge you to read all of Usher’s critique as well as McCartney’s Policy Review article, available here online. Certainly McCartney’s article was read by thousands of men who understood it as a form of bait-and-switch. Promise Keepers held out the hope of reinvigorating a Christianity that was unashamedly masculine, that affirmed Christian manhood and sought to promote it. Instead, from its own founder, Promise Keepers became just one more mouthpiece for feminists (whether Christian or not) who viewed male headship in marriage, family, and church as a flaw to be fixed, a disease to be cured, a sin for men to repent of. No wonder Promise Keepers melted as quickly as a snowball in hell.

Since the contraction which Usher explains, Promise Keepers has continued to contract. A careful reading of their own history shows a declining number of men attending stadium or similar events since the 1997 Stand in the Gap and the contraction which followed. By their own testimony (laced with a generous dose of positive spin) they have continued to contract over the past decade. In fact, the contraction has gone far enough that McCartney now candidly speaks of an upcoming Promise Keepers event in Boulder, Colorado with these words  :

Our journey will begin with a stadium event in Boulder, CO, on July 31-August 1, 2009. We’ll celebrate our 20th anniversary as a ministry back where it all began–and where it will be re-launched–at Folsom Field.

Fish or Fowl?

Promise Keepers has always claimed it was a ministry to men. But with the relaunch, McCartney highlights three distinctives that will characterize the re-launched Promise Keepers. Claiming to take his cue for the relaunch from the First Century Church, McCartney claims that this church did three things:

Proverbs 31:31: They celebrated virtuous women at the city gates. We expect men to invite thousands of women to “A Time to Honor.” This will be powerful. We need to rally around women and raise the bar for what it is to be virtuous. The next generation must have a true model for womanhood.

Acts 2:43-48: They shared their resources equally. As the days get more difficult, the church that is truly anointed will be one that opens its arms to the less fortunate. We want to catalyze men to serve the poor, the oppressed and the needy through their local church.

I Corinthians 4:15: Honoring the Spiritual Fathers of the Faith. Paul said that though we may have countless teachers in the faith, we will not have many fathers. And he became our father through the Gospel. We want to honor the Jewish Believers who are the spiritual fathers of our faith.

Apostolic Christianity or Jewish Evangelism?

Concerning Spiritual Fathers: This sounds decidedly quixotic. It is one thing to argue in favor of evangelism of Jews, particulary based on Paul’s “to the Jew first, and then the Greek” statements. Two of PK’s Board members are involved in Jewish evangelism (Rabbi Jonathan Bernis) and encouraging “Gentile believers in Jesus Christ to embrace the Messianic Jewish community” (Dr.Raleigh Washington). But McCartney doesn’t even seem to have evangelism of Jewish unbelievers in view here, but rather “Jewish believers who are the spiritual fathers of our faith.”

It’s unclear who these “fathers” are. Paul evangelized the Corinthians and thus claims to be their father in the gospel. Is Paul, therefore, ipso facto the father of all believers today? Or, perhaps McCartney is referring to the Apostles who left us the New Testament. But, still, while some Christians have become believers by reading the New Testament alone, most have been evangelized by Gentile evangelists. Just what McCartney is talking about here awaits further developments.

Christian Welfare?

Concerning the sharing of resources: why is this agenda singled out as somehow unique, or distinctive? Yes, the sharing of resources marked the communal life of early Christians. But that has more or less been the case ever since. Today, there are scores of Christian aid agencies that are international in scope, alongside countless soup kitchens, second-hand clothing distribution networks, and single-mother ministries in churches across the land. Entire denominations have cast themselves as agents for social justice and aid to the oppressed. Why is this “new?”

It’s Still About Women, Evidently

Thumbs Up But, the first distictive in McCartney’s list looks decidedly like a retread, and a confused one at that. Citing a verse from the poem on the Virtuous Women (who is obviously a member of the aristocracy during the Golden Age of Solomon) in Proverbs 31, McCartney claims that the early church “celebrated virtuous women at the city gates.” So far as I know, the Apostle Paul commends a number of women for their character and works of mercy. But, to say that Christians themselves were “celebrating virtuous women at the city gates” is almost certainly false.

Christians (Jewish and Gentile alike) were mocked and persecuted and schemed against in the city gates. Jews and Pagans alike, threatened by converts to Christianity, persecuted Christians. To imagine the Christians themselves “celebrating” (what, exactly, is this supposed to mean???) in the city gates … it’s a preposterous fiction forced onto the NT and the early writings of the post-Apostolic fathers.

But, this is the 21st Century. The Evangelical Church is now feminist. And, if a ministry to men is going to have a snowball’s chance in hell, it’s going to need to bring the women in. Here’s how the PK website puts it :

1) Why are we inviting women?

The time for Proverbs 31:31 is long overdue! It’s time to bring our wives and daughters so that we can honor them together. They need to stand side by side with us as warriors of the faith.

Hmmmm. Evidently, Christian men don’t praise virtuous women in the gates (hence, it’s long overdue). I’m not sure why the burgeoning population of women in evangelical seminaries doesn’t count here. In another generation, evangelical pulpits will have as many or more women in them than men. Count on it — the seminaries’ Forward Looking Committees have it all figured out. The next generation of evangelical leaders are in today’s evangelical seminary classrooms. Count the division of the sexes and know the future!

I wish PK had been a less foggy about that warrior thing.

Do they mean this: “They need to stand side by side with us men who as men are warriors for the faith?”

Or do they mean this: “They need to stand side by side with us men, joining us to be warriors for the faith?”

You know, in the current climate there’s whole organization of women led by Carolyn Custis James who claims that the Bible calls women to be warriors. Women now populate all the armed forces, including combat units, so it’s a sure thing they can claim to be warriors for the United States. Is PK conforming to popular feminist and egalitarian notions about the warrior-ness of women? Looks like it to me.

Down with Male Headship

seenoevilMeanwhile, the entire, long, and tedious battle for the past 25 years has been whether or not men are heads of their marriages, families, and churches. On that issue, PK is quite clear :

What does PK think the role of women should be?

The role of women is not a topic we address at our events; however, we do believe husbands are called to love their wives just as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25).

I do not know how more studiously Promise Keepers can ignore the Scriptures than this. Paul has a lot of very clear things to say about the role of women in Ephesians 5. On one hand PK urges us to honor our spiritual fathers in the faith — including the Apostle Paul, for crying out loud — and at the same time refuses to quote the Apostle when he gives an answer to a question they themselves acknowledge is “out there.”

Promise Keepers makes a big deal out of integrity and courage. They would be a lot more convincing if they showed more integrity in how they handle the Bible, and less cowardice when facing the spirit of the age.

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What’s in a Name?

Mother knows best!Anthony Esolen over at the Touchstone blog Mere Comments ponders  the way we name things and how this affects our perception of what is named, particularly when speaking of women in marriage and family. His meditation was launched by a friend’s lament that among women she encountered at a school reunion, she was the only “stay-at-home-mom.” Esolen first notes that this term “… seems to describe somebody who lacks the imagination to do anything other than stay at home.” He goes on to consider the senses attached to homemaker, house-wife, and mother, as terms used to denote the nature or vocation of women today. He concludes by reflecting on the term hook-up, used commonly today for what a previous generation would have called fornicating.

What Esolen considers here goes beyond simple words. Try using Google  or Live Search  to search for images associated with the terms housewife or homemaker. Be sure to set the sexual filters provided by these search engines engaged.

As you scan the results, you’ll see one strata of images such as the ones in this blog. Homemaker or housewife often find graphical representation that signifies that they are archaic callings, antique avocations, redolent with sights, sounds, styles, and activities of an era half a century or more in the past. And, most such images of housewife and homemaker are rendered in a way that is graphically condescending or patronizing.

Now, what do you suppose happens when a married woman who devotes herself to her husband’s and children’s well-being fills out an application for credit, or a bank account, or an application for insurance, or any of the multiple forms the public schools insist parents fill out. Invariably, there’s a blank line labeled “Occupation.” Read the comments to Esolen’s blog to learn what some women think when confronted with this blank on an application.

There was one ray of hope down in the comments of Esolen’s blog. One woman commented:

I never liked home-maker” because … it makes me feel guilty: it evokes images of a peaceful, orderly haven presided over by a serene woman, with smells of something baking wafting from the kitchen …

In her situation, evidently, seven children contributed to a different effect. But, I cheered because in her mind, at least, was the notion that “homemaker” – at least in its ideal expression – is a serene woman, presiding over an orderly haven. It reminded me immediately of what Paul sets before older women to teach younger wives, and I think this particular woman may find herself one day achieving what looks to her, from the trenches, as a presently unrealized goal.

To get there, she will need to keep that serene woman and her peaceful haven clearly in her mind.  The world despises such women and seeks to redefine the term homemaker for all of us.  

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Filed under Feminism, Woman, the glory of man

Vile, Mindless Idiocy

 

 

Two things incline a Christian’s heart toward eternity – the lure of heaven and its glories, and revulsion with the world we are departing. The lure is usually fainter, for our glory is unimaginable for our world-darkened minds. But, revulsion with this world is usually never very strong, and so the Scripture exhorts us against loving the world.

 

Two things this week increased my revulsion with the world. If you can’t stand feeling revolted, go away until I post something else.

 

I expect many of you have already encountered the first thing I’ll mention: a story in the Yale Daily News which reports a Yale senior art student’s “performance project” in which she purports to inseminate herself repeatedly with a syringe, and then to induce a series of abortions on the results of her inseminations.

 

Yale officials insist it’s all a farce. The art student insists it’s for real, that university profs and deans supported her project, and she’ll show you video to prove that she’s not making it up. Supposedly, everyone’s outraged, even those who endorse abortion.

 

In the latter case, I wonder why. If an art student at an Ivy League university can conceive such a thing, enlist support of faculty and deans, and carry it out; if she can go forward with plans to “present” the record of her achievements as her senior project – well, what does that tell us about the political, cultural, and spiritual environment in which all this is going on?

 

Second thing I ran across is even more horrific, though most folks won’t think so. It comes from the Philadelphia Inquirer, in a story  about young evangelicals defying political/cultural stereotypes. The money quote runs like this: “I’m not for gayness, but everyone deserves to have a great life. I’m not for killing babies, but I’m pro-choice.”

 

The mind boggles.

 

How about:

 

“I’m not for hari-kiri, but the self-disemboweling community deserves to have a great life just as much as anyone else.”

 

I wonder what this nonstereotypical evangelical would say to this:

 

“I’m not for bombing abortion clinics, but I don’t condemn those that do.”

 

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Filed under abortion, Feminism

Next Time She’ll Wear Skirts

Putting her foot down

 

Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal is one of the few commentators to consistently analyze the “gender dynamics” of the Democrats’ presidential primary in this election cycle. In her June 27, 2007 column, Noonan put her finger squarely on Hillary’s problem: “Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.”

Such irony!  Feminism has triumphed in Hillary Clinton. She epitomizes the fundamental feminist premise, namely that there is no essential difference between men and women, and what differences we see are “merely biological” or socially engineered by men to keep women in their place. To overturn these socially engineered hobbles on females, women must show that they can do the “man thing” just as well as any man.

 

So, Hillary Clinton, in Noonan’s words, creates and projects the persona aptly styled “a person with breasts.” Noonan used that image again in her recent column, commenting on Clinton’s penchant for pant suits that project the same image: “a small blond man with breasts.”

 

Clinton might have done otherwise. Indeed, she has done otherwise when it served her immediate (and narrow) purpose. Even Chelsea joined her in wearing a head-covering – that quintessential marker of femininity and compliance with social convention (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:1ff) – when she met Jordanian King Hussein’s widow Queen Noor in 1999.

 

 Noonan, interestingly, thinks that the next time Hillary runs for President, she will do for her American audience what she formerly did for her very tiny Islamic audience. Noonan makes this prediction :

 

At some future point [in the 2008 Democratic primary cycle] Mrs. Clinton will leave, and at a more distant one she will try to come back. But more than one cycle will have to pass before she does. She’ll need more than four years to shake off the impression she made in 2008. And this is how you’ll know she’s making another bid for the presidency. She will wear skirts.

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A Person With Breasts

Peggy Noonan trains her sights on Hillary Clinton in this entry  of the Wall Street Journal‘s online Opinion Journal:

Hillary Clinton doesn’t have to prove she’s a man. She has to prove she’s a woman.

A person with breasts, and also with bicepsShe doesn’t have to prove to people that she’s tough enough or aggressive enough to be commander in chief. She doesn’t have to show she could and would wage a war. She has to prove she has normal human warmth, a normal amount of give, of good nature, that she is not, at bottom, grimly combative and rather dark.

This is the woman credited with starting and naming the War Room. Her staff has nicknamed her “The Warrior.” Get in her way and she’d squish you like a bug. This has been her reputation for 20 years. And it is her big problem. People want a president to be strong but not hard.

A longtime supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s spoke with candor some months back of her friend’s predicament. “We’re back where we were in ’92–likability. Nothing has changed.”

Back then, when the Clintons were newly famous, their consultants were alarmed to find the American people did not believe Hillary was a mother. They thought she was a person with breasts in a suit. She had a briefcase and a latte and was late for the meeting, but no way she did she have a child.

The gender-undertones here are fascinating to contemplate. 

On one hand, Noonan understands one of the fundamental planks of regnant feminism:  sexual differnces are merely and exclusively biological.  Individuals are “persons,” some of whom have breasts (the women) while the rest have differently configured tender bits (the men). 

On the other hand, Noonan’s trenchant analysis of Hillary’s campaign shows us that the electorate finds sex to involve more than a candidate’s sexual plumbing.  Evidently the electorate still thinks that sex has non-biological dimensions well.  Somehow notions of war and warriors and waging war and squishing bugs and aggression and being commander-in-chief are tied to masculinity, while femininity is still associated with human warmth, good nature, motherliness, and Celine Dion’s music.  Hillary isn’t feminine, and people notice. 

What a conundrum!  Hillary’s campaign must not break faith with that monstrous regiment of persons with breasts who give continual trumpet blasts against The Patriarchy.  And, yet, it appears Hillary’s campaign is waking up to this inconvenient fact:  they must secure the support of sexual neanderthals who still think that women ought to be and to act in classical patterns of femininity, all of which are scorned by those whose fundamental identity is “person with breasts.” 

Here’s the larger issue Noonan doesn’t even begin to engage:  when women wield great political power in the public arena, particularly the executive power, it trips the sexual identity alarms in those who behold it. As much as I admire Lady Margaret Thatcher’s achievements in temporarily reversing Great Britain’s slide into socialist mediocrity, I would never want her for a grandmother. 

Public executive power invariably masculinizes the women who wield that power, to greater or lesser extent that depends on the woman’s determination to retain some semblance of her femininity. 

These issues are writ large in something like Hillary’s campaign to become America’s first female president.  But, the same issues are alive and active in the workplaces, churches, families, and marriages of America’s Christians.  Noonan is like the boy who says “The Emporer has no clothes.”  Hillary has as much femininity as the Emporer had clothing.  What’s comical and dismaying at the same time is the plight of America’s Evangelicals — the egalitarians, overtly, and the squishy complementarians, implicitly — who are still mired in the feminist fantasy of the Seventies, when the cry of persons with breasts was “We can do anything a man can do.” 

Another person with breasts and manly accesorizingThat was never in doubt, of course.  The question was this:  may a woman do anything a man can do and still be a woman?  If “woman” means “person with breasts,” the answer is yes.  If “woman” means something more than biological factors, then Hillary’s campaign shows us the answer is no.  Hillary and her campaign managers, bless their hearts, are nearer the Kingdom than most American evangelicals.

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Dangerous Boys

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Woodlief and son Among the blessings of the Internet, one often stumbles across people you wish you had known about long before.  Another blessing is the ease by which to pass along these gems. Here’s one for you:  Tony Woodlief’s blog Sand in the Gears.   I stumbled across him via Opinion Journal ,  The Wall Street Journal’s online editorial portal, when Woodlief wrote a piece about fathers  for Father’s Day.  That led me to his blog, and from it I pass along another gem, his blog entitled “Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails” , which begins like this:

Cathy Young, whose writing I sometimes enjoy, suggests in her Reason Magazine essay  that the wildly popular Dangerous Book for Boys  is dangerous indeed, because it reinforces traditional sex roles. Why couldn’t it have been titled “The Dangerous Book for Kids”? In service to this question, Young quotes a female friend to great effect: “‘Where is the book for girls who did stuff like make their own chain mail as kids, or cracked rocks with sledgehammers in the driveway both to see what was inside them and to see if you could get sparks?'”

Woodlief proceeds to give an answer to this question, and it’s definitely fun to read. 

While you’re at it, take a look at Young’s essay  .  In it, she reports that “On blogs and Internet forums, readers complaining about the book’s exclusionary message have been dismissed as angry feminist whiners …”  Am I the only one who finds this sentence to capture the essence of feminist whining? 

Is this a whining feminist? Here are more things Young finds in The Dangerous Book for Boys to complain about:
 
“Yet the gender-specific nature of the message, which includes a chapter on how to deal with the alien creatures known as girls, is quite deliberate. Indeed, The Dangerous Book… is being treated as something of a political manifesto—a repudiation of the idea that boys and girls are basically alike.”

And,  this:

“While it encourages respect for girls, it does seem to treat them more as ‘the weaker sex’ than as equals. In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for ‘offering one to a girl when she cries.’ ”

And, also this:

“The trouble with The Dangerous Book for Boys is not that it seeks to restore the old-fashioned charms of adventurous boyhood but that it’s being treated as a restoration of old-fashioned wisdom about boys and girls.”

Woodlief provides a helpful analysis of Young’s pique.  Read it.  For now, I wish to comment on this observation by Woodlief:

Part of the problem here is the mistaken notion, perhaps due to an overactive sense of grievance, that the title of the book means that the knowledge therein is exclusively for boys. A more generous reading reveals that the authors, Conn and Hal Iggulden, simply wanted to include the stories, games, and skills that a great many boys (and men) want to know. Does that mean no girls should want to know these things? Of course not.

By men, for boys from eight to eightyI wouldn’t fault Woodlief too much here, but I think he has blasted right past the Real Affront that The Dangerous Book for Boys delivers to feminist feelings:  the book is addressed to boys only.  The back cover text includes this outrageous statement:  “The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.”  This, I submit, is what riles feminist sensibilities – that someone (especially males) would have something to say to other males, and expressly to ignore females in the bargain.

There are two books in the Bible which are written by men and for men.  Christians with an orthodox view of the Bible must confess that God wrote a couple of dangerous books for men and placed them in the canon.   The woman’s perspective is entirely missing in these books.  Though women are mentioned in these books, it is always from the perspective of men.  In these books you find information and opinion about women (though women are far from being the central subject of either tome) conveyed to men by other men.  

Do you know the name of these books of the Bible?  I’ll blog about them later.

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