02 April 2017

Feminism Repackaged, Revised and... Re-claimed?

Increasingly Evangelicals are trying to 'claim' feminism and wed it to the anti-abortion movement. This is such a strange shift and yet is part of a larger drift within the Evangelical movement.

This was probably more of a story back in January as there was great deal of attention on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. There was the big woman's march to protest Trump and there was some controversy generated over whether or not real feminists can be pro-life and thus anti-abortion.
Personally as disgusted as I am with abortion I am also very put off by Evangelical politicising when it comes to this issue. There's a lot of dishonesty about history, about science and medicine and certainly about motive. Abortion is an abomination but the Christian forces that have rallied together to form a political bloc are on many levels a great and corrupting danger to the integrity of the Church. It has compromised their morality and most certainly their theology.
Apart from the joining with Rome as symbolised by the Evangelicals and Catholics Together movement (ECT), there is now the confusion over feminism.
It is not a little irksome that one of the most prominent anti-abortion groups located with Evangelicalism goes by the name of the Susan B. Anthony List.
This is one of the many sleight-of-hand historical tricks played by Evangelicals. They're trying to 'claim' or appropriate early feminism and steal the legacy away from figures like Margaret Sanger and the later feminists.
What they're trying to suggest is that early feminism and the suffragette movement were somehow Christian and these movements were hijacked by 'liberals'.
This completely misunderstands and misrepresents the placing of Suffragettes in their historical context, let alone the nature of the Progressive movement.
But perhaps more importantly it whitewashes the many and dangerous errors represented by figures like Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
While these women were ostensibly Christian, as indeed most Europeans and Americans professed to be at that time, their ideas were patently anti-Christian.
Yes, they were against abortion. All well and good but this is meaningless when placed in a larger context. Many unbelievers and adherents of other religions hold to basic moral positions but we certainly don't take on their names or invoke their legacies. We don't want to start 'ministries' and name them after Hindus, Buddhists or Mormons do we? But the Suffragettes get a pass because there's a great desire to appropriate the narrative and claim them and their work as part of the great Christian-American heritage.
The truth is these women represented heretical forms of Christianity. They were unorthodox when it came to basic doctrines and their views of marriage are abominable. They viewed it as slavery and in general did not express Biblical understandings of marriage, gender or family.
We can be glad these women were opposed to abortion, if they really were, but they were still wrong, in rebellion to God's order and were heretics. It is most disturbing that these women are getting a whitewash in Christian circles and in particular among Evangelicals.
How many parents and Christian teachers will destroy their own credibility in promoting these women? Their daughters, in good feminist fashion will be sent off to college to pursue careers and when they're in attendance at university they will likely discover, from professors who will happily tell them... who these women really were and what they stood for.
What a quandary. Either admit your parents and the Evangelical leadership misled you, or embrace these feminists and abandon Scripture.
Or I suppose you could do what many Evangelicals do... stop your ears and keep repeating the lies over and over again, as loud as you can.
The previous generation of Evangelicals understood this. In the 1970s and 1980s they had seen the ugly side of feminism and were not attracted to it. Ironically (once again) it was figures like Phyllis Schlafly, acting in a feminist fashion that represented the opposition to this. The seeds for the shift and fall were already being planted.
Evangelicals used to understand that while feminists might have a point when it comes to a few issues, the movement overall was an affront to God and a rejection of His Authority. They also understood that while it was laudable that Roman Catholics were against abortion and stood for traditional families, no alliance could be made with them. They could not yoke themselves to unbelievers.
Neo-Evangelicalism has so embraced the culture as to lose any sense of antithesis. Feminism is not only accepted, it has become normative. It's almost as if since you can't eradicate it from the culture, therefore we must claim and appropriate it. And so now the battle is on, to try and Christianise it and its narrative.
And thus were brought to the point of absurdity, a time in which Christians are focused on a battle over the pro-life 'women's movement'.
Feminism rejects the teaching of Scripture and the created order. It is therefore opposed to God and is thus a road of death and certainly the death of the family. The Evangelical saviours of the family are trying to treat a poisoned wound with more poison. It has created chaos as now the people opposed to feminism... are in fact embracing it.
Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.
Following the Scriptures and thus Christ Himself will result in ostracisation from the world, ridicule and ultimately persecution. This can start with social persecution in the form of pressures. For example in our present culture it is more or less considered a necessity that wives work. Unless you're a member of the upper tier you will not have enough money to live. A single income especially for middle class, lower-middle class and certainly lower class people is almost unthinkable.
You will grow frustrated over your lack of liquidity. You won't have money to keep up your house to proper middle class standards. You won't have the extra cash for holidays, for all those little extras. You will be frustrated as your kids just won't have the opportunities other kids have. You won't have the money to pay for them to do all the other things the other middle class kids are doing.
I can see why people cave. Unless you completely change the way you think about life and what it's all about, you will feel like an outsider, a loser, like you're bad parents. As a husband I can attest to the fact that your wife will be looked down on. People will assume you are some sort of a tyrant. The list goes on and on.
But so what? Isn't that what we're told to expect? Once a pilgrim mindset is embraced, these things, these 'values' can be rejected. They don't matter.
Instead such confusion has been brought into the Church that now Evangelical women have (a la FOX news) confused sensuality with femininity. Assertiveness has replaced shamefacedness. I daresay most modern Evangelical women cannot even grasp the meaning of such concepts. They pay lip service to what the New Testament teaches about women but they absolutely reject it when it comes to word and deed.
I've mentioned previously one Penny Young Nance who heads Concerned Women for America, the political group founded by Beverly LaHaye. I heard Nance one day on a Christian radio programme and was really put off by not just her message but her manner.
She was promoting her book, Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women. I went home and looked it up. Since then I've seen it for sale in some bookstores. Just take a look at the cover and contemplate it for a moment.
Somehow things have moved sideways. Assertiveness is now feminine? In fact there's an old word that is perfectly applied to Young, one no longer used in our culture. One if heard usually elicits a chuckle.
She's what women would have once called a 'hussy' and shameless at that. She's impudent and immoral and is trying to use her skin to get attention and make her point. She's precisely the kind of woman in the workplace that breeds trouble for men. Perhaps you know the type? They're half-flirting with you while giving orders. There's a little innuendo game going on all the time. This is the danger of women in the workplace. They wield tremendous power over men.
I don't say this to exonerate men, their inappropriate thoughts and behaviour. Please don't misunderstand me. Many undoubtedly will. The recent stink over Mike Pence and his refusal to dine with women who are not his wife has generated great (if baffling) controversy. It's somewhat astounding how far our culture has shifted in that many seem to be literally unable to grasp the issue. I hate to defend Pence but on this point he's right.
Men have their problems and they are legion and yet the concern here is the re-casting of feminism as something that can be placed both within the conservative orbit (which is to re-write cultural history) and within the Christian orbit, which is to re-cast theology.
Evangelicalism has laboured so diligently to influence the culture that it has embraced it. This is always the danger. We have to live in the world and be not of it, which is hard enough. But immersing yourself within the culture and seeking to transform its institutions, the result is the opposite. The Church itself is transformed and syncretises the culture. This particular issue so clearly demonstrates this tendency and also displays the dangerous end result. The values of the culture are not only embraced, they are incorporated into the theology of the Church.
This is why Dominionism is not only a heresy, it is one of the greatest magnitude.
We see this with Evangelical attitudes toward Classical Liberalism and the Enlightenment within the context of the United States, its founding, history and culture. The consequence is a confused, idolatrous and absolutely heretical narrative and theology concerning the United States. The American Church is by no means alone in this but the fact that the US wields historically unprecedented power and has enforced its will through a continuous stream of violence casts the American version of this theology in a particularly egregious light.
Not only do we have Evangelical organisations that stand for conservatism and anti-feminism... which in fact embrace liberal values and feminism, we've seen an additional outworking in the structure of the family.
The Church has shifted on the issue of divorce. Also, the Church which once stood for Biblical teaching regarding the Christian woman's place in the home shifted and embraced the two-income model of the culture. Evangelicals were not going to be relegated to insignificance and poverty. Security and respectability, the hallmarks of the Middle Class have long been wed to Evangelical and even Magisterial Reformational values.
The two-income paradigm was troubling enough and certainly destructive when it came to the life of the family. But now we've gone further and Evangelicalism has all but embraced the notion of the woman being the primary bread winner.
The culture has embraced this thinking and on a practical level women are increasingly more educated and more able to find employment that pays better. I think this might be particularly true in Rust Belt areas where many of the men were once employed in blue collar work cannot earn a living wage.
What was once a mark of shame is no longer the case. Now on national television men will openly proclaim that they are stay-at-home dads. A generation ago this would have been humiliating and the man would have been an object of ridicule and scorn.
Today they're being made leaders in the Church as this inverted and unbiblical paradigm is being openly embraced by the Evangelical community... without shame.
There's a larger economic story here, about men being forced out of the workforce, the decline of manufacturing, the modern juvenile man that won't grow up etc...
For anyone old enough, the social changes are just profound. I say this as one who does not possess a memory of the 1960s feminist marches. My earliest memories in this regard are the campaigns for the Equal Rights Amendment and Helen Reddy's 'I Am Woman' being played on the radio.
My point is that watching the feminisation of men has been shocking. Women have been made both more masculine and sexualised at the same time. It has generated an incongruity of provocative women who utterly lack feminine charm, even of the dubious and immoral variety. The sensation is one of androgyny. They are akin to men bearing décolletage.
There are many other little things, things which don't necessarily mean anything in and of themselves. It's interesting to observe how many women now drive the car, in many cases it's because it's their car as opposed to a family car. What's the big deal? It's not. But in the past man drove because it's a position of authority and responsibility. It was born of the same values that led men to walk on the curb side of the sidewalk. There's nothing sinful about women driving. I'm not advocating the Saudi model, or even old fashioned extra-Biblical chivalry. But I am suggesting that women driving with their husbands riding as passengers represents a shift in values.
I notice in public it's women who order the food, who do most of the vocal interaction with waiters, office people and the like. In other words, they're taking the lead while their meek husbands lurk in the waiting room chair or in the corner. I'm not for a moment suggesting that in every case the woman should take the backseat in public interaction. There are cases, at the doctor's office for instance when my wife is much more capable in communicating what's happening with one of our children. I'm not saying it's sinful for the wife to order the meal in a fast food restaurant. This is frustrating because it can be so easily misunderstood or misconstrued as misogynist. These are the subtle things that I don't think very many people think about.
We occasionally will watch a Wheel of Fortune or something like it on YouTube. I've mentioned this before I think. It's amazing that during 'couples' episodes the women dominate. Largely they introduce the husband and take a leadership role in how they as a couple and a family are presented to the world.
The world is lost and will always reject Biblical values but the Church has embraced these things openly and blindly. Their theology has opened the door. The shift within Evangelicalism is easily seen. Many congregations that I attended almost twenty years ago have undergone significant change. Women are now leading worship, prayer and in some cases teaching adult Sunday School and even preaching. Some will say this is merely a practical measure, reflective of reality. Congregations are largely made up of women. The few men present don't want to speak or lead. There's no doubt some truth to that but it doesn't make it right or even acceptable.
Our culture is rapidly moving toward a decadent and sodomitical androgyny. While this is obvious when it comes to the prevalence of the Trans- abomination, what is not so clear is that the Church is well on the road to embracing this. Its opposition is only holding it back, it's not a true intrinsic opposition.
There are many conservatives who realise this and are sounding the alarm but all too often they are unwilling to relate these issues to the larger questions which involve Biblical obedience and not merely in the realms of gender and family. There are sociological and yes, even economical issues at stake. They go together.
Once again it must be stated that individualist Capitalism itself has played no small part in producing this cultural decadence. The sins of Sodom are rooted (according to Ezekiel 16) not just in perversity but in covetousness and self-worship. This is the gate that leads to deviance.
The Church has not understood this and is in great peril.
There are some who have reacted and yet in many cases their reactions are wedded to equally strange organic agrarian narratives often rooted in shoddy mis-reads of history, questionable science and certainly dubious theological interpretation. These movements are sadly little more than distractions that fall into bad and unfounded sorts of conspiracy theory. Wedded to heretical political paradigms they tend to produce sinful forms of resistance and even the threat of violence.
The Church is in crisis. I think most people realise that but once again it is the leaders of Evangelicalism, the Christian Right and Confessionalism that have failed. Wedded to institutions both academic and denominational they have failed to stand on what the Scriptures teach. They are either blind to its implications or are unwilling to follow through. The truth is if they were successful it would probably lead to the collapse of their institution's finances. More likely this would come about not due to some kind of revivalistic fidelity of Christians changing their lives and lifestyles but from mass exodus.
Until the Church quits idolatrously worshipping America and until it rejects the heresy of Dominionism, which results in a love of power and money, there will be no change. The very tools being prescribed by the blind guides of Evangelical and Confessional Christianity are the very mechanisms leading the Church into this sodomitical pit.
Some additional reading: