Monday, January 26, 2009

Just How Is This "God's Plan"?

I've known for a long time that religious conservatives despise feminism. This is not surprising really, for feminism's very existence calls into question many of the fundamental assumptions about social lives and structures that are embedded in the scripture. So, if you are inclined to assume that scripture should be handled literally, feminism in all its forms is deeply unsettling.

In many respects, it comes as no big surprise to me that evangelical christianity has invented its own anti-feminist movement.

To the age-old question of “who is God,” Kassian complained, feminism answers, it’s up to you. And this, to Kassian, is a blasphemous statement of authority in and of itself, and even a sign of self-worship. “According to feminism, women decide, and ultimately, that means that they themselves are God.”

Actually not really. Feminism doesn't generally have anything to say about the concept of "God". However, what it does do is call upon women to think and act for themselves.

It gets better:

“Wimpy theology does not give a woman a God big enough, strong enough, wise enough, good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that enables her to magnify Him and His Son all the time… Wimpy theology doesn’t have a granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath.” Non-wimpy theology gives women both a God strong enough to see them through the worst of life, Piper continued, and also a set of non-negotiable mandates for life. Namely that 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. There is massive power in this room, so I do not take lightly this moment.”

Now, personally, I don't buy the biblical 'man as head of the family' routine - I never have. Real families are active partnerships between the spouses, not situations where one partner places themselves in submission to the whims of the other.

Then, someone sat down and started pointing out the dark side of this woman-as-submissive mentality:

In June 2007, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Bruce Ware told a Texas church that women often bring abuse on themselves by refusing to submit. And Debi Pearl, half of a husband-and-wife fundamentalist child-training ministry as well as author of the bestselling submission manual, Created to Be His Help Meet, writes that submission is so essential to God’s plan that it must be followed even to the point of allowing abuse. “When God puts you in subjection to a man whom he knows is going to cause you to suffer,” she writes, “it is with the understanding that you are obeying God by enduring the wrongful suffering.”

When these clowns are telling women that the spouse who is beating them every couple of weeks is doing "God's will" and that women are meant to suffer at the hands of an abusive spouse, they are doing something far worse than the abuse itself - they are fostering the very grounds that abuse will flourish in.

Saddleback’s position is “typical evangelical fare on the subject of domestic abuse and domestic violence,” responds Andersen. Typical because, like other well-known and extremely influential evangelical leaders, Saddleback is pushing a message of “leave while the heat is on,” but only with the intention of returning to the marriage when the violence has cooled. This is the message that Andersen tracks from Christian leaders as prominent as megachurch pastor John MacArthur, Focus on the Family head James Dobson, and established Christian radio psychologists Minirth and Meier on the far-reaching Moody Media empire. “Everyone with a lick of sense knows that, in a violent marriage, the heat is never really off,” Andersen tells me. “Everything can be fine one minute, and the next minute you’re dead.”

I don't care what scripture says about wifely submission, or for that matter the man's right to beat his spouse. Abuse is abuse - and it is wrong. Period. If scripture says it's "okay", then the scripture is simply demonstrating that it is an artifact of an era long past, and it is time to move beyond interpreting it literally.