This editorial I link to much farther below, by Powell, on Eternity News site, reflects several views I’ve held for a long time, one of which is that American Christians, especially the more conservative ones, are really not so different in their views towards gender and sexual behavior as the secular culture.
However, American Christians really like to run about in their blogs and podcasts saying their take on things is “counter cultural” and oh so very different from what they imagine liberals and feminists promote.
My response to that: No, it’s not. The Christian view is not all that different from what they, Christians, believe liberals and feminists supposedly promote or believe about sexuality.
Christians are actually maintaining and enabling the cultural status quo and re-enforcing cultural gender stereotypes and sexual practices they claim to be in opposition to.
I have also noted that strict adherence to traditional gender stereotypes, which Christians promote under gender complementarianism, are not going to resolve societal problems, such as divorce, transgenderism, and other things Christians say they are concerned about.
(Nor will heterosexual marriage, natalism, or the nuclear family “fix” societal ills either, but Christians from James Dobson to Al Mohler and secular conservative think tanks keep promoting these entities, though the Bible itself does not – not as a solution for cultural decay.)
Where the author, Powell, states:
…[we should be] teaching our sons a masculinity that isn’t based on power and aggression…
She would be describing some of the elements that encompass what feminists refer to as “toxic masculinity.” Many anti- feminists, Christians and conservatives misunderstand what the term “toxic masculinity” means.
#metoo shows the church has the same problem as society
A return to traditional sexuality and gender norms will not solve the problems raised by the #metoo movement, because research shows that it makes no difference to the incidence of sexual harassment and abuse.
What we need, if we are to find real, effective answers to this urgent issue, are power structures that are honest about the potential for abuse, a reshaping of sexuality as an intimate act of love rather than servicing a male need, and teaching our sons a masculinity that isn’t based on power and aggression.
When Christians argue that sexual liberation and feminism have caused the #metoo phenomenon – as in Jim Daly’s blog for Focus on the Family and onbiblicalgenderroles.com – they betray a desire to return to a situation where women are made responsible for men’s sexual appetites.
If women were more modest or chaste or separate from men, this wouldn’t be happening to such a degree, according to a Crossways editor and blogger Samuel James. The problem is, such arguments do not fit the evidence.
If sexual liberation in the West had created a society that fostered sexual harassment and abuse, we would expect countries with stricter sexual mores to have a significantly lower incidence of these wrongs. Despite great pressure on women in such countries not to report sexual harassment and abuse, available figures show they are serious problems throughout the world.
A report by WHO in 2013 found sexual and intimate partner violence against women was a global problem, not confined to the West. It also did not find sexual mores a significant factor in reducing such violence. Rather, greater gender equity and more legal recourse were important.
Similarly, suggesting men never meet one-on-one with a woman in a modern version of the Billy Graham rule suggests female participation in the workforce is part of the problem. The reality is that most women need to work. Choosing to stay at home has always been possible only for those who are privileged by wealth, ethnicity and education.
The problem is not that women work outside the home but that they do so on unequal terms, making them vulnerable to abuse. I believe this abuse occurs because of two major problems. The first is the way we construct male sexuality as an uncontrollable need that has to be met, leading to a belief in male sexual entitlement, as highlighted in this report about sexual harassment and abuse around the world.
I’m surprised at how much Christians acquiesce to societal understandings of sexuality. We allow men to blame women’s clothing and behaviour, or suggest women should be continually sexually available for their husbands. In this, we minimise a person’s responsibility for their own desire that runs counter to our whole understanding of sin.
For instance, Matthew 5:27-30 puts the responsibility on the one lusting to manage their own desire. We also reduce sexuality from an intimate act of love to servicing a need.
The rest of that editorial is located on this page on the Eternity News site.