• Gender Complementarian Trinitarian Analogies Do Not Work

Gender Complementarian Trinitarian Analogies Do Not Work

Blogger and author Scot McKnight made a series of posts about complementarianism and the Trinity this past week. I tweeted links to some of these blog posts earlier. The other night, blog Wartburg Watch made a post about these McKnight posts.

In that comment thread at TWW blog, I made a few comments, which I’ll get to in a moment.

For now, here are links to the McKnight posts (on his “Jesus Creed” blog):

Complementarianism’s Trinity: The Story Now Told – Aug 14

The Rise of the Complementarian Hypothesis of the Trinity – Aug 15

Civil War Among The Complementarians – Aug 16

Why Did It Take So Long? – Aug 17

The Trinity: Not from the Bible Alone – Aug 22

Some complementarians use a doctrine called E.S.S. (Eternal Subordination of the Son) to ground the subordination of wives to husbands in their very being (they use ESS as an ontological device).

They argue that because (in their view) that Jesus Christ is supposedly eternally subordinate to God the Father, in the same way, married women are subordinate to their husbands.

(I am unclear if the complementarians arguing ESS mean to say all women, regardless of marital status, are to be subordinate to all men or not. In all the cases I’ve seen of complementarians arguing ESS, it’s generally been on the basis of marital submission.)

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• Man Copes With the Death of His Wife By Hiking

 Man Copes With the Death of His Wife By Hiking

What may become my standard opener for posts about death and grief:

My mother died a little bit before the year 2010 (yes, I am being intentionally sketchy about specifics because I would like to remain anonymous).
I discovered the hard way after my mother’s passing, and I was shocked and deeply saddened and disappointed to find, that most Christians are terrible at helping someone who is in grief.
Many Christians do not even want to try to be there for someone who has experienced loss, whether out of laziness, selfishness, or feeling uncomfortable with open expressions of emotional pain.
Whatever the reason, most Christians do not want to weep with the one who weeps and therefore leaves them to cope with the loss completely alone, which I feel is terrible and insensitive.


I watched a Christian program that involved a man whose wife died of breast cancer. He started hiking to cope with the loss.

Before I get to the link and his story, I wanted to use his story as a reminder: conservative Christians keep offering this fairy tale story that marriage will solve all a person’s problems.

The conservative church portrays singleness after the age of 25 as being second class or merely a waiting period until one eventually marries (what if one never marries? they never address this possibility).

Getting married is not a solution to loneliness, financial problems, or about anything else problematic, as so many Christians like to portray it.

Should you marry, your spouse may turn out to be abusive (whether physically, emotionally, verbally, or financially), your spouse may announce one day that he’s not in love with you any longer and wants to divorce you to marry another; or, your spouse may come down with a mental health problem or get into a car wreck and become paralyzed.

And, of course, as this post shows, should you marry, your spouse may die from a physical cause.

Hiking Through – One Man’s Great Adventure on the Appalachian Trail

Snippets:

Each year thousands of people attempt to hike the entire Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Only one in four completes it. When then 58-year-old Paul Stutzman took his first steps on the 2,176 mile journey, he wanted more than a great adventure. He was looking for an encounter with God.

Years before, Paul was busy living life. He was happily married, had three children and a great job managing a large restaurant in Ohio’s Amish country.  Then in 2002, doctors diagnosed his beloved wife Mary with breast cancer. Although they did everything they could and believed God would heal her, Mary passed away four years later.

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• Christian Gender Complementarian Analogies Do Not Work

Christian Gender Complementarian Analogies Do Not Work

Christian gender complementarians sure are fond of using analogies to support their views. Never mind that their analogies do not work, some are meaningless to some people, and some are arguably heretical.

One of the most favored analogies complementarians employ – to bolster their claim that they believe “women are equal to men in value or worth, just not in role” is to do something like say, “A private in the Army has as much inherent worth as a General, he just doesn’t have as much authority.”

Sometimes, complementarians will patronizingly compare a wife, a marriage, to a boss and employee relationship, in order to make a point that the husband (the boss) may have the “final say” over the wife (the employee), but they are both equal in value as persons.

The problem with such comparisons is that they are based in temporary situations that can change.

Someone who has joined the U.S. military can attend officer training school and shoot from a lower rank to a higher rank.

Even if starting at the bottom of the pile, whether we are talking a military or civilian occupation, and employee who shows dedication, talent, and skill – and possibly one who receives additional education – can be promoted. Today’s mail room subordinate can theoretically be tomorrow’s  C.E.O.

In the world of complementarianism, however, a woman is forever stuck in the same role, the same level, no matter how talented she is, or how dedicated or educated.

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• Topics and Concerns Under-Reported by Christians or Abuse and Survivor Sites

Depending on my level of interest and schedule, I may, in the future, write separate blog posts discussing some of the topics I am listing below.

Some of the survivor or abuse recovery sites, forums, groups, and blogs I visit (whether ones owned by conservative Christians, liberal Christians, or ex Christians) do a wonderful job of exposing the problems of things such as authoritarianism and child-abuse (and wife-abuse) cover-ups by churches.

Those are certainly important topics that are deserving of coverage.

Some abuse or survivor blogs will cover some of the issues I have mentioned below, but only by way a “token” post or two.

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• Five Signs of An Abusive Relationship Most People Will Dismiss by Harriet Marsden

Five Signs of An Abusive Relationship Most People Will Dismiss by Harriet Marsden

Snippets:

If asked to name signs of abuse in a relationship, many would assume physical violence.

Domestic violence and relationship abuse are often cognitively associated with black eyes, broken bones, sexual assault, rape and even murder.

But what about the non-physical violence? Trauma, manipulation, control, emotional torture? A subtler, more insidious and ultimately easier to hide type of abuse?

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• A Response to the Complementarian ‘The Beauty of Womanhood Essay’ by Abagail Dodds

This essay by Mrs. Dodds is available from the John Piper “Desiring God” site, as well as an excerpt from Mrs. Dodd’s own blog:

The Beauty of Womanhood Her Uniqueness Makes Her Essential – Desiring God

The Prism of Womanhood – Hope and Stay (Dodds’ blog)

Because many Christian gender complementarians harbor false ideas about women who reject complementarianism, and adhere to false notions of what gender egalitarianism is, I wanted to clear up a few things about myself from the start.

You can see the longer version of my beliefs on my blog’s About Page. This is a shortened list:

  • I have always been conservative, both on social and political issues.
  • I do not hate motherhood, men, or marriage.
  • I used to be a Christian gender complementarian.
    … I understand complementarianism. I did not reject complementarianism because of liberalism, secular feminism, hatred of the Bible, or due to ignorance of what complementarianism is.
  • I am not a Christian-hating, abortion- supporting, hairy, bra-burning feminist, liberal, or Democrat (nor am I an atheist).
    In other words, I am not the stereotype a lot of Christian gender complementarians make women like me (ones who disagree with complementarianism) out to be.

I find most of Dodds’ piece to be disingenuous. She applies the word “complementarian” to some terms or concepts that are actually egalitarian in nature. On some points (not all), she is trying to sell a watered-down version of gender egalitarianism under the label “complementarian,” which is not honest nor accurate.

Maybe Dodds is not even aware that she is doing this: I find that a lot of complementarians, in their blog posts and discussions in comment boxes on blogs and forums, like and agree with egalitarianism, they apply egalitarian practices to their own lives or marriages (if married) in many aspects, but then they slap the label “complementarian” on these egalitarian beliefs.

Another inaccurate or deceptive tactic Dodds uses is to sprinkle the word “single” (as in unmarried) through-out her essay, while all the time, for the vast majority of the essay, defining her version of “biblical womanhood” or “femininity” to only be able to be practiced within the contexts of ‘stay at home motherhood.’

In other words, Dodds’ understanding of God- approved femaleness can really only be fully realized within the confines of married motherhood, yet she continually tosses out the word “single” in her essay, as if to say her views about femaleness are applicable to single adult women as well as to married women or to mothers. Dodds’ treatment or negligence of adult singles is a topic I will  return to later in this post.

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