Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Oh King, Live Forever....

Those were the words of Daniel, as he bowed to the authority of a pagan king and no doubt prayed for God's mercies on his unbelieving sovereign. Daniel was a prisoner of war who had been castrated by his captors. He submitted to his Babylonian over-lords, because he had no choice in the matter. In his servitude, Daniel served God with all his being. And he was blessed for that. But that did not mean that Daniel served as an example for the righteous men of every generation to seek castration and servitude as God's glorious design for his people.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Another pagan sovereign, issued an edict for all women to be subject to their husbands [the only command about gender-based subjection found in the entire Old Covenant, and it stemmed from poor counsel and a heart of rage, fear, and pride]. This enraged, badly advised, king banished his own wife because she rightly demonstrated autonomy and showed respect for herself in the matter of parading naked before a drunken husband and a room full of drunken nobles (True to form and aligned with the complementarian "Evil Woman" doctrine, the movie "One Night with the King" viciously slanders Queen Vashti, who behaved virtuously in the matter and was entirely in the right).

Fast forward to 2018. Three thousand complementarian women, signed a petition in which the opening words of the "Letter to the SWBTS Board of Trustees" begins in much the same way as Daniel addressed his conquistador king: 'We are concerned Southern Baptist women who affirm the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 including its statements on the roles of men and women in the family and in the church (Oh, Kings, we acknowledge your divine right of ruler-ship. Live forever and hear our petition).' We urge you to exercise the authority you have been given by the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and to take a strong stand against unbiblical teaching regarding womanhood, sexuality, and domestic violence." (Please issue an edict to protect women from the abuses of the paradigm you created with the Danvers Statement in 1987--that of absolute male authority). 

Flash back 1995: Why did it take 150 years for the SBC to apologize for its unbiblical teaching that chattel slavery was part of "God's Glorious Design" for humanity [complementarians use the same phrase regarding gender roles]? Indeed, the dispute over slavery is the very reason for the denomination coming into existence. The northern Baptists wanted to abolish slavery, and the Southern Baptists formed their own convention for the sole purpose of affirming that slavery was biblical, good, and God ordained. Finally, on the 150th anniversary of the creation of the convention,  an apology finally come forth.

But what has this to do with the "LETTER TO SWBTS BOARD OF TRUSTEES" which is from modern-day women?

At the onset of the Civil War, how many MANY slaves affirmed the SBC's position on slavery and called the Northern armies, "Yankee Devils," for wanting to free them? There is a parallel here. This is not "living in the past." Remembering these facts is relevant to what is happening today, in the movement for both men and women to break free from complementarianism.

Abuses are being exposed. Christians are denouncing the historical and current mistreatment of women in the churches and homes. This is a good start. And I applaud those who are speaking out against these abuses.

But let's not plan an emancipation party just yet...

...because until the root of male authority doctrine is ripped from the ground of our hearts and psyches, every bulb and rhizome dug out completely, until the federal headship of males is rejected for the devilish lie that it is, and annihilated, the abuses will continue

Denunciations that are largely words and less action will have little more effect than a loose bandage that hides a wound but does not heal it. Denouncing the wrong while affirming the system that causes the wrong [which is what the "Letter to the SWBTS Board of Trustees," does]...is WRONG.

"There you go, Jocelyn, throwing rocks again. Why can't you be more irenic? Why do you rain on our parade and cause division, particularly now that people are finally speaking out? You should be promoting unity." 

I am promoting unity...

...the unity God intended when he created his men and his women to live as functional equals on the planet he placed them on and told them both to dominate.

But there can be no unity until Christian men acknowledge Christian women as their functional equals, and a big part of the problem right now, is that many Christian women are like the slaves who believed the lie that God had created them to be slaves. 19th century slaves, actively resisted emancipation. Even after the proclamation finally came, many slaves were hesitant to leave the plantations. They were afraid to embrace the liberty that had always been forbidden to them, the liberty they had been told was sinful and wrong to long for--sinful to even think about. 

Advocates for liberty, do not be discouraged when our complementarian sisters cannot believe they were created for glorious autonomy, for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These things, our brothers have always enjoyed and take absolutely for granted, and, in America, fought the Revolutionary War to gain.

Many slaves would not leave the plantations simply because of an Emancipation Proclamation. When the Union Army enlisted the help of a run-away slave in their famous Combahee River Raid, Harriet Tubman sang out to the slaves to not be afraid, to leave the plantations, to get on the boat to freedom. It was her reassurance that gave many the courage to reach out and take hold of the freedom offered to them. For two more years Tubman scouted for the army. She scouted into Confederate territory. She tended to newly freed slaves, and [serving the cause of freedom] continued her more than twenty annual trips South, leading slaves to freedom until slavery was no more.

Back to the present: The only unity that can be accomplished at this point, is unity between the abolitionists [egalitarian Christians] and on the other side, the dysfunctional unity that exists between the slave-holders and their slaves. We must continue to speak out and pray that the eyes of both slave-holders and slaves will be opened, and that God will break the chains obligating their minds and lives to a lie that binds and oppresses them both.

I have seen the dark under-belly of complementarianism. I have experienced its life-threatening nature. In 2007, the Holy Spirit got my attention and showed me that if I spent my days, months, and years traveling from speaking engagement to speaking engagement (and I had many invitations) exposing and denouncing the abuses, that I would be running "half-dressed" and in the process, getting farther and farther from the goal. At that point, I cancelled all of my speaking engagements until further notice. 

The abuses are only half the problem. The abuses are symptoms of the disease--not the disease itself. The cause must be treated before the cure can come. So, I will not mince words, nor will I be concerned with irenic speech. Complementarianism is rotten to the core. It is dangerous, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Just because it "works" for some goodhearted gentle souls, does not mean the paradigm itself is good. E.G., Polygamy "works" among some peoples and religions, but that does not mean polygamy is either God ordained or good.  
Why should the master care if the slaves are unhappy with their treatment? Why should the master care if a public letter protesting bad treatment is posted with 3000 slave signatures, as long as the letter begins with an affirmation of the master's absolute right to rule--which it does? 

Preventing a revolt is always a good idea.  Let's appease them and acknowledge their petition. That will keep them happy, on the plantation, and safely under our control. The king is not threatened when his captives acknowledged his supremacy in the first sentence of their petitions. But, avoiding all-out uprisings by throwing a few bones in the way of acknowledgments, is always a good idea. It's good business. It's good politics.

Oh King, live forever....

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Poor Master


No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck…..
Fredrick Douglas

“I was always praying for poor ole master…Oh Lord, convert ole master. Oh dear Lord, change dat man’s heart and make him a Christian.” –Harriet Tubman.[1]  Harriet Tubman, like so many slaves, suffered terribly at the hands of cruel masters. A few slaves had kind masters and would have been happy to have remained slaves.[2] But these were the exception, not the rule, and kind masters did not make the institution of slavery any less heinous. “Good Masters” did not make slavery right:[3]Even kind masters who found themselves in financial straits chose their fortunes over whatever compassion they may have had for the slaves on their land, and these masters bought and sold those human beings as briskly as anyone else did, thereby breaking up families and subjecting black people to a most humiliating existence….”[4]


Former slave, Fredrick Douglas, observed that few if any masters were actually “good” and that even if they started out that way, owning other human beings took a devastating toll on the characters of both men and women. He wrote: “My new mistress proved to be all she appeared when I first met her at the door—a woman of the kindest heart and finest feelings. She had never had a slave under her control previously to myself, and prior to her marriage she had been dependent upon her own industry for a living…she had been in a good degree preserved from the blighting and dehumanizing effects of slavery. I was utterly astonished at her goodness…Her face was made of heavenly smiles, and her voice of tranquil music. But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon… Slavery proved as injurious to her as it did to me (emphasis added).”[5]


It is no different today, among Christians, as church teachings place gender-based authority in the hands of all males over all females creating, essentially, a master/slave mentality. Boys raised from infancy to believe in the inherent superiority of males over females are firmly entrenched in their sense of lordship well before they reach adulthood. Shirley Taylor,[6] in a telephone interview with the author, expressed concern for young Christian males by asking, “How we can put this kind of power into the hands of a 17 year old boy and expect him to know how to handle it?” Along the same lines, Callie Smith Grant wrote of the deleterious toll of institutionalized slavery on the families of slaveholders.[7]


The evidence is mounting that young men and boys cannot handle it. Belief in rigidly defined gender roles results in deterioration of character and a propensity towards abuse or violence at younger ages than ever before.[8] College campuses have become hotbeds of domestic violence with one in five coeds experiencing abuse or violence at the hands of boyfriends. Research into the phenomenon reveals that power and control issues based on strongly held perceptions of rigid role distinctions are responsible for the problem.[9] 


Even if a young man never resorts to domestic violence, the damage done to the psyches of boys raised to believe in male authority is inestimable. How many of these young men, raised to be Lords, will never know the joy of true intimacy that can only come with profound respect based on practical equality with one’s spouse?[10]


The slave-holding spirit, manifested through complementarianism, cannot help but produce constant erosion on the characters of the slaveholders, callusing tender consciences and slowly turning caring hearts of flesh into dis-compassionate hearts of stone. And when does this stony heart become apparent, if not by adolescence or college age, perhaps on the honeymoon?


In “A Man’s Touch,” Charles Stanley described a scene from his own honeymoon, a scene which he was proud to relate as an example of good marital communication. In reality, it was far from it. Stanley proudly recounts, “It was during our honeymoon…she cooked our first meal, and we sat down to a delightful fried chicken dinner. I looked around and asked, “Where is the gravy? She said, “We never had gravy with chicken.” I said, “I never had chicken without gravy (emphasis in original).” She rose quietly from the table and made at least a gallon—not knowing how to make gravy, she kept adding too much of various ingredients! It was more like jello than gravy…but I spoke up and she responded….”[11]


He “spoke up and she responded?!” Complaining about your bride’s first home-cooked meal and comparing her meal planning and preparation to your mother’s on your honeymoon is an example of good communication? How humiliating it must have been for this newlywed to hear her groom criticize the first meal she had ever cooked for them as a married couple. There is only one first meal, and no doubt it was important to her that everything be perfect. Stanley ought to have been ashamed for letting his bride leave the “delightful” meal she had prepared, allowing it to grow cold while she catered to his self-centered fancy.


How wounded her heart must have been. And did he even care?  Selfless love, on his part, would have recoiled at the thought of his bride returning to the stove instead of remaining at the table with him and enjoying the “delightful”—though gravy-less—dinner together. Instead of allowing his new wife to struggle through the humiliating gravy debacle while he mentally congratulated himself on his communication skills, why couldn’t Stanley, instead, have complemented her on the “delightful” meal she had prepared and simply enjoyed it without complaining about what she had not prepared?


He could just as easily, and without hurting his wife, have requested gravy with his chicken at a later date before the next chicken dinner. But that option would obviously have been too much of an assault upon his “masculine person-hood.” The way Stanley tells it, his only other option, besides wounding his wife on her honeymoon, would have been to sulk and wonder when she would ever “learn how to fix a real meal?” (Emphasis added)


Where was compassion for his bride as he watched her make that fried egg sandwich (see chapter one) in the form of a pitiful bowl of jello-gravy? Did it lay buried in the same grave with her hope for a marriage based on equality and mutual respect?  We may never know the answer to that and other questions. But we do know that Anna Stanley, after 44 years of marriage, quietly divorced Charles in May of the year 2000.[12]


Jesus said it is better that a millstone be hanged around our necks than to offend one of these little ones that believe in Him. Teaching little boys that they are destined to rule over women and teaching little girls that they are deserving of servitude is worse than offending them, it is crippling them. It is thievery and larceny. It is stealing a precious part of the future from children—the hope of a family of their own based solely on love and mutual respect rather than on authoritarian chain of command


This article is an excerpt from the book, Woman this is War! Gender, Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System, chapter 25.





[1] Harriet Tubman quoted by Sarah H. Bradford in, Harriet, The Moses of Her People, 1886


[2] “Lawdy! I sho' was happy when I was a slave. "De N* today is de same as dey always was, 'ceptin' dey's gittin' more money to spen'. Dey aint got nobody to make' em' 'have deyse'ves an' keep 'em out o' trouble, now.” Gabe Emanuel,  extracted from Mississippi Slave Narratives, 1941


[3]There is nothing picturesque or beautiful, in the family attachment of old servants, which is not to be found in countries where these servants are legally free. The tenants on an English estate are often more fond and faithful than if they were slaves. Slavery, therefore, is not the element which forms the picturesque and beautiful of Southern life. What is peculiar to slavery, and distinguishes it from free servitude, is evil, and only evil, and that continually.” Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin: Presenting The Original Facts And Documents Upon Which The Story Is Founded Together with Corroborative Statements to the Truth of The Work, 1853.


[4] Callie Smith Grant, Free Indeed: African American Christians and the struggle for equality, Barbour Books, 2003

“…she is still held as a slave. I well remember what a heart-rending scene there was in the family when my father sold her husband…And yet my father was considered one of the best of masters. I know of few who were better...” Letter from former slave owner to Harriet Beecher Stowe, A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin: Presenting The Original Facts And Documents Upon Which The Story Is Founded Together with Corroborative Statements to the Truth of The Work, 1853.

African American author, Karen Arnett Spaulding, skillfully portrayed the realities slaves dealt with when running for freedom was contemplated.  “Even the relative security of living on a plantation where slaves were rarely sold did not change the feelings of a slave who yearned to be free…She did not want to think about sleeping in the woods by day and running by night, hoping to get to the north and freedom. And if and when they did arrive, what would they do? How would they live?” Karen Arnett Spaulding, Running For Their Lives, Authorhouse, 2007 



[5] Fredrick Douglass, A Narrative on the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1845



[7] “Another unavoidable result of slavery James (James W. C. Pennington) wrote about was how slaveholder’s families deteriorated over time. James wrote, ‘There is no one feature of slavery to which the mind recurs with more gloomy impressions than to its disastrous influence upon the families of the masters…’ Slaves had always observed this phenomenon—that each generation of slaveholders in a family was more inferior than the one before, as if a family business of investing in slave labor simply could not survive morally or physically.” Callie Smith Grant, Free Indeed: African American Christians and the struggle for equality, Barbour Books, 2003


[8] “…traditional gender role attitudes in a sample of adolescents were also associated with less perceived seriousness of scenarios depicting interpersonal aggression.” (Hilton, Harris, & Rice, 2003).


[9]Dating and courtship violence on college campuses is a ‘major hidden social problem;" (Makepeace, 1981, p. 100) that can affect 1 in 5 college students directly and can indirectly affect an even greater number. Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, and Spirituality as Predictors of Domestic Violence Attitudes in White College Students, Journal of College Student Development, Mar/Apr 2004, by Berkel, LaVerne A, Vandiver, Beverly J, Bahner, Angela D 

“Studies have shown that about 20% of college men and women reported being involved in a physically violent intimate relationship.” (Luthra & Gidyez, 2001; Makepeace, 1986; Silverman & Williamson, 1997)

“Besides sex (Finn, 1986; Saunders, Lynch, Grayson, & Linz, 1987), the most consistent predictor of attitudes that support the use of violence against women among college students or any other group is gender role attitudes, defined as beliefs about appropriate roles for men and women (McHugh & Frieze, 1997). Gender role attitudes are best conceptualized as falling on a continuum, ranging from traditional to egalitarian. Individuals with traditional attitudes are characterized as responding to others based on stereotypical characteristics associated with their sex, whereas individuals with egalitarian attitudes respond to others independent of their sex.” (King, Beere, King, & Beere, 1981). Gender Role Attitudes, Religion, and Spirituality as Predictors of Domestic Violence Attitudes in White College Students, Journal of College Student Development, Mar/Apr 2004, by Berkel, LaVerne A, Vandiver, Beverly J, Bahner, Angela D  

“Men who believe in strong traditional family values are more abusive to their partners and family members. This behavior is fortified by preaching that accepts all sorts of cultural assumptions about what "headship" means.” Barrington H. Brennen, Why Do Christian Husbands Abuse Their Wives, Barrington H. Brennen, Counseling Psychologist, Marriage & Family Therapist,


[10] “Black Americans knew that freedom and basic rights as human beings were God-given and that no other human being should tamper with that. They knew they were made in the image of God, and that to do God’s work, they needed to be free.” Callie Smith Grant, Free Indeed: African American Christians and the struggle for equality, Barbour Books, 2003

[11] Stanley, Charles, A Man’s Touch, Victor Books, Wheaton, ILL, 1988



[12] “I have never met a woman who wanted to leave a husband who was a Christlike head of the home…Women who want “freedom” or to “do as they please” have a basic problem of resistance to God…This attitude breeds frustration, anxiety, and an empty search for meaning in a wife who is confused about her proper role in the family.”  Charles Stanley, A Man’s Touch, Victor Books, Wheaton, ILL, 1988



 

Woman this is WAR! Gender Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a Christian perspective. The history of women’s rights is traced back [much further than usual] to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature. Visit this link for more information or to buy the book:  Woman this is WAR! Gender Slavery and the Evangelical Caste System