Any time a privileged group claims a moral right to that privilege, it raises questions. I remember a mission trip to Peru. It turned out to be my last “mission trip” because of disillusionment surrounding the affair. At one point, the leader of the group said, “They’ll believe you, because you’re American.” This was to be used to evangelize, get out of scrapes, whatever (scrapes? I was raised reading Hardy Boys from the 60’s, folks). The worst of these, for me, was using a false prestige to “evangelize.” Every single one of us was white, in a country of brown. Why should our privileged position overrule their life experiences, free will, and freedom of choice? It perpetuated our agenda, our prerogative, and further devalued and demeaned the people we expected to value us based on our color and citizenship. Disgusting.
I think that the same questions need to be asked of those perpetuating the complementarian and biblical roles viewpoints. Men necessarily benefit from a system that puts them at the top of the heap morally, and authoritatively. The staunchest supporters brook no question on the part of talented women as to why these limitations exist. A handful of verses, out of some 31000, provide all these fellas need to know this system, which incidentally privileges them, is comprehensive.
I went to a seminary that is fostering the “biblical roles” mentality wholeheartedly. My first alumni magazine focused entirely on this topic, with recommendations for making boys into MEN. (With a capital M. E. N.) My first semester, I quickly stopped enjoying meeting new guys when one by one, they each broached the subject of my view on women’s role in the first conversation. Guh. I thought I’d left at least some of that with fundamentalism. But in the Southern Baptist world (where I found myself getting my graduate degree), gender roles are HOT. Even the hip young rebels of the SB world, Reformers, get off on this. Want some blood boiling good times? Let’s have an example from the hipsters and the fundies, shall we?
Less than a minute (:58) and already, if a man is not a “biblical man” he’s worse than an unbeliever. (If Mark Driscoll is the best example of this type of thinking… I don’t even know how to pithily finish this sentence.)
Jason limits how much time I can spend on my favorite fundy awareness sites, since watching me have a major stroke during a Schaap video. I'm still having residual weakness to my right side. Always leaning lefter (oh boy, that was terrible, it didn't even get a satisfactory sympathy chuckle from J.).
These men use the word “biblical” to shut down all conversation and dialogue. End of subject: God wills for me to be in authority over you, you are wrong and guilty for questioning this, submit. It’s not an adjective, it’s an imperative to quit yer’ whinin’ and conform! Seriously, I had a guy tell me he was praying for me, and asked the seminary president to pray for me because I did not conform to biblical womanhood ideals. One man spent several weeks of my first archaeological trip to Israel, attempting to convert me to his views of womanhood, and my true responsibilities as a young wife.
Here’s what I think; several things about my life give me a position of privilege. I am white. I am American. I am well-educated. My middle-class upbringing eliminated many obstacles to pursuing my goals. I try to be aware of the privileges in my life, and avoid confusing privileges with rights. Slave-owners over slaves. Light over dark. Male over female. Wealth over poverty. Youth over age. Strong over weak. Straight over gay. Majority over minority. Are we, as Christians, guilty of unquestioningly perpetuating the systems that keep power isolated with privilege?
And can I just say something? I have heard men and women (why, ladies, why?) in those movements say something like this: “Every woman is longing for a man who can lead her spiritually, and be the head of the home.” BS (if we were having this conversation at a coffee shop, I’d have said the real word, but I feel weird putting it in permanent print). My best friend/husband and I are just best friends. Period. He says it was never his goal to become my leader, but my partner (just in case any of you are out there feeling sorry for my poor husband with his opinionated wife).