Blatant & Latent Gender Regressions on the Rise "Don’t you be ashamed you go to a church with male leadership. Every church that’s right with God oughta have a sign: “Male Leadership.” Because that’s the only kind of leadership, both from Adam all the way to the last part of the Bible. It’s all been male. This is a man’s world!" http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2015/04/07/baptist-pastor-reminds-congregation-this-is-a-mans-world/
Who Are We?
Sponsored by a group of holy "watch dogs," we are our sisters' keeper, our daughters' keeper. As stakeholders (i.e. church members, donors, parents sending our children off to youth group and college ministries, attendees ourselves in various ministries) this is not the world we want for our girls, or our boys. They deserve better. We all deserve better. Such a lopsided view of human authority--i.e. male rule-- is not a healthy construct for emotional/psychological/spiritual development for boys or girls, for male/female relationships, for organizational health, nor is it Gospel. We do not have a vendetta against any of these organizations. We do want to make others aware of this popular movement of highly preeminent, patriarchal masculinity which is gaining a foothold in many of our churches and ministries. So much progress is happening in our world to uplift and empower girls/women to rise up above patriarchal social norms. We can not sit by passively and watch this movement use the Bible in this irresponsible way to put girls/women "back in their place" and hit the rewind button on the more just, gender-balanced world most of us embrace as a positive movement in society.
Very simply, we love and believe in our girls' full humanity and know that they too are meant to grow up to wear a crown and claim their full personal sovereignty as human beings made-in-God's-image. Each of us, girl or boy, is meant to grow up to "own" and govern our own body and soul. Anything short of this creates unhealthy dynamics which diminish a person's full human flourishing and make them vulnerable to abuse and human rights violations. Join with us in keeping your eye out for these ideas in your own church or ministry and say "no, this is simply not okay."
Globally, this view of "male as king" still persists as a gender norm and it is doing harm on many levels. There is so much positive momentum happening in our world which are boldly mobilizing resources and working on many levels to say we are ALL IN FOR HER.
What is this Watch List About?
We have tried to include links next to each organization which describe their ideas in their own words and also some links of critics/survivors of this ideology. Some of the "offenders" below are admittedly more "fringe" and extreme than others, many are well-intentioned, but the leaders of this raise boys to be patriarchs movement are very charismatic, have a lot of power and platform, and have impacted the tenor of a whole web of "mainstream" evangelical ministries including: youth group, family, home schooling, Christian schools, mens, womens, start-up church networks, leadership, college, counseling, and international missionary ministries. Wow, that covers pretty much all of the bases, doesn't it? Sigh. All these ministry websites made it onto this parental "watchdog" list for being guilty of one or all of the following:
- shocking "gender essentialism" which (as we see vividly in pornography) reduces the multifaceted, unique, strong, full personhood of girls/women to a subservient "role" which exists to serve men and encourages a dangerous sublimating of her human will from a young age and throughout her life cycle,
- carelessly using religious ideas to sanction a dangerous consolidation of power in the hands of men which is the root of most of our world's gender-based social ills and human rights violations;
- intentionally creating gender tiers and imbalance in relationships, families, and/or organizational culture; and last but not least
- playing God and distorting the humble example of Christ who was as
far as you can get from propping up power-based social hierarchies.
The intention is not to bash particular organizations, nor to say that all the ideas espoused are bad or dangerous, but simply to "out" this whole movement as a influence on the world we are giving our daughters. This is just not okay. Check and the links and keep your eye open for these ideas and teachings in your own orbit. Do they resonate? If you scale up each of these ideas you read, what impact are they having on our world and on day-to-day lived gender dynamics? Does this strike you as a a healthy framework for human development, for relationships, for organizational and church governance? Does this honors the full and unique personhood of our daughters and our sons? Or ourselves?
If you are not steeped in this yourself, it may sound very "fringe" and extremist. Unfortunately, this is not
just a fringe movement, it is in fact creeping into the "mainstream" of
a whole web of churches and ministries. It has slightly different
variations, but speaks in this very similar language of husband/father
as prophet/priest/lord/king of the home and the church and has
its roots in two primary corners of the American Christian landscape:
1.) the homeschool/"family discipleship" movement spawned by Bill
Gothard's web of ministries which had a vast impact in the 1970's,
particularly on the Baptist wing of the church and 2.) the neo-Reform
movement which has spawned a whole network of church planting,
counseling, leadership, family ministries.
Many of the ideas espoused by these groups are in fact "Biblical", i.e. verses can be strung together without regard to cultural context or the larger trajectory of Scripture to advocate a return to the highly patriarchal, highly stratified, master/subject social norms of the ancient world that Jesus transcended and began to transform. Is this really the timeless, universal ideal, the highest and the best way to read our Bibles? In a world where religious extremism is using women's bodies and souls as its battleground, is this really what we want to be the face of Christ in our world? Is this hierarchical vision of how we are to relate across the gender line what we want for our daughters and our sons? WWJD? What would Jesus Do? That is a good spell test. Would he re-create a hierarchical social structure from the Old Testament? Would he advocate raising boys to grow up to have such an exalted status as kings/priests with such unilateral authority and power and girls to serve them? Or would he chide us, as he did his disciples who jockeyed for a place of preeminence at his right and left hand?
For More Information:
The Watch List