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Needed: A coalition of feminists and conservative Christians

In 2006, conservative theologian Wayne Grudem released a 272-page jeremiad decrying feminism as a “slippery slope” to liberalism and “a system of thinking that denies the complete truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God.” Despite its breathlessness, the book was embraced by many believers and religious leaders.

Evangelical Feminism’s popularity is not altogether surprising. The religious right was founded, in part, as a reaction to the rise of feminism and the sexual revolution. And conservative Christians have long resisted attempts to dismantle patriarchal theology and hierarchies.

But, as Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Our current moment is nothing if not miserable, and the recent wave of sex abuse scandals have left feminists and many conservative Christians in pursuit of a common goal: combating misogynistic men who leverage power over women. Perhaps it is time for the two groups to set aside their differences and unite for the common good.

This unlikely coalition was the topic of conservative columnist Matt Lewis’s recent article at The Daily Beast, “Welcome to Our New Age–the Victorian Feminist Era.” He compares our current moment to the situation faced by William Wilberforce, the late British parliamentarian who partnered with a broad group of activists to abolish the slave trade.

“It occurs to me that we might be in the midst of our own reformation of manners,” Lewis writes. “But where are the William Wilberforces?”

Partnering across lines of disagreement is a difficult path to navigate, and this coalition would be no less fraught.

Many conservative Christians hold to a complementarian theology that argues for male leadership in the home and church. In this framework, women are to lovingly submit to their husbands and male pastors. Such a position is reprehensible and repressive to feminists who have long fought for total equality between men and women in every sphere–including homes and churches. These are not minor discrepancies, but rather mutually exclusive paradigms. Each group would need a hefty dose of humility in order to forge an alliance.

Ideology aside, both sides would also need to overcome their skepticism of the other. Feminists see conservative Christians as one of the greatest forces for the oppression of women in American society. And conservative Christians often blame feminists for a increasing evolution of notions of gender, the perils of the traditional family, and the so-called “moral decline” of American culture. This skepticism has metathesized into disdain, and disdain is an alliance killer.

There are many reasons for conservative Christians and feminists to accept the risks of partnering and invest the necessary energy to pursue their shared goals. Each group can uniquely contribute to cultural conversations about sexual abuse and harassment.   Religious communities and leaders provide the moral imperative, for example, and feminists assert the female perspective about these matters. Both are needed, and when combined, strengthen the argument.

If such a partnership between two powerful groups could be forged–even if for a brief moment–the result might be a new American ethic that makes no space for misogynistic men and their mistreatment of women. Sometimes strange bedfellows are needed in order to awaken the world.

About the author

Jonathan Merritt

Jonathan Merritt is senior columnist for Religion News Service and a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He has published more than 2500 articles in outlets like USA Today, The Week, Buzzfeed and National Journal. Jonathan is author of "Jesus is Better Than You Imagined" and "A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars." He resides in Brooklyn, NY.


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  • Been there, done that. The antisex feminists Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon allied with right-wing antisex forces in the 1980s to pass antipornography ordinances in Indianapolis and Canada. Neither were well-received – the first was unconstitutional and the second led to some of Dworkin’s own works being banned in The Great White North.

  • Had an interesting conversation with my holier than thou Lutheran sister in law who confessed to reading all three Shades of Grey books. Didn’t know there were 3. Conservative Christian wife of a friend who works at Chic-Filet, that bastion of Christian values, got busted by her husband passing the books around at work and sending sexy tweets to her boss. You can’t make this stuff up. The bar for hypocrisy has been set even higher.

  • “Religious communities and leaders provide the moral imperative, for example, and feminists assert the female perspective about these matters.”

    An interesting choice of words, I think. The moral imperative is apparently a nice feel good word for patriarchy. As a man, I absolutely agree with the female perspective, and not the patriarchal assumptions of superiority as moral people, as Christians, and as human beings.

  • If there’s a moral imperative against sexual abuse and harassment from the conservative side, it’s been pretty silent in the present Roy Moore moment. (I’m sure they’re all too happy to jump on the bandwagons concerning Democratic harassers though). Opposing Moore, who took a 14-year-old girl to his home, removed his and her underwear, and touched her breasts and vagina through her underwear, would risk what should be a safe Republican seat and reliable anti-abortion, anti-gay vote. By publishing in the Daily Beast, Matt Lewis is preaching to the choir. He should talk to those who are defending Moore.

  • Ben, thank you. I’m saying this with a smile on my face–I’m sure the nuance is just one of those advantages of being female.

  • Thank you, Ben. That sentence rocked me. The implication is that only the religious communities and leaders (men) are able to come to the table with a moral foundation, and feminists (not quite sure of his definition) will not because the female perspective is immoral. That last part may be a bit extreme, but certainly can be heard in his words. Wow.

    Thank you for your comment. Jane Kerber’s was excellent as well.

  • ” In this framework, women are to lovingly submit to their husbands and male pastors.” No where does it state that I am to be in submission to my pastor.”

    “Such a position is reprehensible and repressive to feminists who have long fought for total equality between men ” Reprehensible? lol….only to those women who have no respect for themselves, or their husbands or God, and want nothing more than to be better than a man.
    Christ formed the woman to be the helpmate of the man. He loves her as Christ loves the church (died for it), she respects him and they work it out the best they can with Christ’s help.

  • Interesting perspective, as always. I’ve been married for decades, “submit” has just never come up. We respect each other, we love each other, we live our lives.
    I’ve always wondered — is this submission stuff –an every day thing? — does the man decide what’s for dinner every night, or is it only relevant when there is need to break a tie –some dispute — and in which case, the man wins? Funny, I’ve just never been at that point with my spouse. You talk about a decision, you come to decision that seems best for the family. Simple as that. Its kind of an adult thing — requiring talk and mutual respect. Never have we needed to break a tie by handing one person the decision-making power, allowing that one to wield it by fiat. Such a picture seems childish to me. In every other part of life healthy people come to decisions with others in the same way. All the while respecting themselves and God.

  • God proposed it differently.
    I respect my husband and I defer to him on things we do not agree on. If he wants something for dinner, is it worth an argument – “No God gave me rule over that!” Silly eh?
    In exchange for my respect and love, my husband loves, respects and is willing to die for me.
    When two people are together, someone needs to lead, and Christ taught that it should be the man. For the longest time, I made lunches for my hubby (retired). He cares for me in his manner.
    Decisions are discussed with most times, him having the final say.

    1 Corinthians 11:13 – New International Version

    But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

    I haven’t had a lot of opportunities, through the grace of God, to say, “I told you so” Anyway, that would be disrespectful.
    It works for us.

  • This article makes no sense to me at all. What are our shared goals? That women ought not to be harassed or assaulted? Well, okay. We have laws for that — I guess that’s the fruit of previous alliances. So what new wisdom is another man trying to tell feminists they need? In order to combat misogyny, feminists need to stop talking about other things, I guess? Drop all that talk about reproductive rights, acceptance of our transgender sisters, –what else would satisfy Wayne G? And what will we get for that exactly?

  • Well good for you. But I suspect for a great number of other happy couples, the need for a “leader” just never comes up. And there is no quid pro quo, “in exchange for my respect and love” one does this, the other does that. I thought the vows said we love, honor and cherish — without any deal at all.

  • There is no “deal”. It’s a part of what God wants for us. Each couple works it out on their own, I would assume, but if Christian, I would think they pay attention to what the Lord teaches.

  • Sandi, it’s one thing to say it works for you, and another to say God ordained it that way. Consider, please, that the Hebrew word is not “helpmate” but a help [who is]-old English-“meet,” as in “fit” or “suitable” which is the same word used to describe the assistance provided to man(kind) by the Holy Spirit. This is not a subservient position. Similarly, “head” in Greek, as is now well known, has nothing to do with decision-making. Some Greek lexicons are even guilty of incorrect definitions because the men who compiled them looked at the verses to determine what meaning to assign in the lexicons. I don’t begrudge your choice of relationship, but it places an impossible burden on many women–and I don’t mean like the burden of facing our sin and choosing to repent, which is necessary for salvation. It is a burden of inherent inferiority in the eyes of our Creator. Women like me are not trying to prove we are better than men, because that has no meaning. The Christian dies to him or herself, and lives for Christ. Nobody gets to be better. Rather, we wash each others’ feet. What good, then, is this equality? I would die for my husband.

  • Eve took care of that for us.
    Women are equal to men but have different roles.
    Blame Eve for the pain of bearing children. Blame Eve because women are not to teach men because she was deceived, and he sinned.
    Women are not “less” than men when fulfilling their role. If having the wisdom to let him have the last word on decisions one disagrees with is making one a lesser person, I would say that person has more problems than with just submission. It takes a lot more strength to let someone you love be right, with as wrong as you think they are, than it does to fight and hate each other because you didn’t like the colour car he wanted.
    Marriage is not a fight for the top. (edit)
    My trusted sources say: King James Bible
    And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

    Holman Christian Standard Bible
    Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

    International Standard Version
    Later, the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the woman to be an authority corresponding to him.”

    NET Bible
    The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion for him who corresponds to him.”

    New Heart English Bible
    The LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

  • Thank you for that. Hope Sandi reads more as to the meaning of head in Greek as it makes no sense to say the head of Christ is God and also hold to the doctrine of the Trinity.

  • Thanks Linda but I don’t need someone’s private interpretation.
    Also, to really confuse you even more:
    John 5:30 English Standard Version
    “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

  • Not a private interpretation. I couldn’t come up with a different understanding of the passage without someone else pointing out the context combined with the meaning of the word head in Greek . (However, I did not understand otherwise how the whole sentence made sense unless the Holy Trinity got tossed.out as a separate but equal understanding.)

  • Sandi, yes, the verses you quote capture the meaning more effectively than the word “helpmate.” And it is, indeed, a part of Christian character to put another ahead of oneself. But that isn’t what this is about. It is about the supposed doctrine that God made women to be subordinate to men, and unable to teach with authority.

    Women are not prohibited from teaching authoritatively, or from teaching men. This is clear if you examine the relevant verses carefully, and if you are familiar, from other letters, with Paul’s style of argumentation. I am sorry I can’t put it into a nutshell for you here, but enough has been written on this by those who also love the Lord. But I will ask this: What sense does it make to say that the one who was deceived cannot teach, while the one who sinned knowingly–with his eyes wide open–and who is specifically held accountable, by God, for the fall of mankind, is free to instruct others? It is a matter of knowledge, not inherent capacity, which is why the Bible commands with respect to women: LET THEM LEARN! And yet, for how long did the very men who read the Bible so literally disobey that command (which is unequivocal), by preventing women from attending seminary?

    In response to another comment you made, it is not that Eve caused Adam to sin, it is that God protected Eve from bearing the moral burden of a fallen world on her shoulders as the [physically] weaker vessel.

    And to borrow, if I may, from Paul’s style of reasoning: How can you defer to your husband out of love, if you defer to him out of compulsion, as a result of a rule? And if it is a rule, ordained by God, how can it not be compulsion? You have forsaken the freedom of self-sacrificial love. And how do you claim that these rules are from God when in Galatians it is abundantly clear that we have been freed from rules like these so we can live by–and only by–the law of love as we are led by the Spirit of God? If you are free from the strictures that have been imposed by these men, then you are free to do everything for your husband that you do now, only out of love rather than because you have been assigned a role.

  • The verses I chose exemplified “helpmate”. I tried to keep them closer to your assertions, but maintained what I was saying.
    Women are prohibited from teaching and having authority over men in the church are in several areas – 1 Corinthians 14…1 Timothy 2&3.
    You will need to ask the Lord why He made His decisions.

    Just because people choose to go against Christ’s teachings does not nullify them – it makes the people wrong.

    Adam was responsible for his own choices. Eve allowed herself to be deceived. Adam allowed himself to sin. Women have borne the results of Eve’s deception since the beginning.
    Genesis 3:16 – English Standard Version
    To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
    Seems the Lord hasn’t changed His mind on pain in childbirth. And this scripture also takes us back to the woman being submissive to her husband.

    We all bear the results of Adam’s sin since the beginning – we die if we do not develop a relationship with Jesus.

    Sometimes one defers out of love, sometimes out of obedience to him, sometimes out of obedience to God. You set your priorities. I love Christ and hope to please Him more than myself and that is love. Next is my husband who I love and respect immensely. We married because we wanted to make each other happy.

    You must have missed my comment above with submitting when it is not your wishes whatsoever. Have you never loved someone so much that you let them be right when you knew they were wrong and didn’t have to prove it? Have you never loved someone so much that you followed instead of led because that is their God given role in life That is what love is about. It has it’s rewards here and in eternity.

    I don’t know what you are referring to in Galatians.
    Christ taught:
    John 14:15 – “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
    1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands.
    Sometimes you swallow your tongue and just do it. Other times it is a labour of love to watch the pleasure on his face and the pride he experiences. Sometimes it is a pain in the behind but who do you love more – Christ or yourself? You have to make those choices.
    These “strictures” are not imposed by men. I refer you to 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
    We all have roles whether we choose to admit them or not. The culture dictates them. Following Jesus and what He has asked of us – because no one knows better than He – is not demeaning in any respect whatsoever. If your goal is not to please Jesus, why call oneself a Christian?

  • I can imagine some of that perspective, but that’s just it– I have to imagine it. The basic principles I get. Believe me, growing up Jewish in the 50’s and living as a very openly gay man, I perfectly understand some of what women go through.

  • One of the things that irritates me the most about the holy holies is their claim that religion=morality, or that the two have much to do with each other. or that faith makes them a bearer of morality. It’s far more about social control than it is about morality.
    Personally, I find the holy holies to be very far from strictly moral, and in fact, much more the moral relativists they always decry. And, as I always say, if you need religion to tell you that rap[e and murder or wrong, you don’t need religion. You need empathy.
    The easy example is abortion. Surveys and studies have shown repeatedly that pro-life people are also pro death penalty. So right there, there is a lie. and why? Power. And yet, they also oppose birth control and sex education, proven ways to reduce abortion. Therefore, they are not pro life, they are pro birth.

  • The verses you claim from Paul were not written by him but were added after his death by one of his followers at a time when the men wanted to steer the church into a patriarchal direction. The letters scholars can ascertain fairly certainly were written by Paul have no such attitude of male superiority over women. He actually was quite supportive of the role women very definitely took in the early church. Also, chapter and verse please as to where Jesus stated in the gospels that women were to be submissive to men. His actions towards women show no such attitude.

  • Oh boy do you have a warped take on Genesis: the old blame Eve for the pain of childbirth and having menstrual cramps. That is so sick and repressive. It has been the cause of so much self revulsion among women and an excuse for targeting women as the cause of all of “mankind’s” problems plus targeting them only because of their bodies, making them the temptress and therefore evil. Genesis is not fact but metaphorical poetry trying to explain creation and how humankind was where it was. It is more about God calling creation, including women, very good. It is about our intimate relationship with the creator and how ego destroys that intimacy.

  • From my past study of the bible the trinity never made any sense and I found adequate (to my satisfaction at least) verses to show Jesus and god as father and son and the holy spirit merely the active force of god though often personified.

  • I’ve got this huge smile now, because I’m assuming that floydlee knows you, Ben, and that his comment is an inside joke. This has to be one of the most irony-filled discussions I have seen in some time!

  • Sandi, I don’t want to turn this into an argument. You have made it clear that it is your desire to follow the Lord, and that is what matters.

  • Well, no. The scholars are forced to acknowledge (for example), that 1 Corinthians (which contains 1 Cor. 11:13), is indeed written by Paul.

    So you’ll have to find another way to deal with (deal with, not deny) the Bible text of “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

    If you want to say, “Paul has no attitude of male superiority over women,” then offer some texts like the “image of God” Genesis creation gig (1:26-27), and also Paul’s texts like Gal. 3:28, for Paul clearly accepts Genesis as literally & historically true. Discuss 1 Cor. 16:19, a church that Paul said was led by a Husband-Wife team. That’s the right way to teach gender equality.

    But these Bible-denying, liberal skeptic-scholars are NO friends of Christian women. They’re NO friends of your Bible. Don’t eat their casserole.

  • Reyanna, I have to agree with floydlee regarding the text of the New Testament. Although there are some small segments of text in the canon that are subject to genuine dispute, the position you refer to is an argument of convenience for women, and that is an unfortunate shortcut. If you study the text and ask the Lord for wisdom, I believe you will discover, as I did, that the so-called problem texts for women have been grossly misread, as a matter of convenience for men. Start with known principles. We know that Christians are not called to lord authority over one another. We know how Christ treated women. We know that a woman was the first to announce that Christ had risen from the dead (what message, what “teaching” could possibly be more important than that?) We know that in Christ we have freedom to live by the law of love and not be bound by a set of rules and that the way these verses have been misinterpreted creates even more restrictions for women than anything that appears in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). How can that be right? Consider Deborah. If these foundational matters are true, because they are part of the very fabric of the New Testament, and history of the Old, then what can these problematic verses that have been turned against women really be saying? You don’t have to know Greek because there are so many commentaries now. Ask yourself if the surface-reading approach to the verses that have been used against women would be viable for the entire Bible (the answer is not in a million years, even for the most conservative scholar). Just chip away at it and you will discover a deeper truth about God’s love for women than you will find by discarding the verses that, themselves, contain surprising keys for understanding how God is watching out for us, not limiting us. Don’t let others be your teachers. Turn to the Lord himself. Consider the Lord’s reaction to Martha and Mary and what that says about the way He encourages us to learn at his feet.

  • If you’ll consider accepting Genesis as actual literal historical fact, the way that Jesus did (Matt. 19:4-5), and Paul did (Romans chap. 1, 5, etc), then you’ll find a whole new avenue of supporting and defending gender equality.

    If Genesis is NOT literal historical fact but only “metaphorical poetry,” as the liberal skeptizoid Bible-denying scholars claim, then you can’t really say whether or not God called **any** of his creation good (including women).

    So don’t allow the skeptic-scholars to remove Gen. 1:31 (“very good”) off your list of historical facts. You gotta start fighting these skeptics. Do women really carry the Image of God like men do, just like Gen. 1:26-27 says? Were Adam and Eve really given the same work assignment?

    The answer is YES, if Genesis is a literal historical fact. So Christians gotta trust the Bible — instead of trusting these liberal scammers skeptics.

  • I agree with the expressed need but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Why? Speaking as a Christian Fundamentalist I don’t enough religiously conservative Christians having the mindset for forming such a coalition. Our religious tribalism has led us to be too insular while our authoritarian leaning both blinds us to the contributions that feminism makes to society as well as moves us to be hostile to those all, including feminists, who challenge our traditions. Thus, we seem unable to work and play well with a number of groups, including feminists, for the good of society.

  • Pretty much describes it exactly. It what happens when someone thinks they speak for god, and that this gives them authority Over others,

  • I suppose that is a one of the mysteries of the Trinity. We know God exists. We know He is three Persons. There is scripture supporting the Trinity.
    I have a lot of difficulty with “I read original languages and I have the correct interpretation”. If I have a difficulty, I go to Biblehub and look at all of the different translations and come to a conclusion from that, or I read a few commentaries on the subject. Scripture isn’t open to personal interpretation.

  • Linda I have something really important to share with you, as I believe you are Canadian…..Justin is trying to take Female Genital Mutilation being a harmful practice out of the citizenship guide This says it better. If you don’t have facebook, I’ll post the link to the petition and hopefully somewhere around there it will explain it.
    I would appreciate if you would pass this on to Canadian women because of it’s importance.
    Michelle Rempell has a chat about it on her facebook page.

  • Floyd and I aren’t friends, quite the opposite. One of us has a somewhat distant relationship to facts, logic, and experience.*

    *hint: not me.

  • Ben, I’m sorry for my misinterpretation. His comment sounded very much like some good-natured bantering I’ve run across–tongue-in-cheek sort of thing. I think I’m out of my league here. Your comment was delightful. I do hope I’m not getting that wrong, too.

  • We do good natured banter, but we’re both deadly serious. He’s saving souls from satan, I’m saving souls from HIM.

    And no, you got my comment, exactly what I meant. :0)

    And thank you.

  • Sandi, I’d just note that your insistence on men being in charge of women does not work for the shade over 50 percent of women over 18 who are divorced, never married or otherwise not in a marriage. As a single, never-married, childless, middle-aged woman, complementarianism, male superiority and patriarchy do absolutely nothing for me. And my late father raised me to be independernt, too, even though he was a Republican. Not interested in your attempt to subjugate women.

  • Uh, no, we don’t know any of that. The gospels were written decades layer by people who did not know Jesus in life. For all we know, the worfs could have been put in Jesus’ mouth by the writer. *sigh* I have no idea why I’m telling you this since you’re no doubt an inerrantist.

  • Well, the “words they put in Jesus’ mouth” were worth being hung upside down on a cross, beaten, boiled in oil about and they would still not refute what He had said.

  • I’m not interested in subjugating women. I am interested in women enjoying the benefits of a godly marriage – not a perfect one, in any respect, but a marriage that honours God, and God will honour in return.
    Perhaps you are not married and independent because the Lord had no plans for you to marry. I wish you the best honey.

  • Sandi, regarding your answer to Mirele…I really hadn’t intended to say anything more here, but your comment to her is both unkind and unfair. Mirele said she was single, so she is unable to speak, from first-hand experience, about the dynamics of marriage. But I can respond, and your tone is haughty. My husband and I have the closest thing, in our marriage, to heaven on earth–and don’t you dare presume to stand in judgment of it. We do not follow your model of female subordination/submission/prohibition on teaching and at the same time, nothing is more important in our lives than following the Word of God. We decide things together. We have made great sacrifices for each other. We have paid a price for our faith. You have said, elsewhere, that with two people someone has to make the decision, implying an authoritative hierarchy. That is the way of the world, not of the Christian. Or if there is a Christian hierarchy, each person should strive for the lowly position, not the one at the top. (And, as a point in fact, best practices in business don’t even use authoritarian hierarchies, but advocate a consensus model.) You have made your points, and people here have listened and responded. I hope you can either change your tone and listen with more compassion, or move on.

  • Jane, it is not my model. Read your Bible. I have never said that my husband and I don’t decide things together. There is a hierarchy – the one God set up in His word.
    You said that you don’t want yours challenged. That’s fine. Don’t expect me to want pleasing the Lord to be challenged in a negative manner either.

  • Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them n the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

  • Blame evolution. Compared to other mammals our babies have highly developed brains (big heads) but underdeveloped bodies –
    known as obstetrical dilemma. Women have been having painful births for at least 200,000 years – well before the Adam & Eve myth. In one in 1000 births the baby’s head is too big to pass through the birth canal. Unlike your god nature is not perfect.

  • I was being serious last night when I posted, “Let’s.” But I see no takers.

    As “conservative Christians and feminists” – let’s “accept the risks of partnering”.

    So I’m asking again whether as one of such “feminists”, you do wish to be “partnering” with one of such “conservative Christians”? C’est moi!

    If yes, please sign up on my post in reply and let’s work out the details for brother Jonathan Merritt. Thanks.

  • Jane Kerber et al:

    I was being serious last night when I posted, “Let’s.” But I see no takers.

    As “conservative Christians and feminists” – let’s “accept the risks of partnering”.

    So I’m asking again whether as one of such “feminists”, you do wish to be “partnering” with one of such “conservative Christians”? C’est moi!

    If yes, please sign up on my post in reply and let’s work out the details for brother Jonathan Merritt. Thanks.

  • Yeah. women should know their place.
    Maybe next time, you can actually say something meaningful. Try taking into account economics, sociology, psychology, politics, and compassion.

  • I do not believe that “moral imperative” is equivalent to patriarchy. The verse in Ephesians that says wives submit to your husbands is immediately preceded by the command to “submit to each other.” It is followed by the command for husbands to love their wives “as Christ loved the church.” This does not condone spousal abuse, verbal or physical.

  • This comment does not appear to be trying to promote dialogue, with its deprecatory “holy holies” label. We could have a calm discussion about what the foundation of morality is for people without religion. Rape (or any type of assault), murder, theft are obviously wrong for everyone, because they might impact “me or mine.” But there are many other areas of morality that are less clear without a solid foundation. BTW I am pro-life and anti death penalty. I do not oppose birth control or sex education, but I would oppose sex education that includes “alternative” lifestyles as normal and teaches children how to do those acts.

  • There is a moral imperative against sexual abuse and harassment from the conservative side, and to have so called conservative leaders not voice it nauseates me.

  • Hypocrisy is not confined to those within conservative circles. It contaminates all political and religious parties.

  • I’m happy to dialogue, as soon as you present something besides Feminism is evil and has caused the downfall of the family. I gave you some other topics to consider and you chose to ignore them

  • HpO, I’m sorry, but for reasons I’ve already expressed, I would have to decline your offer. However, thank you for the thought.

  • “This comment does not appear to be trying to promote dialogue, with its deprecatory “holy holies” label.” When religious people call me an immoral atheist, or as a gay man a threat to everything good and holy, exactly what would you call a respectful response?
    ” We could have a calm discussion about what the foundation of morality is for people without religion.” I’ve had that discussion too many times to count. People who insist that I can’t have any morals without believing in god are not interested in a calm discussion.
    “Rape (or any type of assault), murder, theft are obviously wrong for everyone, because they might impact “me or mine.” If You need religion to tell you that rape and murder and theft are wrong, then maybe what is required is not religion, but empathy.
    “But there are many other areas of morality that are less clear without a solid foundation.” Maybe we’re not actually talking about moral issues, then. My point in my original comment was that religion claims a moral positon where maybe there not only isn’t one, but the religious position is in fact imnmoral.
    “BTW I am pro-life and anti death penalty. ” Good, and i mean that sincerely.
    “I do not oppose birth control or sex education, but I would oppose sex education that includes “alternative” lifestyles as normal and teaches children how to do those acts.” My life style isn’t a lifestyle, it’s a life. And there is no alternative besides living authentically, fully, and completely as I am made. No alternative that I will accept, that is. Too many dead gay kids for my taste.
    No one wants “to teach children how to do those acts.”

  • Thanks for your comment. I can appreciate your point of view, now that I have heard your voice. I wish we lived closer so we could sit down at Starbucks (or a non chain coffee house) and share some thoughts over a cup of coffee. I’m sure you are as complex a human being as the rest of us.

  • “But there are many other areas of morality that are less clear without a solid foundation. ”

    No, there aren’t. The Golden Rule is enough for any Christian, Atheist, or whatever.

  • David, regarding your comment to Linda, might I suggest that, of course, whether studying for faith-based or purely secular reasons, the text of the Scriptures always deserves more than a superficial reading. Language is highly nuanced. It does not lend itself to the rigidities of “literal” translation in any context. The only thing that works “literally” is computer code–not natural language. Nobody who expects to be taken seriously would ever read Shakespeare superficially, or “literally,” so why do we think that, all of a sudden, the rules of language and human communication change because we are reading the Bible? Why do we think it is to be read without truly engaging and grappling with the text?

  • And in many cases it needed breaking up. To many women raped in their own marriages, beaten, kids abused, by the archaic idea that the man is the “head” of the family and what he says, goes. Were you female, you wouldn’t put up with any of this. But we’re supposed to. I h ave three brothers and two sisters. There is no inherent leadership or decision making ability that men have that woman don’t.

  • Part 3:

    On the other hand, what I have never, ever, seen, from men like you, who presume to tell women what they need to do, is a statement that goes something like this: “As a man, I might have greater physical strength than you, but if you will be my wife, I will use my strength and my financial resources to sustain you and, because I respect you as an equal in the eyes of our God and Father, will never put you in the humiliating position of having to submit to my will.” Try that on for size, and then use the name of Jesus Christ in the same paragraph.

  • Part 2:
    I would suggest that the adulterous behavior of men, which existed long before feminism was a twinkle in Gloria Steinem’s eye, has done far more to break up what God has intended for the traditional family, than women ever did. Furthermore, men and women are still free to form traditional families, even with Feminism staring them in the face. Your argument is like saying that atheism is responsible for the decline of Christianity. That is faulty logic.

  • My original response was deleted as spam. In order to determine why, I am reposting it in 3 separate parts.

    Part 1:
    I will make the simplifying assumption, Nat D, that for you Feminism excludes the possibility of equal authority between men and women, especially in marriage. The irony of this position is that you seem to be of the opinion that God has ordained patriarchy and yet, by your own admission, men have been unable to keep the traditional family together. To me, that is like issuing an edict, saying that women must bear the burden of keeping society together and take the blame when it doesn’t, but men get to take the credit when, as a result of the choices made by women, it all works out. Doesn’t that bother you just a little bit? (That’s a rhetorical question.)

  • I think RNS is telling me to stop talking. My original comment got deleted as spam, although I don’t know why. I just removed most of it and left this:

    And as it happens, David, the verse in Ephesians does NOT say “wives submit to your husbands.” It says, wives to your husbands as to the Lord. The instruction is for mutual submission followed by a verse that reminds women of the “how” not the “what.” Culturally, wives had no real choice. Therefore, the verse is not re-emphasizing submission by wives, but asking them to submit out of love, rather than mere compulsion, which is in accord with the teaching that we live by the law of love. That has been my point in some of my other posts–by turning it into a compulsion, the voices of Christian patriarchy have reverted to legalism and rules of behavior, rather than a law of love. The Bible speaks extremely harshly about legalism.

  • I think there is something different between reading different English versions – which I also do – and critically reading for meaning in what is being used as a “proof text”. If the end doesn’t make sense with what preceded, then I consider that a very good cue to question and reflect. Reading verses within increasingly wider scriptural contexts is part of that but given the knowledge of scholars and theologians, it makes sense to go beyond commentaries on Bible hub.( Proverbs is quite big on the knowledge piece.) As someone who I knew that I considered quite wise said,” let’s unpack that before you jump to conclusions.”

  • Takers or no, I still think it’s so worth it for “conservative Christians” to take “the risks of partnering” with Christian Feminists, so as to get to the truths – and an agreeable resolution – concerning:

    (1) Church leadership and the men & women that are in it;

    (2) The uses of Genesis 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, 1 Corinthians 14:34, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, and Ephesians 5:22-24 to treat women as spiritually deficient;

    (3) The politics of laws that prohibit birth control use and condemn abortion as sinful murder; and

    (4) The idea of a feminine or gender-transcendent God.

  • Read an early history of the church and the blood-letting that went on in the 3rd century over doctrinal belief. And that continued on for decades. And it was preceded by a debate as to whether Jesus was a man or divine.

  • She has enough signatures to present a petition. Given that she apparently knows it has been removed, I would have liked to have seen how she would have liked to have seen it worded and where. As it stands now, it is a criminal offence (since 1997) Didn’t like the Harper revision. While an abhorrent practice, people have been charged and that involved bringing in someone to the country to do it. It is not common and most likely to involve traveling out of country. So she should be lobbying for an education piece and possibly introducing legislation specific to end runs around the legislation.

  • HpO, I sense ongoing frustration and a genuine interest in these issues on your part. Perhaps I can offer some help. Christians for Biblical Equality is an organization that has been trying to do some of these things, especially 1 & 2, I think, for quite some time, with no success. I do not agree with their doctrinal priorities, so this is a qualified reference to them. If I may, I will also offer my own opinion. My orientation, however, is to ask what the text of the Bible says, not what can be agreed upon. An excellent book has been written with respect to 1 & 2 by Philip Payne– “Man and Woman One in Christ.” It is carefully argued, scholarly, readable, and a good place to start. Payne sharply reprimands patriarchists. Regarding 3 and 4, I believe you would be hard-pressed to find support for abortion in the Bible. Christians can speak their conscience, but I disagree with their political heavy-handedness. If Christians are against abortion, they should offer to take the unwanted babies–ie do rather than dictate. Regarding 4, the idea of a feminine God is not supported by either the Hebrew Bible or the New Testament. Feminine imagery is, however, used with respect to God–like a hen who gathers her chicks, for example. God is a spirit so ontologically He transcends gender. Masculine language has been chosen for a reason and, of course, Jesus Christ was a man. There are reasons for this, but I’m afraid I will use up my RNS word limit in this post….

  • David, part of what I erased was a comment saying that I am not disagreeing with you, but because you seem to be very concerned about Christian character, I have been sharing some thoughts with you. That applies to both of the comments I have written in response to your posts. I am sorry that got removed due to what seem like space limits for posts.

  • absolutely, but don’t discount Biblehub. It contains the opinions of scholars.
    it isn’t the wikipedia of the Biblical world

  • Hahahahaha! Yeah, no thanks. I like to think a lot of people are against other people just going out and stabbing random passersby to death in the street. That they have the most baseline of ordinary moral principles doesn’t suddenly make them my buddy. What? You’re against rape? WOW, YOU’RE SO GREAT. Congratulations, you’re not a depraved psychopath! You want a medal for that? I’m sorry, we have to go a little beyond just “the most basic ethics imaginable” to form a “coalition”.

  • Hey, there, sister Jane Kerber, thanks for this weekend surprise! And, deal, I’ll meet you 1/2-way too!

    Christians for Biblical Equality (and the Gender Egalitarian likes of Philip Barton Payne) and Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (and the Gender Complementarian likes of Wayne Grudem) have reached an impasse to a point of no return. And all because of 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, 12:13, 27-28 and 14:31-35; Colossians 3:9-25 and 4:1-17; and 1 Timothy 2:9-15 and 6:1-2

    Good! For this goes to show not only they both can’t be right about these scriptures, but that they’re both wrong!

    I’m Nobody/Nothing, of course, but – truth be told – there’s still this truth of scriptures left:

    The 1st century New Testament times were facing multiple crises – racism, sexism, paternalism & slavery. The churches under Peter & Paul’s apostleship were oppressed by all 4. And so both men took it upon themselves a 3-level ministerial approach to confront these 4 crises. The Eternal Church Approach. The Socio-Political Approach. And The Anti-Statecraft Approach. Via those aformentioned scriptures they taught their fellowship circles all the principles involved in all 3 approaches.

    Fast Forward now. In the world at large and in our denominational churches, our post-Christian day & age in the 21st century are facing our own brand of multiple crises – racism, sexism & paternalism (but not slavery, interestingly enough). Worse, our churches are no longer under Peter & Paul’s apostleship. But who dares to say we must take it upon ourselves a 3-level ministerial approach as well to confront our own brand of multiple crises?! The Eternal Church Approach?! The Socio-Historical Approach?! And The Anti-Statecraft Approach?!

    I say so, that’s who! But that means those aforementioned scriptures of Paul and Peter’s are only valid for our own Eternal Church and Anti-Statecraft Approaches of confronting these crises. But not for our own Socio-Historical Approach! Why not? Because slavery is no more a crisis today and those scriptures whose recipients were church groupings comprising potential racists, sexists, paternalists & slave-owners, are no longer relevant or appropriate today – in the same way, in the socio-historical sense. Otherwise, pray tell, where are the born-again Christian slaves (and victims of anti-Goyim racism) when those scriptures are being shoved down the throats of born-again Christian women & children nowadays?!

  • So you’re saying, you play Croquet but have no play on the silly Christian games of:

    (1) Church leadership and the men & women that are in it?

    (2) The uses of Genesis 3:16, 1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 11:7-9, 1 Corinthians 14:34, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, and Ephesians 5:22-24 to treat women as spiritually deficient?

    (3) The politics of laws that prohibit birth control use and condemn abortion as sinful murder?

    (4) The idea of a feminine or gender-transcendent God?

    I.e. – “Hahahahaha!”?

  • HpO, the Bible is like an immovable rock in my life. That is not everyone’s choice, but it’s mine. What you are saying is contrary to the Biblical text. The New Testament church was not facing crises of race, gender, patriarchy or slavery. They didn’t even think in those terms. Peter wrote about persecution. Paul was worried that new churches would succumb to legalism on one hand and immorality on the other. John was worried about the infiltration of Gnosticism. James was concerned with materialism. The New Testament authors did not try to fix the world, because Jesus Christ said “my kingdom is not of this world.” The only relation between the Christian and the world is the responsibility to keep oneself unstained from the world, to be separate from its pride, its greed, and its lusts. Today, we are all free to believe what we choose. That includes the right to live without God or the Bible. But if we are going to concern ourselves with the Bible at all, it only seems logical to me to deal with it on its own terms. All in, or all out, but to superimpose one’s own beliefs onto the text, that is the one approach I don’t understand. That is my honest reaction to what you have written, after trying my best to understand it.

  • Also, HpO, it was on my mind but I forgot to put it in my post, “in the world at large” our issues of race and gender in the U.S. can’t begin to compare to the slave trade that is very real (the highest profile being that in Libya right now) and the human trafficking, especially of young girls, along with the related persecution of minorities, very often Christians, in many parts of the world. It is very much with us, still, and often of a worse sort than what is referenced in the New Testament.

  • In your recommendation to me the other day, you said that by “ask[ing] what the text of the Bible says, not what can be agreed upon … an excellent book has been written Philip Payne – ‘Man and Woman One in Christ. It is carefully argued, scholarly, readable, and a good place to start [for you]. Payne sharply reprimands patriarchists.”

    And yet & yet, according to Olivia Rudgard, “Bible passage used to stop women become ordained ‘added later’, academic claims”, The Telegraph, September 22, 2017: “In … New Testament Studies … Philip Barton Payne claims that … a ‘distigme-obelos’ … appear[ing] next to the relevant passage … identifies 1 Cor 14.34–5, the only Bible passage silencing women in the church, as added text. Vaticanus provides early and credible judgement in what is widely regarded as the most important NT manuscript that vv. 34–5 were not in the body text Paul’s original letter, but are a later addition.”

    Is that what you mean by “the Bible is like an immovable rock in my life”? So long as it has rid of all these ‘distigme-obelos scribal symbols? Yeah, right.

    Here now my Confession: I’m forever thankful in that for the joy that was set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. So that for the same joy of resurrection for me & my beloved family, I can now endure the cross that I carry in my life of faith in response to the ransoming Fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Israel’s Messiah Jesus. THAT is the “immovable rock in my life”! Not the Bible, a mere 4th century invention of the Early Church Wolves I mean Fathers. Not to mention Babylonian Talmudists.

    Thank God, however, for the Torah, the Psalms, the Prophets, the Gospels, the Epistles and the Revelation. Glad they slip through their bloody hands.

  • HpO, I don’t think I understand your point when you express gratitude for the components of the Bible and then call the Bible an invention of the Fathers. You are clearly angry with something, but I’m not sure what so it is hard to respond. I said Payne’s book was a good place to start, as in begin, not as in end. I am familiar with the passage in question, and the relevant text critical arguments, as well as other arguments that have merit that treat those verses as a legitimate part of the text. I have detailed notes on it all but don’t keep it in my head (sorry) and I find it difficult to dissect the text at that level on a forum like this. I make some generalizations for brevity (if I don’t, my comments are deleted as spam), so please give me some leeway here. When I say the Bible is a rock in my life, I don’t mean a monolithic block of text to be read in the artificial construct called “literally.” It means I study it as though my life depended on it, and I use my mind to do that. When investigating the text, it takes a lot more than quoting another “academic” from The Telegraph. We all know that the Hebrew text and the Septuagint contain discrepancies, although the New Testament relies heavily on the Septuagint (what might that tell us?). We know we have different NT manuscripts. This is not news and in my opinion, the details of it are not headline material. I think, perhaps, you are working on the basis of some underlying assumptions that I do not make.

  • Perhaps if feminists learned to respect their man, their children would be less angry against a loving God, and not seek to rebel against Him, as has happened the last few generations. Feminists desire is to tear down the family, not enhance it. There is no relationship between feminists and Christians, as there is no relationship between light and darkness.

  • Point: The impasse that you, Philip Barton Payne & CBE and Wayne Grudem & CBMW are in calls for my kind of thought-experiment and better ones – if, theoretically, we’re to form a feminists/conservative christians coalition. You & I can’t think & behave like them anymore. You cool with that? I am.

    Point: Paradigm Shift Required. What if women-oppressing scriptures from apostles Paul & Peter to slaves-free churches of our time were women-liberating scriptures from apostles Paul & Peter to slaves-populated churches of their time? One benefit is we get to keep all those women-liberating-then but women-oppressing-now scriptures as-is, as they are. Because, they make sense from the tri-perspective of eternity, socio-history & anti-politics.

    Point: The hypothesis that those are, in fact, women-liberating-then scriptures calls for rigorious researches and archaelogies sponsored by both feminists’ and conservative christians’ filthy rich funders.

  • HpO, I think we’re talking past each other, and I don’t know that I have anything to say that would speak to the issues that concern you. I’m sorry.

  • It is not possible to be partners with people who believe you are (or should be) innately a follower of men. Such people cannot partner with women. This is not a matter of “both sides” humility. It is a matter of the impossibility of partnering with people whose very definition of femaleness precludes full partnership.

  • Radical feminist lies were introduced by Satanist idolaters – Roman Catholic idolatrous heretics through their Jesuit freemson axis to destroy innocent people to eternal hell fire (Revelation 21:8) by bringing them into catholic idolatry of intercession/veneration of saints.

    Freemsonry infiltrated radical feminist lies in UK, USA and other originally Christian countries that abstained from catholic idolatry to save their souls from eternal hell fire. These freemasons were controlled by Catholic Jesuits. Thus when the society collapses by these radical feminist lies and promotion of homosexuality , Jesuits vainly thought they could present their idolatry of intercession/veneration of saints that send people to eternal hell fire as a solution.

    You are probably a catholic ,atleast in the upbringing trained to hate God almighty and those who serve him – all Christians who abstain from catholic/orthodox idolatry of intercession/veneration of saints and all christians who abstain from feminist lies- female pastors and homosexual promotion in protestant sects.That is why you ignore the truth that source of radical feminism is Jesuit – Catholic- Vatican – Rome – Capital of Satan and fallen angels on this earth.

    Scriptures clearly says in Revelation 18:24 – that in Rome – Mystery Babylon – In her was found the blood of prophets and of God’s holy people, of all who have been slaughtered on the earth.” Rome can be identified as the mystery babylon from Daniel 9:26- which says people of the “prince”(beast/antichrist) who will come (in the future) will destroy the City and the sanctuary- Jerusalem destroyed by Romans in AD70. Thus people of the prince to come/antichrist are Romans. Rome is also the city with 7 hills and 7 rulers – Roman Ceasers (Revelation 17: 9-11) at the time of writing of Revelation by Apostle John which is about AD 54-68, when Nero ruled the Roman empire. From this we also know that Nero is probably the antichrist/beast as his numerology is 666 as the beast – Revelation 13:18.

    Why? Apart from radical feminist lies that caused much destruction in western society , Vatican- Rome -created Islamic lie for its power consolidation in middle east through Warraqah- Kadijah axis. Thus all these people killed by Islam through terrorism in the last 1400 years of its existense is done by Rome – Vatican.

    Again Rome – Vatican Jesuits planted the Evolution lie through Darwin’s grandfather Erasmus Darwin an active freemason controlled by Catholic Jesuits. Evolution lie has made the societies collapse by causing people to be deceived by idolatry and homosexuality (Romans 1:18-32).

    Again Jesuits planted communist lie through freemason Friedrich Engels who controlled Karl Marx. Socialist Communist lie was initially promoted by Vatican with the aim of complete extermination of Jews whom catholics even today consider an obstacle for their global power consolidation just like their muslim slaves. Result was massacre of 6 million Jews by National Socialist Hitler and 25 million slavic people ( 20 million by the Jesuit Stalin and 5 million by the catholic Hitler). Add to this countless other innocent people killed around the world such as by communist dictators in Cambodia, China , Cuba etc.

    If you donot want to come under the wrath of God almighty stop lying that God almighty and those who trust in him are the cause of lies like radical feminism , instead of exposing the real culprits which is Roman Catholic- Vatican- Mystery Babylon -Rome – that Capital of Satan and Fallen Angels from which Antichrist/Beast Nero will be resurrected for eternal wrath of God in the future.

    So repent now and trust in God almighty who created and sustains you everyday, by accepting the eternal precious sinless blood of Lord Jesus Christ shed for the remission of sins of all mankind on the cross at Calvary, Jerusalem some 2000 years ago, so that all who will accept this salvation plan of God shall have eternal life.