To read the review, please visit her blog.
Marie O'Toole, author of "Fractured Covenants," has written an excellent review of "The Evangelical Wife."
To read the review, please visit her blog.
I was once an evangelical. The kind that believed everything I was told with the goal of saving my soul. I now identify as an ex-evangelical and leaving the evangelical church was one of the best decisions I ever made. I wish I could say it was simple, something that happened overnight.
Leaving the evangelical world felt more like I was slowly drowning while everyone around me did everything they could to keep me from leaving. It was deliberate, systematic, and it left me wondering why I ever joined the evangelical church in the first place. If these people truly loved me as they said they did, why did they not listen to me? Why didn't they want to hear my doubts, support me in my struggle as I found most of my beliefs to be contrary to the Bible? The questions haunted me as I tried to find a way to reconcile the obvious conflict between people's words and their actions. Slowly it began to dawn to me that the only thing that mattered were my beliefs - but only as long as they aligned with everyone else's beliefs. It was mind-control, pure and simple. And that realization opened a door with a huge flashing neon-red EXIT sign above it. But to get to that door, I had to fight everyone around me, and only those who have had to engage in that fight know what it feels like.
Everyone hides somewhat to protect themselves, but evangelicals hide behind the thin veneer of godliness. They say a lot of nice things, but as soon as you question their beliefs, the niceness turns to ugliness. Suddenly you're the enemy, a real Jezebel who is out to kill all the prophets. You're no longer a child of God. How could you be? You don't believe the right things. You question, and questioning is bad, witchcraft kind of bad. It makes you an apostate, a heretic, and heretics have no place in the house of God. And so they circle their wagons around you and shoot you with words that are designed to shame, to inflict pain. The goal is to save your soul by mortifying your mind. The question is, of course, who would want to be saved in that way? They say they'll pray for you. They love you, they say. But what kind of love demands absolute obedience to a belief? A belief isn't a fact, or even an idea. A belief is something that is designed to help the mind evade the truth. Children are taught to believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. It makes giving presents at Christmas easier for the parents and the pain of having a tooth yanked out more manageable. If it was Santa who brought the presents, then there will no nagging about more toys after Christmas is over. Santa comes, after all, only once a year. Similarly, Evangelicals insist you must believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, the existence of hell, and a hoard of others things, because if you don't, they can't control you.
It's all about control.
Once you've pealed all the layers of nice sounding cliches and memes off the surface, you come face to face with the ugly reality of the evangelical world - control. If they can control you, you will do whatever is asked of you. You will give your time and your money to build the evangelical empire without giving it much thought. "It's for the Lord" is what you hear, but God doesn't need a fancy church, or a new jet, or a sound system that shames the best rock concert. Greed is a sin, they say, but it's a sin only for the sheep. The shepherds need their lavish lifestyle. And so they insist you must believe everything you've told. Questions become anathema, as questions pierce through the illusion of unity and reveal the truth.
But it's not only about money. It's also about power. To have power, you must have authority and to have authority you must have people who obey you. Obedience is one of the cardinal beliefs of the evangelical world, the one no one is allowed to question. Children are taught to obey their parents, wives are taught to obey their husbands, church goers are taught to obey their elders. To question authority is to question God. And God cannot be questioned, because God is above us and wields absolute authority over us. This begs, of course, the question, if God has authority over everyone, why are some humans placed in authority above other humans? "To keep order," is the regular answer. It's so very Roman, but let's ignore that for a moment. Order is important; no one likes chaos. But is authority the best way to create order? Every rebellion is against authority. No one rebels against a person who doesn't force you to do something you don't want. No one starts a war against a peaceful neighbor - unless they want what the neighbor has. And so we find that we're once again staring at money.
Money is an idol according to the Bible. And this particular idol has many worshipers. They say they worship the God who created all things, but they want what Money can give them. Money gives power, and power gives us what we want - servants who make our lives pleasurable. It boosts the ego until it's so inflated that it can no longer see the fellow human as human. The Bible rants and raves against this mindset, but the evangelical mind can no longer see it. It can only see what the blind allegiance to a system designed to exploit allows it to see - until something causes the mind to rebel, to ask the forbidden questions.
For me the primary question was why I, as a woman, was designed by God to spend my days in the boredom of homemaking. If God had given me a brain, why wasn't I allowed to use it? Why was a designed to do monotonous housework knowing fully well my mind was capable of deciphering complex philosophical questions without much effort. It made no sense. And so I began to question the whole paradigm, and soon enough the whole house of cards came tumbling down as if flicked by an invisible finger. I saw with clarity what lay behind all the "Praise God!" exclamations, and it wasn't God. God was nowhere to be found in the entire system, other than as a prop to be used to guilt people to stay. The ugliness shocked, but it also made me mad. Or perhaps I felt both emotions at the same time. It doesn't really matter. My anger woke me up from my mental hibernation, and I decided to leave, fighting my way through the inevitable "You can't leave God!" "You need to repent!" "If your faith is in God, you'll forgive!"
Forgive what? Or, I should say, forgive whom? If I have to forgive, shouldn't those who have done me wrong repent and change? No one can forgive blatant mind-control while remaining in its vicinity. The only way to forgive is to leave.
And so I did.
Reconstructing one's life after deconstruction is painful and it is also lonely. But in the end I had to admit that I was lonely in the evangelical world too, that is, once I began to ask questions. I still miss being part of a tight-knit community, but I don't miss the hurtful words, or the manipulation, or the endless messages from "concerned" friends whose only aim was to shame me into compliance. "Who needs enemies with friends like that?" is another cliche, but it's a painful reality for all the people who have ever had to face the ire of the evangelical world. I may never find another community I can be part of, but I will rather stay in my own private island as long as I can do so with integrity. Control isn't love, and love doesn't seek to control. The Bible says it, and I believe it.
If you have followed the modesty movement even for a moment, you will have noticed the overarching theme: women must cover their bodies to save men from being tempted, for a woman's body is the source of the worst possible sin of them all - sex.
Just the sight of a woman's body makes the man lose his cool and his head (or so we are told). A man who looks at a beautiful woman's body cannot think, he can only act, and that can only lead to bad things; bad things everyone will regret once the passion wears off and the cool returns. Hence the insistence of the modesty movement to have women cover themselves from top to toe, to prevent any and all temptation.
But here's the real question: does covering women prevent men from fantasizing about women? Not really. As anyone who has ever been in a diet knows, just because there's no food in the house doesn't mean a person cannot dream about pizza, doughnuts, slippery pasta in a creamy sauce, piles of meat in between soft bread, and huge amounts of golden butter. Our imaginations are vivid and become more and more so with every moment of enforced deprivation. Because we know this, we know also that the less men see, the more they fantasize, and the more they fantasize, they more they crave what they fantasize about.
Food and sex are very similar as they are both natural biological instincts we all seek to satisfy, but all instincts can be controlled. The ability to withstand the restrictions of a diet doesn't come from hiding the food. It comes from education. Knowing why it's necessary to diet gives a person strength to withstand the momentary food deprivation. And the same is true of sex. Knowing that a woman's body belongs to the woman gives a man the necessary strength to withstand the urge to touch or in any other way handle a woman's body without consent. He wouldn't, after all, want someone to touch his own body without consent.
Women's bodies have power and we all know it. But it's a power that is meant to bring people together in a way that doesn't cause hurt, for love isn't meant to hurt. Some people want to sidestep love and insist that that women should either use their power for their own gain, or hide it completely and remain powerless. Accordingly, the fashion industry strips women and shames them for not having perfect bodies, and the modesty culture covers women and shames them for having a body.
Both are mistaken.
A woman's body has power, and it can certainly bring a man to his knees - but only if he allows it to happen, for a man is still in charge of his own mind. On the other hand, a woman's body has power, even when covered, and no amount of fabric will cover its desirability, for the imagination has eyes of its own and cannot be deterred by any layers of clothing. What deters a man is respect, and the knowledge that a woman's body belongs to her, and her alone. It can give pleasure, but only when it's mutual and consensual, for pleasure doesn't reside in the body alone; it's controlled by the mind. It is the mind that either covers or undresses the person we meet, and respect is what causes a man or a woman to choose one or the other.
We all need to respect other people and not impose ourselves. It may seem as such a simple and natural thing, but if we look at the statistics and the sheer volume of modesty instructions that shame women for their bodies, we will realize that it's not something we do naturally. But there is hope. If we can learn to respect one another, the modesty culture will be shown to be what is it: an attempt to allow men forgo control by controlling women and what they wear.
And that has never ended well.
Yesterday we looked at this phenomenon called GirlDefined: two young women blogging about (mainly) two things - looks and boys. Since their focus is on looks and boys, clothes are a really important part of the whole equation, for as we all know, clothes have everything to do with how we look, and boys notice how girls look, and vice versa.
A cursory look on GirlDefined Facebook feed shows that most of the blogs and memes etc. are about clothing. This is of course what one may expect from two former models, as modeling is about showcasing clothes. But since the two sisters left the modeling world and decided to focus on the Christian world instead, I wondered why they still continue to place such an enormous emphasis on clothes. Even with all my knowledge about the modesty culture, it stumped me at first. Thankfully GirlDefined came to my rescue! They pointed me to an article written by Bethany Baird, titled, "The Naked Truth Why We Wear Clothes" (Read the whole article here). A mouthful, for sure, but nothing could have prepared me to the actual content. Hold on to your gag reflexes, for here we go.
Okay, so it's not just about "helping out" the brothers, or looking "sweet and feminine." No, there is something much greater behind the clothes we wear. Ready?
Did your jaw drop? Mine did. Of course it shouldn't have as we all know that anyone who cites Ken Ham has already left the main structures of theology, but more about that another time.
As if the above wasn't bad enough, it gets better, or worse, however you want to look at it:
So, that sweater you're wearing while reading this, it's a picture of Christ's death for you. Did you get that? Your sweater is a mini-Gospel, telling everyone in the world that Jesus died for you. So if you don't cover up, you are basically telling God you reject the Gospel. No wonder sex is seen as such a sin in the modesty culture, as it requires people to take their clothes off, essentially stripping themselves of God's redemptive grace.
But here's the real question: what kind of clothing is a picture of the Gospel? The claim is based on the fact that God took an animal and made clothing out of animal skin for the humans. So essentially, only clothing that is made out of animal skin is a picture of the Gospel. Cotton is heresy, since no blood was shed! You can't even wear wool, since the sheep wasn't killed in the process of shearing. Can you see where this is going?
The reason Ken Ham and GirlDefined have to resort to such absurdities is the lack of biblical support for the modesty culture. The Bible tells us to be clothed with humility, it doesn't say our clothes are evidence of said humility. Clothes are clothes, nothing more, nothing less. They aren't a statement of anything other than how hot or cold the air around us is; the colder, the more clothes we'll wear, the hotter the more clothes we'll take off. Modesty begins in the heart, and clothes have as much do with it as kneeling has with prayer. Sometimes they come together, sometimes they don't. And what's up with this "Modest is Hottest" business anyways? Isn't it saying modest clothing will bring you maximum attention? I'll leave you to ponder that one on your own.
Writing a book takes time - a LOT of time. Hence I haven't had much time to blog lately, which has been such a shame, for there is so much to write about. But today I have something special to say and I hope you join me in this conversation about a very curious phenomenon called GirlDefined.
So, what - or, I should say, who - is GirlDefined? Let's take a look:
From models to God's PR people. Hey, that sound rather good, doesn't it? In this world of airbrushed images of women that taunt the less than perfect bodies of real women, it's nice to hear young women advocate for a radically different kind of perception of beauty.
Or do they?
Let's look at some of the blog titles Kristen and Bethany have published on girldefined.com:
It Takes a Brave Girl to Live Out Biblical Womanhood6 Guys You Shouldn’t Date, Court, or Marry
Single Girls: Look for a Guy With Vision, Passion, and PurposeProject Modesty: How to Combine Fashion and Modesty
Why I’m Not Jumping Into the Gender Blender4 Lies Our Raunch Culture is Feeding You
The Birth Control Pill: What Every Christian Girl Needs to know5 Wardrobe Hacks for Dressing Modestly
God’s Design for Sex is Way Better than Hollywood’s Cheap ImitationPraying for Your Future Husband
Real Women Know How to Accept an Act of Chivalry
8 Reasons We Aren’t Feminists
The last one got my attention (as you may have guessed), so let's listen to the Vlog for a moment, and see what these young women have to say about feminism.
"Feminism, at its core... has tried to define womanhood on its own terms. It's not just about women's equality with men, it's about redefining womanhood altogether, according to man's and woman's terms, rather than how God defines womanhood.... One of my good friends, Erin Davis, who is a popular author, blogger, speaker, she wrote a blog recently called, "Why I'm not a Feminist." And it was awesome. She said, "If feminism is simply the advocacy for women's rights based on the idea that we are equal to men, I'm a believer. In truth, feminism is this radical idea, that women are God, capable of being their authority. "
I had to stop listening a few minutes after the above, because clearly these two sisters have a very strange and skewed view of feminism, one that can only come from one source - patriarchy. I also had to stop, because, quite honestly, it's really hard for me to listen to two young women go on about how they define their lives according to God's word while they plaster their own images all over the place, spend an extraordinary amount of money and effort on make up and hair styling, while they are the stereotypical "good girls" with pretty faces, long blond hair and blue eyes; the image that western society has long upheld as the godly norm for all women.
But let's dissect what GilrDefined thinks about feminism. In their opinion a feminist sees herself as her own God, capable of being her own authority. I would answer their curious comment with this: it all depends on how you see God and how you view authority. If you see God as someone who wants to put you in a really small box and keep you there, then yes, I would say they are right, for feminism rejects the cookie cutter thinking that such a view of God represents. And as far as authority is concerned, again, it all depends on how you view authority. If you see authority as something heavy-handed that is all about rules rather than empowerment, then yes, feminism rejects that too - and for a good reason. What I'm getting here is that GirlDefined believes in a very narrow view of God that fits a very narrow cultural way of life that they happened to grow up with. It has nothing to do with God.
Just by spending a few minutes on their website or FB page, you'll see quickly that there are only two topics that are discussed - looks and boys. According to GirlDefined, being pretty and finding the perfect husband is all good and well as long as you place God first in all things. That's it. It's a good old-fashioned finishing school approach to life, with a Christian makeover: as long as you (ostensibly or in real life) say that God comes first in your life, then you go girl! And this is also where it gets really annoying. GirlDefined? So this advice is for teens and pre-teens? Okay, let's assume it is, because a girl becomes a woman at age 18. So let's just assume that all their advice is to girls between 13-18 (because girls under 13 don't need their advice). Is this what we want our teens to hear? That they should dress modestly for God? (God doesn't care. God saw you naked in the womb and as you came, you shall leave.) That they should look for a young man who fits a narrow stereotype of what a "good Christian" looks like, to forever remain in the cookie cutter atmosphere that doesn't respect people's unique contributions or personalities? Is this what Christian freedom is all about? Heaven forbid!
I could be mean and say that Kristen and Bethany didn't make it in the modeling world, hence they looked for another way to be seen and heard by a rapt audience. But that would be extraordinarily un-Christian of me. So I must assume they have every good intention behind their attempt to re-educate girls, although one really must ask this - where's the need? Girls who grow up in the church are already inundated in both modesty and purity culture. Their every look and word is policed to avoid even the slightest hint of immodesty since the church spends most of its efforts on this. So why the need for yet another modesty police, even if it comes with glossy lipstick and professional photos that are very appealing? There is no need for it, and that is why I say that GirlDefined needs to be redefined according to a proper reading of the Bible, the one that says men and women are both equal by God's design, and no amount of gloss is going to change that.
Feminism is considered immoral by those who support patriarchy, but why is that? In my latest book, "The Final Wave: Dismantling Patriarchy Through Freeing Feminism" I give the following answer to the question:
Because we are surrounded by patriarchy, our unconscious has a distinctly patriarchal bias, and we will always side with patriarchy without ever realizing it—unless something happens that causes us to re-evaluate.  You can call it an identity crisis or a (rude) awakening, but one day some of us find that our morality isn’t working for us anymore. Things that made sense yesterday, no longer makes sense; the old has become threatening and the new replaces the old as the norm. Sigmund Freud’s mentor Jean-Martin Charcot made this astute observation, “Why does the first statement of what seems a new fact always leave us cold? Because our minds have to take in something that deranges our original set of ideas, but we are all of us like that in this miserable world.” Because all of us tend to reject a new idea as threatening, and because patriarchy claims women are individuals who should serve men, and that women’s subserviency is a moral question that requires a moral answer, and feminism insists all people should have equal rights and that women’s legal personhood is a question that requires a rational response, we find that feminism isn’t rejected because it is rationally indefensible, but because it is emotionally reprehensible to people whose morality has been shaped by patriarchal ideals from childhood, especially because--
In other words, it is not wrong to make waves. We must make waves if we want to change the world and make it a safer and more welcoming place to women and children.
But how are waves made? They are created when opposing viewpoints come in contact with each other - complacency creates smooth waters for patriarchy to sail on. From a Christian perspective waves are needed to ensure that tradition doesn't stifle the work of the Spirit. We need to be open to new ideas if we don't want to become stones that the Spirit can no longer move.
It is while we contemplate these things that we find that our morality is like a fog that clouds visibility until everything looks the same, and good and evil become undiscernible.
This is the purpose and reason for the existence of Christian feminism: to re-evaluate tradition using reason and revelation as our guides. Blind adherence to old ways is as useful as demanding people walk instead of using modern transportation just because that was how the apostles got around. Life is a dynamic experience, and our faith has to be just as dynamic. The alternative is a dying church that offers lies in the place of truth, and who wants to be part of such a church?
Imagine going to the bookstore and waiting in line. You and the person in front of you start talking and you notice that she is holding a book you know, and you make a comment about it. Out of the blue the other person throws a complete fit and begins to scream how you don’t know anything about her experiences and how dare you assume something that is not true!
If it happened in real life, you would think the person had gone mad and rightly so. How could you, a total stranger, know anything about her life? Yet, this scenario is all too true over at social media every day. Perfect strangers scream at other perfect strangers and for some reason it is considered to be perfectly acceptable. But why is that?
At some undefined point in the past, someone decided that experience is what really matters. There is no need to understand philosophical concepts of justice, equity, or fairness, all we need to know is how we feel. It is true that to experience our humanity we have to have all kinds of experiences, for experience is what makes or breaks our human, well, experience. But is experience enough to create a solid understanding of the needs and wants of the human community? Whose experience counts as the ultimate one, the one we can all compare our own to see if our experiences measure up? This is where all the problems begin, because there is no such ultimate experience. Even if we took into account all the experiences we could find, there would always still be one more that we missed, and the one we missed has the ability to tilt the whole pile into another direction.
When experience reigns as policy maker, the policy remains as elusive as the memories of those experiences.
Not only are we doomed to chasing down the latest feeling, we also expect everyone to know our experiences. When our subjective experiences define the conversation, we expect everyone to know everything about us. Isn’t that after all why people are talking to us, to compare their experiences to ours? And that’s when all the yelling and all caps at social media happens, when we find that perfect strangers don’t know us, and we get sick and tired of having to repeat our life’s story to every single one. That’s when we tell them that we are done doing “emotional labor” for them, and if you want to know about me, pay me!
Eventually the whole conversation comes to a halt.
Instead of looking for the subjective experiences of individuals as a guide how to live our lives, much like the churches where the pastor's ideas and experiences become the norm for everyone, we need an objective reality we can all see and understand to ensure that individual experiences are not too far off from justice, fairness, and equity. That way our individual stories can once again become the stuff off novels and movies, and our collective story becomes one of ensuring everyone’s rights as humans are respected.
One of the reasons experience became such a hot topic is because we found a new way of looking at human sexuality. Instead of there being two categories – male and female – there is a whole smorgasbord of identities a person can choose from. All a person has to do is stick his card into the identity machine and choose from the menu and presto! a new identity has been formed. This identity is fluid on purpose to ensure that it can be changed at anytime.
What hides behind the endless choices is experience. We want to experience ourselves and other people in different ways and the old rigid gender stereotyping didn’t allow for this variety to exist.
So far so good.
But as with experience, when identity becomes the guide, something is oddly missing. What does it mean to be a man or a woman? That anyone can identify as either has to mean that there must be an objective reality, a man or a woman, that I can choose to identify as.
Here Plato’s famous Forms make their grand entrance. Plato believed that there is another realm where nothing changes, where all things have their unchangeable Form that reason can discover. Since our senses lie to us (i.e., experiences can be false), we need find the Forms in order to learn objective truth, or we will spend our lives believing and living a lie. Aristotle famously rejected the Forms, for only philosophers had the time and ability to look for them; ordinary artisans didn’t need to find the Forms to know how to make a good shoe or chair. In his opinion senses provided us with objective truth.
Let’s return to identity.
Identity politics relies on Plato's model. When we are told we can identify as a man or a woman, what is meant is that there is a Form of Man and a Form of Woman that we can identify as. These Forms contain all the cultural masculine or feminine qualities that we can choose from. It also contains an archetypical body.
The body is where the whole choosing of an identity gets tricky, because it's not possible to change the body without outside help. Because a person, who is a man but wishes to identify as a woman, can never have a woman’s body in its complete form, we are told that it is not necessary. Anyone can be a woman as long as she chooses to identify as a woman. Periods, ovaries, ovulation, and the womb are not necessary for a person to be a woman. In other words, identity is based on cultural gender stereotypes of behavior. If you wish to behave like a woman (wear skirts, makeup, and high heels), that's a sign that you must be a woman. And because a man in a dress is still considered a ridiculous thing, the body has to be modified to fit the cultural stereotype of a woman (this is not to say that some do not sincerely feel they were born in the wrong body early on, but to recognize that there are different reasons for transgenderism). The only real difference between the old patriarchal model and the new one being that we get to choose which stereotype we wish to identify as.
It sounds great!
Except that it kills feminism.
If who we are as men and women is based on strict gender stereotypes that we are free to choose from, then being a woman is a choice. Any effort to talk about women’s rights is quickly shut down, because “it erases trans women.” In other words, we have all the choices in the world as far as our sexuality is concerned, but those choices come at the expense of our human rights.
Experience and Identity
When identity and experience are joined together we get situations in which feminists, who highlight the different experiences women who have been women from birth have from women who are women by choice, are now told to be quiet, because they are said to "erase trans women.".
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote:
"I think if you've lived in the world as a man with the privileges the world accords to men, and then switched gender, it's difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning in the world as a woman, and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are." (Read the article here)
And the internet exploded.
Ms. Adichie was doing what feminists have been told to do for many years: she acknowledged that women have different experiences. So here’s the question: why is experience an important qualification when it comes to black women versus white women, but when it comes to trans women, suddenly every woman’s experience is the same and we should make no qualifying statements whatsoever.
It is here that we find the crux of the argument.
When intersectionality became vogue in feminist thinking, experience became the way to describe the intersectional discriminations women experience. Because all women have something in common, two x chromosomes, it became important to highlight the differences. But with trans women, there is a difference, hence the need to highlight the sameness.
We are essentially having two conversations with two diametrically opposed viewpoints. On one hand we all work hard to highlight the differences, on the other hand we work hard to highlight the sameness. And we wonder why we all feel so confused.
Either all women are the same on a fundamental level, or we are all so different that we can never understand what other women experience. We can't argue both at the same time, for feminism is far too important to be destroyed as a movement simply because we want to have our cake and eat it too.
Anyone who has ever asked, "What about Deborah?" will have heard the answer, "God calls women when no man can be found." The answer is coupled with the idea that it is a judgment on men that God had to call a woman, because no man could be found.
If this is indeed the case, why didn't evangelicals vote for the competent woman when there was no competent man to be found? Not only did they not vote for the Hillary Clinton, they tried to make Donald Trump into a competent man by claiming he had converted.
Except he didn't.
Then there is the question of morals.
Wayne Grudem considered Trump to be a good candidate and a moral choice.
I do not think that voting for Donald Trump is a morally evil choice because there is nothing morally wrong with voting for a flawed candidate if you think he will do more good for the nation than his opponent. In fact, it is the morally right thing to do. (Read the article here)
Grudem claims Trump is not a misogynist, but that of course shouldn't surprise anyone since Grudem himself is one. But in the end, is it really about man versus woman, or capitalism versus humanity?
Voting for Clinton and her ultraliberal policies is not an option for me as an evangelical Christian.... I overwhelmingly support Trump’s policies and believe that Clinton’s policies will seriously damage the nation, perhaps forever. On the Supreme Court, abortion, religious liberty, sexual orientation regulations, taxes, economic growth, the minimum wage, school choice, Obamacare, protection from terrorists, immigration, the military, energy, and safety in our cities, I think Trump is far better than Clinton (see below for details). Again and again, Trump supports the policies I advocated in my 2010 book Politics According to the Bible. (Read the article here)
In other words, Grudem believes in rampant discrimination, lower taxes for the wealthy, higher taxes for the poor, weakening of the public school system, repealing healthcare, bombing innocent civilians, deporting millions of people, building a wall, wasting money on a dying coal industry, and police violence.
Are these according to Christian principles?
Anyone who has ever read the Bible knows the answer without having to go looking for it, so why does Grudem believe these are "Politics According to the Bible"? Because he, like so many other people, believes that capitalism - this idea, that the market matters more than people - is godly. And this makes him a worshiper of Money.
But let's get back to the whole men versus women argument that is found in the middle of all of this. Grudem is horrified by Trump's comments about women and his past serial adultery, but according to Trump this doesn't make him a morally objectionable candidate. He is a flawed candidate, and we can still vote for flawed candidates, for no one is perfect.
And this tells us that a candidate has to be perfect when it comes to beliefs, but not when it comes to actions, the true measure of a person's values. Grudem cannot say what he wants, i.e., that women cannot become presidents, because he has already said that in the secular realm there cannot be any gender discrimination as the men-lead-women pertains only to church and home. And because he cannot say what he wants he has to resort to doublespeak until nothing means anything and anything means everything.
In retrospect, now that we live in the midst of the chaos of Trump's presidency, I wonder if Grudem has reconsidered his commitment to the moral maxims that allow the market pulverize people in the name of profit. Or is he happy now that Money no longer needs to hide behind the thin veneer of morals and respectability.
Only time will tell.
When we talk about feminism and women in general, we need to rightly acknowledge that all women are different, and experience life differently. But there is one intersection where all women's experiences meet, where no woman is going to claim a difference.
That intersection is violence.
Sexual assault and domestic violence are felt in the same way by every woman. There is no difference between rich or poor, able-bodied or disabled, black or white. Every woman feels equally violated by the acts of violence that are perpetuated against her just because she is a woman. This ties into the many and needed conversations about the systematic rape of black women by white men, while segregation was fueled by the fear of black men raping white women: when men fight for supremacy among themselves, women get sandwiched between them. As a result, women are either overprotected from the (non-existing) threat of violence or exposed to real violence. And while this is going on, no one is asking what the women think; they are simply expected to cooperate on either side of the aisle. A woman who refuses to cooperate will feel the consequences, and they are dire.
I've seen a lot of people use the rape of black women by white men as a reason why white women should listen to black women first and foremost. It is a valid point from the perspective of seeing how patriarchy affects us differently, but at the same time it places an unrealistic burden on someone who is herself subjected and oppressed. How could such a person possibly defend the rights of another oppressed group? This is not to say that white women have not been complicit in the most heinous of crimes against people of color. Women aren't saints or devils; they are just a human as men are, and capable of the same kind of cruelty as men are. What I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't expect people who are themselves oppressed, and often through violence, to be the ones to rectify the injustices done by others. When it comes to the systematic rape of black women, we should place the blame squarely at the feet of white men. White women may have turned a blind eye to it, but they didn't commit the act of violence themselves; instead, they were often the recipients of male violence themselves. We need to recognize that all women are the targets of male violence because they are women. Expecting a battered woman to defend another battered woman is to say that victims have the responsibility to end violence. They would if they could. Usually that kind of resistance ends up in the death of the woman instead.
None of the above is to say that black women didn't experience something truly horrendous during the godless and soulless Jim Crow era. There are no words to convey the horror of systematic sexual violence and what it has done to black women. The witch craze had a similar effect on the European psyche. What I'm trying to say is that we shouldn't hold women responsible for the crimes of men. If we want to fight patriarchy, we need to come together as women, affirm our common experiences, and end violence against women by holding the men responsible.
Violence against women doesn't come in color.
It's the same all around the world.
By now I'm sure you all know that I've talking about intersectionality all week, and the conversations have been interesting, to say the least. Before any of you get upset and start telling me that I don't listen to women of color, let me show you this:
Okay, now that we got that out of the way , let's talk about intersectionality.
Intersectionality was created to address the hegemony of feminist thought and expressions, and as such it is a valuable part of feminist thought. But when it comes to the real lives of real women and how intersectionality is applied and manifested in that real life, we get a very different picture.
During the past week I was told over and over again that if I didn't agree with certain kind of feminism, I was against feminism. I thought this was really odd, because wasn't intersectionality created so we would add voices and thoughts to feminism? How did it end up excluding voices and thoughts? Check this out:
So we can't talk to people who reject the personhood of a person. How can we do feminism if we can't talk to men who reject the personhood of women, or women who don't affirm all the identities that we do? And how can we reach people who live in countries where women's rights as humans aren't recognized?
This is what another person had to say:
So we should all fight for our rights where we are, but the recognition that we have to do feminism in different ways depending where we are, that's not intersectionality?
So what is?
If intersectionality is about recognizing that various methods of oppression affect us differently, why can't we talk to people who disagree with us? Why does there have to be consensus on all issues before we can have a conversation? Isn't that what intersectionality tried to address? That there shouldn't be just one way to do feminism.
I believe we should be able to do different kinds of feminism without the derogatory labels. Personally I reject the label "white feminism," because it is used to invalidate my experience as a religious woman within patriarchy because of the color of my skin. I understand that feminists in the past have ignored multiple voices and it is something that had to be addressed and is still an issue. But to say that I have to listen to a woman of color before I can talk about patriarchal oppression in the church is counter-intuitive. Why should a woman of color validate my experience before I can tell a man that sexism in the church is unacceptable? Isn't that what we are trying to do, to get men to understand how they oppress women and to convince them to stop it? Or do we have another agenda?
When men feel comfortable enough to tell women what kind of feminism they are "allowed" to engage in, there is trouble in the air. When men tell women, "Now, now, girls, unless you validate all of these identities, you can't call yourself a feminist, and I won't listen to you," we have created a patriarchal frame that silences women and that can never be the intention or goal of any kind of feminism.
Personally I affirm everyone's right to form their own identities, but I understand also that I can't take a feminism that is centered around same sex love and transgenderism to a woman who lives in a Third World country and say that if she only affirms these identities, then she can also have her own humanity affirmed. Or if she only understands how woc experience American racism, then she can understand and affirm her own humanity. A woman who lives in a culture that is widely different from the western world won't understand what I'm talking about. But if I say that she, as a woman, should have the same rights as the men have, that she will understand. And even that may take time to sink in.
We must begin with the idea that women are human too, for only those who are free can free others. A woman who has realized her own humanity will be able to see other forms of oppression and begin to reject them and fight to free other people. A woman who lives under patriarchal oppression doesn't have the ability or freedom to fight for others, she can't even speak for herself. Patriarchy silences women and the first thing we need to do as feminists is to give women their voices back. We can't do that if we can't meet women where they are with the message of equality.
The inherent idea behind intesectionality is that we all have different experiences, and that they are equally valuable, that diversity is a good thing. Forcing everyone to accept a rigid ideology isn't intersectionality, it's giving with one hand what you take away with the other. It's the same thing we see in churches: supporters of hierarchy say men and woman are equal, but that women should obey men. The same is found in the argument proposed by some egalitarians, that women should be allowed to preach in the church, but they should obey their husbands at home. It validates one kind of oppression while it negates other kinds. If we can't accept people with all of the limitations that a patriarchal world has imposed on them and talk to them, why are we even talking about feminism? If we expect people to accept our identities before we are able to have a conversation, why not just it: we aren't in the business of freeing women, we are in the business of having our own identities affirmed at the expense of the freedom of others.
As a feminist and social justice activist I seek to find ways to create a world in which artificial barriers between humans cease to exist.