Just Read Rachel Held Evans

Call me naïve. 

I didn’t know that there was such a thing as complementarianism until I heard some of my students defending the idea that women were called to submit to men in marriage, but they were still equal.  It was one of my first years of teaching.  I’m not terribly proud of the moment when I told them something like, “well, separate but equal didn’t work on the basis of race, and so I can’t imagine why you’d think it works on the basis of gender.”  They just assumed it was Christian.  I was surprised, having never heard such a message in the church and family in which I was raised (educated, baptized, confirmed, married, and employed). 

There are better ways to respond, and thankfully Rachel Held Evans has done so.  She smartly refers to such folks as “patriarchalists” and says enough in one sentence of a blog post surrounding The Gospel Coalition’s recent comments on sex and marriage: 

“Patriarchy is old—so old that the writers of Scripture include it in their creation story.”

I don’t think I’m reading too much into this to hear a weary note.  It’s old.  Old news.  Why are we still talking about this?  Because:

“In a post on the GC Web site entitled “The Polluted Waters of 50 Shades of Grey, etc,” Jared Wilson argues that the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey simply reflects a perversion of the proper, God-ordained relationship of authority and submission between men and women.”

I’m not going to quote his argument, or his use of Douglas Wilson here.  It’s really just awful.

You simply need to read Evans’ point by point analysis and response, which concludes:

“And I believe, with every bone in my body, that patriarchy is a result of sin. I believe that followers of Jesus are to be champions of equality, and that it is our calling, as imitators of Christ, to reflect God’s new vision for the world, initiated through Jesus Christ, in which there is no hierarchy or power struggle between slave and free, Jew and Greek, male and female, for all are one in the family of God. (See “Is patriarchy really God’s dream for the world?”)”

Yes.  Good.  I’m glad she read their work and responded so I didn’t have to.

Thank you, Rachel.  I’m looking forward to your book.

 

About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

  • Kubrick’s Rube

    Welcome to Patheos Caryn! I’m really enjoying your blog. It’s a good complement (no pun intended) to Love, Joy, Feminism over at the Atheist Channel.

    • Caryn Riswold

      A belated thanks … and pun appreciated! ;-)


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