A Matter of Patriarchy

Yesterday I saw a trailer for the new Christian movie, A Matter of Faith.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJytHdl_M1c

The film’s website offers this summary: 

A Christian girl, Rachel Whitaker (Jordan Trovillion) goes off to college for her freshman year and begins to be influenced by her popular Biology professor (Harry Anderson) who teaches that evolution is the answer to the origins of life. When Rachel’s father, Stephen Whitaker (Jay Pickett) senses something changing with his daughter, he begins to examine the situation and what he discovers catches him completely off guard. Now very concerned about Rachel drifting away from her Christian faith, he tries to do something about it!

The “something” Rachel’s father does is challenge her biology professor to a public debate at her university—against her wishes, of course. 

I almost can’t deal with this, it’s so emotionally close for me. Like Rachel, I went to a state university, and while there, became convinced that evolution, not biblical creation, explained the origins of the universe. Like Rachel’s father, my own father was extremely concerned about me and became convinced that I was being “led astray.” Ouch. The emotions are still so raw.

I should clarify that I have only seen the trailer, so that it all I am operating off here. If I have the chance to see the film at some point, I will review it more thoroughly.

First, does everyone remember last year’s similar film, God’s Not Dead?

In God’s Not Dead, college freshman Josh Wheaton stands up against his philosophy professor’s attempts to disabuse him of his belief in God, and even challenges the professor to a formal debate. In A Matter of Faith, college freshman Rachel Whitaker swoons under her professor’s charisma and accepts his evolutionary teaching, and her father comes in to rescue her by challenging the professor to a formal debate.

I just can’t even with how wrong this is.

1. If Rachel Whitaker grew up in a staunchly creationist evangelical home, as she is supposed to have, she would have answers to her biology professor’s arguments in favor of evolution. She would not look down, embarrassed, when her professor mentions evolution. She would be expecting this and would be excited for the opportunity to defend her faith.

2. Does Josh Wheaton’s father even appear in God’s Not Dead? I’m pretty sure that’s a no. Why isn’t Josh’s father getting all concerned about the fact that, oh no, he sent his son to a school with an atheist philosophy professor?! Oh right, Josh has boy parts, so he doesn’t need daddy to rescue him, he can stand up for himself thank you very much.

3. Rachel’s father would not be surprised by her professor teaching evolution and not creation. She’s at a state university for god’s sake! Unless he has read, I don’t know, zero creationist literature, he would know that state schools teach evolution and not creation.

4. It is incredibly unlikely that a young woman raised in a staunchly creationist evangelical home would accept evolution because her biology professor is charismatic. But then, we all know women are flighty and shallow and just interested in looks, right? You can see my blood pressure rising as I type, yes?

5. There are certainly times when young women raised in staunchly creationist evangelical homes accept evolution in college. Hi! That would be me! Do you want to know why I changed my mind? I became convinced after months of debate and independent research that the evidence stands overwhelmingly against biblical creation. Oh yes, it was quite taxing to my poor ladybrain!

6. In the trailer, Rachel begs her father not to debate her biology professor, to the point of telling him tearfully how embarrassing the debate will be for her. Dads, don’t do this. Seriously, why would you do this? This is a terrible idea. It is a colossal invasion of privacy.

7. If your young adult daughter has become open to evolution and you’re worried about her, stick to my dad’s modus operandi and send her creationist literature with little “please read” notes. Your daughter is a big girl now, she can think for herself! If your beliefs stand up under the evidence, you shouldn’t need to worry about your daughter exploring alternate viewpoints.

I am sick to death of this idea that women are susceptible little pushovers vulnerable and open to men’s charisma. When I was in college, my parents became convinced that I had fallen under the sway of my boyfriend, my friends, and my professors, and could not see that I was in fact thinking for myself for the first time in my life. It was as if, as a woman, they could not conceive of me actually thinking independently. And they said as much, too. 

Do you know what I would say to my parents, and to Rachel’s parents?

You have 18 years to teach your children your beliefs. Eighteen years. After that, the ball is in their court. If they discard some of your beliefs and choose different ones, it’s not because they didn’t actually understand your belief. After all, you had eighteen years to teach it to them. Instead, it’s because they have agency, and are their own independent people—and you need to accept that. 

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