Rachel Held Evans has just followed up the discussion linked in my last post with the literary equivalent of an avalanche. She not only affirms her commitment to Christian egalitarianism, but she backs it up with a torrent of evidence demonstrating the very real harm done by patriarchy in the Bible and in the world.
Our first glimpses into a patriarchal society, even one in which Yahweh is God, reveal inequity and violence against women. Groups like the Vision Forum have long been advocating a return to “biblical patriarchy” that resembles the culture of the Old Testament, complete with fathers essentially owning daughters until they are given in marriage. I’ve always been careful to try and make a distinction between this group and complementarians, and am disheartened to see mainstream complementarianism move in this direction.
The effects of patriarchy around the world…
If scripture is not enough to convince you that patriarchy is a result of sin, you need only look at the world to observe its effects.
- Worldwide, women ages fifteen to forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.
- Every 9 seconds, a woman in the US is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. I wish I could say that all complementarians categorically condemn female submission to male violence, but John Piper has said that, in order to model godly submission, a woman may need to quietly “endure verbal abuse for a season” or “getting smacked one night” before “seeking help from the church.” (He says nothing about contacting authorities). Similarly, in Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi Pearl advises a woman whose husband pulled a knife on her to “stop complaining” and focus instead on not “provoking” her husband’s anger. This is destructive advice and reveals something of an assumption that the preservation of male hierarchy is more important than preservation of a woman’s dignity.