There was an interesting column in Martin Marty‘s Sightings this week, linking the unlikely pair of Lisa Miller and Jim Henderson, both of whom are predicting that women are on the verge of leaving Evangelico-Republicanism en masse.
Felice Lifshitz writes,
Christianity has consistently been open to pro-feminist movements, but this has resulted neither in a fundamental egalitarian transformation of Christian institutions, nor in a mass exodus of disaffected women. The current wave of “resignations” fits squarely into a 2000-year-old tradition of tension over gender and spiritual authority; if proponents of patriarchal forms of religious organization do not feel particularly threatened by the alarm bells Henderson has rung for them, it is because historical precedent encourages complacency on their part. After all, their predecessors always managed to hold on to power. “The men of the right” have found, in every generation, a substantial number of Christian women who considered the limited roles and secondary status allotted to them to be quite comfortable. It is certainly easier to execute simple, circumscribed tasks such as meal preparation than to shoulder the responsibility for major policy decisions. But every generation has also witnessed rebellion and discontent. (Read the rest: Patriarchy’s Persistent Bastion? Religion by Felice Lifshitz.)
I’m not so sure. Every time I get excited that women are really, truly, exerting feminist independence within evangelicalism, I read something like this, in which Rachel Held Evans agreed to take the word “vagina” out of her forthcoming book on women and the Bible out of concern for evangelical bookstores.
It’s tragic, I think. So maybe Miller and Henderson are right. Maybe the women of Evangelico-Republicanism are going to revolt. I, for one, hope that they do.