Disclaimer: I tend not to comment on politics, and I haven’t been following the Republican race very closely, but I came across something this week that was really startling (excluding anything Trump). It is a clear reminder that we need to be aware of who is informing our candidates and potential future leaders.
A Slate article by Ruth Graham unveiled that Marco Rubio has installed Wayne Grudem as part of his religious liberty advisory board.
You may not recognize his name, but Wayne Grudem is the founder of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). He is foundational in the formation of complementarian theology which is spouted by the likes of John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Kevin DeYoung, Emerson Eggerichs, and Matt Chandler. As of January 13, Grudem has endorsed Rubio for President.
These men, while claiming men and women are created as equal beings in the eyes of God, restrict women to certain roles and do not allow them any spiritual authority or leadership over mixed gender groups (except sometimes children). Women are to have babies and raise them in the home. This often includes home-schooling. Men are to make money, make all decisions in the home, and to be spiritual leaders at home and in the church. Women have very little voice.
Much of their rhetoric makes it clear that if all women were to retreat into their homes and leave the workplace the world would be a much better place. Last year John Piper even suggested that a woman couldn’t serve as a drill sergeant because it would violate both the men’s sense of manhood and the core of her womanhood.
While for many outside of evangelicalism, these names may not mean much, but their message is insidious and influences the attitudes of anyone under their teachings. (And is reinforced by popular shows like Mad Men.) The growth of this kind of controlling patriarchy is often sold as:
- Biblical – living inside roles is what God intended, and the only way to live in God’s will. The Bible clearly places limits on women. [There is no accounting for cultural context.]
- Traditional – how life was so much better when women knew their place and were in their place.
- Spiritual – the only way to live a full spiritual life is to live out your role according to your sex organs.
- Emotional – each gender is specifically made to meet the needs of the other and can only do that well when in the correct role.
- Moral – the only way to redeem America (and the world) is to have families living out the moral truths inherent in their gender and by having proper order in the household.
- Physical – biology determines everything. Male organs make you male, female organs make you female. There are no other options. Period.
- Mandatory – there is not space for giftedness, calling, or desire to be something beyond the prescription of gender. Women are in the home to have and raise children. Men make money and make all decisions in the home.
This is a scary list. One that restricts women to be nothing more than wombs and limits men to be nothing more than powerful overlords. There is no sense of relationship or community, there is no place for anyone that doesn’t fit in a prescribed box. What at one time would have been ideas that only occupied the far, far right are now becoming mainstream in our political debates and in our churches.
While many of these politicians and theologians lead the fear mongering against Islam, and the way that they oppress people; if they were being honest, they would have to admit that allowing women to be covered and silent might not be so bad after all. That’s a strong statement. But it is also the trajectory of this kind of theology and philosophy.
When we talk about freedom in Christ, equality, and a redeemed world where people live out the life God has laid before them, we are calling for all people to have that opportunity. All men, all women, all people. That we all have the opportunity to use our God given gifts and graces in whatever way we can. That we all get to live full, fulfilled, and joyful lives.
When that is taken away before it even begins, then huge portions of our population never get to live those amazing lives. And the last thing I would want for anyone is to have these kinds of shallow minded, controlling attitudes become the norm in our culture and in our country. Where bullying women on live TV becomes okay. Where demonizing people who are different than us becomes normal. Where bullish behavior is allowed to go on and then backed up Scripture. We are playing a very dangerous game.
A game that women – mother, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, and friends will lose. A game that men – husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews, and friends will lose. When we aren’t allowed to live, we all pay the penalty.
So, as we continue to slog through the political landscape this season, pay attention to who is behind the scene. Who is informing your candidates. Who is defining the theology/philosophy of the leaders you are looking at. Who is going to be shaping our lives and families in the years to come if we will let them.
I pray fervently it’s not this crew.
Wayne Grudem for President.