God, Schwanzstuckers, and Rachel Held Evans

God, Schwanzstuckers, and Rachel Held Evans May 19, 2019

by Cindy Kunsman

To understand the audience of Rachel Held Evans and the critics who continue to berate her after her death, it may help to understand the gender debate amongst Fundamentalist Christians.

The 1970s brought abortion on demand, women’s rights, and other assorted evils like drugs, sex, and rock and roll. Colleges and workplaces filled up with women, and men came home from work to frozen dinners and takeout, so someone had to do something! The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) had also fallen into vile liberalism and Biblical illiteracy, so some within it engineered a call to return to ‘Biblical inerrancy‘ which they launched in 1979.

The SBC drives the direction of Evangelicals in the US serving as a microcosm of the larger American culture. Despite membership decline, it remains the second largest single denomination (15 million adult members of the 15.4% of all adult Baptists in the US). The SBC is second only to the Roman Catholic Church (25%) and and followed next by Methodists (just 5%) [self-reported affiliations of surveyed adults].

Doctrines of Gods and Women

Calvinists can’t get Dispensationalists to agree that Jesus died only for the elect, but they could get everyone fired up about the evils of women which became a choke chain used to ‘purify’ the SBC. Parachurch organizations also aided the expansion of these Calvinists’ influence beyond their own denomination.

Believing that all Biblical doctrine traced back to the Doctrine of God, a Presbyterian managed to join gender roles directly to God’s identity, and parachurch groups advanced both concepts as issues of Biblical inerrancy. They claimed that God the Father was the example to husbands in marriage, and Jesus became the analogous example for women. Big Daddy rules and reigns over his Jesus-wife like a husband (should). (Huh?) Men were so driven to subjugate women that leadership swallowed the concept without protest.

Many strange ideas emerged from this dichotomy. Women became derivative images of God. Wives who experienced domestic abuse were told to suffer for the cause of marriage and pray, and churches pressured them to seek help in their church as opposed to calling the police. (Some pontiffs did offer damage control or clarification statements when criticized.) Some even go on about how sex is an act of beholding the Trinity. It has all of the makings for a novel about a religiously motivated serial killer.

All Fathers must have Schwanzstukers somewhere!

And here, dear readers is the reason why critics of Rachel Held Evans insist that God the father is male: If Jesus is the counterpart to a wife in a marriage, it means that God the Father must be intrinsically male in His essence.

Rather than deal with the difficulties of how Jesus somehow became a woman, proponents of the view focus on defending God’s male essence which makes all things female an afterthought by default. Rachel Held Evans rightly rejected them, and they condemned her to hell for it.

The Evangelical community succeeded in rejecting this ideology, though I expect that it will take another generation before people stop defending the man-God doctrine. #MeToo and sex scandals also changed the tide, and the excuses, apologies, and empty PR campaigns only harm them. That brings us back to Rachel who found great popularity among the ‘Nones,’ many of whom are Christian refugees whom these misogynistic groups threw away.

Cindy is a nurse who was raised in Word of Faith, a Second Generation Adult of cultic Christianity. She and her husband dabbled in Calvinism and Theonomy as a foil to Christian anti-intellectualism, and they were exit counseled together when the walked away from a church that embraced Gothard’s teachings. Cindy escaped many Quiverfull pitfalls but became a social pariah for failing to birth a family. She’s been decrying the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement since 2004, and she writes about spiritual abuse at her blog, Under Much Grace. Read more about her here.

She blogs at Under Much Grace, Enmeshed for Jesus, and Redeeming Dinah.



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TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jennifer

    Awesome and informative, Cindy!

  • Saraquill

    It’s odd how the charts above don’t account for Jews, Buddhists and other non-Christian beliefs.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Well one of them actually does, and the other is the segment of the other relevant to the discussion.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    Geared only towards Evangelical Christianity. No attempt on the author’s part to purposely exclude those.

  • They are included as Non-Christian Religions as per the survey. They are the dark grey slice at about 3 o’clock on the first pie chart. I didn’t include them in Rachel’s audience.

  • Click on the link that references the study and scroll down to the breakdown of findings. They’re on the chart, and they’re included in the survey. America is and has been predominantly Christian and Protestant (of, by, and for the people) throughout its history.

  • Erp

    Admittedly with atheists misspelled. I note the charts are for the 2014 Pew study which found followers of non-Christian faiths made up 5.9% of the US population (Jews 1.9%, Muslims 0.9%, Buddhists and Hindus 0.7% each). Note that these are nationwide, in areas like the San Francisco Bay Area followers of non-Christian faiths rise to 15% (5% Hindu, 3% Jewish, 2% Buddhist, 1% Muslim) or New York city area where it rises to 16% (8% Jewish, 3% each Muslim and Hindu, 1% Buddhist); in both the percentage of evangelicals goes down and the percentage of nones up.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    One chart also spells unaffiliated with three fs, so I think this is a lack of copy-editing rather than a slight against atheists.

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    You do understand this is a piece discussing Evangelicals, not Jews or Buddhists or Wiccans or anything else?

  • Well, that’s the first time that I’m grateful for a spelling error.

  • Martin Penwald

    Wait, wait, wait… So, according to them, god forcefully impregnated Mary with Itself, who is Its son and Its wife at the same time? I don’t have words, there…

  • I gave a talk at a Baptist seminary, having no idea that people thought this was a legitimate belief. I thought it was just an ivory tower discussion that a few oddballs talked about. It was one of the ideas that Baptists for Calvin in Louisville cooked up for the takeover.

    Technically, it sounds more like an argument for LGBT rights than anything else.

  • For the curious, this is the American Baptist/Presbyterian twist on Covenant Theology’s “Covenant of Redemption.”

    Favoring a ‘social view’ of the Trinity (emphasizing individual persons as opposed to the unity of an already incomprehensible concept of mystery), they claim that when the Divine Three had their meeting, scizophrenically talking to themselves about how they would go about saving the human race, Jesus who was Eternally Subordinate to the Father had no other option. See, the Father is male, so Jesus must be female, and that’s how marriage should work. Oh, and if you criticize this view and great chain of being, you’re rejecting God. If you’re a Baptist and super wealthy, I’m sure that the masterminds behind the strategy would agree not to mention any of this while you were around.

  • Friend

    Ya know, I’ve spent some time among these folks and never understood what they were talking about. Now I know why: it doesn’t make any sense. Thank you!!

  • Saraquill

    Got it. I read it as “non-religious Christians.”

  • Friend

    What do they do about theotokos?

    For anyone not aware, theotokos means “god-bearer” aka “holy Mary, mother of God.” This is a famously Catholic belief. Many other traditions share the belief on logical grounds: Jesus is God, Mary is Jesus’ mother, therefore Mary is the mother of God. Because of lingering anti-Catholic bias, most churches are completely silent about the “mother of God” thing. I have seen Protestants literally gasp in astonishment when they learned that this is mainstream theology.

  • I think that we’d all likely be better off is more people were “non-religious Christians.” Maybe we’d see less devotion to the knee jerk defense of institutions that end up losing touch with the whole core mission. Perhaps that’s a better descriptor for the “nones” who aren’t atheist or agnostic.

  • Mary is perhaps the most honorable woman in all of Scripture, but she isn’t given any special status beyond that in Protestantism. I’d say that her significance is often downplayed for fear of sounding Catholic, and that does people great disservice, too IMO. She’s blessed but not seen as any more holy than any other human, and most would cite the passage when Jesus says that those who do His commandments are His family.

    Matthew 12:47-50 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    47 Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.”[a] 48 But [b]Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

    I grew up in a house that adored JFK, and I was shocked to learn that many Protestants saw him as a provocative candidate because he was Catholic. Today, it seems quite insignificant, but it was a huge fear of Protestants at the time. Would Kennedy have been beholden to the Pope in matters of State that might make the US an arm of the Vatican?

    In the discussion of all of these matters over the past dozen years, I’ve had many Baptists ask me how I could have possibly attended a Catholic college because so many consider the Pope to be the anti-Christ. Many Baptists in particular were raise to think of the RCC as ‘the beast.’ A great deal of fear and hatred persist here among Protestants concerning Catholicism. Today, we have bigger problems that demand our attention, especially now that we’re into a post-Christian era. And I have yet to receive a positive response when I point out that the RCC teaches a better Doctrine of God than this Baptist weirdness of Jesus as a wife.

  • Ruthitchka

    I’m Greek Orthodox, and the Theotokos is a VERY important part of our theology. She held the entire universe in her womb, so to speak. Mary gets a lot more “press” in this church than she ever did in my former Evangelical church.

  • And your understanding of the Trinity is really lovely, too.