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August 29, 2006



Jesus did...and did not overturn those roles, unless rejecting a person in need due to thier race was overturning, or after immediately healing a woman having her serve him food was overturning.

If Jesus, a 33 year old male, who was crucified is the focus of Christianity, then there is no reconsiliation, nor should there be (and people over 33 might have issues too). Or to put it another way, who do women in childbirth pray to, if God knows nothing of childbirth?

If on the other hand it is Jesus of John 16, who is as much female as male; the incarnation of every human, in every condition who creates a religion where there is no distiction between male and female, between rich and poor, then there might be hope.

But, as for organize religion, right now it stands as the father of 12 girls who has systematically abused the first 11 and tries to tell us that it has changed, and is pretty sure it won't abuse the 12th. Hmmmmmm. Until organized christianity publically puts its house in order and actively works against the multiple hundreds of years of build up ideas and forms in which a woman viewed and treated equally is an exception pointed to instead of an understood normal condition, then feminists SHOULD leave the church. Because if the organized church isn't missing, hurting indeed because all the aspects and gifts of God aren't present, then it is not a organization to trust - still an abuser.


One of the great risks inherent in being a professor is pedantry. (I once said that to a student, and she looked at me in horror, having confused "pedant" with "pedophile".)

I very nearly did a spit-take at this, all over this poor, defenseless, and department-owned computer.

I'm surprised you don't already have a post like this linked over on the right, under `Read these to know where I stand'. At least in the section of the feminist blogosphere that is my stamping ground, you're just as (in)famously The Christian Feminist as you are The Male Feminist (and you share that latter title with Ampersand).


The whole Jesus came and shattered the trenchant Jewish patriarchy is a pitfall of christian feminist anti-Judaism about which I think you should read because your post is a little a worrisome!

"Anti-Judaism in Feminist Religious Writings"

(sorry couldn't figure out linking)


Hugo, comparing evangelicals to feminists is apples to oranges. The MSM, which (sadly) continues to drive national opinion, fawns over the latter (e.g. UM Law Professor Catharine MacKinnon is lauded for her "braveness" and critical thinking when she likens sex to rape) while relegating the Falwells and Robertsons to neanderthal status (and that is when they're being nice!).


It should be pointed out the famous stoning story was almost certainly a fiction added later, and some versions of Jesus never repudiate the Jewish law.

As for the substance of the post, it seems to me that no literal reading of the entire Bible (or Gospels or New Testament) can support a radical egalitarian agenda with concern to gender.

However, many concepts and excerpts can be cherry-picked to support just such an agenda, and many of the proto-concepts that lead to eventually to feminism can be found in Christianity and built up with that moral agenda in mind. However, this is very different from saying evangelical Christianity is compatible with feminism. Whose Christianity?

If you decide to toss out everything incompatible with feminism in your evangelical Christianity, then yes they become compatible, but at the cost of triviality. If you mean evangelical Christianity as it was and is understood, then they are certainly not compatible.


Hugo -

As someone who grew up fundy/conservative evangelical, attended and dropped out of Wheaton college, has spent most of my life connected with the evangelical world in some way, and who recently quit a job at an evangelical college, I have to say that if you think evangelical Christianity as it is currently constructed in the U.S. is compatible with feminism, you are smoking crack. Christianity - yes; Evangelical Christianity - hell no.

Good God, have you read John Eldredge? John Piper? Heard of the Southern Baptist convention? Spent much time on a Christian college campus? Individual evangelicals might be able to be feminists, but they will be fighting an uphill battle.

I know you call yourself an evangelical, but you could not get hired at a single evangelical college, school, or organization in the entire country, nor would you be allowed to be in any position of leadership in 99% of evangelical churches. You can call yourself an evangelical if you want, but they won't claim you. I know the statements of faith you would have to sign, and you couldn't do it. You study Kabbalah, your wife does not self-identify as a Christian, you support gay marriage and ordination of gays and lesbians, and you don't believe that all sex outside of marriage is wrong. Combine that with your identification as a pro-feminist, and trust me - very few evangelicals would agree with you that you are evangelical.

You grew up in Carmel in a non-religious home, you attend All Saints, and you have no idea what evangelical Christianity does to women. And I don't mean Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell - I mean mainstream evangelicalism with nice, well-meaning people who can be quite compassionate and self-sacrificing and who don't necessarily carry around a picture of George Bush in their wallet.

I had to leave the evangelical world to save my soul,and it hurt like hell and is the most liberating thing I've ever done. The evangelicals got the first 32 years of my life, and I left that world because finding healing was impossible there. The evangelical subculture tells me that every single place where I've found light and life is wrong.

If I sound angry, it's because I am. You're not an evangelical Christian, Hugo - and that's not a bad thing. Neither am I these days - unless you stretch the definition of the word so much that those who self-identify as evangelicals don't recognize it anymore.

It is not just a question of a few wing nuts or bad people who did abusive things. Patriarchy is the official position of the Catholic, Orthodox, and the vast majority of the evangelical church. You can pretend that it isn't, but that doesn't make it true. There is much that is valuable in those traditions, but for my own sanity and spiritual health, I have to interact with those traditions from the outside.

It's a free country, and if you want to self-identify as an evangelical, no one will stop you. I just don't understand why you would want to claim a label that is so overtly hostile to so many of your deeply held values.


You grew up in Carmel in a non-religious home, you attend All Saints, and you have no idea what evangelical Christianity does to women. And I don't mean Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell - I mean mainstream evangelicalism with nice, well-meaning people who can be quite compassionate and self-sacrificing and who don't necessarily carry around a picture of George Bush in their wallet.

I had to leave the evangelical world to save my soul,and it hurt like hell and is the most liberating thing I've ever done. The evangelicals got the first 32 years of my life, and I left that world because finding healing was impossible there. The evangelical subculture tells me that every single place where I've found light and life is wrong.

Christy, thanks for this heartfelt reminder that not all of us here the same thing when we talk abou evangelicalism!

To be clear:

I spent a long time with the Assemblies of God.  My ex-wife was, at the time we were married, a student at the very evangelical Fuller Seminary, where she wrote her doctorate on gays and lesbians and faith as a coping strategy.  It was a very affirming document, and she was praised for it by numerous members of the faculty and the president of the college, a long-time friend of our family. (We got divorced shortly after she left Fuller.)  I have worshiped with Orthodox Presbys (OPC) and with Foursquares and with John Macarthur's crowd out at Grace Community Church.  I have attended classes at Biola and Fuller (as an auditor).  It's true I wasn't raised around evangelicalism, but I have done the best I can to immerse myself in it.

Look, there is no clear-cut agreement on what it means to be an evangelical.  Jimmy Carter and Jim Wallis and Ron Sider call themselves evangelicals -- not just Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell.

The closest thing to an evangelical confession of faith is probably the Lausanne Covenant.  I could sign that in a heartbeat.  An excerpt:

Because men and women are made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he or she should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with other people is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist.

I know evangelicals who live that out in their words and actions every damned day.  (And some of them even say "damn"!)  I honor the fact that much that is woman-denying has been done by self-described evangelicals.  But I will not throw out the proverbial precious baby with the dirty bathwater.


Hugo--this is probably a post request--but how do you reconcile article 2 of the Lausanne Covenant with women in leadership roles, or with church recognition of homosexual relationships?


The answer, Sam is in article 2 itself:

Through it the Holy Spirit still speaks today. He illumines the minds of God's people in every culture to perceive its truth freshly through their own eyes and thus discloses to the whole Church ever more of the many-colored wisdom of God.

I love that! (Emphases mine!)


It's important to differentiate between evangelicalism as an American subculture, which is not compatible with feminism, and as a general set of Christian beliefs (like those expressed in the Lausanne Covenant), which could be compatible with feminism. I appreciate your points, Hugo, because I find that being a Christian feminist can be awfully lonely; neither feminists nor Christians think that the two can overlap. Unfortunately, this is because both conservative Christians and secular feminists generally interpret the Bible in the same patriarchal light. Those of us who see Jesus' message in a more radical, egalitarian light need to make it clear that patriarchy is not the only interpretive lens through which to understand the gospel.


I know a lot of evangelicals who are wonderful people. Some of my closest friends are evangelicals - the good kind. (And every single one of them cusses.) But even the social justice focused, politically left evangelicals who live lives of sacrifice and compassion tend not to be feminist-friendly. I know this, because I spent a dozen years immersed in the evangelical urban ministry world, and I always found plenty of company in my concern for economic, social, and racial justice. Still, I was almost always the only self-identified feminist around, and if they preached something other than self-sacrifice and self-denial, I rarely heard it. There was more space for women there than in the world of the religious right, but women and men equally valued with equal opportunities to develop and grow? Not hardly, although there were some exceptions.

I think what angers me about this post is that I don't feel you are taking the historic and present mysogyny of the church (and by that I mean all the various Christian traditions) seriously. If you were just your average Christian guy, I'd probably let it go, but because you identify yourself as such an ardent feminist, I don't understand why you don't struggle more with the tension between your feminism and the institutions of Christianity.

I dig Jesus - Jesus is not the problem here. And the issue is not individual Christians, evangelical or not, being sexist jerks. It is more pervasive and systemic than that. Most Christian institutions - such as the Catholic, Orthodox, and much of the evangelical denominations - come right out and say it: Only men can be priest or pastors because God said so, and if you disagree, you are disagreeing with a male God. Do you have any idea what it feels like to hear that, year after year after year?

And even in those institutions that on paper say that they fully support women in whatever role they feel called to (such as my most recent employer), I have found that the sexism is pervasive, painful, and discouraging for nearly all of the women that I knew. By contrast, I never felt that my gender was an issue in grad school or when I worked in the non-profit world.

Almost all of the Christian women I know struggle HARD with their relationship to the church, and have run into overt and sometimes vicious sexism over and over again - and this is in churches and organizations that give some space to women.

I agree with you that being a Christian and being a feminist are not incompatible. I still consider myself both. On paper, it works. However, most of the institutions of Christianity and feminism - not so much. I don't think I'm throwing out any babies with the bath water here - just acknowledging that Christianity, Inc. does not have my best interests at heart, and probably never will.


You might skate in past the Lausanne Covenant, Hugo, by a certain amount of liberal re-interpreting. But not the Wesleyan Discipline, the Chicago Statement, the Assemblies of God Doctrinal Statement, Baptist Faith and Message or any number of other Evangelical documents which actually stand in the tradition and apply the Covenant.

Love you to death, but you're not an evangelical in the classical sense. You like to think you are, but that's only being sophisticated, polite, terminally conflicted and happy-clappy, all of which you are. Your methods of exegesis, your assumptions about life, and your theological revisionism-You might be right, but you ain't an evangelical. Still, Elizabeth Kaeton is attempting to redeem the label, so good luck with the attempt.

I read Peter Kreeft for fun, quote Papal encyclicals in Latin, and attend Mass every now and then. I have Catholic friends who offer their rosary for me every single week. I could, if I were pushed, call myself a catholic. But I'm not. Never have been. And you're not an Evangelical, unless you define that term so widely as to lose all coherence. I bet you'd like that! :-)


John, I certainly don't think I'm an evangelical according to the "majority definition" of the term. Evangelicalism, like feminism, is a very big tent. Our father's house has many rooms (oh, how I love to quote that verse),and I admit that progressive evangelical feminists occupy a relatively small attic in the mansion.

Christy and John, you've inspired me to rephrase myself a bit. I use "evangelical" not merely to describe a certain set of theological beliefs, but to also describe the passionate intensity of the beliefs which I do hold. When you look at the dictionary definitions, "ardent or zealous enthusiasm for the cause" is one of the possibilities.

I call myself an evangelical, in the end, because I love Jesus so danged much. I want to spread His message. I believe He changed everything in my life and gave me the power to live as I do, and will give me the power to grow and transform in the future. I believe I will go to Him when I die. I would suspect that most evangelicals in this country share those convictions!

John, you know that one aspect of my sinful nature is to elevate internal conflict to the status of a moral virtue. I'm working on it, brother, I promise!


Ah, Hugo, brutha, you are so much fun to tease! :-)

I suppose you might get away with being evangelical in the "religious enthusiasm" sense, since like me you have many. But it isn't really possible to be both Evangelical (in the classical sense) and Mainline/Established. Even Evangelicals in the Church of England get regularly accused of terrible taste, and not really being Anglicans. You attend All Saints, which is the pinnacle of liberal Establishment. It was easier to believe you were an evangelical when you were a Mennonite and not hanging out with the cool kids. (Reducing theology to the level of high school, yet again....)

Stephen Frug

It's very easy to caricature either group. The secular left tends to see all evangelical Christians as intolerant, homophobic, jingoistic Republicans... The public pronouncements of leading figures in both movements are regularly quoted out of context in order to reinforce an image of extremism.... But caricatures contain at best only tiny slivers of truth.

Given not only what Christy has said, but also how you've walked back some of your claims, I wonder if you'd also revise this? Based on reading your post, I got the impression you were saying that to call Evangelical Christians, in particular, "homophobic" was an outsider's perspective and sheer stereotyping. But now, given your invocation of the many rooms and your situating yourself in the attic... might it perhaps be that while Evangelicals are not necessarily anti-feminist, or homophobic, or any of the things secular liberals claim -- that to do so is not all that inaccurate, since a sizable majority of them are?

I'm trying to ask this delicately, and if I failed I apologize in advance. Perhaps I should say that I am one of those secular liberals you talk about. I make a concerted effort to read Christians who espouse views I agree with, such as Slacktivist and the Nielsen Haydens and yourself, because I worry about stereotyping in myself. It's a community I don't know all that well. (I have only one good friend who is a Evangelical... a liberal Evangelical, although his liberalism seems to be largely about, say, poverty and foreign policy, not so much about gender roles.)

But while I try not to stereotype, I also wonder if your accusation of stereotyping is not somewhat unfair. I think I'm particularly stuck on the "homophobia" bit. My impression is that, while there is noble and important minority view, that a sizable majority of Evangelical culture is homophobic -- indeed, much of that majority is homophobic in a particularly destructive way, demonizing gays and lesbians as their particular villains, comparable to the role that race has played in far-too-many cultures in American history. And this is not just from hearing Falwell and Robertson, but from reading a lot of articles and a number of books on the topic -- though, granted, not always ones written from a sympathetic point of view.

I'm certainly open to the idea that I'm wrong. But am I really? Are you speaking of what Evangelicalism is, or what you want it to be?


Are you speaking of what Evangelicalism is, or what you want it to be?

That's a good question.

As for stereotypes, they can always be shattered, and they are never adequate to human complexity. But that doesn't mean there's not also a huge amount of truth in them, which is how they get to be stereotypes in the first place.

There are many people within evangelicalism who are homophobic. There are others who simply regard homosexuality as a sin. Homosexuality has become a litmus test, regrettably, perhaps, but a litmus test none the less, because it is short-hand for a number of issues: Biblical authority being the major one, but also other issues to do with worldview in general. Those who support gay ordination tend to be liberal on a whole swathe of other issues to do with theology, like the nature of God, the atonement, the resurrection, the nature of authority and other moral issues like abortion.


Stephen and Christy are right that I am writing about one sector of evangelicalism. After all, feminism has its Radicals, its Marxists, its Liberals, its Separatists, its "Equity" feminists. Big tent, big mansion, many rooms.

One can be an evangelical (with a small "e") and be a feminist -- that was my point. No evangelical high command, no feminist high command, issues credentials! But where one holds positions (as I sometimes do) that are at odds with majority thinking on feminist or evangelical issues, it is worth pointing out that one is in the minority.

As for the homophobia, I distinguish a couple of meanings of the term, as John does. There is genuine phobia (fear) or hatred in many evangelicals, true. But a firm belief that Scripture doesn't condone homosexual activity is not the same as virulent hatred. One can hold a non-affirming position with regret and with charity and with love. I say that as someone who does find room for the gospel and same-sex sex to be reconciled, mind you -- but I know folks on the other side of the issue who are most decidedly not "phobic."


Hugo, this is one more reason I do not listen to popular music.

OK, so let me make the obvious points:

And rather than rise to the exciting challenges of a new and unprecedented period of sexual egalitarianism...

You mean the egalitarianism where women are finally paying for their dates? And women have stopped lying about using birth control in order to entrap men into marriage? And women are renouncing alimony? And women also giving men equal custody of their children? And women are also lining up at military recruiting offices to volunteer for service in Afghanistan to help liberate other women?

Knowing in advance that this sort of behavior will exasperate, enrage, and disappoint the women in their lives...

Then those women should dump these guys and find more sensitive men.


RE: feminism
Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me


That was a really good post. It helped me to make sense of some of the issues with the subject. There is another good blog on the same topic that I was reading a while ago.

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I’m so glad that I have found your post. I have been unsure of this topic for some time and you have enabled me to understand it a whole lot better. I really appreciate it. I was reading a post a while ago that helped me in the same way that yours has.

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I had to take a moment and leave a comment on your post because it was very informative. It is beneficial to read a post from someone that knows what they are talking about and has the ability to explain it so that a person can understand it.


this makes a lot of sense.I am happy to have found this post even 2 years after it was written. A lot of churches in Nigeria do not believe in equality of men and women and this is affecting the society greatly. Some have chosen to believe too that gender and feminism are alien to christianity

I intend to do a lot of research on Religion and Feminism in the future. I hope I can use this material and contact you too if necessary

Thank you Hugo!

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