Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The feminization of Christianity

William Lane Craig addresses a woman who objects to the Bible's instructions to and about women:
My observations about the peculiar attraction that Christian apologetics has for men involves several claims. Let’s tease these apart to see which of them are objectionable.

First is my observation that apologetics seems to have far more interest for men than for women. That observation is based upon an enormous amount of experience in speaking on university campuses, at apologetics conferences, and in classroom teaching. It is a realization that gradually and unexpectedly forced itself upon me. It became very evident to me not only that the audiences which came to these events were largely male but that in event after event only the men stood up to ask a question. These facts seem to me to be undeniable.

Second is my hypothesis that this disparity is to be explained by the fact that men respond more readily to a rational approach, whereas women tend to respond more to relational approaches. Of course, this is just my best suggestion, and if you’ve got a better hypothesis to explain the disparity, Alexandra, I’m open to it. But there has to be an explanation.
My take is very straightforward. Cut off a plant from its roots and it will die. The Bible is very clear on the different spiritual responsibilities of men and women. If you reject them, you are rejecting both Biblical authority and a non-insignificant aspect of Christianity.

Everyone is fine with Christianity except for those aspects that directly address things that they want to do. Women are no exception. No doubt there are many murderers and fornicators who find the instructions to and about murder and fornication to be difficult too. The difference is that the male leaders of many churches have allowed women to corrupt the Biblical teachings they don't like and thereby corrupt their churches, while still holding strong against the murderers and fornicators.

It is not for the pot to question the pot-maker. The title of this post is a misnomer. Christianity cannot be feminized, because once feminized, what remains is no longer Christianity.


Oak said...

Ah, thanks for this post. Since most men in the church seem to respond only to authority and so much not a logical argument (Scripturally sound or no), having someone on the level of William Lane Craig speaking on this subject will carry more weight than all the data or correctly-drawn implications I could offer.

He's absolutely right on the other points too; feminized worship has gotten tiresome enough that while by no means a traditionalist I find myself longing for some of the older hymns just to lose the "baby" factor. Amusingly, some Christian metal is attractive for this reason; the God it exalts is One before whom I can bow, not someone who mainly just wants to hug.

Dexter said...

"while still holding strong against the murderers and fornicators."

Well... maybe not even the fornicators.

tz said...

This is merely the "Cafeteria Christianity" taken to its logical conclusion. Doesn't every Protestant and even most Catholics engage in "I will decide for myself" - and with far less careful study - not as if your eternal soul and destiny depended on getting the answer right. Most defer to "authority", but an authority of similar individual choosing - if not self-serve, at least picking box lunches from a menu so as to get only what you want to eat, and even then still leaving things.

Dr. Craig says apologetics would be attractive to men. But what happens when there is conflict? At VP we have great apologetics by experts with great minds including our host. I don't think that is the model of the church or what Dr. Craig expects. When you learn to defend what you believe you also will hear defenses of other positions. And they may have the better argument.

Yet what we used to have was Sunday worship. Worship, not a debating society. I don't think a preacher simulating a college professor lecturing is what was intended either. Worship and prayer aren't these noisy "Praise" services which seem more designed for the audience to feel good rather than to give the glory to God. The Bible says if 2 or 3 are gathered in his name, there Jesus is. There is something called "practicing the presence of God". If Jesus was bodily present in the front of the church, I think most churches would act differently. So are the gatherings in his name? If so are they centered on him?

There is a relational aspect too - Remember Mary and Martha when Jesus was there. Mary was quiet and listened. Martha was busy "serving". Mary had the better part.

Brad Andrews said...

I think the Biblical precedent, such as in the Book of Acts, certainly allows and encourages Biblical exposition. Many modern churches elevate the "worship" over the "word" when both are important. You need a direct spiritual connection to God and you need to make sure that is consistent with what He has already revealed.

Note that the Bereans were called more noble than those in Thessalonica since they "searched the Scriptures" to see if what Paul said was accurate. That involves some level of personal responsibility to be convinced. I would argue we have too little of that rather than too much. The problem lies not in personal searching of what the Scripture says, but in the personal decision to completely ignore or twist it when it doesn't say what we like. Those can seem similar, but have a different basis and therefore a different result.

jaybeespancakes said...

Even a Baptist crowd should shout an "Amen" to your original article.

RoK had an article about how asking about sexual past drives women of any stripe to psychopathy. With Christian princesses, it's the following take down that drives them absolutely nuts:

Princess: "I believe in submitting to my husband, but only if what he tells me to do goes along with Scripture."
Jaybees: "So, you are a feminist in that you believe you are his superior and his judge, therefore set up to decide if his understanding is valid compared to your presumed correct understanding?"
Princess: "No! I don't want to be unequally yoked to an abuser!"
Jaybees: "Given that you are in the power position in Western society, where you may marry or not marry, work or not work, divorce or not divorce...doesn't that mean, if you are yoked to an abuser, that you made the wrong choice, and should have just chosen more wisely?"
Princess: "I only have to account myself to God! You are mean and misogynisss!"
Jaybees: "So, back to the Scripture. When Peter says as an absolute command - wives are to submit - how would you comport yourself with Scripture given that he didn't carve out 'unless you disagree'?"
Princess: "Sexissss! Can't we get a moderator in here to ban him?"

JP said...

You know you've overstepped your bounds when William Lane Craig takes the time to lay his uniquely eloquent and temperate brand of smack down on your candy ass.

What's that he said about Luke? "an overwheening arrogance".

Tlu said...

What Christian metal do you refer to? I've got a few not-so-friendly-sounding Christian bands that I listen to and tend to really enjoy that kind of music.

swiftfoxmark2 said...

A female church goer once posted on Facebook a cute picture stating, "Treat your wife like the day you first met her" (which is funny when you think about it if you're an Alpha/Beta/Sigma).

I replied asking "And if he doesn't follow through with this, would you divorce him?" The result was predictable. Vicious attacks followed by commands for me to "chill out'.

I think I should start my own men's Bible study at church. When I announce it at the service, I will specifically state that women are not allowed because someone needs to watch the children. I wonder how well that will go over.

Aquinas Dad said...

I am an adult convert to the Catholic Church, a combat veteran of the US Army, the father of 5 sons, husband to a home schooling stay-at-home wife, and I have a degree in Theology. I go to a Latin Mass FSSP parish where i teach theology for teens and adults.
[OK, I'm really a labradoodle. But anyway]
At our parish there are no women on the altar, no 'extraordinary ministers', and only the two priests give homilies.
And we *still* run into cafeteria Catholics who want to have a rule changed or ignored!
And thus it ever was.

rycamor said...

Re: apologetics and the male vs. female attraction...

I spent several years hanging out with an extraordinary apologetics teacher. He held philosophy discussions every night from his tiny apartment which housed his very obliging wife, 3 daughters, and two Rhodesian ridgebacks. His group was predominantly male, BUT still had a significant female attendance. Why was this so? Well the guy in question was unquestionably alpha. Former paratrooper, decorated in Vietnam, weightlifter, martial artist, dog trainer, general street tough guy as a young man, extremely smart and well-read, and *extremely* good at AMOGing an audience without turning anyone off (male or female).

And he wasn't shy about the fact. He even told the group he knew some of the women came just because they had "minicrushes" on him. Admittedly these women tended to be the logical geeky type who were entranced that a macho guy could also be a serious intellectual. But still, I doubt they would have shown up to listen to a hesitant, pot-bellied nerd discuss the great books of history.

The fact that he encouraged masculinity tended to bring other masculine guys to the group, who also brought their women--women who would otherwise have exactly zero interest in a philosophy discussion (yes, yours truly responsible for some of them).

This guy was also very forthcoming in advising his male groupies how to attract and deal with women, and one of the things he told young men was "if she's not willing to follow you, don't pursue the relationship.", and telling them they should lead in the sense of "engaging her on a quest, rather than begging her".

If you're not seeing a pattern here, masculinity can bring women to truth, just as much as it can lure them away from it. Use it to God's glory.

Quadko said...

Tangential question:
Biblically, women are to teach other women. Biblically, seminaries didn't exist so there are no specific biblical rules about them. But I've run into "no women in church except as audience members and childcare providers" people objecting to women like my wife going to seminary, even to fulfill "women teaching women" with skill, knowledge, and training, much less to do other skilled non-pastoral / teaching / authority jobs (i.e. Hospital chaplain, ministering to the sick).

That seems an unbiblical stance they are taking - any thoughts?

Random said...

Aquinas Dad,

I have an FSSP-run parish close by as well, its brilliant. I was so proud when Father Salgado announced, point blank, that we would NOT be praying the new "Luminous" mysteries of the rosary, so don't even ask.

Also, I think FSSP parish priests preach "Sermons", as "Homilies" are a Vatican II construction.

Weouro said...

It's also fathers primarily who transmit the faith to their children, not mothers. They ultimately have a greater influence on whether the children practice as adults. If the father practices, the children practice. If he doesn't, the children don't, regardless whether the mother does or not. Women who care about the Church and their children's souls are making a huge mistake if they aren't primarily concerned with keeping the Church more desirable for men than women.

Markku said...

Biblically, women are to teach other women.

Well, no, but rather that there is no Biblical commandment against women teaching other women. As for me, I'm absolutely sure that I'd have extremely strong suspicion that your wife is a satanic Trojan horse to the Church. It might be that she ends up staying with Biblical limits, but statistical probability would suggest otherwise. We'll only know ex post facto. So, what I'm saying is, try to be sympathetic to the suspicions. You might end up proving them wrong, but from the perspective of the suspicious person, they are just plain wisdom.

Quadko said...

I'm thinking Titus 2:3-5: [Titus,] teach the older women... to teach what is good... [to] the younger women. There is interesting stuff I skipped in the context, and there's lots of room for interpretation, but across translations "older 'mature' Christian women are to teach" in _some_ appropriate Christian context or other.

All in good humor: "make Satan's day - disallow them from ever teaching the way the Bible commands them. Forbid their obedience to God."

Markku said...

Ah, right, I understood your original phrasing as women being supposed to teach women as opposed to men.

However, seminar is going to give the credentials to teach everyone, including men, which is why I'd be so suspicious; about why she is investing the time and money to get those credentials.

It could be that my suspicions get proven wrong in the end, but they would still be honest ones.

8to12 said...

@Brad Andrews said... "Note that the Bereans were called more noble than those in Thessalonica since they "searched the Scriptures" to see if what Paul said was accurate. That involves some level of personal responsibility to be convinced. I would argue we have too little of that rather than too much."


Far too many men simply accept what their pastor tells them as correct rather than searching the scriptures to see if it's true.

A good example is tithing. The way it's taught in most churches bears absolutely no resemblance to the way it is described in the Bible. Even the 10% wasn't actually 10% due to their being multiple types of tithes; some people (like metalworkers) weren't required to pay a tithe on their increase, while others (like farmers) may have been required to "tithe" 23% of their increased depending on the year.

Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine

The above book is the best I've found on the subject, as it examines every reference in the Bible as well as the modern teachings on tithing. And speaking of the modern teaching on tithing, check out this survey done by the National Association of Evangelicals:

58 Percent of Evangelical Leaders Say Tithe Not Required

You know darned well that some of that 58% (I'm guessing a most of them) are teaching tithing in their churches, even though they they themselves believe it's an incorrect teaching (not required for Christians).

I don't mean to go off on an tangent about tithing. I wanted to give a concrete example of pastors willing teach something they believe to be unbiblical "for the greater good." In this instance, they believe that keeping money flowing into their churches is more important than their flock knowing the truth about tithing. The sad fact is today you cannot simply take your pastor's word that they are telling you the truth.

subject by design said...

The comment that Paul makes to Titus about women doesn't end after "young women." Nor does it begin there. The idea of the entire statement doesn't say anything about women standing up in classrooms or in pulpits teaching the scriptures to other women. Instead, it says what the older women should be, then tells them to be teachers of "good things". While the list that follows is not necessarily exclusive and perhaps it is ok to teach other things, it seems to be an imperative for those things to be taught. None of those things are taught in seminary.

" The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

Why would a woman need to attend seminary in order to teach other women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, to be chaste, to be keepers at home, to be good, to be obedient to their own husbands? I think it makes more sense for a woman to practice these things in order to prepare to teach them. How is attending seminary practicing being a keeper at home? Do as I say, not as I do?

I won't attempt to define what a "keeper at home" means, but I do assume it means something and it has something to do with the home. And maybe keeping/working there.

subject by design said...

Mr. Craig has observed that most of the people asking questions at his talks are men. Is that because the audience is overwhelmingly male? I have noticed that in church-type gatherings, if the floor is opened for questions, the women take over the mic.

paul a'barge said...

The opposite of "Rational" is not "Relational". It is "Irrational". Nuff said?

Quadko said...

I have no problem with honest opinions. And yes, I understand the general problem as well; it's obviously not a new "modern woman" feminist problem. But when God allows, what man is allowed to deny? And I definitely want to err on the (slightly) permissive side, making transgressions of God's will their sin, than on the restrictive side, making it my sin.

classrooms or in pulpits teaching the scriptures
But there were no classrooms and pulpits, just home churches and public gatherings in shared spaces (like the temple courts or synagogs on "off hours"). Any group of Christians was a "Church meeting". Any teaching was therefor to "a Church meeting," even if it was all women. I'm familiar with your point, I just think you are glossing over their role as teachers trained by Titus at Paul's direction.

(Wait... seminary doesn't teach "good things"? Ha! Not what you meant, I know.)

Why would a woman need to attend seminary
Valid question, but there's a catch 22. Most (human) church organizations only hire people with (human-designed) seminary degrees for such positions. Mostly seminaries are focused on training seminary professors and head pastors. The only way for a woman to get hired for an acceptable ministry position is to go get trained the same as a "head pastor". The human organizations are the problem, not the biblical commands. Better in my view to fulfill the Bible and subvert the human organizations until we can create better ones as necessary. Besides, it's not the subjects a seminary teaches that raises the problem, it's the authority we have invested in the degree.

take over the mic Well, I'm a man who grabs a mic. I've also noticed no one else wants to go first, so I'm happy to lead off. But yes, I've noticed similar patterns, and would assume that's a male opt-out problem, not a female problem.

RC said...

And I definitely want to err on the (slightly) permissive side, making transgressions of God's will their sin, than on the restrictive side, making it my sin.

She is your responsibility Quadko.

Edwin Calais said...

Anyone who starts off with Newspeak comments like "Christian Apologists" should be kicked to the curb instantly, just like Rape Apologists.

Nobody's apologizing, sweetheart, so STFU. We're just telling it like it is.

mmaier2112 said...

Well we see GRAMMAR ain't too high on this dipshit's list....

OF COURSE I want to fornicate! My boss, my ex-GF, various women in my building, especially the blond with the oral fixation and the two brunette cuties sporting wedding rings! It's all THEIR fault for looking good and stuff!

And yet I still hope to stand strong in the face of temptation, hot as it is.... dangit.

timp said...

@Edwin Calais, "Christian Apologists" is newspeak? What counts as "oldspeak" with you? :-P

That term has an heritage older than the English language. It's from Ancient Greek; the fact that it sounds somewhat similar to a related word that has slightly different connotations in English doesn't make it a bad term. It's closer to "defence lawyer" than "one who apologizes".

@subject by design, A talk by William L Craig would be a fairly atypical "church-type event", which is part of his point about the feminization of the church. He's one of the relatively few major teachers that teach rationally and logically over emotionally and relationally. Normal church events would be dominated by women, or womanly-men, but his apologetics talks are not, and he's pointing out that he's accomplishing something most "Christian" leaders find challenging: getting men involved in and interested in spiritual discussions.

Also, he didn't just say "most" he said "all": even though a minority of the attendees where women "... only the men stood up to ask a question."

(This is just another reason why I really should track down some of Dr. Craig's books; I've heard good things about him before as well)

@Vox Day, Have you changed the commenting policies? I thought it used to be possible to comment with just a URL/Name, but now it looks like I need a Typepad, Wordpress, OpenID, etc account to comment. I had to track down an old Wordpress account and add a blog to it to post this.

Oak said...

What Christian metal do you refer to? -Tlu

We're getting a little OT, but I'd recommend Becoming the Archetype for starters. Hard to beat a band who's done a whole album (Dichotomy) based on a book from the C.S.Lewis space trilogy (That Hideous Strength).

Tobias Templo said...

OT -

Check out the comments. Lots of feminists and several gamma enablers.

LP 999/Eliza said...

Feminism is another spirit of antichrist.

Women are not to act in authority over men at home or in the church.

Markku said...

That term has an heritage older than the English language. It's from Ancient Greek; the fact that it sounds somewhat similar to a related word that has slightly different connotations in English doesn't make it a bad term. It's closer to "defence lawyer" than "one who apologizes".

Correct. The word apologeomai is right there in the original Greek of Act 26:2. The Christian Apologist is the Original Gangster, any other use is ironic reference to it; defending something in a way that borders on religious, like that Rape Apologist.

8to12 said...

@Tobias Templo,

What is hilarious about the comments at that link is you have a bunch of women arguing that (1) men shouldn't have lists for what they want in a woman and (2) that if they do have a list it shouldn't be different for the women they have one-night-stands with and the women they plan to marry.

It's hilarious, because I've never met a woman who didn't have a ridiculous 437 point list of what they want (strike that) REQUIRE in a man.

At the top of my (now) wife's list was tall--over 6-2. Only 5% of men are over 6-2, so she was crossing off 95% of men before she even got to the 2nd point.

It's somehow OK and reasonable for women to have a long list of unrealistic requirements for a husband, but a man have a short list of reasonable requirements is somehow out of line? And obviously they do feel it is out of line based on the shaming language the women are using in the comments.

Quadko said...

She is your responsibility Quadko.
:-) This one is. They all aren't. That's why I don't want to take undue responsibility for them by holding them back unjustly to my detriment. Nor do I want to tick off the One True Alpha by messing with his daughters in ways He doesn't like - thus the careful attention to what he wrote down to figure out what exactly that is.

Quadko said...

a bunch of women arguing that (1) men shouldn't have lists .. and (2) that if they do have a list it shouldn't be different for the women they have one-night-stands with and the women they plan to marry.

This is the "what do guys find attractive" translation to "what do the guys I'm attracted to find attractive in me that I can use to capture them". They don't care about most guy's lists. They just don't want the guys they are attracted to to exclude them, or only allow them in bed and not in matrimony. Of course, he's welcome to have a list that excludes every other woman as long as it says "looks like me, has my name, etc.". When they argue, they aren't even thinking about the other invisible guys.

geezer said...

Please forgive me for being female and ignorant, but WTF are 'apologetics' and 'apologetic conferences?'

Markku said...

Wikipedia: Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information.

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