This was a week of controversy in the Blogosphere – at least in my neighborhood.
The topic of gender, femininity, and sexuality were the touch points. I am going to highlight 3 controversial blogs from this week … but first I want to acknowledge that it mirrored (albeit in a much smaller way) something happening in the larger culture that we are embedded in.
This was also a week that saw the Penn State football sexual abuse scandal rock the nation, the Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations, and several other national news story related to discrimination, abuse, and harassment.
These three christian conversations that follow are not happening in a vacuum – perhaps that is why they illicit such a heated response and so much attention. It impacts all of us.
Post 1: from Stuff that Christians Like – a post called ‘Girls with a Past’ was a little test (written by a man) that women could take to see if one qualified as intriguing or not. It was satire (which not everyone gets or likes) and it pointed out a real problem. Now, some people were offended and took it out on the author. I just want to say that the situation is infuriating but we can’t take it out on the person who illustrates the problem, Jon was articulating a severe inconsistency between what we say and what we do in the ‘church’.
Here is his post: http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2011/11/stuff-christians-guys-like-girls-that-have-a-past/ let me know what you think. My 2 cents will be at the bottom of this post. It got over 500 responses.
Post 2: Rachel Held Evans (one of my favorite bloggers) put up a post called “13 things that make me a bad feminist”. It is part of a series that she does from time to time – she has also admitted to being a bad ‘evangelical’ and ‘progressive’. This post went over like a lead-balloon . This led to a guest-post the following day.
Here is the post: http://rachelheldevans.com/13-things-lousy-feminist . It got 149 responses.
Post 3: my good buddy Tripp Fuller came out of the closet as not being ‘open and affirming’ on a video from Two Friars and a Fool. His contention was that affirming letters – whether L, B, G, Q, T, I or any other dash or asterisk – is an inherently limited response. It has two great dangers:
- it makes us feel like what have really done something, when all we have really done is
- conceded the initial ground rules to the entrenched system.
The problem is that the system is capitalism and that means that ‘acceptance’ is becoming both something to market and a new group to be marketed to.
Tripp’s point of contention is that the gospel of Jesus calls the whole system into account. We can’t concede the rules of the game and then think that we are going to bring about the best-of-all-possibilities. The structure itself must be contested. The system can not be catered to – it must be undermined and subverted. People are too valuable to God to be classified by their genitalia or the genitalia of who they are attracted to. This was not received too well for the most part.
Here is the post: http://twofriarsandafool.com/2011/11/identity-politics-are-not-the-gospel/ it got 84 responses.
Here is my take:
- The 3,000 year old gender roles in the oldest parts of the Bible merely reflect that culture’s understanding and are not the last word on ‘natural’ design.
- The 2,000 year old gender roles in the New Testament were written in context where women were basically property. They need to be revisited and revised.
- The idea of ‘original sin’ is a constructed idea and not biblical. What it is addressing, however, is real and I think we all acknowledge that. It needs to be addressed in better ways without pre-modern understandings imposed upon it.
- Until we address these three subject the conversation will always circle around and around in endless and unhelpful loops of misunderstanding: 1) social conditioning 2) constructed reality 3) biological implications of being mammals.
I would be very excited to enter into this conversation if we did not live in such a contentious and acidic ‘Argument Culture‘. Thoughts?
November 12, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Definitely an interesting week. I’m actually pretty happy with where the conversation on Tripp’s article eventually went. It became more conciliatory over time and with Rebekah replying on her own blog, and Brian Ammons then offering a counterpoint which demonstrated they largely agreed I think we did finally get to some productive discussion. But I liked Tripp’s original point an thought the way he delivered it was hilarious and engaging and appropriate. If we can’t joke about these things then there is no hope of having a serious discussion with any merit either.
On your take above – the gender roles of the Bible definitely need revisiting and revised, but there are a lot of seeds there which suit this work. The gender roles of the Bible frequently upset and contradict the gender roles of the ancient near east which provides us the paradigm for how we can go about upsetting and contradicting the gender roles of our day.
Have you read any James Alison? His book on original sin “The Joy of Being Wrong” is superb.
I’ve been trying to get a hold of you through FB to see if you might be game for guesting on TFF. Are you avoiding me? 😀
November 12, 2011 at 9:59 pm
Aric, thanks so much for the response. 1) I am going to move this comment over to Homebrewed ( mirror post ) as well. I think people would like to see it. 2) My FB account is mucked up. I have apps on 4 different devices and it often does not inform me about something because it thinks that I already know about it 😦 sorry about that. I am honored and interested. -Bo
November 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm
You know I’m so very ready to have this conversation. I read all of the posts and also watched Tripp’s video clip, and was not offended once. I’m not sure what this says about me. I was birthed into 4 generations of Free Methodist pastors, and NEVER learned at home that gender was a liability or a limitation. I never heard that till pastors outside my family had my ear, and quoted snippets of scripture (WAY out of context) AT me (mostly after I disclosed my academic intentions). Painful journey, sure. Thank God for sensible, affirming parents.
The question of gender identity is even more dicey, and I know Tripp’s comments aggravated a few, but the idea of questioning a STRUCTURE that gives credibility to the idea that there is any question of who is welcome in our churches (or allows for a list of who is not) appeals to me. I have so much to learn here. Really looking forward to this conversation.
November 12, 2011 at 10:01 pm
WOW Shawn. I am SO glad that you posted that. Maybe YOU should write a post 🙂
seriously … Please? 😉 -Bo
November 13, 2011 at 6:47 pm
Of course! Let’s talk. You know I have not fully unpacked any of the 3 suitcases represented in these posts 🙂