Though it (rightly) hasn’t been discussed as much as the actual trinitarian issues themselves, the current trinitarian debate does suggest some interesting things about how evangelicals are beginning to approach questions of gender. The consensus that has existed amongst most conservative evangelicals for some time is beginning to fracture—and in more than one direction.

Problem 1: Has “complementarianism” outlived its usefulness?

As I learned only recently (thanks to Hannah Anderson and Wendy Alsup), the term “complementarianism” only goes back to the mid 80s and the founding of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. As a term, it was intended to do two things: First, provide a useful label for the theological position that rejected women’s ordination and second, explain the differences between men and women using positive, constructive terminology. Essentially it seems to have been intended as a short-hand for the Danvers Statement, a document that holds up quite well even all these years later.

So far as it goes, we can probably say that complementarianism served its intended purpose. Women’s ordination is a dead issue in much of American evangelicalism, which is highly unusual within the global context of evangelical Christianity. (UPDATE: If you’re Anglican or non-denominational don’t yell at me in the comments. Ted Olson, Betsy Howard, and Matt Miller have already corrected me on this. Duly noted. In these contexts “complementarian” is still useful, I gather. I was thinking primarily of the PCA and SBC when saying this as well as larger non-denominational networks like Acts 29.) Further, the notion that the differences between men and women are not to be dismissed but are instead complementary to one another and meant for the good of men and women alike is deeply familiar to most evangelicals. So far so good.

But if that battle is won, does the term still have value? The concept of complementarianism was used primarily to combat egalitarianism within evangelicalism. Well, the egalitarians have mostly all latched on to post-emergent liberalism or mainline Protestantism. Now what?

The answer, for the CBMW organization at least, has been to pivot in a more explicitly culture warrior direction. But just as Focus on the Family became less successful as it pivoted in a more explicitly culture warrior direction, so too has CBMW, I think. The problem is likely that shifting away from their initial, narrowly defined brief to a broader agenda has taken them into domains that parachurch ministries will struggle to address effectively and that they in particular are not cut out to address. Strachan’s forays into home economics have been clumsy. Ware and Grudem’s trinitarian theology has been disastrous.

Here it is perhaps worth noting that the CBMW leadership comes from predominantly free church traditions. The only big name still attached to the organization that isn’t from such a tradition is Ligon Duncan. That said, southern Presbyterianism has its own odd congregationalist tendencies. It is entirely possible that CBMW’s failings here weren’t a function of individuals failing, but were more-or-less inevitable, regardless of who was in leadership. Put another way, the problems they’ve had in recent years may have more to do with the fact that they’re trying to address issues best handled by local churches and denominations, but that their own ecclesiological approach makes it much more difficult to address well—thus the parachurch shift, and thus the problems.

Problem 2: The theological arguments are disintegrating before our eyes.

It’d be easy here to simply harp on the trinitarian question. After all, in the past month Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem, the two preeminent theologians of the movement, have both been exposed by the careful criticisms of their fellow evangelicals. At this point it is clear that Ware and Grudem are, at best, sub-Nicean—and the quotes in Ware’s 2005 book on the trinity suggest that this is an exceedingly generous description.

But to make the critique on these grounds is to actually stop short. One driving force behind the trinitarian debate is the biblicism implied by Ware and Grudem’s repeated marginalization of the creeds and traditional Christian dogmatic reflection on the trinity. One of the movement’s great problems in recent years has been that they want to advance arguments about any number of issues where they don’t have clear biblical warrant to do so. John Piper’s comments about women police officers are one famous example of this, but there are others as well. The complementarians (rightly) want to understand how our existence as male and female is shaped by creational norms, but they struggle to do that well due to their biblicism. The Bible doesn’t offer clear teaching on something like women police officers or women CEOs. Instead, you need to proceed cautiously and reason from creational norms, as Paul does in 1 Timothy, amongst other places. But the complementarian movement has, in my experience (and correct me if I’m wrong!), been averse to these sorts of natural law arguments.

At the end of the day, these thinkers are biblicists, but they are biblicists who want to be able to say a great deal more than the Bible explicitly authorizes them to say. Carl Trueman and Aimee Byrd were amongst the first to call foul on this approach, but if they hadn’t done it, someone else would have. A strict biblicism simply won’t allow you to do all the things that many complementarians want to do. The result of this problem can only be bizarre theological innovation and exegetical gymnastics.

Problem 3: Traditional evangelical discussion of gender roles ignores questions of home economy.

This brings us to the third issue and what may well be the issue that our gender problems hinge on: As best I can tell (and, again, please correct me if I’m mistaken) the traditional voices behind complementarianism as a movement have been largely silent on the question of home economic orders. They’ve tried, quite clumsily, to address the issue—thus Strachan’s “man fail” remark. But they’ve never to my knowledge gone beyond name-calling on this enormously important issue.

The deepest practical problem facing many evangelicals who wish to apply biblical norms on gender issues to their home-life is economic rather than theological or philosophical. Many younger evangelicals are more-or-less comfortable with the basic ideas that ordination should be limited to men and that the differences between the sexes should be seen as complementary rather than non-existent. Where CBMW has gone wrong is in attempting to apply these truths in a broader way without attending to the economic questions that make applying those truths so difficult.

As I have noted before, we have had a kind of “same-sex” marriage for 50+ years in as much as the structures and rhythms of American family life have flattened distinctions between the sexes. I can only hope that if I link this essay often enough, perhaps evangelicals will read it. Here is Wendell Berry writing in the early 1990s in his essay “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine.”

Marriage, in what is evidently its most popular version, is now on the one hand an intimate “relationship” involving (ideally) two successful careerists in the same bed, and on the other hand a sort of private political system in which rights and interests must be constantly asserted and defended. Marriage, in other words, has now taken the form of divorce: a prolonged and impassioned negotiation as to how things shall be divided. During their understandably temporary association, the “married” couple will typically consume a large quantity of merchandise and a large portion of each other.

The modern household is the place where the consumptive couple do their consuming. Nothing productive is done there. Such work as is done there is done at the expense of the resident couple or family, and to the profit of suppliers of energy and household technology. For entertainment, the inmates consume television or purchase other consumable diversion elsewhere.

Many complementarians, unfortunately, seems to be of the opinion that simply setting the clock back 10 years to the 1950s is a solution: Women should stay at home and manage the house while men go out into the world and earn a living. But this is no solution either.

In the first place, such a lifestyle will be inaccessible to many evangelical families for the simple reason that it is difficult to support a family on a single spouse’s income in many cities. Additionally, in a number of cases the wife will actually be better positioned to make a living wage in this economy anyway. If you’re the husband and you teach in a local public school and your wife is a doctor, simply threatening the husband with various obnoxious epithets will do nothing to address the basic economic facts facing that family.

Second, accepting the 1950s economic order completely fails to address the fundamental problem here, which is the redefinition of the home in the post-war economy. The 1950s economic order is no less anti-Christian than the post-1960s order in that both orders treat the home as no more than a consumption hub with all the real “productive work” happening outside the domestic sphere. In both cases, the economies assume a deeply capitalistic understanding of the home which has, given time to work itself out, been disastrous for the traditional family and the very idea of “home.” It should be no surprise, then, that many stay-at-home parents find domestic work dull and tedious—our economy is designed to make it so in order to incentivize them to go out and work in the world of capitalism, which is where the real “important” work is happening. (If this also forces them to outsource the care of their children to a daycare, even better. Then the raising of children can also be reduced to a function of the capitalist marketplace and their training to one day become servants of that economy can begin even sooner.)

As Berry has noted, once the home ceased to be economically productive, it ceased to be a place of dignifying work. The old ideas of a home economy in which thrift was a primary measure of the work done in it has been replaced by the new idea of home as a consumption center in which convenience is the primary measure of the work done in it. What was once a place of good, dignifying work is now a place of tasks that cannot be avoided but should be completed in the hastiest, most slapdash way possible. It should not surprise us that people would wish to be liberated from such a place.

What is needed from complementarians, then, is not simply a grab bag of biblical texts, but a fairly radical critique of the entire post-war capitalist economy in America and a deep understanding of more family-friendly alternative economic models that once again make the home a place of good and productive work. Put another way, we cannot simply talk about marriage and the sexes and gender roles; we must talk about the place where those things are acted out. That, in turn, means we must recognize the ways that industrialism has destroyed the habitat in which families thrive and the ways in which evangelicals have been complicit in this desecration. This sort of critique, unfortunately, is absent from evangelical complementarian literature.

Conclusion

The future of evangelical reflection on gender may or may not have any use for the label “complementarian.” That said, we must say that the complementarian movement did two important things in that it mostly resolved the ordination question and re-introduced the basic idea that the differences between the sexes are both real and good. Ultimately, we must be thankful for the good work this movement has done. The church would be worse off today if it were not for the valuable work the complementarians have been doing for the past 30 years.

However, if the women’s ordination issue is largely resolved within evangelicalism and the basic principle of comlpementarianism is broadly internalized, it is not clear to me that the complementarians and CBMW are cut out to address the bigger questions facing us today.

The chief questions facing evangelicals concerned with living out biblical teachings on gender are going to be questions like:

  • What is the significance of nature and created order in understanding the differences between the sexes? (Put another way, we will need to become comfortable with philosophical and natural law arguments that use biblical principles as a foundation, rather than relying on the ham-handed biblicism that has often characterized complementarianism. The biblicism of Trueman and Byrd is mistaken, but it is at least more consistent than the biblicism of the CBMW crowd.)
  • How can Christian families create sustainable home economies that involve both husband and wife in the work of building a home together?
  • How can churches support families wishing to create such home economies?

It’s possible that the complementarian label can be adapted to refer to Christians concerned with these questions. In a dream scenario, the leaders of the complementarian movement themselves would be playing a major role in addressing these issues. They have the name recognition, the institutional structure, and the experience that makes them uniquely suited to handling these things effectively. Hopefully, then, they can move beyond their biblicism and do the work needed to address these new questions facing evangelicals.

In any event, our most pressing need is to sort out this trinitarian business, which almost certainly will require some retractions from Dr. Ware. We’ll then need to move on to address the gender questions separate from the trinitarian debate and with more attention paid to the economic problems facing Christian families. In an ideal world, the complementarians and their evangelical critics will do this together.

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Posted by Jake Meador

Jake Meador is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy, and son Wendell. Jake's writing has appeared in Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play.

  • Nathanael

    I liked your essay but I was confused by your description of Trueman as a “biblicist” regarding the roles of the sexes. In his writings on the sexual revolution and the LGBTetc. movement over on First Things he seemed to be quite friendly to realism and natural law reasoning.

    • Yes, I’m not sure where you get the idea of Carl and I being biblicists. Makes me wonder if you’ve read our stuff. Nathanael is quite right about Trueman’s writing, and I have a whole chapter on natural law in my first book, Housewife Theologian. We’ve been arguing against the biblicism. I’ve used natural law arguments in my critique against Piper and Strachan’s writings. And I have been working on a more theological approach in much of my writing, my next book examining how women function as necessary allies (ezer) to God’s mission in the church, home, and society.

  • Nathanael

    By the way, if you are in search of Reformed folks offering a more constructive account of the roles of men and women I would commend the work of Mark Garcia over at lydiacenter.org

  • This is not my tribe and so I am probably inaccurate in my assessment. But the home economy stuff seems to have some women writing in the area. Edith Schaeffer, Elizabeth Elliot, Dorothy Patterson, Mary Kassian and others have written to women about what women should be doing in the home and why. And some of it has been better than others. But for the most part the women writing have been ‘do as I say not as I do’ since those women are mostly authors, speakers and leaders and not in the home wives and mothers as they advocate.

    Again probably not adequate in my assessment since I have not read widely in the area.

    • hannah anderson

      Depends. Patterson writes about home economy in vision of 1950s society matron. Schaffer’s understanding would align more with Berry, and Elliot would see home and marriage as primarily missional. Regardless, in most cases, home was still positioned as a feminine arena, the purview of wife. A holistic vision of home economy requires breaking down this wall of separation, inviting male investment and engagement in domestic life. Of course, this only works if definition of domestica is broadened beyond teacups and decor.

      Also while I’m thinking of it, southern domestica has significant influence in shaping complementarian understanding of home and hearth. But this is same culture whose home economies relied on slave labor for generations and then paid “help” to maintain household. That’s going to skew a whole lot of assumptions about what it means to keep a home.

      • Domestic help isn’t solely a Southern thing, the complete refusal to accept the importance of it is also a huge part of the problem. It’s been a staple of married households in all cultures until extremely recently in the wealthy, technology-blinded West. You’re also overegging the pudding on Southern domestic life pre and post slavery, since most Southerners never had slaves and black Southern women had access to domestic help too, particularly post-slavery.

        The denial of separate spheres being crucial for men and women alike is also part of the problem. Further, dismissing domestic life as “teacups and decor” is so profoundly broken and anti-feminine that it’s hard to see how one can reach a place of viewing masculine and feminine roles in the domestic sphere in a healthy way when you start with dismissal and reductionism of what women do in the home and why. To evoke Schaeffer, who at least understood why teacups and decor are absolutely spiritually important, while dismissing the very things she focused on, is also incoherent and a little strange.

        The idea of there being no barrier between male and female space and of husband and wife doing domestic work together is neither historical or friendly to a non-androgyne view of sex and gender roles for married Christian households.

        • hannah anderson

          Yeah, I think you’re importing a lot of angst into my comments that I simply don’t have, which I suppose is the danger of comment sections where we have no context for knowing each other or each other’s writings on this subject.

          As to point that most Southerners never had slaves, yes. But dominant class did, and dominant class set standards of “success” and achievement for rest of culture, as well as having access to education and publishing to promote a certain vision of domestic life. And it’s pretty anachronistic to suggest that black Southern women had access to domestic help in same way that white upper class did. Was there a black elite class? Sure. Was it typical of black experience in South? Absolutely not. I’d hardly categorize one black woman caring for another black woman’s children so she could go clean a white woman’s house domestic help. African-American women were resilient in face of this, some even finding ways to use domestic skills to buy freedom for them and family members. But their resilence doesn’t mean that broader Southern culture invested and promoted black home economies. Black home economies existed in spite of and precisely to support white home economies.

          I’m from Appalachia mountain stock and grew up in back to land movement –our home economies have always emphasized thrift, creativity, hard work, and intergenerational dependence thru kin networks. So don’t think I’m coming at this as someone who is disenchanted with domestic life. Home has always been a place of flourishing and fulfillment for me. But, like Jake wrote, it isn’t for a lot of families, women in particular, because domestica has become place of consumption and indulgence. I think it’s perfectly legit to ask how slavery & reliance on cheap domestic help contributed to that.

          • I’m a Southern black woman, but feel free to tell me that there was no other possible domestic help that black women had access to except to work. I enjoy being white-splained by white women about black women’s history in America, including their domestic help access historically. It’s so great to hear that portions of my family tree were obviously mistaken and didn’t actually have that support, it’s cool to hear that it never happened for any black women in the South.

            It’s also legitimate to note that women having real access to domestic help isn’t a myth or a fairy tale, and is a crucial part of a healthy domestic sphere.

            You can’t have it both ways. You can’t posit white Southerners with domestic help as trendsetting for whites and then posit blacks with domestic help that wasn’t so they could work as not trendsetting for blacks. I mean, you can, but you do get that this doesn’t exactly lead to a great place…for you, right?

          • hannah anderson

            A couple of clarifications:

            1) I’m positing Southern white dominant culture as trendsetting for evangelical complementarianism which is context of this blog post. Trillia Newbell (an African-American woman from South) had a significant post at RAAN recently about her sense of the racial obliviousness that exists in evangelical complementarianism. Black domestic experience has not been a shaping force in how complementarians define what it means to be a “keeper at home” or the social cues related to femininity.

            I agree with you that elite blacks were trendsetting for other blacks, but it seems a bit sociologically nearsighted to say that this compensated for influence of dominant white culture. Elite blacks could navigate dominant culture, to a degree, as leaders in the African-American community, but their minority status kept them from being leaders in broader community–in other words, they could shape black culture but they couldn’t shape white culture. The same white culture that eventually created evangelical complementarianism.

            To offer this perspective is not white-splaining. Nor am I trying to broadbrush every experience of every Southern black woman. I’m talking about how broader culture develops, even as there are exceptions to it. And in case of this blog post, I’m talking about how evangelical complementarianism developed it’s assumptions about homemaking in context of a specific culture.

            2) To your point of separate spheres, I wasn’t ignoring it although I didn’t clearly identify my comment that addressed it. In mountain culture, male & female spheres overlap a great deal due to emphasis on family economy (vs marketplace economy), self-sufficiency, and kinship. Success is defined by success of the family unit–we all rise together or we fall together. This makes for a situation where men and women work alongside each other to survive, with the emphasis on getting the job done–not on who does what job. There are certainly biological realities that shape what we do as men and women–women still give birth and men do the majority of hard physical labor–but if daddy’s out of work at the saw mill, mama goes and gets a job without blinking an eye because the point isn’t to uphold separate spheres but to sustain the family. Both men and women have vision of domestic sphere as superior to marketplace; a job outside home (for men and women) supports the goals of the home, not the other way around.

            Look, we both have much to offer to this conversation, given our diverse backgrounds. But we need to be able to hear each other to benefit. I’m not trying to diminish you or your experiences in any way and I trust that you can extend the same good will towards me.

          • hannah anderson

            Also, just to be clear. I see nothing problematic with employing domestic help. Or offering domestic help. In college, I worked a couple hours a week, cleaning home of elderly couple.

            What I’m concerned by is establishing a privileged experience of domestica as norm. We need to evaluate and identify the assumptions built into our domestic models.

          • I’m also curious about why you ignored the rest of my comments about distinct and separate spheres for the sexes, and the broader historical pattern for married households re: domestic help. If we want to return to the best of our ancestors, it helps to look at the things that helped them provide their best.

    • Edith Schaeffer had an army of people doing her housework. Elisabeth Elliott had one child and lived a missionary life among cultures with more domestic bents, Dorothy Patterson had two kids and was a highly placed wife of a man in ministry in the South.

      Deriving conclusions about what families in modern, isolated society should do by referring to women with vast social if not economic privilege and often still small family sizes is part of the problem with resolving the collapse of sex roles and domestic economy with a practical alternative.

      • TPC – Edith had an army doing housework when she had an army of guests in her house, yes. But the Schaeffers were pastors in the US for 15 years before moving to Switzerland and practiced hospitality then too. Also, having spoken with a number of people who were at Swiss L’Abri with the Schaeffers I can assure you that Edith still did a *tremendous* amount of work around the home, more than many people would be capable of doing themselves, it should be noted. Edith was a remarkable, singular woman. There’s still much to learn from her, but we have to be careful about using her as a model simply b/c she had levels of energy that most of us can only dream of having.

  • Chris Pascarella

    “What is needed from complementarians, then, is not simply a grab bag of biblical texts, but a fairly radical critique of the entire post-war capitalist economy in America and a deep understanding of more family-friendly alternative economic models that once again make the home a place of good and productive work.”

    As a pastor, in my head this sounds good, but I’m not sure how this would actually work out in practice. I know the Bible. I don’t know post-war capitalist economics well enough to offer a critique. And I’m not really sure how to even present what a productive “home” looks like since I’ve grown up in a post-war capitalist economy. It’s kind of just the air we breathe, right? Living 45 minutes outside of NYC, everything is driven by money. And in many marriages, both spouses have to work just to make ends meet because the cost of living is so high.

    • Chris – I can’t speak to your church context at all because I don’t know it and, even if I did, I would trust you as the pastor to know it better.

      That said, here are some things I’ve kicked around as practical steps:
      — Something accessible to any church, I think, would be organizing occasional “Neighborly Arts Days” where you’d get 2-3 people with very practical skills who teach a workshop sort of thing showing others how to do that thing–this could be some routine car repair thing, a baking project, a home repair project, or even some kind of web/tech project if your church skews that way. These sorts of things allow people to have a greater sense of ownership within their home by helping them see that I *can* do certain things to make this place better for my family or my roommates, to make it more hospitable, or simply to take a greater sense of personal ownership over it and save a bit of money. These skills can also be helpful in church life–if you’ve got a half dozen folks in the church who are great mechanics, that’s a nice thing to be able to make the rest of the congregation aware of. And if you have lots of people who have some basic neighborly arts down and are hospitable, that can have a ripple effect in a community.

      Other things are going to take more high-level work to make these things more plausible to individual families or church attendees en masse. That said, if your job allows you to work from home, that’s something to consider doing, I think. You’re still relying on someone else to pay you a wage to pay for your daily expenses, but at least you are at home as you do that work. Setting up small home businesses to make a little extra money can also be good. My wife runs a dance studio and teaches classes at our church. We have other friends who run home baking businesses, photography businesses, and graphic design shops. I think the baseline idea is relatively simple: Make home a place where productive work is done rather than simply a hub of consumption where we spend 2-3 hours at night eating a hastily thrown together dinner and then watching TV or putzing around on social media.

      What are your thoughts on all that? I’m certainly sensitive to the concern about not wanting to speak beyond one’s competency as well as the concern with binding consciences where scripture isn’t clear.

      • David Jansson

        Thanks for the response, Jake. I too am completely convinced on the theoretical/philosophical/theological level, but am really struggling to see what that looks like on a practical level. You gave some good first suggestions, but are there any resources/anyone who is writing about this that you could point us too?

        • David, check out pathsofreturn.com. It has some resources which can be helpful. The ReFamily document is intriguing. How practical it is if you are not an entrepreneur, I’m not sure, but it gives one particular angle.

      • Chris Pascarella

        Thanks, Jake. Those are some helpful specifics. This is how I’ve tried to work towards developing “home.” First, in the church, I try to do this by encouraging mothers to stay home. Sure, I don’t want to mandate a particular lifestyle and I see nothing in Scripture which prohibits women working outside the home. But the pull of Northeastern culture is so strong towards making mothers feel useless if they stay home, that encouraging them to do so is a significant step to making home productive. Our church offers a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group too.

        Second, in my own home, we’re not really making money from within the home, but we seek to be productive through volunteering. So my wife volunteers at a local pregnancy center. We’ll give rides to local neighborhood kids to soccer camp. Things like that. I think part of productivity for us is not being so inward focused on our own family that we forget we’re part of a larger community. Getting other families on board with that I think could change things too.

  • Wesley

    I think, in my humble opinion, egalitarianism is gaining momentum. Also, the church is definitely worse off for the work it’s done over the past 30 years. Don’t think I’ve come across a woman who’s been positively effected by it. But that’s just me:)

  • This line suggests a rather thin understanding of the evangelical world: “Well, the egalitarians have mostly all latched on to post-emergent liberalism or mainline Protestantism. Now what?” At least a third of evangelical denominations are egalitarian, a majority of CCCU colleges trend egalitarian, key institutions like Christianity Today push egalitarianism, and theological heavyweights like NT Wright and rising stars like Michael Bird argue for mutuality as the biblical position. Guiding the CBMW into a less political arena makes good sense, and Mr. Meador has some good ideas here. But suggesting that complementarianism is the only really legitimate evangelical position is nonsense.

    • hoosier_bob

      Exactly. I don’t see much support for complementarianism among anyone under 55, except for people who came into evangelical churches from more fundamentalist backgrounds. With the crack-up of fundamentalism in the 1990s, a number of fundamentalists flooded the ranks of evangelicals. That seemed to shift things in a more fundamentalist direction. I suspect that we’re just a few years away from evangelicalism’s recovering its pre-1990s trajectory, which points toward much softer stands on gender issues.

  • hoosier_bob

    I wouldn’t say that the PCA is solidly in the complementarian camp. A fairly large number of TEs favor ordaining women to leadership positions. They just remain silent on the issue to preserve the peace and purity of the church. In fact, there are already a number of PCA churches that have women serving as de facto elders and deacons. I suspect that the PCA will have women elders and deacons within a decade, or a number of churches will realign to allow them to do so.

    As for the Acts 29 movement, I wonder whether it will even exist in a decade. The whole movement seems to be imploding. The SBC will probably maintain its current position, but will probably do so for cultural reasons rather than theological reasons…because there are no cogent theological reasons. Having an irrational fetish for the 1950s isn’t exactly a theological position.

  • Jake, I’m not sure you’ve got the evangelical lay-of-the-land correct.

    I grew up in an SBC church with multiple ordained women pastors. As in, it doesn’t matter what a denomination’s position is if there’s nothing binding to the theology. As such, my locally autonomous church growing up had no problems with it, and is still thoroughly evangelical.

    In addition, the ECO, EPC, and ECC are any number of multiple evangelical organizations that have ordained women within them (though each articulate that ordination differently). To say that egalitarianism has gone the way of the emergent/mainline is not reading the present circumstances in evangelicalism all that well.

    Just because the Gospel Coalition or the Acts 29 network roars the loudest doesn’t mean they are the loudest. Time to peer out of the PCA echo chamber, methinks.

  • Tom

    What alternative, friendlier economic models are you suggesting, Jake?
    Because if I’m honest, it sounds like a whole lot of nostalgia. I’m totally with you on the issue of turning childcare into something other people are paid to do, but whereas your perspective leads you to refer to this as turning the “raising of children… (into) a function of the capitalist marketplace”, my view is quite the opposite: It is large, redistributive states, trying to maximise tax revenue, that are keenest for both partners to work and for childcare to be outsourced. The independent family, who cares for its own children and largely meets its own needs, is the most significant competitor to the state, which is why in communist countries we saw a complete invasion of family life by the political powers.

    In some ways I agree with your prescription; being increasingly self-sufficient were possible, considering the making, repairing etc. that can take place at home as “work”, and the psychological/spiritual benefit this would bring. But I disagree with you when you lay the blame at the feet of “the capitalist marketplace”. Washing clothes by hand is drudgery, and I expect this opinion would be shared by women down the ages, before industrialisation. Women (and men) now have machines to wash their clothes and the luxury of opportunity – they may choose to save money on white goods and perform these menial tasks themselves, of course – but most would prefer to save time and do something more interesting (even something more interesting within the home).

    The idea of men re-learning to repair cars and so on is, as far as I can tell, just idealistic primitivism. It sounds so lovely, self-sufficient and romantic – until you’re stuck, you’ve lost the pieces you need, you trap your finger, you tramp oil through the house and so on. Capitalism and industrialism have given us cars which rarely need to be repaired, and experts who can repair your car in exchange for money which you earn by doing what *you* are really good at. Karl Marx fantasised about a world in which one would “hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening” – he was wrong then, and he’s wrong now. It is far easier to live now, and far less manual work to be done, than before industrialisation. What we need is not to hark back to some mythical good life, but to work out how to adapt psychologically to how good we have it in the modern world.

  • gyger

    I don’t completely understand the sorted-out thing concerning woman-leadership. Do you mean, that it is allowed everywhere nowadays, which would be fantastic, but I we still have the idea of only male-leadership in Europe, so I would guess, it’s realistic that you also still have some churches that believe in male-leadership in church.

    Or do you mean, woman leadership is completely of the table? Which I can’t believe that this is true for all churches, would be a little bit sad for American christianism

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