There are three separate strands I want to pick up from yesterday’s post.
Being Fair to the Complementarians
First, I asked in the post that people would correct me if I was misrepresenting CBMW. Shane Anderson on Twitter obliged by pointing me toward this post from 2015 that is addressing the “what about wives who make more than their husbands?” question. (So, thank you Shane. :) )
Here are a few other posts at CBMW addressing some of the questions I was raising yesterday:
- A Vision for Kingdom Hospitality
- The Dream and Reality of Including Children in Your Hospitality
- The Meaning of Mundane Work
If there are other posts I’m missing, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll update the post. I want to be fair here and if CBMW or other prominent complementarians have addressed some of these issues, I want to make note of that.
Women’s Ordination and Evangelicalism
Second, several people pointed out to me that in some non-denominational contexts and in evangelical Anglican churches, women’s ordination is still very much a live question and so yesterday’s easy dismissal of that question was not helpful for people in those contexts. I’ll grant that point and also fess up that when I wrote that I was thinking primarily of the PCA (my own church home) as well as the SBC and Acts 29, all of which have pretty firmly and unambiguously rejected women’s ordination.
That said, I do want to push back a little on that argument, particular as it comes from Anglican readers. Clearly, Anglicanism has a strong pull for people coming out of prominent Christian colleges, particularly Wheaton. That said, I’m not sure about it’s broader relevance to the church because I’m not sure the specific brand of Anglicanism currently en vogue amongst many younger evangelicals will necessarily exert the same sort of appeal on people who did not grow up in 90s-era evangelicalism.
I could be way off on that, but most of the Anglicans I’ve known (cue Trump voice) and I love the Anglicans; they’re wonderful people (end Trump voice) have come out of the kind of kingmaker Christian colleges (Wheaton, Calvin, Biola, Hillsdale, Patrick Henry, etc.) that produce prominent, influential graduates but not necessarily people who are representative of mainstream evangelicalism. That’s not meant as a dig, but simply an observation.
From what I have observed, American evangelical Anglicanism mirrors the old Episcopalian church in that it is a church that attracts evangelical elites and so, while exerting a certain sort of strong influence, it is also not representative of the mainstream in the same way that non-denominational churches or the SBC are. So it’s possible that an issue is both very much a live debate within evangelical Anglicanism and more settled and decided within more mainstream evangelicalism.
The Home Economics Question
Third, and most importantly, several people made some version of the “what you’re saying about economics sounds great, but how do you put any of it into practice?” I want to answer that question in particular because it’s one of the most important questions any Christian in the United States in 2016 can ask.
Let’s start with some book recommendations. On hospitality, home-making, and creativity, Edith Schaeffer’s Hidden Art, What is a Family?, and Forever Music are all helpful. Do know, though, that Edith has a very… we’ll say “distinct” writing style and it can be difficult to follow and, depending on your taste and personality type, incredibly annoying. Also keep in mind that as far as work-rate and capacity goes Edith is probably one of the most unique Christians of the past 100 years and so we should be very cautious about treating her capabilities as a standard for everyone. (We have a close family friend who is herself a remarkably hard worker, full of energy, who helped to care for Edith after Dr. Schaeffer died. Edith was in her late 70s. Our friend and her sister who were caring for her were teenagers. It took both of them to keep up with Edith.) That said, Edith is still a very helpful writer on these points, I think. If nothing else, she’ll hopefully succeed at curing everyone who reads her of the idea that the work of building and maintaining a home will, inevitably, become tedious.
In a similar style, you might also consider Susan Macaulay’s books For the Family’s Sake and For the Children’s Sake. Susan is Francis and Edith’s daughter and in many ways carries on her mother’s work in her own books. Both of these books have had a significant impact on both myself and my wife.
Hannah Anderson’s Made for More, though not explicitly focused around the question of home economies, has a lot of useful things to say as well. (I try to read everything Hannah writes on anything related to gender.)
Taking a slightly different approach, I would highly recommend watching The Seer, the biopic about Wendell Berry that we reviewed earlier this year. (You can pre-order the film on the official website.) One thing that Laura Dunn, the filmmaker, does a really good job of highlighting is that Tanya Berry, Wendell’s wife, had no prior experience of farm life prior to marrying Wendell and moving to the camp house that he wrote about in “The Long Legged House.” Of that, Tanya, in an interview with Dunn, says:
After I finally got done with school, 22 different schools because we moved and moved and moved, I had a really intense desire to have my children be somewhere where they belonged. And Wendell needed to be home. He did not need to be in San Francisco or in Europe or in New York or whatever. We’d done all that. He needed to be home. And I was flexible because I didn’t belong anywhere in particular. So I took this on with him. And it’s not always been perfect. None of it has been perfect, but it’s been right. It’s been the right thing. I had to learn how to be a farmer, I had to learn how to grow food and can it and freeze it and take care of lots and lots of company and feed a whole lot of people.
Thanks to the older women who were willing to help me, who already knew what they were doing, they befriended me and helped me learn what I needed to know and hung on for a long time when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and thought I knew everything. I just had to keep learning. It’s been an amazing experience and I love it.
People say “what do you do if you don’t have a home?” I say, well you can make a home. You can be home somewhere. Gary Snyder said ‘just stop somewhere.’
Creating a home is difficult, but I think Tanya is helpful here in making the point that it can be done. My wife and I have learned a number of different skills in the early years of our marriage. Avail yourself of the resources that are at hand—start with people in your local church, but then for other practical skills, use the internet. There’s no lack of how-to videos on YouTube for any number of different things you might need to do in a home as well as other instructional articles and walkthrough guides. Learn new things. Apply them in your home. Making a home in some grand sense might be hard, but learning to bake homemade pies and then making Sunday evening pie night, as some family friends of ours have done, is not hard; it just requires making that thing a priority and saying “no” to other good things in order to retain that part of your home life.
Other books to read: Wendell’s Art of the Commonplace as well as the essays “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine” and “The Body and the Earth.” Those two essays will give you a better understanding of the economic and cultural challenges facing families than any evangelical book I’ve ever read on the topic. Standing by Words and The Long-Legged House are also helpful on these things.
This is a bit odd as a recommendation, but I’d also encourage people to go back to Tolkien and read The Lord of the Rings again, particularly “The Scouring of the Shire,” at the end of Return of the King. Tolkien (and Lewis too, for that matter) was very clear on these issues and, indeed, both he and Lewis actually place a certain environmental ethic and economic way of life near the heart of their work. This is particularly clear in Lewis’s Ransom trilogy (especially in That Hideous Strength) and also in The Last Battle. I recommend these works not because they’re going to give you a roadmap to a fully realized home economy, but because they are going to help orient you and to teach you to love the right things. If we learn to love our local places and to see how to serve and help them, then the greatest struggle is already sorted out.
Practical Ideas for Home Economies
Practically speaking, one idea I’ve played with a lot but have not yet had opportunity to realize is trying to organize a Neighborly Arts weekend through a local church. The structure of it would be relatively simple: You’d get 2-3 people with specific useful skills that are willing to teach people that skill. So, thinking of my own context, some of the ideas I’ve had are seeing if a guy from my church who can fix basically any machine you put in front of him would be willing to take some sort of common car repair and show everyone who wants to learn how to do it. It could be something simple like changing the oil or putting in new spark plugs or something more involved. Other things I’ve kicked around: There’s a family we know who have their own business doing custom carpentry. So I’ve had the thought that maybe the husband, who does the woodworking, could perhaps teach people who to refinish a desk or something like that or perhaps the wife, who does the books for the business, could teach people how to manage the financial side of a small home-based business.
There are two things I like about this idea: First, it is extremely responsive to the local realities of a given group. Second, it is teaching people how to do a certain thing for themselves. One of the things that has come out of my dad’s brain injury is it has made me more aware of how important it is that we have the ability to do certain technical tasks around the home. Our family doesn’t have the money to do all the things that would have needed to be done to make my parents’ home accessible. That said, they have friends who are extremely talented and who have built a wheelchair ramp and redone the downstairs bathroom to make it accessible. Here’s the bathroom:
My parents have been richly blessed by the availability and knowledge of a small group of their friends. I can’t speak for others, but I personally sometimes act as if the really important thing when it comes to expressing support and love for people is about expressing my shared sorrow to them, finding the right words, conveying the right feelings, and so on. But sometimes people don’t need your kind words, they need a very specific task to get done. And if you don’t have the skills to do that task, you’re not able to serve them in that way. So there’s a very real sense in which the more craft competent you are in various arenas, the better able you are to love your brothers and sisters in the church. That’s actually a gravely serious thing for someone like myself, who is extremely bookish and generally not very handy or practical at all.
So my counsel on this point is to start small. There’s really only two things you need to think about doing: First, be able to explain how cultivating neighborly arts helps you to better serve and love your neighbors in and outside the church. In one sense, that’s as simple as pointing at a few Bible verses. But I think you can also use things like Tolkien’s “Scouring of the Shire” to give people a picture in their mind of what a world bound together chiefly by affection and love can be. And that can be a powerful motivator as well. Second, you need to be taking little steps toward helping people develop skills and abilities that allow them to serve and love their neighbors. This can be extremely basic: If you’re an older person in the church who has acquired a fair number of skills over your life, make yourself available to people. If you are young and fairly stupid (as I still am in many ways), try to seek out people who can help you grow in these ways. And if you have enough interest built up in a church, try putting together something like a neighborly arts weekend.
Finally, if we are going to address the high-level, systematic issues with our economy, one of the main ways we can do that is by starting businesses that adhere to an alternative rule of life and economics. (You can easily argue that one of the most important and influential Christian enterprises in the past 50 years in America is Chick-fil-a with Hobby Lobby not far behind.) So for churches in positions to do so, encouraging entrepreneurship can also be a great good. There aren’t many people who are going to be able to be self-employed so as to create the sort of independent home economy I’m describing. But if we had more Christian business owners finding ways to build companies and businesses and use the profits to bless people through providing employment in a company that will be more family-friendly and humane, then those blessings of self-employment that you’d have in traditional agrarian economies can, in some ways, be replicated in more urban settings with employment-based economies.
Jake, I’d refer you to my comment yesterday. In addition to the Anglicans, there are legion of evangelical baptists, Presbyterians and covenant that are egalititarian (cooperative baptists, evangelical Presbyterian church, evangelical covenant church, Eco). Yes, those groups really are all died in the wool evangelical. The question of complementarianism is far from settled in evangelicalism and I’m not sure is so easily dismissed even with your Anglican wave of the hand.
I’m not trying to re-hash old arguments but simply provide a wider view. I think the reason complementarianism arguments have reached the ridiculous over the past few years is because evangelical egalitarian arguments haven’t died. Smoke and fire and all that.
I agree with you that egalitarianism is well established in evangelicalism. But to me that’s an indication that complementarianism in its present form wasn’t persuasive enough. So imo, the ridiculousness of the past few years is part of the reason egalitarianism has continued to gain popularity. Comp rhetoric spiraled in on itself. And given the polarity of debate, many see egalitarianism as the only alternative to comp oddities. “Well, I’m not XYZ, so I guess I have to be…”
And many more are caught in the middle.
What I’d love to see and am advocating for is a complete overall of conservative rhetoric. We need to craft a vision for human flourishing that is so beautiful and true that it naturally argues for itself. Biological differentiation is good gift but the way conservatives tend to discuss it could leave you wondering whether it is or not. The fact that we have to say “gender roles are good–trust us!” means that our structures and systems are not showing the goodness of them.
Sorry, I started this comment just to affirm your understanding that egalitarianism is alive and well in evangelicalism. And then it just all came out. :-)
Given that this discussion is nearly 30 years old, why should we continue to grant complementarians the opportunity to come up with yet another argument as to why hierarchical, heteronormative gender roles are biblical. At what point do we just accept that this has more to do with cultural predilection than with anything theological. As I noted on another thread, having a fetish for the 1950s isn’t a theological position. Rather, it’s just a reflection of the generational prejudices of evangelicals, who, on average, are far older than the population as a whole.
The doctrine of Christian Liberty mandates that the burden for any restriction rests on the party seeking to do the prohibiting. Thus, if churches are going to deny women the opportunity to serve in leadership roles, such churches bear the burden of persuasion on that issue. Christian libety must always be the default.
I’d say that the same goes for committed same-sex relationships. Given the long history of committed same-sex friendships in Christendom, I see no basis for denying membership to people merely because they are parties to a committed same-sex relationship. There may be particular features of those relationships that may disqualify people from membership. But it seems pretty thin to be denying people membership based on nothing more than their status as parties to a contractual arrangement. Again, this strikes me as another arena in which the church is abandoning Christian liberty in favor of making 1950s societal norms the default position.
The CBMW/TGC crowd has been losing this battle because their arguments are simply not persuasive. Their arguments largely rely on one’s accepting their framing of what the default rules should be. That approach probably still sells well in parts of the South and among people over 55. But it falls flat elsewhere. When I entered the professional world in 2007, it was a big deal when it became known around the office that someone was gay. It isn’t today. In fact, it’s so ho-hum that no one even thinks twice about it. In fact, a disproportionate number of gay professionals work in culture-shaping institutions, such as large law firms, investment banks, consultancies, and the like. These jobs are highly demanding, and it can be difficult for folks doing the “domestic thing” to do. Clients frequently call me at all hours of the night, and I’m often hopping onto international flights with a few hours’ notice. A guy with three kids and a wife has a difficult time doing that. A guy in a committed same-sex relationship with another large-firm lawyer has little problem. Gays also make much lighter use of health insurance than straights. Thus, in a matter of less than a decade, gays have gone from being the butt of office jokes to being the top workplace performers. Heck, even some of the guys who used to tell gay jokes have now come out as gay.
Not only has gayness become more accepted societally. Also, what it means to be gay has changed as well. Now that the stigma of being gay has passed in many parts of the country, many otherwise straight-seeming professional guys are opting for same-sex relationships over opposite-sex relationships. Many of these guys may not have even thought of themselves as gay a decade ago. In fact, many would likely justify their relationship choice based on pragmatic, utilitarian grounds. As one of my friends recently noted when asked about why he dumped his girlfriend and started dating a guy, “It’s really more about maximizing utility than feeding any kind of sexual attraction; my boyfriend and I just don’t weigh each other down the way our girlfriends weighed us down.” He noted that they just got back from a long weekend in Reykjavik. One morning they got up and did a 25-km trail run, stopping by a few hot springs along the way. He noted that he could never have had the freedom to do that in his opposite-sex relationship.
A certain number of people aren’t wired to perform well in breeding-oriented social arrangements. Others are. On the other hand, our culture largely revolves around coupling of one form or another. The church today asks these folks either to enter marriages in which they feel like failures or to remain single and lonely. It’s hard to see how that makes any sense. And it’s hard to see how it’s biblically mandated. Same-sex coupling is here to stay, and it often looks nothing like what evangelicals think they’re opposing. And if you think that “gay” Christian guys are going to wait 30 years–like egalitarians did–for the church to start coming up with sensible arguments for opposing their inclusion, think again. Like it or not, Jonathan Merritt and Sarah Bessey are the future of evangelicalism.
Hoosier_bob, I do agree that there is too much hearkening back to the 1950s. What of it? Sexual hierarchies are nothing new; indeed, you have to do pretty remarkable gymnastics with the New Testament to eliminate them from it.
I find it odd that you can denounce ‘heteronormativity’, then speak freely of people as ‘gay’. That, too, is a purely modern (perhaps postmodern) construct; from what you’re saying, the entire lifestyle of modern ‘gay’ people is a direct product of the pressures of the modern capitalist, globalised workplace. Now, if you started speaking of ‘buggerers’ or ‘effeminates’ or something like that, we might be able to pretend we were at least using pre-modern conceptual categories all around. But you’re not, and we’re not. I suspect that it is not that the intellectual underpinnings of ‘complementarianism’ are uniquely unpersuasive (certainly modern gender-theory is mostly self-interested nonsense), but that its doctrine seems too old-fashioned to the cool postmoderns. It’s just plain obviously wrong, because people have too much invested in modern feminist nostrums even to consider other possibilities.
Talk about ‘committed same-sex relationships’ is just casuistry. Everyone knows that the term is a euphemism for ‘two people of the same sex who live together and engage in carnal acts’. It is most emphatically not equivalent to any kind of friendship that the church has ever considered acceptable, or that the Bible allows. There can be no presumption of innocence, for the simple reason that we cannot pretend that anyone’s actions are taking place in a vacuum, untouched by the political blitzkrieg the pro-homosexualist lobby has mounted on all of contemporary civilization. If our society commonly recognised blood-brotherhood or something similar, sanctioning relationships between men or between women that were implicitly understood not to involve the kind of carnal acts the Bible, Christian tradition, and reason itself forbid, that would be one thing. But that is not the kind of society we live in, and to do otherwise is to be taken for a fool.
What do you think we ought to do? The Scriptures are clear: those who do such things have no inheritance in the kingdom of God. So clearly we have a duty to oppose the normalisation of ‘gay’ lifestyles, inasmuch as they do involve wickedness that God himself forbids. We also have a duty to encourage the things that God does praise. At least the ‘complementarians’ are trying to do that, however awkwardly sometimes! Do you have any suggestions, then, for a suitably un-Freudian way to exhort Christian husbands and wives to live the marriage that is a symbol of Christ and the Church? Do you have any ideas on how Evangelicals can ensure that their same-sex friendships are truly chaste and unpolluted by this licentious age?
As to the 1950s question, I see no problem with that per se. Just stop saying that it’s biblical, because it’s not. Having a fetish for the 1950s is a political and social question, not a theological question. Nothing in Scripture mandates it. Therefore, churches ought to be free to adopt practices with respect to gender roles, so long as those practices are not clearly contrary to Scripture. I recognize that egalitarianism would not work well in many churches in the rural South. But that’s not a biblical issue. Therefore, churches in Seattle and Boston ought also to be free to adopt practices with respect to gender roles that are similarly context-sensitive.
As to my use of the term “gay,” I’m using it generically to refer broadly to people who experience some difference between their experience of sexuality and the requirements of heterosexuality. But, yes, I believe that the whole concept of sexual identity is fairly worthless. But getting there culturally requires a commitment to deconstructing heterosexuality and eliminating its influence from society. Oddly enough, in cultures that have come to embrace queer as normal, same-sex coupling is rare and marital stability is high. I believe that our efforts to create restrictive social narratives around gender has actually done more harm than good.
By “committed same-sex relationships,” I was referring to the history of vowed friendship within the Anglican tradition. I did not intend to suggest that those relationships had a sexual component.
In general, I would be content if we moved back to the view held by most New England Puritans. Marriage is a pragmatic, earthly institution whose contours are governed by the principles of contract law. When I was working out of my firm’s Zurich office, one of my colleagues took a few hours off one morning to get married. He and his wife went to the government office, signed the papers, went for coffee, and then headed to the office. They had a cookout at their house that weekend to celebrate. If only American Calvinists were more like Swiss Calvinists. After all, in a world of limited resources, the greatest sin is waste. We ought always to be striving to live our lives in a manner that minimizes transactional costs and maximizes utility. We ought to apply that logic to marriage.
Dave – Looking at some numbers on church membership:
ECO – 85k
EPC – 150k
PCA – 360k
OPC – 31k
So it looks like the evangelical presbyterians who don’t ordain women (and won’t ordain women anytime soon, I suspect) are at nearly 400k from their two largest denominations. Those that do are at 235k. So the complementarians in that world outnumber the egalitarians in terms of church membership almost two to one.
Getting numbers for more non-denominational or congregational churches will be tricky plus you can’t even rely on those numbers very much b/c, “OK, Pew says x number of people are non-denominational evangelical baptists–that tells me nothing about their views on women’s ordination.”
Anyway, I suspect that a) male-only ordination wins in American evangelicalism long-term simply b/c the general gravity for many evangelical egalitarians seems to be toward the sort of theology of a Rachel Held Evans, Jonathan Merritt, etc. which is to say it’s toward a sort of theology that probably pulls them out of evangelicalism and into some sort of mainline context.
That said, because so many evangelical churches do have relatively loose ecclesiology, I can easily see a number of individual congregations embracing women’s ordination. I would just expect many of those churches to, over time, liberalize in other areas as well. Is that incorrect, in your view? FWIW, I’m aware of the EPC and ECO, I just think they’re both going to have some major problems in the next 10-15 years. A coalition of evangelical presbyterians and mainline refugees seems, to me, to be fundamentally unstable and like the sort of thing that can’t be maintained long-term. What do you think?
Do you know if CBE (the egal counterpart to CBMW) would be considered exclusively evangelical? I saw EFCA data on both groups a while back with CBE assets far outpacing CBMW. I know there was a big fundraising push at CBMW over last couple years, so $ isn’t direct correlation of influence or adherents (could just be a matter of organizational management), but it might be another piece of puzzle.
CBE director has worked at Fuller, Bethel, and North Park it looks like. Board of reference includes Tony Campolo, Millard Erickson, Gordon Fee, Richard Foster, John Franke, Ron Sider, and Ruth Tucker. So looks evangelical, but more Fuller/Bethel evangelical than “evangelicals that used to be fundies and have softened and/or are reformed.”
I’m not sure that the numbers tell the story. There are a large number of PCA churches that function as de facto egalitarian churches. They operate within presbyteries dominated by TEs who are favorably disposed to egalitarianism. At this point, there’s no practical reason for them to leave the PCA. So, they don’t. If the PCA started cracking down on these presbyteries and churches, you’d likely see a large shift to EPC or to some kind of independent status.
In an ironic sense, the fact that the PCA did not form out of the struggles over SSM actually makes it a relatively attractive home to many evangelical elites.
White-collar professionals under the age of 50 overwhelmingly support SSM. I’d guess that support for SSM runs at 95% or higher outside of the South among that demographic. I worked for a large conservative law firm for a number of years, and nearly 20% of our younger associates identified as openly gay…at a conservative, Republican-dominated law firm. (The long hours make firm life amenable to people with non-traditional family arrangements.) CBMW’s gender ideology is a no-starter with educated white-collar folks, regardless of political stripe. That ideology is so transparently Freudian that no one can take it seriously as “biblical.” And as more and more straight-seeming gay people emerge from the closet and the crude stereotypes that drive much opposition to SSM crumble, things will likely shift rather dramatically.
I think you don’t see this because you operate in a bubble of ex-fundamentalists who’ve stumbled into Reformed theology via New Calvinism. But, as you were coming in, there’s a whole host of Reformed evangelicals who drifted out and into conservative crevices of the Protestant mainline or Willow Creek style churches. Many of us would gladly return to the PCA once it’s clear that the ex-fundamentalist cancer is under control.
The racial reconciliation stuff was probably the right thing to do for Duncan and Lucas. But it was bad for them politically. The overwhelming majority of “conservative” folks in the PCA do not support that effort, and are rather ardent supporters of kinism. See the Concerned Presbyterians page on FB. These same folks are the ones who are opposed to egalitarianism and SSM. So, I’d expect to see stronger efforts made within the PCA to move away from the CBMW ideology and toward a Presbyterianism that looks a lot more like Fuller and Princeton. Moreover, there are plenty of PCA refugees like me who’d gladly return if individual churches were given the liberty to have female leaders and could develop context-specific approaches to committed same-sex relationships.
Given that I go to a pretty liberal church by PCA standards, I know the scene you’re describing and even there I wouldn’t say we’re de facto egalitarian. (We’re almost certainly the most liberal church in a broadly Kellerite presbytery.) We have deaconesses, but the argument for deaconesses is careful enough that it doesn’t also default into a tacit support for women elders as well.
Also, it’s *very* hard for me to take you seriously when you say “the overwhelming majority of ‘conservative’ folks in the PCA are rather ardent supporters of kinism.” Seriously? I know lots of conservative folks in the PCA. I don’t know any kinists. Granted, I may be insulated from some of that b/c I’m in the midwest rather than the south, but ‘overwhelming majority… are supporters of kinism?” If we’re going to say half the denomination is “conservative” and let’s say “overwhelming majority” equals 75% of the conservatives… we’re talking about 130,000 people or thereabouts who are kinists according to you. That’s insane. If there were that many kinists in the church we wouldn’t have just passed the racism thing at GA and I can’t imagine we’d be much of a home to folks like Keller, Phil Ryken, or many of the profs at Covenant Seminary, let alone people like Mike Higgins, Jemar Tisby, etc. There’s a racism problem in the PCA, but saying it’s as extreme as you are is just irresponsible.
I’d also be curious, hoosier_bob, to see an explanation of your repeated claim that complementarianism is just barely re-washed Freudianism. That sort of thing is too easy to assert (especially when we are dealing with a vague -ism that denotes an entire school of modern thought), and rarely easy to prove. In fact, of course, an awful lot of people–most of whom know nothing about Freud beyond his obsession with cigars and complex over Oedipus–do take complementarian ideas seriously as biblical, just as they take same-sex ‘marriage’ to be unbiblical (and rightly so). Crude stereotypes? They exist, to be sure; but they have almost nothing to do with the opposition to same-sex ‘marriage’ that exists in any Christian circle I’ve been in. But who knows? Maybe Lutherans are different from the Reformed, after all….
Most of the Freudianism comes in unintentionally via an unwitting adoption of the pseudo-scientific and sociological assumptions that underlie the concept of “heterosexuality.” Michael Hannon wrote several good pieces in 2013-14 in First Things that addressed these issues. Wes Hill hits on them in his most recent book. For a more academic take on the issue, read “The Invention of Heterosexuality” by Katz. Peter Leithart also touched on this issue in his First Things piece, “Intrusive Third Parties.”
I suspect that, as Carl Trueman noted, most evangelical opposition to SSM boils down to “the yuck factor.” And, yes, what once passed for “gay culture” was pretty yucky. But being “gay” is increasingly common, and doesn’t even raise an eyebrow anymore. In fact, I don’t have a single gay colleague who hangs out in the gayborhood with any frequency at all. Most are fairly straight-seeming guys who tend toward asexuality, and simply feel more comfortable in a same-sex living situation. Their idea of marriage probably isn’t too different from Wes Hill’s notion of spiritual friendship; it’s just bilateral instead of multilateral, and sexual contact isn’t necessarily off the table (although it may be infrequent).
I’d suggest that the PCA is a whole lot more diverse on these issues than you’re suggesting. The denomination has specifically avoided discussing these issues for a number of years.
I’ve been a member of several PCA churches in the South. If you head to the golf course on Saturday morning with the men from church, it’s fairly clear that racism and sexism are alive and well among a certain segment. At the recent GA, about 13% opposed the racial reconciliation motion. If we consider that TRs make up about 25% of the denomination, that suggests that about half of conservatives oppose racial reconciliation. Bear in mind too that the age of GA commissioners is younger than that of congregants, especially in a denomination in which 39% of its membership is over 65. So, I don’t find it unreasonable to conclude that an overwhelming majority of conservatives in the PCA favor kinism. I think our differences lie in whom we’re willing to call a conservative. I’m using the term to refer specifically to TRs, who, despite their vocal nature, likely make up no more than a quarter of the denomination.
Moreover, if you look at the Pew Religious Landscape Study, it shows that there tend to be far more progressives than you think in the pews on Sunday morning. For example, 34% identify as Democrats, 52% identify as having moderate or liberal political views, 54% believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, 49% believe that homosexuality should be accepted in society, and only 49% oppose same-sex marriage. That doesn’t sound like a denomination that’s in lockstep with the CBMW agenda. Rather, it sounds like a denomination with a lot of quiet progressives who are waiting for a few more TRs to have heart attacks over a breakfast plate of biscuits and gravy. And that’s not counting the younger right-leaning mainliners who would be attracted back to a more progressive version of evangelical Calvinism.
Don’t forget the ECC, somewhere around 180K.
The EPC basically started when the PCA did (1980 and 1973 respectively), and they essentially have the same denominational beliefs that the PCA does except this issue. Don’t forget, the PCA were mainline refugees at one point too, just like the EPC. Granted, the denominations have different ethos, but I personally encounter now (since the wave of PCUSA transfers is over) more transfers from the PCA. Many PCA folks are complementation, but are done with the petty squabbles of the PCA, and come over to the EPC.
Since I’m ordained in the EPC, I don’t think the coalition is unstable, except to the extent that any coalition in “evangelicalism” (you might recall me always bothering Matt about capital E Evangelicalism, and how it basically isn’t anything at all) is always moving in simultaneous, and sometimes opposite, directions: more confessional, more liberal, more political. I think the EPC is really no different than the PCA and most other evangelical denominations at this point (within the big tent of Evangelicalism). Though, that’s a different post entirely.
If a third of evangelical Presbyterians support some degree of women’s ordination, that is a pretty significant minority. In fact it’s larger than I would have guessed.
Baptists/non-denominationals are strongly complementarian – and they are the biggest evanglical group, yes. I am not sure about Lutherans (I know the LCMS doesn’t; some other conservative Lutheran branches might). But look at the others – the CRC ordains women. A great number of Methodists do too, not just United ones. Many Pentecostals have women preachers. You say American Anglicans are an intellectual’s movement and a minor thing on the ground. But the ACNA hasn’t been around that long, at least not as an active force (not counting minor Episcopal splinter groups that have existed for years). It’s really just getting started, and it will probably keep growing and attracting young people who are both disaffected with mainstream evangelicalism and too conservative for the mainline as it plants more churches.
I was ACNA for years but will soon be confirmed as a Catholic, so I don’t really have a dog in the women’s ordination fight now (the way Catholics think through the issue is different from the way Protestant complementarians do). But I think you’ve underestimating the strength of the egalitarian movement.
YES! to Berry’s “Feminism, the Body, and the Machine” and “The Body and the Earth.”
Also, I think it’s important to point out a particular version of homemaking that can devolve to housekeeping and image crafting. One of the key components of robust home economies is tapping into the creative impulse that is intrinsic to being image bearers. This is different from simple mimicry; it’s a kind of creative call and response, a resourcefulness that exist in situ.
One of the things that frustrates me about Pintrest homemaking and the commercialization of domestica is that it quickly collapses into mimicry. Modeling is important to be sure, and engaging with other members of community inspire new ideas and creative solutions; but we must guard against a version of domestica that is well.. far too domesticated. There’s a wildness and uncertainty to good homemaking; learning to take risks is part of creative process. Many modern expressions of domestica run opposite this.
Adding to your thoughts: isn’t “homemaking” in a sense really about helping and serving others? I mean, a couple could have the cleanest house filled with homemade decorations straight out of HGTV magazine (is that a thing?) but if they never have anyone over for dinner, is it a truly productive home?
In the case that anyone is interested in a full review of Laura Dunn’s film, The Seer: A Portrait of Wendell Berry, you can read my review of the film here. I liken the film to a lament, a highly underestimated form of art. Here’s the URL: http://sustainabletraditions.com/2016/06/film-review-seer-portrait-wendell-berry/
I don’t bring it up to promote my own blog, but to more widely expose Laura Dunn’s amazing work. She, along with her husband and other members of the production team, have crafted a film essay that speaks volumes, not just about agriculture but about the polemic in our society between an agrarian way of life and industrial agriculture. The interviews of the young industrial farmers are especially telling that they either mask their trepidation with humor or you can actually see the anxiety in their faces about their unsustainable way of farming.