Complementarians v. Egalitarians

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Although the world of Christianity has a strong diversity of cultures, rituals, philosophies, and people the issue of gender relations seems to break firmly into two camps. There are the egalitarians who believe in equity and equality between genders and there are the complementarians who believe that there are two sexes of humans that are equal in God’s eyes but whose innate differences and roles are designed to complement one another on earth.

I’ve been obsessed with complementarianism for a long time. Feminism was a no brainer for me as a stubborn and willful child stepping into atheism long before I could even fit a bra (let alone burn one in defiance) coming of age in the Catholic Church. Being told I was fundamentally unfit for a leadership role in my community or my household made me blood boil. As a sixth grader I used to pronounce that I was going to be the first PERSON to walk on Mars, not the first woman and if women could be astronauts then being a priest or the pope was obviously a possibility. The ‘complementarian’ bullshit didn’t work on me. My logic at the time was that if a woman was the best person to make sure a family had a clean and hygienic home, oversee daily child development, plan meals, and stay on top of all the work and rigor that goes into homemaking than she was probably more than adequately prepared to run a parish.
IMG_3302The Catholic Church made me feel so much that being a woman was a punishment. Eve was responsible for the downfall of the first man and the rest of humanity for all time. Nevermind the fact that God decided to take on human flesh and redeem everyone (even women!) and opened up a New Testament where the gates of heaven were reopened and salvation was for all who wanted or needed it. If Eve had offended God so gravely, wasn’t it more than apparent that through the Cross, she was forgiven for that ill-fated snack of an apple? Why was the church of man still insistent on carrying out a punishment on all women, for all time?

Patriarchy is not God’s design for the world. Patriarchy was very much a product of sin, not part of the original design.

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Progressive Christians I’m Reading

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I’m a native California girl who was born and raised in Los Angeles, attended university in Santa Cruz, and made my home in the San Francisco Bay Area. What this means primarily is that my veins look like the highways and byways that connect California’s biggest cities with major arteries like the 5, 101, or 1 and small little farm highways known as “blood alleys” that haven’t exactly aged with grace. As a child, I was a wizard at car reading. Later I lost that superhero ability but to my surprise digital books don’t seem to bring on the nausea. I was delighted to read all of Erin Lane’s Lessons in Belonging From A Church Going Commitment Phobe.

The more progressive Christian books I read, the more I can parse out their culture and cadence. The first author to get me sucked in was Nadia Bolz-Weber who blogs as the “Sarcastic Lutheran.” Erin Lane is a “Holy Hellion.” Both are feisty spirits who have written a kind of Christianity that doesn’t make me run screaming from the room and actually gets me to sit down for a moment and think about things like Grace and God’s Love without leaving a mass-produced and hollow cheap candy saccharine cough syrup taste on your tongue.

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The Christian church is said to be having a masculinity crisis but I would say that’s been happening for a long time now. It has been said that church attendance could be increased if hipster chic manly men could appeal to their fellow bros-in-Christ and bring forward artistinal patriarchy. (I’m talking to you, Mark Driscoll.) But it’s unreal to suggest that Christianity is losing its patriarchal edge, it just has God forsaken hair and terrible patterned wall paper. It’s not Christ that makes Christianity a hard place to be a feminist. When I hit puberty and realized that my Catholic upbringing had a lot to answer for when it came to the way it regarded my anatomy and that anatomy’s role in our collective salvation and I washed my hands of the business. I fled out of a sense of self-protection. The women with the most power in the church always seemed to be the ones who affirmed patriarchy the best and lost touch with what it meant to be a girl coming up under it.

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