So Much More, p. 63-74 – Part 1: I Acknowledge Traditional Gender Roles for the Remission of Sins

“A&E” refers to Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, authors of So Much More. I chose the abbreviation to save space and time.

Chapter 6 of So Much More is entitled “Fathers, Daughters, and Their Enemies.” I think the title was well-chosen. Why? Because in this chapter, A&E put their persecution complex in full throttle and go for broke.

If you desire to live godly in Christ Jesus you will be persecuted. And the more you embrace your calling to love and honor your father, the more your enemies will strike out at you in more fearful ways.

Translation: when you embrace stay-at-home daughterhood (SAHD), people will criticize you for doing so and object to your ideas. Those people are ungodly, and your spiritual enemies. They are also unwitting tools of Satan (or maybe even full-blown Satanists):

From the beginning of history [Satan] has been using people – starting with Eve – to strike at God. Some people are more useful to him than others, and some have been openly devoted to serving him.

…feminists (because clearly all non-feminists must agree with A&E) and therefore sinners:

I have found that the more I am delighting and meditating in [God’s] perfect Law (Psalm 1), the more I come to recognize and despise feminism for the sin that it is.

…liars:

We must learn to recognize and reject the lies of feminism, including those that we ourselves unwittingly have adopted.

…syncretists and rebels who need to repent (emphasis theirs):

Feminism in any form is rebellion and must be eradicated through repentance, not encouraged through syncretism.

…impure, unholy and unsubmissive to God:

Purity, holiness, and submission to God and His order are disgusting to [feminists].

…selfish (just like poor Kelly who asked her father to explain his opinion):

Feminism is about “self” and cannot abide the principle of “God first, others second, ourselves last.”

…and maybe even stupid and blind, especially if they’re a washed-up, lonely, aging second-wave feminist.

The stupidity of feminism is so self-perpetuating and blinding that most women who bought feminism when it was new and fresh in the 1960’s – now depressed, guilt-driven, stressed-out, and heart-broken after years of being used and abandoned by men – are too loyal to wonder if they were cheated out of basic happiness by the feminism they swore by.

Feminists and egalitarians worship their dark god.

Feminists and egalitarians worship their dark god.

Aside from the transparent rhetorical trick here – reframing all criticism of their ideas as Satanic attacks that need to be automatically written off without analysis – does it sound like they’re talking about a debatable point of Christian morality? I didn’t think so. This is the kind of language usually used in reference to either flagrant heresy, or some monstrously heinous sin. Which begs the question: do A&E in fact see patriocentricity as debatable, or as an essential of Christianity without which a person’s faith should be called into question?

I am, obviously, not a patriocentrist. I think the patriocentrist view of gender roles is deeply in error, ignores and distorts a huge number of things about the Bible, history and relationships, and basically gives abusive men a free pass to do whatever they want without repercussions. However, in general, I don’t think a person’s view of gender roles necessarily violates any core creedal doctrines of Christianity (though there is the occasional very important exception). I know a patriarchal family personally, and they are, in fact, perfectly nice people, not raving heretics, and in general fun to be around. I think they are deeply misguided and wrong about this particular issue, but I have never and would never call their salvation into question.

In other words, no one’s Christianity should be on the line, solely because they adhere to strict gender roles in their home and believe men and women are extremely different by nature. There may be other reasons, depending on the situation, but gender roles by themselves are not enough. A&E, however, are perfectly fine with heaping what amounts to heresy talk on the heads of everyone who disagrees with them, and essentially, calling fellow Christians who are egalitarian and, yes, maybe even feminist, children of the devil.

I am not okay with this, and they shouldn’t be.

Why? Mostly for the reasons I just outlined about questioning Christians’ salvation. But also, as I alluded to earlier, because A&E seem to mistakenly assume that all non-feminists will be on their side, while no feminist could possibly agree with them about anything. The truth is much more complicated, of course. There are Christian feminists. There are pro-life feminists (in fact here is a pro-choice secular feminist defending the idea that it is not automatically a contradiction in terms to be feminist and pro-life – I suspect A&E didn’t know this could happen). There are Christian egalitarians who do not support everything in modern feminism. There are complementarians who are openly anti-feminist and share many of A&E’s basic ideas about gender, but would still not support SAHD and patriocentricity because they see them as carrying those ideas too far.

In the end, then, the world is a big, big place, with lots and lots of people in it who have lots and lots of different ideas. But this isn’t compatible with the kind of extreme black-and-white worldview A&E have adopted, in which all debates – or at least, all debates about gender roles – seem to boil down to the holy saints of God who are 100% right on one team, and the evil minions of Satan who are 100% wrong on the other. The real world is rarely this simplistic. And pieces that make it sound like it is this simplistic, are usually not thoughtful, reasonable critiques of an opposing position. They’re often much closer to propaganda.

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7 comments on “So Much More, p. 63-74 – Part 1: I Acknowledge Traditional Gender Roles for the Remission of Sins

  1. Jeff S says:

    “Feminism in any form is rebellion”

    Have they defined “Feminism” anywhere? This is a pretty broad brush . . .

    • Hester says:

      No. Which, given that it includes everything from “women retain legal personhood after marriage” to lesbian separatism, is kind of a problem. I suspect their basic definition is “any view of gender/gender roles that lies to the left of A&E” – which would make John Piper a feminist, which is, needless to say, hilarious since he contributed to a book whose subtitle was “A Response to Evangelical Feminism.”

      Of course they haven’t defined a lot of things up to this point so I suspect they won’t be starting now. Their main strategy appears to be to leave all or most of the important terms undefined, which conveniently 1) allows the audience to fill in whatever they want, and 2) gives A&E plausible deniability about a bunch of stuff.

  2. fiddlrts says:

    I think that this particular problem stems back to their view of Original Sin. The Patriocentrist view of the Fall of Man is that Eve’s first sin wasn’t eating the fruit, it was going about without her man to protect her. She failed to submit, engaged the serpent on her own, and everything else that followed was inevitable. (I get the idea that they think that Adam wouldn’t have fallen on his own – it was just the feminine wiles that he couldn’t handle.) Thus, the original sin was a failure to adhere to Patriarchal gender roles. Before Man wanted to be equal to God, Woman wanted to be Equal to Man…

    On a related note, I think Evangelicals do have a tendency to intentionally misconstrue feminism. You have aptly pointed out that Feminism isn’t any more monolithic than “Christianity.” However, the dictionary definition is at least one thing that all Feminists would agree with. “The doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.” I have also seen it with “political, social, and economic equality,” which is a pretty good summary.

    Evangelicals, however, paint “Feminism” as a combination of Helen Gurley Brown (both for Sex and the Single Girl and “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”) and Andrea Dworkin. Because of this, many people who, if pressed, actually SUPPORT political, social, and economic equality for women, end up saying they are against “Feminism.” I don’t think this is entirely accidental either. For many within the Evangelical leadership, then do NOT in fact support the political, social, and economic equality of women, but would face a loss of their followers if they came out and said so. The Patriarchists are just more honest.

    • Hester says:

      I fully admit that I’m not up on all the fine distinctions and “camps” within feminism (I’m attempting to learn because clearly I may need the information in this line of work), but yeah, it’s a WAY bigger tent than they’re making it out to be. They also seem to think it’s exclusively Marxist in origin. In fact most of the chapter was them indulging in what seems to me (and others) to be a conspiracy theory about socialist/Marxist/Communist infiltrators. I read your review of Raymond Aron’s book so you might be interested in the next bit.

      The closest they get to defining feminism is this:

      If the word “feminist” meant “a defender of women” or “someone who believes women and men are of equal worth,” then every Christian woman should be feminist.

      …but then they don’t follow this with the (supposedly) “real” definition of feminism, just more conspiracy-ing about Karl Marx, so I’m still going with “anyone to the left of the Botkins.”

      • fiddlrts says:

        “Anyone left of the Botkins” is a pretty good way of putting it. I find their very definition of what feminism “might” mean a pretty good indication of what their views of gender are. Women need to be “protected.” Women are of “equal worth,” but not in any other way.

        Of course, bringing Marx into it shows their glaring ignorance of history too. (I tend to think A&E are just ignorant, since they have been thoroughly sheltered from the real world. Most of the male leaders, however, I think are *willfully* ignorant at best.)

        While there were a number of early proto-feminists at least as far back as the 1400s, the work that kicked off the first wave of feminism (which focused on the right to vote – political equality) was A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft. It was published in 1792.

        That was 26 years before Marx was BORN.

        Certainly, feminists and marxists have made common cause from time to time (Economic equality, right?), but I think the real reason that anyone politically “to the left of the Botkins” is by their definition a communist…

        (Also, I’m glad someone cared enough to read about Aron. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.)

      • fiddlrts says:

        Also, First Wave Feminism in the United States was a largely conservative to moderate movement, and had substantial Evangelical involvement. However, there did end up being a split within Evangelicalism, with the northern Evangelicals fighting for suffrage, while the southern churches tended to follow the path of gender and racial hierarchy. As the Southern Baptists grew to dominate beyond the Bible Belt, they pushed Evangelicalism to the right. (You can still see some of this split. Northern Pentacostal denominations like Four Square – founded by a female preacher – tend to allow female pastors, while the Baptists do not.)

        It’s really sad to me that American Christianity went from being a champion of equality for women to fighting it at seemingly every turn. Even within my lifetime, it has changed for the worse.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Translation: when you embrace stay-at-home daughterhood (SAHD), people will criticize you for doing so and object to your ideas. Those people are ungodly, and your spiritual enemies.

    And then invoke “Blessed Are Ye Who Are Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake…”

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