Wednesday, August 4, 2010
A Valiant Warrior (I've Found One and She is Worth Far More than Rubies)
Many people have voiced concern to me by email regarding the "Demand for an Apology" Letter to officials at the Council on Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). I apologize if I have not specifically answered your note if you read this blog post before I get back with you! Among many different comments, some say that demands should not have been made because expecting an apology from such a hubristic and recalcitrant group will ultimately yield no results and such attempts will be futile. Some believe that it is wrong to use language that might promote confrontation. Some believe that rebuking the group in favor of a "demand" would be more appropriate.
I would like to challenge those who took issue with the Demand Letter for one reason or another but find problems with the abuses of CBMW's ideology to draft their own letter reflecting their own concerns and send it to CBMW.
Shirley Taylor of bWe Baptist Women for Equality who penned the Demand Letter calls herself a "life-long Baptist." After raising two sons, she worked for the better part of 15 years as an employee for the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), a long-standing organization that joined with the Southern Baptist Convention in 1963 by signing their "Baptist Faith & Message" Statement (BF&M). The BGCT would not sign the revised version of the document in 2000 because of the problematic changes introduced into it. The changes diluted down the concept of the Priesthood of All Believers, and included problematic concepts about women -- changes which many describe as a swing into something akin to "Romanism" (Roman Catholic Theology) and authoritarianism.
Shirley sent me this photo of herself, seated with pears she proudly canned this weekend, the good fruit of a proud and capable homemaker. She says that both she and her husband, Don, are homemakers together, for they both build their home together.
Associated Baptist Press website, Shirley states that her demand letter was like a type of David throwing a stone at Goliath. She said that she does not know yet if she is a David or not. I believe that she is a David, I am proud of her and I am honored to know her. I was proud to sign her Demand Letter to CBMW and I am proud to be included in the effort to address the wrongs that CBMW has promoted in terms of both heterodoxy and heteropraxy.
Shirley understands how fruitless previous polite attempts have been to open up productive discussions with those who promoted the changes in the BF&M. As a personal recipient of name calling and other aggression from CBMW (personal and direct demoralization by more than one professor associated with the group), I also understand this well. I hold no malice against them personally for their having personally declared me an enemy in their culture war -- all is fair in love and war, and I understand that they see it as just part of business. I release them to God and don't seek any personal retribution unless they choose to give it, though I reserve the right to tell the truth about their behavior.
Basically, if someone approaches CBMW politely to address problems that they have with the organization's teachings, if the polite critic cannot be assuaged, CBMW's response becomes quite predictable. They extend their declaration that those who reject their paradigm are not Christians and worship a false god by also deeming them false teachers. Contact and conversation then ceases as though these fellow Christian critics are publicans. That is how CBMW conveniently gets around their critics without engaging them. (CBMW's behavior differs little from the behavior of those who follow the neopatriarchy movement that developed out of homeschooling, a group that gets around Paul's prohibition in 1 Corinthians 6 to keep disputes between Believers out of civil court by declaring their critics non-elect so that they can be justified in suing them.)
If fellow believers attribute their critics as publicans (people that should be shunned as the worst example of the most intolerable dregs of society), isn't a demand appropriate? I believe that the Demand Letter was, in fact, a Christian rebuke, accomplishing the same end as a formal rebuke but with a less inflammatory tone.
Totalitarianism and such abuses always begin with the devaluing, demoralization, and dehumanization of an adversary. It paves the way for acceptance of the unconscionable, and over time, it seems justified to resort to any action against one's perceived foe. CBMW accomplishes this by defining women as inherently evil and something less than human through their claims that she is merely the indirect image of God and responsible for sin entering the world. It's easier to kick a dog than it is a man. A woman can be easily blamed and seen as deserving of all sorts of terrible behavior when that woman has been redefined as far more corrupt than any animal. In light of the way the universe works, evil women deserve whatever terrible treatement they get, balancing the cosmic score that dates back to Eden for those who have bought into this ideology.) The Dispensing of Existence, Doctrine over Person, and the Demand for Purity describe this dynamic quite well.
I would have written a different letter if I been lead to write one. I was lead, happy, and proud to support the one that Shirley wrote. I essentially delivered my own letter in the form of a workshop about a cult two years ago, and CBMW was not even my primary concern. Based on the reaction to what became my own stone cast at the ideology of patriarchy, that stone that I hurled at Goliath packed quite a wallop! I hit a far bigger target than I ever anticipated, and Goliath reeled.
Today, I declare Shirley Taylor, a woman of valor and an effective "David."
I'm proud to stand with her, her husband, my husband, bWe Baptist Women for Equality, Jocelyn Andersen, Waneta Dawn, Janice Levinson, and many others to support her effort to pursue justice for women who have been redefined as the natural enemies of men and something a little less than fully human, like a dog you can kick after a bad day while it is paradoxically praised as a prized possession. The dog has it better though. Women replace Jesus as the sacrifice and scapegoat for all of men's sins, and women are placed on the altars of the traditions of men in this system where her essence is butchered. In the CBMW system, their version of a lesser Jesus becomes only a catalyst to lift men into their own godhood. (Makes perfect sense [???]: Sinful men impute their sins on to women so women can go to Jesus through their sinfull men to get to Jesus to be forgiven, and men keep their hands clean while they are imputed with Jesus' righteousness. Women remain beholden to men who are their demi-god intercessors. This makes perfect sense? [???])
Again, I would like to challenge those who take issue with the teachings of the Council on Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) to write their own letters about how they've witnessed the ill effects of the Danvers Statement to the organization to state your problems and your own offenses. Flood them with your own letters of response. Post open letters to them on your blogs. Lend your voice to those whom you've seen abused and revictimized in the churches because of what CBMW has taught. Hold them accountable. Be a Berean. Bombard heaven with your prayers for unity in the Body as opposed to mindless uniformity. Pray for God's spirit of liberty and love among the many members of the Body of Christ who hold to different doctrines on intramural issues in the Body but celebrate the essentials of the saving faith in Jesus, our Savior and the Lover of our souls.
Encourage Shirley in her valiant effort to refuse to stand idle while other good men do nothing, allowing evil to prevail. (I think Edmund Burke would be proud of Shirley, too! After all, he was known to hang out with those feminist Blue Stockings!)