Are Women Natural Leaders?

Last Updated on Wednesday, 9 November 2011 02:28 Written by Father Bill Wednesday, 9 November 2011 02:28

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People don’t seem to think so.

This is old news (from the summer of 2011), but I stumbled across it last week and tossed it in the blog-on-this file. And, after a week in which “the days are just packed” (Calvin’s way of putting it), I’m pulling it out before unpacking today’s suitcase.

First, the report

A new meta-analysis (an integration of a large number of studies addressing the same question) shows that “even today leadership continues to be viewed as culturally masculine. The research was done at Northwestern University.” As you might expect, this report put some folks in high dudgeon indeed .

But, here’s what everyone seems to have missed: in the quote above (found in most of the stories accessible on the internet on this report) there is this two-word phrase “even today …”

That little phrase “even today” is where the real news lies.

What the Northwestern University meta-analysis shows is not news. People have – so far as I can tell – never thought that women were natural leaders. To think such a thing says absolutely nothing about this or that woman’s capacity or talents for leadership, of course. To say that “men are taller than women” is completely compatible with the well-known fact that there are women who are taller than most men, and that there are men who are shorter than most women. So, if people don’t think women are natural leaders (something “people” have always believed, it would seem), why is it news that such an opinion is so wide spread “even today” that one may attach this opinion to “people today?”

The answer is expressed most pointedly by Walter R. Newell in his book What is a Man? Published in 2000, the introduction to Newell’s work has this to say about why “even today” something ought to be different than the meta-study reveals:

 … the last three decades [have] witnessed one of the most remarkable efforts at social engineering in human history — a state-sponsored campaign, organized throughout the education system and in all major public institutions, to eradicate the psychological and emotional differences between men and women. Two generations have been brought up as the products of this vast experiment. From the moment they enter kindergarten to their final courses in university, they are required to subscribe to a new doctrine of human relations without precedent in known experience: that there are no inherent differences in character between men and women.

Newell’s observation echoes from the abyss of understatement. By today (2011) it is more like three generations of North Americans (not to mention Europeans), have been reared and educated in this novel doctrine, so that to find living people who have a living memory of when relations between men and women were different, one must go to the earliest of the Boomers. But, of course, it is the Boomers who in North America enlisted in the feminist vanguard that swept over America beginning in the mid-Fifties, achieving cultural, economic, and political supremacy by the mid-Seventies, and consolidating its sovereignty ever since.

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So why has this vast state-sponsored campaign failed? That would seem to be the obvious import of this meta-study at Northwestern (not, of course, that this is what they sought to deiscover!). With so much political, economic, and cultural power focused on teaching men and women how and why they are interchangeable in all but the most elementary biological enterprises, why do most people think that women are not natural leaders?

It would be too easy an answer (though, possibly, a sufficient answer) to say that 20th Century theories and methods of education are ineffective. The default materialist metaphysics of modernism encourages us to believe that if you apply the right technique with sufficient intensity for sufficient length of time, you will get the desired result. From this perspective, it may take another few generations to beat the old patriarchalism out of the human psyche.

The Christian faith, however, tells us that what the feminist educators seek is nothing less than the abolition of man, because the intrinsic nature of men and women is that they are not interchangeable, that one of the sexes was designed by God expressly for the sake of the other sex, that there is an ordered relationship between them and the society composed of them. And, if the Christian faith is true, then it would follow that “even today” people (both men and women) would find women not to be natural leaders, particularly of men.

Where women do, indeed, function productively as leaders of men, this happens because either the men or the women (or both) are less than who they are created to be as gendered creatures. If people (even today!) think that women are not natural leaders, then the women who function as leaders will be perceived as unnatural ones.

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Is A Man the Head of His Household?

Last Updated on Friday, 28 October 2011 07:00 Written by Father Bill Friday, 28 October 2011 07:00

The   film Courageous  has gotten some religoius feminists in a tizzy over the whether or not husbands and fathers are the heads of their households. I haven’t seen the film (it hasn’t been booked into our small-town theater), but to judge by the eyes of the religious feminists who are commenting at the link above, I’d guess I would agree with the film’s fundamental premises about the responsibility married men have for the welfare of their wives and children.

Here’s how the blogger puts it:

  •  The movie implies (and explicitly states in at least one instance) that the Bible teaches fathers are to take full responsibility for their wives and children, but they do little to show where and how the Bible teaches it (actually nothing that I can remember, but correct me if I’m wrong) As egalitarians agree, there simply isn’t biblical justification for a view like this, and it is unfair to both men and women to place this extra burden on fathers alone.
  •  In encouraging men to be responsible, why does it have to be at the expense of women’s responsibility? Does the Bible not also call godly women to be engaged with their families, and to be prayerful, respectful, kind, and integrity-filled—all prominent ideas in the resolution the men sign? To me, these challenges seem to highlight the way all who follow Christ are to live—both female and male.

As usual, religious feminists can’t stand the notion that the Bible lays responsibilities on men greater than a women’s, that women and men relate in the family in an ordered way that makes the man responsible to God for the woman in a way that the woman is not responsible to God for the man. To the religious feminist, any wifely responsibility that is NOT identical to the man’s is no responsibility at all, rendering her “passive.” Such folk need to be warned against airing that sort of idea to a faithful wife and mother productively serving her family in a patriarchal marriage, lest she punch their lights out.

But, here’s the rub, something which shows how intractable the religious feminist’s plight is when he is firmly in its clutches: the religious feminist cannot see what is writ plain in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible is patriarchal to the core, and at the heart of the Bible’s patriarchy is a responsibility of the husband/father for his family that is not shared with the wife.

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Complex and Critical Questions

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 October 2011 07:00 Written by Father Bill Thursday, 13 October 2011 07:00

Consider the following from a religious feminist “in the pews” who poses the following related questions:

Do Egalitarians present a fundamentally different approach to theology from Complementarians? Do they possess a fundamentally different experience of Christ and life in Him from Complementarians? Do they know a different Christ from that of Complementarianism? [Adapted from the original post in a thread found here.]

Good questions all, but complex questions. And to unsnarl the complexities and to tackle answers to the issues raised here, this is the first of a series of blogs which unravels the complex questions into simpler, clearer questions before giving an answer.

 No Longer an Intramural Debate

“Complementarian” is the term coined by CBMW to name those who embrace the classical Christian understanding of the relationship of the sexes. “Egalitarian” is a different “term of art” for evangelical feminists, a term that seems to be preferred by evangelical feminists themselves.

From the time that the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was founded in 1987, that organization has consistently adhered to a viewpoint about evangelical feminists , namely that they are authentic Christians, genuine Christians, orthodox Christians, and so forth. This may have been the case 25 years ago. It may still be the case. But, something has changed in the past 20 or 30 years as this debate has percolated within broadly evangelical American Protestantism. Over time opinions on both sides have sought validation and endorsement from the seats of authority within evangelicalism – the Bible and theologies derived from the Bible. What has emerged – particularly within the religious feminist camp – is a growing body of literature in which a new theology of the sexes is being articulated.

This development provokes a change in the nature of the controversy. Where before evangelical Christians disagreed on the relationship of the sexes, this debate has now begun to spill over into different areas than the merely pastoral or ecclesiastical. And, those different areas are more and more expressly doctrinal across the spectrum of theology. As the scope of the disagreement widens, It does so by involving greater and more foundational planks of Christian belief – the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the economy of salvation itself.

So, 25 years after the founding of CBMW, the debate within the evangelical camp is no longer an intramural disagreement on whether or not women may be ordained, or whether or not men are heads of their marriages and families, much less heads of the Church. Instead, we are seeing the debate to resolve into what amounts to two different religions.

Are evangelical feminists Christian in anything other than a cultural, derivative sense? Are they, for example, “Christian” in the way that Christian Scientists are Christian? In the sense that Mormons are “Christian?” Are egalitarians more Christian, or less Christian, than Roman Catholics? Succeeding blogs in this series will attempt to answer these kinds of questions.

What Is Not Being Asked

Egalitarians are understandably sensitive to anything that implies they are not saved, that they, for example, will be turned away by the Lord with “I never knew you” at The Doom. And, these blogs do not make a judgment on the eternal destiny of any man or woman who professes to be an egalitarian.

On the other hand, this blog will advance the argument that evangelical feminism, AKA egalitarianism, has evolved into a religious faith that is different from orthodox Christianity. Though it is impossible to know certainly if anyone professing egalitarianism is among the elect, it is possible to distinguish the faith they profess from the faith once for all delivered to the saints by the Apostles of our Lord. And, because such a distinction can be made, we may also say that those who embrace and propagate evangelical feminism do so at great — possibly eternal —  peril to their souls.

Proposed Topics In This Series of Blogs

To give an overview of the topics to be explored in future blogs, here is a proposed list of topics I will explore. If any reading this have suggestions for additional topics, suggest them in the comments.

  • Defining terms: I will likely refer future readers to this blog because they use terms differently from how I have defined my use of them in this series.
  •  Biblical meaning of the sexes: evangelical feminism is essentially gnostic with respect to the sexes. This blog will point instead to the meaning of the sexes as Paul reveals it in Ephesians 5.
  •  Sex and the Incarnation: Is it necessary that God become incarnate as a man rather than as a woman? Or was the sex attending the incarnate God arbitrary? Or was it a condescension to the limited patriarchal bias of the Jews when Jesus was born?
  •  Mistakes about Jesus and Mistakes about God: Because of the Incarnation, mistakes about the nature of man lead straightway to mistakes about theology proper.
  •  The Disintegration of Trinitarian Faith: One of the strongest repudiations of modern religious feminism is the classical doctrine of the Trinity. Consequently, we see among evangelical feminist thinkers a deconstruction of Trinitarian doctrine and a replacement of it with a quasi Unitarianism.
  •  Religious feminism and the gospel: Is religious feminism a “gospel issue?” Asked another way, does a thorough-going (rather than a cherry-picking) egalitarian point of view render the gospel preached by egalitarians to be a gospel different from what the Apostles preached?

Looking back over these proposed blogs, the scope looks ambitious. And, in fact, in these blogs I will be tackling issues which will eventually find their way into a book entitled The Masculinity of God. For now, though, I’ll confine the scope of this series to the issues raised by that religious feminist quoted at the beginning of this blog.

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