Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Tale of Two Words....

Okay...the Abbess has been driven from her silence! Jonathan Brink asked this question on Facebook: Is it possible to be both complementarian and egalitarian in gender relationships. And there were 75 comments! There seemed to be a significant amount of talking past each other ... and instead of tacking something on to the end of a conversation that is over, I decided to break my silence here.

While busy doing lots of things that I promise to blog about ... later ... I have begun reading through the manuscript of my ministry mentor (I will be blogging a lot more about this.), giving him another set of eyes with a different view as a way of checking whether he is connecting with his intended readers. This is fabulous work and I am pleased to get to see it as it is being fashioned into a book.

One of the articles Scott sent me to review before sending actual chapters had this section title: Egalitarianism Is Not the Opposite of Patriarchy. Well, that got my attention! He goes on to say that scholars (and their readers), "have largely ignored the fact that patriarchal systems in general and the ancient Mediterranean system in particular socialized men not only to dominate women but also to gain the upper hand over as many other men as possible. Along with social analysts and journalists, they have also mistakenly assumed that the terms egalitarianism and patriarchy describe opposite ends of the same social-political spectrum. Inadvertently, they have blurred the distinctions between two ancient social institutions: politics and kinship. These two missteps lead inevitably away from comprehension of Paul's implicit and explicit critique of the patriarchy of his day."

He goes on to say that the opposite of egalitarianism is not patriarchy as such but monarchy, oligarchy, or despotism. Complementarianism is a term invented fairly recently by Fundamentalist Theologians to disguise the patriarchialism it represents. It is almost as if they vaguely understand that there is a problem with patriarchy ... but the cost of dealing with the problem is too high.

Dr. Bartchy continued: "On the one hand, the term patriarchy belongs to the semantic field of kinship, the realm of the family. On the other hand, the term egalitarian belongs to the semantic field of politics and refers to such things as equal access to the vote, to positions of public leadership, and to ownership of property."

I wrote in the margins of the article this comment: "Perhaps it (egalitarian) is confused because women were largely seen as property being freed from patriarchal tyranny."

Rather than acknowledging that Jesus, and Paul, were first freeing women (and other men) from the domination of patriarchy, complementarianism continues to embrace patriarchy (missing much of Jesus' and Paul's point). Egalitarians mix their apples with oranges when trying to mix kinship with politics ... largely because there is not an opposite to patriarchy that is to be embraced.

Which leads to the title of Scott's book: Call No Man Father. We who believe in Christ Jesus are called to be joint heirs with him as children of our heavenly Father. There is only one Father. Everyone else is a brother or sister.....

This is just the first of many posts to come as I ponder this anew.

Stay tuned.

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Update: For some reason I cannot post a comment! This is the first time this has happened to me... maybe Google Chrome has an issue. In the meantime, I would like to add my comment here:

Welcome, gracerules!

If the big shift Jesus called for (and Paul echoed) was for those who were the patriarchs to put down their privilege, the sisters and the children and the slaves and the brothers were not supposed to have an uprising against the fathers -- but those who were fathers or husbands or slave-owners were to radically change the way they interacted with those who they formerly were welcome to dominate.

Subversion of patriarchy was an inside job. ;^) Which also means that it can only be defeated from the inside as well.

Perhaps this is why the church is where it is today ... too many have not heard the call for the fathers to become brothers?

Thanks for visiting and for your comment!


gracerules said...

Very interesting! I think your idea about the confusion coming because of the way women were viewed (as property) is possible. And maybe the terms could have also been mixed up because in order to get out from under Patriarchy they first had to fight for their rights in the political/legal realm.

AbiSomeone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AbiSomeone said...

Okay...I did a test (comment deleted above!)... Firefox didn't have a problem. Maybe Chrome has a glitch. Bummer...

Rick Meigs said...

Abi, nice to see you posting and on such an interesting topic. Looking forward to more.

gracerules said...

I do believe that Jesus (and I believe Paul echoed the same) called for an end to Patriarchy. I even think the story of Mary and Martha gives us a glimpse of how radical Jesus was when it came to limiting women.

Janet Woodlock said...

Ah, a subject dear to my heart! Welcome back to blogging Abbess!

If you don't mind a trivial question, how does one delete comments on blogger? I can't seem to work it out. I found the comment in Chinese characters in my blog unreadable, and I wasn't interested in buying viagra or something else ridiculous.

AbiSomeone said...

Janet, when you look at the comments in your posts you will see a little trash can in the lower left corner. Just click on that and follow the directions.

Should do it!

Janet Woodlock said...

Oh... that was embarassingly easy! Thank you!!!!