Loving Heavenly Father or, Abusive Parent?

Well, it’s happened again. Another one of those awkward, disturbing interactions with a “Bible-believing” Christian about “the wicked.” You know the the type of conversation where the believer has memorized snippets of KJV bible verses about the conscious eternal torment of those who “reject Christ.” A Christian friend at work knew I had just finished reading “Raising Hell” by Julie Ferwerda, and that in the book she raises questions about the traditional church teaching on hell. He responded with a barrage of verses fired off at me devoid of context and based on a bad English translation of the original languages.

I say disturbing, because, what kind of a person memorizes scripture verses that describe the torture of human beings by a “loving” God? And the smile on his face as he recounted the torment of the rich man in Luke 16 and the Lake of Fire in Revelation , was chilling. My friend is a wonderful, generous man who would not hurt anyone, but this type of belief about our Heavenly Father reveals a strange dichotomy of God’s Nature found among traditional Catholic and Protestant teaching on the afterlife.

On the one hand, the majority of American Christians generally portray God in glowing terms referring to His perfect love for us, even though we don’t deserve it. It is the reason He sent His son Jesus. But they are quick to tell you about God’s dark side. Traditionalists usually portray God in absolute terms, absolutely just, good, wise, etc., His Omni-qualities. Although, God so loved the world He sent His Son, and He is not willing that any should perish (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), there is still a limit to His Love it seems. God’s Love is not a limitless love. Although Jesus admonishes us to love our enemies, God the Father is not so willing. As one might surmise, this creates a schism in the Father-Son relationship, especially when the dominant Orthodox atonement theory is penal substitutionary atonement, …that Jesus’s death was to appease God’s Wrath toward us.

That God’s general inclination is to destroy the majority of mankind is a dominant theme among conservative Christians. Generally, among conservative Protestants, atonement is either limited to the “elect,” (Calvinism), or sufficient for all, but effective only for those who “receive” it, (Arminianism). A rather crass way to explain this “gospel” is that God will torture you unless you accept His Love, or, …He has already chosen you before hand to love Him, you have no real choice. This should raise flags with anyone who understands the meaning of love. Instead of a patient lover who pursues us, persuades us, we have a psychotic lover who threatens us, who is so needy for attention and worship that He forces us to worship Him, (Calvinism), or gives us an offer we dare not refuse, lest He torture us day and night, (Arminianism).

This begs the question, if our love for God is so coerced, is it a genuine loving relationship? If our love for God only stems from those He has pre-selected, and enabled, is it true love? From a psychological standpoint, it would seem not. Still, the escape from God’s Wrath is foundational to understanding conservative evangelistic efforts. I suspect that part of the reason conservatives paint such a bleak picture of mankind outside of the conservative church is to justify a God that would not just destroy “the wicked,” but keep them supernaturally alive so they can be tormented for eternity. Also, I suspect, it relieves some of the guilt associated with failing to tell everyone to repent, or they will go to hell.

But the Bible does teach us of consequences associated with our life choices. The question is: is the “torment” mentioned in the NT retributive or restorative? Using the analogy of parental discipline we have the technique of “timeouts” for young children or the method of corporal punishment. Both are painful, one psychologically, the other, physically. True to the traditional church understanding of God’s parental skills, James Dobson admonishes Christians to “Dare to Discipline” their children by beating them with a paddle or switch, a common theme among neo-fundamentalists. When various states in the US began passing laws to thwart child abuse, Christians were outraged at the thought of the government meddling in parental matters. But the sad fact is that Proverbs 22 has been used to justify severe child abuse, leaving permanent scars, both physical and emotional.

On the other hand, the disciplinary technique of timeout by removing a child from play, sitting them in a corner for ten minutes to “think about what they did wrong” seems like “torture” to a young child. They “stew in their own juices,” the unpleasantness is their own doing, not the parent’s. But they have time to reflect on their rebelliousness or bad behavior and develop understanding of right and wrong. Although viewing the experience of the “unsaved” in the afterlife as a “timeout” may seem a bit simplistic or odd, essentially this is how the early church viewed the afterlife, at least until the Roman, Latin speaking church twisted the Biblical understanding of hell into a monstrous affair of eternal torture by God of His enemies.

Because the Bible assures us that God will restore all creation (1), the majority of the early church believed in a form of universal reconciliation, the popularity of which was not surpassed until after the Roman branch became the state church in the West. Coincidently, as Christians in the West were no longer persecuted, the church’s methods of spreading the Gospel became more coercive and militaristic. It was in this atmosphere of power and politics that eternal torment in hell became the popular teaching of the church to maintain control over the masses. Not only did the church control a person’s life in this age, but held the keys to eternal life the age to come.

But doesn’t God punish sinners? I ask you, what kind of person would eternally torment an individual for a wrong choice made within the narrow window of opportunity in this life? What about all the individuals not fortunate enough to be born in western societies? Those that have suffered hell on earth, but never heard of Jesus? St. Augustine thought unbaptized children went to hell! Ridiculous you say, but look at what Mark Driscoll had to say about his own stillborn child. He did not know if he went to heaven or hell! (2) It is this coercive, vindictive and cruel view of God that many individuals today find so offensive and turns them off to Christianity.

Unfortunately for the western church, most individuals know these days, that torture under any circumstances is wrong. We have laws guarding against it’s use. During the church’s rise to power during the Holy Roman Empire, the church used violence, the sword, burning at the stake, the Spanish Inquisition, and similar violence following the Protestant Reformation. All because of a misunderstanding of how the Kingdom of God operates, how it is to be spread. But fortunately for all of us, God does not work that way.

So why do Christians still cling to a retributive, violent God? I will attempt to answer that in my next post.

God bless.
(1) Genesis 12:3, 2 Sam. 14:14, Psalm 22:27-29, Psalm 65:2, Isaiah 25:6-8, Isaiah 45:22-23, Lam. 3:31-32, Hosea 14:4, Zeph. 3:8-9, Luke 2:10, Luke 9:55-56, Luke 23:34, John 12:32, John 12:47, John 17:2, Acts 3:20-21, Rom. 5:6; 18-20, Rom. 11:32-36, Rom.14:11, 1 Cor. 3:11-15, 1 Cor. 13:8, 1 Cor. 15:22-28, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, Eph. 4:5-6, Col. 1:15-20, Col. 3:11, 1 Tim. 2:5-6, Hebrews 8:11-12, James 2:13, 1 John 2:2, Rev. 5:13, Rev. 15:4

(2) http://endtimeheadlines.org/2017/04/pastor-unsure-if-wifes-miscarried-baby-is-in-heaven-claims-bible-is-silent/
http://www.christianpost.com/?vp=1

Further study:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unfundamentalistchristians/2017/04/indeed-many-universalism-early-church/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/case-christian-universalism-non-universalist/

http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/EternityExplained.html

Rob Bell, “Love Wins”

Bradley Jersak, “A More Christlike God, A More Beautiful Gospel”

Julie Ferwerda, “Raising Hell: Christianity’s most controversial doctrine put under fire”

Derek Flood, “Disarming Scripture”

Eric A. Seibert, “Disturbing Divine Behavior, Troubling Old Testament Images of God”

Good Theology VS Bad

I spend a fair amount of time surfing, lurking and commenting on the various religious blogs online such as Patheos, Sojourners and miscellaneous personal blogs, and have been struck by a curious observation. The comments that seem to be the most stridently adversarial to inclusivity, acceptance and extending mercy seem to be the ones most adamant about either defending the inerrancy of Scripture or the “Holiness of God.” In other words, those who most clearly understand God’s “attributes” and that the Bible is “God’s Word,” are the most likely to exclude those individuals that are somehow “outside the box.” The result of such an attempt to “defend” God results in a theology that seems to be intent on excluding the most amount of people possible from the “Kingdom of God.”

What I think we have illustrated here is what I would call “bad theology.” Bad theology starts with trying to figure God out, define Him, take Him apart and see what He’s made of. This is the stuff of classic Reformed theology. Generally over-thinking things, taking God apart then remaking Him with our personality traits, just more “Zeus-like.” Do we categorize and ostracize people, so must God. Do we get angry, God’s anger must be terrible. We put troublemakers in jail, there must be a hell. The list goes on. We end up with a God that reflects our imperfect nature and a Gospel that is not “good news.”

This is the theology I grew up with and accepted for some 50 years. During those years I never heard anyone say “if you want to know what God is like, look at Christ.” God the Father was always treated separately from Christ. In my Christian education, College and Seminary, we scoured the Bible for descriptions of God. His Omnipotence, His Holiness, His Eternality, His Foreknowledge, His Righteousness, His Holiness, the different names of God: Elohim, El Shaddai, Jehovah Nissi, etc. These are all well and good but tend to obscure God, limit Him and put Him in a box of our understanding. Philip asked Jesus to “show them the Father.” (John 14:8-9) Jesus’ response was “If you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father.” So the simple answer is that God is like Jesus, loving, forgiving, sacrificing and shares in our suffering, our humanity. That seems to be too simple for a lot of people, however, and therefore we turn to long-dead theologians to build fancy, intricate webs of theological certitudes for us. We end up with a theology that is “us vs. them,” the privileged “chosen vs. the Lost.”

Starting our theological framework with “proving” the inerrancy of Scripture, or attempting to describe God’s nature and defending His Holiness points us invariably in the wrong direction. When we start with Christ we end up hitting the mark. Looking to Christ and his cruciform life and death tells us not only what the Heavenly Father is like, but tells us what God expects of us: to copy Christ, to manifest his love, his mercy and his forgiveness. And how exactly do we copy Christ? The answer is found in Christ’s “kenosis,” his “emptying” of his privilege of deity in order to fully share our human suffering and predicament. We are called to lay aside our own self-serving interests and in the process be filled with the spirit of Christ so that we too may share in others needs and love one another. This is theology that is practical and prepares us for the coming Kingdom, the Age to come. In the coming months I will explore how Scripture itself reveals a Christlike God and how, ultimately Love wins and Wrath and condemnation will lose.

God bless.

InterVarsity Fellowship & The Thought Police

Last October InterVarsity Fellowship (not to be confused with InterVarsity Press), released a 20 page document further clarifying its 2012 statement of beliefs. In this new document IVF required staff to not only agree with the over-all mission statement and moral conduct of the organization, but to not hold any private reservations about the theological statements of IVF. Generally speaking, para-church organizations have adhered to broad doctrinal statements due to the nature of being inter-denominational, but this was not the case here.

By requiring its employees and volunteers to not only adhere to a certain code of conduct but to “think” a certain way as well, IVF forced a number of dedicated staff members to resign. These staff members were trusted friends and confidants of at risk young adults from the LGBTQ community. By doing so Gay teens and college age adults were left wondering if IVF cared about them, or understood their needs and fears. Although Gay marriage was the intended target the church will inadvertently suffer as a result as well. When the church cuts off dialogue and “faithful questioning” (Derek Flood) the result invariably is weakened, not strengthened faith.

A few thoughts on the subject:

First, egalitarian marriage is a Kingdom Principal. In Christ there is neither male nor female. Submission and headship, when applied as a male-dominant theme is neither Christ-like nor does it represent a one-size-fits-all plan for marriage. If it helps, think of Paul’s admonition on marriage as what a “good” Christian marriage looked like in the first century, but that times have changed. Egalitarian marriage has not only been resisted by a patriarchal society historically, but has continued to be vigorously attacked by the church even as Western society has moved on and recognized a woman’s equal worth.

Traditional marriage proponents rely as much on traditional and historical sexual mores as they do on Scripture and it is, indeed, those mores that influence their understanding of Scripture. Conservative Christianity has, for centuries, tried to replicate and keep alive the “household codes” of first century Christians.

Secondly, in building their argument against Same Sex Marriage, IVF, in their literature, refers repeatedly to Wesley Hill as a shining example of the Gay Christian’s “proper” lifestyle of celibacy. Having read “Washed and Waiting” I can assure you Mr. Hill is not necessarily representative of Gay Christians, nor does he deal exegetically with the texts. In fact, the over-all take away for me in reading his book that this poor man is dealing with a great deal of loneliness and unnecessary anguish heaped upon him by well meaning but ignorant Christians unaware of the toxicity their peculiar views on Scripture have on others.

In using Wesley Hill as an exemplary Gay Christian, IVF makes a mistake common to conservative Christianity, that of taking a specific person or circumstance and reapplying it to the whole. This over-simplification of people by assigning them to one group and making broad assumptions about them is why so many moderns refer to conservative Christians as bigoted.

Thirdly, IVF has lost the ability to deal with the emotional and spiritual needs of LGBT youth in a pastoral manner, instead treating these individuals as a theological problem that needs to be fixed. Ultimately this dehumanizes, demoralizes and cuts off communication with a group of individuals who have historically been demonized by Christians.

Lastly, IVF is seeking unity through forced conformity, a mistake the church has made for centuries. This is by far, I believe, the most damaging precedent set here for IVF. Historically the reason Protestants split from Catholicism is that the Catholic Church was unable to allow itself to be questioned. By attempting to control even the thoughts of its staff members, IVF has effectively stifled any opportunity for change, or as Derek Flood says, “unquestioned obedience” takes precedence. This may work well if we were building an army of clones, but when dialogue is stifled in the church it is hard to see how our individual gifts can be used. We need to be able to agree to disagree, yet come together for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. There is unity in diversity, something that IVF seems to have misunderstood.

Although, historically, IVF has taken a broad non-denominational stance on things like women in leadership, recognizing that various denominations that have a high-view of Scripture can differ significantly from each other, on same sex marriage they have made the decision to draw a line in the sand. This reflects the new test of orthodoxy within the far Right of Evangelicalism. It is my hope, that, in time IVF will reconsider its decision and allow more diversity of thought within its ranks so that it may present a more beautiful Gospel.
http://time.com/4521944/intervarsity-fellowship-gay-marriage/

http://religionnews.com/2016/10/11/intervarsity-authors-and-alumni-protest-policy-terminating-employees-who-support-gay-marriage/

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/october-web-only/intervarsity-asks-staff-to-choose-stance-on-sexuality.html

https://sojo.net/articles/roots-intervarsitys-line-sand-homosexuality
Justin Lee’s response to the IVF decision and critique of its “inconsistency problem” with the LGBT community:

Freedom vs. Love: When Freedom Prevents Us From Loving

I am reading Bradley Jersak’s “A More Christlike God, A More Beautiful Gospel” (https://www.amazon.com/More-Christlike-God-Beautiful-Gospel/dp/1889973165). In chapter three he contrasts two competing values in Western Culture: “freedom” and “goodness.” He makes the point that of the two, one will always be dominant over the other. Where we have recently seen this most dramatically portrayed in America is in the flack over building a border wall, Muslim immigration and in the so-called attacks on “religious freedom.”

In each of these three cases the safety of our personal freedoms and “rights” is the overriding principal governing protest and the push for legal protections. And in each circumstance someone else’s situation is negatively affected by the insistence on safeguarding our own personal freedoms.

As Jersak puts it, “We live in a culture that so totalizes freedom that anyone who presents an obstacle or becomes a hindrance to what I want is attacking my freedom. I will perceive intrusions on my way of life as the enemy, whether it is a family member, a foreign militant or a government regulator…impositions on my freedom are considered offensive and immoral–attacks–because my personal autonomy (self-rule) comes first.”
…”On the other hand, Christ commands us to love our enemies and to overcome evil with good. He calls us to make love our first allegiance–and his love frees us to do so. Freedom in Christ, ironically, is freedom from the tyranny of our own paranoia-producing self-will and fear-driven self-preservation, which we’ve tragically mislabeled ‘freedom.'” (P. 51)

When self-preservation and personal liberties are promoted by the church as a moral imperative, the result is a Gospel that ceases to be “good-news,” and the church loses it’s “witness” to the Love, Grace and Mercy of God. Extreme examples of this can be seen in the proposal to allow “open carry” on the Liberty University campus and the desire to build a shooting range there. Another sad example can be found in the recent un-Christlike comments of a well-known evangelist towards Muslim refugees fleeing the horrors of war in Syria and the bigoted and false statements made about transgender people by the Right in an attempt to deny safe bathrooms to them.

These are examples of how the church can slip into a self-serving frame of mind and lose sight of serving others first. In most of the recent conversations I have had with conservative Christians they have invariably supported blocking refugees, mass deportations and legislation against Gays on the grounds of preserving our freedoms as Americans and Christians. The argument goes something like this: “the government’s job is to protect us, the church’s job is to minister to others. The government has no business doing the church’s job.” While there may be some truth in that, the church on the Right, unfortunately, has not counteracted with an attitude of selfless love, but has applauded and encouraged self-centered actions by both church and state. In reality, the grasping for “freedom” becomes a bondage that hinders the true freedom we have in Christ to serve others.

Oddly enough, the insistence on my rights taking precedence over other’s rights is almost always couched in terms of “majority” or ‘who’s in control’ rights. Again the over-emphasized concern with majority freedoms at the cost of marginalized individual rights becomes a hallmark of a selfish church. The recent recension of transgender rights by the current administration was hailed as a triumph for the “privacy rights of all of the students who attend their schools” (Kerri Kupec, Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group). As can be seen, the “freedoms” referred to are not truly freedoms for “all” but freedoms for those who are currently in control.

The church then becomes merely a defender of the status quo rather than a defender of the helpless and disadvantaged. Again, an odd development considering the Evangelical insistence to be seen as a disadvantaged minority, at odds with current society. At the center of this victim mentality is a core resistance to be inconvenienced in any way by the needs of others who are “different” than the traditional status quo, seeing it’s own “minority” needs taking precedence over other’s minority needs, all of which underscores the Right’s weaknesses in the areas of empathy and mercy.

While this can be understood from a political standpoint, it is hard to find justification for it among Christians. So what is the practical upshot of all this? As American Christians how do we wish our government to be perceived? Is it to be generous or does America hoard it’s resources, keeping them to ourselves? Do we expect America to only help others only when it is beneficial to her? Does the church “act magnanimous” while expecting the government to do the “dirty work” of discrimination and marginalization? A lot depends on whether we are selfish or selfless Christians and whether we see America as self-serving or not.

How can the church do it’s job of defending the helpless and those on the outskirts? For one, the church can step back from it’s current support for political actions that marginalize women, minorities and immigrants, remembering that it was once a persecuted minority and in areas of the world it still is. Political action should never simply be in terms of status quo or what makes us feel “comfortable.” Likewise, our fears should not be a primary focus on denying others help when they desperately need it. Ways to adequately meet the needs of the disenfranchised while remaining practical should be sought out. Absolute honest self-assessment needs to take place among America Christians to weed out those attitudes that are based on fear or loss of control.

In conclusion, it would be helpful to remember that Christ did not put his needs above others but calls us to a life where we “lay down our lives” for the benefit of others, family, friends, neighbors and even enemies (1 John 3:16, Mark 12:31, Matt. 5:44). The church cannot fail when it follows the example of Christ, the head of the church.

Science, the Bible and the Lake of Fire

It’s been an interesting week at work. A non-churched friend of mine at work approached me Tuesday all excited, handing me a flyer advertising a debate scheduled for Sunday entitled “BIBLE, Delusion or Divinely-inspired? Does Science Confirm the Bible?” It was billed as a debate between a local pastor and a representative of the local “Freethinkers” (atheist organization). Having shared quite a bit with him in the past about my Christian beliefs, he assumed I would be excited about going. I mean what could be more exciting than to have the Bible “proved” right before our very eyes?

A long pause ensued, during which an Evangelical friend of mine at work jumped in with “you’re going, right?”, more a declaration than a question. I shook my head, “no, I won’t be going.” “But why not,” he asked incredulously. Patiently, I tried to explain that this has been gone over before. Both sides have solidified their presuppositions and biases, and no one “wins.” I further stated I find these attempts at “proving” the Bible embarrassing and rather sad.

I asked my Evangelical friend if the early church’s growth was due to proving Scripture scientifically, or was it due to the cruciform witness and love shown by early Christians? Furthermore, the early church didn’t even have our Bible, which was not compiled for some centuries later. It was a good opportunity to share with my non-churched friends that the world doesn’t need “proof” of the Bible’s veracity. They want to see proof that Christ makes a real difference in Christians lives. They need to see the Gospel lived out in front of them.

I think that these debates ask the wrong questions, and give answers for questions that no one else is asking. If I were an atheist I wouldn’t concern myself with asking for scientific “proof” of God. I would be asking why 81% of white Evangelicals and 40% of white Catholics supported a candidate so antithetical to the teachings of Christ? How they could refer to his predecessor as the anti-christ, or call him unChristian while overlooking their man’s misogyny, bigotry, disregard for refugees and the poor. I would want to know why the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is facing possible impeachment due to his criticism of Trump’s actions and rhetoric. In short I’d like an explanation of why a group of people who claim to follow Christ act so much unlike him.

That was Tuesday’s discussion at work. Today we continued on with my friend talking about how his fiancĂ©e was thinking about them starting to go to church. I found this exciting, but also a bit perplexing. They had attended, a couple weeks ago, the church sponsoring the Bible-Science debate. He referred to the pastor as a “hell-fire” preacher, saved from a life of drugs and now preaching the Gospel. As I had already checked out the church’s website, I told him I didn’t think they’d care for it, as it was fundamentalist and non-inclusive. My own church was too far away for them to attend. What became perplexing was recommending a church in an area known for its conservative churches. (I recommended they try a couple Lutheran and Methodist churches in his area).

We continued talking about how some churches seem to talk a great deal about God’s wrath and people going to hell because they are so wicked and that it would be good to avoid churches like that. Well, wouldn’t you know it, another guy, not from our department, walks up and asks, “what are you talking about?” My friend jokingly said “we’re trying to find a church that will accept me,” (my friend is covered with tattoos and is quite…unrestrained socially), lol. The new guy quickly responded with, “well, we’re all sinners, I’m just glad I’m saved and won’t end up in the “Lake of Fire.” It couldn’t have been more apropos and when he left my friend and I discussed it. This was a sad example of having a relationship with God based on fear, of depending on Jesus to, basically, save us from God. This good cop, bad cop dichotomy of the Father-Son relationship in some church quarters is common. It presents us with a God who is quite different than the Jesus who tells us God loves us. I got to tell my friends that God doesn’t want a relationship with us based on fear. He isn’t out to “get us.” All in all the day ended well. I wonder what tomorrow will bring!

God bless.

Time Out to Contemplate…Waiting on God

I missed more than a month of blogging, not because of writer’s block, but because I needed to step back from “the fray.” God was reminding me that we are not at war with each other as Christians. I was becoming too invested in “proving” my views were God’s views, of winning arguments. During a particularly awkward moment, when in the middle of arguing about Trump’s ban on Muslims with a Christian brother as conservative as I was liberal, I ended with a rather self-righteous comment that he was a hard nut for the Holy Spirit to crack! As I closed my iPad it was as if God was whispering in my ear…”he is you!!” At once I was aware of how similar he and I were, despite our theological differences.

Of course God lead me to apologize and we ended on a good note a few days later. But I was troubled with how easily my zeal for the Lord can turn to strife. I decided to give blogging a rest while spending more time in prayer and contemplating God’s great love. What should not come as a surprise, was that God heard my prayers and opened my heart to a deeper understanding of Himself through Bradley Jersak’s wonderful book: “A More Christlike God: A More Beautiful Gospel.” …”What if God is like Jesus? What if the personality of God is identical to the personality of the man called Jesus of Nazareth portrayed in the Gospels?” The result of Jersak’s book is atonement theology centered around a non-coercive, loving and sacrificial God who calls us to sacrifice as well.

I confess, I was quite taken aback by the concept, as most conservative theologies start with the defense of Scripture and move on to God’s attributes, His irresistible Will being a primary one. But as Jersak patiently explains, starting with either assumption will end up with a misunderstood Heavenly Father. In the weeks to come I hope to share more from his book with you. I believe it is the most valuable and challenging book I have yet to read on Christian theology. It is also the most lucid and convincing explanation of the Gospel I have come across.
God bless.

The Women’s March on Washington, Part 2: When Men Think It’s All About Them

This interesting Patriarchal Complementarianist interpretation of the women’s march on Washington was posted recently by Dale Partridge explaining why the women’s march was really about men and that our “dormancy” (insert dominance for what he really means) has required women to step up and take the dominant role (becoming men).

“Men, we cannot ignore last weekend’s women’s march. It was a complex moment fueled by historical wounds, ungodly political agendas, and broken desires. But at the root, it was a reaction to the absence of Godly men. A reaction to generations of fathers who never loved, husbands who never cherished, and brothers who never valued. It was wives, sisters, daughters, aunts, and grandmothers screaming the songs of oppression, of belittlement, and of confusion. Men, the women of our world are hurting for the truth. Their protests are also pleas to us for more love, for more value, and for more leadership. Men, it’s time we recognize the reservoir of wisdom that sits within our women. It’s time we see the value Christ placed on our counterpart. And it’s time to grow up, know up, and show up to the roles God has placed before us. Remember, when men become boys, women become men. And when women become men, our ladies carry our weight at the cost of their femininity. In turn, our dormancy is robbing what makes them so beautiful and distinctive in the first place. God has given men and women different roles. However, He has not given us different value. Men, it is time for us to turn to the women in our life, to pick up our heart, to stand in our responsibilities, and to remind them of God’s word on women, on the unborn, and on intrinsic value. The world will never thrive without their inclusion. Let’s make sure they feel this truth this upcoming year. Please share.” #DaleyWisdom (1)

This is a typical take on male-female relations that I heard time and time again growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. When men give up control, women take over, with dire consequences! The “Truth” Mr. Partridge of course referring to is not that in Christ Jesus we are one, that there is no male or female in God’s eyes (Gal 3:28), but that man was created to rule over the woman (Gen 3:16). In the 50’s the Religious Right concentrated their ire on communism. When JFK ran for President in the 60’s the attention switched to keeping a Catholic out of the White House at all costs. When that failed the Right was shut out of political control and needed a new boogieman to attack. That ended up being secularism and the Cultural Wars began in earnest. (2) Ladies and gentlemen, its all about control. The stuff about showing women more love, gently guiding them into their proper God-given roles, etc., all a smokescreen. When men stop treating women as inferior, as simple children that need to be led by “Godly men,” then and only then, will men get to know women as the way God intended, equal in every way.

I can do no better than this woman’s answer to Mr. Partridge:

Amanda: “Ungodly political agendas? Like equal pay?, access to life saving medical treatments like cancer screenings?, believing all people regardless of color or religion deserve equal treatment under the law? (Remember Jesus was a brown man from the Middle East and basically a refugee)
A reaction to the absence of Godly men? No it was a reaction to the presence of a very ungodly man.
My father loved me just fine thanks.
My brother also values me, thanks again.
Confusion? No I think you are the one who is confused.
Lose our femininity? Because we can take care of ourselves? Not even close.

I guess to sum it up, we marched against men like you telling us how we should feel or why we act the way we do. You are NOT my voice. You clearly have zero clue why we were there. And for you to put out some huge statement talking for the women who were there, stating the reasons, you think, we marched is patriarchy at its finest. Get a clue.”

(1) https://www.facebook.com/DaleJPartridge/?hc_location=ufi

(2) See Daniel K. Williams, “God’s Own Party, The Making of the Christian Right,” Oxford University Press, 2010.