2007September10, Monday

The Fundamentalist Response

Posted in Random Thoughts at 14:11 by Trey Austin

Tim Bayly over at the Bayly Blog has written a post about the feminist tactic of using the cruel reality of wife abuse to put forward their agenda of absolute egalitarianism in marriage relationships. As Tim notes, and as we all know so well, that tactic is not only one used by secular feminists, but it is also one used by Christian feminists as well.

Tim notes lots of statistics that take the teeth out of such an argument—like the fact that women are just as, if not more, likely to abuse their husbands and children as husbands are of abusing their wives and children, and of course that relationships with no men (i.e., female homosexuals) are among the most abusive around. This is all very interesting, and i’m very glad that he has brought it to our attention. I know that, in seminary, when i would get into discussions about these matters with the women studying for ministry in the PC(USA), UMC, CCDC, EC(USA), or any other denominations where growing numbers of ministers are women, that is precisely what they’d always bring up.

I say this, not to talk about feminism itself in-depth, but simply because, in thinking about it, i find in this, as ironic as it might sound, an interesting parallel between feminism and other forms of fundamentalism. Now, in one sense, the original sense, i am a fundamentalist as are most “conservative” Christians. I believe in and stand for the fundamentals of the Christian faith. However, when i use the term “fundamentalism” in this sense, i mean the sense of the word meaning closed-minded and against any kind of change at all. One characteristic of this kind of fundamentalism is also its tendency to attempt to solve problems by forbidding people from doing particular things that, when done properly, are neither dangerous or forbidden by God’s Word. For example, one thing that is so very prevalent in the area where i live is alcohol abuse. This is something that has touched just about everyone in this area. The popular notion in this area, though, is to link the problems with the alcohol itself instead of with the abuse of a good thing. So, when they see all of the things that alcohol abuse produces, their answer, in typical fundamentalist fashion, is to forbid alcohol altogether in order that the problems associated with the abuse of the thing will be solved (or so they think). On a related note, this is precisely the reason why churches in this area either don’t celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion at all, or they don’t celebrate it, as it was instituted, with wine.

Now, feminism, as i see it, commits the very same mistake. They perceive the problem of wife abuse—a real problem, from anyone’s point of view, even if we admit that there are other issues of abuse as well—, but their answer for any presence of abuse is not simply having proper marriage and sex roles as God designed them, but to do away with marriage and authority roles altogether. It should be no surprise to us that, in the time that feminism has taken on ascendancy, the institution of marriage itself has become less important and more neglected in all societies that have adopted feminist ideas. People live together in unmarried relationships (and wonder why their mates don’t give them the kind of commitment that they know inherently that they should have—just watch an episode of Jerry Springer or Maurey Povich if you don’t believe me), and of course, we also see homosexual relationships coming into the public spectrum and demanding to be taken as equally viable as heterosexual marriage. Of course, just as in the case of alcohol abuse, the intended cure only exacerbates the problem. Just as ostensibly taking away all alcohol consumption leads only to more severe examples of abuse (only under cover of secrecy by way of underground and binge drinking), so too does taking away all authority and sex rolls in marriage and society contribute to greater incidence of spousal abuse—both abuse of wives by husbands and abuse of husbands by wives. In fact, the only clear answer to spousal abuse is to have proper authority roles and a mindset where men see themselves as protectors of their wives and families; otherwise, they will see them as absolute equals. And what do men do to other men when they become enraged, but to engage them physically? If women can do anything a man can do, as the propaganda goes, doesn’t that include fight other men?

The same response can be seen in all forms of fundamentalism—and it is important to remember that “fundamentalism” isn’t some “radical conservative” response, but can be just as well a mark of “radical liberalism.” Think of the response to the corporal punishment of children; same thing at work: because of the fear of abuse, no discipline at all. The same is true of the Romanist and ascetic view of sex: because sex can become sinful, therefore, all sex is something to see as sinful. Those who forbid people from going to or watching secular movies or listen to secular music. The Amish do the same thing with all forms of modern technology. Some Baptist groups do it with seminary education, reasoning that seminary education can instill liberal and anti-biblical views, so the solution is to call only pastors with no seminary training.

The list could go on and on (feel free to share others), but you see the pattern. This is one core aspect of the fundamentalist response to problems. Yet, as you can see, such forbidding not only doesn’t solve the original problem, but many times exacerbates it by assuming that it is solved when it was outlawed or forbidden (e.g., prohibition was the cause of greater evils in society than simply allowing the sale of alcohol to begin with). We need to recognize this response for what it is and oppose it in all its forms.


1 Comment »

  1. tempe said,

    As I’m often noted, Trey, egalitarianism is decided (albeit often unintentionally) anti-Trinitarian in nature.

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