Jesus Needs New PR

Jesus Needs New PR

My Life as a Whitewashed Feminist by Elizabeth Esther

My son Jude is seven and enjoys photography and playing with his little sisters. He could care less about playing war games with the other boys in the neighborhood. Sometimes he’d just rather come home and help me cook dinner. Or handcraft a card for a friend. I’m glad Jude was born a month after we left fundamentalism. Had we stayed, he would have struggled to find his place in an environment that ascribed to rigid beliefs about gender-appropriate activities. Which is to say, in fundamentalism, boys don’t cook. Or make pretty cards for their friends.

In fundamentalist practice, boys are expected to provide and protect. Girls are expected to serve and submit. And even if your average fundie might occasionally offer a broader interpretation, this is how “Biblical” male and female “roles” are defined. It’s all so simple because, fundamentalists explain, this is how God made us. So, if a boy enjoys painting and a girl pines to be a doctor, well, that’s seeking a life outside God’s prescribed blueprint for life. What this means is, boys who deviate from the fundamentalist norm are called wimps and girls who deviate are called feminists. Which translated from the Greek means: homosexuals and Jezebels.

I realize that some might suggest I’m casting an unfair generalization across the whole of Christian fundamentalism. But sometimes generalizations are helpful insofar as they address what is generally practiced within a group. And the thing is, this isn’t just some nebulous theory. This is precisely how fundamentalists operate. Sure, maybe they won’t go so far as to say every woman working outside the home blasphemes God’s Word, but they’ll definitively assert that any married woman working outside the home is not following God’s plan for Biblical manhood and Biblical womanhood.

In other words, a woman is a “whitewashed feminist” if she “openly promotes an egalitarian position that is opposite to complementarian orthopraxy.” At least, so says Stacy McDonald, one of the co-authors of the popular book Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. In defending her use of the “whitewashed feminist” label, McDonald writes that she’s never labeled any individual that way. True. She’s only labeled an entire group of (working) women that way. I guess name-calling is acceptable so long as you say, “You’re all losers” and not “You’re a loser.”

This is the kind of circuitous logic that plagues fundamentalism. I call it crazy-making. What happens is this: fundamentalists set out The Biblical Way Of Life. But then when real life intervenes, well, they blame it on the world’s values infiltrating the church. Or maybe they blame it on sin, humanism, paganism. Or Obama. What you come to find out in fundamentalism is that the Bible/their rules are never wrong. Somehow they forget to tell you that when they say the Bible what they really mean is their interpretation of the Bible. But praise the Lord for the sufficiency of Scripture, amen?

A funny thing happens when women like myself speak out against these abuses of so-called “Biblical authority.” We’re called gossipers, slanderers, sowers of strife among brethren. I’ve gotten emails from people telling me that I’m hypocritical, small-minded and blasphemous.  And what happens if I speak against certain teachings of, say, Vision Forum? Am I going to get sued, too? If what they are preaching is The Truth, why are they so afraid of a few questions from a stay-at-home-mother-of-five like myself? I know why they see me as dangerous: because I grew up living their lifestyle. I’m a fundamentalist insider. Or am I a traitor? I’ve seen firsthand how their theology plays out in the lives of women and children. I have family members who bear physical scars as a result of their kind of theology.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that if speaking out means that my son can make pretty cards without being harassed and my daughters can become lawyers if that’s where God leads them, then being called a “whitewashed feminist” is a price I’m willing to pay.

Your thoughts?

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posted August 9, 2010 at 9:37 am

when i was a junior, my youth pastor told me that i was not allowed to question his obviously skewed view of scripture because i was a girl. that was my last week at my parents’ church.

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Jonathan Elliot

posted August 9, 2010 at 9:43 am

Wonderful. And sad.

“A funny thing happens when women like mysnelf speak out against these abuses of so-called “Biblical authority.” We’re called gossipers, slanderers, sowers of strife among brethren.”

I bet those name-callers are often women too? I think it was Naomi Wolf in The Beauty Myth (surely she wasn’t the first) to point out that women are great at reinforcing the negative stereotypes against other women.

Thankyou for this. I hope the book “Battered Into Submission” is still in print. Every pastor and church leader should read it.

Jonathan from spritzophrenia

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Janet Oberholtzer

posted August 9, 2010 at 9:59 am

Well said!

I can’t count how many times I was told that “girls can’t do/wear/be/think that” during my traditional mennonite upbringing. For a time, I believed them and was mad at God for making me a girl and/or making so many rules for girls.

When I asked questions (I think I was born asking why) I was told I was stubborn, out of line and need to learn to listen better.
Thankfully all my questions helped me find my way outside the boxes of my childhood and discover a God that loves everyone equally and gives everyone equal choices.

So I’ll join you in gladly taking the name “whitewashed feminist” if that’s what it’s called to see everyone as equal.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 10:12 am

I wasn’t raised in what would be considered “fundamentalism” (Foursquare church) but gender roles were definitely enforced. We had “sermon” on abstinence in our youth group, which was really about tellings boys and girls exactly who they were based on gender roles. I’ve been told I wasn’t a real girl, or less than a real girl; that I was sinful, wrong, not even because I want something outside of marriage and kids, but that my entire personality doesn’t fit the characteristics and personality traits that I was told girls were supposed to be.

What I’ve never understood is that if God made us each individual, and each so unique, why he would want us to destroy that uniqueness. My gender is a part of who I am – but only a part. And so is everything else that makes up my personality and being. I’m me. To destroy that so I can fit some arbitrary gender role is to destroy the traits God gave me, and render my ability to use them for God useless. How is that Biblical?

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posted August 9, 2010 at 10:14 am

speaking out the truth or questioning the fundies rules & regulations has gotten me called destructive, a lost sheep, intolerant, etc. It really showed me where their hearts are & once again doctrine rules over me the “whitewashed feminist”. *sigh* how I wish my hubby would exit his family & the david koreshish online cult.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

Wow! I usually consider myself pretty conservative in my interpretation of scripture. I’ve even been called a fundamentalist, I didn’t pay it much mind, because the person wasn’t exactly rational on the subject. That said, after reading this, I’m a bit offended I was labled as such.

Then again, I’m probably considered lazy or a poor leader by this brand of fundie, because my wife is a doctor, and she makes more money than me, etc. Please don’t tell anyone I cook, too!

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Elizabeth Esther

posted August 9, 2010 at 10:48 am

MPT: thanks for being such a brave voice. And, WOW, I love the picture with this post! You rock! Whitewashed Feminists, unite! :D

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posted August 9, 2010 at 11:01 am

Well, I’m conservative and believe there are some Biblical gender roles, but I work outside the home and certainly see men and women as equal. So I guess I don’t see any problem with being called a “whitewashed feminist”. That book makes my stomach turn. Even though I grew up in Christian school, I’m glad no one ever told me I couldn’t be anything I wanted to me…including the engineer and business owner I became.

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terry@ breathing grace

posted August 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

Well, Elizabeth, as usual your post was well-written and thought provoking.

I never liked the term white-washed feminist myself. However, as you know my background and upbringing has made me a fierce opponent of liberalism (and what I consider its cousin, feminism). Some of my opposition is Biblical, but a good deal of it is touched off when I come back from visiting the black urban community I was born, raised in, and still attend church in..

But my girls are going to college, and they’ll get jobs, though I certainly believe in Mom being at home to raise the kids.

Of course, you and I have developed a healthy respect and I think understanding, for one another’s positions so I’ll end my comment by once again saying I appreciate you for shining a light on such extreme practices based on a misinterpretation of Scripture.

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Quivering Daughters

posted August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

As one often accused of painting with too broad a brush, I really appreciate how you said:

Thank you for your thought-provoking article!

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    Quivering Daughters

    posted August 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Hmmmmm apparently my xhtml didn’t work! I meant how you said: But sometimes generalizations are helpful insofar as they address what is generally practiced within a group.

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Matt Emery

posted August 9, 2010 at 11:45 am

“What this means is, boys who deviate from the fundamentalist norm are called wimps and girls who deviate are called feminists. Which translated from the Greek means: homosexuals and Jezebels.”

Brilliant. I cackled with delight.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

I hate labels…feminism, liberalism, conservative. I understand labels rise from the need to position ourselves and define our views. Yet I think labels also rise as defense mechanisms. We are able to keep others at a safe distant by labeling and name calling.
The problem I have is I don’t have a “home” and it sounds like Elizabeth is still looking for a “home.” I am a feminist but not a feminist. I am not quite conservative enough for “conservatives” and not liberal enough for “liberals.”
It leaves us in a not so comfortable place. But fortunately, God has promised to be the Father to the fatherless, the husband to the husbandless. God is the God of outcasts, the marginalized, the misfits, the homeless.

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Larry Shallenberger

posted August 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

Brilliant post. Although that last sentence means I’m probably soft.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 12:27 pm

I was also raised evangelical/fundamentalist – with a mother who came out of the feminism of the 1960s/70s. Tons of mixed messages between the many churches and family. I distinctly remember conversations like the one where my mother told us girls we could be ANYTHING when we grew up – lawyer, doctor, nurse, stay-at-home mother – as long as it was what God wanted of us – and if our husbands were in agreement – anything that is except Pastor. Even Minnesota’s Michelle Bachmann, when she first ran for national office – made it very clear that she was allowed to be in this position of power over men ONLY because God had spoken to her husband and said it was okay. Ultimately – Christian women still have to submit to a male god – so do what you like as long as MaleGod gives his stamp of approval. Just don’t say too much behind the pulpit.

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Scott Morizot

posted August 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Hmmm. So we guys don’t get to be “whitewashed feminists”? Not that I understand what the phrase is supposed to mean, but I try to never shirk on an opportunity to be on the same side as those who believe women should have equal rights, opportunities, education, pay, and whatever else.

This is an aspect of a number of strands of American Christianity which, every time I’ve encountered it since becoming a Christian, has prompted a reaction of revulsion on my part. I don’t think it would be too strong on my part to say I despise it and don’t want my sons or daughters exposed to it in any way.

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    jan owen

    posted August 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Scott, you most certainly can be a “Whitewashed Feminist”! Welcome to the party! :)

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posted August 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

I am truly confused. There seems to be, in Christendom, zero possibility for… how to say this?

I think a woman should be at home to raise her children as much as she is able. (I’m obviously an abusive fundie)

I think a woman should follow whatever calling and gifting God has given her be it a talent for medicine or jurisprudence. (I’m obviously one of those radical emergent hippie Christians)

I believe in the authority and responsibility of the husband. (I’m obviously a backwards, anachronistic throwback to some pre-enlightened mentality)

I believe in the equality of husband and wife. (I’m obviously a tree-hugging, twigs and soybean salad eating, Message “translation” reading Christian)

The thing is… ALL of those are true for me, and I am NONE of those descriptions.

Elizabeth, I don’t think your son is gay because he likes to make pretty cards and help with dinner. At the same time, I don’t think he needs to neglect other more traditional male instruction. But maybe, he’s going to be a kind of male Martha Stewart… You know, crafty, but not lame.

The point is, there are a lot of overly used arguments when Christians start duking it out.

“what they really mean is their interpretation of the Bible.”

So, can one infer from this statement that the Bible doesn’t mean what it says, it means what you interpret it to mean? More plainly, is truth true?

“When real life steps in…”

yeah. Gotta love the Bible. It’s a great read, but it isn’t really practical for our lives today.

“if God made us each individual, and each so unique, why he would want us to destroy that uniqueness.”

Because, you know, I can be whoever I want to be and who are you, or who is anybody to tell me what or who I am supposed to be?

The thing is, the indignation from either side does nothing but alienate our brothers and sisters on the other side.

It can be true that a woman is a Christian, a doctor, and still submits to the authority of her husband. The vocation does not negate the God-instituted hierarchy. The opposite of this is true. A woman can be submissive to her husband as the authority in the home and still be a lawyer (or WHATEVER).

A man can be a stay-at-home dad while his wife works and not be out of God’s will because he has taken responsibility and authority in his home. (ARE YOU LISTENING MARK DRISCOLL????)

There is no hard and fast blueprint for the family. There is no hard and fast blueprint for individuals. But there is an order in place for marriages and families and we ignore that order to our peril.

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    posted August 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    “Because, you know, I can be whoever I want to be and who are you, or who is anybody to tell me what or who I am supposed to be?”

    Yes. I can be who God created me to be, and I don’t have to listen to anyone who tells me that that creation is wrong. That’s not indignation, that just is what it is.

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    Elizabeth Esther

    posted August 9, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Hey, James. Thanks for your input. You wrote: “yeah. Gotta love the Bible. It’s a great read, but it isn’t really practical for our lives today.”

    When I wrote about real life stepping in I was mainly referring to the myriad situations, reasons, problems, opportunities etc. that lead a woman to work outside the home.

    I’m not saying the Bible is irrelevant to our lives today. I believe it is.

    I guess mostly I’m objecting to the hyper-literalist way fundies interpret the Bible and and also how they nail you to the wall for even slightly deviating from their strictly defined understanding of gender-appropriate behavior and activities.

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    Tara Seguin

    posted August 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

    James: I am reminded of a scene in an Issac Asimov novel where an important diplomat made a long and moving speech that seemed to say a lot. The transcript was later put into computer program that broke the speech down to its essentials and it was found that the diplomat had said…nothing! Everything either cancelled out or was just smoke and mirrors. I didn’t get anything out of your comment except the sense that you seem to think that everybody who is commenting is terribly wrong, yet also right.

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Scott Morizot

posted August 9, 2010 at 1:16 pm

“But there is an order in place for marriages and families and we ignore that order to our peril.”

Why, yes, for Christians there is such an order. The husband and wife are to submit to each other in the Lord, act always from love for each other, and, if necessary and called upon, sacrifice their own desires for the good of the other. In all things and at all times in full mutuality.

But then, that’s the way all Christians are supposed to act toward pretty much everyone.

Just because you interpret the text a certain way doesn’t make your interpretation true.

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    posted August 9, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    “The husband and wife are to submit to each other in the Lord”

    That’s a partial reading; and leaving out its greater context distorts the point.

    “But then, that’s the way all Christians are supposed to act toward pretty much everyone.”

    If that’s true (and I’m not saying it isn’t) then what differentiates my wife from my girlfriend (even if they are the same person) or my buddy? Again, taking only a portion of Scripture and using it out of context to gird up your argument leaves the argument full of holes and problems.

    “Just because you interpret the text a certain way doesn’t make your interpretation true.”

    That’s very true. But what if I’m right?

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Barbara C.

posted August 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

It is kind of a double-edged sword when we talk about gender roles. Neurologists have identified gender differences in the structure and processing in the brain. When you look at sociological studies of careers by gender, you still see most women choosing traditionally female careers (teaching, nursing). Physically most adult men are physically stronger than most adult women.

So, while men and women are equal and should have equal choices and rights, they are not necessarily the same and completely interchangeable. And to pretend otherwise is just as intellectually dishonest as claiming the Bible says a woman should never work outside the home (especially since the Proverbs 31 woman whom so many Protestant women epitomize sells items at the city gates).

I have four daughters and sometimes I don’t know how to navigate them through the accomplishments and failures of the feminist movement. And most of the failures came because the movement changed from giving women equal economic and political rights to being about turning women into men and men into women.

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    posted August 10, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Barbara, you said, “And most of the failures came because the movement changed from giving women equal economic and political rights to being about turning women into men and men into women.” I have struggled to find words for why I have such little respect for the feminist movement, but you just gave them to me.

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Preston Yancey

posted August 9, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Having been one of those “little boys who liked to cook” because my Father works full time in the ministry and my Mother has a chronic disease that causes her to be in debilitating pain all the time, I learned early on what it was like to be labeled. It was funny, these interpretations of gender roles were not limited to fundamentalist churches alone, but to large pseudo-Christian perspectives that fed on individual insecurities manifested as gigantic phobias about anything “different” or “challenging.” I spent too much of my life dealing with fellow “Christians” at church who always raised their eyebrows when they found out that I was dating a girl and that she also happened to look like a model. But I guess that’s what being a sensitive boy who still knows how to build a fence gets you. Elizabeth, as I have told you before, most of the time people yell the loudest when they’re trying so desperately to convince themselves that they are right. Whatever challenges that they want to shut down and shut down quickly. It’s pathetic; spiteful; mean; and completely unworthy to be placed anywhere near the pierced hands and feet of our Saviour. I marvel that even now, in Uni, and among “Christian academics” I still deal with people assuming that I’m gay because I ended up realizing I’m good at cooking because I took care of my family when I needed to, or I appreciate liturgy because God speaks to me through the transcendence of words, or that I respect a woman enough to not label her a “slut” or talk about her like she’s meat. These are the things that earn me my label. I’ve learned to, as I have been encouraged by you to do, let that be one more thing that God and I share as a joke. Because He blesses: I have good friends, family, had a couple of hot girlfriends, and have a boundless future in front of me. Press on, let the whitewash spill over, because it means we’re breaking down their walls too quickly for them to rebuild them.

And one more thing . . . what do they really think, “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on ALL people. Your sons AND daughters will prophesy . . . ” actually means? (Emphasis mine.)

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posted August 9, 2010 at 2:53 pm

I’d rather be a whitewashed feminist than a whitewashed misogynist… or a whitewashed tomb.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Sarah Sumner said something profound in her book “Men and Women in the Church.” While I disagreed with some of the content, I thought this statement (paraphrased as I cannot find my copy right now) was a very good observation:
I am not a feminist. Feminism is about the power of women. I am a Christian. Christianity is about Christ’s power.
As a woman I hope I am able to show a greater amount of grace to those who wholeheartedly disagree with me when I climb into the pulpit than the amount those people generally show to women like me.

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    jan owen

    posted August 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    well said. i tried to explain something similar the other day to a fellow commenter. If we are RIGHT in our position but hateful, then we are WRONG.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

The minister at my former church once stated that a husband had the authority to tell his wife to do 50 push ups, and she had to obey.

Cause, you know, the husband is the head of the wife. And a Marine drill instructor.

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    Elizabeth Esther

    posted August 9, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    In my childhood church, some wives were actually told not to ever use the word “no” when talking to their husbands. The word “no” was just about as bad as me saying “screw that!”

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    Andie Redwine

    posted August 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    That Sunday lunch, if I had been his wife, I would have peed in his glass.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Thank you for this post, Elizabeth. Try as I might, I haven’t found a whole lot of evidence in Scripture for what “my role” as a woman should be. I look at what Paul, a man, had to say to the Corinthians, and then I look at his commendation of Phoebe. I look at the patriarchal structure of the Jewish society, and then I see a God who put a woman as a judge over all of Israel. I look at Song of Solomon and I see a man and a woman playing equal roles in celebrating their love. And then, then I look at Jesus, and I see a man who let women as well as men follow him, and praised women for their actions of love (Mary and the perfume) and spoke to women of ill repute as equals and loved them (the woman at the well).

And then I hear the church I grew up in telling us that the woman who had been an associate pastor for 15 years couldn’t preach sermons because of her God-given sex, despite being called to do so by God. I hear the reinforcement of the modesty myth, that we women have to be careful about how we dress because it might cause men to stumble – we clearly have no sexuality that is our own where we could stumble because of them. I hear the Southern Baptist pastor of my friend tell his congregation that “we have enough women for the decorating committee, that’s all the women we need.”

And I get lost as to where Jesus fits into this.

After years of thought and study, I think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that gender is a social construct. Sure, there’s the biological sex – men and women have different organs – but anything beyond that signifying a specific gender identification is usually bull. There’s no biological prescription that boys have to play football and girls have to clean house – all of that’s a societal construct, and a crappy one at that. And the church has glommed onto it like maggots on rotting flesh. It makes me sick, as rot should.

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    Elizabeth Esther

    posted August 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Thanks, Dianna. I love seeing how much you’ve studied this. Keep it up! Whitewashed Feminists, Unite! :D

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posted August 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

OMG memoirs are boring! I mean no disrespect. Y’all seem to like them well enough. But I can’t see the appeal. I can’t get past the first sentence without having to skim past the rest. Then it’s all like that adult voice on Charlie Brown. For Christ’s sake woman, pull yourself together. Obviously you made it. Who cares what a bunch of complementarian orthoplectics think?

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    posted August 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm

    I’d hate to see what you are like when you are trying to be disrespectful.

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      posted August 9, 2010 at 9:07 pm

      I know, right? This is my plain stark honesty. Gets me in trouble all the time.

      The last memoir I can think of that held my attention and still haunts me is A child called it, by David Pelzer. Hard read.

      Look, I know this memoir thing, Christian, political, whatever is selling these days. So some people must like them. I can’t get into them

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        posted August 10, 2010 at 4:55 am

        I think memoirs are popular right now because philosophically and theologically we are finding truth in stories rather than in the scientific method. There has been a paradigm shift from the Enlightenment to the post-modern. Stories have facts and truths in them but those facts and truths are not from an objective point of view. And so understanding the truth in light of someone’s story is how people see the world today. Hearing someone’s story is the way we find out how the person made it and gives me a path to take to make it.
        It is also why there is a large backlash at the Fundies. They have no room for individual stories, especially those which do not fit their “how you experience God” box.

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    Elizabeth Esther

    posted August 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    LOL! Thanks for your honesty, Noelle. Sorry I bored you.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 8:57 pm

i’m a whitewashed feminist. i believe children are gifts from God who need to be who they are, not what someone else has decided they are. if that means my nephew grows up to design clothes and my daughter grows up to drive a tractor, because that’s where God calls them to be, then I’m down with it.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 9:16 pm

If it makes you feel better, I think Churched is kinda boring too. I think any memoir I’d write would be even boring. But you keep doing what you’re doing. Lots of people like it.

If I got bored less easy maybe I’d would’ve heard some of those sermons telling me what I couldn’t do. But I read through the emergency baptism part of the hymnal instead, imagining what kind of situation I’d be able to use that in. Or I’d wonder if anyone could make a quick jump escape out of the balcony.

Hey, maybe next time you try fiction.

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posted August 9, 2010 at 9:58 pm

it’s no surprise that Fundamentalism is rife with misogynist leanings. the whole movement came about, largely as an effort to put more men into the church. it was kind of a reaction to the social gospel movement, in which many women were gaining influence. male leaders thought the lack of men in the church pews was a huge problem (which i agree with) and they decided that the church needed to stop it with all that sissy social justice stuff that was so prevalent in the social gospel movement and put women back in their place. thus, in an attempt to make Christianity seem more masculine, the whole concept of describing the Christian experience as a “battle” came around. cause, you know… men like war. so, Satan is the enemy, Christ is the Victor, sin is a battle, etc. a movement which sprung from a fear of women “taking over” is going to do all it can to keep women oppressed. and what better way to do that than to manipulate scripture, leave certain scriptures out, and dismiss anyone who questions you in any way? (but don’t take my word for it, check out “Fundamentalism and Gender 1875-the Present”)
i grew up Southern Baptist and went to a Southern Baptist college, where I was essentially told that it was my Christian duty to marry the first Christian young man I met and that if i didn’t quit my job and homeschool my children to force the school system to become a Christian institution once more, then i was a horrible Christian and mother. (girls literally dropped out of pre-med programs and entered majors they found more suitable for motherhood after that speech). Marriage is sacred. So is motherhood. But I was made a creation of God first… and God created me with gifts that He wants me to use for His Glory… not to push aside and pretend they don’t exist as soon as i get married and have a kid. I do not deny that God made men and women differently, but it’s so easy to convince people that different means different in standing. it doesn’t. we’re equal creations. also, just because women “tend to be” this way and men “tend to be” that way does not mean that people who don’t fit these “types” should be discouraged to follow their vocational dreams. thank you for this article… and also… don’t be so scared of the word feminism, people! it’s not a profanity!

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posted August 10, 2010 at 10:26 am

I think we need to reclaim the term “feminist.” It’s apparently used as an accusation with the same gravity as “satanist” (at least on Stacey McDonald’s site). Okay, I’m a feminist. There, I said it. Ha. I am pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, and furthermore, I think all feminists should be, as well. Take that, NOW! Seriously, abortion and sex-without-commitment are disastrous for women.

Part of “true feminism” is recognizing the particular gifts of women.

As a Catholic (ooooh, another dirty word among many fundamentalists), I wonder why they think the “complementarian” model is the only genuine Biblical “orthopraxy.” Have they not read the Book of Judges, in which Deborah is a powerful and wise judge over men and women? Or of Yael/Jael, who assassinated an enemy king to deliver Israel? And how about the wife of Pilate, who was given a dream about the innocence of Jesus (the wife, not the husband!) and furthermore who rightly spoke up to Pilate about it?

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posted August 10, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Great post, E/E, as always. But you forgot: women who “speak out against these abuses of so-called ‘Biblical authority’. We’re called gossipers, slanderers, sowers of strife among brethren” — jezebels. Women who speak out against abuse of authority are called jezebels. Can we white-washed jezebels unite with the white-washed feminists?!

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Sarah Mae

posted August 11, 2010 at 1:01 pm

Is ANYTHING black and white in the bible to you, or is all up for interpretation?

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    Sarah Mae

    posted August 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Nevermind, forget my question, I don’t want to go back and forth. Sorry I commented!

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    Elizabeth Esther

    posted August 11, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Sarah Mae. My answer is: yes.

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    posted August 11, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I personally have very strong convictions about the Table of Contents.

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    posted August 11, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Absolutely! The essentials of the gospel are black and white. God’s love for us- black and white. Our sin nature- black and white. God’s redeeming work through his son on the cross-black and white. Our new lives in Christ- black and white.
    How we are to live our lives as men and women- a beautiful shade of dark grey.

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posted August 11, 2010 at 8:39 pm

Actually, I tend to like the parts where Jesus talks. And that’s all just red and white to me.

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posted August 15, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I couldn’t help but notice that the book by Stacy McDonald that you reference in the article is published by The Vision Forum. After several years of perusing their website,, and reading comments from those who have “left” them, I wouldn’t go near that book. Here is an excerpt from their website concerning their Father/Daughter retreat, a yearly event.
“While wives and other siblings are certainly not prohibited from accompanying their husbands and daughters to be with them at Callaway, we strongly encourage fathers to choose to make this occasion one that provides an atmosphere that will allow him to devote his entire attention to his daughter and the study of important Biblical principles…Please note that the activities of the retreat are available only to those who register and are not open to spectators.”

I have seen videos posted of this event where little girls learn to groom and help dress their daddies. This may all seem very sweet and innocent, but there is a subservient bent to it that makes my skin crawl. They also have a father/son retreat. What about the wives? Oh, sorry, dear, maybe I’ll let you comb my hair and shave me when I get back home. Ugh.

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posted August 24, 2010 at 12:14 am

Sarah Mae,

As far as “black and white” vs. “interpretation,” please have a look at The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight. He’s an evangelical who takes the Bible very seriously– but what he shows is that the question is more complex than “black and white” vs. “interpretation.”

It’s a fun, fast read; only about 200 pages, in an easy, conversational tone. It’s probably available at your local library. Pleaase have a look.

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