Thursday, July 01, 2010

Q & A With Jocelyn Andersen About "Woman this is WAR!"

What is Woman this is War! about? Woman this is WAR! is about change. Women are second class citizens in most churches and many homes. This is not only un-Christian and un-Biblical but it is emotionally and spiritually detrimental to all involved, and sometimes physically dangerous to women and girls.

Can you elaborate on that statement? How can it be healthy and beneficial when evangelical leaders call men who love their families but have no desire to rule over their wives, "wimps?" And harmful prejudice against women is encouraged when Christians are taught that the underlying motive in the heart of every woman is to dominate men. Studies are showing that aggression and violence is increasing in young boys as well as college age young men and it is being connected with strongly held beliefs about gender roles. Sadly, the evangelical church is the primary propagator of this harmful paradigm. Complementarian teachings are often interfering in otherwise happy marriages and creating problems where previously there were none. The Church is pitting husbands and wives against each other. This must stop.

You sound like a feminist; isn't feminism opposed to Christianity and Biblical teaching? The definition of feminism has evolved over the years but at its most basic is simply "advocating for social and political equality for women." 

The earliest definitions of the word were derogatory, and it is the fact that Webster's Dictionary first defined feminism as "the 'cult' of advocating for social and political equality for women" that is largely responsible for the stigma still attached to the word today. Language unarguably plays a large part in defining cultural attitudes.

There is no evidence that Christian feminism can be connected with secular feminism in any way. It is not a spin-off. Anti-feminist author Mary Kassian admits this in her book, The Feminist Mistake. It is a sad fact that evangelical historians and authors have ignored and even grossly misrepresented significant Christian initiatives in the many movements for women's rights. Committed Christians, both women and men, have been instigators in the various movements for women's rights from the very beginning. For instance, four of the five women who organized the Seneca Falls Woman's Rights Convention in 1848, were Quakers. Christian involvement in women's rights spans oceans and continents and can be traced to the 17th century. The first feminist is said to be a Christian. I write about her in my book too.

Christian women have a rich heritage in advocating for equality of the sexes; and it is a heritage we should be proud of.

What about women in the Church? The complementarian teaching that men should lead and women should follow cannot be substantiated with scripture. This teaching actually comes out of paganism. There are no scriptural prohibitions against women teaching or leading in either the Old Testament or the New. In Woman this is WAR! I cover this question in a great deal of detail.

Your title accuses the church of aligning itself with caste and slavery in regards to women; how can this be justified? Because it is true. Many evangelicals teach that women are born to subordination for the simple fact that they are born female. Complementarians teach that there is nothing a woman can do to rise above the fact of her birth. This is caste. As far as slavery is concerned, many of the arguments used to keep women in subjection are identical to the arguments used by slaveholders in attempts to prove that slavery was divinely mandated by God. I recently spoke with a young complementarian who still believes slavery was mandated by God and was beneficial to the slave in many ways! Unbelievable! In the book, I draw many parallels between the attitudes of 19th century slaveholders and those of 21st century traditional role religionists and complementarians.

It sounds like you cover a great deal of historical background in your book: Yes, Woman this is WAR! is a treasure trove of historical information relevant to the issue and should be of interest to anyone researching not only the Christian aspects of the history of women's rights but also Black History. Some prominent figures in the movement for women's rights were former slaves, and also, some prominent African Americans who played a large part in freedoms so many enjoy today were devout Christians.


Waneta Dawn said...

"The complementarian teaching that men should lead and women should follow cannot be substantiated with scripture. This teaching actually comes out of paganism."

Jocelyn, could you please enlarge on how the teaching of male authority in the home comes from paganism?

Anonymous said...

Will the Conference be recorded?

Thank you