What is a polemicist? Look here to find out. Recently, The Gospel Coalition put out a post of warning for people like me, just to help us get our priorities straight;) I want to say this loud and clear: the most important thing is my life is Christ’s work on the cross and what his saving grace has done for me. As a result of the Jesus’ work in my life, I am passionate about justice for all people coming from all walks of life, especially women.
My passion doesn’t appear to be shared by some in the church. It seems unimportant, a secondary issue. I disagree; I believe that what a girl is taught about how to view herself and how to plan for her future as a woman is extremely important. Yet many move along with life, not really caring about this issue at all. I can understand that life has its busyness and challenges, and we all get distracted. For me, however, this issue is important because half the church is being taught to stifle their gifts in order to preserve the myth of “Biblical womanhood”. Biblical womanhood is a myth perpetuated by years of prejudice against women, which has influenced the interpretation of biblical texts(in my opinion).
If people would just take a bit of time to study women’s history, they would find gross injustices done to the female population around the world, regardless of culture or time period. It doesn’t take very much time or effort to educate yourself on the facts of the horrible actions, based on prejudice, that were done to women throughout the history(and are still going on today). These actions are/were evil, and something needed to be done. That “something” is not the evil; it was a necessary step in the emancipation of women. And yes, there are negative sides to the “something” that is feminism, but they are the minority. The same negatives could be said of Christianity(ahem, ever heard of the Crusades)?? I find many modern Christians to be completely ignorant of women’s history and what feminism actually is, and a troubling lack of interest in finding out the truth; it turns out many just don’t care.
I certainly don’t want to go back to the sixties, when women had to have their husbands’ permission to apply for a credit card. Or to the year of my birth(1976) when it was still legal for a man to beat his wife…but only in the day and evenings(before 10 o’clock) and NOT on Sundays(wow, thanks!) It hasn’t been that long since brave women fought for the right to earn wages, own property, get custody of their children(nope, women have not always gotten custody of children; this is a recent development), or not get raped or beaten by their husbands. These are realities we should never forget.
It seems to me that the church has gotten behind the times on issues concerning women. Our culture is egalitarian(and rightly so, in my opinion), but the church insists on teaching different roles for men and women(men making all the big decisions and determining roles for men and women is abusive behavior), and will not support leadership qualities in women(unless she is leading only women and children). I believe these teachings are based on thousands of years of prejudice coupled with a desire to be “counter-cultural”(Does the Bible tell us to go against our culture in every aspect? Is this even possible?), which result in a male -biased interpretation of the Bible.
So yes, I am a polemicist(one who works to refute errors of doctrine), and I’m glad to be one. I hope to uncover lies, help women get out of or avoid oppressive situations, and free them to use their gifts without the boundaries of gender prejudice. Someone needs to start the conversation.
Here are some quotes from the links above(bold mine):
1. ~ “No matter how liberal-minded and generous a husband might be (and mine was, and is) wives were subordinate. We could not take out loans or mortgages or hire purchase agreements. Even on the consent form for a caesarean section my husband’s signature was required.”
2. ~ “During the early history of the United States, a man virtually owned his wife and children as he did his material possessions. If a poor man chose to send his children to the poorhouse, the mother was legally defenseless to object. Some communities, however, modified the common law to allow women to act as lawyers in the courts, to sue for property, and to own property in their own names if their husbands agreed.”
3. ~ “Early Roman law described women as children, forever inferior to men.”
4. ~ “Early Christian theology perpetuated these views. St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church, said: “Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object.” Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century Christian theologian, said that woman was “created to be man’s helpmeet, but her unique role is in conception . . . since for other purposes men would be better assisted by other men.”