And evangelical theology bears a significant part of the blame
Thank you for your insight and tying these all together! 🙏❤️
Unfortunately, the damage is done. And it will take generations to undo.
Thank you so much for writing this. I am a Japanese Christian who attends an evangelical Presbyterian church in Japan. (My church takes the position of Complementarianism and doesn’t recognize female ministers or elders.) I’ve been questioning the ideas of Complementarianism for several years now while reading various books and articles and attending various study groups to deepen my understanding on a personal basis.
In 1993, two (Evangelical) Presbyterian denominations in Japan merged into one denomination. One of the two denominations recognized female elders before the merger. However, they compromised that position and agreed to stop ordaining women as elders as part of the merger. I don't know much about the discussions that took place at the time of the 1993 merger, but this article made me think that it must have been heavily influenced by what was happening back in 1987 in the Presbyterian Church of America, which is a sister denomination of ours. American churches are affecting the Japanese church, not to mention many other churches around the world, in both good and bad ways.
It's deeply saddening but also enlightening to learn more about the forces that have shaped church teachings that prevent entire groups of people – girls and women, the LGBTQ community, foreigners, and others – from living free and blessed lives. Again, thank you so much for sharing this history.
I read this post as I was finishing Meggan Watterson’s book Mary Magdalene Revealed and her research on the “Lost” Gospels of Mary Magdalene, Philip, and Thomas, all of which elevate Mary to an Apostle, with a closer connection to Jesus as more than just an Apostle. Thanks to the dedicated Monk’s of the 4th century who defied the First Council of Nicaea and hid these edited sacred texts instead of destroying them. The patriarchy started well before Danvers, but obviously remains strong as ever there. I was born in the 60s as the youngest of 7 children, and the only daughter, to an uneducated blue-collar father who truly believed in keeping his wife barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. He was pious twice a year for Christmas and Easter but loved to throw out bible verses to keep his authority in the home. I’m grateful for your dedication to history as we all support your efforts so that, hopefully, we can dare not repeat it!
A stellar consolidation, Diana, thx so much! In the early ‘80s while an MDiv student at TEDS, I took a course on Women in Ministry co-taught by Dr Walter Liefeld and his wife, Olive. Olive had previously been married to Pete Fleming, one of the co-martyrs with Jim Elliott in the 1956 Auca Indian tragedy in Ecuador. Olive, like Jim Elliot, was from a Plymouth Brethren background and related how when she and Pete would visit PB churches raising funds to go to Ecuador it was always clarified to her that, owing to Scripture’s prohibition of women teaching/having authority over men, her involvement was therefore limited to addressing the women and children. When the TRAGEDY later garnered worldwide headlines, Olive said that she, Betty Elliot and the other widows couldn’t keep up with the numerous requests from the very same churches to come and speak from the pulpit on Sunday morning 11:00 am to the very men they had previously been prohibited “on Biblical grounds” from addressing!! 🤷♂️🤷♂️ When hermeneutics succumbs to celebrity/tragedy/notoriety/attendance, etc??!! Whatever!!
Currently reading “a new gospel for women--Katherine Bushnell and the challenge of Christian Feminism” by Kristin Kobes Du Mez. Great book...
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to understand from where this abuse of our young LGBT+ sisters comes. Thank you especially for linking to the CT article. Both are more than a glimpse of light in the abyss.
Indeed, our girls are not okay. Thanks for your review of the history of second-wave evangelical feminism; for your shout-out to EWC, Letha, Nancy, Virginia, and for the great quotes from Audre Lord, Letha, Virginia, and Margaret Walker at the end.
For earlier centuries of evangelical feminism, you have probably seen "Women in the Holiness Movement: Feminism in the Evangelical Tradition" in Rosemary Ruether's Women of Spirit, Nancy Hardesty's Women Called to Witness: Evangelical Feminism in the 19th Century, and other books.
How interesting that you were at Gordon-Conwell when that clunky word "complementarianism" was stuck together.
As a church goer myself, I think it is about time for a movement in America to openly question conservative pastors, both famous and otherwise, who publicly encourage their congregations to vote for Republicans. Specifically, given the fact that the Republican Party can only survive with conservative Christian support, why aren't these pastors routinely asked to explain exactly what Republican Party policies they support and how those policies are more consistent with the actual teachings of Jesus than the policies of the Democratic Party?
I appreciate this conversation. With having 3 daughters in careers dominated by men they have preserved to change the dynamics some!
Diana Thank you for sharing the color coded chart! I am not a great chart person but the color showed so well the urgency of your words in this essay. The combination of the two really put a lot of what I have been thinking about in perspective. Although not named as such complementarianism has been around and was used as an argument against women being Pastors, or other leaders in churches. Some women and men lent their shoulders for the next generation with some success. BUT this piece points out so strongly that the work is not done and personal retirement is no excuse not to be aware and speak up in healing ways! I love your courage and compassion in writing this piece.
Wow. Eye opening. Heart 💔 breaking. Embarrassing/shameful for us evangelicals. Thank you, Diana, for shining a light on this.
Thank you - I know there is a connection - thank you for spelling this out. But I also feel very hopeful. Ezer kenegdo rising.
I am writing about feminine power and holy scripture too and the deeper I dig into it, the more I see the true story of women in the Bible and what is coming next. The girls need the truth of what Jesus taught, not the patriarchy-polluted version.
We are a sisterhood and we can help.
Thank you do much for writing so clearly about this. Many of us have seen what was going on, but I don't know of anyone who has explained it so clearly. I have a growing respect for your leadership in these troubling times. -Doug Carpenter, retired Episcopal Priest in Birmingham.
I didn't mention this in the piece, but probably should have.
The Danvers Statement was crafted in Danvers, MA in 1987 (as I did say). Three hundred years earlier, in 1692, Danvers was called "Salem Village." It was the site of the first accusations of witchcraft in the notorious Salem Witch trials. Both of these Danvers episodes are part of the long history of religious extremism, misogyny, and violence against women in American history.
I wonder if those who wrote the Danvers Statement knew they were on the same ground as the witch hunters of centuries before? Historical accident? Or strangely cruel parallel?
Just wondering out loud here.