I am going to modify one detail in my quoting of the beginning of a story in Ethics Daily to help illustrate the deep and obvious flaw in a scholar's teachings.
One reason that men abuse their children is because children rebel against their father's God-given authority, a Southern Baptist scholar said Sunday in a Texas church.
Bruce Ware, professor of Christian theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said children desire to have their own way instead of submitting to their fathers because of sin.
"And fathers on their parts, because they're sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is of course one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged--or, more commonly, to become passive, acquiescent, and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and in churches," Ware said from the pulpit of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas.
Can anyone imagine many Christians openly accepting that Christian fathers will either abuse their children or opt out of their role as a member of the family the moment their children rebel? Can anyone imagine the premise that some or all abusive fathers wouldn't abuse if only their children were free of sin?
It's harder to get away with blaming the victims of abuse when those victims are children than it is when those victims are wives.
It's no surprise to me that I could easily substitute "children" every time Ware writes "wives" and substitute "fathers" for "husbands" in this quote since in Ware's worldview both wives and children are or should be ruled by men. If a man rules by an iron fist and terrorism, according to Ware he's likely doing so because his wife and/or children drove him to it. Likewise, if a man largely checks out as a husband or father that too is likely caused by his wife and/or children.
This means that under this model of thinking the only way for men to be successful husbands and fathers is for them to have wives and children who are aware of the danger of questioning or challenging Christian men in any way. This positions Christian men not as leaders but as fragile, puppet leaders who need to be supported with the illusion that they are genuine and compassionate leaders.
What he is describing isn't based on people's sinful natures it is based on a combination of lack of skill and the feeling that the unacceptable (abuse) becomes acceptable when the person abused is viewed by the abuser and others as being disruptive or bad. That's a selfish and lazy rationalization.
Those who view Ware's position as evidence against Christianity are making the same mistake that Ware makes. The first time this mistake clicked for me was when a pastor said that rather than accepting that we are created in God's image, many people want to accept that God is created in our image. That helps people justify what cannot be justified any other way.
This habit is seen in Christians and it is seen in people who follow other religions. It is also seen in those who seem to reject all religions and who justify what cannot be justified by talking about evolutionary biology.
Ware wants to minimize and justify Christian husbands abusing their wives when these abusers start being treated by the criminal justice system as criminals so he looks for Biblical justification.
Ware reads Genesis and sees that Eve made Adam fall, I read Genesis and see that humans have a long history of trying to pass the buck. There is no substantial difference between, "the snake made me eat the apple" and "Eve made me eat the apple" so those who use scripture to position women as inherently more sinful than men demonstrate that they are reading their sexism into the Bible.
Ware said gender is not theologically the most important issue facing the church, but it is one where Christians are most likely to compromise, because of pressure from the culture.
The problem with this premise is that Ware assumes this has not been true since the day Rome became a Christian empire. The Romans didn't change their view of gender when Rome became a Christian empire. The non-Christian Roman view of women became the Christian view. Those Christians who didn't hold this view were likely ignored or viewed as heratics.
The pre-Christian Romans owned slaves so the ownership of slaves became an acceptable Christian position. Ware's desire to go back to purer Christian roots would mean going back to slaveholding. After all, it was only pressure from the culture which caused many Christian slaveholders to stop owning slaves. Rome fell. The US southern states lost the civil war.
It's too bad that so many Christians did not give up slave holding without the need for external pressure. Yet by Ware's logic any pressure from the culture is bad and is never good. That means he doesn't have to bother looking into his heart to see where he has been clinging to sin because that sin provides him with a nice payoff. If he grew up with a preacher saying something was acceptable because he was a man then that something is by his definition Christian.
This is the jaw dropper:
Ware also said male/female relationships are modeled in the Trinity, where in the Godhead the Son "eternally submits" to the Father.
Ware and others have amazingly turned Jesus into the woman in the holy Trinity. So men are like the part of the Trinity which smote people dead and women are like the part of the Trinity which walked the Earth, performed miracles and preached to all who would listen.
The Holy Spirit gets left completely out of this model which is supposedly modeled in the Trinity, but hey who's counting.
Using this model presented by Ware it goes against God's order to ban women from the pulpit since Jesus preached. If Ware is opposed to women preachers, he does so by viewing himself and other Christian men as demigods free to make up their own rules.
Rather than playing a game of Simon Says, he's playing a game of Christian Man Says.
If he's in the wrong when it comes to how Jesus viewed gender, he doesn't want to be right. And that is supposedly the Christian way?Hat tip: Feministing
Labels: Violence Against Women