God Hates Feminism

Sometimes I struggle with how or if to filter the comments on this site. When lurkers come out of the woodwork looking to pick a fight, I’m not sure I want to do that. There’s enough nonsense out there – and yet how do you remain open to criticism and conversation in the midst of it? As I shared in my previous post, I do want to learn from those whose perspective I don’t understand. And yet, I find myself deeply resistant to posting comments when I hear words like these:

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Where do you even start with this? How does it advance the conversation?

How do you respond when you suspect that comments such as these start with values rooted in an oppressive patriarchal system, rather than a liberating gospel? What do you do when you suspect that the god in question is either idol or ideology, a projection of oppressive values rooted in systems of power and control?

And how do you respond when you hear Gospel in a different way? How do you respond if you find yourself grasping for (even while falling short of) the covenantal promise of the Biblical narrative? How do you respond if you understand the gospel story in light of God’s grace and mercy rather than damnation and punishment?

How do you respond if you reject this so-called good news rooted in infanticide and patriarchal domination? How do you respond if, instead, you subscribe to a Gospel that rejects and prophetically undermines the notion of redemptive violence and oppressive domination?

This is what mystifies me. Because I crave to hear, and to hear again the stories of the covenant-making God who enters into deep, mutual relationship with humanity and all of creation. I long to be consumed by just such a story, a story that this world can barely hint at or mimic. I desire, on my better days, to be swept up in the story of a God who entered into a risky-at-best relationship with humanity, against all the odds, and against the best advice to choose a covenant people.

What kind of story is this? Is it the story of the complementarians? The egalitarians? Or is it, perhaps, the story of the God who calls us into deep mutual relationship, a God who calls us to be one?

Andrew Stephens-Rennie on FacebookAndrew Stephens-Rennie on Twitter
Andrew Stephens-Rennie
Andrew is a writer, dreamer and organizer with a keen interest in developing leaders in faith, compassion and justice.

He currently serves as the Director of Missional Renewal for the Anglican Diocese of Kootenay on the unceded territories of the Sinixt, Syilx, and Ktunaxa nations. He previously served as the Director of Ministry Innovation at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC.

Andrew is cofounder and contributing editor at www.empireremixed.com, and co-editor of "A Sort of Homecoming: Essays Honoring the Academic and Community Work of Brian Walsh" with Marcia Boniferro and Amanda Jagt.

8 Responses to “God Hates Feminism”

  1. B. Walsh

    I guess the question is, one with whom? We choose from time to time, to moderate comments here in, well, a rather exclusionary way. That is to say, we don’t post them. We choose exclusion rather than embrace. Why? Just because a comment doesn’t fit our understanding of the gospel? Of course. But maybe also because there is, as you rightly note, no where to go with such a comment. And perhaps more importantly, because we don’t want to give some folks a platform to spew hateful, hurtful, and hell-bent sentiment. Why not? Well, because they are comments that hate our friends – our sisters, our daughters. They are comments that hurt. And in the end, they are comments that are God-damning lies.

    Why am I even commenting on this? I mean, with Andrew, I’m one of the people who gets to moderate this stuff at empireremixed. It’s all kind of self-justifying, isn’t it.

    Well, there is one other thing. You see, my daughter read your post, Andrew, and she was grateful. Why don’t we post these kinds of comments? Because my daughters can find that kind of shit in other places. This site is to be a place of hope for them, a place where they are affirmed in all of their rich gifts. The day we stop doing that is the day that we close the site down.

  2. Rebecca J

    I am interested in Brian’s comment, that focuses on women as sisters and daughters. I would say, more radically, that you should exclude because women are people. Not because of a relationship you may have with them – women are too often defined by being mothers of, daughters of, sisters of. And that only on recognizing the woman’s personhood outside of relationships to other humans can mutuality, and entry into the church/Christ’s one body, happen.

    • B. Walsh

      I have no idea what it would mean to recognize “the woman’s personhood outside of relationships to other humans …” In fact, that seems to me like a decidedly un-feminist, and I might add, un-ecological anthropology. There is no such thing as a person outside of relationships. Those webs of relation might be very complex and nuanced, and certainly they go beyond (in the case of women) ‘sisters’ and ‘daughters’ – but they certainly include those relations. And it was one such relationship that was the occasion for my comment – my daughter.

      I mean, Rebecca, I think that your last sentence is rather incoherent. Only “by recognizing women’s personhood outside of relationships to other humans can mutuality, and entry into the church/Christ’s one body, happen.” A recognition of personhood “outside of relation” can we find a mutuality in relation. Doesn’t that sound like a contradiction? Shouldn’t we rather say, ‘only by recognizing women’s personhood in the wonderfully equal and creative web of relationships – with other women, their children, their men, their parents, their bodies, with God, with the whole of creation, with their sometimes conflicted stories – can mutuality and full entry into the church, Christ’s one body, happen.

      Or maybe I’ve just missed your point.

      • Rebecca J

        Nope, don’t think you missed my point, in spite of it’s lack of clarity. I think that society values men for their accomplishments and women for their relationships; the church can challenge both of these tendencies but I don’t think it should do by imitating the surrounding culture and celebrating women for their relationships.
        In the interest of derailing your blog a bit less with this string of comments, I will turn your attention to a recent Feminist Mormon Housewives podcast that dealt precisely with the issue of men in women’s internet spaces – perhaps it will be of interest – without hyperlink – http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2013/05/fmh-podcast-episode-59-sexism-in-mormon-facebook-groups/

    • andrew

      Rebecca – Your point here reminds me of a recent post on the Belle Jar Blog published in the wake of Steubenville (http://bellejarblog.wordpress.com/2013/03/18/i-am-not-your-wife-sister-or-daughter/). I think what that post – and perhaps your comment – point to is the inherent value of each individual.

      There is so much in this world that values people based on instrumental relationships. But what about the value of person qua person?

      There’s been a lot of (important) discourse on this subject recently in terms of the ways in which (predominantly) men respond to the abuse of women. Is a woman valuable only because she is a wife, sister or daughter? No. Might she be my wife, sister, or daughter. Perhaps. Can I own up to that? I hope so.

      At the end of the day, we’re left with the challenge of finding a way of overcoming an instrumental valuation of a person. But does that mean we throw out mutuality? I think what we’re looking for is a way to flatten the relationship, rather than deny its existence in the first place.

      • buhlerc84

        Rebecca—I agree with your statement that men have often been valued for their accomplishments and that women for their relationships. And you hit the nail on the head when you said it is society that does this. We do not look to society for our value, however. My value stems from being a son and a brother—a son of the Most High God and a co-heir with the King of all Creation. What are my accomplishments to this? Relationship is at the very core of our value, yet we have bought into the lie that action is.

      • andrew

        To follow this up, with an example from today: Yet another instance of defining a woman’s value only in relationship to a man, or men:


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