Women's 'Liberation' Through Submission: An Evangelical Anti-Feminism Is Born
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To the age-old question of “who is God,” Kassian complained, feminism answers, it’s up to you. And this, to Kassian, is a blasphemous statement of authority in and of itself, and even a sign of self-worship. “According to feminism, women decide, and ultimately, that means that they themselves are God.”
This is the charge of complementarian’s biggest advocates. The Southern Baptist seminary where Kassian teaches is also the location of the SBC-affiliated CBMW, the preeminent institution of complementarianism and publisher of the most authoritative book on the subject, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, co-edited by theologians John Piper and Wayne Grudem.
“Wimpy theology makes wimpy women,” Piper told the audience. Reinforcing a common message that biblical womanhood, true womanhood, may look meek, but is actually fierce, Piper, who spreads the complementarian message not just through his writing and affiliation with the CBMW, but also through his church-planting Desiring God ministry, explained, “Wimpy theology does not give a woman a God big enough, strong enough, wise enough, good enough to handle the realities of life in a way that enables her to magnify Him and His Son all the time… Wimpy theology doesn’t have a granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath.” Non-wimpy theology gives women both a God strong enough to see them through the worst of life, Piper continued, and also a set of non-negotiable mandates for life. Namely that submission is a wife’s divine calling, and truest form of power. “I distinguish between authority and influence,” he said. “A woman on her knees sways more in this nation than a thousand three-piece suited Wall Street jerks. There is massive power in this room, so I do not take lightly this moment.”
Neither should observers, however laughably retrograde the True Woman prescriptions and manifesto might seem. What a conference of this size means -- along with the publicly-declared ambition to gather exponentially more women -- is that the biblical womanhood movement is getting organized.
Kathryn Joyce is the author of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, a study of conservative Christian women's movements forthcoming from Beacon Press in Feb. 2009. Her articles have appeared in The Nation, Mother Jones, Newsweek, and other publications.