Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kelly Ladd Bishop on Complementarianism and Its Defense of Male Patriarchal Headship: Recipe for Abuse

I like very much that Kelly Ladd Bishop calls complementarianism what it actually is: support of "male patriarchal headship." Complementarianism is the ideology, dominant in many forms of Christianity today, that God made male and female to complement each other, to occupy separate spaces in the world, and to fulfill separate roles. All of this is rooted in biology: biological gender represents destiny, in the view of complementarians, and one rebels against the Creator God by trying to act like someone of the other gender — for example, in the case of those made without a penis, by trying to seize the power and control God allocates to those "He" has made with a penis.

I like, too, that Kelly Ladd Bishop roots abuse of women in the world around us — much of it, at least — in the theological notion that men are made to be "heads" of women: she writes, 

Complementarians want you to believe that abuse is a result of "hyper-headship" or some distortion of their so-called Biblical headship. But the problem is that there is no such thing as hyper-headship. This is an invented concept. A man is either in charge of his wife, or he's not. And any hierarchy creates a power imbalance and enables abuse. 
Equality is central to the Christian faith, and the notion of male headship and authority erases equality. 
Some argue that authority was given to men at creation, however, there is absolutely zero mention of power, leadership, or roles based on gender in the creation texts. 
Jesus preaches and practices astonishing counter cultural equality. Jesus levels the playing field, calls out the Pharisees, and interacts with the lowly, sick, poor, and despised. He calls all people to himself, regardless of race, class, or gender. 
The apostle Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Galatians that dividing lines have been erased in Christ. "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28). 
The gospel is a gospel of equality. And all people are either equal, or they're not. A husband is either in charge of his wife, or he's not. Wives are either equal, or they are not. And when there is inequality, there is always greater potential for abuse.

The photo of Kelly Ladd Bishop is from her blog's biography page.

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