Gender and Bible scholar, anthropologist, and alpha male church elder, Andrew Wilson, has provided what is surely a contender for The Soft Complementarian Blog Post of the Year with “Feministism and ‘Equality'”. It is refreshing that a man, whose views are merged with another alpha male, Alastair Roberts (a hero of this blog!), from Durham UK, is finally prepared to stand up against women who do not know the limits of their role in the church.
I will give a sense of what Elder Andrew/Alastair is/are saying by quoting his/their own words:
One of the problems that I have with most feminist positions is with their rather naïve assumptions about the nature of power and their failure to provide an adequate answer to the question of where power comes from. Many seem to speak as if power were a naturally occurring social resource that has been monopolized by men. ‘Patriarchy’ is treated as if it were some vast conspiracy theory. What is less commonly asked is why practically every developed human society has developed its power structures in a broadly patriarchal manner
Elder Andrew/Alastair doesn’t cite any evidence for this but I too have read widely in feminist literature, from Nancy Pentecross right through to The Wife of Tim Keller and I am 94% sure that this is an accurate statement.
Elder Andrew/Alastair shows what this means for the church by liberal (not that sort of liberal!)–and dare we say in a distinctively alpha male way–use of bold:
As a number of people have observed (some feminists among them), the entrance of women into new spheres has often led to a weakening of the social power of those spheres, as women are often more vulnerable and easily exploited and less agentic and assertive in their typical modes of behaviour than men. As these social spheres and institutions were typically not designed merely for the empowerment of those within them, but for serving some broader social end and empowering society more generally, the loss of this power is a serious concern: the power structures of a social institution are weakened merely in order to include more women in its upper echelons. This may not serve the interests of women as a class at all…While women bishops, for instance, may be inclusive for some women, is this in the best interests of the Church as a whole? The bishop has the pastoral role of protecting the Church from attack, of effectively symbolizing and enacting the authority of God within the Church, and representing the authoritative voice of the Church to the wider society. In Scripture, this priestly role is often associated not merely with men, but with ‘alpha’ men. The Church is strengthened as a body when it is led by persons with steel backbones, principles, and nerves, persons that can withstand others in more confrontational situations. One of the reasons why the Church is so weak as a social institution has to do with the fact that its leaders seldom conform to this type.
Elder Andrew’s/Alastair’s church hierarchy has it right: a ground of sturdy, tough-jawed, no nonsense, steel backboned, alpha elders on top, followed by a gaggle of protected ladies below with another man to help and protect them more.
Being an alpha male, Elder Andrew/Alastair uses a military example to show who’s in charge:
To take an extreme example, making women half of our military may serve an inclusive purpose for the women involved, but it would weaken our nation’s security and international power and wouldn’t necessarily be in the best interests of women as a class, who benefit far more from the security and power of our nation than they do from quotas or tokenism.
How refreshing to hear such “man-talk” from Europe! And how right! After all, when we want our government to save us from the Taliban, to bomb a nation of little brown people back to the Stone Age, or to kill a village load of foreign kids, we want that button smashed hard rather than some lady-fingered delicate touch. It just wouldn’t send the right message otherwise.
Elder Andrew/Alastair concludes bravely:
In the quest for ‘equality’, we seem to be heading further in this direction, especially as many women are arguing that bringing women into episcopal leadership should entail new modes of leadership (more collaborative, less oppositional, more empathetic, etc.). Given the choice between being members of an increasingly impotent institution within which women enjoy equal leadership or being members of an institution with a strong voice in society, yet with men dominating the top positions—while empowering, listening to, and acting in the interests of women—it is far from immediately obvious to me that the former option best serves the interests of women (99% of whom will never be priests or bishops).