Wednesday, May 18, 2011

About patriarchy or about obeying the word of God?

Sylvia Thorson-Smith, a radical feminist and one of the writers of the rejected 1991 GA report, “Keeping Body and Soul Together” was also one of two editors of the book, Body and Soul: Rethinking Sexuality as Justice-Love. I wrote about the book at Amendment 10-A & the monstrosity that is coming .

Thorson-Smith made a statement to the press concerning the adoption of 10-A. The statement is posted at Presbyterian Voices for Justice. Part of Thorson-Smith’s statement is:
Twenty years ago, the Presbyterian Church soundly rejected a report I helped write -- that said that patriarchal sex bolsters patriarchal injustice. Compulsory heterosexuality – the social mandate that everyone be heterosexual – also requires that all men dominate all women, and the world. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons undermine the fundamental structures of domination because they proudly refuse to conform to these traditional norms.
The above statement is a mere summery of a larger statement in the book Body and Soul, where in the chapter “Becoming Possessed: Toward Sexual health and Well-Being,” she writes:
Evidence of the powerful grip that patriarchy and its sanctioned inequalities have on human sexuality is even more fully understood, I believe, in the decade since the report’s [Keeping Body and Soul Together] distribution. Patriarchy distorts sexuality and mitigates against sexual health, not only by structuring relations of gender inequality and social control, but by interlocking them with complex patterns of racism, heterosexism, ecological destruction, economic hierarchies, and myriad practices involving power, privilege, and injustice. We have only just begun to break the silence on all of the hierarchical orderings that prevent us from being fully “possessed” by sexual well-being.
One can expect a return to the pushing of radical feminist theologies with the passing of 10-A since most radical feminists subsume all social issues and problems under the heading ‘patriarchy.’ It is clear with these two quotes that the authority of scripture simply melts away before the need to overcome perceived oppression. What God’s word says about any social issue is ignored because the Bible, according to many radical feminists, is tainted with patriarchy and therefore tainted with heterosexism. So those who see victory will put up their banners and forge ahead.

But as I read the quotes and thought of the disregard for God’s word, which has nothing to do with so called, patriarchy, I thought of other women who have stood boldly for Christ in faithfulness and ministry.

Thorson-Smith mentions one such woman in the book Body and Soul. She writes about the beginnings of the committee that wrote the report “Keeping Body and Soul Together.” “We had hardly begun to delineate our task when two conservative members, Diogenes Allen of Princeton Theological Seminary and Roberta Hestenes of Eastern College, challenged the central objective of the committee and resigned in protest over its composition.” (5)

No woman who follows and loves Jesus will use the excuse of patriarchy to avoid being faithful to the Lord of the church. There are men who abuse, hurt and control women. There are women who abuse, hurt and control others, sometimes even men. That is shameful and certainly sin. It should be rebuked, corrected and censored by the church. And it must be corrected by secular society including imprisonment where crimes are committed. But that has nothing at all to do with obeying the word of God and the lord of the church.

The journey of God’s people, including women, often calls for courage. But in the biblical account as well as the history of Christianity one does not find women saints laying, with blame, all of their trials at the feet of men. The battle is against the flesh, our own, and the powers of darkness. The joy is obeying and following the Lord of the church.


will spotts said...

"“*possessed*” by sexual well-being."

Interesting word choice.

reformedpastor said...

I love that quote from Body and Soul. It's straight out of the Mary Baker Eddy school of writing--just pile up enough Important Sounding Words, and you don't have to make an argument, prove your contentions, or even make sense!

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Robert said...

A joke: I'm glad my patriarchs had sex with my matriarchs. Otherwise I wouldn't be here!

Robert said...

Oh, and by the way: this is all about needing someone to blame for the problem in front of you and then blame all the rest of the problems in the world on the same persons. This is the true basis of liberation theology.

I just love the terms that always go along with this. For a woman who doesn't agree with radical feminism her consciousness has not be raised. Now what exactly does that mean outside of a circular argument?