Egalitarians base their argument for indifference with respect to gender in society, the home, and the pulpit on the idea that men and women are created equally. This post series has argued that when it comes to creation order and its implication for ‘gender roles’ in the church, Southern Baptists do not all differ from the world or from egalitarians. Recent rhetoric regarding women teaching, and even preaching, to men in the SBC, is of some concern. It seems like everywhere we turn, we find ourselves covered up in egalitarian patterns of thought.
In his 2006 article, “After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians are Winning the Gender Debate” (Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, vol. 49, no. 3, September 2006, pp. 569–76), Russell D. Moore describes how, “Egalitarians are winning the evangelical gender debate, not because their arguments are stronger, but because, in some sense, we are all egalitarians now.” (576) The current state of the SBC is even worse than Moore predicted. In fact, Moore seems to have not only given up on resisting what he calls a feminist movement, but may have contributed to it.
There’s a common misconception going around in some circles that anyone who professes Christ yet believes women can be called to the pastorate or preach to men cannot be a true Christian. This is demonstrably untrue. When people believe that women can be preachers called by God it doesn’t necessarily mean those people aren’t Christian, it just means they’re wrong.
But what do the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention think? Southern Baptists reached an agreement about this issue a long time ago and they believe it’s not only theologically incorrect to have women preach, but sinful for women to take up the role of preaching as it goes against explicit commands given in God’s word. This is why women preaching in the Southern Baptist Convention is such an obviously divisive issue.
In this article, Russell D. Moore writes, “C. S. Lewis included male headship among the doctrines he considered to be part of ‘mere Christianity,’ precisely because male headship has been asserted and assumed by the Christian church with virtual unanimity from the first century until the rise of contemporary feminism. If complementarians are to reclaim the debate, we must not fear making a claim that is disturbingly counter-cultural and yet strikingly biblical, a claim that the less-than-evangelical feminists understand increasingly: Christianity is undergirded by a vision of patriarchy.”
As the old saying goes, if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The ascendancy of critical theory among evangelicals in recent years has led to a thinning of our tool collection and a consequent restriction of our conceivable responses to diverse situations. When individuals are reduced to group identities, and those groups are (as the script calls for) assigned their white hats and black hats, it’s not difficult to foresee how the plot is going to unfold.
Critical theory’s hammer is calling out oppression of minority groups wherever it lurks (namely, everywhere, all the time, in every conceivable and inconceivable way). Oppression need not be proven in any individual case because it is the pervasive presupposition that defines the inherent structure of human society. Human beings are, according to critical theory, anonymous units of larger identity groups. Those identity groups are defined by power dynamics in relation to other identity groups, and thus all human relationships are viewed through the lens of a struggle for power, either in terms of solidarity (between the oppressed) or in terms of antagonism (between oppressor and oppressed).