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Words of a Fether

Opinions on Faith and Life

Straw Man Burning

In case you don’t know, “burning a straw man” is the practice of launching a rebuttal against an argument that isn’t actually being made. It can be done in ignorance, and frequently is, but sometimes also in a deliberate attempt to defame one’s opponent by making false charges about them, and then arguing against those false charges. Today I followed a link in another blog to an article titled Many evangelicals unwittingly live as feminists, Moore says , which very nicely displays the straw man fallacy, along with several others. I will put quotes from the article in indented sections, then respond below each.

Egalitarians are winning the gender debate because evangelical complementarian men have largely abdicated their biblically ordained roles as head of the home and have, in practice, embraced contemporary pagan feminism

Before giving a definition of what an egalitarian (I’ll abbreviate to egal) is, this group is said to be winning a debate about gender. Nice claim, no evidence cited. Then a group called “complementarian men” (I’ll abbreviate to comp) are charged with abdicating something. Has this charge been proved? No evidence cited. And what they are alleged to have abdicated is claimed to be “biblically ordained”. Another claim without evidence or references cited; it is simply presumed. The specific thing presumed to be “biblically ordained” is something called “roles as head of the home”. Again, no citations. In fact, such a claim is nowhere to be found in the New Testament (NT), but the opposite is: “I will therefore have younger women... rule the house” (1 Tim. 5:14). The Greek is literally “house despot”. Lastly, such men are charged with a motive: to “embrace contemporary pagan feminism”. Very bold, very serious-- and very false. No evidence is cited for this one either; the defendants are not invited to the trial, much less given opportunity to witness in their own defense. And this alleged “contemporary pagan feminism” is not defined.

So many errors from one sentence! That has to be some kind of record.

Complementarianism is the view that men and women have been created equally in God’s image but have different yet complementary roles. Egalitarianism is the view that that men and women have been gifted equally so that no role is limited to one sex.

When many who call themselves comps are asked to define it, few agree on a definition. So for this post, we’ll just go with the one claimed here. But it doesn’t actually define what these alleged “roles” are, how they are “complementary”, or how they differ. It isn’t much to go on. The definition for egal is given in a similarly shallow manner, without citing anyone who calls themselves an egal. The problem Mr. Moore has created for himself is that this definition of egal sounds nothing at all like “contemporary radical feminist” (I’ll abbreviate to CRF). Why talk about egals at all, when the debate is supposed to be between comps and feminists? Where is the definition for radical feminist? Like the first quote, it keeps mixing egals and radical feminists without ever defining the latter. This is a transparent attempt to get the reader to equate the two and thus assign guilt by association.

Moore called for a complementarian response built upon a thoroughly biblical vision of male headship in which men lead their families and churches by mirroring God the Father, whom Scripture portrays as the loving, sacrificial, protective Patriarch of His people.

Response to what, CRF or egal? And where is the scriptural basis for claiming a “vision of male headship...”? Mr. Moore is also ignoring the fact that it is Jesus who is to be modeled, by both men and women. He showed us by his life how to relate to God, not how to be God! Moore offers no scripture showing this alleged mandate for males to act like God toward females. God is indeed protective and authoritative, but not once are any of us told to “lord over” others. Jesus said the opposite in Mt. 20:26. And nowhere in scripture does it say any man or woman is to have authority over churches.

Egalitarian views are carrying the day within evangelical churches and homes, Moore said, because complementarians have not dealt sufficiently with the forces that drive the feminist impulse: Western notions of consumerism and therapy.

Moore alleges that something called a “feminist impulse”, which he doesn’t define, is being driven by a force called “western notions of consumerism and therapy”. No evidence cited, no definition for “western notions of consumerism and therapy”. Is this yet another entity Moore is attacking? Or just another guilt by association? So far he’s cited egal, CRF, and now a “feminist impulse”. How many members of any of those groups can be shown to be driven by whatever “consumerism and therapy” are? And what, if any, is the connection between them and “egalitarian views”? Perhaps if Moore would actually try to find out what egals believe and why, and focus on that instead of bringing in every non-male-centered belief he can think of, he’d have something to say. So far he’s just throwing a lot of labels around.

This therapeutic and consumerist atmosphere has led evangelicals away from a view that sees Scripture as the external, objective standard of truth and has pushed them to look inside themselves to find ultimate truth, Moore said. Because self and not Scripture is the final authority, evangelical homes and churches hold complementarian views but practice egalitarianism, he said.

Another shallow and simplistic “definition”, this time for a “therapeutic and consumerist atmosphere”. It is alleged to refer to an abandonment of scripture as final truth. Yet without evidence once again, he assigns this to the practice of egal. This, of course, is the giant straw man Moore is burning. Egals do not abandon scripture or put self above it. We do not look within for truth. We do not promote the elevation of women over men, and certainly not the elevation of men over women as comp does. What do these actual beliefs of egal have to do with consumerism or therapy? Nothing whatsoever. It is a false charge against us.

If evangelical homes and churches are to recover from the confusion of egalitarianism, Moore said, they must embrace a full-orbed vision of biblical patriarchy that restores the male to his divinely ordained station as head of the home and church.

So egal is accused of causing “confusion” too. How so? Does Moore call having his baseless accusations questioned “confusion”? I’m sure it confuses him when he is shown to be in error, and to be slandering/libeling so many true believers. Is he setting himself up as judge and jury of us all? By whose appointment? And there is no such thing as “a full-orbed vision of biblical patriarchy” applied to Christians. It doesn’t exist. Again, it is the woman who is the “despot” of the home, and as I’ve written before, “head” does not mean “boss” in ancient Greek. Moore, like Grudem and the rest at CBMW, presume the narrow, modern, English meaning of “boss” and impose it upon the scriptures. There is also not one scriptural basis for the claim that any man is “head of the church”. That is pure fiction.

The model of biblical patriarchy/male headship that evangelicals must rediscover is tied to Scripture’s teaching of the fatherhood of God, Moore said.

“Rediscover” what, Mr. Moore? The cultural and sin-induced male supremacism? Are you advocating going back under the Law too? Why not? You seem to spend more time looking at the Old Covenant than the New, in a vain effort to redefine the church according to prevailing society as it has been since The Fall. The only thing patriarchy is “tied to” is pride and power. But remember, Jesus said “Not so among you”!

Galatians 3:28, for example, is all about patriarchy -- a Father who provides his firstborn son with a cosmic inheritance, an inheritance that is shared by all who find their identity in Christ, Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free.

What happened to “you are all one”? Look at the context, Mr. Moore. It’s about freedom from the old law, about being one in Christ Jesus, about being children of God by faith. What “one” do you think we all are? And if we are all, male and female, “one”, then where is patriarchy in this verse? This male-supremacist interpretation is the farthest thing from what the verse actually says.

I’m not going to bother with the rest of the article. He goes on to insinuate that egals are into Open Theism, rebellion against a God-ordained order, and who knows what else. This has to be one of the poorest defenses of male supremacism I’ve ever read, and that’s saying a lot. Anyone who wants to promote male supremacism had better at least try and get their story straight.

Posted 2008-02-05 under Organization, Christian Living, misogyny, straw, man, burning, comp, egal, feminist, patriarchy