Introducing AWHPosted: July 30, 2010
The doctrines and practices of traditionalist Christianity oppress women, sexual and gender minorities, and other marginalized groups. This blog exists to create awareness of this oppression, and to give voice to those who have endured and survived it.
I’m one of the survivors. I grew up in fundamentalist pentecostal and evangelical churches, and spent my teen and young adult years attending a Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM) church with my family. The churches I was raised in were all conservative on issues of gender and sexuality, but it was in SGM that I was first introduced to complementarian theology, which teaches that men and women have distinct and complementary God-ordained gender roles, which call for women to submit to male authority in the family and in the church.
Under these teachings, I experienced emotional abuse and controlling, manipulative behavior from people who wanted to assert their authority over me. A more subtle, but equally damaging effect of these teachings was that I learned to devalue myself and women in general, and to stifle my opinions and feelings. I became complicit in my own marginalization. Countless women and LGBTQI people who grew up in traditionalist Christian communities have had similar, often more traumatic experiences as a result of these teachings.
I decided to start this blog because I noticed that, while there are a number of blogs and books out there that bring attention to issues of gender and sexuality in traditionalist Christian communities, most are written either by people who are still in these communities or very similar ones, or by people who have never been part of these communities. Many of the blogs by evangelical Christians speaking out against patriarchy in the church still support homophobia, transphobia, and heteronormativity. Meanwhile, non-evangelical feminist and progressive critics of religious patriarchy are often puzzled by evangelical beliefs, or don’t take them seriously.
As I read more about Christian patriarchy, I was frustrated by the lack of resources that balanced a feminist and progressive perspective on Christian patriarchy with understanding and empathy for people who grew up in patriarchal communities. I wanted resources that situated Christian patriarchy in the broader context of gender and sexual discrimination, but also addressed why these beliefs can be appealing, and recognized that it’s a long and often arduous process to work to root out these beliefs from one’s life, and to learn to think about gender and sexuality in more humane and loving ways.
I’m sure there are some resources like this out there somewhere, but I have yet to find one. My goal is to make Are Women Human? this kind of resource for people of all genders and sexualities who have been wounded by the church.