Maybe this guy?
Ah, I’m just using him (I’ll tell you about him in a minute) as a stepping off point to explore a topic that large groups of Christians call (obsessively) their focus. The topic is, well, women, Christian ones specifically.
Across 17 years of faith, faith received as an early 30’s adult married man, I amassed a long series of anecdotes that informed my Christian perspective on gender in the church. As I addressed here, I’m not inclined to take anecdotes as data, and draw conclusions based on them. Rather, I am inclined to test anecdotes against over arching experience reflected in broad data gathering, and if the anecdote supports the data bound assertion, the anecdote BECOMES a datum. If not, the anecdote becomes an exception, and that’s a separate and interesting avenue of pursuit. Why an exception? Not the topic.
I didn’t even know I had a body of data, in the form of anecdotes, that supported anything, because I didn’t know which anything to look for anyway. Then I suddenly did.
In reverse, I first started reading about the plight of men in the western church (yes, I said plight). It was hard reading, it was not congruent with what I believed, because I believed what everyone knew; “everyone” had to be credible. I read about the plight of men in church in the same way I read politically liberal articles….to piss me off and afford me a place to debate them. But something happened that bridged the gap between my corpus of anecdotes, and the stuff I was reading. If it was an epiphany, it was a tectonic one. It happened fast because I don’t wrestle against the obvious, and hence a powerful 180 degree transformation occurred. the rest, yea, is history.
So, the guy up there….
Dennis J. Preato, Master of Divinity, magna cum laude is a graduate of Bethel Seminary San Diego (June 2004). Dennis has authored various articles on gender related topics. The substance of this paper was presented at a recent Evangelical Theological Society meeting on April 23, 2004 under the title: “Empirical Data in Support of Egalitarian Marriages: A Theological Response.”
has taken the widely known Barna study about Christians and divorce, and spun it into support for the idea that egalitarian marriages have far greater staying power. Where to start, the low hanging fruit for refutation is one thing, most of the fruit for refutation can just be gathered off the ground. This will be choir preaching because those stuck on the emotion>anecdote>opinion circle won’t be able to peel off in a linear track and actually examine the information I present, each factor independently clinically vetted, rather they will stay on their circular track like those old electric slot cars with an extension stuck down into a grove in the track. That groove is both the source for the POWER of their movement on the track (just like those little cars) but it is also constructed, spatially, to avoid parts of the track where there are exists that could get around the guardrail of their feelings.
If you start to block the oval with reason and logic, they have that covered too:
They give the appearance of thoughtful discourse by wildly looping and curving, mentally meandering about, maybe even blissfully unaware they are still held fast between the guardrails of emotionalism, drawing power from the same narrow slot.
Lets look at the fruit for refutation.
First is the pedestrian trick of making something have the appearance of being about something that it doesn’t even address. Preato’s article is a few pages long, the stated point of the article is to show correlation between egalitarian marriages and marital longevity. Reading the article critically reveals that the correlation between egalitarian marriage and longevity is addressed with a veneer of empiricism in the first couple of paragraphs. The veneer is microscopically thin. The rest of the article is well worn evangelical feminist exegesis on gender in the Bible.
To create the facade of empiricism shows the Barna results:
and lets the implication about the nature of the teachings of the denominations basically just lay there. He then refers to some articles in main stream news (Dallas Morning news)where the following quote from Dallas therapist and Southwestern Seminary graduate Dr. Roy Austin,appeared:
He’s also seen problems when some fundamentalist men, in leading the household, become “cruel dictators” who “expect their wives to become servants.
That’s it. That’s all. This is only directly stated basis for his argument. In other words, this statement says that someone has encountered “some” fundamentalist men, etc. etc. He lets conventional wisdom….what everyone knows about Baptists for example, create the inference that the denominations with the higher divorce rates are the so called fundamentalist denominations, and that this one quote, lacking in any perspective, buttresses his claim.
After this head fake for the impressionable folks who he had at Hello (hearts and ribbons), he plows Biblical ground so frequently plowed it is the consistency of sand. They like that, it sounds all theological and stuff. He has letters by his name, he used some numbers, and he looks like a nice man.
He swerves back into proof text with the statement and accompanying bar graph:
It discovered that (81%) of equalitarian (egalitarian) couples were happily married, while (82%) of couples where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional (hierarchical) were mainly unhappy.
I’m guessing the graph impresses people or he wouldn’t have used it; putting 2 numbers on a bar graph screams propaganda because its silly. To illustrate that, the graph below represents years of my own research into existentialism. Impressive, no?
Lets imagine a woman receives a call asking if the marriage is happy, and which term describes it, egalitarian, or vegetarian. Silly? Not really, the only operative word in the survey question is egalitarian to most of these respondents. If they are happy, they are egalitarian, if they are unhappy, they are not. The other choice is not relevant. We all receive the same basic exposure to what are today’s cardinal virtues, tolerance, equality, fairness, so forth, it is not convincing that being surveyed about this shows the split it does. I have no basis for this other than learned conjecture, but, despite outward appearances, FUNCTIONALLY, I assert that the percentages he cites, 18% traditional and 82% egalitarian are actually what EXISTS, happiness notwithstanding. There just are not many functionally traditional marriages today, which leads to what I flirted with at the opening of this post.
Good researchers know the difference between coincidental variable trends, and cause and effect. Its understandable how someone not grounded in statistics can make that mistake. But what he has done is even worse. he didn’t find two variables moving in tandem, or correlating. If he did, what are they? Where is the variable “traditional versus egalitarian” sequestered and defined? It isn’t. The ONLY variable(s) he has are divorce rate, and denomination. That is IT. There is nothing else here.
In so many ways beyond the scope of a blog or even a documentary or a book, the western world is upside down because of the shaming language associated with political correctness. The church is not immune. From the pulpit pastors decry overbearing men and the abundance of male headship teaching, warning us that we need to be on guard for this growing maelstrom of horrid misogynistic teaching. I know there must be some of that teaching, somewhere, because every church I’ve been to warns me about it while they go about teaching the more egalitarian and gynocentric version of Ephesians. Heck I even down loaded the text for over 100 sermons from random church websites across the country looking for this misogynistic male centric evil, and I am even more convinced that this evil is being perpetrated on women across America, because every single sermon I downloaded and read warned me gravely about the dangers of that teaching.
To pair with those warnings Ive found a new singular focus ministry effort sweeping the country, that being gender specific exegesis, where by lexicons and concordances, grammar and history, etymology and just a sense of fair play have given rise to the elevation of proving that women are valuable has supplanted the centrality of our redemption through Christs death and resurrection as the most crucial point of our faith. Plain spoken Bible text has been subjected to, well, whatever was needed to force it to mean what was predetermined by those mining it for gender discourse. If you read any astronomy or physics stuff you should be familiar with this technique of theorizing then when the equations don’t line up, create a new and yet to be discovered constant that balances all the math out and “proves” your theories validity. The tools of atheists writ large across gynocentric proof text. Surprised? You shouldn’t be.
Its as old as time.
It would save everyone a lot of time if those asserting these things said what they mean.
“This is so because I feel it is so”