Women in the Text: Loaded Labels

This week, my husband and I discussed my writing on gender and gospel. My husband was honest with me. He is wary of my recent outspokenness. Mainly because of the loaded labeling that comes with speaking up.

“Feminist.”

It implies more than fits me. I agreed with him. In fact, I listed this reason for staying quiet in Gender and Gospel. I am afraid of what people will say about me. Being outspoken means I’ll be misunderstood, “demonized” and marginalized. We both know that along with the label comes the innuendo.

Using Loaded Labels

I’m starting to hate labels. I understand they are helpful for quick summary. Its convenient to conversation to slap a label so you don’t have to spend time explaining what you mean. But labels can also be fancy name-calling. Labels can be loaded with innuendo, good and bad. I hope to try to expose  the loaded innuendo hiding in the label of feminist. I might get slapped with it!

Can Feminism be Biblical?

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) says no. They are making a stand on gender roles because of …

the increasing promotion given to feminist egalitarianism with accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives. (The Danvers Statement)

Not only do they consider feminism un-biblical, they load the term with the following innuendos.

  • Innuendo: They are recruiting others.
    • Regardless of argument, regardless of sides, we ALL recruit or promote. Promotion is the grandchild of belief. If you really believe it, you’ll promote it. Promotion is neutral and natural.
  • Innuendo: They distort or ignore how to have a happy marriage.
    • From what I’ve read on both sides, a healthy marriage is the central motivation for both arguments.
    • Feminist egalitarians are concerned about abusive situations for the wives and children in “patriarchy,” and how unity in the marriage is achieved through the Spirit’s work.
    • Biblical Manhood and Womanhood advocates promote strong marriages through submission and leadership.
    • Both strive toward marital harmony… and both achieve it!
  • Innuendo: They distort or ignore Scripture.
    • We all fail to interpret Scripture correctly. But, Scripture is the basis for both sides. Both are Biblical. They disagree with WHAT the Bible means for us, not that the Bible says it.
    • The church is blessed with disagreements. We should not strive for uniformity, but unity. There is room for debate. There is room for agreement. It is how we disagree and agree that shows the world that we love the Father and each other.
    • It bothers me when one sides claims to be biblical because it implies any other interpretation isn’t “biblical.” I confess I’ve claimed to be “biblical,” but I don’t think I’ll use that label anymore. Its vague…and loaded.
  • Innuendo: They don’t love their wives because they won’t lead her. Are they even redeemed?
    • I believe there are redeemed saints on both sides. Please don’t insinuate the good news of redemption hinges on gender interpretations.
  • Innuendo: They do not willingly submit. They should apply their intelligence to submission instead of fighting for “equality.”  Are they even redeemed?
    • This is the innuendo I am most afraid of.  “I don’ t want to submit, so I guess I’ll be a feminist egalitarian!” I am afraid of being misjudged in my motives.

Honesty

I’m frightened of being labeled. I’m frightened of the added innuendos. Especially being thought of as unbiblical and unsubmissive.  But, at some point men and women must speak up to address issues that affect their belief despite the label load.

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8 thoughts on “Women in the Text: Loaded Labels

  1. Yeah, I never claim to be biblical. It means absolutely nothing to me. It’s like saying you buy clothes at a certain store because you’re “fashionable.” Yes… that’s why you buy clothes to begin with. Some things are just too obvious to state out loud.

    Another innuendo: She’s just saying that because she wants to be in charge. You sort of covered that in your last point, though.

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  2. [It bothers me when one sides claims to be biblical because it implies any other interpretation isn’t “biblical.”] The “two sides” in Romans 14 confronted the same problem, yet God was pleased with BOTH (motives, that is). It’s man’s interpretation to state one side was weak/wrong. However, I’m afraid the argument still isn’t that simple! ha!

    Don’t worry, Kay, I promise not to label you…I know better!

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  3. “I’m frightened of being labeled. I’m frightened of the added innuendos.”

    After a while you don’t care any more because you see it for what it is. A fear monging tactic. And we cannot let others intimidate us out of exploring our beliefs and asking the hard questions. Whatever can be shaken will be shaken. Whatever cannot be shaken will remain.

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  4. Mara nailed it. Personally, I figure as long as I’m offending both sides of the debate I’m hitting something worthy of digging out and exploring further.
    Please keep writing!

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  5. Innuendos and labeling are both forms of attack, in an attempt to silence. Is this the wisdom that is from above, according to James 3, or is it born of bitter jealousy and selfish ambition, according to the same chapter? Is the one who says “God calls all Christians to be submissive to one another, not just women to men” being unsubmissive? Is the person who says, “you must submit to my authority” doing as Jesus commanded when He said, “not so among you”?

    Has it not been the cry of those in positions of privilege throughout history, who have said that it is those who want a place at the table who are out of God’s will and should stay in their “proper” place? Did Jesus say, “Those of you at the highest places at the table, hold onto those tightly and don’t let anyone in the lower places get uppity!”?

    This isn’t about women being “rebellious.” It’s about bringing the New Creation into greater fulness in our world. The New Covenant kingdom is one in which all Christians have the “full rights of sons” according to Galatians 4:1-5. There are no poor cousins who have to pick up the scraps that the sons drop on the floor after the banquet. There are only sons. All I want as a woman, is that I and my sisters have what Jesus came to give us all.

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  6. I call myself a Christian feminist, so I guess I’d have to say CBMW and the Danvers statement is crap even if well intentioned. 😉

    Labels are relative so combining labels can sometimes stop people from unfairly pegging you, especially if the labels are often seen as contradictory. You’re feminist in relation to much of the Christian church, but saying that you hold to Biblical principles tells people that you’re probably not the type of feminist who hates men or supports armed revolution to advance the cause.

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