After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians Are Winning The Gender Debate -- By: Russell D. Moore

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 49:3 (Sep 2006)
Article: After Patriarchy, What? Why Egalitarians Are Winning The Gender Debate
Author: Russell D. Moore


After Patriarchy, What?
Why Egalitarians Are Winning The Gender Debate

Russell D. Moore*

I. Introduction

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd points out that the phrase “I want to spend more time with my family,” coming from a man leaving a government position or a political campaign, can usually be translated: “The 21-year-old has given 8x10 glossies to The Star.”1 In the same way, evangelical debates over gender rarely have to do simply with teaching roles in the church or in the home. They tend more often to sum up, more than we want to admit, one’s larger stance in the evangelical response to contemporary culture.

If evangelical theology is to regain a voice of counter-cultural relevance in the contemporary milieu, the gender debate must transcend who can have “Reverend” in front of his or her name on the business card. The gender debate must frame the discussion within a larger picture of biblical, confessional theology. And in order to do that, complementarians will have to admit that the egalitarians are winning the debate. The answer to this is not a new strategy. It is, first of all, to discover why evangelicals resonate with evangelical feminism in the first place—and then to provide a biblically and theologically compelling alternative.

II. Evangelical Theology And The Eclipse Of Biblical Patriarchy

One of the most important pieces of sociological data in recent years comes from the University of Virginia’s W. Bradford Wilcox in his landmark book, Soft Patriarchs, New Men: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands.2 Wilcox’s book describes how evangelical men actually think and live. He brings forth the demographic statistics and survey results on issues ranging from paternal hugging of children to paternal yelling, from female responses about marital happiness to the divisions of household labor. In virtually every category, the most conservative and evangelical households were also

* Russell D. Moore is Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280.

the “softest” in terms of familial harmony, relational happiness, and emotional health.

Unlike many secular university researchers, Wilcox actually studies real live evangelicals, rather than simply speculating on how such “misogynist throwbacks” must live. He has read what evangelicals read, listened to evangelical radio programs, and otherwise immersed him...

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