Sunday, October 2, 2011

For the Love of God, Don't Get to Know Any Sinners

I was planning on writing a completely different blog post today but was stopped short in my tracks by a quote from Stacy McDonald, co-author of the book Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. I haven't personally read the book and I had read only a few pieces by her before (most notably her very unfavorable and dismissive review of Quivering Daughters), so today I decided to find out more about her and her ministry. I found her blog, "Your Sacred Calling", and started reading, trying very hard to keep an open mind. All was going fairly well until I started reading the post, "Letter from a 17-year-old feminist."

Despite Stacy's self-assuredness that hers is the only right way, her appeal to a Pascal's-wager type situation as a means of convincing this girl ("Lisa") to believe in God, and her fairly annoying and extremely patronizing writing style ("Lisa, may the Lord give you the same mercy He has given me. May He melt your heart of stone, and reveal to you the beauty of His Truth. May He give you ears to hear and eyes to see. I will be praying for you"), it was not these things that most disturbed me. What actually did it was a brief sentence about a third of the way down the post:

"Men tend to be naturally (sinfully) lazy, passive, selfish, complacent, unfaithful oafs."

Um. Wow. Really? Men (there's no qualifier here, so I have to assume she means all men) tend to be naturally the scum of the earth? THIS is how godly, submissive women view the "natural" state of men? Really?

Now, I get what she's doing. She's trying to communicate that all people are fallen and therefore sinful, and that before a person has a saving relationship with Jesus they're naturally sinful. Once you know Jesus you're enabled to be the great, kind, wonderful leader and priest of the home that God meant for you to be. But there are several things wrong with this: first of all it's a false dichotomy and second, it just doesn't work this way in real life (and thirdly it's just plain sexist, but conveying that point is probably a lost cause). Lastly, it implies that humans in their "natural" state (non-Christians) are not really worthy of our respect, admiration or emulation.

A lot of conservative Christians preach that there are two kinds of people in the world: Christians and non-Christians. The first group have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit into godly, strong, passionate and righteous people who go about doing good works, furthering the kingdom, and serving as examples of the power of Christ. Examples of this group would be Stacy and her husband (as used by Stacy in the post). The non-Christians are (if you're a man) "lazy, passive, selfish, complacent, unfaithful oafs," and (if you're a woman) "selfish, loud, pushy and obnoxious." Examples of this would be the 17-year-old girl Stacy is writing to.

This is a false dichotomy. It is simply untrue that non-Christians are "bad" people while Christians are "good" people. To view the world like this causes you to miss so much. I used to believe this. I used to believe that atheists, evolutionists, feminists and gay people were bad, that they were willfully and rebelliously rejecting God and His perfect plan. Then I met some. I think that's the problem: Stacy and others like her have never met any intelligent, kind, thoughtful people who think differently from them. Or maybe they have, and have simply rejected these good people as sinful and worldly and not worthy to be considered friends, but that's not a very charitable thing to think of Stacy so let's assume the first. Stacy needs to meet some people! I took a college prep class and met an atheist, who was the teacher. He's one of the kindest, nicest men I've ever met. He has the kind of love that Jesus taught we should have. I met evolutionists in online forums. It dawned on me that these were not people who were purposely rebelling against the truth of creationism simply to spite God and revel in their own wickedness (yes, that's what I used to think). I learned there were lots of different kinds of feminists and that they didn't all fall into the category of "feminazi" (thanks for that word go to Rush Limbaugh, the man I spent every lunch break of my childhood listening to). I got to college and met my first gay person. He's a Christian to boot! I had never considered this to be really possible. Actually, my views on gay people have been some of the most difficult to change and they have taken the longest to get remolded in the light of Christ's love, but the walls I built for myself are slowly coming down. It's very liberating. "The truth shall set you free," indeed. 

I don't think Stacy has ever had true, deep relationships with people who think differently from the way she thinks. If she had, she would not categorize non-Christians as lazy, passive, selfish, complacent, unfaithful oafs. Some of them doubtless are those things. But so are some Christians. You can't just draw a line in the sand with the good guys on one side and the bad guys on the other, and then claim that all the good guys are Christians. That doesn't fit with reality. In fact, it's often directly opposed to reality.

It really bothers me that Stacy goes about her (very influential) life believing that godly Christians (read: those who agree with her) are so morally superior to everyone else. I mean, it really explains the moralistic and incredibly patronizing tone she uses when talking to anyone who falls outside the boundaries of faith that she and the patriarchal movement have made for themselves, but she's missing so much! So many relationships with so many good people! If you wouldn't eat with the prostitutes and tax collectors, you're doing it wrong. That's not Christianity, it's a club for righteous people. Maybe Stacy would do that, but it's not getting through to me from her blog.

I don't say this to attack Stacy. In all, she seems like a very nice person with some very human blind spots, just like everyone else. It's just that this way of thinking is very, very damaging. She's not doing herself or anyone else any favors. By making such an offensive and moralistic blanket statement about what non-Christian men are supposedly really like, she's making it ok to not respect those who have different beliefs. After all, if all non-Christian men are "oafs," why listen to what they have to say? If all non-Christian women are "pushy and obnoxious," well, who would really want to even try to get to know someone like that, let alone start to understand where they're coming from? Stacy has precluded any possibility of finding out that she's wrong. That's really sad. She's missing out.



    Totally agree hypatia.

    My beliefs about gay people began to change when I got to know a Christian couple whose wife's ex was gay. This woman was not a good mother to her daughter at all; the girl's father and his boyfriend were clearly the healthier place to be. Like you, my views have taken a long to embrace compassion over dogma. That was years ago that the process started; I don't think I'm done yet.

  2. For a long time now, many of us have seen through Stacy's crap and we've known who really wears the pants in that family.

    She's so passive-aggressive in everything she writes. I honestly think she might be a narcissist. I have never seen a shred of humility on her blog.

    She needs to meet feminists (like myself) who are also Jesus followers and are living a happy and full life and who aren't alone and miserable like she thinks we all are. My hubby and I are both feminists. He's secure enough in his manhood to be on equal footing with women.

  3. My son wants a tee-shirt "This is what a feminist looks like."

  4. :-) Awesome, shadowspring, about the shirt. :-)

    Yes, I was involved with NOW (National Organization for Women) years ago (some men were there too, btw), and I've been a feminist for a long time. The worst tearing down of men I have ever heard was at a social gathering of evangelical Christian women. Talking about the way men can't relate emotionally, etc. I can't recall other specifics because I mainly blocked it out. I did try to speak against it at the time.

    In part, though, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you're living in/according to a system that expects the emotional growth of men to be stunted, that may very well be a general outcome (etc., obviously this happens with other expectations and with women, as well).

  5. "Biblical Womanhood" types are always pulling down feminists.
    (Oh, Shadowspring - love his T shirt idea!)
    I once made a small study to measure the self-centredness of feminists vs. the self-centredness of the "Biblical womanhood" crowd. It came to the conclusion that Biblical womanhood bloggers are ten times as self-centred as feminists. This was the results:

  6. It seems to me that Stacy is not just saying the Christians are "good" and Non-Christians are "no good", but also that only people who follow the same path she follows are "Christian." I am frankly offended by this type of attitude. It is this type of thing that makes many non-Christian faiths think that Christians are all at least intolerant if not actually wacko.