Letter to the Editor of a Christian Magazine on the "War on Women"
While formerly a fervent reader of Modern Reformation magazine, I decided to forego my subscription in favor of the glitz and flicker of the computer screen. The latest edition I had received, however, was altogether revamped. They sent it to me for free in an effort to re-gain my subscription, and it seemed they came fully prepared to convert their younger, more high-tech audience. They shrunk their formerly normal-sized magazine to the scintillating size of a tablet, and modified their articles' themes to mirror the contemporary "War on Women". Starting with the cover, they sassily stuck on a pouty Miss. Priss - looking freshly ripped from a 50's time warp - who flanked bold text that derisively read "NO GIRLS ALLOWED". Suddenly, the passion I felt when I normally read the words Modern Reformation went from an Egyptian-like heat to a sub-zero stratum.
I couldn't believe it: Modern Reformation catering to the illusory "War on Women"? It's mainstream media's job to spoon-feed the lowest common denominator, not the Christian right. Then I noticed the date: May-June of 2012, when the Obama-Romney campaigns were flinging cheap-shots back and forth to each other like lunch meat in a cafeteria. Don't get me wrong - the Reformed Christian tradition has indeed had a strange and smothering love-affair with antiquity. It's actually refreshing encountering a Reformed magazine that doesn't make excessive use of "wherefore's", and not to mention, hires writers that refuse to wear feather hats or clip-clop to work on Clydesdales. The peer pressure to act like a 16th century parody is all-consuming in the Reformed world, and it's unspeakably refreshing to discover a magazine that actually reads like it's from this century.
Nevertheless, I think Modern Reformation's attempt to appeal to modernity went too far, and is actually coming off as misguided for it. The magazine's audience is not the same as the audience the Obama campaign was trying to manipulate, and printing material that contains that kind of coercion smacks of out-of-touch. Take the article "Christian Chick Lit" by Brooke Minton. She criticizes the mind-numbing nature of Christian literature aimed solely for women, arguing it does nothing constructive for the thinking female. So far so good, but then she acts as though there needs to be these more substantive female Bible studies. You know, theological curriculum composed expressly for women, but with more chomp in its bite.
"But in the absence of theologically sound, rigorous women's Bible curricula - in a time where theologically sound sermons are becoming more the exception than the rule - if a woman is looking to develop her scriptural education, where else does she go? [Mintum's emphasis]"
I instantly hear the voice in my head exclaiming, "The Bible! Or John Calvin's commentaries!" Mintum goes on to write:
"I wonder then if the answer lies not in our opinions of women's abilities but in their tastes. Perhaps we don't see more rigorous Bible studies by and for women because they're not widely wanted."
She got the part about us not wanting Bible studies solely directed at us right, but she does it by suggesting it's only because we want to read fanciful fiction rather than study the Word. That's simply wrong: the only reason we don't want these so-called "female Bible studies" is because they're unnecessary and silly. The Reformers, both historical and contemporary, have the Bible study ground covered nicely as they are already being presented: non-gender-specific. John Calvin and John Owen never specifically addressed their commentary to men, no doubt because they recognized that "we, being many, are one body in Christ" (Romans 12:5). So where's the need for the mass printing of women's Bible study material, then? This is the problem with liberal feminism, and apparently even New Feminism - the groundbreaking stance that acknowledges gender equality under Christ.
"Yes," they insist, "we are one in Christ", and yet they demand gender-specific Bible supplements. By doing so, they elevate women (or men, because that's happening, too) to a special status - a status that's not equal, but particular. They don't realize that, by clamoring for all this attention towards themselves, they are the ones that have become sexist. More to that: they've erected a new idol, and it has the disarming smell of Bath & Body and is crammed with Twilight lip gloss. Martin Luther is turning in his grave, and he never liked to be disturbed. What's ironic is that this kind of narcissism is condemned by Brooke Mintum herself in the article. When talking about the women's Bible studies that do exist, she says, "Many of them focus more closely on a woman's need to overcome fear, anxiety, depression, and insecurity..." and then writes, "But there is a strong tendency (as evinced by their very focus and language) for the reader to become focused on herself and less on Christ [Mintum's emphasis]."
And yet she demands for more female-specific Bible literature, only with more depth. Odd, isn't it? Page after page of the "No Girls Allowed" edition of Modern Reformation contradicts itself in this fashion. They address the majority of their articles to women specially, and then proclaim - like in the Letter from the Editor - "For you are all one in Christ Jesus." Somehow, I'm not convinced they truly feel that way. This is a slip-up that must be attended to, and it needs to begin by first apprehending that there isn't - and never was - a "War on Women". Political philosopher Guy Debord was right on one thing: we have indeed become a society of the spectacle through the media's orchestration, and this is solid confirmation of it. Rather than attempting to mend it, however, we should overthrow it completely - because when we try to repair it, we only end up catering to it more, like what Modern Reformation has regrettably done. We can avoid this mistake.
Fortunately for us, it's not in the least an arduous undertaking. Christianity already promotes equality among the sexes (it merely specifies different roles/relationships), so skirting this error is as easy as being ourselves. All we have to do is focus on the real issues that have always concerned the Church, not the fictitious ones our challengers have schemed up in order to deceive the susceptible. We need to return to the solemn, God-fearing themes that so preoccupied the Protestant Reformers to begin with: the shirking of idolatry-ridden tradition, the focus on Sola Scriptura, the scorching ardor for the points in "TULIP", etc. These are the topics that Modern Reformation's fan base truly care about - truly love, even - and providentially for us, they're the ones that definitively matter for the human race. Praise God for that. Soli Deo Gloria - to Him the glory alone.