When I read the currently unearthed comments by the founder of Mars Hill inc. I was sure they were a joke. Surely a satirical site had picked up on this xenophobic pastor’s already outrageous comments for lampoon. When I was assured they were authentic my jaw dropped.
A man’s penis is not his own, it is God’s. Man’s penis is homeless and looking for a home. A women, by the nature of their anatomy is that home. A man’s hand is not a penis’ home (although it looks like a home). Sleeping with a woman other than your wife is breaking into another person’s home.
It is an old Biblical narrative used in the church against women. It exposes the supposed love behind biblical submission to be no more than crass belief in property rights. While advocating against sex slavery many evangelicals still believe that women are not only mere conduits for sperm’s fertilization, but that the woman’s vagina is merely the property of the man who claims it with God’s penis.
It used to be that the whole woman was equated with cattle. So this is nothing new in the annals of faith centered dehumanization of women.
Is this man totally crazy? These ramblings even make sexist evangelicals squirm. The looniness seems to disqualify it from serious comment, right? The problem with ignoring it is that its misogyny is not one foreign outside many, if not most church’s theology. For all the outrage at an institution like the NFL on domestic violence and eye rolling over Mark Driscoll there are broader and ecclesiastical/societal questions at play.
While sanctimoniously huffing and puffing in our mainline churches what has the church substantively done to counter the growing cultural hatred of women, especially women of color? Domestic violence crosses all aspects of society, but the church participates embarrassingly little in substantive solutions. Pay inequity is bad in the world, but often the church lags even further behind in paying the women who work for the church. There is also a lack of sustained opportunities in parish work for women. Violence, rape and sexual abuse are perpetrated not only in the church, but are often targeted against female clergy. In Current attacks on contraception and a woman’s ability to have medical choices over her own reproductive organs the church has either been silent, wavering or active in rolling back essential women’s human rights. This is not to mention the outright sexism and blatant misogyny women endure inside our limestone walls.
Unfortunately, the church is not always a safe place for women. For all the talk, research and papers each lacks the conviction to act in faith toward dismantling sexism in our society. Any solution the church could take must involve risk taking toward people oppressed. Fear of funding, positions and status are a poor excuse for silence toward a population that far overwhelms male attendance in the church. Peacemaking starts inside and works outward. It is time to no longer accept sexism inside the church. Women are not property, they are not submissive, they are not patient recipients of a paternalistic progression of the church. Woman are fully human, independent beings with full rights and worthy of full participation as equal agents in the church. It is time for radical, not incremental, change. Thanks be to God!