A marriage built on illusion will crack when tested by reality if the partners are not friends. Dr. Gayle Kimball
Each and every gift that has been sent from God is vital and should be given full expression, no matter how, or what vehicle God elects to send it through. Rev. C. Solomon
The feminine principle is so badly needed in a male-dominated culture. R.L. Van de Castle
Definition of Egalitarian: Affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people.
To females by poet June Jordan: 'We are the ones that we have been waiting for'!
From the Rev: Don't forget to ask God to help to free you from male oppression and suppression!
Our Theme - Ought to be - To pursue different passions - For Different People
Rev. C. Solomon ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Introduction: The physical encounter that took place between Reverend Bynum and Bishop Weeks recently is indicative of a more pervasive problem that is taking place within the American culture, especially the church: just consider Mary Winkler, the former 'Church of Christ' pastor's wife, who shot her Church of Christ pastor-husband last year. And how about the recently announced separation and pending divorce of TV church personalities Bishop and Reverend Paula White?
The questions that I will attempt to answer are where are we headed, and whether or not we will be able to meet the challenges facing us head on? Will men be able to co-exist alongside empowered women? Has one voice been muted for too long, while the other voice has had full expression? And what are the implications of not hearing from the neglected voice over the years past and present? Will there be retribution from women (over the next 5000 years), as payback for what men have done to females over an equal period of time, oppression and servitude? Is this the end of male dominance, or will both sexes eventually enter into a period of mutual respect and encouragement? Should we seek balance, or should the male voice be silenced for a period of time?
I have never met either of these individuals; however, both of them have my deepest sympathies. The problem, as I will refer to it, preceded these two individuals by several millennia. Clearly, the pronouncement to Eve in the Garden of Eden account, speaks to where the problem began, God spoke to Eve saying, "...because you have done this (her part), he (the transmogrified Adam) is going to rule over you from a power first perspective".
What that suggests to me is that prior to what we refer to as 'the fall' in Christendom, when the first couple, co-jointly, disobeyed God's command and partook of the forbidden fruit, males would not likely have been in most instances, it would seem, the oppressive and draconian rulers that we have all mostly turned out to be, particularly when it comes to our dealings with women, especially our companions. Instead we would have been more of a 'beneficent complimentary head', and a loving companion to our God-given bone-of-our-bone, and flesh-of-our-flesh help mates, as well as to women in general.
Who would disagree that since the initial act of disobedience occurred in the Garden of Eden, that the war between the sexes has persisted (well beyond Adam's over 900 year reign), even until today, where the revolution is currently taking place among God's spirit-filled elect.
Have Men Been Unusually Harsh To Women? There are countless cross-cultural examples, some recorded, throughout history depicting vicious and cruel male brutality and mistreatment of women, even those women whom men purportedly loved and who were submissive to them. And we should not overlook the more subtle forms of discrimination and the suppression of women by most males, all of whom devalue women's status and consider females to be weaker and composed of inferior or weaker substance. Of course in many matrilineal societies, female heads of families and tribes could be just as controlling, if not equally as brutal as their male counterparts turned out to be.
Just over a decade ago, I intended an affair held at Kennedy auditorium, on the campus of Stanford University where I was previously an administrator. Betty Freidan, one of its principal founders of the modern day feminist movement in America, was the keynote speaker. The audience was mixed. There were a few males in attendance, however, as you can probably imagine, the audience was comprise mostly of female audience members. The female audience members consisted of women of various stripes and with varying opinions about the sad state of women's affairs in America and what should be done about it (social inequities, equal pay and outright discrimination against women).
Dr. Freidan was kept on the defensive throughout most of the evening as she defended the positions of the feminist movement that she helped to create, to the more radical feminists' that were in the audience. Some of these women did not like being referred to as feminists, and they wasted no time in letting Dr. Friedan know it. One young woman, to the satisfaction of her cohorts sitting close by said, to Dr. Friedan, I am a [womanist], I do not have to be feminine"!
Dr. Freidan went on to defend the movement and men in front of her more radicalized audience members. She explained that from all empirical evidence to the contrary, men have shown improvement in several areas over the past 30 years, such as doing more household chores, helping with the children, changing diapers, cooking and all. She also explained that there was still more to be done however. The more radicalized [womenist], in the audience, weren't having any of it. They made it clear to Dr. Friedan and the other audience members that the feminist movement was too conservative for their tastes. For them, empowerment meant more than having men participate in household chores and helping with the chir'ren. In other words they weren't interested in hearing about how men were helping with what had been historically considered, 'women's work'.
Dr. Friedan countered that the goal of the feminist movement was not to destroy male-female relationships; rather one of their primary objectives was to solidify the positions of women in society in general, as well as to procure an equitable and respected place for women within male-female relationships. In other words, women want respect and for their voices to be heard, and for their cherished wisdom and unique contributions to be honored and appreciated. For as far too many men are concerned, women have done only what they were supposed to have done in the first place, to serve him. The more radicalized females in attendance made it known that they were not excited at all about the prospects of entering into a concomitant male-female relationship anyway - even if men had participated in doing a few chores than usual of which they still considered to be women's work, anyway. And factually, can you blame them? I am a man, and I know that we have improved in some areas, but in others, we still have a long way to go.
Why was the Reverend present? I wanted to learn more about the male-female dynamic, particularly from an empowered woman's point of view. I also attended this affair in order to learn more about the message that women were trying to convey to men (a message that we were obviously not getting). I was not in attendance in order to be a cynic; instead I was there to learn. Like most male baby-boomers I was raised at a time when the roles for men and women had been defined in a completely different context from what we are being told today. In other words, I was to be 'the man', 'the Lord and King of my castle'. But suddenly, there was a paradigm shift and everything changed. I never did find my humble and submissive little woman!
My quest for knowledge did not end with this forum either, I am proud to say, for I have continued my personal quest for knowledge and understanding to this day with regard to women's disaffection, disenfranchisement and second and third class status in America, if not the world. In addition to dialoguing with many women and reading many books on the subject, shortly after this affair ended, former President of Spellman University, Dr. Johnetta Cole appeared and was the headline speaker during a Dr. Martin Luther King week celebration which was also held at Stanford - I also attended that affair.
Not only did I attend the affair I went to the mike during the question and answer period and raised the issue of 'empowerment' as a concern of mine. I asked, isn't this what all of the disparate groups in America are really fighting about, a sense of a lack of empowerment, respect and full citizenship for individuals and different groups? I went on to ask Dr. Cole, whether or not the ambitions of most of these groups were in contradiction to what Dr. King believed in (albeit most self-interested empowerment groups in America were inspired by the civil rights movement of the 60's and 70's).
Dr. King believed in equity and social justice for all - over select group empowerment. Well, having said that a female member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference reported in one of our more intimate sit-down meetings at Stanford that Dr. King was a male-chauvinist himself. At SCLC meetings and gatherings, women were expected, according to her, to fix the coffee and to be foot soldiers, completing the more mundane tasks. I asked Dr. Cole, what if we were all to simply follow the Golden Rule: that is to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, wouldn't everyone's problem be solved, and the problems of the disenfranchised, disaffected and other underserved groups in America be eliminated?
Women Have A Right To Be Angry With Men (And I Am A Man):
One thing that I have learned as a result of my own experience of being looked upon as a minority in America is that suppression usually results in either overt or masked anger on the part of the sufferer, and a desire to overcome one's oppressor, if not a desire for retribution. I learned from reading books like Betty Friedan's 'The Feminine Mystique, Robin Morgan's 'Sisterhood is Powerful', and other books and tomes, that what women have experienced throughout their history in practically every culture on earth is tantamount to, and the moral equivalent of what blacks and other groups have fought to overcome and eliminate in America, bondage, slavery, racism, sexism and second-class citizenship status.
I don't believe that any individuals in their right minds would want to occupy the position of slave, at least not the pernicious kind of slavery that persisted up to just over a century and a half ago (which was replaced by bitter racism and discrimination) in America. Draconian slavery limited one's mobility, took away one's freedoms, rights, abilities and aspirations; and certainly the slave was not compensated for his or her labor. The human spirit is also doused and drowned within a spirit of servitude, the slave's purpose, it would appear, was simply to satisfy the wants, desires, lusts and needs of the master. Having said that, some Americans still believe that other Americans are not entitled to their divinely endowed rights, even those that are guaranteed by the American Constitution, if not by the creator.
As an aside, I cannot tell you how eye-opening it was to visit Mt. Vernon in Northern Virginia several years ago. Mt. Vernon, available for touring, was the plantation home of America's first president, George Washington. During the tour I had an epiphany. I could not help but think of George Washington as anything other than a 'slave pimp', given the over 360 slaves who were forced to work on his plantation and fulfill the whims, and desires of his 4 to 8 family members who frequented the plantation (according to the docent) from time to time.
The remains of approximately 90 slaves are still buried at the rear of the property as a lasting reminder of the type of man George Washington really was, a subjugator -a slave master. Folks, those people, I reiterate, were enslaved in order to satisfy the lusts, needs and desires of his small family, and to help him to enjoy an affluent lifestyle as they continued to languish in poverty for generation after generation. The docent pointed out that while George, ordered some of his garments, tailor-made, from England; the slaves got by on their clothing allotment, which usually consisted of one change of clothing per year.
Some black individuals that I have spoken with recently have even tried to defend slavery during that period, saying that during that period in early American history slavery was the norm. They said it so matter of factly, just as too many men do today (in order to defend their right to enslave and dominate women). Forgive me, but as I recall didn't George Washington have the choice of being a subjugator or a liberator, just as other human beings who rejected slavery during 'that period' had? Did someone hold a gun to his head and force him to be a slave master - even then, he still would have had a choice (I hear the voice of abolitionist John Brown saying in the background).
John Brown (not a president) died, trying to stop what too many presidents like George Washington believed in; I gave tribute to his memory during my visit to West Virginia. Isn't it ironic that even among the so-called enlightened individuals of today (some black), that a white slave-master receives more empathy than the innocent individuals that he enslaved? I reminded my challengers and apologists for 'slavery as a social condition of that era' that I have spoken with, that factually the majority of colonists during 'that period in America history' believed that slavery was inhumane. And I am certain that the slaves, if they could speak, would have had a hard time accepting the rationalizations that some of their own descendants are making today with regard to their plight. The first president notwithstanding; the larger group decided against owning other human beings. The first president helped set a precedent for like-minded individuals by engaging in the trafficking of human chattel.
Given that he was the President of the United States of America, his behavior gave aid and comfort to the feelings of some humans that they were superior to others, and it was their manifest right or destiny to oppress, suppress and enslave men, women and children who were perceived to be of inferior stock. The lack of conscience that was portrayed by the first president and several other founding fathers and those who followed after him is still so much a part-and-parcel of the black and white American male-psyche 230 years later. By the way, don't bother to visit Monticello in southern Virginia, home of former President Thomas Jefferson, well that is unless you don't mind seeing more of the same. Poor Sally Hemming and others who were pimped by yet another American president!
Many women today have made it clear that being married to a man even in the year 2007, is tantamount to being enslaved or imprisoned by a modern day slave master. Is this what God intended? I think not! In addition to American slavery, slavery is also recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures portion of the Christian Bible. Even Joseph, son of the Patriarch Jacob, who was free born, was a victim of African slavery as a consequence of the actions of 'his brothers', who voluntarily and surreptitiously sold him into slavery. And later his own people, the Hebrews, who grew into a nation as opposed to an extended family of just over 70 individuals, spent over 4 centuries enslaved (or indentured some prefer) by the Africans. And like too many women today, Joseph spent years trying to figure out how to escape from bondage as well as the prison where he found himself unjustly incarcerated.
Just as some women believe and others have experienced in more recent times that getting involved with a man means she can forget about her dreams, visions or desires - just ask entertainer Melba Moore of Purlie fame if that is not the case? Joseph, it appeared at the time would not achieve his purpose in life or fulfill his God-given destiny (which was shown to him beforehand in a vision that foretold his destiny). Ironically, the vision was by and large the reason that he was sold into slavery and incarcerated in the first place. Many women share that same fate. They know that they should not speak out too loudly about their personal visions with men being present, particularly if their visions might surpass or be interpreted as usurping the vision of her male counterpart(s). In terms of occupations, I can still remember when the occupations that had been set aside for women who insisted on working outside of the home were either in nursing or teaching. Perhaps that is why Rev. Bynum was beaten, she had apparently stepped out of her element, whereby failing to submit to her husband. And apparently if the woman does not submit then it is okay for men to beat them back into subject (er herm)!
Most men refuse to understand why a woman needs to have a vision, apart from his vision, anyway. I agree with the women's position with regard to the suppression and denial of their God-given rights. And I find it hard to understand how a black male, in particular, knowing what both he and his ancestors suffered could subject another human to similar conditions. Confinement, discrimination and the mistreatment of any individual, needs to be fully done away with - even in a sexist culture. It would appear from all indications that the spirit of the slave master was simply passed along to the black male, making him no better than the white slave masters of old. The author of: All God's Children, touches on this theme in his story of the Bosket's, and the descendants of whites and blacks from Edgefield South Carolina. Edgefield South Carolina is the home of the late white racist senator, Strom Thurmond (and the ancestral home of another infamous civil rights leader the Reverend Al Sharpton).
And everyone has observed the legacy of pernicious racism and discrimination in our black urban centers where a spirit of nihilism is still so pervasive among all of its inhabitants. So I ask again, how could a man given his own victimization and the exploitation that he has been through, subject another human being to the same conditions or similar? Women are still trying to escape!
A former colleague of mine at Stanford, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, although I do not agree with her politically most of the time, found a way to escape and to successfully pursue her vision. She apparently believed that she needed to remain single in order to pursue her visions, and to accomplish her objectives. Many women believe that in order to accomplish their objectives, they had better do so before getting intimately involved with a man. Dr. Rice was provost at Stanford, during the time that I was member of the Executive Board for Afro-American Staff and Faculty at Stanford. Dr. Rice was also a previous advisor to President George W.H. Bush, as well as a subsequent Head of the NSA and she is America's current Secretary of State.
According to divine law, whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap, it is written in scripture. If that is the case then, one could easily surmise that the current backlash against men in terms of gender warfare is more a consequence of male comeuppance for having subjected women to servitude, harshness and cruelty for all too long as opposed to radical feminism. Men attribute women's attitudes and behaviors to the latter; those radicals simply do not want to remain in their places.
That reminds me of the attitude and position that the Reverend Billy Graham took over 4 decades ago, when he was invited to speak at the 1963 March on Washington at the occasion of Dr. King's infamous, 'I Have A Dream Speech". Can you imagine the impact that it would have had on this nation if Dr. Graham would have stood on that stage with Dr. King at the Lincoln Memorial and co-signed Dr. King's message that racism and discrimination was wrong? Well, you will never know for not many individuals know that Dr. Graham declined the invitation. In fact he confessed later that he declined the invitation given his feelings that Dr. King and those who participated in the civil rights movement were the trouble-makers and the reason for of all of the trouble in the first place. At the time, he like so many others had done blamed the victims for opposing the oppressive attitudes and behaviors of the white (mostly Christian) oppressors.
Reverend Graham eventually learned from his mistake however, given that years after the assassination of Dr. King, he confessed that it had not been his finest hour; Governor George Wallace (er herm) also had a similar realization at just about the same time. However, prior to Rev. Graham's enlightenment he, like the disciples of Jesus Christ did while Jesus was crucified, hid and permitted Dr. King to be crucified on the cross, while he and other ministers like him turned their backs on him and ran away and hid. The late Reverend Jerry Falwell did the same thing when he was sent as an envoy to the Republic of South Africa on a fact-finding mission during the Ford Administration.
Upon his return from South Africa the late Reverend Falwell reported that the most egregious thing that he witnessed while there was that Bishop Tutu was a phony. He had little to say about the systematic discrimination and the gross economic disparities between the black majority and the white minority (the former group that was being dominated by the latter group in the American supported South African apartheid system). Hmm!! Jerry turned his back on Anglican Bishop, Tutu!
Even well known and respected even in the black community, Pastor Jack Hayford of Southern California confessed his bigoted past. He explained that when he used to play basketball against black teams, presumably, in the Los Angeles area that after shaking hands with black players at the conclusion of the game, he would race to the shower as quickly as possible and wash his hands. Rev. Hayford reminds you of the Apostle Simon Peter of scriptures who also had trouble even conceiving of partaking of an 'unclean thing'; Paul confronted him later with regard to his duplicity. Jeremiah also had some concerns about the Ethiopians ability to change his skin color, albeit it was a black man who rescued him from the miry dungeon where he was imprisoned.
My point is that just as the Apostles, and many ministers in recent times have been guilty of and actually supportive of slavery, racism and segregation, not to mention the harboring of other wrongful attitudes and participating in venal behavior(s) towards other people; some men today, are just as guilty of harboring similar attitudes, and engaging in similar innocuous behaviors towards females -just as their predecessors once did. And frankly those men often rely on some of the same source materials (including the Bible) in order to justify their evil praxis' towards women. Most men today blame the victims and consider them to be the problem, just as Graham did with Dr. King and the Civil rights workers.
In other words the reactions by 'the oppressed' are to be blamed more than the attitudes and behaviors of their oppressors which caused the reactions of the oppressed in the first place. The problem today, from the point of view of too many males, is directly attributable to the attitudes and behaviors of those 'uppity women' who won't stay in their male-defined roles. Now black men, where have we heard the use of the term uppity before?
Males are guilty of overlooking the real reasons for a female's need to do something about her historical plight of being oppressed by males. These females know that if they were to wait on their knights in shining armor to free them or to treat them with a modicum of respect, it will never happen. Frankly, I have known observed many relationships in which the kindest and most submissive females were still treated with the least amount of respect! So I have concluded based upon my own observations and empirical evidence that supports my conclusions that whether a female has been radicalized or whether she is more passe, that she will likely still end up being mistreated by domineering males. In fact the more submissive that she appears to behave at times often results in her complete devastation and mistreatment by power-driven males, even men at church.
By the way, the U.S.A. might want to reconsider its own venal policies of domination, as a result of the reaction that it is receiving those nations and people which it insists on oppressing, Muslims and Arabs. Reactionary Muslims and Arabs have made it clear to the United States that they will no longer accept American imposition, interference and interventionism in their private matters. In America, we customarily refer to those individuals that resist American hegemony as 'terrorists"! And for a country that claims to believe in freedom and individual human rights, we have a lot to answer for not only with respect to how we treat the Muslim and Arab nations, but with respect to how we mistreat our greatest internal treasure - American women! With respect to America's mistreatment of Middle-Easterners, Christians should not overlook the fact that the Angel of the Lord spoke with Hagar, the mother of the Arab and Muslim nations, just as he did with the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. We must be careful how we treat all of God's children.
How Do We Confront And Rectify This Problem?
Some women might be shocked to find out that men are afraid given the current political climate wherein some women are standing up and seeking to regain self-respect. Other women are not shocked at all over the prospect of male fear. The latter know that the greatest fear of the oppressor (which explains the male members of the species' need to hold onto power), is that one day the two might change places. If that were to happen, then the former oppressor would become the oppressed and the male-oppressor of today fears that the most and finds the likelihood of such an occurrence to be wholly unacceptable. However, oppressive policies will always lead to some kind of reaction, if not rebellion or even a revolution.
The culture including the church is about to be torn apart because of the insipid war between the sexes and the revolutionary actions being taken by empowered females in America (men are responsible for that), including the church - in their quest for personal empowerment, power which men still do not intend to yield or share. The male misogynists are simply trying to hold on to the power, and they are not against invoking scripture, fighting or doing whatever it takes to hold on to power. And sadly, the same males are doing so by making every conceivable attempt to hold on to power by holding women in a state of subjugation. If we should have learned anything from the sad state of racism and discrimination in America, it is that it is unfair to force or hold another human being in place, in order to stand upon their shoulders so that one can use the other in order to pursue his or her own personal dreams or destiny. I hear the women's voices in the background singing and saying to, 'Fight The Power'. God never instructed men, to do what they have done or are doing to women! And if the same were done to men, men would also be fighting back.
Along with the noticeably high divorce rate among Christians, there are an increasing number of homosexuals, lesbians and same-sex relationships emerging from within the American landscape of late, and gay individuals are making a strong showing within the American church. Isn't this phenomenon also a direct result of the failure of male-female relationships, and females being turned off by the prospects of entering into servile-relationships with their male gender counterparts, and males not wanting to be bothered with empowered women?
Regarding personality theory (and keep an eye on this growing phenomenon): The fact is that in psychological studies today, test results show that the sexual identies of many Americans are incongruent with their outward gender appearances. And as a result, there is often incongruence between cultural and societal gender expectations and who some individuals truly feel that they are on the inside. Some Americans are male-male and female-female, yet others are male-female, and vice versa, female-male. From a religious point of view, we simply condemn these individuals. However, from a clinical or phenomenological point of view social scientists are more curious and sensitive to what is transpiring individually and collectively between males and females within our society. This is a sensitive subject; however, layman need only consider the number of intersex individuals that are being born. In those instances parents oftentimes choose the sexual identities of their newborns and attempt to raise by their selected genders. In some instances surgery is employed to modify or remove the newborn's genitalia.
Writer Terry McMillian, learned recently that her husband was actually homosexual. And that makes me somewhat nervous, given that Terry used to live not too far from me and she has a son named Solomon. Many other women, and men for that matter, are finding out that their mates have been on the down-low for some time now. It cannot be ignored, the feminization of men and the masculization of women that is taking place in our society today.
Has it been this way all of the time? Probably, however, conditions appear to have worsened given today's social climate where more and more individuals are simply letting it all hang out (no pun intended). Consider Ted Haggard, former President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Republican Senator from Idaho, the Honorable Larry Craig, who was caught in a bathroom in Denver Colorado, allegedly seeking male-sex, and caught during a police sting operation. Both of these gentlemen, religious and public servants declare that they are not gay, and both have been married for years. One's sexual identification, underneath, and being outwardly gay then are not mutually exclusive. What is on the inside of people, more and more is coming out into the open!
Father George Stallings Jr. founder of the African American Catholic Congregation in Washington, D.C. aka Imani Temple, appeared on campus to speak at a scheduled event. At the end of his presentation, he was questioned about his sexual preferences (in front of a modest audience of about 100 of us). A young man in the audience asked him if reports were true or not with regards to Father Stallings actually having slept with some of his young male parishioners. Sartorially dressed in his priestly attire, collar, Rabat and all - Father Stallings replied: "...I will do whatever I have to do in order to get my nut". The audience members gasped, most of us were shocked and aghast at the comments that came from this man of the cloth. The apparently gay members in the audience, a few seated up front on the floor, loved his reply, and proceeded to give each other high fives.
In addition to a need for empowerment by females, the basis for most of the antipathy that seems to be taking place between the sexes today has to do with anger. Both sexes are actually angry, if not fearful and sorely disappointed in the other, particularly where there is a need for the other to be a partner or peer or to co-exist within a shared relationship, especially a joint union. In today's Christian economy, more women are seeking full enfranchisement, and becoming preachers and pastors (to the chagrin of men), and outside of religion women are more and more seeking political office and becoming politicians to the chagrin of the majority of men, and even some women. The sacrosanct pulpit and other local, state and national offices that were once the bastions of male-dominance are more and more being occupied by females.
And, there are scriptures, depending on one's interpretation that suggest that only males should be preachers or leaders in the church, while others clearly show God's intent, per the Prophet Joel and others, to pour out his spirit on all flesh, including female flesh. Joel says that females would even prophesy. The Greek meaning of the term prophesy meaning to 'forthtell and to foretell". Should a male then attempt to hinder or stop a female from prophesying, when it is the Spirit that is actually giving utterance, through her, in the first place? In other words should dominant males even attempt to quench or dominate the spirit of God, just as they have for years quenched the female animus? It makes you wonder, what would have transpired if Adam had partaken of the fruit, and Eve had skipped out on the meal? Would women have 'ruled' over men, and turned out to be like the real or mythical 'Amazonian women' that we have read about in history.
Why did God in effect feel that it was necessary to make this pronouncement in advance through the prophet Joel. This is mind boggling when you think about it, given how males had previously dominated women throughout history in all things. Was God announcing a course correction that was about to take place, something akin to another advent? In other words, was God announcing the reinstatement of 'the female principle', that principle that has been squelched since Adam and Eve's fall?
Let's think about it for a moment. When Eve was knocked 'off-line' so to speak given her punishment in the garden, the feminine principle apparently went off-line with her given the impending onset of male dominance. Therefore the universe from that time has experienced an imbalance. What was apparently intended to be more of an egalitarian relationship between the sexes including full participation by women, turned into something else in effect, a world driven and controlled by testosterone and male animus.
From the book: The Goddess Within by Jennifer & Roger Woolger, we learn the following.
Our whole culture... with its endless violence, homeless people on the streets, colossal nuclear arsenals and global pollution is sick.
It is sick because it is out of harmony with itself; it suffers from what the Hopi Indians call 'koyganisqatsi', "crazy life", life in turmoil, life out of balance.
What is missing is the feminine dimension in our spiritual and psychological lives; that deep mystical sense of the earth and her cycles and of the very cosmos of a living mystery.
We have lost our inner connection to that momentous power that used to be called the Great Mother of us all.
Folks, we need the female voice to be heard again from church pulpits, state capitals and even the White House. God apparently had enough when he inspired the Prophet Joel to speak and inform the world that the 'feminine voice' would be returning. God knew that prideful men would never make the change voluntarily. So God announced, 'fellars', a change is going to be made, i.e., the reintroduction of the female principle!!
In many of America's churches today, women make up the majority, and just as they are required to do at home - they do most of the work at church while men continue to fight, maneuver, inveigle and negotiate in order to hold on to the positions of power. In a majoritarian society, it is well known that the majority rules, and women are demanding what they believe is their proper place in the societal order. A similar trend is already taking place on American college campuses where female students, in dramatic numbers, are beginning to outnumber males.
Yet, just as it is happening in corporate America, and in most American households today, there is still a sense among many Americans that males are the coronated heads of all American institutions, and it is the males manifest destiny to hold on to the power - even if females outnumber the males. A former member of my church shared an interesting story that had to do with a man who explained to her that in summary: MEN WEAR THE PANTS. She agreed then to take off her pants and give them to him so that he could wear them. He replied that he would never wear women's pants. Er herm!
One can only wonder if men have forfeited their right to lead, just as Esau forfeited his birthright when in exchange for something to eat he gave his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for something to eat. Men, we have to ask ourselves, have we forfeited our birthrights - given our innocuous and recalcitrant behaviors and our failures to be the kind of leaders that Christ was - one who gave himself for the church? We want women to be submissive to us, however, have we been submissive, ourselves to what is right or are we instead driven by the need for power?
Moving right along, interestingly, women can no longer invoke what was their minority status, based on gender, in America's system of jurisprudence - given that women (like slaves once were in S. Carolina and other areas mostly in the South) are currently the majority in America society. Females also represent the majority in most American churches. And similar to the way that it was in the South African Apartheid system, where blacks were the overwhelming majority - a minority group of white males ruled the country. In American society, the minority gender, comprised of males, is fighting to hold on to power!
Many women in America, not all, have changed their attitudes, with respect to who should be in charge. Just consider Hillary Clinton who is making a serious run for the presidency, Nancy Pelosi, our current Speaker of the House and several female Supreme Court justices to name a few. Still many men have not changed their attitudes for the most part with regard to who will ultimately remain in charge. For most men, nothing has changed since the time that God told Adam, reportedly, that 'men rule'! I really believe that God was conveying to Eve what was going to take place, not that God was desirous of men becoming cruel 'rulers!
Along with female anger and women's demand for justice, there is a gradual change taking place. Females in the church are standing on what the ever evolving Apostle Paul wrote (in the inerrant word) following his conversion from the days when he was a practicing Pharisee in a male-dominated society. In Galatians 3:26 and 27 Paul wrote, that in Christ: God's children are neither Jew, Greek, slave, male nor female. In other words, in Christ neither gender, race, nor status matters. Women in Christ have picked up on his message. And they are using Paul's words to explain God's true purpose for men and women, while pointing out in effect that men are simply dictators. It is the men, they say, who have not submitted to God's word despite their insistence that females submit to them.
Is the male member of the human species capable of sharing power? Isn't it his divine and manifest destiny, as most males believe, if not a divine requirement for him to be in charge of all aspects of God's creation, and to rule over it - especially his female counterpart(s) and particularly his union partner? If so, what happened to the Golden Rule? How should women be treated then? It kind of gives new meaning to the New Testament scripture that reads, One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism. Was man intended to be Lord, particularly over females? And some are thinking, well, Sarah called Abraham Lord.
I am neither an apologist for Abraham nor Sarai, however, isn't it interesting that like many men will do today, Abraham slept with another woman and was willing to sell Sarai out, in Egypt, in order to save his own skin even though she called him Lord? And Abraham's need to save his own skin gets even more interesting when you consider that the divine promise that his blessed progeny was to come through Sarai's womb - a woman and a womb that he almost forfeited in order to save his own skin. Factually, both of them offered to give the other up sexually on two separate occasions!
A friend of mine, Professor Dolores Carpenter was appointed the first female head of the Homiletics Department at Howard University Divinity School, in Washington D.C. several years ago. Professor Carpenter is a very capable, teacher, pastor and department head. She also pastors the affluent and burgeoning Michigan Park Church in Washington D.C., the church sits just across the street from the HUDS campus. She is brilliant, and she is not a [womanist]; she's gorgeous too!
Shouldn't someone have intervened in order to prevent her from assuming what had historically been a position reserved exclusively for males? Shouldn't someone have intervened in order to keep her back from the spirit of error? Who were these men at Howard University Divinity School anyway that betrayed the brotherhood and placed a woman in a man's position? Shouldn't they be brought to the public square and scourged, or at least be kicked out of the boyz club for such an egregious error? Or, on the other hand should we consider and join in with in with the spiritual as well as the social dimension of Christ's ministry, and set out to liberate 'the captives' and to bind up the broken-hearted-women, just as Jesus once did with each one of us?
So men, what do we do given that our hold on power is slipping away? Some of these women aren't asking they are simply taking the power. Can the genie be placed back into the bottle? Won't God be mad at us if we let them take the power? Shouldn't we at least try to reason with them, and point out all of the problems that they are causing in society (consider the condition of our wayward children today) and at the church because they have abdicated their roles and strayed away from the place that God intended for them within 'HIS' cosmic plan. For certainly the problems facing our society today have nothing to do with the number of males who have abandoned their families and skipped out on their responsibilities to their families, at least some men would have you to believe that.
Solomon are you crazy, some men would say: if women were to become fully empowered, whose gonna' tend to the young'uns, prepare our meals, do the laundry, wear skimpy outfits and satisfy our lusts? We don't need any more Vashtis' running around do we? God intended for us to 'keep women in check', isn't that written in the Bible somewhere as one of the fruits of the Spirit? What is wrong with the women of today? Or, on the other hand men, are we overcome with pride and fear, and are we power-driven? Shouldn't we set our pride aside, 'enter in' and seek God for his direction, confessing that we lack the wisdom to understand, cope, acknowledge and deal with what is taking place in our relationships with women? Have we been too harsh? Do we still view women as property? Should women be manumitted, as we were once manumitted from our former slave masters?
In the minds of most females, the ideal relationship will be based on love and mutual respect. However, from the perspective of most males, the ideal relationship will be based upon his counterpart submitting to him within the position of power, that is the condition if he is to be happy in a relationship with a female. After all, what does love have to do with it? The two positions obviously seem to be odds with each other.
Having said that, and despite all that has taken place before, most women will still tell you that if her man would simply love and treat her fairly; she wouldn't care about him being the head of the house. And in addition to that, most women still expect the man to be the head of the household! Women still desire that men be their protectors, leads them, drive the car, open doors for them and earn a living for the household. So, I ask you, is it the women who are the problem or is it the men who have the problem. What a conundrum. Frankly, I have seen the kindest and most submitted females, being completely lorded over and mistreated by their male counterparts. If all that a male wants is submission from his woman, then why does he still mistreat women who submit to him? Clearly males want more than submission - men want absolute power - men want to rule!
I attended a dramatic performance about 25 years ago on the campus of Kent State University located in Northern Ohio. The play ran concurrently with another play that was being touring American theaters: For Colored Girls Who Have Committed Suicide When The Rainbow is Enough. The Play at KSU, 'The Ebony Woman', not only explained but attempted to offer a solution for the problem of black male and female relationships in America. At the time, women headed about 50% of the households in black America - today that figure has grown to about seventy per cent of black American households.
The solution that was proposed by the playwright was simple, perhaps oversimplified in that it spoke to the effects that slavery and discrimination alone had on relationships between black men and women, while ignoring other factors that should have been considered. In effect the moral was that black men and women needed to realize that 'they were not each others enemies and that the two needed each other and the two ought to get together and work through their differences and learn to love each other again. A great book to support this conclusion is entitled: Black and Single, by Larry E. Davis, formerly of Washington University in St. Louis Missouri. Although his book was directed towards blacks, it would be beneficial, I suspect, for men and women of any hue. Having said that however, it would appear that all too often we still behave as if we are each other enemies - except for the occasional time out for lovemaking.
Also, remember Tony Morrison's book, and the scene from the subsequent movie version that followed which was produced by Oprah Winfrey: Beloved. Baby Suggs, the old woman in the woods who by the way reminds me of my late aunt who was a preacher with graying locks just like hers? She preached, "Oh my people, they do not love your hands. Those they only use to bind, chop off and leave empty. Love your hands. Raise them up and kiss them. Ha, ha, ha, ha!""they don't love your hands...they don't love you".
Baby Suggs was referring to the historical and pervasive attitude of white hatred and the denigration of blacks by white Americans; however, we could extrapolate and apply the same standard to the black community in terms of how we feel about each other. Men, is this how we see women, someone who is there for utilitarian purposes, there to bind up, then chop off and leave empty? I suppose the question that follows should be, why haven't we learned to love ourselves and each other? Is the need for power more important than love itself? Or should love create within the other the desire to help to empower the other? From what I can see, it would appear that it is not simply the phantom, 'them' who don't love us?
Too many Americans (including Christian Americans) are more in love with power, and insist on their right to power based on outdated gender biases and pride, and not always the most accurate scriptural interpretations and western cultural traditions that encourage and support a self-aggrandizing rational male empowerment ethos, over and above everything else. For too many American males, power is far more important than seeking and growing a wholesome loving relationship with a member of the opposite sex. The underlying theme of Christ's teachings had to do with humility and in fact 'the theology of submission'.
He chastised his disciples on one occasion as they debated who would be in charge after Jesus' departure. He also chastised his select group of male disciples on another occasion for trying to anticipate and inveigle a position of power once they got to heaven - each wanting to assume the position of power sitting right next to Jesus once he ascended to his throne. All of us had better get used to living without that kind of power in earth, for certainly we don't expect to have that kind of power in heaven. Men, we don't like bossy women, then how can we expect our partner to live with our bossiness across most of her life-span?
Back to Stanford, as I questioned Dr. Cole during the question and answer period: I asked, whether we could all simply learn to love each other, and to treat each other as we wanted to be treated, would there be a need for any empowerment groups of any kind in the world? For after all, isn't what is really taking place today in our churches and our culture at-large today, the formation and amalgamation of one gigantic female empowerment group that has organized itself to offset the draconian power of the male dominate minority-substrate power group? Should power be derived from physical strength and gender, or should it be conferred on individuals or groups as a result of respect?
When men love women, they do not suppress them nor treat them as if they were slaves. In fact, a loving man would want his mother, daughter, sister, wife or friend to reach their full potential and to live fulfilling lives - partner or not, just as he aspires to do when pursuing his goals. Love is self-effacing, so we men ought to be saying to the women in our lives, how can I assist you to achieve your goals? Too many men still want women to help them (the males) to pursue and realize their dreams as well as to achieve their goals; however, they cannot imagine why a female needs to have a dream of her own other than helping males to get to where they need to get to over his life-cycle.
The challenge for women today in America, given their legacy of being treated poorly (as 3rd class citizens or children), is how does a woman love and trust a man who is likely to attempt to suppress her if she were to enter into a partnership of any kind with him? Frankly, I have observed many women who seem to fare better once they are divorced or after their male counterparts have passed on. Why is that? Why do some females fare better when their purported 'covering' has left them or gone on to be with the Lord?
Just as an aside, one of the more radicalized females in the audience went to the mike and asked Dr. Cole, whether or not she was gay? Dr. Cole refused to answer, explaining that her personal life remained within her own domain. What was that young woman truly after, I wondered? Have some women simply written the male portion of the species off?
Affirmation Healing and Reconciliation:
As I wrote at the beginning of this paper, the Bynum-Weeks issue is just a tempest in a teapot, and is indicative of a more pervasive problem that persists and is growing in America, if not the whole world. Just consider the divorce rate in the church, and the domestic abuse that is taking place in America's homes and pulpits, those that have been made public. The problem: how will America transition itself to a new, fair and even paradigm that takes into consideration the needs of both sexes? Will it require a dramatic change in American and Christian social policy? Otherwise, men and women will continue the showdown that is taking place in all of America's institutions, including home and the church.
Can we manage a peaceful transition and sharing of power, as not to destroy our society, or eliminate the gift of companionship that was bestowed upon us by our creator? Or will we settle this matter in Hotel parking lots in Atlanta, or behind closed doors at home or at the church? For black men, we seem to be cursed with the same attitudes of our white counterparts in America who for so long held onto their racist notions (and subjected blacks to slavery, racism and discrimination) so that in a similar fashion they could hold on to economic and political power. And much of what we are getting back from females today, is a consequence of our legacy of cruel male-domination, and a long-held disrespect for women's place at the top (our having ignored her contribution to humanity and to society in general). And just as Abraham's promised blessing was to come through the womb of Sarai, who would men have to lead anyway, if it were not for the presence of females who give birth to our societies?
Is there anything more important to humans than intoxicating power? Is the need to hold on to it merely a result of unresolved pride issues? We don't have to rumble in parking lots. If God is in us, we can work this out - and reverse all of the unfair historical precedents and learn to live together and to love each other again. For it is apparent that radical feminism is simply a reaction by the oppressed to the behaviors and actions of the male-oppressors. Does the Rev have it all worked out, and how about roles what part do they play, and where do they fit into the discussion?
No, the Reverend is still learning not to be a male chauvinist himself and to respect the beauty and the difference that God has inculcated within the female spirit - I'm working on it!
And, I can assure you from what I have learned already that love is the most important thing over and above everything else- far more important than the culturally imposed power versus powerless gender roles that have been imposed within male domination systems - God did not intend for that to happen!
In Conclusion: Two decades ago, the Rev was asked to come and pray for a woman who had been previously hospitalized. At the time that I was asked to come, I neither asked why the woman required prayer nor did I inquire about her condition; I simply agreed to go and pray for her. Upon my arrival, I learned that this young woman had been beaten into her current vegetative state by her husband. He had also beaten her on previous occasions, and prior to her last beating she consulted with a pastor at the church where she attended. She felt that she should not return home, given that he had already informed her that he was going to beat her once she returned that evening.
The pastor, in keeping with his understanding of church teaching, instructed her to return home anyway, adding that God would take care of her. She returned home at the minister's behest, and sadly, she has remained in that vegetative state, to my knowledge, ever since.
Peace & Grace
Recommended Reading: The Fear of Women, Wolfgang Lederer, MD, The 50-50 Marriage by Gayle Kimball; I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Dr. Maya Angelou; The Feminine Mystique by Dr. Betty Friedan, Sisterhood is Powerful by Dr. Robin Morgan, Black & Single by Dr. Larry E. Davis
Additional quotations by Dr. Kimball:
In Egalitarian marriages:
..requires secure individuals to withstand social pressure.
Family is given priority over, career
Husband and wife consider each other best friends
Communication skills are valued and sought out
They cope with conflict by negotiation, compromise...
Contrast with traditional patriarchal marriages in which the husband is the head, and his job is most important
Egalitarian husbands...believe in fairness and justice
There is positive regard...and the desire to nurture each other
Men fear women's expressive power
Because of their emotional dependence men fear women's power and want to control and diminish it
Opposites attract but can't live together-- we seem to be able to connect...only through sex