Pope, Christian Conservatives Team Up to Promote Patriarchy

The Vatican held an interfaith conference this week on the promotion of the “traditional”—that is, non-LGBT or single-headed—family organized around the concept of “complementarity.”

Complementarity is one of those obscure theological concepts that nevertheless casts a long shadow over modern conservative religious thinking. It’s the idea that men and women’s differing and complementary biological roles play out in their respective roles in religion and society, which are separate, but supposedly equal, and divinely ordained.

Pope John Paul II was a big proponent of the concept of complementarity as a core principle of the family, most famously expounded upon in his 1995 Letter to Women, which extolled the “special genius” of women to serve as helpmates to men and society. Like many of the church’s more regressive ideas, however, complementarity has been embraced more enthusiastically by conservative Protestants, who use it to justify the idea that women should be submissive to men, than it is by Catholics themselves.

This Catholic/Conservative Christian confluence was on full display at the conference, organized by Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as, one might suspect, a counterbalance to all the talk of liberalizing influences under Francis. Participants included mega-Pastor Rick Warren, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput.

Other attendees, according to Jeremy Hooper of GLADD, included a who’s who anti-same sex marriage activists, including National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown and cofounder Maggie Gallagher, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Princeton University natural law scholar and NOM co-founder Robert George, Alan Sears of the Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Manhattan Declaration’s Eric Teetsel.

Francis opened the conference with an address on Monday that echoed the main gathering’s theme: that only families based on complementarity are an expression of God’s plan and that “children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother.”

Despite the anti-same-sex marriage tone, Francis did walk back some of JPII’s more extreme interpretations of complementarity as biological destiny for women:

When we speak of complementarity between man and woman in this context, let us not confuse that term with the simplistic idea that all the roles and relations of the two sexes are fixed in a single, static pattern. Complementarity will take many forms as each man and woman brings his or her distinctive contributions to their marriage and to the formation of their children…

But it quickly became clear who the conference’s main villain was for what Francis called a “crisis” in the family: the sexual revolution and what he called the “temporary” culture in which people are giving up on marriage in a search for temporal pleasures:

This revolution in manners and morals has often flown the flag of freedom, but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.

The drumbeat grew louder on Wednesday with addresses by several notable luminaries of the Christian Right. Moore told the conference that the sexual revolution had “created a culture obsessed with sex” that “celebrates casual sexuality, cohabitation, no-fault divorce, family redefinition and abortion rights as part of a sexual revolution that can tear down old patriarchal systems.”

But like other proponents of complementarity, Moore suggested that new sexual freedoms are actually damaging to women because they allow men to take advantage of them:

The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy. The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure … We see the wreckage of sexuality as self-expression all around us, and we will see more yet.

In his address, Warren called on the church to continue to provide leadership in the fight against same-sex marriage:

The church cannot be salt and light in a crumbling culture if it caves in to the sexual revolution and fails to provide a counter-culture witness. It is a myth that we must give up Biblical truth on sexuality and marriage in order to evangelize.

The women speakers weren’t much better. Sr. M. Prudence Allen, who was recently appointed to the Vatican’s International Theological Commission, went JPII old-school, claiming that gender and sex ideology were “cancerous” and founded on “deceptive methods” that “distort the true equal dignity and difference of women and men.”

Despite the halo of Pope Francis’ presence, which seems to have a Jedi-mind-trick-like effect on the media, who see only puppies and unicorns when he’s around, the conference, which clearly had his imprimatur, was largely about the promotion of straight-up Christian patriarchy. The logical extrapolation of the speakers’ assertions, that women’s sexual liberation has been their downfall and the ruination of the family, is that only women’s sexual re-subjugation (through limits on access to abortion, contraception and divorce, and the shaming of nonmarital sex) will save the “traditional” family from gay people. Or something like that.

70 Comments

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    There’s nothing obscure about complimentarianism.

    Well said Francis, Warren and Moore. The truth can be offensive to some as it should be.

  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    Complimentarianism: the doctrine of eternal flattery.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Haha that’s funny!

  • whiskyjack1@gmail.com' Whiskyjack says:

    Compliment and complement aren’t the same thing, Frank.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Of course not yet my spellchecker thinks so.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    So, Frank, who are you looking to complement you? Do you have a sweet young gay-hating 18-year-old in your sights?

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    This paragraph sums up the drive towards theocracy quite nicely. Next: burkas, chastity belts, 17th Century Puritanical courts of law.

    “Despite the halo of Pope Francis’ presence, which seems to have a Jedi-mind-trick-like effect on the media, who see only puppies and unicorns when he’s around, the conference, which clearly had his imprimatur, was largely about the promotion of straight-up Christian patriarchy. The logical extrapolation of the speakers’ assertions, that women’s sexual liberation has been their downfall and the ruination of the family, is that only women’s sexual re-subjugation (through limits on access to abortion, contraception and divorce, and the shaming of nonmarital sex) will save the “traditional” family from gay people. Or something like that.”

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    LOL!! He does have a puritanical streak, doesn’t he?

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Oh please the histrionic hyperbole is childish.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    So is the puerile demand for “group think” based on a 2000 book of folk tales. When antiquated histrionic hyperbole trickles into the public policy forum, puritanical courts are not too far behind.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Grow up. It’s embarrassing

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    I have matured quite nicely since escaping the power greedy clutches of patriarchal losers. Have had a quite successful life with being subjugated due to controlling theocrats.

  • truktyre@hotmail.com' Craptacular says:

    The perfect retort to your own invective comment!

    “Christian religious freedoms are the new civil rights of our age. Wake up Christians!” – Frank6548

    “Oh please the histrionic hyperbole is childish.” – Frank6548

    So whenever you feel like posting the first, I will be sure to post the second for you.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    As childish as a 53-year-old man looking for an 18-year-old bride?

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    That’s funny coming from someone looking to marry someone about half his age.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Moore: “The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the
    imposition of a different sort of patriarchy. The Sexual Revolution
    empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male,
    rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure …”

    Adorable. Whose a big powerful alpha-man? You are. Good thing you’re so righteous or I’d toootally be scared. Guys, look at the alpha man over here.

    Women totally can’t handle it.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    hah! is he seriously doing that??

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    Well, he’s looking for someone 18-35. But yeah, still a lot younger than him at 35.

    http://www.mate1.com/profiles/frank6548

  • tojby_2000@yahoo.com' apotropoxy says:

    Moore: “The Sexual Revolution is not liberation at all, but simply the imposition of a different sort of patriarchy. The Sexual Revolution empowers men to pursue a Darwinian fantasy of the predatory alpha-male, rooted in the values of power, prestige, and personal pleasure …”

    __________________________________

    Moore doesn’t see the other (dare I say ‘complementary’?) half of the Darwinian dialectic. The Sexual Revolution allowed women to sample the available sperm donors for excellence. Both sexes are genetically programmed to upgrade the species and enjoy the experiment.

  • cpmondello@gmail.com' Corey says:

    Every time I read about Rick Warren I can’t help but think of the idiots like Melissa Ethridge that befriend people like him, basically trying to make them believe being LGBT is acceptable and hope they can actually change the minds if those who have had a history of being anti-LGBT. I lost all respect for Ethridge after I saw her disgraceful, insulting, and dangerous behavior. It is people like her along with closeted LGBT, that are the greatest danger to the LGBT community. To me, it’s like a black person rallying for a Klansman’s effections.

  • cgoslingpbc@aol.com' cgosling says:

    Religious ramblings neglect the fact that degrees of same sex attraction are commonly found in many mammal species. Such attraction is a natural phenomenon. This is not to say what is good for one species is good for all species, but it does bring into question that same sex attraction is a SIN and should banned by know nothing legislatures acting on the threats of religious leaders. What is or is not a sin varies according to each religion. Those who personally know a gay person realize that being gay has absolutely nothing to do with the character, charity, honesty, and morality, of that person. To banish gays to an Abrahamic Hell is ridiculous, and to believe in a God that proclaims gayness to be a sin is plain stupid. Being gay or heterosexual is definately not by choice. And the role of women in society and marriage is variable and changing. “Times ar a changing”. When will church leaders come to their senses?

  • reedjim51@gmail.com' Jim Reed says:

    Churches need sin. It gives them something to do.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Nothing hyperbolic about the destruction of Christian religious freedoms.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Apparently not.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    At least spell it right, Frankie. The article has it right, you don’t.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    By “Christian religious freedoms”, of course, you mean the freedom to repress other people’s religious freedoms if they are different from yours.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    You first, Frankie. ;o)

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I understand that the only cogent argument you can come up with is to criticize my spell checker. Expected.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    What’s your excuse for your poor punctuation then, Frankie-boy?

    And how’s the lady-hunt going? You’ve gotta give us some updates here, bro.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Thanks for proving my point. Well done!

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    How’s that now?

    And come on, bro, tell us about that special lady. Or girl rather.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Well then, those animals need an exorcism! /s

    Seriously, Dr. Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt, the new Colorado state legislator and certified whackjob, said exactly that.

  • I find these kinds of arguments to be foolish. God created all life, and He created both male and female separately, not one as a subset of the other to be dominated, in Genesis 1. But God also created all life and He created all forms of reproduction – heterosexual and asexual. He also created homosexuals, and He did so for a reason that only He truly understands, but I suspect has more to do with population control of a species that unlike many can reproduce at anytime and in great abundance, overwhelming His gift to us, the planet Earth.

    Studies show that families with LGBT parents cause no damage to the development of their children nor do they determine a child’s sexual orientation anymore than heterosexual parents determine the gender identity of their children. It was not the sexual revolution that started the destruction of the family – it was WWII. It started when women had to step into the factories, offices, and manual labor jobs here in America to replace the sons and husbands and fathers who went off to war, many never to return. The women found an independence, both financially and emotionally, that allowed them to demand to be held as equal partners in a marriage after the end of the war. They saw they could hold their own, and many families broke up over it. It was never about sex, it was about money and independence. That is why as we moved into Vietnam and women were once again left to work the home front, they were unwilling to relinquish that role when men returned home again. Twice within two generations men declared war and women had to take on the man’s traditional role at home. The only difference was that women had learned and they were not going to be left in the lurch again in the future. It did not mean giving up a physical relationship or having extra-marital affairs, but about being secure in case men went off to war again. It was the men who seemed to have a problem with understanding this, and some women used it to punish all men.

    When men and women learn that they were created to be equals and start treating each other like equals, many of the things that the conservatives call the “sexual revolution” will end. Between Feminazis and Religious Conservatives, there will always be war – they love to hate and be abusive to their partners. But for the rest of the world, straight and gay alike, it is time to move past what people do in their bedrooms and start looking at what they do in the rest of the world, starting with loving their partners, their children, and working to find better ways to make this world work. Personally as a minister, unless someone breaks a marriage vow by being unfaithful, what is done in a couple’s bedroom is not my business and quite frankly the obsession the Religious Right and the Catholic Church have with it borders on the obscene and perverted.

    Rev. Devon J. Noll
    New Word Universal Fellowship Church
    Christmas Valley, OR
    http://www.newworduniversalfellowship.org

  • splat@yahoo.com' Guest says:

    I wonder if the people of Dracut, Massachusetts realize there’s a predator in their midst.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    The internationally known Frank6548 aka Hooper, Inc. troll is just as offensive to intelligent and compassionate persons. Now THIS is a thing that needs a good, sound exorcism!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    As is troll Frank’s unchristian natterings.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    It’s on Frankie’s To-do list… not kiddin’ you! 😉

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I am not this hooper person. Based on your inability to discern we can all safely ignore you.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    O M God! Frank6548??? Grindr, Scruff, yes; but mate1??? OOOooo, I do hope those females find out beforehand that Frank6548 is a transvestite with an artificial you-know-what! Shame! Shame on you Frances!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    They will now. I copied the page! OOOooo, Frankie, BB!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    It certainly would be embarrassing if your “Version” of the Bible hit the streets. Embarrassing for you and all of your christian followers!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Not to mention, an unnatural patriarchal streak also! Poor Whimpy!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    How the heck do you put up with Troll King Frank6548/Hooper? Like the rest of us, ignore or ridicule him/her! Thank you for your salient post for the rest of us intellectuals!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Ohhhhh yes you are, Baby Huey! As is Hooper/Brad621/Paul/Susie Sotar/ etc., plus a whole bunch of other narcissistic names. Frank6548 is probably the silliest one, and on a social media list, no less. If you really want to tell the truth, Frank6548, and are not ashamed of who you are or what you believe in/support, give us your REAL bona fide name, instead of hiding behind your Momma’s skirts like a little street urchin? Huh? C’mon, Frankie… ‘fess up now…??
    Please don’t think I will ignore you… even for a second, Mr. FAKE!

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Your inability to discern would be laughable if it weren’t so pitiful.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Talk to the hand, Sweetcheeks… talk to the hand, lolol. Your comments don’t rate very high, do they, Mr. World Book of 1802?

    Frank6548
    2319 comments • 674 votes

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    See above. Your claim that upvotes on a progressive blog have any meaning is laughable. How embarrassing for you.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    No embarrassment here, froglegs. Have you found a willing 13 yr old girlfriend on mate1.com yet? I still think that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time. I wonder what your City Council would think of a copy of that gem? 🙂 😉

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    See above. Repeat.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Where “Christian religious freedoms” equal the right to oppress people you think are icky?

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Where “Christian religious freedoms” equal the right to oppress people you think are icky? I think that about covers it, Frankie.

  • dangelo.diane@gmail.com' Dedangelo says:

    The amount of denial about this pope is unbelievable. Must be a measure of just how badly the sexual abuse scandal has damaged the Church that people are so willing to believe that Francis is pro-marriage equality, despite all evidence to the contrary. Secondly, I’m struck, once again, about the church’s obsession with “protecting” women by putting a lid on sexuality in general. It’s clearly the product of an all-male hierarchy terrified of its own bodily functions.

  • cgoslingpbc@aol.com' cgosling says:

    Jim – How true. Churches need sin so much that they have to keep changing the definition of sin. It used to be a sin worthy of tortured death to believe in evolution. Now the sin of believing evolution is no longer. No problem, just envent more sins. I find it nonsensical to believe in any religion that has such terrible histories. Few religions are innocent of past “sins”.

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    Aw, don’t get testy! I bet there’s a college-age honey just waiting on baited breath for some 54 y/o closeted shut-in to teach her the ways of love 😉

  • the.pelican.web@gmail.com' Luis Gutierrez says:

    In John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” the complementarity of man and woman is for mutual enrichment, not mutual exclusion or any form of unilateral subordination. Traditionalists bent on perpetuating ecclesiastical patriarchy may be hijacking the complementarity idea to serve their agenda, but progressives would contribute more by refocusing the debate in terms of unity in diversity, individuality in community, and equality in mutuality, based on the redemption of the body.

    Beyond the theology of the body, there is also a theology of gender that goes beyond narrow human agendas to include interpersonal relations within the Trinity. The best I have seen on this is Sarah Coakley’s “God, Sexuality, and the Self,” Cambridge University Press, 2014. It is a “total theology” that transcends both angry feminism and phallocentric patriarchalism and attempts to align human desires with divine desire. Very refreshing!

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

    That’s right Frankie. Next it will be the colosseum and the lions. I will gladly buy a ticket if you’re there my dear

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    what’s “angry feminism”?

  • the.pelican.web@gmail.com' Luis Gutierrez says:

    Feminism that is “angry.” In other words, the kind of feminism that advocates violence and power struggle between men and women, rather than seeking unity in difference, collaboration, reciprocity. The fact that men (or many men) have been abusing women for millennia is no justification for women to start abusing men now, physically or psychologically. Let’s hope we can be radical feminists without repeating past mistakes in reverse.

  • the.pelican.web@gmail.com' Luis Gutierrez says:

    Feminism that is “angry” and vindictive.

  • mandctessman@aol.com' Michael Tessman says:

    I find it sad that Patricia Miller canno

  • emilyk04@gmail.com' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    Feminists can be angry without also automatically being “vindictive.” What does that even look like? Last I checked men were still doing just fine.

  • the.pelican.web@gmail.com' Luis Gutierrez says:

    OK, as long as we are not vindictive, there is such thing as “holy anger” which in some cases is justified. But let’s try to discern between holy anger, which is good, and unholy anger, which is bad. A good rule for such discernment is the Golden Rule, which applies for women as much as it does for men. Both men and women do just fine when the Golden Rule is practiced. Suggest you read Coakley’s theology of gender, a masterpiece of feminist theology.

  • colkoch@yahoo.com' colkoch says:

    I’d be more enthusiastic about your Christian rights if more of you acted like Christians and if your rights didn’t always come at the expense of mine.

  • colkoch@yahoo.com' colkoch says:

    I can agree that violence in turn is not the answer. I also think women need to face the fact men are enculturated to be accountable and responsible to and for other men. There is no equal complimentarity in that dynamic in that it demands by definition that women are also accountable to men. The Roman Catholic Church is exhibit number one for this paradigm and Francis is an advocate of it……puppies and unicorns and all.

  • the.pelican.web@gmail.com' Luis Gutierrez says:

    I agree that there should be full reciprocity and accountability between men and women. I also agree that the Catholic Church is giving a bad example, and doing so for 2000 years is no excuse to keep doing it. But it is a huge mountain to move, and we need to focus on dismantling the patriarchal system rather than attacking Pope Francis personally. He is no better than Jesus himself, who knew what he was doing and yet many times had to opt for the lesser evil.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Good to see you back, fiona64!!!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    AMEN! And this is coming from a Christian minister who has dealt with backsliders like emo Frank in the real church! People like Frank think they’re in the realm of religion… they just don’t know which end of Grace they’re on.

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Indeed he is! Just read the comments here. One commenter has Frankie pegged, including the dating sites. Scarrrrrry!!!

  • dakotahgeo@hotmail.com' George M Melby says:

    Says the mate1.com princess, Francis!

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    Thanks, Chaplain Melby!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *