Male Pastors and the Joshua Butler controversy
I love your thoughts on this. You have such a knack for being gracious but unafraid to point out the issues.
As I read, I was reflecting on the idea of getting congregations to read through work being produced by pastors. On the one hand, I 100% agree that this could help solve so many issues. On the other, depending on the charisma of the leader or the extent to which the church culture is high control, congregants can sometimes be the biggest supporters of toxic ideas. Specifically regarding teachings about women, I know that I used to be a huge supporter of ideas that subjugated women. At that time, I fear I may have read Butler's piece (even as a non-congregant) and thought he was onto something important.
Nonetheless, I agree with you that public (or potentially public) words only benefit from being exposed to more people. Unfortunately for Butler, his words were put into a large public forum and it's easy to pile on to work with so many glaring flaws. In this faceless internet age, it's easy to critique from afar without remembering the humanity of the person (and their support network) on the receiving end. I'm grateful that you've taken the time to remind us of the humanity of Butler AND the people who were hurt by his work.
This is incredibly thorough, Liz. I so appreciate your words, wisdom, and clarity here. Having been part of mostly smaller churches, the lack of theological accountability is often so lacking for men but excessive for women because we're also viewed skeptically for being "more easily deceived." I think you're spot on that a big problem is the male-centric nature of evangelical churches. I wonder if it's also the structure in general, how elders and pastors are more easily trusted and revered for their status as male leaders. I never felt I could converse with our pastors, let alone ask clarifying questions (especially as a woman). And I certainly never felt respected for any wisdom or discernment I might hold myself...
Thanks for this, Liz! I would love to see us talk more about the importance of accountability, but also about how it can be a life-giving, collaborative, generative process. I do think our image of the writer laboring alone to produce a work of genius is a patriarchal myth.
I haven't had a male pastor in a little while, but my last one stopped being my pastor when I experienced some of this. I'd love to see some men hold each other accountable for changing this!