I write a lot about egalitarianism and how right doctrine builds up women and men in the family of God, and I expect to take it on the chin once in a while when someone who ascribes to male superiority disagrees more vehemently than most. That’s why comments like this one usually aren’t surprising.
“It is now of my opinion that you are either a sissy or a girl stuck in a guy’s body. There isn’t anything Christian about you. You aren’t a man, you aren’t manly and you probably smell like perfume all day. Dude, you got about one more post about the sissy girl side of things and you’re man card is gonna be revoked…” (Facebook comment.)
As I said, these types of comments usually aren’t surprising. But this one did surprise me since it came in an unusual context: I hadn’t written on egalitarianism and the church; I’d posted a quote on race.
“It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism some assume we’re protesting America.” Beyoncé
The critical Facebook comment goes not to the quote’s substance but to the quote’s source. Beyoncé is a woman. She’s a woman who sings songs that apparently the commenter considers too womanly? Too feminine? Too girly? And who uses the word “sissy” any longer? That was out of circulation by the time I finished high school forty years ago. But apparently a man quoting a woman means the man actually must be either a woman or gay, as if women are not worth listening to on serious matters and as if men who are gay are not actually men?
The problem with the comment is not that it is directed at me. It’s that it reeks of misogyny and homophobia, while embracing racism by ignoring entirely the real point Beyoncé – a black woman – is making.
There are ways to engage what she said and whether there is merit to it or not. I posted Beyoncé’s thought-provoking quote to get that conversation going on my Facebook page. When the first comment posted is like that one, though, the conversation took a sharp turn from race to women’s rights. That is another worthy subject so I allowed the comment’s sub-thread to continue for people to respond. (Other comment threads spoke to the comment itself.)
As a number of the dozens of responses noted, the comment is dismissive as to racism, women, black women in particular, people who are LGBTQ, and men who write on these subjects. With this dismissiveness, commenters serve to silence all they consider unworthy of consideration – unworthy, that is, for anything but ridicule.
Oppressed People and Scripture Speaking
Notice that buried in the comment is also a dismissal of my faith, with the commenter setting himself up as arbiter of who follows Jesus. He’s as wrong on that point as any other, of course, because Jesus spoke up for people all the time. It’s even in Jesus’ first recorded sermon:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19.)
This wasn’t a new phenomenon, either, since Jesus was quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, and there are plenty of other Old Testament instructions on working to end oppression such as:
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17.)
Give justice to the lowly and the orphan;
maintain the right of the poor and the destitute!
Rescue the lowly and the needy.
Deliver them from the power of the wicked! (Psalm 82:3-4.)
These passages tell God’s people how to love those around them, whether close by or far away. Dismissiveness is nowhere to be found. Jesus had harsh words for those who misrepresent God (as the Facebook commenter did by saying biblically-based concern for marginalized people is not consistent with being a Christian):
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:
“These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are merely human rules.” (Matthew 15:7-9.)
Here’s what merely human rules look like sometimes:
- Dismissing a quote because its source is a woman is a merely human rule.
- Deciding that a man can’t quote a woman is a merely human rule.
- The idea of a “man card” and deciding who gets one and who doesn’t is a merely human rule.
Avoid merely human rules. Follow Jesus, care for the oppressed, seek justice, learn to do right – these are the ways God calls us to love others.