Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aggression and Misogyny

I continue to be perplexed by the (usually American) suggestion that aggression is a male Christian virtue.  Michael Patton seems to think that it is not only a virtue but an essential pastoral character trait. It is worth saying, from my own experience, that aggression is totally not the way to deal with confrontation either in pastoral work or wider life.  I am a naturally aggressive person but I have had to tame that aggression especially in conflict situations.  Aggression always escalates the situation and sends signals to the other party that they too need to become more aggressive.  It is a posture of insecurity and fear rather than confidence and love.  Aggression seeks to persuade through intimidation and vehemence rather than sound argument and compassion.  Aggression closes the heart to the Spirit and fills it with bile towards your opponent.

What Patton, and by implication John Hobbins, need to realise is that aggression and misogyny are both results of the Fall (See Genesis 4 and 3 respectively), and so by definition are to be resisted at every point, not accepted as cultural norms. "Muscular" male dominated Christianity is not worthy of the name Christianity, it is instead a celebration of so much that is wrong with the world.  Inconsistent misogynists around the world need to stop telling everyone they are simply doing what the Bible says and realise that they are working for the enemy. 

3 comments:

  1. I think that, in our culture today, people have a very dualistic view of what I'd call boundary-marking.

    As a culture we don't seem to understand that it is possible both to set boundaries about what is right and wrong and to be gracious in doing it.

    As I posted on Michael's blog (we'll see if my post makes it past moderation), it's very possible to confront people with their wrong-doing and exert leadership by being a trust-worthy presence. If people genuinely have experienced you as someone who cares about right and wrong and as someone who cares about their well-being, they will stomach a ticking-off when they know they have done wrong. And it is the duty of a Christian leader (and also a parent's duty) to have the guts to set down those boundaries. Aggression not needed.

    I'd go so far as to say that someone who needs to use aggression to lead people is not actually a leader but an insecure follower with pretentions to leadership.

    Jesus was assertive. He knew what was right and what was wrong. But Jesus was not aggressive. If he'd been aggressive he would have called down the legions of angels - as he said - to save him from crucifixion. He would have been the kind of Messiah that flawed human beings wanted him to be rather than the kind of Messiah the Father wanted him to be.

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  2. Absolutely :-)
    Welcome to the blog Pam.

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  3. Glad I found it; it looks interesting. Thank you for your welcome.

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