Friday, 29 August 2014

Patriarchy, Feminism and Complementarianism defined - the ultimate nature of the relationship between men and women

1. Patriarchy: Men lead. In all situations in private and public life, it is right and necessary that men take leadership. The male sex is primary; therefore, in an ultimate sense, society and reality should be, and will be, organized around the needs of men.

2. Feminism: Women should be privileged. In all situations and circumstances in private and public life, it is right and necessary that women are privileged. The female sex is primary; therefore, in an ultimate sense, society and reality should be, and will be, organized around the needs of women.

3. Complementarianism: Men and women have distinct roles and responsibilities. In some situations it is right and proper that men lead and are privileged, in some situations that women lead and are privileged.


Due to its unfamiliarity, complementarianism requires further explanation:

The sexes are complementary, two different parts of a single whole. But not two 'halves' whatever that might mean - rather, two different but necessary elements.

Complementarianism entails that each sex alone (and therefore, each individual person) - while it can survive (for a while), is in some ultimate (metaphysical) spiritual sense incomplete; and the fullness of spiritual development therefore requires both sexes (and therefore at least two persons - one man and one woman) in a dyadic fashion.


Note that I utterly reject the meaningfulness and possibility of Equality of the sexes - because Equality just-does mean Sameness - and the sexes just-are Different (or else we would not be having this discussion).

(In fact, not just sexes but people are different. And people who are different deserve and require different treatment. 'Sameness' is never more than expedient, contextual and approximate.)

I know that sameness is not what Equality is 'supposed to' mean; but I am saying that this sameness is, in fact, what Equality does mean - or else sometimes Equality is just an alternative word for Feminism.


Other (more subtle, more nuanced) meanings of Equality cannot be held - the other-meanings will be too slippery, they will inevitably slide-into the meaning 'sameness'.

Equality is a falsehood, a fake abstraction, and to impose Equality is impossible - therefore Equality is evil in practice, because it is false, and to impose falsehood is impossible, and to try and impose an impossibility is necessarily to do evil.


Both Patriarchy and Feminism are ultimately accepting that one or other sex will dominate overall; and the disagreement is over which sex will dominate; and which will be (therefore) subordinate.

History tells us that (like it or not) Patriarchy is socially-sustainable, for many dozens of generations, for many thousands of years.

Feminism is, by contrast, very recent, with only a few generations track record. But objective social analysis over the past century or two shows us that Feminism is parasitic, uncreative, self-destroying as a general policy - hence it is unsustainable over the long term.


Therefore,  Patriarchy, Feminism and Complementarianism are, I think, the only actually possible relationships between the sexes - and, of these, only Patriarchy and Complementarianism are viable.

The question then is, of Patriarchy and Complementarianism , which is true and which is best?


If the relationship between the sexes is to be anything more than mere social expediency (something that can be wrangled-over and experimented-with indefinitely) then we need to look deeper into the justification for social arrangements - to ask 'why?' - and this leads back as far as the mind can reach. 

My argument here is that Complementarianism is true and right; and I can argue that this is backed up by historical evidence (but this depends on how it is interpreted) and also that it feels right (but others may feel differently). The only decisive kind of argument is one based on reality: are men and women really complementary, or not?


Until Mormonism, Complementarianism lacked an explicit metaphysics, theology and philosophy. Mormonism has thrived for eight generations and seems to be well set, but complementarianism does not have the long track record of sustainability which is seen for Patriarchy.

However, I suggest that Complementarianism does seem to be an unarticulated 'norm' towards which Patriarchy tends in actual practice.

I mean by this that the religion, the ideology, the law, may be Patriarchal - asserting male domination in every situation - but under stable conditions and with social development, tacitly but effectively women come to dominate some areas of life; and this can be seen as validating the reality of Complementarianism.


The most important question about Patriarchy and Complementarianism is: which is true? Is it that men are naturally leaders and naturally dominant in all situations; or are there domains in which women are naturally leaders and naturally dominant?

And - given that various social arrangements are possible - what is the Good, right, and proper form of social arrangement? Specifically, what is the best social arrangement from a Christian perspective?


Ultimately, this refers back to the ultimate purpose of human life, both to salvation and also to the possibility of what is variously termed spiritual progression, theosis, sanctification - which is the divinization of Humankind, to become Sons and Daughters of God.

For mainstream Christians, from this ultimate perspective, Men and Women are interchangeable; either a man or a woman considered in isolation can be saved, and either a man or woman can in isolation go through the fullest process of divinization.

More exactly, for (most) mainstream Christians, there is no pre-mortal life, so sexuality is only an attribute of mortal life - people are born either a man or a woman; but in eternal life sexuality is stripped away and people are neither men nor women.


So, for mainstream Christians, sexuality is a temporary expediency, not fundamental, not structural to our divine natures - indeed sexuality and sexual difference is a rather negative, earthly hence not-Heavenly thing. This ultimately accounts for the chronic negativity Christianity has displayed towards the body, sexuality, marriage and family - so powerfully documented for me in the works of Charles Williams - and the tendency to give highest status to the solitary celibate ascetic.

For mainstream Christians, social sexual arrangments are merely a matter of expediency - and considerations of expediency lead to Patriarchy.

It is NOT that the social structures of Patriarchy are actually based-upon and built-upon the ultimate structure of the mainstream understanding of the Christian religion - but rather it is that Patriarchy is socially expedient compared with Feminism, and mainstream Christianity does not conflict with this.


But for Mormons the situation is different. Men and women can be saved individually to eternal life and can undergo very considerable spiritual progression; but to attain the very highest level of divinization requires the dyad of a man and woman together in a celestial marriage.

Thus, for Mormonism, sex is is not so much biological as metaphysical: part of the very structure of reality. Sex goes back to pre-mortal life, to pre-existence. Indeed, it (probably) goes back to before we were made spiritual children of God. So the eternal seeds or potentialities which were 'pre-spirit-human' were either male or female.

The implication is that Mormonism does conflict with Patriarchy, and does imply by contrast a system which treats the sexes as complementary.

Mormonism fundamentally contradicts the kind of Patriarchy which has been seen in human history (and including sometimes in Christian history) and which is argued-for by some modern Christians where all men dominate all women, and all women are submissive to all men, in all circumstances.


The situation envisaged by Mormonism is complex and contextual - but the basic complementarity is between (male) Priesthood and (female) Motherhood.

In practice, on earth and during mortal life - not all men are priesthood holders, not all women are mothers; and it is conceivable that men might be called mothers or be made to function biologically as mothers, and women might be called priests and enact priestly roles; but in reality and in principle and ultimately and over eternity - these are the proper and sexually differentiated roles of men and women.

Social organization ought-to reflect the difference; and men ought-to dominate those aspects of life pertaining to priesthood functions, while women ought-to dominate those areas of life pertaining to motherhood.

The precise definitions and details of what this complementarity of Priesthood and Motherhood means in practice and how it may be implemented are not important, and indeed are not prescribed - what I want to clarify now is that this is an example - it is the primary example - of complementarity.

No doubt there are others.