Oregon is a libertarian state. As such, conservatives and liberals alike tend either toward a live and let live mentality or, conversely, an allow me to live as I see fit world view. Although both of these perspectives stem from the enlightenment ideal of individual freedom, they don’t mesh, and it doesn’t take a genius to parse one from the other. One is generous, while the other is self-protective. One is settled in itself, the other reactionary. And, for the record, neither is a perfect philosophy, for the good reason that certain situations call for reactionary positions and others call for hunkering down and living at peace with ones’ neighbors.
As for my libertarian ways, I’m a distant observer of the world and hold to both positions simultaneously [which is probably just a description of passive aggression]. Instead of finding myself persuaded by others’ convictions, I’m almost impervious to outside instruction. I believe nothing and everything at the same time. I’m a collector of information. I collate it, I keep it, and I’m hesitant to extrapolate answers from the information stored inside my databases. I thank God for the faith he planted in my heart because if it weren’t for the gospel of Jesus Christ, which came to me outside the information channels, I’d be a skeptic who believes in nothing. And I’m thankful, as well, for the tipping point, that crucial moment when the information overloads me and I must shut down or declare a theoretical premise.
Recently, I’ve reached that tipping point regarding biblical patriarchy. But I need to reach into the past, where the concept first confronted me. The Southern Oregon Libertarian thinkers who held to biblical patriarchy tended toward the allow me to live as I see fit philosophy due to their ideas not fitting with societal ones. Because of the egalitarian nature of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the racism and patriarchy of the founding fathers became untenable in our society. The civil rights movement lifted its hidden wings, ready to take flight, the air of our country tense with waiting. Women and black people fought for the right to vote and won. They fought for entrance into white male institutions and won.
Don’t spout the obvious and tell me equality is a lie. Of course it’s a lie. People aren’t equal–some are born short, some tall; some are born with great intellect, while others are not–but under the eyes of the law, equality is essential. And God, the author of our differences, agrees: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). I doubt anyone holding to biblical patriarchy would disagree that both men and women should have equal access to justice under the law, and equal access to salvation through Jesus. However, my first flavor of it, in the Medford Coffee Company, served up some unhealthy doses of misogyny and racism as payment for progressive espressos and dark-roasted brews [disclaimer: the cafe owners didn’t hold such beliefs! Some of their customers did].
These customers ripped scriptures from their biblical contexts and used them to create vast doctrines supporting the superiority of white men. Men were created in the image of God–not women. Blacks were relegated to an even further degradation as beasts in the field, not of the same species as whites. If you think I’m making this up–if you believe I’m simply forwarding a negative stereotype of white men, I’ll offer no defense. The evidence is out there. Study the Christian Identity movement, which was a predominant affiliation among these people. And, frankly, many Southern Oregonians in those days stereotyped themselves–no need for me to do that for them. Amid the pine forests and on property along the winding Applegate River, they stored guns, ammo, and foodstuffs in barrels for the coming apocalypse. Before rambling into Medford for their daily coffee, they made deals at surplus stores and shopped for good prices on bags of beans and rice–not for their wives to cook up for them that day, but for their wives to cook up over an open fire once the beast system took over.
The biblical patriarchy movement doesn’t follow one denomination, which means, of course, not all of them cling to Christian Identity. During the years I smelled its bitter odor, I ran across a variety of Christian belief structures. When home-educators traded the Pearls’ books and newsletters around as though they were holy tracts, I found an entirely new doctrine, one that doesn’t espouse original sin. When Douglas Wilson’s and Vision Forum books wormed their way into my life, I discovered a Reformed doctrine that unsettled me with its weird dichotomies of either/or. Either you buy their beliefs, or you’re a raging-feminist-liberal in rebellion against God’s divine order.
As I already stated, all of this stored information has reached its tipping point. In the nineties coffee house, when a burly biker declared that blacks were animals without souls–in front of a black customer–I desired to fade into the muddied linoleum below my feet. After all, I was a young female, and who would listen to my protestations? But I’m ready, after all these years, after the subject of biblical patriarchy perpetually pops up as though it were a hydra with heads in multiple denominations, to declare myself done with it. I never believed in it, due to my impenetrable nature, but I’m ready to be done with it psychologically and intellectually. No longer will I hold onto the reams of information I’ve stored about it. I’m letting it all slip away.
You see, these people have stunted their growth. They desire for men and women alike to remain in an immature state, in which women must be perpetually erotic to men, as well as dependent on them. The men don’t grow because they feed off the service of women. The women don’t grow because they’re dependent on men. And this fixation continues until death do them part, or until the families split apart, or until the men and women come to their senses and confront their distorted biblical doctrines.
What are these people afraid of? Are they afraid of growth? I’m not. I have been in the past, hence the stockpiling of information. But right now, I’m not. However, I’m still stuck with a simultaneous desire to react and hunker down and let the world be. I’m not afraid of growth. I just don’t know how to make it happen.