Much has been made about the homophobic rantings of Rick Warren, the right-wing bigot Barack Obama has invited to give the invocation at his inauguration, but there has been less discussion about Warren’s beliefs about the role of women in society:
— Excerpt from Corinthians on Rick Warren’s website
As Katha Pollitt points out in a Los Angeles Times op-ed:
At [Warren’s] Saddleback Church, wifely submission is official doctrine: The church website tells women to defer to their husband’s “leadership” even when he’s wrong on important issues, such as finances. Never mind if she’s an accountant and he flunked long division, or if she wants to beef up the kids’ college fund and he wants to buy shares in the Brooklyn Bridge. The godly answer is supposed to be “yes, dear.” Is elevating this male chauvinist how President-elect Obama thanks women, who gave him more than half his votes?
The Saddleback Church website quotes Ephesians 5:22-23, one of the letters supposedly written by apostle Paul about 30 years after the death of Jesus:
You wives must submit to your husbands’ leadership in the same way you submit to the Lord. For a husband is in charge of his wife in the same way Christ is in charge of His body the Church. (He gave His very life to take care of it and be its Savior!) So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the Church obeys Christ.
But using Scripture as a basis for policies in these modern times — be it at a megachurch or in civil law — is fraught with rhetorical danger, which is why today’s Christians selectively ignore some of the Bible’s inflammatory admonitions.
For example, Saddleback Church has apparently chosen to ignore biblical injunctions that women must not speak in church. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth (Corinthians 14:34), Paul wrote:
The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.
And then there is First Timothy 2:11-15:
Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.
Forcing women to be silent would be bad for business at the megachurches, so the men who run them simply ignore these inconvenient Scriptures.
And we hear much about the sacred nature of marriage, but Warren and his fellow travelers consistently fail to mention that Paul was vehemently against any sort of marriage (Corinthians 7:8-9):
Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
This is the same selectivity they use as a rationale to persecute gays. They ignore multiple admonitions against fornication and adultery (including the one in the Ten Commandments), but rely on a couple of obscure biblical references to homosexuality as a rationale amending state constitutions to restrict the civil rights of gay people.
The more that we learn about Rick Warren and his bigoted views, the more horrific the decision to invite him to speak at the inauguration of America’s first black president becomes.