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An Interpretation of Evangelical Gender Ideology, Essay Example

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In the journal article entitled “An Interpretation of Evangelical Gender Ideology: Implications for a Theology of Gender” by Thomas V. Frederick, the main argument of the article consists of “the impacts for evangelicals to espouse a traditional model for gender identity” (p.183). There are many costs for this according to Frederick. First, “the cost for not maintaining patriarchal gender ideologies is to risk losing an evangelical distinctiveness at large” (Frederick, p. 186). Evangelicals engage in processes of identity making and adopt a traditional family model based on their ideology of gender. According to Frederick, there are two main costs for evangelicals in maintaining patriarchal gender ideologies. These include the following:

Patriarchal gender ideology is oppressive to (a) males that do not or cannot conform to hegemonic masculinity and (b) to females that do not or cannot conform to privileged femininity (p. 186).

The second cost is to the evangelicals own sense of authenticity. “As evangelicals are called to image God through their own sexual being – having certain sexual characteristics – by participating in the systematic oppression of one sex over the other disavows who they are created to be” (Frederick, p. 187). Oppression is a type of empowerment, specifically to men. The more women are oppressed in life, the workforce, and many other areas, the more this empowers the men to have a more masculine identity. According to Frederick, “When evangelicals are asked to describe their own gender ideology, they predominately utilize male headship and female submission language in discussing it” (p. 188). Men are considered the dominant group and therefore have more power than do females. They keep this power by ensuring that others see the world in ways that people with power see it and this empowers them to continue manipulating masculinity as well as gender ideology itself. Finally, wives are expected to submit to their husband’s authority no matter what. This is one of the largest ways that men are empowered and keep that empowerment throughout their lives (Frederick, p. 184). As women continue to submit to their husbands in all manners, the oppression of women and girls and the empowerment of men continue to grow. The evangelicals still maintain traditional values regarding male and female responsibilities. Frederick states the following in reference to males in evangelical families:

Males are expected to lead in all family decisions, and males are expected to rule their families. Both wives and children are expected to submit to the authority of males. In terms of Christian family practices, evangelicals emphasize male headship which does not necessarily contradict gender equity, and they tend to emphasize the burden on husbands, not submission of women (p. 184).

The only problem in reference to the above statement is that the submission of women is a burden. It is a burden to the women who are continually oppressed by their husbands and their husband’s power, both in the home and outside of the home. One thing to take into consideration is that without someone in power, the world would be a pretty scary place. “Humans likewise are ‘community’ oriented – relationships, especially marriage, are fundamental to the human condition” (Frederick, p. 190). Therefore, some since of empowerment has to come from somewhere or the world would be much worse off than it is already. Yet, empowerment can also destroy relationships with family, friends, and spouses. One has to know when to have power and when to release power to someone else. If we are all continuously fighting over power, no one in the communities in which we live will actually survive. In evangelical relationships, the men have the power and are there to empower the people around them. The key to this is knowing when to use it and knowing how to not abuse the right to have this power.

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