(With apologies to C.S. Lewis)
The writer wishes to acknowledge that the style of writing has been inspired by C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters1 but does not suggest that the late great author would necessarily embrace the theology set forth.
My Dear Cohorts:
The urgency of the occasion dictates the unprecedented action on my part of corresponding personally with all of you. Suffice it to say I would not interrupt your fiendish schedules were the matter not of utmost importance. I am deeply distressed with a new tactic the Enemy seems to be employing. Surely each one of you has admired my optimism through the centuries concerning our eventual overthrow of the Righteous. Indeed, as one reviews the rampant lapse in moral fiber throughout all the world in just the last earthlings’ generation, we all have cause for gleeful gloating!
Yet, I observe a cloud imperceptibly gathering that, when full-formed, may well pour out irreparable havoc on our devilish schemes. I speak of none other than the rapid escalation of the female sex into significant positions of authority in the Enemy’s army. With alarming rapidity troop after troop of His finest are moving to permit women to be what they call “Elders” and even commissioning them to the rank of “Reverend!”
Listen and tremble! If membership in the Enemy’s full-time ranks will ever fully open to women, in no time His detestable band of female faithfuls could double or even triple His force of determined, qualified teachers, elders and pastors. One has visions of “revival” for their side of proportions too staggering to contemplate. Denizens of the deep, I am sounding the alarm for us to take up arms with deadly zeal and speedily repel this potentially impenetrable force.
For some of you, the memory of my masterful work in Eden has grown faint. Pity ... it was indeed my finest hour! Let me recapitulate the highlights. My decision to deceive only the woman was brilliant. I still can see her standing there — disgustingly innocent, naive, pristine. Seeing such absence of malice reminded me why I so disliked her Maker. Yet, carefully garbed as I was in the beautiful body of one of His nicer creations (serpents were so magnificent then...) her unsuspecting and unsullied mind became a sure target for deception.
Don’t misunderstand me; a talent lesser than mine easily might have failed, for she asked thoughtful, intelligent questions. But you may recall that the Enemy’s command to abstain from that most desirous of trees came to Eve not from her Maker, but from her mate. Frankly, I’ve always relished that as a weakness in His plan, not to have roundly briefed them both as to that fearful foliage, Hence, my choice of Eve to deceive. Her knowledge of the facts seemed sparse, not having heard them gravely uttered by her Creator, but perhaps casually by her companion. One sometimes wonders whether the male gender’s inability to communicate is a created condition...
But, my worthies, do you see the significance of my masterful act? Oh, I could have approached them together and obviously he would have yielded to me. He yielded to her, didn’t he? How could he have possibly withstood the master deceiver?2 But, you see, had they both identically shared this diabolic deed, neither could have blamed the other.
Oh, what a stroke of genius! For the rest of history this selfish sinner would condemn his other half for causing him to sin, without me having to point one deceptive finger at him. Now the stage would be set for the physically stronger half forcefully to forever remind his physically weaker equal of causing his downfall. So together they have become ours. Robbed of innocence, pure love and the Enemy’s impeccable attributes, they are easily filled with craftiness, deception and greed.
What a glorious era it was wherein the beast-half forced the beauty-half to be his slave. It now fell to me merely to prey on man’s vanity and perpetuate the myth that woman was, and women are, to blame. The Jewish Talmud, early philosophers, even pagan writers shouted the same lie: Women are inherently defective, less than the Enemy’s image, somewhere below kine and slightly above swine — never let them instruct again, for they did once and all is ruined!3
Admittedly, there were some fearful decades during that hideous thirty-three year visitation of Enemy Number Two (or are They really both Number One?). Had He stayed much longer, pleasantly accepting prostitutes as equals to royalty, our cause might have fully unraveled. It annoys me to remember how He used women so prominently to observe and announce His return to them after His wretched visit to us. Frankly, His obvious penchant to gender equality has cost us dearly. Fortunately for us, the paternal societies to which He came required an all-male team of apostles, a fact we must continue to market mercilessly.
Then there was that dangerous Jew from Tarsus whose prolific contribution to the Enemy’s Manual has done us as much damage as the Enemy’s Son. The nerve of this half-blind hunchback to suggest that women and men are equal both in marriage and in the church! For him to defy all we had tried to accomplish for thousands of years and in one fell swoop declare Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female all equal! To think of inviting women to sit in the assembly, pray, prophesy—and—and command that they be taught!4 And then his greatest stroke of genius: to redefine “headship;” to wrench from its age-old meaning all hint of domination and oppression and expect men to love and serve and — yes, even die for the very one who caused their condemnation! I slept little those nights and imagined centuries of male dominance slipping away and the ushering in of some putrid form of mushy, equal, agape love among the Enemy’s troops, not unlike what He originally had intended.
One small comfort remained: All of “fallen” humanity dies after three score years or so. And that persistent fellow Paul died none to soon, leaving us merely with his writings. Had he lived, I have no doubt he would have fleshed out his ridiculous ideologies and brought about full-scale equality. But once free of his inimitable personality, the work of his pen was easier to quell.
I set about to find learned men (philosophers, theologians, early church fathers) to sufficiently pepper their writings with quotable criticisms of women. Fully persuaded the Manual taught these criticisms, they unwittingly advanced our cause. Then Augustine, Luther, Calvin and scores of others aided us immeasurably by perpetuating a teaching so naturally palatable to the male gender.
Of course, many such slanted statements on women worked equally well for slavery — another glorious man-made institution which has served our cause well until recently. But who would have thought that the Other Side would have won that round through the efforts of a lanky, black-bearded American President — even in the face of much opposition from the Enemy’s troops! For it was they who had convinced themselves of the “Divine Order of Slavery” or some such thing. I recall one of their most respected clergy vociferously arguing that efforts to overthrow slavery were “assaults of mistaken philanthropy, in union with infidelity, fanaticism and political expediency.”5 But the public tide surged forward, and His officers soon reevaluated their theological moorings, found them sorely wanting, and reinterpreted the Manual.
Hence, my dire concern today. Through no thanks to His troops, society has decided that it will no longer tolerate inequity shown to any group. Oh, I envision such a philosophy bringing us many small victories, for soon every rag-tag band of the most perverted will be labeled a “minority group” and eligible for grants and protection governments can ill afford to give. But mounting societal pressure for women’s equality may yet bring the Old Boys’ Club to their knees. While one could only hope that club would tenaciously hold to their antiquated beliefs regardless of persecution, yet their financial existence depends on the sanction and tax breaks of a society which labels them “chauvinistic bigots.” Poor souls! Again, they will blushingly rewrite the interpretations of their Manual. And ironically, as with slavery, the rewrite will be right.
Lords of Iniquity, our future has never been more perilous. Women must not be commissioned into His army. Oh, emancipation of slaves has not significantly increased the Enemy’s fighting force — in fact many of those downtrodden beings clung closer to their Redeemer in past affliction than in present affluence. But a world-wide force of fully commissioned, educated, Spirit-filled women may easily spell ultimate doom to our glorious forces of evil!
Enough preamble. Read carefully now as I personally instruct you in how to keep the Enemy’s followers true to their man-made traditions and blind to the truth. Let me explain several tried and true tactics that require your full proficiency if we are ever to maintain dominance over this planet.
First and foremost, we must keep emphasizing what traditional theologians call the “Created Order.” At all cost, keep them convinced that Adam’s direct creation from dust shows ownership and superiority over Eve, who merely came from Adam’s rib. Impress on them the logic of that thought; woman is merely an appendage to serve man. Never once let them see the equal dust to which they both returned! This creation teaching can be neatly augmented by the hunchback’s letter to the Corinthian followers where he says woman came from man and is for man. Do anything to distract them from Paul’s correction of their historic bias where he says that in their “Lord” woman is no longer independent of man nor man of woman.6 And by all means, don’t let it cross their minds that the Enemy (too generously, I think) gave both genders an equal mandate to rule this planet before they chose my rule!7
A close cousin to the “Created Order” fallacy, and one of equal success up to now, revolves around the matter of authority. The longer we can keep the Old Boys’ Club mentality around the better (it has worked well in service clubs for years). Keep them convinced that all of their officers (elders, presbyters, clergy) must be male. It helps to remind them that many of the significant leaders on their side have been male.
Authority is such an easy doctrine to expound, for it quite naturally caters to male pride. As “head of his house,” each little Napoleon stands in daily danger of wanting more and more power until he is like his Maker (a concept that interested me greatly at one time...).
As pride grows, men will redefine legitimate male uniqueness as superiority and consequently minimize female attributes as inferior. Oh yes, there is great advantage in accentuating gender differences. Encourage their rugged, bossy, macho cravings in everything from after-shaves to muscle cars to combat rifles. At the other end, let tears, empathy, compassion, intuition and relationships continue to be the sole domain, even attractiveness of, the “weaker” sex. With very little coaching and only imagined justification from their Manual, both sides will stay convinced that coolness, objectivity and brute force are needed for leadership and, therefore only possessed by the male. If all goes well, the fools will never see the abundant so-called feminine qualities in the Enemy’s Son — oh, how it galls me to recall how tender and compassionate He could be!
Indeed, among Christian men these days, there is a growing trend toward relationships, “twelve-step programs” and the like. How embarrassing to see males be vulnerable, accountable, admitting their dysfunctionality in front of an entire group! Some of them are even finding pleasure in staying home and enjoying an evening with their own children while Mother is out. This blurring of “roles” can only damage our carefully honed image of the aloof, authoritative husband-father who merely condescends to occasionally baby-sit. Our world is in deep trouble.
Now let me raise a further delightful twist to “male leadership.” With very little coaxing on our part, any sincere young husband desirous of being a firm but loving “head” can easily be made to act less like them and more like us. All it may take is a teething baby, a sexually unyielding wife, a layoff at the office, or a fight with the in-laws, and those attributes which put him in charge will make him a monster. Psychological or physical abuse of wife or child can easily follow as his power becomes corrupted. Similarly, a wife who initially chose to “joyfully submit” can be pushed through enough bumps of marriage so that she sees herself as a helpless slave. Whether she then divorces or stoically accepts her fate, our cause has once again benefited.
Such teaching over the years has developed an interesting side effect. Women have come to believe they have no mechanical prowess or objectivity, but must rely on their men in these areas. So they have fallen upon manipulation to get their way, undermining male authority with the promise of demurely meeting every male desire, from office to kitchen to bedroom. So the “head” stays convinced God has endowed him to lead while his cold objectivity lacks the intuition to see that the neck is forever turning the head!
Another amusing but effective way to accentuate male importance is to meticulously divide meetings of each denomination’s Annual General Conference, Convocation, Synod, or General Assembly into male sections and female sections. Ensure that at least one long hot sunny day be lost to “Ladies’ Society” meetings wherein the fairer sex don their finery and elect each other to committees of no consequence to our cause —just be sure that everyone either gets a position or a plaque for something. For weeks ahead, create an aura of mystery about the speaker, but be sure her topic turns out to be as harmless as “Embroidering Communion Tablecloths” or “Making Yourself Attractive to your Man.” Meanwhile “their men” will receive solid spiritual food from a renowned imported exegete. Now and then one of the stronger weaker vessels may momentarily wish to sample the male fare, but propriety and tradition will ultimately keep her in her place. Hence, both will return from the conference with exuberant reports of how they were singularly blessed.
Oh yes, I almost omitted one of the greatest weapons in your arsenal: that of Original Language Debates. Take that delightfully simple Greek word kephale. Oh the satisfaction it has brought me to see His best scholars waste months, years, lifetimes in the relentless pursuit of early usages of that word to support their cause. Their obsession to know what “man as head” means has kept both sexes from letting the Enemy’s Son be their head! Exquisite joy! Keep them bickering over such minutiae as to whether prophecy is inferior to preaching, what the “early traditions” really are, can the extant manuscripts be trusted — and, oh yes, the head-covering and “because of the angels” passage.8 How delightful to watch their world embrace us at an unprecedented rate while their best “authoritative preachers” use all their time to defend their male turf. It all reminds me of the Most Venerable Screwtape’s sage advice to Wormwood some years ago: “Leave them to discuss whether ‘Love,’ or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Can’t you see, there’s no answer.”9
Of great consternation to me these days is the unexpected increase of women in seminaries—those pesky institutions which serve as boot camp apprenticeships for the Enemy’s full-time Army. True, we have successfully disarmed the firepower of most of these schools so that they are little more than a religious presence with curricula so helpless that their graduates, male or female, pose no real threat to us. But now the so-called “evangelical” seminaries are accepting women — keen, intelligent, committed students bent on dragging earthlings out of our darkness into His despicable light.
Our strongest hope is to fall back on the “authoritative preaching” tactic. Oh, let women be employed as teachers of children and other women, as leaders of day care centers, as “parish workers.” Most of them still have vestiges of guilt about even being in the full-time Army, so will never aspire to the higher ranks reserved for males. You will notice much similarity between this and how we have abused missionary women for decades.
For those churches who are progressive enough to hire a female pulpit pastor, it would be wise to steer a certain type their way. I’m thinking of the striking, well-dressed dramatic type who knows how to coordinate dress and color to accentuate her attributes. Better yet if she be a shallow thinker who will use the pulpit to spin doctrinally true but harmless homilies with just the right amount of wholesome innocence and seeming flirtatiousness. In no time wives will hate her, men will lust after her, traditional leadership will say “I told you so” and the era of authoritative female preaching in that church will abruptly end!
Less superficially attractive women, or those few who blend beauty with modesty and discretion, are of much greater concern, especially if they are also deeply spiritual and forceful exegetes of His Manual (and many are!). Here you must unearth some tangential malady and magnify it: a lisp, perhaps, or a physical deformity, or some annoying but harmless habit of throat-clearing — the best is to have her young child keep toddling up to the pulpit. Whereas the faithful have dutifully endured years of tepid ramblings from the previous male shepherd under the now tattered rubric “Thou shalt not touch the Lord’s anointed!”, the slightest blemish in the shepherdess will soon have her looking for other sheepfolds.
Likely as not, those sheepfolds will be less evangelical. It falls to our benefit that many of these gifted, brilliant women finally despair of the undue criticism railed against them from traditionalists. Yet, convinced that they can, want to and even are called to lead and preach, they may compromise their theological tenets and brokenly seek the employ of some waffling liturgical group, New Age gathering, or cult. It matters not; once again, we score!
My epistle grows too lengthy. Comrades, I trust I have inspired you to new levels of service. Try not to yield to depression as you contemplate the worst of scenarios. Should the Enemy’s side ever attempt to initiate gender equality, there may yet be a heretofore unmentioned blessing for us. Remember that these same bright, gifted women are yet dual-natured creatures of what they call “the Fall.” We can only hope that the headiness of equality may stir in them a lust for retributive dominance over those who have so long oppressed them. Who knows but that we may yet enjoy centuries of female authority! Swings of the pendulum are common among earthlings, both in political and religious arenas.
Yet one day the inevitable will surely happen. You too should shudder to think of the accuracy of that wretched Manual and its Author. His sons and daughters will prophesy before that final holocaust. Leave me now to reflect on the past triumph of wounding that most perfect of heels. The clouds gather, and ultimately we all shall feel the inevitable crush of her offspring....10
In the meantime, I remain
Your Affectionate Father Below
- C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters (New York: MacMillan Co., 1961)
- The writer is suggesting a possible interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:12 (Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived..) as meaning that the Deceiver chose to tempt Eve, perhaps because her “lesser knowledge” made her an easier target. Ironically, Adam still chose to sin, even though he was commanded directly by God not to eat of the tree and did not have to face the Deceiver personally as Eve did This would be in agreement with Scriptures suggesting greater culpability on Adam’s part (1 Corinthians 15:22).
- Leading church father St John Chrysostom (3457-407) is quoted as saying, “The woman taught once and ruined all. On this account… let her not teach… The whole female race transgressed.... Let her not, however grieve. God hath given her no small consolation, that of childbearing...” From Works of Chrysostom. Homilies on Timothy, in Select Library of Nicene Fathers, ed. by P. Schaff (NY 1889). This and many other amazing quotations have been collected by J. O ‘Faolain and L. Marlines in Not In God’s Image (NY: Harper and Row, 1973).
- That women are commanded to teach finds its basis in 1 Timothy 2:11, usually translated “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission” (NTV). However, it should be noted that the Greek manthaneto (“should learn”) is present active imperative, and could legitimately be translated “I command that women learn/be taught.” In the verse following (“I do not permit a woman to teach...”) one could also translate this present active indicative as “I am presently not permitting women to teach” — that is, until they have been taught. Then they may teach.
- Over 100 years ago, the Rev. B.T. Roberts wrote a delightful little book called Ordaining Women (Rochester, NY: Earnest Christian Publishing House, 1891) in which he quotes an author from the 1860’s. The entire passage is very contemporary and appropriate to today’s discussions, and deserves to be quoted in full. “About thirty years ago the Right Rev. John Henry Hopkins, D.D., LL.L., one of the learned men of his day, and the Protestant Episcopal Bishop of the diocese of Vermont, wrote and published a book in which he endeavored to prove that human slavery, as it then existed in these United States, was supported by ‘the authority of the Bible, the writings of the Fathers, the decrees of Councils, the concurrent judgment of Protestant divines, and the Constitution.’ The efforts to overthrow slavery he characterized as the ‘assaults of mistaken philanthropy, in union with infidelity, fanaticism, and political expediency.’” One can only ponder how much of the traditionalists’ arguments of today are fueled by similar factors.
- Many traditionalists seem to relish quoting 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9: “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” But little is made of Paul’s apparent restatement of this probable Jewish interpretation: in the Lord, neither are now dependent on or independent of the other (v. 11) “...for as woman came from men (true) so also man is born of woman (also true).” The unnecessary inclusion of the definite articles in Greek in this ninth verse makes the inference even stronger: the woman (Eve) came from the man (Adam), but now the man (Christ) is born of the woman (Mary).
- Genesis 1:28. It seems more than accidental that the mandate to rule all things was given jointly to Adam and Eve.
- The current outstanding case in point would have to be J. Piper and W. Grudem’s traditionalist tome, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Wheaton, III.: Crossway Books, 1991). One can only speculate how fearful the “Fattier Below” would be if these 566 pages of painstaking research encouraged full, equal ministry for women!
- C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, p. 98.
- A subtle reference to the prophetic properties of Genesis 3:15.