Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

Christian book store

Trinkets at the front, Bibles at the back: This American Christian book store is larger than most I have seen, but also has other things in front and books at the back. It is also known to be complementarian, as the chain once famously took a magazine with woman pastors from the shelves. (Photo was taken from the Internet.)

“Great news”, my serious Christian friend said. “Gospel Direct will take over the Lux Verbi store in Welkom.” Lux Verbi was the Christian bookstore in Welkom. Gospel Direct is a company that sells religious CDs, DVDs, and books. (And trinkets like pencils and mugs with religious messages.)

He was happy because Gospel Direct has a marketing strategy, and capacity to buy in bulk, that enables them to sell gospel CDs more cheaply. In the time since – and of course Gospel Direct cannot take sole responsibility – books became few and superficial in the store, and DVD’s and books -even diaries – are more likely than ever to be “for women” or “for men” with a complementarian slant.

Why do complementarianism – the term and the majority of material – come from the USA? And why are bookstores even more infested with it than the local church is?

The simple answer is money. The secular world found out decades ago that if you can convince people that a certain product is just for one sex, they can sell more: If you bought a pink baby blanket, and it is only for little girls, there is a 50% chance that your second baby will need new blankets.

The same goes for the Christian world. If you write a best seller called “how to pray”, where do you go from there? If you write a best seller called “How to pray for your husband”, your next books could be “How to pray for your wife” or “How to pray for your children” or “How to pray for your church.”

To write a book like “How to pray for your husband”, you need to convince the reader that praying for a husband has somewhat different principles than praying for your mother or son or pastor or co-worker or daughter.

What would you use for gender-specific writing? The few Bible texts that are specifically aimed at wives, or husbands. Those texts came from a culture where men had almost all the power and education, and describe how to deal with such a reality. Overusing those few texts, while ignoring the way egalitarianism is in the Bible from Genesis 1 through the work of Jesus and arguably until the end of the Bible, leads to perpetuating inequality.

And the majority of the world’s money-making Christian™ material comes from the USA, where complementarianism comes from. It is a country big enough, religious enough, and rich enough to produce loads of profit-making Christian™ books, CDs and DVDs.

Could a culture that sees some people as money makers and others as people to make money off, also in itself be related to patriarchy? It is, like complementarianism, a “Me On Top, you below” culture. In that case, Christian™ bookstores will be even more closely aligned with patriarchy.

Comments on: "Why is my bookstore so complementarian?" (4)

  1. Reblogged this on bWe Baptist Women for Equality's Blog and commented:
    Report from the street evangelist. Got off work early and went shopping, but still had an hour to kill before my hair appointment. Decided to go to the Christian Book Store with a new tactic. Been there before, of course, but they ‘don’t have space’ for my book. Reread the “Glory of Sex” reference to Timothy Keller that it is on page 130 of my newest book. Stuck the book inside my purse. Going on a mission. Bet I don’t have to look long before I find Timothy Keller’s book and his glory of sex reference. Sure enough, there were 2 of them in the marriage section. Found what I wanted on page 237 and put the book back. Went to the counter and told the young woman there that I wanted to give her my book that she could put on the shelf. No charge, just don’t throw it in the trash can (I wanted her to know it was valuable!). She took it behind the wall to the manager. While she disappeared, I stepped back and got the Real Marriage book referenced before and stood waiting for her at the counter. She returned with my book and said they would have to review it. I asked her “Do you think that when a husband and wife have sex and climax that they are emulating the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?” I opened Keller’s book and showed her where he says that. Of course she was shocked. I said, “This book has already passed review, but look what it says!” Then I opened my book and showed her what I said about what he said in his book. I took out my street evangelist card and stuck it in on page 130 of my book, and said “I call myself the street evangelist for women’s equality.”

    Read what this Christian blogger has to say about Christian bookstores. I ask you, what will you do about it?


  2. I reblogged your post. It was so great and you said it so well.


  3. krwordgazer said:

    Excellent points! But why do the same bookstores so often simply omit to carry any egalitiarian materials? Ideology, of course– because presumably there are people who would buy these books who won’t buy the patriarchal/complementarian ones, but the bookstores still won’t stock these books.


  4. I’ve seen some egal books in my local bookstore. I can’t remember the titles, but if that’s any reassurance, this trend may change.


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