image by sarah mccoy photo

Friday, February 25, 2011

Since Everyone's Wrestling Over It...

Here's your big chance to compare three different perspectives all in one place.  And I get to add my two[hundred] cents because, hey, it's my blog.

We can frame the question of girl-boy wrestling a number of ways, depending on our angle.  Is wrestling really the same as other contact sports, so-called because of more incidental contact?  Is a girl’s opinion on what “honors” her the final word on the matter?  Is the protection of women, required of men by the Bible, only for those women who claim it, or is it to be read as universally applicable?

There’s another question I’d like to ask the first author, Caryn Rivadeneira, in her post on Her.meneutics: what “cultural view” are you deriding?  Rivadeneira essentially argues that Joel Northrup’s faith should have caused him to treat Cassy Herkelman as an equal by wrestling her.  She cites passages where Jesus touches the untouchable woman, befriends the socially downtrodden, etc, etc.  It’s true: Jesus was a radical feminist for that age, demonstrating that women were equal to men…in worth, in value, in personhood before their Creator. 

What Rivadeneira leaves out are the passages where equality is clearly not synonymous with sameness.  The solution to bad harmonizing isn't to make everybody sing the same note,” writes John Piper in a terrific sermon elucidating true Biblical manhood and womanhood.   And really, that is the cultural crisis underlying the wrestling hullabaloo.  The crisis is so great that Rivadeneira thinks she is being countercultural when she champions the contention of women in, well, whatever arena they can find to jump into.  Actually, she’ll have to stand in line to blow that trumpet because erasing the gender boundaries is, like, so totally in right now.  Which is why Rivadeneira’s language sounds pretty similar to Rick Reilly’s, if less sarcastic. 
On the surface, it seems that Reilly hasn’t even tried to present logical arguments.  He guesses other guys who wrestled Herkelman had faith, and it never stopped them.  Does this reflect badly on the essence of Northrup's faith or of theirs?  Herkelman “relishes the violence,” so give her what she wants: “an elbow in the ribs [is] exactly how to respect Cassy.”  Respecting someone, then, is doing whatever they want?  Worst, the strange insertion of the classic anti-relativist argument: “If my God told me to poke the elderly with sharp sticks, would that make it morally acceptable to others?”  Wait, that’s my line, and I can use it because I have a definitive moral standard, without which those “others” have no basis on which to judge my old-person-poking.

But it’s to be expected, as my wise mother reminds me.  The wisdom of the gospel is foolishness to unbelievers (1 Cor. 1:18).  Even so…

As the kind of tomboy who liked “busting stuff up” on and off the basketball court, including my own knees, and the kind of girl who sprinted and long jumped in men’s winter track meets because there weren’t enough meets for girls, and the kind of girl who practiced with several wide-receivers in high school and impressed them into pleading with the football coach to let her play kick return, I feel more qualified than Rick Reilly to speak on the matter. 

And on those qualifications, I recommend this third article on the subject, again by John Piper, written in 2009, but badly needed right now. It’s hard to emerge above the swirling dust of cultural nonsense and get any perspective.  It’s also scary, because you’re bound to be publicly lambasted, like Northrup.  Piper has his head above the clouds and brings in the gospel with clarity.  (To draw out the analogy for fun, Rivadeneira is thrashing desperately from within the cloud; Reilly IS the cloud.)

Incidentally, my high school football coach would not let me play because the Catholic schools in our conference would have defaulted.  Good for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment