Do some male evangelicals compensate for lack of brains?

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read yesterday's post on 'Male Headship' on Suem's blog 'Significant Truths. Hers is one of the blogs I follow. I recommend it. She writes that recently she's been thinking 
"about the irony of the fact that so many evangelical men who believe in "male headship" are not terribly bright. In my experience, the sort of men who believe they have an innate God given right to be in authority over women seem to be very limited intellectually. It occurs to me that their belief in male headship may actually be a way of compensating for deficiencies in that area? I hope I am not being sexist, not to mention anti- evangelical here, perhaps I have just been unlucky - or has anyone else noticed the same?"
I think that statement does read as sexist and anti-evangelical with some intellectual snobbishness thrown in. On the other hand - I do know what she means. That's why I laughed at the humorous video clip in her post. Let me put my cards on the table before commenting further.
  • I have difficulties with Christian 'party' labels because of the tendency to stereotise particular groups . Once you do, the next step is further discrimination against the other group, whoever the 'other' are.
  • I'm an evangelical married to an evangelical man who doesn't fit Suem's "not very bright" description.
  • I'm not a fundamentalist. I'm an evangelical with charismatic-liberal-catholic leanings. Make of that what you will. No, I'm not confused - just stubbornly resistant to any one party label - prefer to be known as 'Christian'. Please don't put me in a bubble or a box. I will try to escape!
  • My theology of 'headship' (in marriage or the church) can be summarised as: I believe in Christ as head of the church and that men and women are called to mutual submission out of reverence for Christ. I base this view on my understanding so far of Biblical teaching.
I think Suem has highlighted a problem that is evident in some evangelical individuals and groups. I think I know what she means - which is why her post and linked video made me squirm and feel sad. I don't agree that all evangelical men who believe in 'male headship' are 'not very bright'. It seems that's not what she meant. Perhaps that's true of some. On the other hand I know some men and women who hold that view whose intellect and theological knowledge is much greater than mine and who have really thought deeply about the issue. I respect that.

Do take a look at Suem's post, as much as anything for the interesting discussion that is developing in the comments that follow it. I particularly like Suem's own comment about some evangelical men being "straight line thinkers" and about the strong-minded, well-educated women who accept male headship perhaps as a way of "tapping into male power systems" through gaining approval from a particular group.


  1. Thanks for this, Nancy! I do find that when I blog on slightly more "controversial" issues does generate some interesting feedback and conversations, even if I get some flak. Please note one of the "tags" for the post was "humour" - and it is not entirely "serious", and in a sense is "sending up" my own frustration, for example the comment that "research has shown the word exegesis significantly boosts a male evangelical's ego."

  2. Thanks for commenting Suem. I did note the 'humour' tag, but like all good humour your not entirely serious post has a serious and uncomfortable underbelly. I assumed you weren't refering to real research in the sentence about exegesis. It would be fun to create some spoof research along those lines, but I will resist - it could be sexist!


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