It's the era of exvangelicalism. As we leave, or work to restructure church practice, I think it's important to take stock of exactly *what* we're abandoning or reforming—because if we simply react against symptoms without identifying root causes, we're in for trouble. 1/12
Watching American evangelicalism crumbling & storming all around me, clearly making way for a New Thing (or maybe an updated Old Thing), I'm reminded of the "emerging church" movement as it took shape during my childhood & teen years. 2/12
Validly frustrated by genuine issues within "traditional" evangelical churches, this movement had Big Plans. For example, they worked to replace lofty, inaccessible leadership with "relatable" leadership, & to swap strait-laced sex-negativity for "biblical" sex-positivity. 3/12
But we all know how that went. The movement gave birth to leaders like the highly-toxic Mark Driscoll—men who wielded their considerable influence to silence dissenters & weaponized sex-positivity against women, treating them like mere receptacles for male sexuality. 4/12
Today many once-hip "emerging churches" are plagued with scandal, & young people are leaving them in a mass exodus, often to align themselves with mainline churches or other more traditional iterations of Christianity. So. What went wrong with the emerging church movement? 5/12
This topic is of course complex, & there are many threads we can tug on, each taking us in a different direction. But one thing seems clear to me: the disappointing failures of the emerging church movement are the result of a failure to understand *what* needed reforming. 6/12
For example, replacing inaccessible leadership with relatable leadership is nothing but a shift in aesthetic unless it is accompanied by a thorough understanding of how power dynamics function to foster environments governed by fear & the expectation of conformity. 7/12
Similarly, "biblical" sex-positivity is no less oppressive than sex-negativity (in fact, it turned out be a great deal worse!) unless it is accompanied by a post-misogynistic vision for sexuality founded on mutual respect, equality, & enthusiastic consent. 8/12
Likewise, my Black & brown siblings-in-Jesus have many stories of their own about how the vision for "racial diversity" put forward by the emerging church movement of the '90s & 2000s failed to reach a complex understanding of structural racism & ultimately failed *them.* 9/12
Now I'm not here to bash the emerging church movement of my youth or to drag up any old debates. I'm not here to talk about motives or culpability or even the fall-out of these failures. None of that is the point. 10/12
My point is this: when we react against something that is wrong without doing the long & probably very painful work of determining what *makes* it wrong, we build a new movement with the same structural shortcomings as the old one—just coated in a different color of paint. 11/12
Because that work *has* to be long. It probably *has* to be painful. It has to be an identity-level examination, a full-scale deconstruction. Anything less simply will not yield a sound building or a safe house for the people God made & likes a lot. 12/12

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More from @_Bryana_Joy

13 Oct
When I was 25 & engaged to be married, I thumbed through Every Man's Battle in a bookstore & ended up sobbing in the bathroom. This is a thread for the younger me whose exposure to awful teachings about sex made her scream into pillows & feel terribly, terribly alone. 1/16
The release of @garyLthomas' problematic new book has been stirring up painful emotions for thousands of people this week—grief, fear, deep anger, loneliness, & alienation from their own sexuality. These are all-too familiar emotions for women, both religious & otherwise. 2/16
My younger self spent years struggling in total isolation with the way sex was presented to me both in & out of the church. Everywhere I turned I heard the same messages: Sex is for men. Women are to be looked at. Women must work hard to be sexually pleasing to men. 3/16
Read 17 tweets
11 Oct
🧵: Some Thoughts On "Sacrificial Sex"

"I don't think sacrificial sex is ever appropriate," I told my husband yesterday. And he said, "Of course not! Anyone who can enjoy having sex with someone who is making a sacrifice to participate with them has got some issues." 1/8
In his new book Married Sex, @garyLthomas acknowledges that "obligation sex" is a poor long-term strategy for relationships, & that problems arise when a woman feels she must have sex to prevent her husband from cheating on her or turning to degrading pornography. 2/8
Yet he goes on to spend pages of the book explaining just how much men need sex, just how much their identity is rooted in it, & how they are bound to resent their wives for withholding it or not enjoying it. In other words: obligation sex is bad but also you *are* obligated. 3/8
Read 8 tweets
9 Oct
🧵: A Lot of Women *Do* Like Sex, ACTUALLY

Yesterday's thread has been generating conversation & I have something to add. Although one of the most pressing issues produced by evangelical marriage resources is the horror of women being pressured into sex even though sex is...1/8
...not enjoyable for them, the tone taken by these authors also creates a second issue that deserves more attention: the continuous messaging telling women "God didn't design us to like sex as much as men" is frustrating & isolating to so many women for whom it rings untrue. 2/8
Among the women in my age bracket with whom I have discussed sex, the majority actually consider themselves to have a higher sex drive than their husbands & tend to be the ones experiencing sexual rejection. I personally recall how distressing it was for me in my young...3/8
Read 8 tweets
9 Oct
I want @garyLthomas (& @Zondervan!) to know that for an untold number of women, his words in Married Sex are triggering trauma responses & great anguish this week. We. are. tired. We are so, SO tired of being told that men desperately need sex & we don't. 1/9
We are SO tired of being told that our bodies have an almost-mystical power over men & that we need to use our sexuality strategically to retain our husbands' affection. We are so tired of being treated like a separate species primarily defined by our sex appeal. 2/9
I want @garyLthomas to know what it's like to be a woman suffering with vaginismus/dyspareunia & forcing herself through agonizing pain & hours of dilator therapy every week in sheer terror that the man she loves will leave her if she can't fulfill his sexual expectations. 3/9
Read 10 tweets

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