More on Deafness and Michelle Bachmann

18 August 2011 2 Comments

It’s always nice to find that someone agrees with you, especially if they have a title. I posted a few days ago about deafness as a metaphor for combatants in the culture wars not being able to hear/understand each other. My point was that we speak different languages and mishear each other.

So it was comforting this morning to read the following in regard to Michelle Bachmann being questioned on the New Testament passage regarding women submitting to their husbands. This comes from John Green, director of the Ray Bliss Institute of Applied Politics:

“We often see in American politics that the language of a particular subculture—in this case, evangelicals—somehow gets out into the wider public as part of a political discussion and begins to attract controversy because it’s not understood in the broader community.”

You could argue, of course, that the controversy here is not caused by mishearing or misunderstanding, but by understanding all too well what the issue is. But I think the problem in this case, as in many, is that precisely because the “broader community” thinks they understand (and are appropriately appalled), it is eager to see this as further evidence for its stereotype of evangelicals, and does not want to hear any nuanced or thoughtful explanation. Secularists claim to be appalled by this further evidence of evangelical medievalness, but actually they are delighted, because it fulfills their stereotypes and keeps their world simple.

If you need a parallel example that reverses the roles, think about past reactions to banning the Ten Commandments from hanging in a court room—or supply your own.

Daniel Taylor



  • Marie Balsley Taylor said:

    Dan, I completely agree with you. The problem, as you allude to, is the way that both the Christian culture and the secular culture use the term submit. In a healthy Christian sense, we use the term to indicate an authority based on love — i.e. wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. While the question of headship is one I am not quite sure about, I think that basically this idea of submission and love is one that applies to any healthy relationship — be it Christian or not. The problem comes in when we look at the way the term is used outside of the church. I think that most times in the general culture submission is rarely used apart from the act of submitting a document and when it is used, it indicates a strong power relationship, i.e. athletic competitions where one team forces another to submit to their superior skills, or dictators forcing subjects to submit to their wills. There is no subtlety and certainly not any tie to a loving relationship.
    I think the point is that, while the media does unfairly paint Christian evangelicals with a broad brush, Christians need to be aware of their use of language and their audience. In Bachmann’s case, she may have saved herself a lot of trouble if she would have used the term “respect” in the first place, as she later tried to do.

  • redhead in rapid said:

    A reminder that language matters.

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