On the night of May 16, 1943, nineteen Lancaster bombers took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire. Each bomber was strapped with a 9,000lb bomb. The mission of the 617 Squadron, code named Operation Chastise, was to destroy German dams in the Ruhr valley.
TIME magazine in a feature story titled ‘Why the World War II “Dambusters” Mission Was So Important’ called Operation Chastise ‘one of the most daring and profitable exploits of the air war against Germany’. Jonathan Falconer in his book The Dam Busters Story called Operation Chastise ‘one of the greatest aviation feats of the twentieth century’.
The dams were towering symbols of German identity and impregnability. The dams were the lifeblood of the Third Reich’s industrial heartland. If only the Allies could blow up the dams, the titanic power of the flooding water would do the rest. The torrential pent-up waters would unleash unimaginable chaos and destruction. It would shatter the barricades that had thus far constrained their dormant fury. It would convert the restrained waters, thus far channelled by the dams to agriculture, electricity and to homes for domestic use, into a malignant and merciless force now uncontrollable, destructive and deadly.
The lawless and violent waters of biblical proportions obliterated entire townships of workers’ homes rendering them completely uninhabitable, razed massive heavy industry establishments and power stations to the ground, ripped out countless telephone and power lines, and wiped out roads and railway lines. The industrial region around the Ruhr valley was almost irreparably damaged.
A decade later, Operation Chastise was turned into a movie called The Dam Busters. The real hero of the movie, TIME noted in its review, was a new type of bomb that, if dropped at the right height and speed, would ‘bounce for 600 yards along the water to the dam wall, sink 30 feet and detonate’.
Dams are enormous concrete structures set on broad bases with high walls. They are almost invulnerable to direct hits from bombs or the effect of shock waves. A British inventor by the name of Barnes Wallis finally figured out how to breach the dams. It could require 6,500lb of high explosive to be detonated against the inner wall of the dam. Wallis concluded that when the charge was detonated, the resulting shock waves could crack open the structure and allow the massive back-pressure of millions of gallons of water to finish the job.
If only the Allies could blow up the dams, the titanic power of the flooding water would do the rest.
What do the dam busters have to do with the feminist destruction of the Church of England?
If human life is to flourish, dams have to be erected and defended. The building of dams or distinctions is one of the most important acts of creation writ large on the first page in the first story of the first book of the Bible. It is humanity’s first story. It is archetypal.
Jordan Peterson in his lectures on the Bible and in his book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos demonstrates how archetypal stories provide the scaffolding of structure and meaning to individuals and societies. Archetypal narratives also transmit collective wisdom.
You don’t have to be a Jew or a Christian to benefit from the truths of archetypal biblical stories. If you delight in the glories of Western civilisation – its music, art, literature, science and philosophy – you will concede that what gave birth to ‘Europe’ was a metanarrative rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in Greco-Roman civilisation and in the Christian Reformation and the secular Enlightenment. This metanarrative has been fiercely contested, resisted and rejected by postmodernism and cultural Marxism. Postmodernism and cultural Marxism recognised that there were a number of dams restraining chaos and holding Western civilisation in place.
One of the most important of these ‘dams’ has been the distinction between male and female – a distinction that is inextricably intertwined with the biblical narrative of creation. Feminists in the Church of England and other Christian denominations conspired to blow this up dam. I must confess I was an accomplice to this operation and considered myself a feminist until the dam was blown up and I saw the catastrophic destruction, but then it was too late.
If you want to rise from barbarism to civilisation you need to build dams. Dams give rise to civilisations. Marriage and the restraining of sexual desire is one such dam. In 1935, Oxford anthropologist Joseph Unwin tried to prove that marriage was an irrelevant institution and the dam of sexual restraint could be blown up without any major blowback. After studying 86 different cultures over several centuries, his research led him to conclude precisely the opposite.
Dams give rise to civilisations. Marriage and the restraining of sexual desire is one such dam.
‘Any human society is free to choose either to display great energy or to enjoy sexual freedom; the evidence is that it cannot do both for more than one generation,’ wrote Unwin in his magnum opus Sex and Culture. Unwin had no Christian convictions and applied no moral judgment: ‘I offer no opinion about rightness or wrongness.’
‘Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up,’ quipped G K Chesterton. But what if taking the fence down or blowing the dam up was a deliberate decision engineered to destroy church, society and nation? What if the most primordial distinction or the most indispensable dam is the distinction between male and female – a dam that feminists needed to blow up to achieve their goal of an egalitarian utopia or even worse of dethroning the patriarchy and enthroning feminine supremacy in its place?
Dams are represented by primordial distinctions in creation. These distinctions create order and restrain chaos. The first account of creation in the Bible presents God as creating these dams. God creates a distinction on the very first day by separating light from darkness. On the second day, God creates a firmament to separate waters above from waters below. On the third day, God separates waters from land to create sea and earth. On the fourth day, God creates sun and moon to separate day from night. On the sixth day God creates two separations (making up for the fifth day?) God separates human beings from animals by creating human beings in his image and God separates male from female.
God blesses these distinctions and calls all that he creates good – nay, very good! Dams and distinctions are very good! Sin enters when separations are spurned; chaos results when dams are destroyed. The Bible makes distinctions between good and evil, light and darkness, day and night, land and sea, lawful and forbidden, humans and animals, holy and profane, but the most basic distinction among humans is the distinction between male and female, man and woman.
Every time a distinction is violated, every time a dam is blown up, chaos ensues. God makes a distinction between permitted fruit and forbidden fruit. Eve, the first woman, violates that distinction and lures Adam into disobeying God’s first command. Her son Cain violates the distinction between human and animal. Cain kills his brother Abel just as Abel had killed a sacrificial animal. The violation of distinctions peaks in the early chapters of Genesis when, in a bizarre story, the ‘sons of God’ have sexual intercourse with the ‘daughters of man’.
When the dam separating the human and the divine is breached, there is a great flood that destroys the whole earth. God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah when men desire to have sex with other men, disregarding the distinction between male and female. The distinction between man and woman is also one of the reasons for the law prohibiting cross-dressing. ‘A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God,’ says Deuteronomy 22:5.
Dams and distinctions are very good!
There are distinctions. This is one of the great truths of the Bible. There are no distinctions. That is one of the great lies of feminism and it is the dam feminism had to breach in order to achieve its goals. Professor Mary Kassian uses the metaphor of a tsunami to refer to the destruction wrought by feminism.
In her book The Feminist Mistake: The Radical Impact of Feminism on Church and Culture, she outlines the wreckage feminism has left behind: The divorce rate has increased more than 100 percent. Cohabitation has increased 1000 percent. One American child is born outside of marriage every twenty-five seconds. Only 45 percent of all teenage children live with their married biological father and mother.
‘I could cite many more statistics about dramatic increases in abortion, homosexuality, the abuse of women and children, pornography, violence, sexual perversion, and sexually transmitted diseases. Never before has mankind faced such a rapid and widespread disintegration of morality and concurrent increase in gender confusion and conflict,’ she writes.
The ideological goal of third-wave feminism was not equality of men and women. It was the overthrow of the God of the Bible and the destruction of the traditional family. ‘Feminism began with the deconstruction of a Judeo-Christian view of womanhood (the right to name self); progressed to the deconstruction of manhood, gender relationships, family/societal structures, and a Judeo-Christian worldview (the right to name the world); and concluded with the concept of metaphysical pluralism, self-deification, and the rejection of the Judeo-Christian deity (the right to name God),’ Kassian concludes.
Sociologist Gabriele Kuby, a convert from atheism to Catholicism, arrives at a similar conclusion. ‘Feminism hadn’t been about equal rights for a long time. The goal was renunciation of heterosexuality and the destruction of the family and the church – social structures that cannot exist without the union of man and woman in marriage.’
The bouncing bomb that ‘Christian’ feminists would use to breach the dam of male-female distinction was the ordination of women. They would fight endless political battles in the General Synod of the Church of England. However, it is vital to note that the feminist battle transcends denominations. Every major Protestant denomination including more conservative groupings like the Baptists have been taken over by feminists and now ordain women. Only the dams of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy remain standing. Within the Catholic Church, radical feminists continue to fight this battle.
The bouncing bomb that ‘Christian’ feminists would use to breach the dam of male-female distinction was
the ordination of women.
Part of the reason the Church of England surrendered so soon to the onslaught of feminism is its inherent leanings towards socialism and its leftwing ideology of egalitarianism. Anglican feminists accepted both the basis and the strategy proposed by Simone de Beauvoir in her book The Second Sex. De Beauvoir declared that women needed to identify themselves as a group and collectively declare war on men. Equality would be achieved only by destroying male superiority and by refusing to succumb to a traditional role. In this case, it would mean elevating women to the priesthood and episcopate.
De Beauvoir maintained that ‘all forms of socialism, wresting woman away from the family, favour her liberation’. She demanded the revolt of the ‘bourgeoisie’ of women. Her ideal was one in which the state took responsibility for the maternal functions that burdened women. ‘Maternity was to be voluntary, which meant that contraception and abortion be authorized,’ she wrote. You can see why the Church of England, even in its new feminine avatar led by women bishops and priests, never addresses the breakdown of marriage or the scourge of abortion.
The primary argument of Christian feminists was that women should be allowed to do everything that men could do, and in the same manner and with the same recognized status as men. This, they believed, constituted true equality.
The dam busting strategy for role equality followed the same trajectory within Anglican and other Protestant denominations.
First, feminists argued that men had written and interpreted the Bible for centuries. The Church Fathers, in particular, interpreted the Bible from a patriarchal perspective. Therefore, it was necessary to deconstruct this patriarchal interpretation by interrogating it with a ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ – a reading of the biblical text that would be alert to feminist concerns and would regard the biblical text not as the Word of God, but as a patriarchal construct that was the product of men who were tainted by their prejudices of male superiority. A feminist analysis would re-read texts to expose the androcentric bias and to demonstrate how women had been misrepresented.
Second, it was necessary to affirm that the Bible, properly read, affirmed the full worth and equality of women. Of course, there was never any doubt about this as the very first page in the first story of the Bible so clearly affirms that God creates both man and woman in his image and likeness. The Bible portrays men and women as ontologically equal in creation and functionally different but equal and complementary in the different roles God gives human beings. The feminist rhetoric conflated ontologically equality with functional distinctiveness.
Third, it was necessary to deconstruct the most pivotal doctrines of Christianity – sin and salvation. The human problem, according to the Christian gospel, is sin and fallenness. The human problem, according to the feminist gospel, is patriarchy. The solution, according to the Christian gospel, is from God alone – we cannot save ourselves – we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. The solution, according to the feminist gospel, is from woman alone – women are not sinners, but sinned against – women must save themselves by revolting against ‘the rules of the game to restructure professions, marriage, the family, the home,’ as Betty Friedan wrote in The Feminist Mystique.
The Christian gospel portrays Jesus as the Victim who died for our sins and paid the penalty for sin on the cross. The feminist gospel portrays Womanhood as the Victim who is crucified at the hands of the Patriarchy and pays the penalty for being born with a womb that can bring new life into this world.
Fourth, it was necessary to alter the very language of biblical translations. Traditional translations like the Revised Standard Version would have to be replaced by a non-sexist, inclusive language translation like the New Revised Standard Version. In 1995, Oxford University Press published a new translation of the New Testament. The translation is gender-free. The patriarchal ‘kingdom of God’ has become ‘Dominion of God’, ‘Lord’ and ‘King’ have given way to ‘Ruler’ and ‘Sovereign’ and ‘God our Father’ becomes ‘God our Father-Mother’.
The translation goes to great lengths to avoid offending anyone – except, perhaps, God himself. Darkness is no longer equated with evil, because it might offend black people. References to the ‘right hand of God’ are expunged because they might offend left-handed people. References to the blind, deaf or lame have been edited to make them more sensitive to disabled people. ‘Slaves’ become ‘enslaved people’. Parents don’t ‘discipline’ their children; they ‘guide’ them. Children are told to ‘heed,’ not ‘obey,’ their parents. ‘Master’ becomes ‘Teacher’ and the doubly offensive ‘Son of Man’ becomes ‘the Human One.’
A review in the Wall Street Journal caustically remarked: ‘It’s pretty pathetic to watch theologians waste their time worrying that a left-handed, blind, black woman might somehow think that the Bible excludes her, when the main message of the text teaches exactly the opposite. Apparently the contemporary equivalent of pondering how many angels can fit on the head of a pin is to calculate the number of gender offensive words in the Bible’.
Fifth, it was necessary to deconstruct the very being of God. Metaphors like the fatherhood of God and the manhood of Jesus Christ – upon which the male priesthood was predicated would no longer hold sway in the theology of the church. Feminists began to talk about God as ‘mother’ and Jesus as an androgynous being that contained within him/herself both male and female. I taught at a very liberal seminary in India, where the Lord’s Prayer was forcibly amended to, ‘Our Parent who art in heaven’. The Judeo-Christian God had to be rejected, because the portrayal of this God is male/father and ‘since God is male, the male is God,’ as Mary Daly, the matriarch of Christian feminism, writes in her book The Church and the Second Sex drawing heavily on de Beauvoir’s book The Second Sex.
Sixth, the war for the ordination of women had to be fought and won at all costs. In the Church of England feminists won the battle for ordination to the priesthood (1994) and episcopate (2014). With alarming rapidity, sixteen women have been elevated to the episcopate.
The ordination of women led to a small but significant number of clergy and laity leaving the Church of England for the Roman Catholic Ordinariate and for the Eastern Orthodox Churches. However, it sapped the church by consuming a huge amount of time and energy and resulted in severe disunity and friction. The Church of England agreed to a term called ‘mutual flourishing’ whereby conservatives who did not agree to women priests or women bishops could have a choice of opting to come under a single male ‘Headship’ Bishop appointed for this purpose.
However, the evidence reveals that the hierarchy rejects any candidate for the position of curate or vicar if they openly state they are not in favour of women clergy. The most glaring proof of this new hegemony is when feminists in the Diocese of Sheffield rejected the appointment of Bishop Philip North to the See of Sheffield in 2017. Bishop Philip is an Anglo-Catholic who belongs to a group called Forward in Faith, which holds that priesthood should be exclusively male.
For four thousand years the Bible assigned roles to men as priests and pastors in the Tabernacle, Temple, Synagogue and Church. Priestesses were found only in pagan religions. The false gospel of feminism must be named for what it is – a pagan gospel and a pagan religion. Feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Reuther openly admits she has more devotion to pagan female deities such as Isis, Athena and Artemis than to the Virgin Mary.
The dam has been breached with catastrophic consequences for the Church of England and other denominations. The most radical of these consequences is the complete denial of any biological basis for gender. The current debate in the Church of England is about recruiting transgender people as clergy and composing liturgical rites for the initiation of people who have undergone gender transition – these rites will resemble the sacrament of baptism.
I’d like to end a provocative painting featured on the cover of a book titled Sex and God: Some Varieties of Women's Religious Experience by Linda Hurcombe. The image is so offensive that most online booksellers have concealed it on the cover.
It is the figure of a squatting human, with a flowing, triangular beard, a drooping belly, sagging breasts and four curvy hands. On this creature’s head is another human face perched amidst matted locks of hair, and between its legs juts out yet another human face, surrounded by what could be taken as the main figure’s pubic hair. An explanatory comment inside the cover reads that the figure visualizes ‘the bodily birth (God as Mother of the entire fabric of creation) and the mental birth (God as the Father of the creative mind which must be “spoken” for ideas to be born)’ Orthodox Christians may find the picture blasphemous, but more and more women are being drawn to such images of God in place of the traditional grandfatherly image once imagined in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Operation Chastise was profitable. It was decisive in the war of good against evil. Operation Feminist Chastise was deleterious. It was decisive in the war of evil against good. Operation Feminist Chastise succeeded beyond imagination with the elevation of women to the episcopate. The feminist dam busters have won.
(An edited version of a lecture delivered at the Fourth International Conference on Men’s Issues, Excel Conference Centre, London, on July 22, 2018 and first published in Republic Standard).