Yoga and Egalitarians   7 comments


Last night I attended the 40th Anniversary Dinner for the Institute for Creation Research, and the featured speaker was Dr. Albert Mohler, the fellow recently (and condescendingly, where not outright scornfully) profiled by Christianity Astray, a Magazine of Evangelical Conviction. In his opening remarks, Mohler briefly recapped the current braying by evangelical jackasses about his recently published remarks on yoga and Christianity.

If you’ve got time and want to know why evangelical Protestantism is the milk-toasty, wishy-washy, know-nothing waste of time that it is, Mohler’s latest blog spells it out for you.

Listening to his remarks last night (he gave an overview of post-modern intellectual chaos and its newly murderous posture toward religion, Christianity, and Jesus himself), I thought, “I’ve got to check what he has said on his blog about this yoga business.” And, when I did so this morning, I further thought: “As with evangelicals and yoga, so with evangelicals and egalitarianism.” The latter is the term of art for baptized feminism, a modern incarnation of several of the moral horrors Paul catalogs in 1 Timothy 1:9-11.

So, what has yoga got to do with religious feminism as evangelicals embrace it today?

Very little, if you’re looking at yoga vis-a-vis religious feminism. But, if you ask “Why do evangelicals embrace yoga so enthusiastically?” you will find that Mohler’s answer to that question serves just as well to answer this question: “Why do evangelicals embrace religious feminism so enthusiastically?” Both errors are consequences of a deeper error: the spiritual lust among modern evangelicals to cook up their own religion beginning with evangelical soup stock, to which they add a little of this and a little of that from whatever strikes their fancy on the world’s spice shelf.

Mohler lists many things he’s learned from his encounter with evangelicals’ enthusiasm for yoga. Read through his catalog and substitute “egalitarianism” for “yoga” throughout, and everything Mohler says is still true — except it applies to religious feminism rather than yoga.

Below are Mohler’s comments followed by the way egalitarians mimick those who think yoga and Christianity are compatible …

Mohler: “Evidently, the statistics reported by the yoga community are right. This is a female dominated field of activity. More than 90 percent of the protest communications come from women.”

Religious feminism, like secular feminism, is a female dominated field. Yes, there are a few men who are out in front of the monstrous regiment of women who are the primary political power in religious feminism, but they’ve just gotten themselves in front of the mob. The dirty little secret of most Protestant churches is this: the men in leadership are window dressing. It’s the women (and, often, just a handful of them) who rule the ecclesiastical roof. And by far the majority of men who sit in evangelical pews are happy for the sisters to clamp the bit in their teeth and to tear off down the road. Less work for them, dontcha know.

Mohler: “[A well-known local female evangelical yoga instructor] insists that yoga ‘enhances a person’s spirituality’ without any recognition that this is not what biblical Christianity is all about. But, she prayed before deciding ‘to mix yoga and Christianity,’ so everything must be just fine.”

Religious feminists are nothing if not pragmatic about what rings their chimes. What the Bible teaches has little weight against what “enhances a person’s spirituality.” Read any egalitarian forum, and note how many times you hear “God told me this or that, or “it makes the gospel so relevent to me,” and similar sentiments.

Mohler reproduces a quote from this local, evangelical woman yoga instructor: “I don’t like to look at religion from a law standpoint but a relationship standpoint, a relationship with Jesus Christ specifically.” Note, please, that the truth isn’t what’s important! Rather, it’s how the woman likes to look at religion that’s important. This is essentially the egalitarian point of view on anything in the Bible: they pick and choose what they like, or twist what they need, to conform to their modern feminist point of view.

Mohler: “There is no embarrassment on the part of these hundreds of email writers that they are replacing biblical Christianity with a religion of their own invention. “

Again, one must not question the egalitarians’ enthusiasm for their remade version of Christianity. It’s the enlightened (and, therefore, the only defensible) version of Christian religion; and they do, indeed, have no sense for how out of line with historic Christianity their new-made religion really is. Those very few who have not averted their eyes to 2,000 years of Christian faith and practice (e.g. Mary Daly) end up rejecting Christianity as hopeless and beyond fixing.

Mohler: “I have heard from a myriad of Christians who insist that their practice of yoga involves absolutely no meditation, no spiritual direction, no inward concentration, and no thought element.”

To which Mohler answers, “… you are not practicing yoga, you are simply performing a physical exercise.” The same sort of double-think operates with religious feminists within evangelicalism. They loudly insist that they are not feminists. Feminists, they insist, are those radical, bra-burning types, not the spiritual, loving, Jesus-worshiping folks that egalitarians claim to be.

But egalitarians say such things because they are blithely ignorant of how thoroughly patriarchal the Bible is, and how patriarchal the Church that grews from the Bible has been for 20 centuries.

Long before her death on January 3 of this year, Mary Daly was far more honest with the facts of the Christian faith, far more honest than the religious feminists who fill the pews of evangelical churches today. Mary Daly jettisoned the Christian faith as well as monotheism because she understood (and preached it in her classroom!) that feminism is diametrically opposed to the truth claims of the Bible – its claims about men, women, the relationship between the two, and God’s relationship to both.

Mohler: “I have heard from a myriad of souls who have called me insane, incompetent, stupid, vile, fundamentalist, and perverted. Some others are best left unrepeated.”

It would be tedious and defiling to rehearse here the similar slanders distributed by egalitarians against complementarians or, especially, against those who candidly confess, teach, and defend the patriarchy of the Bible. Just read any of their blogs or forums to find out.

Worthy of special note, however, is the strategy of groups like Christians for Biblical Equality or the Egalitarian Christian Alliance to smear those who embrace Biblical patriarchy are promoters of violence against women and children.

Mohler: “… I have been treated to arguments like these. From a ‘devoted Southern Baptist church member who resents your ignorance’: I get much more out of yoga and meditation than I ever get out of a sermon in church. From ‘a Christian who goes to church every service’: My favorite image I use in yoga is that of Jesus assuming a perfect yoga position in the garden of Gethsemane as he prays. And, to cap it all off: How do we know that the apostles and early Christian guys did not use yoga to commune with Jesus after he left?”

Again, I run across statements like these in the forums of self-styled evangelical feminists. Note the self-referential cast of these sorts of statements. Note also the manifest ignorance of what the Bible presents. Jesus doing yoga in Gethsemane??? Is that any more outrageous than Jesus being a feminist? Paul being an egalitarian?

[This blog is cross-posted to my blog Faith and Gender]

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Posted October 8, 2010 by Fr. Bill in Uncategorized

7 responses to “Yoga and Egalitarians

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  1. Another similarity: being a contortionist helps. But I guess the photo demonstrates that.

    > This [yoga] is a female dominated field of activity.

    Any thoughts on why this is?

  2. I’m going to guess that it’s related to a woman’s being far more body conscious than a man, hence the greater investment you’ll see them make in conditioning that improves/enhances appearance. Of course, men do too, but not in the same ways and DEFINATELY not in the same proportions as women.

    I’ve noticed this for years, as I’ve gone to gymns, the Y, and similar places in an effort to address my own struggles with weight. Lots of women, a few men.

    Mohler’s on to something when he says “Don’t call it Yoga.” Tying yourselves into knots may be useful, helpful, therapeutic, etc. But, the merely physical isn’t Yoga.

    On the other hand, I’ve never heard of a Yoga “teacher” who insisted that the practice was merely and purely physical.

  3. I considered that, too, but thought that yoga isn’t really a weight loss thing, and wondered if there was something else in addition to that.

    What about martial arts? Isn’t there a spiritual element to all that eastern self-defense stuff?

  4. Simple A&P, gentlemen – Anatomy and Physiology. Men have more physical strength, women have more flexibility.

    Just take a simple survery among your friends who have never practiced anything like the physical positions of yoga and see how many men versus how many women can touch their toes easily.

  5. I hesitate to disagree with you because I respect you Fr. Bill and because I fit the girl defending yoga stereotype. But I don’t think Christians should throw this baby out with the bath water, and I think I have good reason. I am open to correction if you have a good rebuttal.

    I do yoga. I don’t do everything that some yogies say to do no more than I do everything that every Christian tells me I should do. This goes along with “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” People do use Yoga as a spiritual practice. In a way, I use yoga to enhance my spiritual life. I use it in the same way I try to use everything to enhance my spiritual life. Detrich Bonhoffer said that is the point of watching with Christ in Gathsemeny… living unreservedly in every moment- life’s duties, problems, successes, failures all to learn what God has to tell you. Don’t fall asleep. I want to do the best I can for God with my body and exercise. I want to take care of my body and become a calm woman. That is what yoga does for me when I take the time to do it.

    Some things yoga frequently talks about, I do not practice. Much like many churches teach things that don’t necessarily have to do with the Bible. In yoga I do not “empty my mind”, because then my mind is a vacuum that would suck up any spiritual influence. I do try to empty my mind of worries that tense my body and make positions harder to achieve. I also do not “meditate on the drop of water” because that seems silly. Instead I thank God for water and all the things I can think of in creation that are amazing. Maybe I’m not practicing true yoga. Shall I say instead I am practicing “modified yoga”? Who is the authority on the definition of “yoga”, all Hindus? All yoga teachers? Me? That is what is nice about pagan religion. It has no authority because it is all lies. The best lies have an element of truth to them to draw you in. I am trying to sort out the truth within the lies of some people practicing yoga. Christians can reform Yoga just like we can reform dancing.

    The article says at one point that yoga is “flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a ‘post-Christian, spiritually polyglot’ reality. Should any Christian willingly risk that?” Temptation is everywhere. If I tried to avoid every thing that might tempt me, I could not live even in my own mind let alone watch a movie, go through the check out lane at the grocery store, or speak to any male.

    If the only point this article is making is that yoga is a spiritual practice, then I agree. In as much as I agree driving, eating, cooking, shopping, and talking with people are spiritual practices. Am I worshiping a false god? No. Does the fact that Hindus don’t like that I’m reforming their pagan worship matter? No. There is no doubt one can use yoga for evil, and that it’s origins came from pagan worship. Does that mean that it has no practical use for Christians? No. Are there Christians who are ignorant or rebellious and don’t know how to argue from the Bible and who are putting themselves in the clutches of evil spiritual forces through Yoga because they don’t know how to test everything biblically and hold on to the good? Yes. Those same Christians would probably argue road rage is good because it is defending yourself and being in touch with your emotions. They should not drive. Does that mean all Christians shouldn’t drive? No.

    I realize this post is not directed at me but more to all yogies. But the way this is stated, it sounds like you are saying yoga practice=sin. Maybe I have misunderstood you.

    I hope these are wise words and not foolish.

  6. I guess the short answer I’d give is the one Dr. Mohler gave: what you describe is not yoga.

    The ways that you distinguish your practice of this or that, the way you diverge from what yoga prescribes (e.g. not emptying your mind, but emptying it of worries, etc.) pretty much makes what you are doing to be “not yoga,” even though you are stretching muscles or assuming a position identical to one you’ve learned from yoga “sources” (whether that source is authentically yoga-esque or not).

    If there’s a problem with what you (or the girl responding to Dr. Mohler) are doing, it’s in calling what you’re doing “yoga,” rather than something else. And the problem is not for you, so much as it may pose a stumbling block for someone else, who thinks what you are doing involves the “whole yoga enchilada” so to speak.

    I wouldn’t mind (and, my guess is that Dr. Mohler wouldn’t mind) saying something like this in an excercise class: “We’re going to develop range of motion and limberness by learning to assume several types of positions which we borrow from practitioners of yoga.”

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