In Wayne's last post, he asked what it would take to achieve a truce in the gender debates. In the comments on that post, it quickly became evident why such a truce has been so difficult to achieve. A complementarian (henceforth known as "C") commented that such a truce would be more likely to happen if egalitarians would stop implying that complementarians are akin to those who justified slavery or that we are all advocating spousal abuse. An egalitarian (henceforth known as "E") then commented to the effect that such characterizations are not without some basis in reality, and the battle was on. C then responded that E was misunderstanding the complementarian position, and then E protested that C was resorting to "ad hominem" attacks!
This is what I call an "endless regression of blame." I'm not sure if I came up with that expression on my own or if I subconsciously stole it from someone else, but what I mean by it is the tendency in any human conflict to justify our own aggression by pointing to some previous injury we've received from someone else. As a father, I see this endless regression of blame every day. Caleb complains that David hit him. David complains that Caleb took some piece off of one of his LEGO creations and used it for something else. Caleb then protests that David does the same thing sometimes. And on it goes.
Since Adam and Eve's first sin, we've all been trying to cover our own sins by laying blame at the feet of another. Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" (NLT). As sinners, our hearts have an incredible capacity for self-justification and self-deception. That's why complementarians complain that egalitarians are unfair in their representations and prone to ad hominem attacks. It's why egalitarians voice the exact same complaints about complementarians.
"If only those egals would stop implying that we're abusive and dictatorial, there could be peace!"
"If only those comps would stop twisting everything we say and comparing us to feminists, there could be peace!"
Please. Such protests are pointless. If we want peace, we need to start treating one another with respect, listen to each other with a sympathetic ear, begin giving one another the benefit of the doubt, and avoid the temptation to resort to sarcasm and cutting remarks. We may not agree with each other. We may conclude that the other side's reasoning is seriously flawed. But we can nevertheless do our best to extend the love of Christ to our theological opponents, and put a stop to the endless regression of blame. In the end, it is the only way forward.