Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2022
Two competing impulses around gender have come to characterize Protestant life: one that insists on a particular God-ordained gender order, often starting with the home and moving outward to church and society and another that downplayed or sometimes altogether dismissed gender injunctions and hierarchies as contrary to divine intention. Protestantism’s “modernist–fundamentalist” divide, usually seen as a far-reaching dispute over how to read the Bible, is closely connected to and driven by wider cultural debates regarding gender. Gender has functioned as one of the most active organizing forces in Protestant life. Protestants drew on gender to control behaviors and regulate boundaries as well as to question and challenge them. The sectarian nature of Protestantism as it grappled with gender shaped Protestant theologies, rearranged alliances, and splintered institutions.
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