A Christian Response to the Google Memo

A Christian Response to the Google Memo

In a culture that generally mocks Christian positions, we often flock to anyone who sounds like us. Desperate for friends, we’ll make them in all the wrong places. The Christian life in a secular world requires discernment. Christians want to believe that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but this is rarely the case. We must decide if James Damore, the publisher of the Google memo, is an ally to Christian practice.

Let me begin by encouraging you to read the memo for yourself. The memo has struck a cord because it addresses the pandering American corporations have done to public discourse on gender and sexuality. Don’t merely let others tell you what to think about it, no one has secret insight you’re not capable of developing yourself. We’re just people reading someone else’s thoughts, you’re allowed to read it too and come to your own conclusions. The goal here is to help you develop your own thoughts, not to replace them with my own.

“Do you agree or disagree with the memo?” is a loaded question. It’s loaded because the writer has a fundamentally different worldview than us. Because he’s not guided by a love of God, his view oftentimes fails to show a love for women, children, and neighbor in general. Although Damore recognizes gender distinctions, those distinctions aren’t always correct. Therefore, we’re only going to agree to a certain extent. If you found yourself in complete agreement with the memo, you’re probably not reading him carefully.

Agreements:

  1. It’s wrong to shame people into submission instead of giving reasoned responses. Jesus uses argumentation to reach those he disagrees with, his opponents try to stone him (John 8:48-59). Google, and many people in our culture, do the equivalent – they try to censor other ideologies at all costs.
  2. Liberty, especially in regards to ideas, is essential to human flourishing. As puritan Oliver Cromwell points out in 1652, forming much of the basis for American soul liberty, “I rather that Mahometanism (Muslims) were permitted amongst us than that one of God’s children should be persecuted.”
  3. “Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology.” I think that James Damore getting fired proves this point.
  4. Worldview thinking. Damore speaks a lot about “invisible biases” and “deep moral preferences.” Christians recognize that what we believe effects what we think and what we feel. Furthermore, our positions are formed and shaped from core commitments. What’s dangerous about non-worldview thinking is the loss of a pluralistic appreciation of diverse perspectives.
  5. Men and women have biological differences. It’s tragic that this basic reality has become a point of controversy. Damore offers several examples, but I’ll make the most obvious point: men and women have different hormones and different sexual organs. As a result of many different empirical realities, stemming from the binary creation of men and women by God, men and women generally think and act very differently. Christians should celebrate this, like puritan Richard Baxter speaking of his wife, “a woman of extraordinary acuteness of wit, solidity, and judgment, incredible prudence and sagacity and sincere devotedness to God, and unusual strict obedience to him … who … heaped on me … many and great obligations to love and tenderness.” Women being tender, loving, and worthy of careful, attentive treatment is a celebratory calling that men too often fall short of.
  6. Humans are generally biased towards protecting females. Not because of the evolutionary speculation Damore suggests, but because 1 Peter 3:7, “honor your wife as the weaker vessel.” An acknowledgment that women are generally physically weaker then men (please note: there are plenty of women that could beat me up) is a call for men to love and be gentle with their wives. If only the gentle lovingkindness between a husband and his bride were a more common sign of Christian marriages.
  7. Men and women value different things. Damore is correct that there are different values between men and women. Women rightfully tend to “rise while it is yet night and provide food for their households, and provide portions for their maidens.” It is glorious when women “look well on the ways of their household…and her children rise up and call her blessed” It is glorious when her husband says “many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31). It is also good for men to work (Genesis 2) and to lovingly provide for their family by their vocation (1 and 2 Thessalonians).

Disagreements:

  1. “People generally have good intentions” – “When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6.
  2. Left vs. Right as the ultimate explainer. Damore acts as though the way of virtue is the middle path between leftist and rightist extremism. The truth is a lot more complicated than that. “Jesus didn’t (and doesn’t) fit neatly into any political party. His kingdom is “not of this world.” Therefore, we should expect the values and priorities of that “alien kingdom” both to transect and to transcend the political categories of the world” (for more, see this wonderful RAAN article).
  3. Biological differences arise from evolutionary psychology. This point is dangerous. Whereas Paul roots certain male/female distinctives in the order of the fall, Damore roots the differences in biological development over time. This carries an implication that men are superior to women, which is untrue. In fact, this is close to what the Social Darwinists of the 19th century argued concerning race.
  4. Rampant speculation on male/female differences. Damore argues that women are extroverted, not as bold, and have lower stress tolerances then men. Men and women are indeed different, but here Damore partakes in speculation. Here’s a sampling of some statements Christians disagree with: women on average are more cooperative, women have a higher interest in people and men in things, and if men became more feminine then they would leave tech.
  5. De-moralize diversity. Contra Damore, there is virtue in cultivating diverse viewpoints. The problem is when you only apply that virtue to your own point of view. A pluralistic society must protect liberty of the conscience. In other words, you don’t need to think like me to have basic governmental protections. The virtuous middle on diversity would be the conscience cultivation of diverse viewpoints. The extremes are obsessing over arbitrary diversity quotas (Google’s practice) and acting as thought there’s no virtue in diversity (Damore’s position)
  6. Stop restricting programs and classes to certain genders or races. There’s nothing inherently wrong with programs that exist to support different races and genders. The problem is when you force others to value them as much as you do. I’m thankful for resources like the Reformed African American Network that give me access to another viewpoint; these “restricted” resources allow me to think outside of myself.
  7. Men value status and women value a full life. As was pointed out in the agreement section, Damore is correct that men and women value different things, but his point here is generalized and sloppy. Men value all sorts of things: providing for their families, loving others well, success at work, relationships. While status is indeed something some men value, Damore never makes the point that desiring status is wrong. It is wrong for men to desire their own glorification. Men also desire a full life, but both genders can seek fulfillment through work – a pursuit that will always end in defeat. Furthermore, saying that women don’t desire status and instead desire a full life has no grounding in faith, reason, philosophy, or science.

Hopefully this shows that the Google memo is not Christian, and should not be confused as such. While there are indeed some points of intersection with true belief, the Christian stance is holistically much more thoughtful and compassionate. It’s my prayer that Christians don’t take up sword and shield in defense of an unworthy ally. At the same time, Damore stumbles towards some points we would agree with, and it’s good to take advantage of the interest to share the Christian worldview.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *