There is a cosmetic difference but the force vectors align

Ive been thinking a little bit more deeply about this. Something I searched led me to this post by God is Laughing, written in September last year. I read his outstanding post again, then I read his comments following it, then I followed his link and read some more. From there I followed more links and read some more.

It certainly wasn’t that I am unfamiliar with the histrionics of egalitarian men and women. Far from it. I’d say that any Christian who is not a rigid sola scriptura adherent and reads more than food and fashion blogs would be versed in egalitarian ideas when they (egals) juxtapose their concerns against some gender dystopian church reality they have conjured. I picture them in a circle brainstorming story lines and ideas they can use to leverage fear by planting notions that are cousins to urban legands and wives tales.

This writer at patheos is a perfect example of the urban-legend-ish dynamic I am describing:

Having grown up in a church that ordained women, allowed women to lead, and had women preachers, it is honestly shocking to me to continue to run into so-called “complementarians.” I don’t meet them in real life — I just see them in the blogosphere, on Facebook and Twitter. And friends of mine like Rachel Held Evans and Sarah Bessey assure me that they exist.

I see things in the blogosphere. Man alive do I ever. Strange things that have a couple of people very lathered up, and those people will tell you that they encounter the subject of their mass hallucination hysteria routinely. These folks usually have a PayPal account so you can order your own Hershey Kiss type twisted tinfoil hat for protection. Lots of people are prone to this, it gives them a feeling of being in something that others are yet to know about. It gives their life purpose.

(Do not do it empath, fiight it…do not draw that analogy between this kind of fear leveraging and that which drives so many health and nutrition choices these days.) EMPATH….DON’T….DO….IT

Now, about that organic food

Ok, I wont. Back on task.

The blog that GIL parsed is called:

bWe Baptist Women for Equality’s Blog-Dethroning Male Headship by Shirley Taylor

Need we look any further than the not so subtle message in the choice to capitalize the “W” and not the “b” and “e”? If you need to look further, go read. Here I want pluck some choice fruits from Shirley’s vine and lay them beside some juicy one’s from the sun starved lair of the evil patriarchy itself, that being the crazy cruel anti-women musings of the Family Life group and The SBC leadership and demonstrate that in the very best case they differ only in the mode and degree by which they lay Christian marriage and gender relations in general at an alter to women. Even while they would both adamantly insist they have less than zero in common, what you will see is that the Shirley Taylors have the Dennis Raineys, Tim Kellers, and Russel Moores scared to death, fleeing while waving white flags and worried that they forgot the pink sequined aplique to visually set off the flags.

One man Shirley heralds is Richard Beck, professor and experimental psychologist-INDEED- at Abilene Christian University [SSM, I found my way to Abilene!]  He writes:

The problem, as I see it, is less about what men and woman can or can’t do than
with a group of men in the church exerting power over another group–women. In
short, men are “lording over” women in the church, exercising top-down power via
a hierarchy. More, this group of men is prohibiting another group (women) from
having access and input into the very power structure that is being used
against them and excluding them
. That’s lording over. And gender aside, that
sort of lording over is prohibited by Jesus. “But among you it shall be
different.”

He is bought in and sold out.

But I like the guy. He has another column about Axe deoderant that made me laugh out loud. It helps me make my point.

Because of the success of the [advertising] campaign Axe quickly became the top selling male antiperspirant/deodorant brand. Axe outsold its closest rival by tens of millions.
And then it all began to go wrong.
I’ll let Martin Lindstrom tell what happened:

[T]he brand’s early success soon began to backfire. The problem was, the ads had worked too well in persuading the Insecure Novices and Enthusiastic Novices to buy the product. Geeks and dorks everywhere were now buying Axe by the caseload, and it was hurting the brand’s image.

Regular readers can spot the overlap. A similar thing has happened to complimentarians like Family Life and the SBC as they have oversold the servant role men are to embrace at the expense of the leadership role.

Taylor explains some of  her specific charges against the monster that is complimentarianism and the patriarchal church that she claims is ubiquitous:

Today I was at the George W Bush Library and almost in tears as I saw picture after picture of Iraq and Afghan women proud to vote, and I realized that more than likely all around me, were women who will walk into their church tomorrow morning and leave their their equality outside the church door.

She challenges the readers:

I am waiting to hear from anybody.  Where does the Bible say that God made men different from women?

She makes charges that beg a similar question to her’s where she asks for proof that God made man and woman different:

1. I only know what I have read and heard Gary Thomas say about his book and book study.  But that is enough.  He is a member of a very fundamental mega Baptist church in Houston – Second Baptist Church.  He is quoted as saying that women taught in the New Testament but that the Bible clearly shows that men are to be the leaders in the church and home.

2. How can a church that accepts female equality turn around and teach female subordination? [paragraph numbers, mine]

Catch the swerve? How does she get from paragraph one to paragraph two? Are the men in the church subordinate to the man teaching? Its a perfectly reasonable question because without the learner necessarily being subordinate to the teacher, in general and in all cases, you simply cannot logically go from one paragraph to the next.

How can that church not love me?  Not only me, but all women who attend  church? How can a church that tells women that they are good enough to pray out loud and be a pastor, then hold marriage seminars where women are told that they are second to their husbands.

She explains her charge that the church is teaching that women are second to their husband.

Gary Thomas says in his Sacred Marriage that husbands will be made holy in marriage.  Of course I suppose they would be since that kind of language also means that the husband takes the place of Christ while the wife takes the place of the church while playing out their roles.  Where the Holy Spirit fits in this marriage is unknown, and nobody even asks. [ ]

[ ] I want to ask that church, “How can you not love me?  I am a woman.  But you seek to put me down. You seek to put every male over my head. [emphasis mine]

I don’t need another sample. She supposes what the language means. She asks where the Holy Spirit is in the marriage. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit is not mentioned in the scriptures that keep her awake at night. This is not to suggest a lack of involvement of the Holy Spirit, it is to point out that her question is random and meaningless but is of the flavor that will garner righteous indignation from women. “Yeah buster, what about the Holy Spirit, whats HE got to say about all this oppression?” And where does she come up with “every man” in her lambasting of Thomas’ teaching and the Methodist church?  It. Isn’t. There.

But Russell Moore heard her cry and plea. It must have made the SBC nervous that there are churches out there teaching women that they are subordinate to all men because Moore not only wrote a blog entry about it, he went on the road and I heard, in person, his delivery of the sermon “Women, Stop Submitting to Men”. The capstone of his talk:

Those of us who hold to so-called “traditional gender roles” are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true. Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive.

I haven’t words. The fear that must drive a man to make this claim must be palpable. Do you readers know a dozen women, between you, that are too submissive?

Reading Taylor, its not difficult to suss out the source of his angst.  I cannot imagine a man observing that women in our society are submitting too much, even if his hook is that they are submitting by way of pressuring themselves to conform to body image or whatever other thing they THINK men are pushing them to acquire.

On wives and husbands, Kathy Keller (linked from Moore’s blog) has her own ideas.

Kathy Keller feared that he [her husband Tim] was neglecting his duties as a father and a husband, and was not freeing up any time for other pursuits. So she said she had a “godly tantrum.”

“I took the china, and took them out to our balcony and when he came in I was smashing them with the hammer. I had to do some dramatic thing to get his attention to show he was breaking things,” she said.

[I had to laugh because she may have learned this show and tell style from the mega church pastors who are known to fixate on the most basic props as if they are demonstrating the very synthesis of life itself]

And it definitely got Tim Keller’s attention. They both learned through the incident that sometimes spouses have to go to the extreme to get the other person to see a truth they aren’t willing to see.

Mrs Keller’s behavior wasn’t cute, it wasn’t empowered, and it is inexcusable in terms of just reading through the story and thinking you-go-girl. Moore doesn’t link things that are not vetted for message consistency. He wouldn’t link a red pill Christian blog., for example. Why did he link that piece? I safely suppose Tim and Dr Moore have fear of the picture Taylor paints for him. It was sufficient fear that it leads them to tolerate someone busting dishes, an offense that would have landed either of them in jail and branded dangerous and unpredictable.

I suppose” Taylor has major issues with Kathy and Tim Keller regarding wives submitting.

Marriage ministries have been selling books and seminars for decades now that at first glance are designed to build happy marriages and families. Some in the sphere have accused them of being motivated by money. I have accused them of pandering tom women. i want to take that back and refine it. I believe they are on their heels responding to the alleged existence of some large percentage of men who are ogres in their relationships. Like the Patheos writer said, the ministry principals don’t run into these ogres in person, but they see them us online and they hear from the Taylors and Evans and others that those men are out there in huge numbers.

So they set out to teach men what submission is NOT. What it IS is servant hood, what it is NOT is leadership. Lots of weak men, many weakened BY their wives, see a way to claim the mantle of head of household by groveling. Scriptures that say the first shall be last and last first, and he didn’t come to be served but to serve, so forth, drop easily into the frame these ministries create. Normal well adjusted men naturally want to please women in general and especially their wives. So in addition to the weak men buying in, others join in even if by half measure, in an effort to go along to get along at home. The programs sell very well. Like Axe though, but taking a few decades rather than a few months, there are men starting to ask…..what does servant leader mean? Why do I seek my wife’s approval for everything then come to church and hear that men are running rough shod over women? Why on Fathers day and I told I have potential, and to realize that potential Ijust need to be more of a SERVANT (shhhhh…..leader) when I work 50 hours a week, shop for the groceries, do the laundry and dishes, get the kids up and off to school, deal with the lawn and all repairs…and finally I kill the dang spiders, all while I listen to my wife yammer on about how women’s work is never done and how busy she is each day (with no physical evidence of said busyness).

Not all men who see the real world experience the exaggerated problems I chronicled above, but most experience something that gets the sleepy out of their eyes. they get jettisoned, the have a friend who is tossed, or a few just awaken to the truth. The truth is the full effort of the bureaucracy of the church and the majority of the adjunct ministries that deal with marriage are reacting out of fear to the histrionics of a small hand full of evangelical feminist women and men. If that was not the case, they would boldly challenge these poseurs with straight and easy questions that address inconsistencies I saw in a few moments of reviewing the comments made by the extremists.

Instead, they go back to the huddle and try and adjust their defense by backing away from the scrimmage line.

Who is pushing and who is pulling? Regardless, there is synergy. Since the evangelical feminists are pulling the churchians, and the churchians are trying to walk towards the opponent,  the churchians are going to drag the familial fabric of society right into the center mud pit with them.

(I’m posting without carefully proof reading this, I will clean up small errors tomorrow)

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11 thoughts on “There is a cosmetic difference but the force vectors align

  1. This is why there is this curious comparison between the ministries you mentioned and supposedly more traditional ones like those of Mark Driscoll–they advocate different solutions for the same alleged problem.

    In Keller’s news post she says “it is also the husband’s duty to facilitate submission and fulfill the role of the authority figure in the marriage”. I see a lot of language like this and I have never been clear on what it actually means, especially when in the same news post she describes the tantrum you mentioned.

    I have believed what you said about the fear factor for quite a while. I never really thought it was entirely about profit or anything like that, but you put it very well into words. There is an honest zeal there, a misguided one but an honest one.

    I don’t know if you ever read “Disclosure” by Michael Crichton but one of the things he has in the book is a superb example of White Knighting by the CEO of the company who honestly promoted the female villain because he saw women as victims in need of help from chivalrous men to get a leg up.

    I think sometimes the scorn for white knighting and blue pill behavior in general is misguided because it doesn’t really explain why it is done. The lift is one important part of the motivation, the fear factor is another. If it was easy to swallow the red pill everyone would be doing it.

  2. I understand… I don’t believe my church tries to impart the notion that men aren’t supposed to lead, but it is painful to see how many men are held down (or back?) by their very own wives. It’s so painful to watch. But both of our pastors (men) are definitely the head of their marriage and model what it looks like to be strong, very fearless, Christian men… capable of leading not only their wives and children, but people in ministry.

    It’s like what Solomon has said, that there is evil in the place of righteousness at times. I can see how churches that actively tell men to submit and lead at the same time, having women pastors, etc. makes the problem seem like it’s normal.

    Men just can’t live fulfilled lives that way. Ya’ll weren’t meant to be weak in any sense of the word.

  3. Good post.

    Here is another example of a Christian ministry that sees through “abuse colored glasses:”

    http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/contact-about-us/

    Ministry leader and author encountered one instance of sexual abuse in church and now has greatly magnified that into a book, blog, and ministry. Sexual abuse of children is very wrong but he lumps other forms of abuse together with it. He now promotes “abuse” as a valid reason for Christian divorce.

    Note the story of the second in command, Barbara Roberts. She is a published expert on abuse but somehow managed to marry two different men that were both abusive. The second marriage occurred when she was in her fifties and only lasted two years – but she still lacked the wisdom to spot an abuser and not marry him.

  4. That Kathy Keller story is atrocious. I don’t doubt that it happened, but Christian leaders should not be sharing that story as a good example.

    Kathy Keller essentially said that she had veto power over any decision her husband would make.

  5. And veto power is enforced by smashing dishes.

    Like i said, if a man broke a single demitasse he’s be jailed.

    The woman in that link, Bee, the below comes from an interview with her. (by the way i think you have it wrong about the second man. It was the same man twice, then married a third time and that one is fine)

    Let me point out that I’m more confident talking about abuse than adultery or abandonment. And I am reluctant to jump in with advice. Rather, I first acknowledge the woman’s pain and suffering, and emphasise that she has been sinned against and is not to blame. Since so many women are in partial denial about the abuse/mistreatment they have been subjected to, I offer information about what constitutes abuse. When a woman learns how broad abuse can be – all the different types and methods of abuse that perpetrators use (emotional, social, financial, sexual, physical, spiritual, and systemic abuse, e.g. using the legal system or the health system to abuse the victim) – she can understand her situation so much better, and realise that she is not to blame. It’s like waking up from a dream. It’s also helpful to understand the ways abusers enlist allies. This helps a woman understand the secondary abuse she may be experiencing from her church family or other bystanders. Identifying and defining abuse is the first step.

    I find it helpful to identify the false doctrines that so often entrap women into double binds or false guilt. I try to untangle false doctrine by explaining and applying the relevant, corrective, biblical principles. For instance, if a woman believes she can’t leave the marriage because the Bible doesn’t permit it, I would suggest she read Not Under Bondage, or the short article on my blog called The Bible Does Allow Divorce for Domestic Abuse. If she’s tied up in knots over the issue of forgiveness, there’s a good article by Bob Kerrey on my website called What forgiveness is, and what it is not.
    If I sense that a woman’s fallen into a pot-hole of longing for retaliation, I give her opportunity to vent her pain and anger, but at some stage I may point out that dwelling on the desire for vengeance will sidetrack and hinder her recovery, and that the Bible tells us to leave vengeance to God, as he will repay the evildoer.

    Other distorted doctrines that might need untangling are beliefs about submission, repentance, reconciliation and bearing one’s cross. I also dispel the false idea that 1 Corinthians 6 (don’t take a brother to court) means you can’t apply for protection from the secular courts.

    I try not to offer advice until I have found out lots of information about that woman’s circumstances, and then I try to couch my advice in the form of questions. For example, instead of telling a woman “You’re being abused, you should leave your husband,” I might say “Have you ever thought you are being abused? May I outline to you the characteristics of abuse and all the techniques of abuse that abusers use? Have you ever considered leaving your husband? What reasons do you have for staying? What reasons might you have for leaving?” Of course, I wouldn’t ask all those questions at once; they would be part of an extended conversation in which I would do lots of reflective listening. My aim is find out what the woman knows and what she is ready to learn next about abuse, and show that I’m concerned for her and have confidence that she can exercise her own judgment and make her own decisions in her own time.

    A woman who has been abused, cheated on or abandoned is hurting a lot and is often living in crisis survival mode; she knows her situation much better than I do. In cases of domestic abuse, some victims suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, or continuing-traumatic stress disorder. It helps to learn about the ways people respond to trauma, and how recovery can gradually be realised, so I might advise a woman to read about trauma and recovery. (A good article is Understanding the Victims of Spousal Abuse, by Frank M Ochberg, MD., and a classic book is Trauma and Recovery by Judith Lewis Herman.)

    I try to help the woman realise that many of the complex decisions and micro-actions she is probably already taking demonstrate that she is responding to the abuse with strategic resistance, whether that resistance is subtle or overt. (See the booklet Honouring Resistance: How women resist abuse in intimate relationships by the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. You can find it via my links page.)

    To sum this up, here are these things in point form.
    a) Understand and learn about all the types of abuse; this helps you know you are not to blame.
    b) Work to untangle false doctrine and misunderstood biblical principles; this brings freedom from false guilt.
    c) Acknowledge and honor all the creative ways you have responded, overtly and covertly, to the mistreatment; this builds a sense of personal integrity.

    All these things naturally lead to a woman feeling more empowered.

    The bold part is the point. Also, note, she never, not once in the interview, mentions that she was physically abused. I cannot be sure of course, but its not a woman’s way to not use every word needed to describe her abuse and get sympathy. The omission is striking, especially when followed by her list of all the types of abuse.

    She deserves a post here soon.

  6. @Empathologism,

    From the About Page:

    “Four years later her husband appeared to become a Christian and they reconciled, but a year later she separated again because the abuse recurred. She started supporting other victim-survivors and eventually wrote the book Not Under Bondage [*affiliate link] and developed a website to address domestic abuse in a Christian context. She has also contributed a chapter in the book, Intimate Partner Sexual VIolence: A Multidisciplinary Guide to Improving Services and Support for Survivors of Rape and Abuse, which is an authoritative resource for all professionals who work with IPSV victims. The chapter is called ‘Pastoral Responses to Christian Survivors of Intimate Partner Sexual VIolence’. She knows what it is like to fight for your child in the family court, to endure post-separation abuse (especially during visitation handover), and to have to seek protection orders and report family violence crimes to the police. She was married again for two years in her fifties, but this marriage also ended because of abuse.

    Reconciliation with husband 1 appears to be before she was in her fifties. It is possible that the marriage in 2010 is husband 3.

    “Other distorted doctrines that might need untangling are beliefs about submission,…”

    Does she give any details about her teachings on submission in marriage?

  7. Here’s the strange thing: historically and biblically people for the most part admire those leaders and rulers who were just, fair and honest. Sure there are crazies like Nazis who only admire strength, but for the most part, all societies that had any notion of decency admired things like justice, courage, generosity, fairness, mercy and other virtues in their leaders. So yeah people abuse this–it doesn’t mean that leadership is not good, any more than anything good, abused, is rendered bad.

    Similarly, submission historically and biblically is presented as being the gaining of virtues. Jesus is described as growing in wisdom; Joseph in spite of his hardship learns integrity, and so on.

    So the rebellion against the concepts in Ephesians and Corinthians taught on marriage is based on a false understanding, and an assumption of abuse. And yeah, there have been some stupid teachings on this subject, but seriously, it’s presented as though this is an epidemic of biblical proportions.

    I have nothing against having teachings about what to do if say a woman is in an abusive relationship; what is troubling about sites like the one Bee linked is that it proposes that it is likely that most married Christian relationships are abusive, and that you should be looking for signs of it, and that scriptures about marriage should be interpreted in a feminist way or they MUST be abusive.

  8. Did anyone notice that she has sold, I think, 1500 books? OK, Ive not sold 1500 books nor have most people (nevermind I haven’t one for sale) but she is getting attention not because she broke new ground but because she has written and published and sold a book about abuse. In the interview she completely defers to some other expert regarding abuse, saying she is not the expert, she bases her opinions on his work. Does that not illustrate what i say about how the fear is spread like an urban legend or a conspiracy theory? Its perfectly illustrative.

  9. “[Shirley Taylor] challenges the readers:
    I am waiting to hear from anybody. Where does the Bible say that God made men different from women?”

    Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

    kə·neḡ·dōw : Suitable – lit. opposite.to [him]

    Any pastor worth his concordance should have been able to answer this woman right off the bat.

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