Tipping Point

Did you know that 3rd and 4th century Christian leaders decided that women were responsible for the downfall of humanity?

I didn’t…

Did you know that these men believed women were less intelligent than men, by nature?

I didn’t…

Did you know that these men believed that wives must be ruled over by husbands as punishment for sin, and to keep them safe from further deception by the devil?

I didn’t…

Did you know that in the middle ages women were accused of being in league with the devil when men felt “irresistibly” attracted to them? Did you know they were then blamed for men’s sins, and sometimes even put to death as punishment?

I didn’t…

Did you know that some of the men responsible for the demonization of women worked to translate the Latin Bible that became known as the “word of God” for centuries to come?

I didn’t…

Did you know that some of their errors were carried over into some of today’s English translations?

I didn’t…

Now I do.

As a result, I cannot accept that “authority” is simply a “role” that God lovingly created men to fulfill. Similarly, I cannot accept that “submission” is simply a “role” that God lovingly created women to fulfill.

It’s a prejudice,
It’s arrogant,
It’s abusive,
And it’s wrong.

And I won’t be silent when I see this injustice carried out in the name of God,
Who made us—male and female—in the divine image,
So that we might know and share his love,
In our homes,
In our churches,
In this world,
And in the world to come.

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Confusing Sexism with “the Gospel”

The following is an excerpt from an article shared on the website for a complementarian organization known as “Together 4 the Gospel”:

“The future of the church lies in reaching young men. I think it was Mark Driscoll who recently said or wrote something like that. And he is not alone in making such observations. Given the way that God has made us, men do have a leadership role to fulfill in the church, and our not fulfilling it will be to the detriment of the churches.”  (http://t4g.org/2006/08/man-less-christianity/)

Who does the author of this article reference to support his view that “the future of the church lies in reaching young men,” so that they can fulfill their allegedly God-given responsibility of providing leadership in the church? Mark Driscoll. Here are Mark Driscoll’s much publicized views on male and female roles. (Trigger alert—I personally find this material very disturbing; you may as well. Please read the following quotations at your own discretion):

“Without blushing, Paul is simply stating that when it comes to leading in the church, women are unfit because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men. Before you get all emotional like a woman in hearing this, please consider the content of the women’s magazines at your local grocery store that encourages liberated women in our day to watch porno with their boyfriends, master oral sex for men who have no intention of marrying them, pay for their own dates in the name of equality, spend an average of three-fourths of their childbearing years having sex but trying not to get pregnant, and abort 1/3 of all babies – and ask yourself if it doesn’t look like the Serpent is still trolling the garden and that the daughters of Eve aren’t gullible in pronouncing progress, liberation, and equality.”(http://thewartburgwatch.com/2012/07/05/danger-flee-churches-which-teach-that-women-are-easily-deceived/)

and,

“Men, I am glad to report to you that oral sex is biblical…The wife performing oral sex on the husband is biblical. God’s men said, Amen. Ladies, your husbands appreciate oral sex. They do. So, serve them, love them well. It’s biblical. Right here. We have a verse. ‘The fruit of her husband is sweet to her taste and she delights to be beneath him.’

She [the wife] says, ‘I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.’ I said, ‘You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.’ She says, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.’ [Laughter from audience] How many men would agree, that is a deed of kindness. He doesn’t want tracts. Those won’t do anything. What we’re talking about here could really help.  (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christianpiatt/2013/04/mark-driscolls-oral-fixation/)

Also cited in the article on Together 4 the Gospel’s website is David Murrow, author of a book entitled, “What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You.”  Here are the views on male and female roles that he shares in his book:

“If a man is not allowed to be the spiritual leader in his home, he won’t know what role to play because men are hierarchical thinkers” (p. 152).

“Men are like ‘chocoholics’ when it comes to sex. If a man is unable to come home after work and ‘indulge [his] fantasy,’ he will believe his wife is saying, ‘get your ya-yas somewhere else, buddy.’ Wives shouldn’t be surprised to later find their husbands ‘engaged in masturbation, porn, or an extramarital affair.’ Men, according to Murrow, need wives to be ‘generous with the chocolate’” (p. 118).

“Men actually get a cocaine-like shot of pleasure from looking at a beautiful woman. So here’s your assignment: Give your husband as many cocaine shots as possible. Satisfy his addiction by looking your best” (pp. 163-164).

“And why are looks so important to men?” “Men compare. Men compete. Men size each other up by their spouses” (p. 164).

“Having a knockout wife raises your social standing at work, among your relatives, and even a bit at church” (p. 165).

One of the leaders and organizers for Together 4 the Gospel is well-known preacher and author, John Piper. His views on women are as follows:

“Yet in passing through ‘helpful’ animals to woman, God teaches us that the woman is a man’s ‘helper’ in the sense of a loyal and suitable assistant in the life of the garden.”  (http://www.wacmm.org/Piper-Grudem-50-Questions.html)

“And God intends for all the ‘weaknesses’ that characteristically belong to woman to call forth and highlight man’s strengths.”

“God created man first…and then created woman as his partner and assistant…” (http://www.desiringgod.org/sermons/affirming-the-goodness-of-manhood-and-womanhood-in-all-of-life)

Another complementarian leader and speaker at Together 4 the Gospel Conferences is Owen Strachan. Here is a sample of his views on women:

“To be a woman is to support, to nurture, and to strengthen men in order that they would flourish and fulfill their God-given role as leaders.” (http://www.9marks.org/journal/genesis-gender-and-ecclesial-womanhood)

In summary, what are the messages regarding men and women that are being shared by these participants in “Together 4 the Gospel”?

Men are hierarchical,
-Men need sex; it is the cornerstone of their psyche,
-The future of the church depends on male leadership.

Women are not fit to be leaders,
-Women are more gullible than men,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on their husbands as an act of Christian service,
-Women are obligated to perform oral sex on non-believing husbands to win them to Christ,
-If wives do not provide enough sex, husbands will inevitably sin,
-A woman’s role is comparable to that of a “helpful animal,”
-Women are not able to share authority with men because of their “characteristic weaknesses,”
-To “be a woman” is to help men become leaders, as God allegedly intends.

Many words come to mind as I reflect on these messages. “Gospel” isn’t one of them.

Simply put, the gospel is the “good news” that God loves us. In his love he sent Jesus Christ to die on a cross to take away the sins of the world. Every person, male or female, is welcome to receive from God the gift of salvation. Practically speaking, that means we can each know that we are loved by God and forgiven for any hurtful choices we have made in our lives. We can also know that God sends the Holy Spirit to us, to help us know his love, and be loving towards one another. Jesus taught his disciples that knowing the love of God and loving one another is something that we can do in this life, and in the life to come—in heaven—for eternity.  (John 3:1-21, 1 John 4:7-21)

That’s “the gospel” according to Jesus Christ and the authors of the New Testament, as I understand it.

Furthermore, contrary to what the supporters of “Together 4 the Gospel” claim (see above), the Bible tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28, NIV).

Those who believe in “the gospel” are not compelled to follow any culturally prescribed gender-stereotypes. We are simply encouraged to express God’s love through the gifts and talents he has given us (1 Corinthians 12).

Insisting that God made men to be hierarchical rulers over women who must submit to male authority isn’t “the gospel.” It is sexism.

Insisting that women are not fit to share leadership responsibilities with men, but rather that they are obligated to cater to a man’s sexual preferences is not “the gospel.” Blaming a woman for a man’s sinful behavior isn’t “the gospel.” Insisting that women are more gullible than men or that they should follow the example set by “helpful animals” is not “the gospel.” In my opinion, these statements are examples of outright misogyny.

Sadly, sexism and misogyny have been part of church tradition for centuries:

“It is the natural order among people that women serve their husbands and children their parents, because the justice of this lies in (the principle that) the lesser serves the greater…. This is the natural justice that the weaker brain serve the stronger. This therefore is the evident justice in the relationships between slaves and their masters, that they who excel in reason, excel in power.” (St. Augustine, Questions on the Heptateuch, Book I, § 153, http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/august.asp)

“Augustine is so wholly with me, that if I wished to write a confession of my faith, I could do so with all fullness and satisfaction to myself out of his writings.”  (John Calvin, http://blog.logos.com/2012/01/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-john-calvin-and-should/)

“Let the woman be satisfied with her state of subjection, and not take it amiss that she is made inferior to the more distinguished sex.” (John Calvin, in Oliphant, J. (2011). AQA Religious Ethics for AS and A2. New York, NY: Routledge.)

Sexism and misogyny are not “the gospel.” They are examples of sinful attitudes and behavior that grieve the heart of God.

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” (Mark 7:6-8, NIV)

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.  Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar” (Proverbs 30:5-6, NIV).

 

Endnotes:

gos•pel (g s p l)
n.
1.
Gospel The proclamation of the redemption preached by Jesus and the Apostles, which is the central content of Christian revelation.

2.
a. Gospel Bible One of the first four New Testament books, describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and recording his teaching.
b. A similar narrative. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gospel)

sex•ism (s k s z m)
n.
1.
Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.

2.
Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender. (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/sexism)

mi•sog•y•ny (mɪˈsɒdʒ ə ni, maɪ-)
n.
hatred of or hostility toward women.
[1650–60; < Greek mīsogynía= mīsogyn(ēs) a woman-hater (mīso- miso- + -gynēs, adj. derivative of gynḗ woman) + -ia -y3]

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“What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You”: Is this book telling women the truth about men?

In his book entitled, “What Your Husband Isn’t Telling You,” David Murrow makes a number generalizations about men.  He seems to believe that his view of what it means to be a man is normative, healthy and Christian.  He writes as if men are simply “wired this way” by God.

Here are some of his assertions, followed by my responses:

Murrow:

If a man is not allowed to be the spiritual leader in his home, he won’t know what role to play because “men are hierarchical thinkers” (p. 152).

Response:

This is only true if a man has been exposed to a patriarchal social environment, and has internalized this culture as normative.  He may even believe that “his” normal is “God’s” normal.  Simply put, this comes across as an egocentric perspective that seems unaware of the dynamics of gender-socialization.  Some men are socialized to be hierarchical; others to be egalitarian.  Even men who internalize hierarchical norms can learn to be more collaborative.  This has more to do with nurture than nature, and it has nothing to do with God’s design.

Murrow:

“Modern Christianity has begun morphing into a ‘woman thing’” (p. 134).  “Today’s church offers the things women crave: safety, relationships, nurturing and close-knit community.”  Men “feel unneeded, so they go passive or leave the church altogether” (p. 138).

Response:

If men do not recognize their emotional and relational needs (for safety, relationships, nurturance and community) and seek to have them met in healthy ways, they are prone to try to get them met in unhealthy ways (e.g. through addiction).

Murrow (makes a number of comments about sex):

Men are like “chocoholics” when it comes to sex.  If a man is unable to come home after work and “indulge [his] fantasy,” he will believe his wife is saying, “get your ya-yas somewhere else, buddy.”  Wives shouldn’t be surprised to later find their husbands “engaged in masturbation, porn, or an extramarital affair.”  Men, according to Murrow, need wives to be “generous with the chocolate” (p. 118).

“Men actually get a cocaine-like shot of pleasure from looking at a beautiful woman.  So here’s your assignment: Give your husband as many cocaine shots as possible.  Satisfy his addiction by looking your best” (pp. 163-164).

“And why are looks so important to men?”  “Men compare. Men compete. Men size each other up by their spouses” (p. 164).  “Having a knockout wife raises your social standing at work, among your relatives, and even a bit at church” (p. 165).

“First realize that sex is one of the cornerstones of the male psyche.  If a man has a satisfying sex life, everything is right with the world.”  “Here’s something else your husband hasn’t told you: It’s his greatest source of comfort.  Sometimes it’s the only way he can access the emotions trapped deep in his heart” (p. 167).

“You are competing for your husband’s body.  It’s you versus a thousand foes—food, drink, drugs, illicit sex.  Fight for his body and you’ll win his heart” (p. 171).

Response:

Women are not responsible for their husbands’ behaviour.  They are not responsible to give him enough sex so that he won’t fall prey to gluttony, alcoholism, drug abuse or sexual immorality.  Men are responsible to regulate their own impulses and manage their own appetites.  We are encouraged to “walk in the Spirit” so that we will not fulfill the “lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

If sex is the cornerstone of a man’s psyche, if it is his greatest source of comfort, if it is the only way for him to access his emotions, he may have a sexual addiction.  He should be assessed by a qualified psychotherapist.

If he has married his wife because he believes her beauty enhances his social standing at church (or anywhere else), he should seek to understand his worth as a loved child of God and friend of Jesus Christ.  If he measures his status by comparing his wife to someone else’s, I believe he should prayerfully consider the words of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

Murrow:

“Since the beginning men have brought home the bacon; women have fried it up in the pan” (p. 162).  “Your husband wants you to take charge of the menu” (p. 163).

Response:

This is a gender-stereotype.  Some men enjoy cooking.  Some men do not.  In some societies, men and women have equally been responsible for hunting and gathering.  In others, men have hunted while women have prepared food.  In still others, women hunted while men prepared food.  Again, this has more to do with nurture than nature.  There has never been a universal pattern for all humanity regarding cooking based on gender lines.  Murrow’s comment seems to be an expression of his personal preference, and he seems to believe wrongly that it is universally true and part of God’s design.

Murrow:

“If your husband is a follower of Jesus and an enthusiastic church-goer, these chapters may not have a lot to say to you.  But read them anyway.  You need to know what he’s not telling you—about God, about church, and about the role of faith in your marriage” (p. 134).

Response:

Your husband may not be telling you these things, simply because he may not be thinking them.  Many men are very comfortable in collaborative, non-hierarchical relationships.  Many are aware of their emotional needs and seek to meet them in healthy, non-sexual ways.  Many are not sex addicts.  Many do not struggle with sexual immorality or substance abuse and blame their wives.  Many do not measure their personal worth by their wife’s outward appearance.  Many do not compare their wives to the wives of other men.  Many Christian men attribute their worth to being a loved child of God, created in God’s image, and redeemed by the life Jesus gave for us on the cross.

In my opinion, Murrow’s book does not present an accurate picture of Christian men.

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