Saturday, February 19, 2011

Am I being too kind?

The comments resonate for me. I do feel that the teaching that women submit to the decisions of their husband, whether at the end of the day, or in the moment, is categorically wrong. I have no doubt about that.

But the question is how this kind of teaching gains so much power. Why do we give this teaching power, and how do we strip it of power? Pain and anger are completely understandable responses. This is my response, as I have often made clear. But does this strip the teaching of the submission of women of power? Clearly, the answer to that is no.

I have to admit that my journey out of the darkness of submission into health and normalcy has been a long one. It started about 20 years ago. I hope that is not too discouraging - it's a long time.

I hope that by sharing my reverse testimony, that we will be able to share what is powerful and good about becoming adults, about not giving someone else's teaching control over our minds, not according power to an ideology or a doctrine, whether derived from the Bible or from somewhere else.

By reverse testimony, I don't mean that by leaving biblical womanhood and experiencing this as health and wellness, that I am providing evidence that biblical womanhood is wrong. I mean rather to demonstrate that a personal testimony is not evidence which proves an ideology. Biblical womanhood, or feminism or some other ideal may well improve the life of an individual. But this does not justify urging an ideology onto others. This is about freedom from such simplistic thinking altogether.

Those who escape abuse from non-Christian spouses and family members, may embrace the doctrine of biblical patriarchy. Those of us who have suffered from abuse within patriarchy are repelled by it. The testimony of the joiners of the teachings of patriarchy and the testimony of the leavers, demonstrates that the teaching itself has no value. Patriarchy has no divine power for good. We can discount that completely.

But this does not mean that the positive experiences of those who feel happier after accepting the teachings of patriarchy are all wrong. Biblical patriarchy may have enabled them to leave something that was worse. We don't know. But we do know, because of the experiences of those who leave, that it is wrong to teach patriarchy as a good. We know this for sure. So, I am interested in tearing down the power of a doctrine to hurt and do evil. I don't have an ideology to put in its place.

We do know that we are all of us called to be adult, to be responsible for our own actions, to do no harm. We must care for and nurture maturity in those who are dependent on us, and we must do no harm to others. This is what we are called to. This should be taken away from nobody.


J. K. Gayle said...

Biblical patriarchy may have enabled them to leave something that was worse. We don't know. But we do know, because of the experiences of those who leave, that it is wrong to teach patriarchy as a good. We know this for sure. So, I am interested in tearing down the power of a doctrine to hurt and do evil. I don't have an ideology to put in its place.

absolutely beautiful, brilliant, bettering

Mara Reid said...

Are you too kind?

I was thinking about this last night, or rather about the different approaches.

Yeah, you are too kind, but I see that as an asset in you. I see this as your personality style and it compliments your scholarly work. I don't want you to change for anything in the world. I like your God-given style and I want your scholarly work to be taken seriously and I believe you are wise to maintain a certain amount of graciousness, graciousness that many on the opposing side absolutely don't deserve.

But at the same time, I see merit in Paula's and Jane's approach.
They do have a point that some of the men on the comp/patri side have no respect for anything appearing to be weak. And they regularly view godly graciousness as weakness because they are blind guides leading the blind.

So while I know your voice is needed to speak to the reasonable and to those who will listen, I also know that Paula's voice and Jane's voice need to exist to smash though some of the soft pedaling going on on the other side. Sometimes, what is going on needs to be blatantly exposed, not politely exposed. Because what is going on is blatanly wrong.

Anyway, I appeal to I Corinthians 12:14-24 as the basis for my reasoning.

Mara Reid said...

Note: I know that Paula also does scholarly work and respect that as well even though her style is different.
She smashes false doctrine and false translation head on and has study and research to back it up.

Mara Reid said...

Boy, open mouth and insert foot.
When I said scholarly work, I was referring to Bible translation. But thinking about if further, I know that Jane is ridiculously thorough in her research of history and culture, plus she has the experiential side of dealing with and advocating for prostitutes and against the porn industry.

What she does, I also consider an asset and important in making people aware of the relationship between trends in 'Chrisian' patriarchy and what is going on in the rest of the world, like the extremely patriarchal muslim world.

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic: NYT > At Colleges, Women Are Leaving Men in the Dust (July 9, 2006)

Lin said...

"Why do we give this teaching power, and how do we strip it of power? "

You do this all the time with your blog posts. You are more of a scholar than you may think. You analyze their words and present the Greek or whatever translation to show how they have "chosen" to present their particular interpretation that may not be right.

You do it with grace but also with scholarship. I really appreciate that!

When you do this, you not only strip their power but encourage others to be Bereans and study more.

Don't stop. I know you must be very busy with your real life but you do us a great service here. Blog when you can.

tim bulkeley said...

Suzanne,you write "biblical womanhood" without quotation marks, that makes it look as if this ideology of gender is indeed in ways that are meaningful biblical. I don't believe that it is! I'd like to see quotation marks used to show that the claim that this ideology is from the Bible is contested.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I was going to put in quotation marks and then I thought that perhaps that would distract. That someone would ask "why the scare quotes?" But perhaps I should have put them in.


I have no criticism for Paula and Jane and anyone else. I absolutely welcome their comments and recognize the validity of what they are expressing.

JaneDoeThreads said...

Hi all, I wanted you to know, just popping in for a moment, that the perspective [and yes it's often crass and to the point, sometimes harsh, I admit, because I speak from the voice of so many women who are Not sheltered from not just the patriarchy of religion but of the male violence, from the streets, from the rural labor, from the homeless shelters, inner city of which I have actually LIVED and experienced all, streets especially, and so I see how the extensions of patriarchy play out in ways many may not, both from a class and race perspective, we Do live in still a Very segregated Christian society, I see this A LOT on the web, so Sometimes yea, it can get a bit frustrating, because so many I don't think 'get it', that these issues don't operate in a bubble, I'm actually one of the fortunate ones, where I reside, to even Have access to computer or internet, this isn't a joke, most women where I reside are too Poor, or work too many hours, they Can't just leave abuse, it's Impossible, religion for many of them is the Only solace [or drugs] and when the Churches reinforce the abuse, for THESE women, they don't have the resources, nor shelters, nor help, and so they live in a perpetual prison,

and their daughters, learn quite young, the tricks of the trade so to speak to escape from the drudgery of a life They know, due to class stratifications, they Won't be able to get away from, and Those abuses are getting younger and younger in age.

I see churches, quite a lot, Exploit these women, these people, and I can relate to the anger of many who are opposed to faith, I can. I see it from several sides,


JaneDoeThreads said...

this is where, Reality usually doesn't quite fit into the nice little Christianese box, so to speak, it's a life that falls into a complex mirage of cultures, one spiritual, one physical/matter, and the two clash,
throw in there B.C. era types of patriarchal teachings or even A.D. and they can be killers, this is what I see,

same for the secular lens as well, it's not just religious, so anyway, a professor once told me, that 'it all is a matter of where one sits' and I think that's true,

when there is a hegemonic dogma being pushed by pulpit or ministries, especially for the benefit of powers to be, it simply does not work, not unless there is an iron rule of fist or rigid group controls/cult think,

If you go and hang out/read the African American women blogs/sister blogs, be they feminist or Christian, you will see a Completely different culture and lens on all these issues, in fact, I would strongly suggest,

because the one thing that becomes obvious, is just how Damaging the nuclear male centric patriarchy under Dogma has been to its women,

and that has a LOT to do, with why it's So powerful and hard to deconstruct. You're talking Decades of a form of mental development in a type of lens that is just NOW, beginning to bulge at the seams, is just NOW beginning to be challenged within it's own ranks,

Feminism on the other hand for years has been a pluralist [though divided yes] mix of women, from all walks, and this is why in many areas there Has been the gender studies, gender lens, that IS I'll say it

VERY lacking in the Christian feminist movement, and it's the Isolation and controls of the male centric, under the dominion of pastors/dogma that has been the root/cause of much of this, through out time in This nation, because like in Islam, it is Also,

political. There's a lot of deconstructing to do, not just Inside the church, but culture as well as political, the Reason I interject a lot of what the secular feminists [left, liberal, etc] have dealt/still are with, Is because there are pitfalls that can be avoided, some that can't be,

it's a long journey and it's not an easy one, autonomy never is. And to add to that, you have the added burden of finding autonomy that is harmonious to your spiritual beliefs, which ARE based and strengthened by yes, male centric patriarchy,

not an easy task, by no means. I don't have answers to this, I know what I've done personally, but there are no easy answers...

but if you can take, a bit of what I can bring, if it strengthens you, fine, use it, if it doesn't or if one isn't in the place to grasp [because if you don't experience it and you may not you may not ever Have to deal with it and well that's a Good thing], that's fine too,

but the one pitfall I do see, that really can be the downfall, is the internalizations, when the backlash hits and it will [because whenever you challenge privilege, it bites back], that is the most vulnerable time--this is One area,
where seasoned feminists [secular] have learned to deal with,

and it took Years for them, they didn't get those scars for nothing,



JaneDoeThreads said...

[see top two] To all here, and btw I may have misunderstood what Lin was saying on the Piper, kind of triggered me, will respond later, anyway,

to ALL here, ok, now before I post these links let me say, I don't CONCUR with every aspect of secular feminism or radical feminism, I work as an independent, but I still work in Solidarity with numerous groups on issues such as fighting Porn, and so when you are dealing with Staunch pro-porn Misogynists who laugh at rape, you aren't kind, ok, you Can't be, if you're been victimized sexually, it can tear you up, you learn, like a seasoned warrior, you just learn, and that is One reason why Yes, I immediately will jump on the use of male language that is from the MRA camp and the religious patriarchal camp because it's not just harmless language, this language has power political and socially and it IS the source of so much male violence and sanctioning of To women,

you ask Elizabeth if you're being too kind? Well it's not about being kind, in fact That's one of the first areas that MRA's attack, All the time, because women we are constructed/since childhood that women are to be nurturing, soft spoken, etc., so in Finding our voice, that's hard enough, dealing with Rage, that's another, and add religion in that, that says 'oh you can't Have rage' well that's double right there,

but there Are things I've learned from seasoned feminists, and one in particular wrote a Series, on language, dealing with Patriarchal men, that I am listing here for all to read, bookmark, it's a good reference guide, she's from UK and UK has some of the powerful feminist networks that are still somewhat second/third wave, [yea the whole wave thing, today it's post modern but well anyway], they tend to be more vocal against porn, sexual abuse, etc., more mother friendly [not all but some], etc., not As separatist [like some today that I don't concur with, it's long story but anyway], here's the links,

the language men use, patriarchy, the blame victim strategy, etc., they can be applied to issues such as Piper as well as other issues, WARNING, these are Rad Fems, they are not always polite or lady like, they do curse, again, I don't work or concur on All issues, with them, yet I do respect them and have learned so much, when it Comes to dealing with the psychology of male terrorism [esp that that sanctions violence to women] they know how the dynamics work, and so, take what you can use here, I often reflect as well as ponder scripture, nature, etc., listen to God, and Jesus healed a lot in me through many of these sites, taught me strength and empowerment, so, am sharing them here, am putting it in two parts.


JaneDoeThreads said...

more on words and victim blaming

on this one, terrorism of words, some are talking here about attacks on another blogger over abortion, However, why I included, is that this blogger also advocates against porn, it's Very common, for MRA's and Religious men, to verbally assault/and Stalk, literally feminist blogs, with rape threats, rape threats to children, etc., email terrorism, Numerous anti-Porn blogs have shut down because of the cyber terrorism, BY religious patriarchy fundie men and also ho porn pro men, so while I don't get into the whole abortion/non abortion issues, I have seen how these attacks work, on just about every issue there is, I read through the comments, you find out a lot this way, how these men operate, and you get an idea of how Common the 'woman shut up back into your place' is, across the board,

why I am including, the More of a threat you are, to challenging controls, the more violent and hostile they become, Be Aware of this, this is where many women fold and throw in the towel, like with the challenges to the ultra patriarchal teachings, when numerous women begin to listen, That is when the fangs really come out--right now they are just 'watching over' like spies, what I term the 'friendly patriarch', but Be aware, they Don't stay that way...

applied to 'leftist' men but This applies to men feigning support of women but who are Truly misogynist to the core

Again, take what you can use, Dump the rest, what I do...not all of it applies, but there is some good grains of wisdom in these,

and good to reference to when needed.



diamondnell said...

I agree with the above commenters that you are not too kind for God's purposes for you.

What I needed when I was a comp was simply to learn that there are scholarly Christ-followers with a high view of Scripture who reject the comp teachings.

There are those who need to hear from God through you, just the way you are.

Paula said...

I deeply appreciate the kind comments above. :-) But allow me to vent:

That "body" analogy in scripture is exactly what I've been saying for years. Why do so many Christians see us instead as a blob with only one part? They spend more time tearing down other parts and telling them not to do what they're designed to do, than they spend thinking about what such "cannibalism" as I call it is doing to everyone's witness.

The last "Christian" board I left is a good example of what happens to me everywhere I go. I'm talking to an atheist who gets very nasty and even gets a reprimand or "time out" from the admin. But when the atheist changes strategy and starts up with the flowery sugar-coating, suddenly I'm the meanie and the admin coddles the atheist while publicly denouncing a fellow believer. What message does that send to the atheist? And what message does it send to me?

I rarely participate anymore in "Christian" blogs and boards because sooner or later I'll be cannibalized (consumed by my own kind). My own people will turn on me and try to make me exactly like them; they'll tell me, no matter how hard I try, that whatever I say isn't good enough. They think the Body should not have any guardians; in fact, they call this particular gift of the Spirit "a bad witness"!

I have taken all I can of being constantly told what I can and cannot say, having my motives judged by people who say I'm not allowed to judge as they do, and watching the Body being turned into all mouths or all noses. But that means staying in my own blog where nobody comes anymore, talking to the wind. So I blog just to let it out, and go on working on the NT translation nobody will ever read. It's pathetic but I've run out of options.

Kristen said...

Paula, I read your blog. I don't comment much, but I read it! :)

Paula said...

Thanks Kristen :-)

tim bulkeley said...

" own blog where nobody comes anymore, talking to the wind" so we're all nobodies, and wind?

Personally, I am repeatedly astonished when I look at the stats that people actually read my blog. Far more of them than I treach face to face, I feel priviledged to live at a time when we have access to such a platform, and grateful to the people who are willing not only to read, but sometimes to question my writings :)

Paula said...


I'm "talking to the wind" because I can't go anywhere else, NOT because nobody comes to my blog.

And as I said, it was a vent.


Katherine said...

I for one appreciate your kindness. It's a fruit of the spirit, after all. But it boggles my mind that I have never encountered another Christian/bible blogger who has been more frequently banned or blocked from other blogs, you who wonder if you are too kind. Stay your kind self; it is a witness to your integrity.

JaneDoeThreads said...

Paula, that's because the internet/web is like a high school of group think, that runs on a type of Bi-Polarism, it's either right or left, liberal or conservative, black or white, with a few browns thrown in for good measure.

This is true whether it's religion or philosophy* or politics or ideology, on the web, some of this is the divide due to culture/deliberate stratification's, some of it is because of the loss of inter-exchange communication skills that sadly, have been a result of technical cubicle relationships.

So, yea, I run into this too, it's hard to be either center thinking [like in middle of see-saw and able to critique both sides ON the net and not get axed/banned] or run into hostility, NOT so much on Christian blogs, I will admit,

but on secular, yea...and fundie blogs, yea,

I just chalk it up to the sad state of affairs overall, try not to take it personally. Though it's hard, I marked * by philosophy Because, that's the one forum that doesn't seem to be 'that' one sided, maybe because they apply various ideas across the board and tend to look at them objectively rather than subjective--

but I think, when we are Effected in the personal, that objective is hard to do. This is why I like forums like God Like Productions, LOL, it's a host of about every ideal/belief [and they argue] back and forth, but at least, it's a forum where All beliefs are included, well, except,

I got banned from there, twice, for strongly opposing Porn, LOL,

so, what the hell ya know, even the most Liberal, is still very apologetic to Misogyny!

:) I got kicked off several atheist boards, and I'm liberal, LOL, yea, I mean, the Joys of the Web eh, it's PC group think kiss the ass of Stalin cult of personality mentality, sometimes Satire can save ya from getting banned though, sometimes, uh, NOT, but the travesty is, if I've learned Anything,

people don't challenge their own thinking no matter What evidence is in front of them--hell, even when violence is done to them because of those beliefs, they will Still rationalize, the age of Stockholm Syndrome Galore, where we LOVE our ABUSERS, type of thing, it's the Wretched of the Earth multiplied to our global masters, possibly Aliens? LOL [or as you once said, Dark Lord Energy, still laugh over That one]


Paula said...

Thanks Jane. :-)

I've come to use misogyny as the litmus test for any person or group. No matter what else they believe/teach/do, if they can't treat women as fully-equal and human with men, I won't support them in any way. It seems to be the one thing Satan can't hide.