Saturday, March 18, 2006

Patchouli's Plaint

Patchouli has posted It Got an "A" in honour of Women's History Month. Patchouli, I am with you 200%.

First, as you say, I do not hate men. I am daugther, sister, wife, mother and friend of men. I also love being a women, having children, sewing, knitting, making jam, oh yeah, making jam. Come round my place some time. I am the quintessential traditional housewife and proud of it.

But some days the misogyny is unbearable. So thanks for what you have written here, every word.

My problem is that I don't believe that the people who promote the teachings of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which I find to be the most heretical set of doctrines created in the Christian community in our time, are open to argument, and this is why.

Many men and women have communicated with members of the Council and they do not respond. I have spoken out on the Better Bibles Blog, and Justin Taylor, formerly of Desiring God, writer for the Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and now with Crossway, wrote to me to ask me to not say the things I was saying.

Taylor accused me of falsehood. I asked him to tell me what I had said that was false. He did not respond. I wrote him again, pointing out that he had even accused me publicly, and he promised to respond. He has not responded. He told me he was momentarily too busy. But he has posted about 20 times since he wrote that email. These people are not honourable. They do not keep their word.

One thing I wonder is why these men want to subjugate women. What is their need? I have no thoughts on this that can be expressed in public. Maybe when I cool off.

Here is a statement from Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,



This is John Piper's understanding of Biblical complementarity. Block caps are his own, not mine.

The truth is that if a man actually thinks that this applies in some general way to the relationship between men and women in the Christian community, and if I figure this out about them, which isn't too hard, I won't shake hands with that man again. It simply makes me feel sexually harassed.

If a person truly believes, along with the CBMW, that every encounter between a man and a woman is sexual, then women should not only be sequestered in the domestic sphere, they should not have contact, any contact, with any men other than their husbands.

The Christian community which upholds these kinds of beliefs must either take on the practices of Islam, or they must accept the potentially sexual nature of every encounter between men and women and, I suppose, take some preverse pleasure in this.

In my opinion, a woman should not ever, in a way defined by their sexual nature, ever, ever, ever, affirm, receive, or nurture strength and leadership from a man other than her husband.

These doctrines are not in the Bible; the marriage relationship is sacred, and within marriage one may see a metaphor, if one wishes, to the relationship between God and Christ. Otherwise, women are to be treated as sisters, of the same womb, of the same essence, as men, and older women as mothers, sources of strength, I would assume, not receivers thereof.

Patchouli, the translators of the King James Bible may have been men with a wrong view of women, but a certain group within the present generation has added their own perverse twist. They have debased women to a condition where they can only respond to men, although only 'worthy' men. What irony, how puffed up are these silly creatures.

I do have to thank Piper and Grudem on one account. I read some of their book out loud to my husband many years ago, and that was the last either of us ever had to do with this brand of Christianity. We wrapped the book in brown paper, and handled it with tongs and disposed of it. Okay, call me old fashioned, but I 'averted' my eyes.


Light said...

Right on, Suzanne. I myself was carried kicking and screaming into egalitarianism, without realizing my husband and I had actually been living that way all the long happy years of our marriage. We had just been giving lip service to the complementarian position.

It was Grudem & Piper's book that was the tipping point. Their premeses, exegisis, scholarship, and conclusions were so sloppy, illogical, and faulty that was the final nail in the coffin of complementarianism for me. The whole business about a man asking a woman for directions, and she has to watch her demeanor lest he think she's in authority over him ... (I mean, come on, either she's courteous, or she's not you get into a tangle of hierarchy over responding to a simple request for geographical directions is beyond me) ... that was the source of much merriment between my husband and me. And the one about women being physiologically better multitaskers and being able to handle multiple sensory input at once (and I believe it, I've seen the brain imaging studies on this) - but that their conclusion was that therefore women should be the ones to watch the children. (Not as air traffic controllers, or in the trauma room at the ER, no, the less-able multi-tasking male gets those jobs ...)

Keep on speaking up about these things. We all need to keep hearing them.

God's Woman said...

I am honored, Suzanne, by your acknowledgements.

I have no need to read any of Grudem's books--my raising was in a home that believed this doctrine of hierarchy. This doctrine partnered with abuse is very dangerous.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

It is possible that many complementarians today are also giving lip service to this position, but how can one tell?

I remember once driving across Canada and my husband got back on the highway after a gas stop heading in the wrong direction. Should I have pointed this out right away or waited till the end of the day and discussed it with him after the fact, in an attitude of submission, of course.

Some of the workplace issues sound as if they would be against the law here. I don't think you are allowed to treat women differently from men here, in terms of promotion and training as P & G suggest.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


It is very distressing to read these books and think about the abuse that has, in real life accompnaied this teaching. It is difficult to speak out about abuse - I also have seen too much of it, but it is hard to tell the stories.

Light said...

Suzanne, I think many Christians are just giving lip service to the headship-in-the-home issue. What people say and what they do are two different things. It's been my observation, even in my complementarian denomination, that many of the marriages appear to function on a far more egalitarian level. And why shouldn't they? Study after study shows that the egalitarian model creates healthier, longer-lasting marriages and happier husbands and wives. There is also far less physical abuse in egalitarian vs hierarchical marriages.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


Thanks for saying this. This is one reason why I have to quote specific books and statements. In general, I think that many complementarians just get on with life and lots of people don't label themselves at all. I need to keep myself from generalizing.

Light said...

I find it interesting that in my denomination, which is officially complementarian and counts patriarchs like the Bayly brothers among its members, my associate pastor did not even know the terms "egalitarian" and "complementarian," nor could he give a good defense for the denom's position excluding women from leadership. Yet he held firmly to it, though he couldn't support it with a cogent argument. His own marriage looked very egal on the outside. (I have no idea what went on on the inside.) On the other hand, the main pastor does understand the term complementarian and once even brought in a workshop on Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. (I wish I had read the book at the point, and could ask my pastor's opinions on some of the ridiculous assertions of that book.) And yet, he doesn't fit the mold either - I've never heard him preach on gender roles, and he is among the most grace-filled, least controlling people I've ever met. He loves Don Miller's "Blue Like Jazz" which most Calvinists sneer at.

So it takes all kinds. Sometimes, I think until people are forced to think about these things, they don't. I know I didn't, until someone asked me point blank to defend my lip service to headship and female subordination, and I had to study up. That's when my belief in comp'ism began to crumble.

Generalizations are not bad, they're a shorthand borne out of our own personal experiences. But backing them up quotes and books is even better.

bobbie said...

hi there, found you from patchy's blog. great post!

thank you for showing how weakly these people really are at standing up for their positions when the rubber hits the road. it's indefensible.

i think when real light is shed on original documents we'll find that this heirarchy stuff is truly men setting themselves up as little gods - which is abhorrent to the nostrils of the trinity.

the diabolical part of this is that our relationships on earth are to mirror and be a metaphor for the relationship of eternal truths - and by doing this they are showing their ugly thoughts of god and the brokenness of their theology.

i was raised in a 'head covered & silent' church - it's good to be free!

someone mentioned about in the comments about the marriages in these homes not truly reflecting their beliefs - i have found it even worse - the men feel so much pressure to be 'little gods' that they escape into not truly being present in their homes, and their wives are so sick of being stiffled that they are like fire hoses bursting with anger and unresolved issues. it's an ugly distortion of so much that god wanted for all of us.