Saturday, October 18, 2008

True Woman Manifesto

I have been opposed to the vow which still occurs in some wedding ceremonies where the wife promises to obey her husband. My mother thought it was patently absurd because it was clearly the reason that Sapphira was struck down. (If you just want the fun scroll down.)

But, I actually believe that the practice of women vowing obedience or submission should be outlawed. Not that one should not submit. I submitted to my colleague for years when we shared a room. No, a woman should not 'vow' to submit. She should not be bound to submit. So why are women vowing to keep the True Woman Manifesto? Don't they know?

Here is the best post I have read on this topic.

The legitimate role of women in church and society is often something sneered at by men who seem envious of the legitimate role God has given them in being who they are. That’s one reason why I vigorously oppose the True Woman Manifesto (which you can actually read here). Pastorally, it’s dangerous to give men and pastors in the Christian community one more plank to abuse women with by providing them with a signed copy of a manifesto that could easily be interpreted and used in ways it was perhaps not originally intended. Additionally, it’s irresponsible to think that the whole of Christian womanhood is aptly summed up by this manifesto or that it ought to be used as a guide in understanding what role women ought to play in the life of the church, their families, and in society. Whatever happened to the Bible? Why do we need cue cards for everything?

And, why suggest that women themselves ought to take an oath as to how they live, behave, and think of themselves? Is it not enough that Scripture itself gives us guidance on these issues? Why take it to such an extreme? My guess is that the real answer has to do with men (and perhaps even women) in certain churches unable to control women or envision them doing the things they are already doing and reacting against such trends in other sectors of church and society. Ultimately, this is just one more effort to control where control shouldn’t be exercised in the church.

Here he gets to the meat of the matter. That men and women each reflect God in a different way,

We believe that the creation of humanity as male and female was a purposeful and magnificent part of God’s wise plan, and that men and women were designed to reflect the image of God in complementary and distinct ways.

Does this mean that women and men share in different images of God or that men have part of God’s image and women the other? The Bible says that both men and women were created in God’s image. Both of them reflect who God is and do so completely. Just because a woman was created as a man’s “helpmeet” and from him does not mean that she only reflects a part of God’s image. The “how” of creation does not of necessity influence the “what” of that which was created. Both men and women reflect God’s image in its totality and if we say anything about the differentiation between the two we go well beyond the text of Scripture in doing so. A statement like this is careless, imprecise, and dangerous especially when we consider how important a role the theology of God’s image in man has played throughout the two thousand year history of the Church (cf. Bavinck’s discussion on the same).

Read the rest here.

Oh, man. I was looking at for this Manifesto and found the "sign it" page. There is a page where you can sign your lifelong commitment to male headship on the internet. And, oh wow, I was just too curious, so I signed it. Well, not my real name. But the thing is, that I did not start shaking and shivering. I did not feel that God would strike me dead. It was a little eerie though.

Its weird. Think of women all over the country vowing to follow male leadership for the rest of their life, in order to go to heaven. Really weird. And they can sign on via the internet. Not TV - the internet!

So what was Canada's contribution to this conference? The PPT from which this was taken. No wonder the women were all given white hankies with "I surrender" on them. With images like this before my eyes I would have been squealing for mercy. It is enough to cut the heart out of a Canadian educator. I can only sputter that at least she is not from my province.


Clix said...

Wait - what? WHYYY did you SIGN it?!

Anonymous said...

I went googling for a "True Man Manifesto". There were two hits. One was relevant; it was some other woman, over at Boundless, wanting to know if there is a "True Man Manifesto". So I can only presume that there is no "True Man Manifesto".

Funny, isn't it? Certain men want to be affirmed as the true and only leaders, just because they are male, but they're not willing to lead in this manifesto thing. Why not create and sign up to some manifesto stating that each man will love his wife sacrificially, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her?

But how can you love a woman sacrificially, in the manner of Christ's sacrificial life, if you firmly believe that, by God's design, she exists to serve your interests? It seems to me that logic would require you to develop more and more interests for her to serve even if you found it exhausting to have all these ever expanding interests. You shouldn't stop until she is dead of her own exhaustion.

I think the fact that there is no "True Man Manifesto" exposes these men as weak, ineffectual, presumptuous, slackers. With their piddling, finite, human brains they presume to understand the mystery of the eternal Trinity and to find in their anthropomorphised explanation of it the reason why they may insist that their wife has no role but to serve them. How odd! She gets to be the one doing all the sacrificing even though that's what the Bible says they're supposed to do.

To me the most disturbing thing about the way these men use words is that they appear to aim to confuse. Why else would they so consistently fail to distinguish between the incarnate Christ and the eternal Son, the Word?

God is not the author of confusion so I can only assume that whoever, or whatever, is behind their attempt to bind women not just to lifelong servitude but also to eternal servitude must be not of God but of our enemy.

Lin said...

No Christian should sign a man made document. We have the Holy Spirit and the Word to guide us.

A friend of mine was going through the TW blog they have and saw a comment from a woman whose husband had given her the ticket to the conference as a gift but that she came home to more abuse.

My friend has contacted TW and Nancy Demoss asking that they contact this woman and try to get her help. She has not had a lot of luck with a response.

Lin said...

From the "Historic Day" post on TW blog:

What a Blessing this weekend has been! Thank you Jesus for these wonderful women.
Nancy warned us that we may face a difficult battle when we returned to "reality". Never in a million years would I have imagined that my husband would turn on me after I got home. He actually paid for me to attend as a gift. He told me that he knew I would either return as an "Angel" or not from this experience. Well, I guess since I did not measure up to his expectations, I have failed the test. Please pray for us, I am experiencing
some abuse, which I had thought we were past. Joni
Tada's talk is especially relevant for me now. Thank you

posted by Darcie
on Sunday, October 12, 2008 at 4:06 pm

(Keep in mind that part of the weekend theme was about suffering as Christians)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Wait - what? WHYYY did you SIGN it?!


I wanted to read the next page and that was the only way to get to it. I entered a slightly disrespectful but not irreverent pseudonym and clicked on the "sign it" button.

What I read was a page of all the women that had signed it. Sad to see the commitment is made public although only first name and initial is visible.


Thanks for letting me know about the TW blog and the woman returning to abuse. When will people realize that a vow like this only engenders more abuse. What did she expect! These people are criminally responsible in my view.

Anonymous said...

Suzanne, I love you!

Just so everyone knows, Corrie Marnett noticed the post by this dear woman who mentions abuse, and I am the one who made several attempts to contact True Woman/Revive Our Hearts asking for someone to intervene.

I sent an email and phoned True Woman, but I decided to make phone calls on the following day until I could get someone on the phone. The person I spoke with said that they were very grateful that this was brought to their attention, and I was sent to the voicemail of the person who was identified as the appropriate party to try to intervene.

I just received an email from the group stating that they will make every attempt to contact this woman to offer her loving support.

I did get to express my concerns that, given the heavy emphasis on submission, surrender and suffering that I took away from the conference, I was deeply concerned how women in dysfunctional relationships would interpret that general message.

God have mercy on this dear woman and deliver her.

Anonymous said...

This is really tough for me to read as I have just started counselling for post traumatic stress disorder myself. I sit with the tears streaming down my face, as I tell what happened to me.

When I read about the hankies with "I surrender" on them I cried again.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Oh...oh...I can't stand it!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Entering therapy is a hopeful stage but also very very painful.

I think the concern for us as Christians is twofold.

First, physical and emotional abuse can be caused by anyone to their partner or intimates, children or elderly parents, and there needs to be structures and teaching to support them.

Second, soliciting vows of obedience or surrender from women, and blaming women for not being submissive enough is a form of hate literature that incites violence and repression against women. It should be outlawed.

Lynne said...

Does anyone remember a course called "Philosophy of Christian Womaqnhood" that was round in the late 70's? It came from America and was quite big in Australia at that time. It did the same kind of damage -- I know because i sat through the 9 (or whatever number it was) weeks of the course, and it set me back years from being able to face and deal with things by teaching what i would now call "Extreme Submission". We were taught for example, that it was right to be sexually available to our husbands before we had fully healed from childbirth. And the example it still sickens me to remember? Even at the time I thought it couldn't be right, now I think it's horrific. Our "Leader" used the example of a woman who came seeking counsel because her husband wanted to get involved in a wife-swapping group. The counsel? She was told to submit to her husband, and God would protect her. And the fact that the husband had second thoughts, "proved" that this was the godly thing to do!!!

Don said...

I looked thru all of Kassian's slides, many of the ideas therein are very good. And I think this makes it a trap, the mixture of good and bad is harder to detect then if it was all bad or very starkly said, without the other good things she does say.

Also, on each slide the stuff on the left is the wild woman and on the right is the wise woman.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I definitely preferred the "wild woman" side, or at least the one where the wild woman wears sloppy clothes rather than have to be dressed in a certain "non-sloppy" way to prove that she is feminine. Funny, I never thought of sloppiness as a mark of masculinity.

Don said...

Kassian's comment there is

Dresses masculinely (sloppy)

and the justification is

"wear men's clothing" Deut. 22:5

How she gets sloppy out of this is beyond me! I do try to dress comfortably most of the time.

Clix said...

So masculine = sloppy? And here I thought I, as the feminist, was supposedly the male-basher!

Lynne said...

umm .. where do people make this stuff up from? When Deuteronomy was written it was addressed to motley crew of men and women (both wearing long robes) who had been wandering round the desert for 40 years without a shopping trip (let alone the services of beauticians and hairdressers). Fancy grooming wasn't quite in the picture!

Anonymous said...


Can you give me the link to Kassian's slides?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Christian men asked to sign a manifesto in which they declare they will not use pornography or commit adultery.

Anonymous said...

So is this #12 slide with Tarzan and Jane from the actual TW website?

If so, it's hilarious!

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Yes it is. I'll try and find the link. But if they were my slides I would have them taken off the internet. I'll have a try.

Euodia said...

Hi Suzanne:

Wanted to let you know that part one of "True Woman Manifesto: A Response" is up at HEvencense. In three parts.

Here's the link for part one: