Guarding her equality.

As I’ve demonstrated (here and here), an underpinning belief of complementarianism is that the source of feminist resentment is sinful men, men who are not sufficiently nice and accommodating.  As Pastor Chandler explains, if men are good enough women can’t even be tempted to rebel:

…where men exercise biblical headship, where they are sacrificially loving, they are creating environments that honor and uplift the name of Jesus Christ, they’re establishing a place where the Word of God is seen and honored, and we understand God as he has revealed himself, and where they provide for, where that happens, and where women come underneath that, the idea of male headship might be attacked as a philosophy, but if they came into our homes, our wives would not want to be freed from anything.

In Cherishing Your Marriage: Part 1, the CBMW asks:

In practical ways in your marriage relationship, how do you balance gender equality with male headship?

Mary Kassian provides the answer.  Kassian explains that she doesn’t feel the feminist urge because her husband “guards her equality” (emphasis mine).

Brent and I have been married for almost thirteen years. In that time, he has always honored, blessed and encouraged me. He has never, ever said or done anything that would give me the impression that I am lesser than he. He trusts me completely, and gives up much on my account. When he fails, he is quick to seek forgiveness. I am left with the impression that he regards my desires and interests as more important than his own, and I feel cherished.

Therefore, the question of male-female equality has not been an issue in my mind. I am secure and confident in who God has made me as a woman. Brent upholds and guards my “equality” so I do not feel the need to do so.

Posted in Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Feminists, Headship, Marriage, Mary Kassian, Pastor Matt Chandler, Rebellion, The Real Feminists, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye | 64 Comments

The root of the problem.

I stumbled across an old CBMW newsletter from 1995 (the year after VAWA was passed), and like the founding statement the influence of the Duluth model on complementarian thinking is obvious:

and women are described in terms of power or control. This semantic slant on the discussion often wrongly leads egalitarians to the conclusion that headship includes the forceful use of power by a man, resulting in domination if not outright abuse of his wife. Because of this, egalitarian efforts to level the distinctions between men and women in the home and the church are easily focused on the woman’s reclamation or assertion of power or control in the relationship.

Power and Control is the foundation of the Duluth model that has saturated our thinking on domestic violence.  Since complementarians believe that feminist envy and rebellion is caused by men, they of course identify the root of problem not as radical feminists obsessed with usurping power, but men who aren’t loving their wives* (emphasis mine):

A glimpse at some Biblical injunctions should correct this false assumption and its conclusion. Jesus’ reminded the disciples in Luke 22:25-26. “The kings of the Gentiles lord it overthem; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”…

Along these lines, Diane Knippers of the Institute on Religion and Democracy declared in Beijing, “I am likewise skeptical of the use of the concept of power in the family…. What a sterile and bankrupt view of the most private and intimate human relationship!…The root problem is husbands who do not love their wives. Our goal should be to change their minds and hearts, not merely to restrict their behavior.”

The very next article in the newsletter is from Mary Kassian, and reinforces the message that when women are tempted to feminist rebellion, it is men who are to blame.

A battle is raging across the nations. It is a spiritual battle. And although the battle is not isolated to role relationships between men and women, much of it does take place on that front. Those of us who have experienced the goodness of God’s plan for male- female relationships must be careful not minimize or trivialize its severity. Countless women experience extreme pain and suffering from the hands of the very men who ought to guard and protect them. It is real. It is damaging. And from my perspective, it is increasing in violence and intensity.

My personal experience

I have been extremely fortunate to have had good men in my life. My grandfather, father, brothers, husband, and male friends have all blessed me in both action and word. But consider the woman who has been molested by her grandfather, ignored by her father, sexually derided by her brother, slapped by her husband and ridiculed by her male friends. She reacts to the wounding by adopting a feminist and/or egalitarian philosophy which assures her of her worth and value as a woman. And no wonder!

To be sure, such a woman needs truth. But most often, she needs healing of her pain before she is able to respond to truth.

Kassian describes a feminist woman she knew in College:

When I met her, she was contemplating becoming a Christian, but was struggling with how to reconcile Christianity with her feminist world-view. Sandra did give her life to Christ, but continued to hold on to feminist beliefs.

Kassian doesn’t directly say what type of abuse Sandra suffered that drove her to become a feminist, but she explains that it took a good man to undo all of the bad things men had done before Sandra could abandon her feminism.  Fortunately, Sandra found a Christian husband who was willing to “sign a contract agreeing to stay home half-time should they have children.”  Through the love of this good man, Kassian explains that Sandra’s desire for feminism eventually went away.

This is terrible theology, as there is no biblical backing for the claim that women are only tempted to rebel because men drive them to it.  It is true that men and women are both sinful, and therefore there is no man who has not sinned (aside from Christ).  But this theology declares that women are only tempted to sin because men sin first, and this desire to sin will go away if men are nice enough.

Not only is this terrible theology, it is also bad logic.  If the root of feminist rebellion is men who aren’t nice enough, then why is it in the modern age that we suddenly have so much more feminist rebellion?  Were the men in the ancient world, the middle ages, etc. more egalitarian and nice than modern men?  Of course not.  Feminist rebellion is growing because we are unwilling to say no to women, not because we have suddenly started saying no to them.

One other interesting note about Kassian’s article.  Kassian uses the massacre of women by Mark Lepine to paint men in general, including many complementarian men, as brutish woman haters.  If you aren’t familiar with the background on this, Mark Steyn explained it back in 2007:

Every December 6th, my own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the “Montreal massacre,”  the 14 female students of the Ecole Polytechnique murdered by Marc Lepine (born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you’d never know that from the press coverage).

*Technically it is true that men are failing to be loving leaders, but not in the way the article is claiming.  The article is arguing that if men were nicer women would stop rebelling.  Modern Christian men are failing women, but we are failing them by not confronting the rebellion.

Posted in Attacking headship, Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Domestic Violence, Duluth Model, Envy, Mary Kassian, Rebellion, Traditional Conservatives, Turning a blind eye, Ugly Feminists, Weak men screwing feminism up | 34 Comments

Who is she teaching?

A few days ago CBMW Women’s Studies professor Mary Kassian published a new post titled Does a Husband have the Authority?*  The post follows the Duluth model framing headship as abuse, and the main image conveys the sentiment of the post quite well:  Christian husbands are dangerous brutes.

The first question that came to mind when reading this post is who is Kassian teaching here?  The possible options are:

  1. She is teaching other Christian women.
  2. She is teaching Christian men (directly).
  3. She is teaching Christian men via their wives.

When Kassian says that a husband has no authority, identifying the audience is critical to understand precisely what she is instructing.  If the audience is Christian women, the instruction is to not feel pressured to submit to your husband.  It is in fact a message to rebel against a husband that doesn’t meet Kassian’s standard of headship.

If the audience is Christian men, then Kassian is instructing Christian men in the proper way to exercise headship.  Lastly, the third option is that Kassian is teaching Christian wives how they should instruct their own husbands in the proper way to exercise headship.

Clearly, Kassian is doing all three with this post.  More importantly, the Bible makes it clear that she isn’t to be doing any of these three things.  Titus 2:3-5 says that older godly women are to teach younger women to be obedient to their own husbands.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Kassian is teaching the opposite of this.  The other relevant Scripture to consider regarding Kassian’s post is 1 Tim 2:11-15:

11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

The traditional reading of this section of 1 Tim is that women are not to teach Scripture.  Dr. Moo defines the kind of teaching the CBMW founders believed are restricted by Paul’s words above:

…we argue that the teaching prohibited to women here includes what we would call preaching (note 2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word . . . with careful instruction” [teaching, didache ̄]), and the teaching of Bible and doctrine in the church, in colleges, and in seminaries. Other activities-leading Bible studies, for instance-may be included, depending on how they are done. Still others-evangelistic witnessing, counseling, teaching subjects other than Bible or doctrine-are not, in our opinion, teaching in the sense Paul intends here.

Clearly Kasian is teaching Scripture authoritatively here, as she is setting herself as the authority on how headship can and cannot be practiced.  However, the CBMW has a novel interpretation of who Kassian would be prohibited from teaching in this way, arguing that women are only prohibited from teaching men.  This is based on the CBMW founders’ assumption that when Paul wrote in verse 14 that Adam was not deceived but Eve was, that he wasn’t talking about Eve being deceived but instead was making an oblique reference to the creation order, cryptically reiterating what he had stated clearly in verse 13 (emphasis mine):

…what Paul meant in 1 Timothy 2:14 was this:  “Adam was not deceived (that is, Adam was not approached by the deceiver and did not carry on direct dealings with the deceiver), but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor (that is, she was the one who took up dealings with the deceiver and was led through her direct interaction with him into deception and transgression).”

In this case, the main point is not that the man is undeceivable or that the woman is more deceivable; the point is that when God’s order of leadership is repudiated it brings damage and ruin. Men and women are both more vulnerable to error and sin when they forsake the order that God has intended.

…Paul’s position in the pastoral epistles is, then, consistent: he allows women to teach other women (Titus 2:3-4), 17 but prohibits them to teach men.

But even indulging the CBMW’s creative loophole for 1 Tim 2:12, Kassian is still clearly prohibited from doing what she did in that post.  According to Dr Moo and the CBMW founders, Kassian is not to teach men, and this would include teaching men the proper way to exercise headship.  Even worse, since Kassian’s site is primarily targeted at women, Kassian is inviting wives to teach their own husbands on the proper way to exercise headship.  No matter how you look at Kassian’s article, she had no business writing such a thing under even the most libertine complementarian interpretations of Scripture.  Only an egalitarian would argue that it is appropriate for Kassian to teach what she is teaching.

Putting all of this aside, there is also the massive problem of the message itself.  Kassian is teaching the Duluth model of abuse, a model that was developed by feminists to eradicate the idea of Christian headship. Unlike Focus Ministries (the domestic violence ministry Kassian endorses), she doesn’t call it the Duluth model, but this is exactly what she is teaching in her recent post (emphasis original):

… this truth deserves to be stated and restated with clarity: It is not the husband’s right to force or coerce his wife to submit. Submission is voluntary on a wife’s part, and her choice entirely.

The misuse/abuse of authority is an abomination to God…

According to the Bible, a wife’s submission is her choice alone. A husband does not have the right to force or coerce her to do things against her will. He does not have the right to domineer. He does not have the right to pull rank and use strong-arm tactics.

According to Kassian, a husband “pulling rank” is guilty of abuse.  If a husband makes what complementarians would call the final decision in cases where the two can’t come to agreement, or the “tiebreaker”, this is abuse.  While the Duluth model calls this “using male privilege”, and Kassian uses the term “pulling rank”, we are talking about the very same thing.  Moreover, like the Duluth model, Kassian is just fine with coercion to lead a spouse away from sin, so long as it is the wife coercing her husband.  In that case it isn’t abuse at all;  Kassian calls it submission (emphasis mine):

Submission is neither mindless nor formulaic nor simplistic. Submitting to the Lord sometimes involves drawing clear boundaries and enacting consequences when a husband sins.

It would be thrice wrong for Kassian to teach as she is teaching even if she wasn’t promoting the radical feminist view of marriage and headship (the Duluth model).  And it would be wrong for her to teach the feminist view of marriage and headship even if she weren’t going against both Titus 2 and 1 Tim 2 in doing so.

This is all the worse because Kassian is both a Women’s Studies Professor and one of the original people involved with the founding of the CBMW in the late 1980s.  This is her area of expertise, something she has positioned herself as an expert on for thirty years.

But realistically while complementarians claim to take the Bible’s instruction seriously (albeit with novel interpretations), what Kassian is doing here doesn’t put her out of the mainstream of CBMW and complementarian thought.  While in theory it is clear that even the complementarian interpretation of Scripture prohibits what she is doing, in practice she is actually on the conservative side of current complementarian thought.  Kassian is merely attacking headship and submission, she isn’t denying the authority of male clergy or attacking male pastors as androcentric chimps chimping like the new guard of complementarian women are doing.

*HT Hmm

Posted in Attacking headship, Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Crossdressing Theology, Domestic Violence, Feminists, Headship, Mary Kassian, Rebellion, Submission, Theological Crossdressing, Traditional Conservatives, Whispers, Women's Studies | 127 Comments

All roads lead to Duluth.

In the early 1980s a group of feminists put together a model to approach domestic violence called the Duluth Model.  Under this new (feminist) model the focus is not on actual violence, but on fighting the patriarchy and “male privilege”.  This is something the Duluth organization is very open about.  For example, in Countering Confusion about the Duluth Model they explain (emphasis mine):

The underpinnings of the Duluth curriculum do come from a historical analysis. When Europeans came to this continent, they brought religion, laws, and economic systems that institutionalized the status of women as the property of men through marriage. From the church to the state, there was not only acceptance of male supremacy, but also an expectation that husbands would maintain the family order by controlling their wives. Various indiscretions committed by wives were offenses to be punished by husbands. This system of male dominance (like any social structure where one group oppresses another) was perpetuated by: a) a belief in the primacy of men over women; b) institutional rules requiring the submission of women to men; c) the objectification of women which made violence acceptable; and d) the right of men to use violence to punish with impunity (Dobash and Dobash 1983).

…Do all men who batter want to dominate women? This is a complicated question. Clearly, many men who batter believe that women should be submissive to men and there are others who share a variation of these sexist beliefs—“The man is the head of the household” or “You can’t have two captains of one ship.” However, there are other men who batter that don’t believe that their wives or girlfriends should be subservient because of their gender, but they still batter. These men use violence to control their partners because they can and violence works…

we do not see men’s violence against women as stemming from individual pathology, but rather from a socially reinforced sense of entitlement

Opponents of a feminist analysis of domestic violence continue to argue their theory that women are as violent as men and that the level of mutual violence calls out for changing arrest and prosecution policies as well as advocating for marriage counseling to stop the violence. This may be an attractive theory to some in the mental health field and “men’s rights” activists…

The Duluth curriculum’s central focus is exploring and understanding power relationships and the effects of violence and controlling behavior on domestic partners.

The Duluth curriculum is an educational approach. The philosophical core of the model is the belief that men who batter use physical and sexual violence and other abusive tactics to control their partners

Back in the 1970s, battered women’s advocates were rightly concerned about how the mental health community used psychological explanations to describe wife beating. They correctly worried that battered women would be labeled psychologically and that mental health practitioners would collude with men who batter by treating offenders’ personality disorders rather than working to change their beliefs and attitudes about women, men, and marriage

Under the Duluth model, the idea of headship is not only abuse itself (male privilege), it is the very root of all domestic violence.  The focus of the program is to change men’s sexist beliefs (emphasis mine):

[We want men] to genuinely struggle with their beliefs about men, women, relationships, and entitlement.

A central assumption in the Duluth curriculum is that nature and culture are separate. Men are cultural beings who can change the way they use violence in relationships because beliefs about male dominance and the use of violence to control are cultural, not innate. Facilitators engage men who batter in a dialogue about their beliefs. Through curriculum exercises, group participants are immersed in critical thinking and self-reflection. Some of the men in our groups begin to understand the impact that their violence has had on their partners, children, and themselves.

A key teaching tool is the control log that helps group members analyze their abusive actions by recognizing that their behavior is intentional and inextricably tied to their beliefs.

This is critical to understand because when they talk about violence, they really mean power and control, and specifically they are concerned about men having power and control over women.  This isn’t really about abuse or violence at all, it is about radical feminism.  This is why under the Duluth model domestic violence by women is seen as wholly different than violence by men.  Violence by men is a tool of the patriarchy, while violence by women is a tool to fight against the patriarchy (emphasis mine):

When women use violence in an intimate relationship, the context of that violence tends to differ from men. First, men’s use of violence against women is learned and reinforced through many social, cultural and institutional avenues, while women’s use of violence does not have the same kind of societal support. Secondly, many women who do use violence against their male partners are being battered. Their violence is primarily used to respond to and resist the controlling violence being used against them. On the societal level, women’s violence against men has a trivial effect on men compared to the devastating effect of men’s violence against women.

Making the Power and Control Wheel gender neutral would hide the power imbalances in relationships between men and women that reflect power imbalances in society. By naming the power differences, we can more clearly provide advocacy and support for victims, accountability and opportunities for change for offenders, and system and societal changes that end violence against women.

Since this is radical feminist theory, who and whom is paramount.  For this reason not only do the Duluth model creators tell us the model should not be used to confront abuse of men by women, but it also should not be applied to women who abuse women or men who abuse men:

Battering in same-sex intimate relationships has many of the same characteristics of battering in heterosexual relationships, but happens within the context of the larger societal oppression of same-sex couples. Resources that describe same-sex domestic violence have been developed by specialists in that field such as The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse,

The other key thing to understand about the Duluth model is that its influence isn’t limited to the kooky women’s studies departments that gave birth to this kind of analysis.  The Duluth model has been widely accepted as the model for understanding domestic violence.  Not only has this model been adopted by police departments and courts (criminal and family) across the West, it has saturated both secular and Christian thinking on the topic as well.

Complementarian Absorption of the Duluth Model

Very often the impact of the Duluth model isn’t entirely obvious on the surface.  For example, according to the CBMW founding document one of the reasons they created the organization was:

6. the upsurge of physical and emotional abuse in the family

This was in 1988, and while there wasn’t an actual upsurge in physical and emotional abuse in the family in the 1980s, feminists had managed to dominate popular thought via the Duluth model earlier in the decade.

A more direct example of the Duluth model influencing complemetarian thinking can be seen in the post Signs of an abusive relationship by CBMW board member and Women’s Studies Professor Mary Kassian. Kassian doesn’t reference the Duluth model by name, but just as the Duluth model teaches she explains that abuse is about power and control:

An abuser will use a variety of tactics to manipulate and exert power over you…

Power and Control is core to the Duluth model, and chances are at one point or another you have seen an adaptation of the Duluth Power and Control Wheel. In that wheel all of the forms of “abuse” are presented, with violence mixed in with “Using Male Privilege” and “making her feel guilty”.  Keep in mind that like the feminists who created the Duluth model she (covertly) presents, Kassian is all about power and control, so long as the wife is the one wielding it.  Kassian teaches wives to set boundaries for their husbands and enact consequences if their husband doesn’t do as she tells him to do.  If a husband does this Kassian calls it abuse, but if a wife does it Kassian calls it submission (emphasis mine):

Submission is neither mindless nor formulaic nor simplistic. Submitting to the Lord sometimes involves drawing clear boundaries and enacting consequences when a husband sins.

Kassian concludes her post on signs of an abusive relationship with a referral to an organization named Focus Ministries:

Get more information and support at Focus Ministries, a domestic violence and domestic abuse ministry for Christian women.

The Book of Duluth

While Kassian doesn’t name the Duluth model when she presents their paradigm, Focus Ministries is very open in promoting the Duluth model.  In Weapons of An Abuser: Power and Control Focus Ministries presents modified versions of the Duluth Power And Control Wheel and the Duluth Equality Wheel, explaining that this slightly modified radical feminist ideology represents God’s teaching on marriage.  They go so far as to say that the Equality Wheel represents God’s design for relationships (emphasis mine):

Domestic Violence Help For Women

Adapted from the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
Duluth, MN

…[The Power and Control] wheel symbolizes the relationship of physical abuse to other forms of abuse. Each spoke represents a manipulative tactic used to gain power or control.

[The Equality] wheel represents God’s design for relationships. The eight components are held together by Mutuality, each person submitting and serving the other. The core is Equality for each image bearer of God.

Focus Ministries presents modified versions of the two Duluth wheels in another article titled Healthy vs Abusive Relationships: What’s the Difference? This article identifies “Using Male Privilege” as a form of abuse, and explains that abuse is about power and control (emphasis mine):

In order to have a healthy relationship, both partners must treat each other as equal and independent human beings. The husband must respect his wife more than his need to control her. While the wife should respect her husband’s role as the spiritual leader of the home, the husband should be an example of Christ’s love as he takes the position of a servant leader. Both must submit to the Lord and to each other as they learn how to combine the scriptural principles of Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 13. The relationship becomes abusive when the husband or wife usurps control of the other person’s thoughts, actions, emotions, freedom, and individuality. Abusers believe they have the right to punish their partner when they disobey or fail to measure up, and often use violence to intimidate them, keep them in line, and regain control.

Again, Kassian teaches women to set boundaries and punish their husbands when they transgress, but this isn’t abuse, because abuse is about the patriarchy.  Wives fighting against the patriarchy by definition can’t be abusive, only husbands can.

In yet another article, this one titled Power and Control—Weapons of an Abuser, Focus Ministries again presents the Duluth model, explaining that domestic violence is about men wanting power and control over women (emphasis mine):

The Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota demonstrates through a “Violence Wheel” chart the kind of behavior abusers use to get and keep control over their partners. This chart uses a wheel as a symbol to show the relationship of physical abuse to other forms of abuse. Each spoke represents a tactic used to gain power or control, which is the hub of the wheel. The rim which surrounds and supports the spokes is physical abuse. It holds the system together, and gives the abuser his strength.

And again, everything is presented as men abusing women, not because the target audience is abused women, but because this is fundamental to the Duluth model.  This leads to definitions like:

Using Children
An abuser who wants to use the children as weapons may take his ex-wife to court when she withholds visitation because the children are sick. An abuser will also feel a great sense of control by keeping the children past the court-appointed time of visitation…

Complementarians and the Duluth Model; a Marriage not from Heaven

While feminist activism around the Duluth Model in the 1980s clearly influenced the founders of the CBMW, part of the alignment between the two groups is coincidental.  Both groups are deeply hostile to the idea of male headship, and prefer instead to have women in charge.  This is why complementarians like Kassian teach that wives should set boundaries for their husbands and enact consequences when they sin, but consider it abuse if a husband even points out that Scripture says a wife should submit to her husband.

Complementarians endorse wives smashing the family china (a “godly tantrum”) or threatening to leave and take the children, or using denial of sex (here and here), in order to gain power and control in marriage.  Wives who do this are presented as being forced to take drastic measures by their disobedient husbands.  Yet these very same acts would be considered abuse if a husband were to do them.  The difference between abuse and he had it coming comes down to who both the Duluth model creators and complementarians think should rightly be in charge.  The fundamental difference between the two groups in this respect is the Duluth model creators are honest about their feminist objectives, while complementarians claim to support biblical headship.

Posted in Attacking headship, Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Domestic Violence, Duluth Model, Feminists, Mary Kassian, Social Justice Warriors, The Real Feminists, Traditional Conservatives | 137 Comments

Kierkegaard on Christian scholarship.

Escoffier posted this quote from Kierkegaard yesterday in the discussion of Vox’s riff on my CBMW post:

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in this world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.


Posted in Complementarian, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Vox Day | 85 Comments