Fatherless doublethink

As everyone knows, women struggle greatly with commitment.  This is why the Christian blogger at Uplifting Love has offered a list of ten things Christian husbands can do to stave off the ever present threat of their wives becoming unhappy and blowing up the family:

What I do believe this statistic demonstrates is that there are more women unsatisfied with their marriages, at least to the point of ending them, than there are men. There are certainly many reasons for the dissatisfaction that exists but I posit that the husband and his actions (or lack of actions) plays a significant role in causing and sustaining the dissatisfaction.

I’ve reflected on this. I’ve done some more reading and research on marriage and divorce rates. I’ve discussed this with my wife. I’ve prayed about it. I’ve talked to and observed couples who have been married for a long time. Why?

To help us husbands do a better job keeping our wives happy.

Here’s what I’ve come up:

He closes with:

Keeping our wives happy can be daunting at times but if we remember that we love them and make sure that they hear it, see it, and know it we’ll be successful.

Good luck men!

What else does everyone know?

As everyone knows, fatherlessness is caused by men leaving their families.  Christian Today explains that men won’t commit in International Men’s Day: In a world stacked against women, here’s why we still need to talk about men:

The so-called crisis in fatherhood is something precipitated by men leaving. We must begin to talk about why so many men now don’t live with their children and the impact that can have in society as a whole. A man’s decision not to commit to his his child and the child’s mother is a life-changing one – and one that it seems not enough men are taking seriously. There are, of course, no easy answers to this issue – relationships break down. But men must be confronted with the consequences of their actions.


Posted in Christian Today, Church Apathy About Divorce, Denial, Doublethink, Fatherhood, Turning a blind eye | 54 Comments


In response to Christian Red Guards, BradA wrote:

I agree with the principles you are posting on Dalrock, but Christianity Today has had a leftward tilt at least since I was in college in the 1980s. I am not sure it is accurate to even call it Christian, in spite of its name.

This is a fair question, but the issue isn’t just about which Christian media outlets are busy lynching Pastor Abedini in response to absurd accusations that he is abusing his wife in the US from an Iranian prison.  This isn’t just about what Christianity Today, Christian Today, Religion News Service, Charisma News, Shattered Magazine, and others are writing about the persecuted Pastor.  This is also about the silence from other Christian media organizations and Christian leaders while Pastor Abedini is being lynched in Christian media.

Outside of this small corner of the blogosphere, who will call out the injustice?  Who will point out the absurdity of defining looking at pornography not just as sexual sin, but as domestic violence, as sexual abuse?  Who will point out the absurdity of accusing a husband of abusing his wife from inside an Iranian prison seven thousand miles away?  Who will point out the obvious violation of 1 Tim 5:19?

The problem isn’t that the Christian Red Guards are running amok, the problem is that everyone else is too terrified to stand up to them.  The most likely Christian leaders to fight against this insanity are the complementarians, but they are terrified of being accused of supporting the abuse of women.

This is their greatest fear.

To understand the mortal terror complementarians have of being accused of supporting the abuse of women, you have to understand their frame of mind.  They believe that the existence of feminism is proof of grievous abuses by Christian men.  They believe that if men are godly enough, women will happily submit to their husbands and thrive.   Under this view Adam’s sin wasn’t just that he followed Eve’s lead in the Garden, but that he allowed her to sin (or created the conditions required for her to sin) in the first place.

You can see this in the founding statement of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  The CBMW is by far the most predominant complementarian group, and their 1988 Danvers Statement declares that they are formed (among other things) as a response to:

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

From the beginning they haven’t been able to see that feminists were generating hysteria around domestic violence and using this hysteria as a tool to attack headship.  They believe, and they have believed from their inception, that the feminist claims of rampant wife abuse was an honest response to a sudden and mysterious surge in domestic violence.

In the Spring of 2003 the CBMW published A Corrective to Distortions and Abuses of Male Headship in their Journal of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.  In this corrective Steven Tracy writes:

It is often asserted that patriarchy, broadly defined as the legitimation of male authority over females, is the basis for most, if not all social pathologies. For instance, Russ Funk states

Tracy then quotes Funk’s feminist rant on the patriarchy:

Patriarchy is a terrible, violent, vile system that destroys huge pieces of all of us-our individual humanness and humanness in general. Patriarchy creates men who choose to act oppressively and violently, who create huge systems of destruction… . Patriarchy is a death system. It is a system based on destruction, violence, and degradation.3

Tracy quotes this to remind his readers that biblical patriarchy is a frightening thing.  Tracy disagrees with Funk’s indictment of the patriarchy, but only slightly.  His main concern is that we not dismiss what radical feminists like Funk have to say about patriarchy (emphasis mine):

It might be tempting to casually dismiss such criticisms, especially given the theological and ethical views of many radical feminists who deny for example, the substitutionary atonement (calling it “divine child abuse”),4 reject historic Christian orthodoxy in favor of neo-paganism and goddess worship, and stridently promote lesbianism and abortion.5 At the same time, we must never soften our commitment to the truth, wherever it may lead us. If feminists have identified legitimate concerns, they must be fiercely addressed. Sadly, while biblical complementarians oppose the abuse of male leadership, they have been extremely slow to address specific issues of male abuse in a detailed fashion.6

Tracy continues:

While patriarchy is not the cause of all the world’s social ills, a corruption of patriarchy very often is a major cause of many ills. Given the nature of human depravity with its tendency to corrupt divine gifts, it should not surprise us to find that male headship is often twisted to generate horrible evil. Donald Bloesch astutely observes: “In opposing militant feminism, however, we must not make the mistake of enthroning patriarchal values that have often held women and children in bondage and oppression.”7 Similarly, in the context of noting the harmful results of egalitarianism, which he says are anarchy or matriarchy, he issues a sober warning: “a very real danger in the patriarchal family is tyranny in which the husband uses his power to hold his wife and children in servile dependence and submission.”8

Widespread abuse of male power is anticipated and condemned in Scripture.

If the term “servile dependence and submission” rings a bell, it is because this is a nod to another point in the CBMW’s founding document.  In the Danvers Statement, the CBMW invented a new sin for wives, the feminist sin of servility:

4. The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women(Genesis 3:1-7, 12, 16).– In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.

Keep in mind that the CBMW is the vanguard of the modern Christian fight against feminism, and they are at best ambivalent towards the idea of biblical gender roles.  When feminists started expanding the definition of abuse to include any husband a wife wanted to gain power over, they responded by asserting that feminists were right in their hysteria.  Turning this back now will be even harder than it would have been decades ago, and on top of that this case involves allegations of a man viewing pornography.

If we do see a complementarian speaking out against the Christian media lynching Pastor Abedini, this will no doubt create a fracture in the complementarian movement.  Speaking out on this topic involves the risk of being seen as supporting the abuse of wives and supporting the use of pornography;  for any lone leader who tries to take a stand, even a wishy washy stand, others will be eager to renounce them in order distance themselves from these terrifying charges as much as possible.

Posted in Attacking headship, Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Domestic Violence, Pastor Abedini | 82 Comments

Christian Red Guards

The piling on against Pastor Saeed Abedini continues, with an article published yesterday by Christian Today*:  Why did Naghmeh Abedini keep her spousal abuse a secret for years? Behavioural experts offer explanation

Since her husband Pastor Saeed Abedini was first imprisoned in Iran back in September 2012, Naghmeh showed no signs of trauma from spousal abuse as she put on a brave face in her effort to secure her husband’s release.

Over three years later, she finally cracked and admitted to supporters through e-mail that her husband had abused her physically, emotionally and sexually.

A husband who is accused is guilty, no matter how absurd the accusation.

…Naghmeh revealed only recently that her husband’s porn addiction and abuse continued despite their limited contacts (Skype and phone calls).

What is fascinating is how quickly the Christian domestic violence movement went completely insane.  Modern Christian culture has swallowed this aspect of radical feminism whole, and there is no one I can see who is currently in a position to moderate it.  Here we have a persecuted pastor being lynched in the Christian media and everyone is terrified of calling it out.  The Christian feminists no longer even try to hide their alignment with radical secular feminists;  the Christian Today article directly quotes secular feminist Lenore Walker, instead of relying on a Christian feminist to repackage the same ideology**.

Lenore Walker, a professor at Nova Southeastern University and founder of the Domestic Violence Institute, also agreed with Holcomb. She even suspects that throughout their marriage, Naghmeh felt that the abuse she experienced at the hands of her husband is acceptable, and it is only now that she realises otherwise.

“Women with strong religious backgrounds often are less likely to believe that violence against them is wrong,” said Walker.

This is not unlike the insanity we are seeing on university campuses where the radicals are in firm control.  Christian domestic violence advocates are to the modern Church what the Red Guards were to Mao’s China.  Something this destructive can’t last forever, but in the meantime it will do immense damage to Christian families around the West.

*Not to be confused with Christianity Today, which broke the original story.
**Christian Today is in turn drawing these quotes from the article by Religion News Service.

Posted in Christian Today, Domestic Violence, Pastor Abedini | 123 Comments

Guilty if charged

As I noted in my last post, for a husband to be acused of abuse, even with far fetched charges, is to be considered guilty of those charges.  The Christian media’s reaction to Pastor Abedini’s wife accusing him of (among other things) sexually abusing her by looking at pornography and abusing her from inside an Iranian prison cell demonstrate this truth.

Religion News Network’s headline reads: Why imprisoned pastor’s wife kept her marital abuse a secret — until now.  Having convicted Pastor Abedini in the headline, the RNN article presents Episcopal priest Justin Holcomb as an expert on the subject of Christian abuse.  Holcomb explains that women rarely make false charges of abuse (emphasis mine):

[Holcomb] cites research that indicates one in four women will experience abuse in an “intimate partner relationship.” Holcomb advises pastors to talk more openly about domestic abuse, be accessible to abuse survivors, and collaborate with social agencies and law enforcement.

Abuse is one of the most under-reported crimes, he said. “It is extremely unusual for someone to lie about these kinds of claims.”

This would of course be startling news to anyone involved with the family courts, where it is an open secret that women use domestic violence accusations to give them a powerful strategic advantage.  As divorce attorney Gregory S. Forman explains in Five Ways to Get a Spouse Out of the House:

Since Domestic Abuse orders are quick and efficient methods for getting a spouse out of the house, they are subject to abuse. Spouses will often attempt to prompt or instigate fights in order to call the police and set up domestic abuse proceedings.  Since much domestic abuse becomes a “he said/she said” swearing contest, it is important to protect a client from false allegations of domestic abuse.

Charismanews writes in Naghmeh Abedini Claims Abuse, Halts Public Support for Imprisoned Husband Saeed (emphasis original):

So, many of us are involved here in a way that perhaps we often are not. So it’s worth our consideration about how we respond.

Second, we have to ask, what do we do now?

I think that there are five things we need to do in this situation.

1. We need to care about the accusations and the situation. It matters that a wife has spoken up. We should take seriously any accusations from those who speak up about abuse. Therefore, we are hurting with Naghmeh in this moment.

However, even though he is presumed guilty, we should of course still want to see him released:

2. We still need to care about religious liberty, and Pastor Saeed still needs to be freed. Yes, regardless of what happens going forward, his image is now “tarnished.” He, like all of us, has always been flawed. And no person, regardless of his or her flaws, should be imprisoned for sharing his or her faith.

Shattered Magazine picks up the same theme in Pastor Saeed Abedini Isn’t Perfect, Naghmeh Says, But We Still Pray (emphasis original):

Now, though Naghmeh asks supporters to continue praying for Saeed and his release, she will take time away from the public eye to heal from abuse and marital conflict.

Should We Still Pray For Saeed?

It’s a question that brings Christians to a “What now?” stand off. Saeed Abedini, a pastor we’ve highly regarded for his bravery and unswerving faith in the face of intense persecution, isn’t as perfect as we once thought. Do we reject Saeed because of his moral failure? Or do we continue to support Saeed, a Christian imprisoned for his faith, through prayer and advocacy?

In our disappointment in Saeed and sadness for Naghmeh, it would be easy (and tempting) to forget about Pastor Saeed because of his indiscretions, deeming him unworthy of our support. But we would be forgetting one important thing: Nobody is perfect.

All of this is a harbinger of what we can expect moving forward.  Pastor Saeed is presumed guilty of absurd charges, even though he isn’t able to effectively respond to the charges.  Further advocacy for his release will therefore mostly be “private” (following Naghmeh’s lead), and those media articles which do discuss his imprisonment will need to focus at least 25% of their copy on the importance of always believing women and the need for pastors to preach on the imminent threat every Christian husband poses to his helpless wife.  Another 25% or more of the copy will need to be dedicated to questioning if/why we should advocate for such a man to be freed, with the obligatory final decision that yes, we should, because even though he is a wife abuser we still love him.

Posted in Attacking headship, Domestic Violence, Pastor Abedini | 107 Comments

The temptation for wives to claim abuse.

In our age claiming abuse is a powerful tool for wives to punish their husbands.  This creates a profound temptation for wives to betray their husbands for any or no reason.  Everything is abuse, and for a husband to be accused of abuse is to be considered guilty of abuse.  This temptation is most powerful when families are already under strain.

We can see a disturbing example of this in the recent article from Christianity Today: Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Wife Halts Public Advocacy, Citing Marital Woes and Abuse.  Pastor Abedini is serving an eight year prison sentence in Iran for spreading the gospel.  In a Washington Post op-ed piece on October 23rd, Pastor Abedini’s wife  wrote of the abuse her husband faces in the Iranian prison:

Since the nuclear deal in the summer, it is not only more difficult to maintain hope, but the reality of my husband’s situation has grown worse. He remains in grave danger and in need of medical treatment.

Even as President Rouhani was preparing to address the United Nations in New York last month, Saeed was being beaten and interrogated by Iranian guards in prison.

But as the Christianity Today article explains, shortly after writing the op-ed piece sent a series of messages to a mailing list of Pastor Abedini’s supporters accusing him of abusing her and announcing that she was halting her public efforts to have him released from prison (emphasis mine):

In two emails to supporters, [] revealed details of her troubled marriage to Saeed Abedini, an American citizen and pastor imprisoned in Iran since September 2012.

Those troubles include “physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse (through Saeed’s addiction to pornography),” she wrote. The abuse started early in their marriage and has worsened during Saeed’s imprisonment, she said. The two are able to speak by phone and Skype.

Touring the country to advocate for Saeed’s release while coping with marital conflict proved too much, she wrote.

Christianity Today reported ‘s accusations against Pastor Abedini without challenge;  to be accused is to be guilty in the eyes of most.  Moreover, everything is abuse.  Naghmeh’s claim that her husband sexually abused her by looking at pornography is in line with modern Christian thought.  Focus on the Family endorsed Life Skills International defines “looks at pornography” as sexual abuse in their Power and Control Wheel.

However, even if you accept that looking at pornography is sexual abuse, surely Pastor Abedini isn’t being provided with pornography in the Iranian prison.  Yet made this accusation to his supporters after he had already been in prison for over three years, and claimed that the abuse had gotten worse after he was imprisoned.  Likewise, his only contact with Naghmeh has been through phone and skype, so he can’t possibly be physically abusing her from prison either.  This leaves the one possible remaining charge, that he has been emotionally and psychologically abusive since he has been in prison.  While it is certainly possible that he has said unkind things to his wife while enduring prison and torture, surely Pastor Abedini can’t pose a threat to his wife from an Iranian jail cell.  Any way you look at it, it is clear that this isn’t about protecting herself or her children, but about humiliating her husband.  ‘s claim is that her reason for broadcasting these things is “to be real”, and to help her husband (emphasis mine):

It is very serious stuff and I cannot live a lie anymore

But that does not mean he has not been battling with his own demons which I am believing that he can be freed of…

I wanted to be real and ask you to pray for real things (I have opened myself up to you), but without judgment and without losing your love for your brother Saeed who is fighting for his life in the dark prison. This is what the Lord has been showing me, to love unconditionally the way He loves us. To see the sin, but love the sinner and to intercede for freedom from the sin. And not to give up. Not to ever give up on your loved one. To persevere and to endure.

None of the obvious problems with Naghmeh’s public accusations against her husband are brought up by Christianity Today.  They present the allegations without challenge, even though he can’t possibly be sexually or physically abusing her from prison. The article opens with:

For the past three years Naghmeh Abedini has publicly battled her husband’s captors, advocating for his release from an Iranian jail.

Behind the scenes, she also struggled with his inner demons.

No matter how absurd the claim, the husband is presumed guilty merely by being accused.  This is true even in an extraordinary situation like Pastor Abedini is in.

Pastor Abedini isn’t in a position to defend himself, and the woman he trusted to fight on his behalf is the one who has publicly attacked him.  Along with his faith in God, knowing that his family and other Christians were supporting him has to have given him a source of strength while his captors have tormented him over the years.  Knowing that he has been betrayed in this way must now make the torment all the more difficult to bear.

However, as bad as the situation is there is still a chance for Naghmeh to repent.  She appears to at least partially understand the magnitude of what she did:

In a statement to Christianity Today, Abedini said she regretted sending the emails, which were written in a time of emotional distress.

This is a first step, but repentance would require truly turning away from this ugliness.  Clearly she was in a position of emotional weakness, and the ever present temptation to punish her husband by claiming abuse was something she was not able to resist.  If she confesses this, she can not only begin to right the wrong she has done to her husband, but she can also help modern Christians understand the cruelty of offering this temptation in the first place.  There is no kindness in encouraging wives who are in pain to lash out to punish their husbands the way we do.

Posted in Christianity Today, Domestic Violence, Dr. Paul Hegstrom, Duluth Model, Focus on the Family, Pastor Abedini, Rebellion, Wake-up call | 412 Comments