Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
–The Rolling Stones, Sympathy for the Devil
There is another aspect to the Dr. Russell Moore sermon I wrote about in my previous post. It contains something astoundingly common for modern Christian leaders, and that is a provocation to marital strife:
Some of you—in your marriages, right now—are experiencing deadness, and mistrust, and conflict because you, husbands, led that woman into fornication.
Feminism has weaponized female discontentment and sown marital strife. Pastors and other Christian leaders have responded to this not by countering it with relevant Scripture like 1 Peter 3:1-6, but by joining in. The reasons for feminists to encourage female discontentment and marital strife are fairly obvious, but for Christian leaders the reason for their perverse delight in sowing marital strife is more puzzling.
While the reasons are puzzling, the pattern is crystal clear. I’ll share just a few examples in this post, but you will see it everywhere. Pastor Caleb Suko opens his post How to Make Your Wife Submit to Your Authority -6 Tips with:
Alright men here’s another post for you! Let’s not beat around the bush, the Bible commands our wives to submit to us!
This is of course carefully calculated to stir up feminist resentment in the wives who are reading. Suko knows that the modern Christian men reading aren’t clamoring to force their wives into submission, they are cowering in fear of contentiousness from their feminist wives. The whole point of the opening line was to fan the smouldering feminist resentment right off the bat. The same is true for:
Don’t think for second that you need to lay down the law and “show her who’s boss”!
Likewise, Pastor Sam Powell writes in Headship is not Hierarchy:
Did Adam sit on the couch and say “Woman, beer me and shut those kids up!” I think not.
This gives an entirely new meaning to the misunderstood doctrine of male headship. Headship is not some masculine doctrine cleverly designed to bolster the husband’s sagging ego. Headship involves the husband’s solemn obligation to establish an atmosphere of love in which the basic needs of his wife are fulfilled—an environment in which she is free to grow and develop into all that God wants her to be. Her submission will then be the voluntary response to his loving leadership.
She responds to what she receives. If she receives irritability, criticism, disapproval, unkindness, indifference, lack of appreciation, or lack of affection, she will respond with a defense mechanism, such as bitterness, coolness, defiance, or nagging. Some women turn to drinking or submerge themselves in social activities.
But if the woman receives love she will respond with love, and will blossom into the most beautiful creature under God’s heaven. When a man claims that his wife doesn’t love him anymore he is unwittingly admitting that he hasn’t loved her as he should have.
Dr. David Clarke at Focus on the Family explains that women being discontented in marriage and men being happy is a sign that God made women better at marriage than men. A wife’s discontentment isn’t something she needs to overcome, it is a virtue, and proof that she is better at marriage than her fool of a husband:
Well, these little stories we heard just a few minutes ago from these ladies, I have heard a million times at my seminars, in my therapy office, oh, just one after the other, good solid Christian women… There’s no real intimacy. I’m dying inside. And the key is, they’re not letting the husband know that. The guy has no clue. He’s perfectly happy. So, when that woman hits the wall and leaves him, he is the most stunned guy on earth.
Now He’s got a master plan, because if we work together and let the woman actually teach us, ’cause she has many more skills interpersonally that we will … ever will have. She’s got a Ph.D. in emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy very often. We have like a third-grade education.
Clarke is so concerned that wives might follow the instructions in 1 Pet 3:1-6 and try to win their husbands without a word that he insists that wives schedule time for strife:
…many Christians and pastors, the Christian community are on board with this problem in trying to get their attention, ’cause the wife is told … I see this in books all the time and from pastors from the pulpit. If you just love your husband, uh … treat him well, meet his needs, then he’s gonna turn around and just love you back the way you really need to be loved. Absolutely false. He’s a guy. He doesn’t know how anyway. He doesn’t know there’s a problem. And if you keep loving him, he’ll think everything’s fine. He will never get it. You have to get the man’s attention. You gotta sit down and say, “Honey, I’m not happy in our marriage. Here’s why. Let’s change it.”
The woman’s got to tell the man, “Look, Honey, I want to have a meeting with you in three days. It’s about our marriage. It’s gonna be very serious. In fact, it’s extremely serious and I want the kids aren’t gonna be in the house when we have this meeting.” And you set a time and that will get his attention…
You gotta get a man with a shovel to the head, metaphorically speaking, of course.
Some pastors don’t trust the wife to schedule the strife, so they schedule it for her. Former Acts 29 president Pastor Mark Driscoll suggested in Marriage and Men (“How dare you!”) that the strife begin during his sermon and continue on the ride home:
…some of you guys have already given her that look, “Don’t cry, don’t let ’em know they’re talking about me. Just hold it together.” You’ve already intimidating her right here. Some of you guys have already whispered in her ear, “I don’t want to hear it. We’re not talking about this in the car on the way home.” Some of you have already whispered in her ear, “I’m sorry. I’ll do better. Trust me. Let’s just move on real quickly.”
How dare you! Who in the hell do you think you are?! Abusing a woman, neglecting a woman, being a coward, a fool, being like your father, Adam! Who do you think you are?! You’re not God! You’re just a man! You’re not an impressive man! You’re not a responsible man! You’re not a noble man! You’re not a respectable man! You’re not a responsible man in any regard!
Likewise, in his sermon Women’s Hurdles current Acts 29 president Pastor Matt Chandler explains that if the wife is in any way tempted to feminist discontentment it is the husband’s fault, and schedules the strife for the ride home:
Really, men, here is a great way to gauge how you’re serving, loving, and practicing your headship. If the most secularized feminist in the world showed up in your home and began to kind of coach your wife toward freedom and liberation from your tyranny, our wives should be so well cared for, so nourished, so sowed into and loved, they would say, “What you’re describing is actually tyranny. I love where I am…
Men, here is a good opportunity. If you’re like, “Well, gosh, I don’t think she would say that at all,” then, men, I think on the way home, you should probably repent and confess before the Lord to your wife.
As disturbing as it is that Christian leaders are deliberately sowing strife in Christian marriages, it is even more disturbing that this has become so commonplace that it now feels normal. No one notices this, because this is what we have come to expect from Christian leaders, especially complementarian leaders, in our feminist age. But this evil compulsion (for it truly is evil) is anything but normal for Christian leaders to practice. It only feels normal because we have become numb to this profound wickedness.