Commenter Neguy wrote:
I spent some time browsing through Tim Bayly’s archives about Redeemer. Some of his very earliest posts have some blue pill thinking embedded, but he quickly becomes radically based. This guy is very rare. See:
His discussions about some of the contortions Redeemer went through to promote women into leadership were very illuminating, and disappointing to read about.
Sadly, he would appear to be on the losing side of a battle within the PCA.
Neguy is right that much of what Pastor Bayly writes is quite good, and the article he points to is an excellent find. In it Bayly eviscerates the Complementarian movement:
‘Complementarian’ is the new word invented by a small group of scholars who were trading the presidency of the Evangelical Theological Society among themselves a couple decades ago. These men intended their neologism to provide them a place to stand somewhere between Scripture’s patriarchy (literally “father-rule”) and Evangelicalism’s feminism.
Caught, then, between their niche market and that nasty word ‘patriarchy’ which set off catcalls from fellow scholars, these men created a label for themselves that would allow them to avoid looking old and passé as they defended a few of the last vestiges of historic father-rule where it mattered most to them: in the Christian church where most of them wanted their preachers to remain men, and in the Christian home where all of them were intent on holding on to what Tim Keller calls the “tie-breaking authority” of the husband.
You get the idea: God’s Creation Order of Adam first, then Eve, was embarrassing to have to explain to their fellow scholars, so they adopted this equivocation that made it look like they, themselves, were not ignorant or chauvinist; a euphemism that allowed them to distance themselves from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Paul, and Peter—and of course their own fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, none of whom could help being sexist since they lived prior to our own evolved and progressive era.
Complementarians sold our godly fathers down the river:
Bayly is in a position to know this, as he had an inside view. He doesn’t mention it in the post, but Bayly was an early Executive Director of the CBMW, the very group that coined the term complementarian. As Mary Kassian explains, the word was chosen to avoid the concepts of hierarchy, patriarchy, and tradition:
I’ve read several posts on the internet lately from people who misunderstand and/or misrepresent the complementarian view. I was at the meeting, 25 years ago, where the word “complementarian” was chosen. So I think I have a good grasp on the word’s definition.
In our name-the-concept meeting, someone mentioned the word “traditionalism” since our position is what Christians have traditionally believed. But that was quickly nixed. The word “traditionalism” smacks of “tradition.” Complementarians believe that the Bible’s principles supersede tradition. They can be applied in every time and culture. June Cleaver is a traditional, American, cultural TV stereotype. She is NOT the complementarian ideal. Period. (And exclamation mark!) Culture has changed…
Feminist theorists maintain that male-female role differences create an over-under hierarchy in which men, who are like the privileged, elite, French landowners (bourgeois) of the 18th century, keep women—who are like the lower, underprivileged class of workers (proletariat)—subservient. Complementarians do not believe that men, as a group, are ranked higher than women. Men are not superior to women–women are not the “second sex.” Though men have a responsibility to exercise headship in their homes, and in the church family, Christ revolutionized the definition of what that means. Authority is not the right to rule—it’s the responsibility to serve. We rejected the term “hierarchicalism” because people associate it with an inherent, self-proclaimed right to rule.
Getting back to Bayly’s post, he describes how complementarians tie Scripture up in knots under the guise of a husband’s responsibility of “leadership”:
Ah yes, “a failure to lead.” Dr. Mounce is quite pleased to place his readers on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, we could allow the Apostle Peter’s exhortation concerning Sarah to speak to the the heart of our own wives, leading them to call their own husbands “Lord” or “sir,” but then Dr. Mounce shows us his other hand holding a high trump card: any Christian man today who allows his wife to obey the Apostle Peter’s commendation of Sarah would be “failing to lead.”
Yikes! We don’t want to do that, do we? Fail to lead? What real man fails to lead?
And what is an academic if he’s not a leader?
No, if one thing’s certain, it’s that we must—we absolutely must—lead.
Poor Abraham: he failed to lead. Poor Apostle Peter: he too failed to lead. Poor church fathers across history: all of them failed to lead.
Not Dr. William Mounce, though; no siree! He will lead his wife to yield to her husband’s superior understanding of semantic range such that she never ever gives in to the temptation to sign her submission to her husband, verbally, out there in public where it might be in danger of being viewed as a public confession of Christian faith.
Clearly Bayly “gets it” at one level, and I have no question I can learn much from him. His fight against some forms of feminism in the PCA is also heroic. But at the same time, he obviously has a huge and very common blind spot. As nearly everyone else does, he sees the very open feminist rebellion of generations of Christian and non-Christian women and declares that something mysterious has happened to men.
In the introduction to Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood, Bayly frames the problems of fatherhood as men abandoning their families. While there certainly are some men who are doing this, the much larger social and legal trend is women kicking fathers out of the family, and the remaining fathers living under the ever present threat that the same will happen to them. This is something feminists are very open about, as the goal is to put wives in control*. To twist this around into men abandoning their families is sickening, and a refusal to deal with reality.
Barnabus opens its multi part series on Bayly’s book with:
For millions more, the father may be there in body but is checked out emotionally. Arguably, the institution of the family, and specifically fatherhood, has never been in such a mess. Absentee fathers, angry fathers, abusive fathers, apathetic fathers, addicted fathers are just a few of the categorical labels applied to a role intended by God to be a position of honor, a source of provision, a place of protection, and a voice of guidance and justice within both the family unit and society at large.
There appears to be a sentence missing from the original post, one stating that millions of fathers have physically abandoned their families. But this would have been a segue into what is the larger focus of the book, men who are emotionally unavailable. As the quotes I shared above prove, sometimes Bayly can spot new age hokum. But on this point he clearly can not. Emotionally unavailable men is straight from the Book of Oprah, and his focus here makes his answer on what wives can do to help suddenly make sense:
Q: What can wives do to help their husbands better fulfill their role as fathers?…
Explain to your husband that you wonder if he loves you because real love between a man and his wife is as emotionally intimate as it is physically intimate. Ask your husband to go with you to meet with the pastor; tell him that there are some things you’d like the pastor’s help explaining to him. Don’t baby him. Ask questions that are open-ended. Study him. Learn his fears.
This teaching is firmly rooted in the 1970s worldview**, and it is tied up with a host of similar fallacies, including the idea that women are naturally inclined towards commitment and sexually and romantically attracted to virtue. If a man’s wife doesn’t feel the tingle, or doesn’t feel loved, this is taken as proof that the husband is committing the sin of emotional unavailability. Other pastors have taken this same nonsense so far as to claim God speaks to sinful men through their wives frigid vaginas.
There is however a silver lining, as the same sexual revolution that birthed the new age idea of the sin of emotional unavailability also set the stage for a small group of men to exploit the new post-marriage sexual marketplace. As a result, younger generations are slowly learning the falseness of the Book of Oprah model of men and women. However, the change is slow, and it is a great tragedy that for the time being at least young men and women are far more likely to learn the truth about these new-age ideas from pickup artists like Heartiste than they are to learn it from Christian leaders.
*Modern Christian’s have enthusiastically adopted this new tool of wife rule with the model of the wakeup call.
**Some might argue that the worldview started in the 1960s. Others would point out that the 1980s solidified this thinking. Both points are true. However, my own sense is that the 70s are when this form of thinking became mainstream. Either way, proponents of the host of related new age thinking will most commonly invoke the 1950s as a sort of shorthand for the prior unenlightened age, which feminism, the sexual revolution, child support, and no fault divorce “rescued” us from.