November 20, 2017

Black & White Bible, Black & Blue Wife: Ruth Tucker’s Story

Woman is Covering Her Face In Fear Of Domestic Violence as her partner threatens her with his fist

He dwelleth wyth his wyfe according to knowledge, that taketh her as a necessary helper, and not as a bonde servante, or a bonde slave. And yf she be not obedient and healpful unto hym, endeavoureth to beate the feare of God into her heade, that thereby she maye be compelled to learne her dutie, and to do it.

• Annotation on 1Peter 3:7, Matthews Bible (1549)

Women victims of domestic violence [are] often to blame for their own abuse because they [fail] to submit to their husbands’ authority.

• Bruce Ware, 2008 TGC conference

Someone reading this book might easily imagine I was married to a mentally disturbed man who could easily be identified as an abuser. But that was not the case. My ex-husband’s only outwardly identifiable trait was his strong opposition to women in ministry and equal partnerships in marriage and the accompanying misogyny, though well disguised in public.

• Ruth A. Tucker

• • •

I was a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) from 1983-1988. One of the fine teachers there at that time was Ruth Tucker.

The Evangelical Free Church denomination, to which the school belonged, had several theological/pastoral issues in the 1980’s that they were debating, among them the ordination of women. Wanting to carefully study and understand this issue, my wife Gail and I took a class from Dr. Tucker and Walt Liefeld on women in ministry. They were two of the stronger voices on campus encouraging the church to allow for women in pastoral ministry, and backing it up with reasonable and persuasive interpretations of the Bible. We came to appreciate both of them as careful students of scripture and kind, generous Christian people.

It was evident that Ruth had a heart for missions work, and she would salt her lectures with wonderful tales of the exploits of women missionaries who braved daunting circumstances to take Jesus’ good news and love to places where many men had declined to go.

Little did we know that Ruth was dealing with fearsome circumstances of her own at the time — a Bible church pastor husband who regularly used her as a punching bag.

Now she has written about her ordeal, in a book called Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife: My Story of Finding Hope after Domestic Abuse.

Ruth Tucker met her first husband in Schroon Lake, NY, on Word of Life Island in 1967. They impressed each other with their Bible knowledge in meetings with other college-and-career campers. They fell in love and had a whirlwind romance in that Adirondack paradise, waiting a year and then marrying. During their engagement, there were signs that his fundamentalist convictions might prove to be problematic.

He insisted, for example, that she subscribe to creationism, a literal six-day creation six thousand years ago. She was able to withstand that and hold firm to her disagreement on that subject, though he continued to hound her about it. Ruth’s mother expressed that she thought her fiancé was committed to changing her daughter and she didn’t like that. When Ruth met her future spouse’s family, she found her mother-in-law to be demanding and critical from the start. And she discovered that there were troubling incidents in his past. She learned that he had been expelled from two colleges and had been arrested for voyeurism. But he was also extremely intelligent, charming, and persuasive. He admitted mistakes but said he had found help and a new path through counseling.

After they were wed, she writes, “Little matters of authoritarian control had arisen on our honeymoon.” And then, barely two months after the wedding, he pushed her during a furious argument they had over politics, with him insisting that she must vote as he wished out of submission to him as head of the household. That was just the start of years of hidden rage and violent abuse.

Always, he justified himself with “biblical” reasoning:

During his violent rages, my ex-husband often hurled biblical texts at me, as though the principal tenet of Scripture was, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” He spit the words out, repeatedly beating me over the head, at least figuratively, with his black-and-white Bible. His hitting and punching and slamming me against doors and furniture, however, were anything but figurative. Nor were his terror-loaded threats. I felt trapped and feared for my life, while outwardly disguising bruises with long sleeves and clever excuses, pretending that ours was a happy marriage.

Things continued to get worse, but it remained a carefully guarded secret within their home.

DSC01375It was a cold West Michigan evening in March. Spring quarter at Trinity had begun a week earlier. I recognized my husband’s mood before we had even sat down for the evening meal. When we finished eating, I tidied up the kitchen, took my books and notes, and went upstairs while he watched his usual TV programs and Carlton did homework nearby, listening in as he typically did.

After an hour or so, I heard my husband’s footsteps on the stairs. I stiffened, dreading the worst. He entered our bedroom where I was hunkered down and then, seemingly out of the blue, with not so much as a segue into the topic, demanded to know my interpretation of a particular biblical passage that related to women. I explained that I was very busy in course preparation and did not wish to discuss the matter, particularly because I knew it would create problems. He proceeded to give me his interpretation of the passage. When I remained silent and refused to agree with him, he became irate and began very loudly to threaten me and exclaim that he would not let me fly to O’Hare in the morning. He yanked me from where I was sitting, my papers flying in every direction.

Hearing his father shouting, Carlton was up the stairs two steps at a time. It was not the first time he sought to defend me. Normally, his crying out at his father put an end to violence. But not this time. My husband demanded he leave the room while at the same time squeezing my arms with all his might and viciously shaking me. Carlton did leave. He raced back to his own room and grabbed two knives, one no more than a hard plastic toy, the other a Swiss Army knife he had managed to open before returning to confront his father. At twelve, Carlton was tall and lanky, but no match for his six-foot-two father, who could do a hundred push-ups without breaking a sweat.

When I saw the knives, I screamed for Carlton to get out, but within seconds my husband had thrown him to the floor, taken the knives, and was coming at me again. In a second, Carlton got back up and tackled his father, crying out at the top of his lungs. And then somehow amid the mayhem, it ended. My husband left the room still raging, ordering Carlton to come downstairs with him.

The next afternoon I was in Deerfield, greeting students in my classroom and wearing a turtleneck and blazer that conveniently covered the bruises— black-and-blue finger marks on my upper arms. I had taught the course before, and once I was into my rhythm and a lively discussion was under way, I was in another world. (p. 20f)

Scot McKnight was a colleague of Ruth’s at TEDS in the 1980’s, when I was there. Over at Jesus Creed, Scot ran a piece about Ruth’s book, in which she answers the question: “Some people may wonder why you would stay in such an abusive marriage for 19 years. How would you respond?” Here is her answer:

Most battered wives would know instinctively that there is no easy answer to that question. For me fear and humiliation sum up my response. I first of all feared that my ex-husband could charm a judge into granting him joint custody of our son. So I waited until he turned thirteen and was allowed to testify. After hearing his horror stories of what had happened behind closed doors, the judge granted full custody. I also feared for my life. When I threatened him on one occasion that if he ever beat me again I would call the police, he viciously hissed: “That would be fatal.”

But shame and humiliation were also a big factor. This was back in the mid 1980s. I had read too many stories of how the woman is blamed in such cases. Sure, he beat her, but she was contentious. She provoked him. She deserved it.

Ruth Tucker endured regular abuse until the day she calls “Freedom Friday,” October 16, 1987. On that day, she and her son Carlton ran away and found refuge in her church’s associate pastor’s home. Nevertheless, she still thought she should attempt to save the marriage, so she tried to press her husband into counseling. He refused to go to a certified counselor, however, and she conceded to go to another Bible church minister. Despite bringing pages of evidence to the session about her husband’s domestic abuse, arrests, job firings, and even child sexual abuse, the minister only wanted to discuss Bible verses he had given her on wifely submission. Dead end.

Thankfully, her story ends well. After they divorced, Tucker’s ex-husband virtually disappeared from her and her son’s life. In 2004 she remarried a kind and loving man who taught music at Calvin College, and they live happily together to this day as lovers, partners, and friends.

Ruth Tucker’s story provides a strong warning about the way bad theology can provoke and inflame our worst impulses.

[A]busers like [Ruth Tucker’s] ex-husband use theology to prop up and justify and empower their abuses. Her husband was a big-time complementarian — and I’d be careful to use that term in this context because the word for it is “hierarchical” or “patriarchal” or “dominant.” He used his (mis)theology of complementarianism (“from the kitchen to the bedroom”), his verbal skills, his corrupted and perverse mental skills to justify his abuse of Ruth and their son. I’m not blaming complementarianism, I’m blaming the abusive male who uses an idea to his own advantage. I would, however, raise a red flag here: complementarians, especially those with strong views of it, need to be vigilant about how that subject will be heard by males with abusive and violent temperaments. The use of this theological subject by abusers is toxic and sick, but it’s one of their favorite topics. Ruth routinely weighs in connecting his distorted complementarianism-as-patriarchy with her husband’s abuse: males were for him superior and in authority, women were inferior and were in submission.

• Scot McKnight, “Worst-Great Book of the Year”

• • •

Read the rest of Scot McKnight’s terrific post that responds to the problem of domestic abuse:

Posts Michael Spencer wrote on domestic abuse:

Comments

  1. Robert F says:

    My father was not a very religious man, but he grew up in Italy, in a peasant culture shaped by literally thousands of years of first pagan, then Christian, misogyny, in which he was taught that it was a man’s duty to keep his wife in line, using physical abuse as needed.

    My father also was not by nature a violent man; when I was born later in my parent’s lives, the beatings had stopped. I did not receive the abuse that my older siblings experienced, and my mother was no longer being hit by my father. He had been taught to abuse by his Italian peasant culture, a culture very influenced by traditional Christianity; in new circumstances, and with some countervailing pressure and influence when he emigrated to the US, he subsequently slowly learned not to abuse. Bad teaching made him into an abuser; bad teaching has measurable, destructive effects.

  2. There is somewhat of a follow-up over at Jesus Creed today, as she responds to Challies review of her book.

    “Tim Challies wrote a review of Ruth Tucker’s new book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. I have opened this space to Ruth to respond to Tim’s review.”

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2016/03/09/ruth-tucker-response-to-tim-challies/

    • Going to the source, you get the sort of reply I’m all too familiar with – because I used to give it myself. “You’re letting your emotions get in the way of solid exegesis; forget your problems and focus on Truth.” Which *may* be OK, *IF* there is a plain Truth to be had. But maybe it isn’t as plain…

      Quoth Mr. Challies… “Her understanding of complementarianism is inextricably bound up with her own experience, yet I found her marriage unrecognizable as a truly complementarian union.”

      Of course, no true complementarian would do such a thing.

      Quoth Mr. Challies… “I, as a convinced complementarian, affirm her right to divorce her ex-husband and even affirm the wisdom she displayed in doing so. He had shattered his vows, giving her every right to officially sever the marriage. Complementarianism offers protection and escape to the abused wife.”

      So what about the many self-proclaimed complementarians who deny this? Are they too “no true complementarians”?

      At what point does the term “complementarian” lose any objective meaning apart from “my marriage is the best example of how biblical marriages should work”?

      • I see a couple of issues with Mr. Challies review.

        First, it seems the entire purpose of his review is not to engage with her story but to simply rush through the cursory acknowledgment and condolences for the abuse she suffered before getting to the true purpose of his review–to beat down the threat to complementarianism. He uses one paragraph to acknowledge the abuse she suffered and six paragraphs defending the theology that her husband used to justify her abuse.

        Secondly, it is exactly as you point out; Mr. Challies’ defense against abuse of this sort is that “No true complementarian” would do such a thing. But the problem is, a literal reading of many portions of the Bible lead many “true complementarians” to, in fact, do such a thing.

        I see this over and over again with those who hold to an inerrant view of scripture. In their efforts to defend the Bible and their interpretation of it, they often fail to defend people.

        It reminds me of the scene in Huckleberry Finn (someone may have mentioned this a while back) in which Huck is faced with the moral dilemma of informing Miss Watson of the slave Jim’s whereabouts or helping Jim to remain free. Huck believes in order to obey the Bible, he should return Jim to bondage; instead, Huck chooses to steal Jim out of slavery by declaring, “Al right, then, I’ll go to hell.” Unfortunately, there are those who, in their zeal to defend the Bible and “stay out of hell”, would have Huck sell Jim back into slavery.

      • Tim Challies cares more about Biblical texts than he does abusive men and abused women. He essentially denies the incarnation. When someone cares more about their truths and their texts than the flesh and blood in front of them, they’ve lost me. I don’t give a f*ck what the Bible or God has to say about this; I already know his heart through Jesus. Just like Driscoll lost me with his lack of respect and manipulation of his wife via Real Marriage, so too is Challies dead.

        Farewell, indeed.

      • Eeyore, in a sense, your argument is the reverse of the “no true scottsman” fallacy: “He says he’s a complementarian, therefore he must be, whether or not his actually beliefs and actions align with complementarian teaching and even if his behavior is rejected by leading complementarian teachers as non-compatible.”

        By that logic, all Muslims are on the hook for Islamic terrorism, and Christians all have a lot to answer for. I think not. Members of any movement have the right to self determine, and to declare certain actions as outside of their genuine expression. Few and far between are the complementarian teachers who justify domestic abuse in the name of wifely submission.

        • Both Challies and the more abusive folks claim the label “complimentarian” and make almost the same arguments in support of male leadership. The problem is theirs, not mine.

          • Not my point: you misapplied the “no true scottsman” fallacy. Every group has the right to determine what is or is not within the bounds of the group. The majority of complementarians reject violence against women, and are not necessarily responsible for those who use their teaching to justify it, especially as much as they make a point to speak out against it. You could just as easily say that the apostle Paul is to blame for most misogyny in the church.

        • It’s not the justification of abuse by teachers that is up for debate, it is whether or not holding this belief plays any role in the lives of those who carry out abuse.

          I’ve had recent conversations concerning a DV situation at the pastoral level, and in this one particular case, the pattern/profile has also fit.

          • Well, there’s something to be said for that profile. One things for sure: When I hear a man IRL talking like that, I tend to listen very carefully and observe how women react around him.

            But I think we could be arguing the chicken or the egg here. Obviously wife-beaters aren’t going to gravitate towards egalitarian religion, but to what extent does complementarinism encourage this is a tough call. We’d need more info than just “most wife beaters are complementarian.” Most terrorists are Muslim. That’s not necessarily an indictment on the vast majority of Muslims who are non-violent.

          • Which is why I worded my response as I did — “it is whether or not holding this belief plays any role in the lives of those who carry out abuse.”

            In the cases of DV I’m aware of in which the Christian, male husband is the perpetrator, the belief is held.

            If a particular theology appears to be a contributing factor to a repeated pathology, over and over, it needs to be closely scrutinized.

          • Well as much as I’d like to argue in theory that it shouldn’t lead to that, the anecdotal evidence is too compelling for such idealism. I think we should be cautious against profiling all complementarians in this way, there certainly is a trend, but I still insist that the determining factor is the character of the individual. No matter what your abstract reasoning, most men know better than to hit a women, and those who do so anyways are not simply the victim of theology. There’s something else wrong with them that makes them think it’s ok to cross that line. Complementarinism I’m sure certainly doesn’t help and can possibly encourage them down the bad path, but by itself it is not enough to lead to this, else MOST complementarians would be abusive.

  3. Robert F says:

    Complementarianism, by limiting the roles a woman may play to ones that tend to cut her off from economic and cultural resources of her own, has a strong tendency to trap women in abusive relationships and marriages. If you don’t have your own job, and enough of your own savings and other resources, and few networks outside the home and marriage, you are stuck, very much like a child.

    • If women were designed and divinely intended to be primarily, if not solely, childbearers and raisers, maybe that pattern would hold. But as we’ve discussed here in detail before, strict family roles and procreation are NOT the emphasis of NT teaching, and certainly not the primary call Christ gave to His disciples. Not by a long shot…

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Then why do women have all these extraneous organs — like Brains and Voices?

        If Complementarianism is True, they wouldn’t need anything beyond a vagina, a womb, and ovulation. [edited]

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Complementarianism, by limiting the roles a woman may play to ones that tend to cut her off from economic and cultural resources of her own, has a strong tendency to trap women in abusive relationships and marriages.

      That’s the whole idea.
      It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    • In a good marriage this is not such a bad thing. Many women long for a traditional role and a man with enough occupational ambition to provide for them in such. Being a homemaker does not have to limit networking opportunities either.

      Of course, in a bad marriage, it is exactly as you say; a trap.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        Please explain how, even a good marriage, limiting the roles/choices of women is a good thing? I don’t see anyone here arguing that staying home to raise children or remaining home after the children are gone is not a couple’s prerogative (unless your are of a particular patriarchal persuasion).

        Dr. Tucker’s book also deals with gender roles that extend beyond the family and deeply into the church.

        • Women who embrace the traditional role tend to voluntarily relinquish certain things in regards to career development, separate finances, and professional networking. They usually see this as a good trade off for a husband that will work hard to provide for her to stay at home and raise the kids. There is nothing wrong with this family model, when the husband and wife get along well within it. But when it is abusive, the wife does become stuck, from an economic standpoint.

          • Miguel said, “Women who embrace the traditional role tend to voluntarily relinquish certain things in regards to career development, separate finances, and professional networking”

            You don’t seem to realize that most women raised under gender comp are brainwashed or socially conditioned to think this is their only accepted or God approved choice for them in life.

            I was brought up in a gender comp family. I was raised to marry, have a kid, and be a June Cleaver. My parents practiced a kindly, warm and fuzzy gender comp that never the less was harmful to me in ways that would take me 45 pages to explain, so I’ll try to skip most of it.

            A lot of these women who are “voluntarily” giving up this that and the other to be a SAHM don’t realize they even have other choices in life, because all they either hear from their gender comp parents, churches, and Christian literature from the time they are girls is that having a career (or anything else that does not fit the gender comp norm of married by 25 with hubby and kids) is sinful, is secular feminist in nature (and hence evil), etc. etc.

          • Post Script. @Miguel

            Gender comp is also appealing to some women – some of the ones who voluntarily go along with it – because it is a way for them to avoid taking personal responsibility for themselves, their lives, and their choices.

            Such women find it easier to float through life leaving a husband in charge to make all the decisions and paying all the bills.

            Gender Complementarianism is Christian-sanctioned codependency for women.

          • Sorry to hear about your experience, Daisy. I was referring to people, like my wife, who have never encountered gender comp, but have chosen to embrace roles the gender comps would approve of.

            Of course, my wife plays at least as strong a role as I do in making decisions, and though I bring home the bacon, she pays the bills.

            I don’t honestly know what it is like to live as a woman in a gender comp home, but I appreciate those like you taking the time to explain it. It makes me wonder about those I do know, and how well it is really working for them. Do you think such codependency is equally miserable for all, or can you see it working in situations where the rest of the relationship is healthy?

      • Robert F says:

        Where couples choose such a complementarian marriage, and it works, that’s fine; but there should always be an option to change things if it’s working out. There needs to be freedom entering into the marriage, and in the marriage as well.

        Societies that are based on this kind of marriage do not provide that freedom, and so they inevitably are misogynistic, giving husbands one-way power over wives, and men over women.

        • I don’t even know if I’d say that the man working and the woman staying home with the kids is necessarily a “complementarian relationship.” In some cases, the husband prefers her to go out and work to make more money, but she resists his “headship” by choosing to be a homemaker instead. This would be a traditional yet egalitarian arrangement.

          Yes, mutual respect and submission between spouses as equal members of the body of Christ is important to any marriage in any culture. But most marriages simply follow the norms that the culture around them dictates. What seems oppressive to us is rather a normal way of living to many. Not everyone is a revolutionary, and many people have learned to live quite happily in those arrangements. I’m not suggesting we revert to them, but we maybe ought to hesitate in disparaging them, as the arrangement likely evolved from necessity, and often these societies begin to embrace more progressive models as they are able to.

        • @ Robert F. If you’d please scroll up the page a bit to see one or two of my other posts to Miguel on this.

          Not all women are making informed choices to go along with these traditional marriage arrangements. I was brought up in a gender comp family, so I was influenced to think that the only or most important or godly role for my life was to be a June Cleaver-ish SAHM and to defer to a husband.

          I was not presented with any other options as being equally godly or valid.

          Being brought up even in a “nice” form of gender comp was very detrimental to me in many ways that I don’t care to get into detail about or else my reply to you would be around 47 pages long.

          • Robert F says:

            Daisy,

            Makes sense.

            I didn’t mean to give any support to gender comp. I only meant that where couples have agreed to shape their marriage in a way that looks “traditional” (and let’s face it, many marriages continue to have at least some elements of a “traditional” shape), that’s okay, as long as they were freely entering into that arrangement, and as long as they continue to have freedom to change the shape if things are not turning out as hoped or expected once the marriage has gotten underway. Absent that freedom, either because of social or psychological factors, any such arrangement involves no real agreement, and is a trap.

            I’m on board with what you said all the way.

          • FWIW, this happens a lot outside complementarianism, too. I work with a guy who constantly pushes the issue of women staying at home. He’s never encountered a neo-Calvinist in his life, he’s just dogmatized traditional teaching. This happens a lot in conservative Evangelical circles that are not necessarily complementarian, just fundamentalist and stuck on a specific brand of “family values.”

          • *traditional culture, not traditional teaching

  4. Everything you need to know you learned in kindergarten, right? Boys are not allowed to hit girls. In my mind that trumps any justification, scriptural or otherwise. I have three brothers and a sister. She got no special treatment from us with the exception that she never got hit while we happily whacked each other on a minute to minute basis. Certain rules of life ingrain themselves in the DNA and no mental construct can influence them. Boys don’t hit girls. Period.

    • How about “Nobody hits anybody”? 😉

    • You don’t need to hit to be abusive.

      • StuartB says:

        Exactly.

        I found this article yesterday. It sums up most of the adult males I had in my life growing up, including some who I considered “friends” or role models to look up to. I learned to laugh whenever they verbally abused or made fun of me, which was every time I saw them. Humor is a great deflection and coping mechanism.

        https://tmblr.co/ZbWVnq234yDEd

        Here’s just a few of them:

        signs of emotional abuse:

        2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.

        3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

        9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.

        23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.

        25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.

      • K.W. – so true, sadly. Verbal/emotional abuse kills one’s spirit. It is toxic.

    • @Chris S.
      Verbal and emotional abuse are equally damaging to women, causing some to have to leave, to divorce.

  5. Burro [Mule] says:

    Heard the dog whistle. Came running.

    Warning to the consumer: I have disgusting, retrograde opinions about the relationship between the sexes. These are easily verifiable by googling ‘Mule Chewing Briars’, or if that is too taxing, there are plenty here who will gleefully reproduce them for you. I have retracted none of them, even the crudest.

    Unlike the majority of Complementarians, I believe that the Bible teaches an apophaticism [Prov. 30:19] about relationships between men and women that gives us a remarkable degree of room for improvisation. As has been pointed out here and elsewhere, anybody searching the Scriptures for a definitive Word on marriage and family life is bound to find some justification for just about any kind of arrangement.

    The problem I have with the regnant egalitarianism in Protestant circles is that it is as dependent on CM’s A-T-F constellation [Affluence, technology, freedom] as is an astronaut on her life support systems. Say what you want about patriarchy, but it is an efficient arrangement when you don’t have much excess capacity, and care more about the survival of the group than the happiness of its individual members. I and mine would be dead four months after the grid went offline. So would egalitarianism. My crazy neighbor with his bow and arrow, his illegal gill nets, and his brutal traps, probably not. If ATF represents a new paradigm and a permanent state of affairs, yeah, then sign me up, but I have a sneaking suspicion it is an anomaly, and we have already passed its peak.

    That said, I agree with ChrisS that no man should strike a woman under any circumstance. Neither should he belittle her, insult her, bully her, threaten her, or ridicule her. Any man who does so is a reprehensible coward, and requires the intervention of either a father or a father-proxy, like the state. But that’s the Complementarian speaking. Women are different from men and require different treatment.

    I can’t help noticing that Dr. Tucker had a child with the charming brute who could do a hundred pushups without breaking a sweat. I hope that her current gentleman husband also had children from a previous marriage.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      What a compelling argument you have made for complementarianism. If you truly think society is on the down hill slide and you are concerned with extended grid failure, wouldn’t patriarchal love for your family dictate that you posthaste acquire the requisite survival skills or failing that, make an alliance with your brutish neighbor? Either way, don’t be surprised if after said extended grid failure, your neighbor doesn’t begin to eye your bride with a brutish relish and you with…

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        I think you kind of missed my point.

        I am not arguing for an eternal Gospel TRVTH about gender relations which, if the comments on the Jesus Creed post are any indication, egalitarians believe they have found. There is certainly more than a trace of the Inquisitor in their comments about the wrongness of hierarchy, and the desire to link the physical abuse of women the ideology of hierarchical relationships.

        Patriarchy doesn’t have to lead to abuse any more than feminism requires women to abandon their loving husbands and children and chase their whims. That both ideologies are used to justify reprehensible behavior is not surprising. We are, after all, much more rationalizing than rational.

        • Mule, I also affirm your point that there is freedom in Christ with regard to exactly how we decide to live out our relationships in the family. If two people mutually decide that it is better for them to function in a more hierarchical style, they are free to do so. The key word is “mutually.”

          To that point, I no longer embrace the terms “egalitarian” or “complementarian.” The division is between a legalistic hierarchy and true mutuality between equal partners in a relationship.

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            I married a Latin woman. She demands male headship from me. As I am by temperament a passive male, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of it.

            Her major observation about gringos and our sexual constitution is that it is safer for women than the extreme polarities of Castillian-American culture with its machismo and hembrismo, but it isn’t anywhere near as sexy.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Burro, I know what Machismo means, but what’s Hembrismo?

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            The doctrine of the spiritual superiority of the female. It is like the Victorian concept of Hearth and Home on steroids, with a dollop of Marian devotion added to it.

            It is the primary protection for women in a very violent and unforgiving environment.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Reminds me of the line from Inherit the Wind:
            “So you take care of this life and your wife takes care of the next?”

            As well as continuing the divide between the Physical (male) and the Spiritual (female), with all the side effects.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          Maybe I did. I need context to advance the discussion, please describe what male headship looks like in your marriage.

          • That IS the question. For all the talk I hear on it, and for how convinced I am that there must be something to it (since it is in the text and must mean something), I still have no idea what it means in a practical sense.

            It may be that I am fulfilling my duties as “head” in my marriage that has very traditional roles but a very egalitarian relationship dynamic. Or it may be that I’m completely missing the boat. What does it mean in a spiritual and Biblical sense that I am the head of my household?

            I’m seriously ok with a culturally unpalatable answer to this question. But the Scriptures don’t seen to speak in enough detail for me to be exceptionally comfortable building my sandcastle in that sky.

        • Well, Mule, you certainly managed to turn the comments away from any discussion of Ruth Tucker’s experiences and book.

          It’s not about you, you know.

          • Numo, I think Mule’s comments have been pertinent today. Ruth herself goes beyond her story to discuss these issues. Note the 2-part title to the book itself. I object to the “Black & White Bible” part just as much as I do (though not as viscerally) to the “Black & Blue Wife” part.

          • CM, this thread is no longer about domestic violence and those who endure t. And it’s not just Mule’s comment per changing the subject.

            • And Ruth’s book is not just about domestic abuse but about theologies that may inflame it.

              But I do agree with you. I’d like more focus in the the discussion expressing sympathy for the abused and talking about protecting and helping the vulnerable.

              If we just stay on theology, we are making the same mistake as people like Challies. This is not primarily about ideas; it’s about people.

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            You want an echo chamber? Concentrate on Dr. Tucker’s experience. Nobody will deny that she went through a horrific experience with an evil man [or with a man whose evil side got the better of him]. She has my sympathy, as she deserves. But she comes across as a capable, strong woman. She has a better life now.

            What I wanted to question the assumption that Dr. Tucker’s husband committed doubleplusungood thoughtcrime that led inevitably to her abuse.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Please start a thread. Share your views. I have plenty of experience with the Black and White Bible and zero with Black and Blue wife.

          • CM, i know you’re trying to get these issues out in the open, and I’m grateful for it. But i think the comments here tend to go off-track on issues like abuse, in this case including repeated marital rape.

            If folks want a more comprehensive discussion in comments, I’d recommend sites like Libby Anne’s blog, The Wartburg Watch, No Longer Quivering and similar, because they are communities of survivors, for the most part. And if any of you guys (meaning men, specifically) go to those sites, i would suggest taking a back seat and just reading/listening to what people have to say, as opposed to just jumping in with any, um… for lack of a better term, “mansplaining.” That’s if you’re not really familiar with such sites and/or aren’t close to anyone who is either being abused or is recovering from abuse.

            One other thing: an awful lot of abuse survivors have PTSD.

          • Yikes – meant to say that Ruth Tucker, like many other abused women, endured repeated rape by her spouse.

            This stuff is SO hard to talk about, and I’m sure that’s one of the reasons thst manymof us don’t engage the main points, or fo so in a peripheral way.

          • @ Burro [Mule] says:
            said, “What I wanted to question the assumption that Dr. Tucker’s husband committed doubleplusungood thoughtcrime that led inevitably to her abuse.”

            You honestly don’t see how a view that claims to think women are equal never the less at the same time limits them due to being born female? And insists that the male is a boss-authority over the wife? You don’t get how that mindset does not lead some men to want to abuse their wives, or the ones already prone to abuse, to use gender comp as a handy dandy rationale for their abuse?

            Also, gender comps fail miserably at addressing the abuse, at assisting the abused wife.

            In all the cases I’ve read of wives pleading help with their gender comp churches or pastors, they are always instructed to stay with the abusive turd no matter what, but just “submit more” or “pray more for your marriage.” All those approaches do is guarantee more abuse – it’s abuse enabling.

            Divorce is rarely to never given as a biblical or whatever other option to abused wives, or leaving the guy, or standing up to him. Nor do gender comp churches offer practical assistance, such as giving the woman a place to stay, or giving her funds, etc.

        • “We are, after all, much more rationalizing than rational.”

          This is exactly it. And why most egalitarianism turns me off. It’s ideological to a fault, militant, and intollerant. They’ve created the equal opposite of what they’re rejecting.

          I’m strongly considering your sentiments about gender roles being a bit more fluid and influenced by society. I don’t think we should try to put them in a Biblical straitjacket.

          Bottom line, if “love one another,” “do unto others,” and “this is how we know what love is” are not the bottom line, your position on either side of this fence is wrong.

          • turnsalso says:

            That’s why I refuse to call myself egalitarian or complementarian. If “egalitarian” really meant that both members of the house have equal opportunities to do or fill any role, then I would be for it. Often, though, it seems to mean little more than that both partners HAVE to actually do the same things. If your wife stays home and fills “traditional” roles, you’re Jim Bob and Michelle. If you stay home, you’re Marcy and Jefferson.

          • Amen

          • “Bottom line, if “love one another,” “do unto others,” and “this is how we know what love is” are not the bottom line, your position on either side of this fence is wrong.”

            Well said.

          • @ Miguel said,
            “This is exactly it. And why most egalitarianism turns me off. It’s ideological to a fault, militant, and intollerant. They’ve created the equal opposite of what they’re rejecting.”

            Are you serious? I’ve never seen militant, intolerant Christian egalitarians.

            Egals I’ve seen are always too nice about things. They are far nicer than I would be.

            I find the comp views very deviant.

            You have comp clowns like Piper, Patterson, Driscoll, Doug Wilson, etc, teaching demeaning, sexist, dangerous trash against women, such as…
            Husbands are supposedly owed oral sex from their wives (even if the wife objects); wives are to blame if the hubby has an affair (b/c she “let herself go”);
            wives are to “endure abuse for a season”;
            wives supposedly deliberately “bait” their husbands to abuse them;
            women who disagree with or reject male headship deserve to be raped or are “asking to be raped”

            Those views are far more disgusting and reprehensible than any attitudes you may have seem from egalitarians in the midst of these discussions on other sites.

          • I never said I found egals pushing reprehensible or disgusting views. I’ve just encountered many who were militantly intolerant of many traditional views that are far tamer than complementarianism.

            Those teachings you cite are utterly reprehensible. I guess that shows how carefully I’ve listened to these guys. So I guess it isn’t really an equal opposite after all. In fervency of rhetoric it can be, but in substance, not really.

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            Miguel, I have seen and experienced lots and lots of blatantly (to the point of nauseating) militant, abusive complimentarians. But as you pointed out earlier, anecdotal evidence don’t count, so…..

          • KK, I never said that anecdotal evidence doesn’t count. I did say it is only a part of the picture.

          • Patrick Kyle says:

            Good point, Miguel. RHE’s friend Tony Jones puts the lie to the idea that Complimentarians are the only ones prone to domestic violence.

            Violent people given to domestic abuse are going to abuse their significant other, and will use any justification or ideology they can latch on to. Both men and women, gay and straight, are guilty. There seems to be a rush to condemn the Apostle’s words as a primary cause of this abuse in the church. I’m not so sure that’s the case. Abusers seem to have an innate sense that the violence they commit is wrong, hence the need for secrecy and the maintenance of appearances, and the cycles of remorse followed by blame.
            Does anyone on this thread believe that the support and promotion of domestic violence is what the Apostles had in mind when they wrote the passages about submission? If so, then this becomes a much wider conversation about the place, authority, and even the validity of scripture.

    • no man should strike a woman under any circumstance. Neither should he belittle her, insult her, bully her, threaten her, or ridicule her. Any man who does so is a reprehensible coward, and requires the intervention of either a father or a father-proxy, like the state. But that’s the Complementarian speaking. Women are different from men and require different treatment.

      So do males get no special consideration? Do males not deserve to not be struck, abused, insulted? IOW, *what* is so different about women that the considerations you wish are special to them, and not applicable to humankind in general?

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        If a woman insulted me, even continually, I would never strike her. I would probably unleash my wife and my mother in law on her, at which point she would probably wish I had dealt with her directly. 🙂

        If a man insulted me, there are circumstances in which it could result in violence, either directly or by proxy.

        • So when Jesus ordered His disciples to turn the other cheek, did He mean “only turn the other cheek if it’s a woman who insults you, otherwise consult your local honor code?”

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            I am not as good a Christian as you.

            I only have two cheeks, well, four, but there isn’t an unlimited supply.

          • I am not claiming any sort of moral or spiritual superiority. I’m simply trying to demonstrate that Jesus’ ethics transcend and often bust up traditional general roles.

          • GENDER roles. May autocorrect be cast into the outer darkness where there is weeding and gnashing of teenth. 😉

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            I am not comfortable with giving the State a monopoly on violence, and reducing all relationships to that of two litigants seeking mediation.

            I realize I have an issue with St. Paul on this. My thoughts are very much a work-in-progress.

            Traditional gender roles are traditional for a reason. In most things, I prefer the traditional to the rationalized – the Englishman’s honest foot, pound, and yard to the unwieldy meter and kilogram.

          • You know the cool thing about Paul? Peter disagreed with him. You know the cool thing about Peter? Paul disagreed with him.

            There is NO one answer. There is only the discussion and general principles. Even the early church did not have harmony or one single solitary authority.

            And that is a feature, not a bug, lol.

    • Mule, you and I have had our differences about some of these issues, but I really appreciate what you say about the Bible here — it certainly is much more descriptive than prescriptive when it comes to gender and family roles. And this is my primary, fundamental beef with the “biblical” patriarchalists (so-called complementarians). It’s their view of scripture as a handbook for these kinds of things. Very pharisaical and very little like Jesus.

      • It’s neo-Judaism wrapped in Jesus cloak.

        Raised by wolves.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        The Seventh Commandment seems pretty prescriptive to me, but once again, we are dealing with a Mystery.

      • Also, it is a confusion of Law and Gospel, where the text becomes ultimately a merciless instruction manual rather than a means of grace.

      • Christiane says:

        I think the exposure of patriarchal family structure by the antics of Josh Duggar may have been the beginning of the end for that ‘glorious’ way of life for males where women ‘serve’ their masters and have no life of their own.

        The sickness of the Josh Duggar episode put an extremely bright light on the very sick behavior of family mentor Bill Gothard and his carryings-on with young girls at his Family Training Institute . . .

        yeah, I would say that these folks have disgraced the ‘patriarchy’ heresy to the point that it no longer bears any resemblance to the teachings of Our Lord.

        A cult is a cult. It develops its own god(s) and it always has sacrificial victims. The sadness of the life of any woman caught up in patriarchy is felt when you hear the broken spirit of Michelle Duggar as she whispers to the emergency 911 operator about her daughter’s bleeding after delivery, her voice drained of all emotion.

        • @ Christiane.

          Don’t forget that pro-patriachy guy who was caught fondling his live in, teen nanny, Lourdes. What was his name, Doug Phillips? It was Doug something or other. He was big time keen on patriarchy, oppressive gender roles, taught that men are protectors of women, and there he was, sexually assaulting and exploiting a young woman in his employ.
          Oh, ditto on that Bill Gothard guy. Him too.

    • I have a sneaking suspicion it is an anomaly, and we have already passed its peak.

      Well, aren’t you the harbinger of doom.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Your last paragraph? There’s a whiff of passive aggression. Very manly. A mule firing blanks.

    • Say what you want about patriarchy, but it is an efficient arrangement when you don’t have much excess capacity, and care more about the survival of the group than the happiness of its individual members.
      Which is also a ringing endorsement for forgoing vaccinations, infanticide, and other lovely social choices. Bravissimo.

      • Clay Crouch says:

        Mule must be channelling his inner Ayn Rand.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Exactly. Mule’s point is utter bull. It is has been proven again and again that the path out of poverty is most efficiently dealt with by the empowerment of women.

  6. I think we all really need to chillax a bit and recognize something very important:

    There is a SERIOUS line that gets crossed, no matter what your theology, between “Wives MUST submit” and “…but if they don’t, you may abuse them and otherwise trample their dignity as being of lesser humanity.” The vast majority of those who affirm the former will also reject the latter. Of course, those who affirm the latter will absolutely hide it under the former. That, in itself, is not an argument against the former. Post hoc fallacy.

    People don’t beat women because they are convinced the Bible tells them to. They do it because they are depraved, and then reach for any authority the think will give them a harder swing.

    • Don’t use depravity as an excuse. Yes, there are many men who abuse women because the Bible tells them to. Just like parents with children. Just like whites over blacks. Just like Israelites over foreigners. There’s more than ample evidence that this is an ongoing pattern.

      Many of the former will reject the latter, indeed, yes, good point. But look at the frequency of the latter in select groups and their ideology. Perhaps the Internet is just revealing more and more of what’s been hidden. What good does it do the former to decry the latter when it. keeps. happening. over. and. over.

      And that is the issue with Challies. He is unwilling to look and ask himself if MAYBE, just maybe, his positions are wrong or can lead to the latter with alarming frequency. Definition of insanity.

      In other news, it’s been slightly over a year that I read a book that demolished my childhood faith, a book which systematically showed over and over how my own leaders, church instructors, teachers, employers, etc, had allowed men to abuse and rape a woman in their care over and over and over. Something broke and died in me that day and will never come back.

      The book is I Fired God, if you are interested. I know personally 90% of the people in the book.

      All complementarians, again. With leaders defending the husband and men because they were being biblical, and the wife should shut up.

      So. Done.

      • Yes, there are many men who abuse women because the Bible tells them to. Just like parents with children. Just like whites over blacks. Just like Israelites over foreigners. There’s more than ample evidence that this is an ongoing pattern.

        Are you saying that the Bible DOES tell us to do these things? I doubt it. Obviously these people think it’s in there. But I’m saying that they’re turning to the text to justify what the want to do, rather than having their behavior driven by a text that clearly says “do unto others.” Just because people blame the Bible doesn’t mean they really care what it says. They are obviously very selective in their reading, which bespeaks a pre-existing agenda they have brought to it which deafens their ability to hear just about anything from it.

        What good does it do the former to decry the latter when it. keeps. happening.

        Are you suggesting that they should not decry it? They should just remain passive and silent at the evil in their midst, like the Roman Catholic church? Or should they just concede that the wife-beaters are right, the true complementarians, and they simply lack the courage to do the same? You know that ain’t the case.

        I’m sorry, you simply cannot point to any Biblical passage that justifies the beating of women. It absolutely crosses a serious line, no mater your theology or hermeneutic. I can justify a lot of bad things with the Bible if I want to. That one simply isn’t doable, there are not even straws to grasp.

        • StuartB says:

          you simply cannot point to any Biblical passage that justifies the beating of women

          This is an issue. Of course, there is no verse that explicitly says to do that. That’s some extreme letter of the law right there.

          But the spirit of the law is another matter. And the consequences of a collection of thoughts can inevitably point in that direct.

          But at least there’s no explicit instruction to do so, thank God for that.

          And absolutely no, again. They SHOULD decry it. Yet that seems to be all that they do. You either missed my point or ignored it, lol.

          • But I think you must agree with me that it is objectively unfair to the text for anyone to point to it and claim it teaches them to abuse women, explicitly or not. There is line that is crossed where texts are turned on their head to make love actually mean hatred, which is what happens in these circumstances. It is not the same thing as saying “well, submit is in the text, and here are our various understandings of what that means or why it says that.”

            I knew your background was fundamentalist, but I didn’t realize you came out of IFB. That’s some strong stuff there. I don’t want to come off as defending complementarism as true, since I don’t necessarily accept their views. And I think it understandable if you would flee to even the opposite extreme if were the only wait to keep half a foot in the church somewhere. It may also be that this kind of abuse is far more widespread than I’m aware of, and the moderate voices don’t have as strong a majority as I think. But do be careful not to write off all complenentariams as abusive nut cases, because I’ve known too many who were genuinely kind people. I don’t think the doctrine itself is the cause of abuse, though it’s frequent association is, I suppose, to strong to assert it is never a contributing factor. I still hold that it is not the determining factor, else most complementarians would be abusers, but that’s about as far as I want to stick my neck out for wacky Calvinist quirks.

          • Stuarts, people look for ways to not only excuse cruelty and wrongs against others, but for religious “reasons” that allow them to do it. It’s not “the Bible” per se, but interpretation and inclusion of certain sovial mores. True of every religion, since adherents are all human, after all, and every text requires interpretation, no matter if it’s a holy book or not. Our brains are busy interpreting everything we read and write, even lists of food ingredients and algebraic equations.

    • “Wives MUST submit” and “…but if they don’t, you may abuse them and otherwise trample their dignity as being of lesser humanity.”

      It’s the doctrine of hell in a nutshell, tho, isn’t it. Or any type of karma teaching. God will certainly punish you if you don’t submit. It’s the basis of most believer’s aid and charity. Those who are worthy=submit, won’t be punished. Well, we warned you, we love you, but since you didn’t listen, we’re sorry for what happens to you, whether directly by our hands or not.

      Thus, Calvinism.

      • “God will certainly punish you if you don’t submit” is the essence of the Law. The problem with this is that there is no grace in it, and apart from grace, you do not have Christianity. Islam and Judaism are self proclaimed religions of law, and I would add that many cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Wittnesses have become reduced to the same.

        Have no fear, though, Calvinist today are not carrying out the wrath of God. There generally a very peace loving group that rarely enacts more violence than a picket sign.

        • Physically, yes. Verbally… well, that’s another matter altogether.

          • Carrying out the verbal wrath of God is by no means limited to Calvinists, Complementarians, or even just theological conservatives.

    • @ Miguel said,
      “People don’t beat women because they are convinced the Bible tells them to. They do it because they are depraved, and then reach for any authority the think will give them a harder swing.”

      These abusive men sure as heck enjoy quoting Bible verses to rationalize and defend why and when they abuse their wives, though. That is one consequence of the complementarian interpretation of Scripture.

      Abusive men are highly entitled. So, they read Bible verses that say things like “wives submit to your husband” and they do take it from that – using a gender comp interpretation of such verses – that the Bible does give the go-ahead for them to verbally or physically abuse their wife and treat her like property.

  7. A question for complementarians.

    Is there any area in life, any realm, any mountain, where a woman has equal or greater authority than a man? Can a woman speak with authority about finances to a man? Can a woman speak with authority about business management to a man? Can a woman speak with authority about human resources to a man? Can a woman speak with authority about science to a man? And subsequently, in any of those areas…should she ever have that authority, and should she ever have gotten to the position or education or level of that authority?

    I’m looking for an answer here. Because what I’m seeing is that no, due to the nature of inherent complementarianism, there is no area where a woman has equal or greater authority than a man.

    • A complementarian would be quick to point out that obviously a competent women CAN do all of the above, the real question is whether or not she SHOULD.

      The problem with all these Calvinist Complementarians is that they appeal to Biblical passages on gender apart from any meaningful or historic understand of ordination. To them, “pastoral office” is nothing more than “authority,” and therefore the compelling need to keep women from both.

      As much as I hate to say this, look to the Roman Catholic church to see a healthy balance in how these things are approached with faithfulness to tradition yet dignity for all. There are only two things in the whole of all realms of life women are not given to in their church: Preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments (though they even seem a bit flexible on that first one).

      • Damaris says:

        And in some cases they do preach the Word.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        Confecting the sacraments is, I believe, where the line is drawn in both East and West.

      • Robert F says:

        As a result of not being able to confect the sacraments, women are excluded from many offices in the Roman Catholic Church, the highest, most powerful and influential ones. They cannot be priests, bishops, cardinals, archbishops or popes. That excludes women from many important roles that involve deciding how the Church will conduct its affairs.

    • Much like cessationism, there are those who hold to varying degrees of complementarianism. On the extreme end, there are those who would allow women to hold any type of authority over a man, either within or without. On the other end of the spectrum are those, such as the Catholic Church which Miguel points out, as giving much latitude to women in authority over men.

      • “within or without the church”. Duh.

      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but you just don’t hear any of this squabbling over “gender roles” in Roman Catholic circles. Only men can be priests, the rest is “love God and do as you will.” This hyper-regulation of domestic roles is a product of Puritanism, or the dogmatizing of cultural norms. I don’t know if there is much history to these novel ideas, though given the recent flourishing of egalitarianism, I suppose there wasn’t a place for it before. But still, if Biblical prescriptions on gender roles was such a important part of the text, you’d think some of the early church fathers would have a least mentioned it.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          If by Roman Catholic circles you mean the entrenched male leadership, then yes, you don’t hear much squabbling. Oh the other hand… there are Catholics like Richard Rohr.

          As to your wonderings regarding the early church fathers, perhaps like the rest of us it’s hard, if not damn near impossible, to conceive of social constructs that are different than what we have always known them to be.

          • Robert F says:

            Yes to your comment in its entirety (and despite my overly apparent antipathy to Rohr).

            The Church fathers do not provide a sound model in every particular, even important ones like the subject at hand, for what the Church should be and do today. The fact that we talk only about the Church fathers, and that the Church mothers were so few and far in between, is part of the problem.

          • Your missing my point completely. There is no complementarianism in the RCC. Sure, people argue about whether women can be priests. But that is the ONLY contentious issue I have seen. There is no problems with “women having authority over men” in the general sense apart from the priesthood, or wifely submission in the home. These are hobby horses that good Catholics don’t seem to have time for.

    • @ Stuart B.
      I’m not a comp, but here is one verse from the Bible that comps like to ignore (the bolded part):

      The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does (1 Cor 7)

      They also ignore or attempt to pervert the meaning of this:

      Eph 5:21
      21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

  8. I’m starting to wonder if the confusion over Biblical teaching on how the genders relate to one another isn’t hinting on some sort of paradox. On the one hand, the extreme of patriarchy or complementarianism will subject one gender as lesser humans, and deprive them of the equal dignity they deserve. On the other hand, the extreme end of egalitarianism would seek to reduce any substantive differences between the genders to merely external hardware, and interchangeable at that (an oddity that pits enlightenment against science).

    Perhaps the intent of the Biblical writers is to protect us from both extremes. Perhaps what is really needed is to treat everyone with equal dignity as having equal standing before God, yet be willing to understand and accept differences in both design and vocation. We can argue about what exactly those are, and our culture will usually dictate our adherence more than the Scriptures on this, but I think it is a healthy thing to recognize both extremes and not take such dogmatic stances on the details that we deny our susceptibility to either.

    Equal but different, I suppose. Let us recognize and celebrate those differences for the blessing and gift from God that they are.

    • SottoVoce says:

      What differences in design and vocation, specifically, are you referring to and how, specifically, does masculinity or femininity influence which design and vocations are “suitable”? What “substantive differences” do you believe are not rooted solely in hardware and what problems do you anticipate should these differences be ignored?

      • Whoa there – I don’t claim definitive answers to all those questions. If I did, you would have a label for me.
        There are anatomical and psychological differences that go far beyond genitalia.

        I’m not referring to “vocation” as a profession, as if God wanted certain careers for men and certain for women. I’m referring to “vocation” as calling: It could be as a shoemaker, but it would be first as a father, mother, husband, wife, citizen, son, or daughter, etc….

        • SottoVoce says:

          “I don’t claim definitive answers to all those questions.”

          But you claim some kind of answer or you wouldn’t be advocating for the exclusion of women from the pastorate, as you have in the past. So how do you answer them?

          “There are anatomical and psychological differences that go far beyond genitalia.”

          And those are . . . what, exactly? And how do they cause the mystic alchemy of grace to be poisoned when a woman administers it, for example?

          “I’m not referring to ‘vocation’ as a profession . . .”

          And yet “pastor” is a profession that pays a salary and you have said and continue to say that women should not be permitted to enter it.

          “I’m referring to ‘vocation’ as calling . . .”

          And in turn necessarily implying that any woman who believes she is called to the pastorate is inherently delusional.

        • You seriously do not know about anatomical differences between men and women? Hormone balance, bone structure, brain wave patterns. It’s pretty intrinsic to our DNA. But I’m not claiming those are the reasons women are excluded from the pastorate.

          Neither am I saying that pastoral ministry is not a profession. I’m simply saying that vocation is God’s calling on our lives more than it is the things we choose to pursue. I did not chose to be a son, yet it is the vocation God gave to me. I did choose to be a husband, but I have much yet to learn about fulfilling that vocation as God would have me.

          I’m not saying that women should not be permitted to enter this line of work. I’m saying that Christ and his apostles seemed to think that, and like it or not, I defer to their opinion even when it offends the zeitgeist. If God choses to give the vocation of pastor to one gender, that’s his prerogative. I don’t submit him to our transient understandings of fairness.

          • SottoVoce says:

            First paragraph
            *eyeroll* You’re the one claiming that those anatomical differences have some bearing on vocation and calling and then trying to redefine vocation as biological and legal relationships between human beings instead of its commonly understood definition of one’s occupation or fitness thereunto. Semantic games do not become you. And you’re still not answering the real question. What happens if a woman administers communion? Does God refuse to show up?

            Second paragraph
            Again, you are trying to use vocation to mean something that it does not mean. We are talking very specifically at this point about women in the ministry and their deliberate exclusion from the highest levels thereof based solely on the lack of a certain organ. Therefore, this entire paragraph is irrelevant. Though, again, you imply that a woman who believes she is called to the full pastorate is delusional. What do you believe about women who think God is calling them?

            Third paragraph
            That is exactly what you are saying. And here’s the heart of the matter. Do you believe that this “command” is completely arbitrary, or that there is some kind of reasoning behind it? And if there is some reasoning behind it, what do you think that might be? Let me remind you that if the Internet had existed a hundred years ago, we would be having this debate over whether women should be allowed to attend college or have a say in their own government. Do you think those advances in women’s rights were also wrong? They were just a much a product of “transient understandings of fairness” and were opposed just as bitterly by men who claimed to love God.

          • I’m not playing semantic games with the term “vocation.” It has a significant history in Lutheran dogmatics apart from its contemporary understanding as merely a synonym of “profession.” We literally have a “doctrine of vocation,” which is about so much more than one’s line of work.

            You want to reduce pastoral ministry to nothing more than a job. But that is only the secular angle to it. That would be like reducing the Lord’s Supper to a snack.

            I have no problem answering your question (though I don’t know if my answer is “correct”). I think if a woman presides and rightly administers, the sacrament is still a sacrament. I believe the Roman Catholic Church would disagree, because there is something inherent to the maleness of the priesthood which affects the transubstiantion (correct me if I’m wrong), but since Lutherans are not sacerdotalists, I believe that isn’t a concern for us. The question for us is not whether a woman can do these things. It is only on whether God has given this vocation to them.

            No matter how you want to crassly caricaturize your dissenters, women are not exlucded from the “highest levels” of church position for merely lacking a male sexual organ. The pastorate is given to men by the New Testament, that that’s all there is to it. I think women who believe God is calling them to be a pastor have misunderstood the scriptures. If that makes them delusional, then I don’t know if there are many non-delusional persons in the church anywhere. But I do appreciate you putting such crass and unkind words in my mouth.

            I do not believe the command is completely arbitrary. But I do believe that many things God asks of us do not make sense at many times, largely because we can’t see past our own desires and rationalizations. There is a point where I chose to trust the scriptures over what seems reasonable to me. If you can’t ever do this, then you your faith is in your reason, rather than the scriptures.

            The vast majority of people who believe in a male only pastorate/priesthood have no problem letting women get educated, careers, and serving in government. It is a careless slur to imply that just because we hold the traditional view of pastoral office that we therefor seek to suppress women at every turn. This is just one more reason I don’t take the progressive argument seriously. Those advances were not the product of a “transient understanding of fairness” because they didn’t overturn the teaching of the scriptures. Just because religious MEN opposed them doesn’t mean that those men were either right, or true to the scriptures.

    • Clay Crouch says:

      Would you provide a list of church positions in which men are not allowed to serve and why.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        In the Orthodox Church, during Holy Week, the Myrrhbearers are a number of consecrated women and girls whose duty it is to wrap the icon of the crucified Christ in linen cloths and process with it during different services. I’ve forgotten which services they are, but Holy Week is late this year, and if you’re still interested I’ll keep my ears and eyes open.

        Men are not allowed to do it because we did not accompany Christ to the tomb.

        • SottoVoce says:

          So an ornamental, ceremonial position that provides no substantive power or purpose for the women in question.

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            Everything in the Orthodox Church is ornamental and ceremonial and provides no substantive power.

          • SottoVoce says:

            The Russian LGBT community would like to have a word with you.

          • Burro [Mule] says:

            Their quarrel is not with the Orthodox Church, but with the parliamentarians and executives who listen to her.

          • SottoVoce says:

            Which still puts the church on the hook for promoting oppression and hatred. But we’re getting badly off topic here.

          • Robert F says:

            Everything in the Orthodox Church is ornamental and ceremonial and provides no substantive power.

            Mule, that’s just not true. In Russia, for instance, the Orthodox Church has substantive power, and uses it in its relationship to the government and to society. That’s why it has a most-favored-religion status there, while others are second-class-citizen religions.

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Wouldn’t you consider pronouncing absolution and consecrating the elements more than ornamental or ceremonial? If your engagement is serious, how about a little more effort, but if you just want muddy the punch bowl, no thanks.

      • One. Pastor. The Scriptures are relatively clear and consistent. Those who have come to other conclusions do so through a type of hermeneutic that nearly always leads to the overturning of other teachings on which the church has enjoyed relative consistency and harmony through the centuries.

        • SottoVoce says:

          Clay asked you for positions that MEN cannot hold. Are there any?

          • Doh. Did not read that carefully. Not really, aside from the obvious – mother, daughter, wife, etc….

          • Clay Crouch says:

            Miguel, mother, daughter, wife are not church positions.

          • Well, one of these days I’m going to learn to read questions carefully before answering them. I was confusing it with the discussion above on vocation.

            There are no other Biblically mandated church positions. There is the “Office of the Holy Ministry,” which our churches teach was instituted by Christ. Beyond that, any other “church positions” are auxiliary offices of human creation, and open to all. But all these “positions” are considered lay ministry.

            In the LCMS, “church positions” in addition Pastor include Director of Parish Music, Director of Parish Outreach, Director of Christian Ed, Deacon, Deaconess, and Parish School Teacher. Many congregations also have lay elder boards, church councils, and any number of volunteer ministry coordinators. All of these are open to women. Yes, that’s right, in our church, women can be either a Deacon or a Deaconess. Figure that one out and get back to me.

            Oh, wait! We do have a church position not open to men. We do not (yet) have any male deaconesses. My rights are being trampled! 😛

        • Clay Crouch says:

          I don’t think they are that clear or consistent. There are a couple of passages from Paul that could simply be a reflection of the cultural norms of his time. Women were not generally afforded the opportunity for education, religious or otherwise. Do you think there is something deficient in their sex that precludes women from the priesthood or the pastorate?

          • I do not think any vocation is about innate qualification. Obviously many women fulfill many pastoral responsibilities rather well. I’ve heard some that could preach circles around a lot of men. I’ve seen others preside over a Eucharist that was rather superbly done. You could hypothetically argue that pastoral ministry is a calling to which men are more poorly suited than women. That never stopped Jesus from calling anybody. He’s not impressed by our resumes, rather, he tends to use us in spite of ourselves.

            There’s plenty of church work, even professional church work, that women can apply these skills to without being a pastor.

            There is most certainly nothing deficient about the fairer sex.

  9. The thread’s about an abused woman, yet it’s evoked nothing but male commentary.

    • Good point. We’re mansplaining away. The original post kinda ended pointing in that direction about “bad theology”.

      We should celebrate Ruth Tucker’s Freedom Friday, and her getting her story out. The church needs to be a safe place for women and men to come forward with their own stories of domestic abuse, and help provide a way out of these situations and into grace and healing.

      Thank you, Bass.

      • “Mansplaining away”: yes, that’s exactly what’s been happening.

        • That’s ridiculous, both of you. Who here has been condescending or patronizing to women in any way? I am not going to feel bad for participating in conversations like this that are both important and necessary.

          • @ Miguel.

            Mansplaining does not have to always have to contain an element of arrogance for it to qualify as “mansplaining.”

            You, as a man, might be better served in some discussions by sitting back and reading to what women have to say…

            Rather than explaining to women how or why you think they are incorrect,
            or explaining these gender topics to them at all, etc.

            I think women will understand sexism against women far better than you ever will because they have lived it first hand. We don’t need a guy telling us all about sexism. We get it already, as we are subjected to it constantly both in the church and in secular culture.

          • A dialogue is a more effective way to learn from someone than a monologue. We don’t have to “shut up and be silent” in order to listen to and learn from someone. This is one of the most respectful places anywhere you can come for a mutually enlightening exchange on many controversial topics. Being a particular gender doesn’t lessen your ability to contribute. In this instance, obviously, the voice of the victim is primary. But the men here are not necessarily arguing with the victim in the post: We’re responding to a discussion prompt. We were invited to discuss this. If you feel like you’ve been unfairly lectured by the men here that’s one thing, but we don’t have to but out just because we’re the wrong gender. Complementarianism does enough to drive wedges between the genders, open conversations are one of the best ways to work against that. Believe me, just because some of us guys have more verbose personalities doesn’t mean we aren’t listening and learning much from people like you.

    • Laura W. says:

      Alright, I’ll comment. My family attended a Charismatic Non-denominational church which took the Complementarian ideology and ran with it. Yes, I found it to be the case that just subscribing to the ideology, combined with my husband’s control issues, was enough of a toxic brew that just about sank our marriage. Took years of counseling and a Truth bomb from a Godly, wise pastor in our current church to get things straightened out.

      • Glad to hear it.

      • @ Laura.
        And yet, up thread, is some complementarian dude denying that comp teaching can cause domestic abuse. You just gave an example of an occasion when it did so.

    • Bass said,
      “The thread’s about an abused woman, yet it’s evoked nothing but male commentary.”

      As well as a lot of men folk heck bent on arguing against egalitarianism.

  10. Burro [Mule] says:

    Reading through the comments on the Jesus Creed, I was astounded at the number of posters who knew Dr. Tucker personally, face-to-face personally, as in were her students or colleagues, and had no idea of wht she was going through.

    I don’t know bout you, but that makes me feel extremely uncomfortable, that is, the we prefer our northern European Anglo-Saxon decorum far more than sharing a common life with our brothers and sisters. Also, that the Pauline gift of discernment of spirits (diakrésis pneumatón) is just so much blah blah blah.

    I suspect that in a peasant culture like that in which RobertF’s father was raised, most of his father’s fellow parishoners would have known about the abuse, although they may have given it the yea and amen.

    It makes me wonder how many silent sufferers there are in my parish.

    And then, what would you do, specifically? Introduce the bludgeon of the State immediately? As a first option?

    • SottoVoce says:

      Hmmm, let’s see. Should we arrest people who beat up other people? Yes. Yes, we should do that.

      • Robert F says:

        Yes. The state exists for the protection of the innocent, even from their own mate or family. Negligence in this has been one of the great failures of all traditional societies and their governments, Christian included.

    • I was astounded at the number of posters who knew Dr. Tucker personally, face-to-face personally, as in were her students or colleagues, and had no idea of wht she was going through.

      It is not at all unusual for abuse victims to hide the horror of their suffering for a very a long time before they feel anywhere near comfortable making it public. So this does not really surprise me at all. And I strongly suggest to you that the blame for any facade of decorum lies squarely with the perpetrator, not with the victim as you seem to imply.

      And then, what would you do, specifically? Introduce the bludgeon of the State immediately? As a first option?

      Yes. Absolutely. Without hesitation. That state “bludgeon” as you call it is usually far more effective, has more expertise and is less self-interested than many authoritarian church leaders seem to be. For one thing it doesn’t give victims patronizing and dangerous advice to endure for a season the abuse.

      Wartburg Watch has lots of knowledgeable discussion of these issues and dynamics if you are interested.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        I was not blaming the victim, but the observer. We should be more aware of what is going on in the circle of our friends and acquaintances.

        Not ever having been part of a coercive church environment or even really knowing a victim of intimate violence, I have to admit I’m at somewhat of a loss as to how to account for the years of abuse Dr. Tucker hid from the world.

        I’m sorry, somebody do that sh*t to my sister, I will probably get in trouble with State myslef.

        • Mule said, “I have to admit I’m at somewhat of a loss as to how to account for the years of abuse Dr. Tucker hid from the world.”

          Please consider reading the book “Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft if you would like to learn more about domestic violence.

          Here is a summary of the topic from another source about a different book about domestic abuse (and in particular at how spectacularly churches fail to deal with it in a competent fashion):
          A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in your Church: A Review

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            “A Cry for Justice”…
            Didn’t a lot of the Prophets “Cry [out] for Justice”?
            And rip those who denied that cry a new one?

      • John – yes, and thanks for your post and site rec.

    • Dana Ames says:

      Burro,

      Abbot Tryphon on Vashon Island has written more than once that he will not give absolution to someone who has confessed to a criminal act unless that person consents to turn him/herself in to the civil authorities. Fr Tryphon offers to accompany them to the police station, and has done so.

      Some of the Fathers write that the fear of punishment is sometimes the only thing that will make simple-minded, immature people stop doing what they shouldn’t be doing. The Fathers are not condoning the punishment, or saying that such a situation is good. They want people to become more mature.

      Fr Tryphon has also been critical of persecution of homosexuals in Russia. He has written that Orthodox people should be the ones shielding them from harm. He is a ROCOR monk, and is not saying in any way that the teaching of the Church is wrong, He is, though, questioning what a Christ-like response looks like in that scenario.

      Dana

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        That is what I would expect from a skillful confessor.
        I was in a similar situation.
        It would have been cheaper to be Lutheran.

        • Clay Crouch says:

          You should seek some professional help with your passive aggressiveness. I’m sure your family would welcome it. Go in peace and be filled.

    • Robert F says:

      In just about any congregation of any size, when the minister looks out over the heads of the people in the pews, he or she can be pretty certain that among the people he or she is looking at, there is domestic abuse occurring. Looking back at the chancel or pulpit, the parishoners may not have as much certainty, but we know that clergy are not immune from this problem. The same is true for child abuse.

    • And then, what would you do, specifically? Introduce the bludgeon of the State immediately? As a first option?
      Of course not. We should allow the abuse to continue for a season. I’m not promoting a return to legalism here, but we probably need to decide ahead of time how many broken bones need to be suffered before we consider the bludgeon of the state. We want to make sure the woman is really, truly abused before we threaten the man’s reputation with the bludgeon of the state. Perhaps the switch of pastoral counseling, or the flyswatter of public penance should be used first.

      • Burro [Mule] says:

        What constitutes certainty, in your mind?

        How do you determine abuse?

        These are legitimate questions, are they not?

        • @ Burro Mule Guy

          Please consider reading the book “Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men” by Lundy Bancroft if you would like to learn more about domestic violence, how it is defined and determined, etc etc.

  11. When it comes down to it, complementarianism and patriarchical hierarchalism (mouthfuls):

    a) are one and the same,
    b) are put in place by men, for men, and
    c) are always going to be a part of the fabric in a sinful world.

    The men who put forward these ideas and then try to defend them with proof texts, assertions, and various systems of theology are only doing so to maintain their power hegemony.

    As a result, they fear any real dialogue because dialogue leads to questioning, and questioning to the truth. And the truth will elevate the power of others which, in their view, is a stripping of their power and privilege.

    And Challies’ response to the book is just one more example of a manifestation of that fear.

    • All people who paint with broad brushes are afraid to acknowledge how many exceptions to their rule there may actually be. 😛

      I don’t personally know that many complementarians, but the ones I do have been very calm, reasonable, peaceful guys who are more than willing to have an honest give-and-take of ideas. Of course, none of them had build ecclesial empires dedicated to the idea either, most were just small church pastors.

      • Adolph Hitler wasn’t completely bad, either. He had pet dogs that he treated lovingly. He also did some nice paintings.

        • You seriously just went ad Hitlerum on some guys you’ve never met based solely on their position on one theological issue, without any knowledge of their person or character?

          I think you need to take a step back. Or go find a blog to argue politics.

          • My apologies for the unnecessary snark, Daisy. That was the first of your comments on this thread that I read, and now I’ve seen a bit more of your story above. I can see why you would make the comparison. It may not be fair to all the men I know, but I don’t blame you for seeing it that way.

      • I’ve never known a hierarchialist who wasn’t in it for the power, even if only over a fiefdom.

        What else, pray tell, would be the goal of setting up an hierarchy and then striving mightily to remain on top?

  12. Dana Ames says:

    Dr Tucker’s book is timely and needed, and exposes yet again the deficiencies of a biblicist (however one wishes to describe it – sola scriptura, inerrancy or something else) view. “What the Bible says” about the relationship between men and women is another one of those issues – very sensitive and pertinent – where a lot of ink is spent on defending different ***interpretations*** of the words on the page. Some have even gone to the lengths of studying the lexical and cultural complexities in the text in order to have a deeper basis for the interpretation to which they come; this is good.

    However, there is a deficiency in the “what the Bible says” approach: I have never seen the question, “What is the Jesus-centered theological reason – that fits in with ALL the rest of Christian theology – that humanity was created gendered in the first place?” Looking up chapters and verses in Genesis or Paul is not the way to find the answer to that question. Interpretation does come into play, but the interpretation has to touch on all areas of theology in order to make sense, and peace, it seems to me.

    I came to some conclusions about this matter within the “what the Bible says” framework, including the lexical and cultural insights, more than 20 years ago. Once I began to formulate and ask that theological question, though, the “what the Bible says” resources didn’t reach far enough. I had to go older, and deeper yet, to set my heart and mind at rest. Hint: it’s about what Love is, and the Incarnation, and what it means to become a Fully Human Being (of whichever gender). Christians are meant to live in this world the way it is, including the reality of gendered-ness, and are also called to something higher than pegging so much on the identity of male and female and all the negotiated cultural expectations, whatever they are in any given culture, that attend that.

    Dana

  13. Rick Ro. says:

    To me, one of the paradigm shifts during Jesus’ ministry on earth was a call for religions (and even cultures) to begin respecting two segments of society that never got any respect: women and children.

    If you’re using the Bible to justify disrespect toward those whom Jesus told us to respect, you’re not one of His.

    • Robert F says:

      Yes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      If you’re using the Bible to justify disrespect toward those whom Jesus told us to respect, you’re not one of His.

      “Wise Rabbi, in one sentence you have summarized the whole Torah!”

  14. How about a poem, Robert F?