All right, what I want you to do is, every evening I want you to get down by your bed just as he goes to sleep, get down by the bed, and when you think he’s just about asleep, you just pray and ask God to intervene, not out loud, quietly,” but I said, “You just pray there.” And I said, “Get ready because he may get a little more violent, you know, when he discovers this.” And sure enough, he did. She came to church one morning with both eyes black. And she was angry at me and at God and the world, for that matter. And she said, “I hope you’re happy.” And I said, “Yes ma’am, I am.” And I said, “I’m sorry about that, but I’m very happy." Paige Patterson – One of Kassian's people.
When I finished reading Mary Kassian’s review link of Rachel held Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, I said to my husband, "I just don't get it." Oh, I get complementarianism. It's been beat over my head for a very long time. I have read more on that subject than any other. But, I was not prepared for the obfuscation of what constitutes complementarianism and how it is widely practiced throughout the world.
However, Kassian is now seeking to redefine it and is making it far more complicated as she does so. One thing appears clear to me, she is trying to pretend that some of the mandates of complementarianism that have been espoused by her dear friends, such as John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Russell Moore, Denny Burk, etc., do not exist. The question is, "Why?" I wonder if she realizes that this hard core group is beginning to lose support, not only in the secular world, but in the church world as well.
As each new pronouncement comes out, like Tim Challies' mandate that women cannot read Scripture out loud in front of the church, there are more people raising their heads and wondering if things are going too far.
However, as I seek to understand her, I cannot judge her motives, only her words and actions.
Let me use a current political situation to illustrate my point. This is NOT a political statement or a particular critique of Dr. Susan Rice, the current US Ambassador to the United Nations. After the assassination of our ambassador to Libya, Dr Rice stated, for about 5 days, that the riot was a spontaneous event due to an offensive You Tube video. However, there appears to be evidence that the administration knew that it was a planned event. I know that Dr. Rice is a talented and intelligent individual so her response to the situation is confusing. I have no idea what the motives were behind her statement. I can only judge what she said on face value. So, I am left with wondering if she believed it to be true or she was told to say it for some reason or she had a momentary lapse in judgment.
I do not understand the motivation and complexity behind Dr. Rice’s handling of the situation. Likewise I do not fully understand the motivation for this startling review by Kassian but something is obviously amiss.
1. Kassian appears put out that she wasn’t consulted or more acknowledged.
The first line of the review gave me pause.
“Rachel Held Evans thanked me in her acknowledgments. That was nice! (I’m glad I didn’t miss it. It’s a good thing I’m nerdy enough to read all the footnotes and shout-outs.)”
If I didn’t know better, I might think that Kassian was irritated that her “praise” was buried in an acknowledgment list. Does she believe that since she “invented” the term so many years ago, that she is the go to person for true understanding? Did she think she should have been the featured expositor on all things gender? I do not know. However, I would not have started off the review in this manner. It could be misinterpreted.
Also, does one’s “invention” of a term (I believe that Piper has also said he came up with the term-maybe they did it together?) mean that they are then the sole arbiters of how that term is used. Language is flexible and people imbue terms with their own meanings. Can you imagine a person from the 1800s being upset that the word “gay” is now used differently? Also, it appears to me that the term "complementarian" is so ill-defined that there is little wonder that people look at it differently.
Having been a member of many evangelical churches throughout this country, I can speak to the fact that complementarianism is often used to to exclude women from the pulpit and to makes sure a woman “submits” to a man.What that submission looks like varies from person to person. Some of it can pretty gosh darn ugly. If she was “in charge” of the term, I have some news for her. She lost control of it many years ago.
2 Kassian believes that she is the forefront of the complementarian movement.
“I wanted to give her direct, personal access to a woman at the forefront of the contemporary biblical womanhood movement.”
“I made myself available to help her navigate her way through living out biblical womanhood in the upcoming months. Though she didn’t take me up on the offer, she did attend part of a conference on biblical womanhood at which I spoke, and throughout the year we talked a couple of times.”
Once again, Kassian seems put out that RHE did not extensively consult her. Frankly, Kassian has written and spoken so much that there is little that cannot be found on the Internet-including books, speeches and manifestos. She even came here to Raleigh to speak at a moderate sized church. If Kassian was living in a monastery and never wrote or spoke, then it would be a different story. But the woman talks, a lot!
3. Kassian stresses her involvement with the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Kassian, referring to RHE, says
She specifically identifies the movement whose “theological bulwark” is “found in the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” (p. xix). I’m glad she clarified who exactly she means by “evangelical complementarians.” She’s talking about my people. I’ve been with that movement from the start. She’s walking into my backyard. Her book is specifically aimed at the particular brand of evangelical complementarity of which I am a part.”
Kassian now states that evangelical complementarians are “her people" and that RHE's book is aimed at a particular brand of evangelical complementarianism. Huh? As we will see, her people include some folks who have interesting views that she claims do not exist. So to which “my people” is she referring? I will list a few of them from SBTS and Southern who seem to contradict her. Oh yeah, she appears unable to well define what her "particular brand" of comp theology is. In MBA terms, she has a definite branding identification problem.
4. Kassian demonstrates a lack of historical understanding about the development of the “biblical womanhood” movement in the 20th century.
I developed and taught a multi-year course on church history for a former church. History is not defined as a series of new movements that are spontaneously generated. Instead, who we are today is a direct result of who we were a few decades ago.
In other words, Kassian (with, or without, Piper) did not suddenly define something new. She merely attempted to define what had been developing. Or did she? I still am not sure what she thinks she is defining.
Kassian quotes RHE.
“Evangelical complementarianism,” claims Rachel, “[is] a movement that began as a reaction to second-wave feminism and found some of its first expressions in the writings of Edith Schaeffer (The Hidden Art of Homemaking, 1971) and Elisabeth Elliot (Let Me Be a Woman, 1976).”
RHE goes on to explain that complementarianism rests on the
“uncompromising conviction [that] the virtuous woman serves primarily from the home as a submissive wife, diligent homemaker, and loving mother.” (p. xix).
Kassian then responds.
“The Hidden Art of Homemaking?! I just about fell off my chair. That book was written seventeen years before the inception of CBMW and about twenty years before we adopted the term “complementarian.” I have never even heard of it. I highly doubt whether John Piper and Wayne Grudem—the founders of CBMW—have read it. So to cite it as the first expression of evangelical complementarianism is hardly defensible."
Good night! Most women of a certain age were well aware of Schaeffer, Elliott, et al, long before Kassian jumped to “define” the scene. I even read both books many years ago and sat in on a class that Elliott taught at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Yep, those heathens let women teach courses. If Kassian truly “developed” the complementarian definition, as she claims, she must have been working in a vacuum.
Here is a link to a paper which is online at Kassian’s SBTS (where she is a professor)which looks at the contribution to the Schaeffers.
Why did she overlook this? Or did she decide not to bring it up?
5. Mary Kassian surprisingly looks to Dorothy Patterson to help “prove” that homemaking has nothing to do with complementarianism.
A degree in homemaking?!!
It is at this point, I knew that something was amiss. She does not mention that Dr Dorothy Patterson (PhD University of South Africa) is the head of the homemaking degree at the College at Southwestern Link
“The classes are part of a homemaking concentration for a bachelor of arts in humanities degree through The College at Southwestern, the Texas seminary's undergraduate school. Three-credit-hour courses in the concentration are General Homemaking, Biblical Model for the Home and Family and The Value of a Child. Also required are seven credit hours in meal preparation and nutrition and seven hours in the design and sewing of clothing.”
Kassian quotes RHE who stated that Patterson, in 1990, said
“Keeping the home is God’s assignment to the wife—even down to changing the sheets, doing the laundry, and scrubbing the floors.” (p. 23) “We need mothers who are not only family-oriented but also family-obsessed.” (p. 178)
Kassian claims to be irritated that that Rachel Held Evans used 20 year old material written by Patterson but kind of forgets” to remind her audience that CBMW republished the article in 2006 in the Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Book! “Link
“Mrs. Patterson told me that she would nuance the first quote by clarifying that “though she may not do these chores herself, she senses the responsibility to see that her home is kept in order.” (Ed. note:No nuance needed back in 2006 but seems to be needed now).
Well, you betcha Patterson doesn’t scrub those floors at Pecan Manor. She has a boatload of help. So, is Kassian , and Patterson, implying that, if you have enough money and servants, you receive a “get out of scrubbing the floor” card? Instead Patterson can go and teach women getting their “homemaking degree” how to sew clothes while cooking meals.
Also, notice how she does not address the child-care issue at all. So, do women stay home to raise the children or can they hire that help as well? Or is this just a question to be avoided.
The infamous Sheri Klouda incident link
It gets worse. Kassian completely overlooks (or chooses to ignore) the despicable treatment of Sheri Klouda at SWBTS by Paige Patterson, himself. Women are not allowed to teach Hebrew even after they are told they can. (Hebrew is one of those languages which can only be spoken by men, apparently).
Paige Patterson condoned the physical abuse of a woman.
Finally, Patterson’s husband believes that women should go home to an abusive husband. Link.
He bragged about it, especially when the woman showed up with black eyes after he told her to go home because said abuser showed up at church.This is the "get an abuser to come to church" tactic. Did Kassian choose to overlook this little gem? TWW didn't and we called for Patterson’s resignation over this incident. Did Kassian get concerned about this?
So, are the Pattersons a part of Kassian's “my people?” She is not winning any converts with them on board.
6. Kassian denies that patriarchy has anything to do with complementarianism.
In my opinion, this is her most startling statement yet. In fact, she must either have her head in the sand or is deliberately spreading misinformation. I sure hope it is the former.
“The second woman Rachel quotes is Stacy McDonald, who wrote a book entitled, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God. McDonald is associated with the Vision Forum and the biblical patriarchy movement, so it’s clear that she isn’t representative of the core of modern evangelical complementarianism either.”
TWW reader has Facebook exchange with Kassian. Here is a link to the Facebook page.
Better yet, one of our readers sent Kassian an email challenging her statement that patriarchy and complementarianism are not the same. Kassian replied to her
“My complementarian colleagues do not embrace the term"patriarchy." And like you, I am gravely concerned about some of the abuses and oppression of women arising from that ideology."
She telling a whopper and I will prove it!
Our reader sent her a follow-up email
“I linked her to my article Will the Real Complementarian Please Stand Up where I have all the quotes from her colleagues. No response whatsoever.” Link
This reader said, about Kassian
"(Is she) “In denial or trying to spin this her direction? Inquiring minds want to know~! Geesssshhh."
The bio on her website states:
“Mary Kassian is an award winning author, popular speaker, and a distinguished professor of women’s studies at Southern Baptist Seminary.”
Let’s look at some of “her people.” The quotes, unless specified are from the Emotional Abuse and Your Faith blog link
Russell Moore Link
“Russell Moore is the dean of the School of Theology and Senior VP for Academic Administration at Southern Baptist Seminary. He is also an apologist for complementarian relationships but here is what he has to say about the word complementarian:
If complementarians are to reclaim the debate, we must not fear making a claim that is disturbingly counter-cultural and yet strikingly biblical, a claim that the less-than-evangelical feminists understand increasingly: Christianity is undergirded by a vision of patriarchy. This claim is rendered all the more controversial because it threatens complementarianism as a “movement.”
Not all complementarians can agree about the larger themes of Scripture—only broadly on some principles and negatively on what Scripture definitely does not allow (i.e.. women as pastors). Even to use the word “patriarchy” in an evangelical context is uncomfortable since the word is deemed “negative” even by most complementarians. But evangelicals should ask why patriarchy seems negative to those of us who serve the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God and Father of Jesus Christ.”
“Then, in an interview with young and restless pastor Mark Dever, Moore also states: “I hate the word complementarian. I prefer the word patriarchy…… because complementarianism doesn’t say much more than the fact that you have different roles. Everyone agrees that we have different roles, it just a question of on what basis you have different roles.”
Denny Burk link
“Biblical Patriarchy” would be a shorthand for the complementarian position–a moniker that emphasizes the hierarchy/headship inherent within that view.”
"For my [Denny Burk] part, I prefer complementarianism or biblical patriarchy.”
Owen Strachan link
“For millennia, followers of God have practiced what used to be called patriarchy and is now called complementarianism.” Owen Strachan, writing for CBMW.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Nancy Leigh DeMoss is a close friend of Kassian. From the excellent blog, Under Much Grace link we learn
“It has come to my attention that you interviewed both Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald concerning their new publication “Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.” Their affiliation with Vision Forum, their publisher, extends beyond the typical relationship between author and publisher. They both enjoy close relationships with the leadership at Vision Forum and zealously embrace the Vision Forum model of “Biblical Patriarchy.”
Here is more information from the from the Emotional Abuse and the Faith blog.
“Also Proverbs 14:1 says, 'the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.' In other words, the home is our place to build. Our culture says it's not a place worthy of our best labors, but we have to be careful not to allow the world to affect our thinking. The home is our primary place for ministry. Someone once said of Edith Schaeffer, 'As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer's cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer's sermons. Our scope of ministry is different than that of men, but it is no less important: It is God's assignment to us. – Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Biblical Womanhood in the Home
The Gospel Coalition Link publishes his post which states:
“Is complementarianism another word for patriarchy? Egalitarians and many complementarians agree: It is indeed.”
I particularly like this one since it involved “her people” and “my people.”
7. Kassian: You can't quote an old book but I can.
Once again from Emotional Abuse and Your Faith link.
“She complains that RHE quotes a book that she has never heard, and mentions they were published 20 years prior to the term ‘complementarian’ coming into existence. Yet one of the authors (Elisabeth Elliot) wrote a part of the CBMW book on Manhood and Womanhood, and her personal book is still read today in some circles of complementarians today. CBMW is within her ‘yard’ right? You have one source up close and personal right there!
“She complains about a 20 year old article that Mrs. Patterson wrote, and was republished in 2006 at CMBW that Rachel quotes from hinting that is stale material due to age, and yet its okay for Mary Kassian to use a 50 year old book on feminism, The Feminine Mystique to support her current views.”
The Video produced by “her people.”
I am concluding with a video of an interview with Mary Kassian and Nancy Leigh DeMoss. It is evident that the interviewer is trying to get them to define what “complementarianism” looks like. She is a bit nicer than me and backs off pressing them. So, the answers they give are confusing and esoteric, with no basis in supportable fact, except for the fact that Kassian states that it is so.
Kassian makes a rather sweeping statement that true complementarians have greater unity, harmony and mutuality. How she knows this is beyond me. There have been no studies that quantify such parameters. After reading RHE, I want to know if she has less harmony, unity and mutuality in her marriage than Kassian does in hers. I highly doubt it.
Also, I am flummoxed by her use of the term “mutuality.” It appears that Kassian, inventor of the term “complementarian” is now set to redefine a word which is often used by egalitarians. I feel like I am reading Animal Farm which redefined the word "equal." "Some animals are more equal than other animals"
They mention John Piper in the video as someone whom they respect. So he is another one of Kassian's " my people." This is the same Piper who said (TWW has posts on all of these)
- A woman should endure physical abuse for a night.
- A woman should not usurp a man’s authority when they are asked to give him road directions.
- Women should not be muscular..
So, I am left with a dilemma. Is Kassian deliberately overlooking key factors with the so-called complementarian movement? Could it be that the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is going to scrub their former site of references to patriarchy and begin to use the word “mutuality?”
On one blog, I read an interesting comment by a reader. I wish I could find it. She said that she had stayed at the house of one of these “well-known complementarians.” It was obvious who wore the pants in that family and it wasn’t the husband. So maybe complementarians are merely egalitarians in disguise.
I leave you with this question. After reading about complementarianism, can anyone out there tell me what it looks like because I sure can't. If you can, have your people call my people. Who needs unity amongst the brethren anyway?
(PS -Next time someone makes up a word, please make it shorter and easier to spell.)
Lydia's Corner: Numbers 14:1-15:16 Mark 14:53-72 Psalm 53:1-6 Proverbs 11:4