“What do you fear, lady?" [Aragorn] asked.
"A cage," [Éowyn] said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King link
On Monday, I spent a number of hours at the cardiologist's office with my mother, trying to get her cleared for her second cataract surgery. They almost stopped the first surgery a week ago when she went into atrial fibrillation during the procedure. Due to my mother in law's rapidly deteriorating condition, I was determined to get my mom's surgery over with ASAP. As I accompanied her into the echocardiogram room, I tweeted a link to Courtney Reissig's article over at Christianity Today's Her.Meneutics: Why Complementarian Men Need Complementarian Women. I was somewhat irritated by a number of her observations and thought others might find it worth reading.
Approximately 1 hour later, I glanced at my Twitter app and saw that there were 99+ notifications on my feed which means that something big was happening. It appears a number of people were also put off by her post and were tagging each other as well as Courtney. Even Aimee Byrd joined in on the discussion.
The ESS/Trinity debate continues on in a big way. I want to focus on two posts, one by Aimee Byrd and the other by Courtney Reissig. I continue to contend that this entire debate reared its ugly head because men like Wayne Grudem, Bruce Ware, Owen Strachan and others need it to justify the subordinate position of women to men in eternity. Here is one such article at CBMW: Relationships and Roles in the New Creation
The proponents of eternal subordination of women can use the Eternal Subordination of the Son(ESS) argument to their benefit. For example:
- Jesus is subordinate to the Father in eternity and He does so with joy.
- So, if it is good enough for Jesus, women, it should be good enough for you.
- If you don't like it, are you really a Christian?
Aimee Byrd says that CBMW has betrayed women
Aimee Byrd, also known as The Housewife Theologian, is both Reformed and a complementarian. Nonetheless, she has taken issue with the ESS doctrine. In this post, The Silence of Our Friends, she dealt with what she calls "the institutional and theological betrayal of complementarian women."
She states that CBMW owes women an apology.
Those of us who have been discussing CBMW's issues for years will not find what she has to say surprising. The fact that she, as an insider, takes these positions is somewhat startling to me. She claims that complementarian women have been betrayed by hyper-authoritarian teaching disguised as complementarian doctrine.
CBMW in particular owes a lot of women an apology. They haven't acknowledged one woman* who has critiqued their fringe teaching and asked for them to think of its practical consequences. And they wouldn't answer my one reasonable question about their stance on Nicene Trinitarian confessions. It has made some wonder whether they are even interested in listening to women. This is not complementarity according to how I thought of the definition of the word. It seems that “complementarity” has been reduced to nothing more than authority and submission, one inherent in men, the other in women.
Women have been betrayed by the packaging and mass selling of hyper-authoritative teaching under the guise of complementarity. Men who know better are just helping to perpetuate it. And women who know better are also silent. Why is that?
Even worse, CBMW has not affirmed Nicene Trinitarianism.
CBMW has made no statement affirming Nicene Trinitarianism. They’ve made no retractions of the teaching of those who have taught ESS/ESF/ERAS under their brand. They have made no retractions, although I have personally asked them to, of troubling teachings such as Sanctified Testosterone or Soap Bubble Submission.
She believes that this teaching has led to abuse in some marriages.
Finally, someone within the Reformed camp is getting what many of us have been saying for years.
While there has been helpful teaching that has come from CBMW, other teaching reduces women to ontologically subordinate roles. And some husbands have even used this kind of teaching to fuel abuse in their relationships. I get emails from women who have been in these relationships, thanking me for speaking out. Some hate complementarian teaching now because they were never heard.
She continues to emphasize her concern about this teaching leading to abuse.
Complementarian men should respond to women with a listening ear and a resolve to better teach what headship actually means and what it does not mean. They should be reaching out to abused women, whose husbands and churches hide under the banner of headship and complementarianism, and call out the abuse and false teaching loud and clear. They should be working to help church leaders to recognize abuse and provide godly counsel and resources for those abused. And if they truly believe in complementarity, they above all should want to invest in women with solid teaching, since they know their value to the church.
Aimee says that women have been blacklisted when they have asked to be heard.
But instead, when women like me plead for change, we are accused of being feminists or egalitarians or ‘thin complementarians.’ We are blacklisted and ignored. We are treated like women who won’t fall in line. Is that the beauty of complementarity?
I cannot stress enough the importance of Aimee Byrd's observations. She is an insider and believes in complementarianism but she sees the serious problems that arise from the poor teaching in this area. For these observations, she is being ostracized by the hard core complementarian crowd.
This proves an interesting point that many of us have observed through the years. When you deal with this hardcore Calvinista crowd, you must march lock step with every jot and tiddle of their exacting beliefs. The moment an intelligent person says "Hey, wait a minute," she become an adversary.
Courtney Reissig seems to overlook CBMW's woman problem.
In the article, Why Complementarian Men Need Complementarian Women, Reissig admits that she is in the minority at CBMW and other venues. She does not seem to view this as a problem.
Being outnumbered by men has always been part of my life. I was raised in a family of brothers. I’m the mother to three sons. I’m also the only female editor at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), so I’m all too familiar with what it’s like to be the only woman around.
Reissig demonstrates that there is a lack of input from women at CBMW
Reissig does not seem to be aware that she is demonstrating for many of us what we have long postulated. There is a lack of female input in these hard core complementarian groups. Yet, she thinks that it is OK because they listen to her. I suspect that she is quite submissive in her position and demeanor but more on that in a moment.
I can tell you from personal experience that being the only woman in a room of complementarian men doesn't mean that I’m ignored, overruled, or seen as a token female. At CBMW, I’m frequently called on to provide my unique perspective. More often than not, my male colleagues yield to my opinion. (And yes, that is consonant with our views.) More often than not, they’re interested in how a woman might perceive what goes up on our site.
Reissig claims that women have been an integral part of CBMW since its inception.
This is hard for me to fathom. If one reads Aimee Byrd's post above, it is evident that CBMW silences women who do not agree with them totally.
From its inception, CBMW has included women—from drafting the Danvers Statement in 1987 to speaking at present-day conferences. The female voice has not been silenced. It has been preserved and heard.
Reissig misrepresents the numbers of women at CBMW.
Let me interject part of the Twitter conversation from the other day. Having read this article, I commented on Twitter that Reissig was a token female at CBMW. She attempted to deny it in this tweet, claiming that the small staff is basically 50/50. This is patently ridiculous.
Apparently she has not looked at her own website or is she totally invested in trying to present a woman friendly CBMW that the facts do not matter? To make matters worse, CJ Mahaney is on the Council which speaks volumes as to the character and nature of this council.
- CBMW Staff: 3 out of 14 are women (21%)
- CBMW Board of Directors: 0 out of 8 are women (0%)
- CBMW Council: 6 out of 26 are women (23%)
She mentions some women who have blogged on the ESS debate.
I knew this would be interesting because she represents the truly hard-line complementarians who support the ESS doctrine. CBMW supports the idea that women will be subordinate to men in eternity (that means forever and ever!)
a few women have spoken up to get involved. Aimee Byrd, Hannah Anderson, and Wendy Alsup have actively participated in the recent discussion, including a substantial post on the issue on Alsup’s site, Theology for Women. Their post takes issue with some of the characterizations posted on CBMW and shared by other theologians.
Reissig is dismayed that the majority of women's voices in this debate are not ones that support the stance of CBMW.
I think she was truly startled that all complementarian women are not jumping up and down to support ESS. Could it be that she functions in a bubble?
While I appreciate their contribution to the discussion, it’s notable that most of the women’s voices in this debate have been critical ones. For a more robust conversation, I believe that we need women from both ends of the complementarian spectrum to join the male voices who often lead these conversations.
Reissig first claims she is in process in regards to the Trinity debate.
I don’t have answers to the Trinity debate, which I’m still analyzing and processing
Then she said she supports the CBMW viewpoint.
Of course she is not in process. She absolutely must believe the party line at CBMW or she might find there is one less women in the staff. Why even pretend she is in process?
To those complementarian friends who, like me, are defending this view of the Trinity,
Reissig proceeds to define her ideas as meta-level analysis!
I had to giggle at her terminology for this next section of her post. She called it "meta-level analysis of the conversation." Meta analysis is one of the more recent, overused terms of the Calvinistas. It sounds *intellectual* but it is frequently misused as it is in this instance. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, meta analysis is defined as:
a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance
As you will see, she does nothing of the sort. She proceeds to go after the critics.
The critics are not being winsome.
After having a good laugh at this overused term, I noted that her argument is quite simple. Stop being mean to us. We don't really understand why you get upset at what we say. She is being serious, folks.
To those complementarian friends taking issue with Ware’s and Grudem's understanding of the Trinity, I would suggest that you consider how your frustrations might inhibit your ability to share your views winsomely. Those of us on the other side of the debate aren’t maliciously ignoring you. We simply don’t always know how our ideas impact you. And even if you disagree vehemently with our views, we don’t want to be labeled as heretics or deemed unfit for a teaching position'
She considers herself privileged since she is not as conflicted as the rest of us 'flicted women.
To those complementarian friends who, like me, are defending this view of the Trinity, I would suggest that you listen to what’s being said by those who disagree with us. We might feel misrepresented when they critique our views. But wouldn’t we rather be wronged for the sake of unity among our brothers and sisters (1 Cor. 6:7)? We need to understand how our words and ideas have been perceived, and how those perceptions affect others. As women who are not at odds with complementarian teaching, we should use our position of relative “privilege” to try and understand those who feel more conflicted.
Peace and unity will begin with CBMW which is the example of men and women working together!
I kid you not! Reissig is so immersed in CBMW that she demonstrates an inability to understand what CBMW represents to many of us. Unity between men and women is not a term that ever comes to mind!
In the midst of this particular civil war among complementarians, I believe that peace and unity are still possible. Perhaps it begins with where CBMW started in the first place—with men and women working together for the cause of Christ, unified around our shared identity as image bearers of God, both male and female.
Behind the scenes of the Soap Bubble Opera.
in the Twitter exchange, a number of people asked Reissig why the infamous Soap Bubble post suddenly disappeared from the CBMW website. You can read our piece on the original post here. Reissig claims that she made the decision to take it down after she read it. Reissig was being a bit misleading here as Aimee demonstrates.
Here is where it gets interesting. Owen Strachan, the head of CBMW told Aimee Byrd that the post wouldn't come down because it was biblical.™ Enter Grant Castleberry, CBMW Chef Editor. Reissig was getting lots of Tweets about the Soap Bubble post. Castleberry was trying to back up Reissig but he made things more complicated.
Uh oh! Strachan claimed it was Biblical. Castleberry said he would try to explain it soon but he was on a flight with his family. We are left wondering why the post really was taken down and why CBMW and all those manly men couldn't give a reason for their decision. So, Dee is going to make a stab at a plausible cause.
The Soap Bubble post was ridiculous. It is fascinating that no one at CBMW, not even the token woman editor, could see the obvious problems with it. A number of people throughout the blogosphere, including Aimee Byrd, condemned that article. It was soon after Aimee's post that the Soap Bubble burst and disappeared. I believe that negative publicity was the cause of its removal. The staff was embarrassed and didn't have the guts to say so. So it just vanished.
When the presumed constituency of CBMW, Reformed complementarian women, begins to seriously question a number of CBMW *approved* articles and doctrines, CBMW has a serious problem. Courtney Reissig seemed to be surprised at the number of complementarian women who took issue with an article like Soap Bubble Submission as well as the disappearance of the post on their website. She needs to get out of her bubble and spend some time with disenfranchised women. CBMW has gone a bit too far and is getting well deserved pushback.
To CBMW: The advance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not at stake if people don't see things your way. It has lasted 2,000 years without your organization. You have pushed things way too far.
Thanks go out to Aimee Byrd. Although I do not share some secondary doctrines with her, I know that we both share concerns about those who use hyper-authoritarianism to justify abuse. She gets it and, for that, I am thankful.
CBMW is in a bit of trouble.