"I heard police or ambulancemen, standing in our house, say, "She must have provoked him," or, "Mrs Stewart, it takes two to make a fight." They had no idea. The truth is my mother did nothing to deserve the violence she endured. She did not provoke my father, and even if she had, violence is an unacceptable way of dealing with conflict. Violence is a choice a man makes and he alone is responsible for it." -Patrick Stewart link
Mary Kassian, not surprisingly, recently wrote a negative review of Ruth Tucker's book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife. Tucker's book dealt with her experience as an abused wife and her former husband's use of male headship authority to justify his physical and emotional abuse. Sadly, without an ounce of compassion, Kassian lays the blame fully at Ruth's feet for her abuse, hinting that she ignored *red flags* prior to the marriage. Kassian goes on to *prove* that Tucker continued to put herself in harm's way throughout the marriage.
Besides his run-ins with educators, Joe has a history with the law. He was arrested for voyeurism – for being a “peeping-tom.” This sexual misconduct, he claims, was resolved through the mandated counseling process.
Joe plans to be a pastor. Ruth knows that his religious views are “fundamentalist.” They have a heated pre-marital spat about the science of a literal six-day creation, but the issue of wifely obedience never comes up (p. 37).
Because of the glaring red flags, Ruth’s mother strongly opposes the marriage. But to no avail. Ruth is in love.
A few years later, a church elder and wife show up on Ruth’s doorstep with a local newspaper in hand. The paper reveals that Joe had been arrested for repeated theft of coffee and donut money at the county jail, where he had made weekly pastoral visits (p. 65). Joe hadn’t told Ruth about the arrest. She’s mortified.
To alleviate her “wretched shame,” Ruth pressures her husband to publicly confess: “He agreed (on my insistence) to preach the following Sunday night a sermon of deep contrition from Psalm 51— a sermon I practically dictated to him.” (p. 65).
Joe was dismissed as pastor. However, Ruth’s “behind-the-scenes maneuvering” opened doors for him to minister part-time at a church in Crown Point, Indiana, and for further graduate studies at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. (p. 57).
At this point, 9 years into their marriage, and staying home with a pre-schooler, Ruth decides it’s a good time to take in foster children. Thirteen-year-old Deana moves in. When Ruth finds out that Joe has repeatedly come into Deana’s room at night and sexually assaulted her, the rage she unleashes against him is “virulent and deep primal.” Yet she doesn’t report Joe to the authorities. She covers up the sexual abuse.
Having taken Ruth down for being obviously stupid, unlike Kassian who knew how to pick a good husband, she then proceeds to lower the boom. This has absolutely nothing to do with male headship. In fact, it is egalitarianism that is responsible for domestic violence.
Ruth’s experience led her to believe that the doctrine of headship promotes abuse. But my experience with abuse leads me to believe that women in egalitarian relationships are at a far higher risk than those with husbands who sense a responsibility to provide loving, protective headship. I could tell you dozens of heart-wrenching stories to persuade you that the further away a couple wanders from God’s pattern for marriage and the doctrine of loving male headship, the higher the risk of abuse.
So Ruth’s experience and my experience testify to the exact opposite conclusion. Which is why experience and emotions are an unreliable source for debating the veracity of a premise. It’s a sad day when reason is ignored and a conclusion accepted purely on the basis of who tells the best story and evokes the strongest emotion.
Kassian then says she will pay her way to meet with Ruth, and they will become the best of friends.
After her little take down, I doubt if such a pleasant, cappuccino type meeting is in the cards.
Ruth, we’ve stood on opposite sides of the woman’s issue for decades—since you first published on the topic in 1987 and me in 1990. I highly doubt whether CBE and CBMW would ever work together on this, though I can’t say for sure. At this point, my involvement with CBMW is peripheral at best.
So even though it’s unlikely that those organizations would come together to stand against abuse, it doesn’t prevent you and me from doing so. We could. You and me. Two Grandmas who love the Lord, love women, and deplore abuse. We could come together. We could do it for the sake of our daughters, grand-daughters, mothers, sisters, and friends.
I’ll fly anywhere in North America at my own expense to meet you. We’ll hash out a Ruth and Mary personal statement. I suspect we’ll really like each other . . . we’ll sip frothy cups of cappuccino, laugh and cry, share stories (and pictures of our grandbabies) and become friends. And perhaps that, in and of itself, will make a difference.
Besides believing that Kassian was a heel to handle the Tucker's abuse in this manner, I realized that Kassian is so entrenched in her iron bubble of frothy cappuccinos and glorious complementarianism that she is unable to question her rigid paradigm.
I have no doubt that my words mean little to nothing to Mary Kassian, who clams to be an author of the Danvers Statement. She also claims to have invented the term *complementarianism* and is a Professor at SBTS' Women's Institute.
“As distinguished professor of women’s studies, Mary Kassian brings an international reputation combined with deep biblical convictions and a tremendous ability to communicate, to teach and to share her passion for a biblical understanding of these issues.
“This is a great development for Southern Seminary and another representation of what God is giving us in this faculty. We look forward to having Mary join us in the classroom, on the faculty and as a part of the Southern Seminary family.”
Kassian will be teaching classes within Southern’s Women’s Ministry Institute on such topics as prayer, gender roles within the church and family, and feminist theology. Part of Kassian’s role at Southern will be to assist new Director of Women’s Programs Jaye Martin in developing a long-term vision for the school’s women’s program.
This Distinguished Professor of Women's Studies claims to have studied systematic theology on a doctoral level, but I could no mention of any theology degree. It looks like her only degree is in rehab medicine.
Mary Kassian is an award winning author, popular speaker, and a distinguished professor of women’s studies at Southern Baptist Seminary. She has published several books, Bible studies and videos, including: Girls Gone Wise, In My Father’s House: Finding Your Heart’s True Home, Conversation Peace, Vertically Inclined, and the Feminist Mistake.
Mary graduated from the faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine from the University of Alberta, Canada and has studied systematic theology at the doctoral level. She has taught courses at seminaries across North America She is a popular conference speaker and has ministered to women’s groups internationally. Mary has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including Focus on the Family, Family Life Today, and Marriage Uncensored.
Your pastor, women's leaders, blog queens and theologians are sinners.
Kassian made it clear in her passive aggressive style (how it came off to me) that if only Ruth had married a "godly" complementarian this whole mess would not have happened. And this is where she is wrong. For years, the Deebs have pointed out how sinful men have used authoritarian-based complementarianism to abuse women emotionally and/or physically. In fact, right at the very beginning – in Genesis – which comps (I am using an abbreviation of this unwieldy term) use to prove the subordinate status of women, Adam blamed Eve for his transgression. This was a man who walked closely with God, and yet his own sin caused him to turn against his wife in order to protect himself from appearing guilty.
Why is this important? Women who do marry Christian men with no apparent red flags are not guaranteed the beautiful complementarian marriage to which Kassian alludes. People drift and change, even while attending Kassian approved *gospel* churches. Others conceal their poor behavior for a period of time, especially in the dating and early marriage years.
Authoritarian complementarianism is appealing to those who have a hidden abusive personality.
Kassian has a problem. Even the supposed "good" guys can turn bad. Years ago I knew a Christian couple that was well-loved and respected throughout the Christian community. I still remember people telling me that this couple had the best marriage they had ever seen. By this time, Dee was getting smarter. i remember thinking that only time would bear that out. Several years later, the husband took up with a sweet young thing, leaving his wife devastated. While married they did the whole complementarian thing – church (an official TGC church with a council member as pastor), Bible studies, men's and women's conferences with the approved leaders, etc. They had been married for over 20 years. So much for a complementarian marriage…
Then there was another woman I knew who was a well known women's Bible study leader. She was big into submission – her husband was head of the family, etc. They attended gospel™ approved conferences, a great church, etc. They had been married for about 25 years. I found out she had cancer and that it wasn't going well. So, I brought her a meal and spent time talking with her. Suddenly, she raised her arm and I saw bruises all over it. At first I thought it might be a result of chemotherapy, so I asked her about it. Sadly, her husband had been abusing her for several years, and she was covered in bruises in concealed areas. Of course, I got her some help, but it was an awful situation.
Needless to say we do not know what goes on in the homes of our leaders, self-declared or otherwise. So, for example, we have no idea what really goes on in Mary Kassian's home. One thing I do know. There have been one too many supposed *good* comp leaders who have been caught in sin. Abuse, unfortunately, is one of those silent sins. I happen to know that there are complementarian men, even leader types, who have abused their wives; however, no one talks about it. Yet, women like Kassian continue to deny that such a thing could happen since she only knows "good men".
Aimee Byrd: Authoritarian complementarianism and domestic abuse.
Thankfully, Aimee Byrd is one person whom Mary Kassian might listen to on a good day. Byrd is both Reformed and a complementarian. She wrote an excellent article Listening to Abused Women, in which she writes:
In my last article, I pleaded that 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.
Could current trends in comp teaching enable abuse?
My point is that when you make authority/submission of Father to Son the distinction between the two in eternity (ex., Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 251) and make that the paradigm for male-female relations you risk developing a position where the Christological/crucicentric pattern of the husband-wife relationship is relativized or even sidelined. And you may well end up with a monochrome understanding of marriage which misses the need for the husband to sacrifice for the wife, as well as all of those beautiful, playful dimensions of biblical love and marriage as we find, for example, in the Song of Songs.
All of these things must be part of anything claiming the name of biblical complementarianism. The current reductionism, by way of contrast, may not cause but certainly enables the kind of abuse described here. It is a pity that, in the rush to defend the barricades, so many seem to have lost sight of the human side of this Trinitarian problem.
A true story of one marriage that started off well and ended badly.
I am going to make a guess here. I believe that this story is about a woman who believed in comp teaching, was Reformed, and may have been a leader of women. She cared about living a life of submission to her husband, who was a committed Christian when they married.
When I first met my husband-to-be, it was like a dream come true. We met on a missions trip. He was kind, considerate, actively serving in the church, spiritually mature, and handsome, too. Our friendship grew quickly and within months we were meeting with the elders to get their blessing on our engagement, which they gladly gave. My parents even consulted with mutual friends as to his character as a Christian, and he passed with flying colors.
But to top that, he confided to me that he received a prophetic word from God promising him a special blessing on this marriage. Who could resist that? I was in a different place theologically at the time, so I did not see extra-scriptural revelation as a problem. Rather I felt humbled and honored to be the person whom God choose to fulfill His promise to my future husband. This all but guaranteed to my mind that we would have a happy marriage.
Warning: In case anyone thinks that this prophetic word is limited to charismatic churches, think again. SGM has influenced many of the Calvinist churches in this regard. I know of one well educated, deeply committed, theology studying, ardent complementarian who attends one of the recognized Calvinista *gospel* churches and who gets prophecies on where he should go on vacation, whmo he should marry and which Bible study he should lead. His pastor, well known in comp circles, thinks he is one of the godliest men in his really big Calvinista church.
The wife tried to obedient, to no avail.
I wanted to be a good wife, so I was determined not to usurp my husband's authority. I deferred to him in just about everything. I trusted that if he was wrong, God would correct him in His time. My job was to be obedient.
… I think only perfection would have only satisfied him, not a normal, fallible human being. Even when the children disappointed or embarrassed him, it was my fault because I was not doing enough to raise them properly.
She felt she needed to hide this from others in order to *respect* her husband.
This is important. Many people who are abused suffer in silence.
The family continued to function normally at least on the outside. Not even the children suspected because we hid it from them. We hid it from our friends. I hid it from my family. I did not ask for prayer because it would be a sign of disrespect towards him, and the Bible told me that he could be won without a word. I was also afraid of what he would he do if people found out. Would it drive him further away or to divorce? So I suffered in silence and prayed with all my might that God would save the marriage. But things got even worse.
Her husband praised others while showering her with contempt.
He barely showed me any physical affection but was quick to hug the wives and daughters of our friends. He praised others. I got back-handed compliments. I tried to say, as gently as I could, that it wounded me when I saw him show affection to our friends. His response was to tell me to stop trying to control him. From then on I just kept silent as the contempt grew. He would work late, stay up late, and sleep on the couch.
Others viewed them as the perfect Christian family while things were falling apart.
After what seemed like ages, the blow fell when my husband said we should separate, telling me to move out and leave the children with him. I was crushed. I refused his offer and finally broke my silence. Friends and family were stunned because we seemed like the perfect Christian family. They talked to him and encouraged us to fight for the marriage. I was more than willing to do this. But he said staying married to me would be a slow emotional death, and he needed to be free to be himself. If I would not go, he would move out even though several Christian men confronted him on multiple occasions.
Eventually she found out that he had another honey who was God's will for him. You can read the entire story in which she describes how she was *gas-lighted* by her husband. The sad reality is that many people do not recognize her abuse because he didn't hit her. He merely manipulated her view of reality and bullied her in the process.
She discusses how the church and church members often give poor advice to the abused woman.
After reading Kassian's take down of Tucker, I can see how this occurs within the authority-driven complementarian churches.
Yet I have heard stories of women who were told to go back and submit no matter what their husbands did, while still maintaining a reverential attitude toward their abusers. There may have been some exceptions if there was a pattern of violence, but never permanent freedom from the abuser. And what makes a pattern? Once? Twice? How much was too much? They were told to stop being so emotional and exaggerating their situations especially if there weren't any bruises as evidence. They were told that God was for their marriages so they needed to pray harder. And wasn't she as much of a sinner as her abusive husband? If she deserved Hell, wasn't she getting better than she deserved? I was told that I didn't tell my husband I loved him enough. This is telling me I needed to give a narcissist what he wanted, which is like trying to fill a bottomless pit. This was also like a punch in the stomach from someone I trusted, so I felt betrayed all over again.
Wendy Alsup, also a Reformed complementarian, brings some sense to how gender roles are misunderstood.
I think Wendy hits on an interesting distinction.
Wayne Grudem and Bruce Ware have linked ESS to the submission of women.
Wendy believes that this has corrupted the debate on the Trinity and ESS.
Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem in particular have cultivated the doctrine of ESS in direct response to modern evangelical feminism and use it to bolster their very real world views on gender, particularly submission of women. This teaching then filters down through books, conferences, and pulpits and has significant influence on how men and women are taught to relate to each other in their churches, marriages, and society at large.
Alsup believes that Grudem, Ware, CBMW, etc. have linked the subordination of women in eternity to the subordination of Jesus in eternity.
For the last six years, TWW has contended that this has been the reason for the ESS debate. Finally, a Reformed complementarian agrees with us!
Note the parallel language of the joyful agreement and support of the Son eternally to the leadership of the Father and the female's willing, glad-hearted and submissive assistance to the man. If we are reading Grudem, Ware, and The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood's position correctly, Jesus is eternally subordinate to God the Father and woman will be eternally subordinate to man in the New Creation.
Alsup believes that these groups and theologians are confusing gender distinctions with the roles of husband and wife – roles that will end after this life.
These leaders of The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood believe that this benevolent responsibility of man and joyful receiving from woman is the heart of mature manhood and womanhood – not roles for husbands and wives but the essence of the two genders, and they believe it holds still in the New Creation.
…Our earthly marriages—and the submission that happens within them—are but mere shadows of the one great marriage between Christ and His bride that will exist for all eternity. As our roles shift from being individual husbands and wives so too will the submission that flows from our individual relationships. As the collective Bride of Christ, we will all submit to Jesus as our Bridegroom. Christ remains the head of both man and woman. His supremacy (which Philippians 2 tells us is the direct result of his obedience to the Father) will govern our relationships with each other, male and female alike.
Alsup states that, in the here and now, we are not celebrating authority, but sacrifice.
In this life now, husbands and wives have an opportunity to give testimony, not to the subordination of women to men, but to the eternal truth that Jesus is a Bridegroom who loved His wife enough to leave His glory, descend to the earth, and fulfill His Father’s plan of Redemption. And this is what we celebrate when we celebrate the subordination of the Son. We do not celebrate authority. We celebrate sacrifice. We do not celebrate control. We celebrate the submission of our wills. It is this beautiful dynamic between the Father and Son, and eventually between the Bridegroom and Bride, that will set the world right.
Although I have some differences with both Alsup and Byrd when it comes to the role of men and women in the marriage relationship, I still believe that together they get this discussion right.
If marriages reflected sacrifice and submission of our individual wills to the good of the marriage, I believe that abusive behavior would more readily be spotted by those trapped in an abusive marriage. It would also affect how the church cares for those who have been abused. Women are not to be subordinate and abused in that position. They are to be sacrificially loved.
I believe that Grudem, Ware, Piper, CBMW and others are contributing to the silent abuse culture in today's churches. It is time to rethink how women are viewed by the church. In many churches, women are afraid to discuss domestic abuse because the teaching seems to tell women if they just submit enough, they, too, will have a beautiful comp marriage. When they don't, if must be their fault. After all, it is only good comp women like Mary Kassian who have *good* men in their lives, right?