Gary Thomas says “Enough is Enough” on Spousal Abuse

“If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people more than he loves institutions.”

Gary Thomashttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gary_Thomas_Close-up_Image.jpgGary Thomas

I will never forget the email we received from a sister in Christ who was emotionally distraught due to a conflict with her younger brother.  This woman, who found herself in an abusive marriage, escaped the terrible pain and suffering she had endured by getting a divorce.  In the wake of that devastating experience, she met and married a Christian man who loves and cherishes her. 

The brother, who had recently been awarded an M.Div. from a Southern Baptist seminary, mailed a packet of information to his sister.  It contained a lengthy paper written by John Piper.  As you probably guessed, the brother (now a pastor) warned his sister that she MUST return to her first husband or she would be living in sin.  That's when this sister reached out to us to get our advice on how to deal with her brother. 

We immediately put our research skills to work and Googled John Piper and divorce.  Gotta love the internet!  We first discovered a position paper by John Piper.  It seems to indicate that if a divorced person remarries, (s)he should remain with the spouse to whom (s)he is currently married (as indicated at the conclusion of the paper). 

Has Piper's view changed since his position paper appears to contradict the mandate declared by the brother mentioned above?  It appears so because A Statement on Divorce & Remarriage in the Life of Bethlehem Baptist Church includes the following statement (see screen shot below).http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-statement-on-divorce-remarriage-in-the-life-of-bethlehem-baptist-church

The reason I share the above information is to demonstrate that there is a range of pastoral views regarding divorce.  Some pastors believe divorce is NEVER allowed, advocating ONLY for separation and then hopefully reconciliation.  Some permit divorce as a last resort, while prohibiting remarriage.  And there are a number of pastors who allow parishioners to divorce and remarry in certain circumstances like adultery and spousal abuse. 

All of this serves as a backdrop to a blog post recently written by Gary Thomas entitled Enough is Enough:  Why the Church Has to Stop Enabling Abusive Men.  

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/According to his website, Thomas "is a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others. He unites the study of Scripture, church history, and the Christian classics to foster spiritual growth and deeper relationships within the Christian community."

As Thomas explains in his post, he recently spoke at a women's conference, and he believes it was a God-ordained experience.  He was shocked by some of the horror stories married attendees confided to him.

Here is what Thomas wrote (see screenshot below).

http://www.garythomas.com/about/

To demonstrate the depth of the pain experienced by some of these married women who confided in him, he shared a few details of their stories.  One woman is married to a persistent porn addict.  This husband presented his wife with a list of five things he wanted to do (which he saw in the porn he viewed), and if she wasn't willing to comply, he was through with the marriage.  Here is Gary Thomas' response to this horrible marital situation:

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/

Another woman (in her twenties) shared with Thomas that her husband put her and her baby in danger by making them get out of the car on the highway!  He did later come back to get them.  🙁

Here is what Thomas wrote about such spousal abuse:

They had been married only three years and she had already lived through more torment (I’m not telling the full story) than a woman should face in a lifetime. My thoughts weren’t at all about how to “save” the marriage, but to ease her conscience and help her prepare for a new life—without him.

Then he makes his feelings about this situation perfectly clear (see screen shot below).

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/

Gary Thomas explained that he was so upset after hearing these horror stories that when he got back to his hotel room he wanted to vomit.  My first thought upon reading the above statement was… I wonder whether he has seen the following video:

No John!  If the husband physically abuses his wife, he has committed a crime and should be turned over to the proper authorities. 

Getting back to Gary Thomas' post, there has been a HUGE response!  So far it has garnered 223 comments and has been shared on Facebook 58,600 times!   He has definitely got people discussing a very important matter that needs to be addressed openly and honestly.  Thomas concluded his post with these words:

Enough is enough.

I know I’m ranting. But I don’t think it was an accident that I was constantly stopped at that woman’s conference and forced to hear despicable story after despicable story (“forced” isn’t the right word. I could, of course, have walked away). I think God wanted me to see the breadth and depth of what is going on, and in this case, perhaps to be His voice.

I have read through all of the comments so far, and this one especially stood out to me.

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/comment-page-2/#comment-247089

Some of you may be familiar with Gary Thomas because of a book he wrote some years ago entitled Sacred Marriage.  Here is the premise of the book, as stated on Amazon:

Happy is good. Holy is better.

Your marriage is more than a sacred covenant with another person. It is a spiritual discipline designed to help you know God better, trust him more fully, and love him more deeply.  What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy . . . but holy?

Sacred Marriage doesn't just offer techniques to make a marriage happier. It does contain practical tools, but what married Christians most need is help in becoming holier husbands and wives.

One of the commenters had this to say about Sacred Marriage:

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/comment-page-5/#comment-247234

Gary Thomas responded to Elizabeth as follows:

http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/comment-page-5/#comment-247246

And another female commenter chimed in with this:

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-11-16-13-pm

If Jill is correct in stating the church leadership is misusing Thomas' book Sacred Marriage to guilt wives into staying with their abusive husbands, then it might behoove Gary Thomas to do some digging to determine how prevalent this misuse of his book might be.  Perhaps it is occurring on a wide scale without his knowledge. 

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that men are not the only abusers in marriages.  There is no question that women are also capable of serious abuse, which tends to be verbal and emotional and less physical (although it does happen). 

The bottom line is… we are very grateful to Gary Thomas for daring to discuss the topic of spousal abuse.  It has been suppressed for far too long, and we need to bring it out in the open.  Acknowledging that it exists is extremely healthy!  We hope Gary will continue to explore this most important topic and write more blog posts on it.  Maybe he could even publish a book that addresses it head on! 

Comments

Gary Thomas says “Enough is Enough” on Spousal Abuse — 381 Comments

  1. I think I like this guy!

    Teaching separation can result in another form of abuse. My sil's aunt and uncle seperated and could not reconcile. They never divorced. When the uncle died, he left a huge financial debt. The aunt was held legally liable for his debt, and she lost absolutely everything!

    Oh, did I get first or did I waste too much time typing?

  2. Could it be that some ‘ministers’ would awaken to the light if they had an experience like Gary Thomas of actually LISTENING to the women that they tell to shut up???

    And if finding out the truth about spousal abuse, these ‘ministers’ would then be able to say ‘oh, I didn’t know’?

    My own feeling is that many ‘ministers’ in the neo-Cal world have likely abandoned all that is reasonable and instead, laying all conscience aside, have followed their pied Piper into the darkness (for how can ‘the Church’ stop an abusive husband when they have taught him that it is God’s will that his wife is to be a submissive?)

    . . . . maybe there is hope for some young ministers to be recovered, but the SBC seminaries apparently are not helping them toward the light. Rather, the neo-Cal movement works to conflate ‘the gospel’ (whatever that is to them) together with male headship in all marital circumstances even in using the Church to referee the maintaining of a marriage when it is broken by spousal abuse.

  3. So how can Gary Thomas write such a popular book about marriage and not know how prevalent abuse is in marriage? I am truly puzzled that he was surprised to hear these stories. He obviously has little contact with real life marriages.

  4. Loren Haas wrote:

    He obviously has little contact with real life marriages.

    is possible that in patristic circles, complaining (of those who are supposed to be ‘submissive’) is frowned upon, or worse looked at as a sinful rebellion against ‘authority’ …… some of the talk ‘out there’ about how wives are supposed to adore their husbands and live to please them must set women up for some heavy abusive treatment from those men who have anger issues and are insecure to the point of falling into abuse as a way of exerting their power and control ….. if a ‘good Christian woman’ is trapped in this mind-set and circumstance, would she not try to ‘try again’ many times and hope for better days …. or worse, blame herself. (and yes, I do worry for the wife of Josh Duggar and many like her)

  5. And it’s garbage like this that keeps perpetuating the abuse of women in Christian communities. You say, well that’s a crazy blog with a crazy Christian, right? Well, many Christians have similar attitudes like this Biblical Gender Roles guy but they wouldn’t be so bold as to put it out there on a blog. Just read the comment section and you will be appalled at the distorted thinking. Oh, and here’s a comment to a married woman from the Biblical Gender Roles guy himself in voting in line with her husband’s beliefs: “I do not believe a husband should ever willingly and knowingly let his wife make a moral decision that is not in line with what he thinks is best.” Talk about setting up a woman to be an adult child whose voice has been completely silenced, or even worse, physically and sexually abused by her husband. Odd as this blog may be, I’ve encountered numerous times on blogs and Christian sites men that have the same attitudes as this blog.
    https://biblicalgenderroles.com/2016/11/23/why-unity-in-marriage-has-more-to-do-with-the-wife-than-the-husband/comment-page-1/#comments

  6. Just to make it clear, I wasn’t calling Gary Thomas the crazy Christian with the crazy blog. Rather, the Biblical Gender Roles blog guy. And while some folks would say he is the fringe element of Comp/Patriarchy, I’m not so sure that is the case.

  7. Never mind what I said about Gary Thomas before – I don't like him! I read reviews on a couple of his books and checked out his church's website. He really pushes wives "submitting", and wives being "helpers". His church offers Biblical counseling and requires a marriage prep class before they will allow a wedding to be performed in the church.

    I guess he doesn't believe women are quite human, either. Maybe he's a member of PETA?

  8. I have seen many abusive relationships, and some / many faith communities do not deal well with abuse issues. I tend to go back to what is more important protecting people from physical / spiritual / emotional / psychological abuse or following some all encompassing doctrine. In my dealings with the neocal group, in my opinion, it is about one major factor. It is about being right, having our “world view” validated, what I call the apologetic.

    Back here on planet Earth, real people get hurt, that needs to be the priority. Women have been treated like trash forever, I think that is just a plain fact. Time to be that city on the hill, light and salt etc.

  9. Here’s another beyond-the-pale remark from BGR guy that wreaks of misogyny. I’m inclined to think that there are many men who think like this. Here’s the comment:

    “Again with all due respect – I think far too often men today think they have to prove to their wives that “I know you have a brain.” In other words if we talk about a moral decision with our wife and ask her to apply principles and she does it incorrectly and we correct her and tell her who to vote for then we are saying she does not have a brain.

    The fact is we can acknowledge that our wife has a brain and life experience and at the same time let her know that we as the head of the house cannot let her make a moral decision that we do not think is best.”

    It is revolting to think that anyone would listen to this twisted individual.

  10. Nancy2, on which books of Gary Thomas did you read reviews? I ask because I just looked up the reviews on ‘Sacred Marriage’ and the majority of the reviews are supportive of his book.

  11. The one thing I can never understand about these ‘headship’-‘submissive’ relationships:

    where’s the intimacy between two people who love each other dearly and are so close in their marriage that they are emotionally unified in that love, and yet still able to be persons respected in their own right?

    I don’t see it in the formality of these ‘christian’ marriages that may involve sex and quiverfulls and all the disguises that might pass for a marital union:

    where’s the love?

    When people love each other, no one is thinking about their ‘role’-playing or who’s the ‘boss’ and who isn’t. People who care for one another want to make the other person happy too. I am not seeing how on Earth the ‘structure’ of patriarchal marriage benefits the unity of the couple as two people intimately in love ‘either with other’. ?

  12. Gary a Thomas shares that the mere act of HEARING about some of the abuses a few women endure made him ill. Just hearing about it, not actually enduring it.

    What an eye opening experience for him. The fact that he listened with an ear to hear is amazing. I hope he continues to listen, to learn, to hear and then to act and make a difference.

    There was a time in my marriage that I lost my voice when my husband became overbearing due to his own personal struggles. He experienced burnout and became intolerable and mean-spirited. I kept submitting and tried to keep the peace, as I had been told to do for decades from the pulpit, to no avail. The cycle kept going on and getting worse, these was no physical abuse. You see, years ago, I had dared him to hit me when he towered and loomed over me during an argument as I sat on the side of our bed, and I believe it shocked him to realize that, indeed, he did want to strike me physically. Physical intimidation is a form of physical abuse and should not be discounted. For me, though I did not face physical blows, I endured verbal ones. Living with an angry man is no picnic even if he does not use physical force, It took years, but I, a formerly strong woman, diminished into a shadow person.

    I woke up, I found a way to regain my voice. My insistence that my worth as a human be acknowledged, validated and honored, rocked our world, and that of our children’s. My awakening was a loud, violent, years long event as I insisted that old patterns be broken and new methods instituted. The scars are deep – from both the abuse and the fallout of my awakening,

    To my husband’s credit, he entered a very long period of self-reflection and prayer and came out repentant, which lasts to this day. On occasion, the old pattern of verbal abuse comes forth, but I speak against it in the strongest terms, and I refuse to endure even one more minute of that vile, evil disrespect and call him out on it immediately.

    I guess that makes me unsubmissive in the eyes of the Church.

    I don’t think my story is unique, except for the fact that my husband examined his own behavior, found himself in error, and has found a way to change.

    What’s my point? I think that the Church has done a huge disservice to marriages by preaching an erroneous message of submission that has hurt wives, husbands and children. Even those of use who are not enduring physical abuse may be suffering from verbal, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. “Submission” creates an erroneous facade with roles that both husbands and wives play which results in a lack of intimacy, honesty, integrity.

    I’m heartened that the eyes of this one public figure, Gary Thomas, are beginning to open. I doubt women will ever be validated and treasured as a whole within the Church as they ought, but perhaps his words will help women to understand that enduring abuse, even for one night, is not the holy path of righteousness.

  13. Nancy2 wrote:

    Never mind what I said about Gary Thomas before – I don’t like him! I read reviews on a couple of his books and checked out his church’s website. He really pushes wives “submitting”, and wives being “helpers”. His church offers Biblical counciling and requires a marriage prep class before they will allow a wedding to be performed in the church.
    I guess he doesn’t believe women are quite human, either. Maybe he’s a member of PETA?

    Well, maybe this was a wake-up call and he’s changing his mind? I think that should be allowed, shouldn’t it? We need more hyper-Calvinists to actually think for themselves instead of just sending Piper’s position papers to people.

  14. ishy wrote:

    maybe this was a wake-up call

    well, hearing the pain of other Christian people (the women), this man may have been moved to empathy by the grace of God, through the Holy Spirit ….. stranger things have happened in our faith, when people are moved to compassion for those who suffer or who have suffered (it was the way of Our Lord, this compassion).

    I wouldn’t rule out the possibility …. but I am cynical enough to wonder if he has just changed his stripes so he can author ANOTHER book for $$$$$$

    I leave him in the merciful Hands of Our Lord, and give him the doubt, because sometimes even in midst of fame and greed, God can still pull out changes in the core of a person’s heart, if the human raw material is at all willing for good to happen.

  15. Nothing has changed about John Piper’s sick and twisted theology about women and abuse, including at his former church Bethlehem Baptist in Minnesota (Piper retired from there).

    Natalie Klejwa is being excommunicated from Bethelem Baptist for having the temerity to leave her abusive husband of many decades. She got NO help from Piper’s church. The pastors/elders recently lied about her to all of the church members (shades of The Village Church in Texas and the case of Karen Hinkley).

    Natalie’s blog is Visionary Womanhood. http://visionarywomanhood.com/author/visionarywomanhood/

  16. I watched in-your-face aggressive, inappropriate, boundary-less Christians at my ex-church Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley ORDER divorced women to call their “ex-spouse” their “current spouse” because supposedly “they aren’t really divorced in the eyes of God” and “will always be married”.

    Nut cases one at all at my ex-church. Reality doesn’t exist with those people. Civil laws don’t exist. The laws of the state (of California in my case) don’t exist. We have an entire new court house, more than 7 stories tall devoted to family law cases in Silicon Valley.

    And we wonder why so many conservative Christians have ZERO credibility with a watching world. Because they frankly act like nut cases a large part of the time and haven’t EARNED credibility.

  17. Christiane wrote:

    The one thing I can never understand about these ‘headship’-‘submissive’ relationships:
    where’s the intimacy between two people who love each other dearly and are so close in their marriage that they are emotionally unified in that love, and yet still able to be persons respected in their own right?
    I don’t see it in the formality of these ‘christian’ marriages that may involve sex and quiverfulls and all the disguises that might pass for a marital union:
    where’s the love?

    It’s not there.

    And there’s a reason that these marriages don’t last and they have the highest divorce rate in the nation when the nation’s overall divorce rate has been plummeting. Atheists have happier marriages (according to statistics and studies) than these groups of “obey and submit” types.

  18. Velour wrote:

    Natalie Klejwa is being excommunicated from Bethelem Baptist for having the temerity to leave her abusive husband of many decades. She got NO help from Piper’s church. The pastors/elders recently lied about her to all of the church member

    Natalie has her own soap making business Apple Valley Natural Soap to support her and her children. (She also sells other body products. All excellent quality and lovely.) I try to order some soaps from her whenever I can. They also make nice gifts. http://www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com/

  19. This is exactly why the Christian book business is so ridiculous. They are written by men who live in bubbles.

  20. Loren Haas wrote:

    So how can Gary Thomas write such a popular book about marriage and not know how prevalent abuse is in marriage? I am truly puzzled that he was surprised to hear these stories. He obviously has little contact with real life marriages.

    Exactly.

  21. Christiane wrote:

    It’s possible that in patristic circles, complaining (of those who are supposed to be ‘submissive’) is frowned upon, or worse looked at as a sinful rebellion against ‘authority’

    I think that’s true in many circles, and I think there’s a particular reason for it.

    AWWBA, from Acts 6: In the early church, they had complaining… specifically, the widows among believers who came from Hellenistic / Jewish (essentially, “foreign”) regions were being overlooked in favour of those native to Judea. And they complained about it. The apostles, rather than write books and conference speeches sideswiping the complaining spirit in the church, and bewailing all the whiners and deadbeats in their churches, took the complaint on board and addressed it. There are several verses in Proverbs stating words to the effect that if you correct or even rebuke a wise man, he will love you for it, not resent you.

    The basic thing about me complaining to you (I mean “you” generically, not personally, of course) is that it means I’m claiming you’re wrong in some way and that you need to learn, change and do something differently. I’m rebuking you, and if you in turn are wise, you’ll love it.

    The pulpit attracts all kinds of people, and – as we are all too well aware – not all of them should be there. It seems that the typical young, rebellious and “reformed” man is not drawn to the pulpit because he loves correction – quite the opposite. The trouble with complainers is that they’re not always self-centred and spoilt. As likely as not, they’re drawing attention to a hole in our theology or our church structures or cultures that will take thinking and effort to fix. To which the easiest response is some version of “**** them”.

  22. Lydia wrote:

    This is exactly why the Christian book business is so ridiculous. They are written by men who live in bubbles.

    Ain’t that the truth. Those men are also in it for the money. Ditto for the radio programs that support the book industry and vice-versa.

  23. Velour wrote:

    Nothing has changed about John Piper’s sick and twisted theology about women and abuse, including at his former church Bethlehem Baptist in Minnesota (Piper retired from there).

    Not Piper, Gary Thomas.

    He may not have made all the changes yet, but there were people in the comments who took umbrance with specific things in his book, when he was saying there wasn’t. Specifically, that mutual submission is Biblical, and “Women submit and men love” can cause problems.

  24. Withholding my Name wrote:

    What’s my point? I think that the Church has done a huge disservice to marriages by preaching an erroneous message of submission that has hurt wives, husbands and children. Even those of use who are not enduring physical abuse may be suffering from verbal, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. “Submission” creates an erroneous facade with roles that both husbands and wives play which results in a lack of intimacy, honesty, integrity.

    Amen!

  25. I am very glad that Mr. Thomas sees this and has spoken out. I read this a week or two ago.

    I do not want to quibble, but I really dislike this marriage for holiness thing. I haven’t read enough of his stuff to comment fully on it though. I did want to say when I was reading the comments someone mentioned patriarchy negatively and he said something that I didn’t love. Maybe I’ll look it up later.

  26. Nancy2 wrote:

    Never mind what I said about Gary Thomas before

    Ha! Changed your mind in a few comments?

    Here is what i hope. I hope that people like his have their eyes opened to the damage. I read what comments were there before and I will probably read the new ones today if I have time. It seems like the sheer volume of comments from women to him is what shocked him. Will it be a momentary shock? Or will he really take it to heart, look over his teachings and the teachings of the church and thing hard?

    To me, there are a lot of similarities with the Tullian thing. Men in leadership simply aren’t LISTENING to women. They are talking and talking and high fiving their buddies, but they are ignoring what is right in front of them. There is something amiss.

    This is a step Gary has taken in the right direction. I believe steps should be encouraged. However, if this is the only step nothing will change.

  27. Lea wrote:

    To me, there are a lot of similarities with the Tullian thing. Men in leadership simply aren’t LISTENING to women. They are talking and talking and high fiving their buddies, but they are ignoring what is right in front of them. There is something amiss.

    Many of them aren’t listening on purpose. Too many Christian guys I’ve known have built up this marriage fantasy of a wife that cooks, cleans, takes care of all the kids, and has sex with him whenever he wants. Some of them even go so far to believe that his wife is going to financially support him, too, while he goes to school forever or pastors.

    I see some non-Christian guys with this fantasy, but compared to Christians, very few. And then most of these guys just complain and complain that Christian women don’t like them (because they’re meanies!). Then those guys either get divorced after 2-3 years, or they turn around and have an affair with someone younger, who they can reimagine their fantasy with.

    I think the church has been reinforcing this fantasy, while not being honest about what marriage really entails. I think it does the same thing with Christian women, about finding a knight in shining armor who is going to defend her and love her at all costs.

    That’s one reason why Sacred Marriage became an issue to so many people. It wasn’t honest enough about the problems and difficulties of marriage, and it dumped those difficulties on women to submit, but not even close to enough on men. Just once I’d like to see a Christian marriage book scare the stuffing out of people when it came to marriage. It’s the only thing that will break these stupid fantasies.

  28. Just realized how incompatible the fantasies really are. Both really want someone completely devoted to their own needs. There’s no way that could work.

  29. One of your better finds Deb.

    As far as Gary's old book, it may have not been as distinct in his views as they are today, I'll give him a pass on it. We all change as we get older, and if we allow that age to teach us something we see clearer. Unlike our friend in the video.

  30. Oh man, so in my small group we are doing a video series based on Thomas’s Sacred Marriage book. There is so much wrong with it.

    In the video, he talks about a woman who came to him to talk about a “difficult marriage” and he cuts her off, saying “difficult marriage is redundant”. This makes me SO ANGRY. In his retelling of this story, he doesn’t wait for her to expound, and he doesn’t seem to understand that for many, “difficult marriage” is code for “abuse”, or at the very least an awakening stage that something is not OK. Instead, he just writes off her words and explains her situation away as “typical”.

    And then he proceeds to talk about Abraham Lincoln and his wife who he goes through great pains to demonstrate as an awful women, and then talks about how God CHOSE this spouse to grieve Lincoln to make him great an be an amazing president. What conclusions is he expecting abuse victims to draw when he speaks positively about a wife coming into her husband’s meetings and throwing a glass of water on him?

    So yeah, churches may be abusing this teaching, but can you blame them? Is it so crazy to think after hearing such things that an abused spouse should “suck it up and be holy”? And how many people won’t realize they are in an abusive marriage because they are so focused on being holy, they don’t acknowledge their real pain and suffering? I know, cause I was there.

    I do believe he is fed up with abuse, but he also doesn’t see how he has very much been a contributor. Stuff like “difficult marriage is redundant” is a lie that plagues the Christian world. When we did the questions after the video, our group leaders actually told my wife and I we should talk about our current marriages, not our previous ones. We said “Our current marriage isn’t difficult- if we are talking about growth because of a difficult spouse, that was what happened before. This marriage is awesome!”

    Also, the whole notion of “God wants you to be holy, not happy” is not only a recepie for abusers to have their way, it’s also easily unbiblical. Marriage was given pre-fall, so its primary purpose CAN’T be making people holy (because they already were).

    I left a comment under this blog post praising his rant, but pointing out how problematic his teaching is, but apparently he didn’t publish it because I can’t find it.

  31. Regarding the extent to which Sacred Marriage supports or condones abuse…

    Well, very few men are going to stand up and say, sure my book supports and condones abuse – abuse is a great way to replace your happiness with holiness. Even the current US President-elect has his reasons for wishing people to believe his respect for women is the joint-greatest in the world.

    But women are saying that Sacred Marriage has enabled or worsened their intra-marital abuse. There may even be men who have found likewise. These people’s stories are evidence that has to be considered. Specifically, they are evidence that the book does support abuse, whether Mr Thomas intended it to or not. (While at Cambridge, during a chemistry lab session I set fire to a small drop of acetone on the bench. I didn’t intend to set fire to the much larger pool of acetone in the sink and thereby cause four-foot-high flames to leap therefrom. Some people would say that I should have foreseen this.)

    So it is a good thing that Gary Thomas has made – for his culture – a radical step towards saying that love matters, and that sometimes love demands we “man up” (as the saying goes) and take a bold decision against the rules. I also hope he takes the next step.

  32. Both my husband and I have siblings that have been divorced and remarried. Our siblings endured things in their marriages that only they will ever truly know. Do we think they were right in that they remarried. Of course we do. Both have been remarried for 20 yrs or so. Do I think divorce is wrong. No. But on the other hand, in today’s society, people seem to be divorcing for no reason at all (aka celebrities). If God truly sends people to hell for remarriage, then he is not the God I worship and love. See, I believe that God loves me beyond what I can comprehend. He wants the best for me. If that means that someone has to leave their marriage and then remarry to have what’s best for them, who are we to stop them. God loves women just as much an equally as he does men.He doesn’t want us to suffer abuse of any kind. If you are divorced and remarried I am not about to tell you that it’ wrong in God’s eyes. God is the judge, not me. I haven’t read this man’s books, but the title of the article “Enough is Enough”, says it all. Abuse of any kind has to stop, no matter what man may say or do. Enough is Enough.

  33. Withholding my Name wrote:

    I think that the Church has done a huge disservice to marriages by preaching an erroneous message of submission that has hurt wives, husbands and children.

    I completely agree with you and thank you for sharing your stories.

    I’m not married, so I haven’t any experience with this, but even in other relationships, setting boundaries of what is and isn’t acceptable early can stop a lot of problems down the road. Telling women not to do this is damaging to them and to men as well. Men are not little gods, wives are not slaves or children. It does none of us any good to treat them that way.

  34. My wife and I told our small group leaders that this study was “poison” and potentially damaging for marriages. They really don’t understand where we’re coming from though. It’s actually been quite the source of some trouble the last few weeks (in group, I dissented against the teaching of “God wants to make you holy more than he wants to make you happy).

    From his rant, and even things he’s said before this, I do believe Thomas genuinely cares about abuse victims. But I also think, based on the information in the video we are watching, he isn’t qualified to teach about relationships. This is some very risky stuff, and not based on either the Bible or on science and research.

    “Difficult marriage is redundant” is such a low view of marriage, it makes my heart said 🙁

    Regarding giving him a pass for this, as long as it is being sold and used as a guide for marriage, he only gets a pass when he pulls it or disowns it. Saying “this isn’t intended for abuse cases” isn’t enough, imo (though I’m glad he’s gone that far).

  35. Jeff S wrote:

    I left a comment under this blog post praising his rant, but pointing out how problematic his teaching is, but apparently he didn’t publish it because I can’t find it.

    I was reading your post and going to say that you should comment on his post, but suddenly I realize that all the comments that he dismissed with “If you can find the place in the book where it says that…” were from women. Now I’m annoyed.

    I did see a couple comments that pointed at mutual submission as being more Biblical. Maybe those slipped through.

    Nobody in Christian marriage books ever talks about Ephesians 5:21. It’s like Fight Club.

  36. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    I’m rebuking you, and if you in turn are wise, you’ll love it.

    Yes. Exactly. If you are wise, you want to learn. You listen. You evaluate.

    IF you are wise. IF.

  37. Having stayed in a bad relationship, I think it’s a combination of factors, not just one book.

    1. An authoritarian childhood. If you were brought up to obey your parents blindly — not to think, but just toe the line and follow the rules, both spoken and unspoken, you are a target for all kinds of abuse.

    2. An authoritarian church. If you were judged — and people were marginalized — for not following the rules perfectly, you are set up for codependent one-way relationships.

    3. An authoritarian marriage. If you are taught men are always right (even when they are wrong, sinful, and selfish) or that you must love and give everything to your wife, you will end up abused, disrespected and ignored.

    These teachings have logical consequences: They lead to abuse, domination, and negativity.

    ANY book that hints at topics such as long-suffering or duty, becomes — in the mind of a person who was raised authoritarian home — yet another demand for just shutting up and accepting abuse and disrespect.

    We all know marriage takes work, patience and forgiveness, but in the mind of the person who was brought up in a strict authoritarian culture, there is no limit to the type of bad behavior you must endure.

    That’s not God’s way. It’s not the way of love.

  38. Jeff S wrote:

    My wife and I told our small group leaders that this study was “poison” and potentially damaging for marriages. They really don’t understand where we’re coming from though.

    I will say, one thing I’ve noticed reading the Cry for Justice blog (which I guess is rather a basic point) is that the experience of abuse colors the way you hear things that may even be completely innocuous in other situations. And for someone who hasn’t experienced it, it may just be so far from their worldview that they are incapable of seeing it that way.

    And furthermore, what is good advice for a normal problem is terrible advice for an abusive situation. Which is why people really need to listen to the way their advice absolutely does not work in these situations and start giving caveats.

  39. Deb wrote:

    @ Velour:
    Has Natalie officially be excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist? I’m not up-to-date on her situation.

    Deb, I’ve been following Natalie’s story and announcements on Facebook. She hasn’t been officially excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist yet, but the pastors/elders are getting there. Some friends/church members of hers took notes at the latest big announcement about her. All lies from the pastors/elders. Despicable. Like the poor woman hasn’t been through enough in a bad marriage.

  40. ishy wrote:

    suddenly I realize that all the comments that he dismissed with “If you can find the place in the book where it says that…” were from women.

    He’s taking it personally, when this is the place where he should be LISTENING.

  41. Jeff S wrote:

    In the video, he talks about a woman who came to him to talk about a “difficult marriage” and he cuts her off, saying “difficult marriage is redundant”. This makes me SO ANGRY. In his retelling of this story, he doesn’t wait for her to expound, and he doesn’t seem to understand that for many, “difficult marriage” is code for “abuse”, or at the very least an awakening stage that something is not OK. Instead, he just writes off her words and explains her situation away as “typical”.

    My snotty ex-senior pastor at Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley would say from the pulpit that he had no idea what ’emotional abuse’ was and he would laugh from the pulpit saying there is ‘no such thing’. Curiously scores of former members – men and women, all ages, all professions – accuse him of this very thing.

    He must be a monster to live with because he’s a monster at church to dear Christians.

  42. Janey wrote:

    Having stayed in a bad relationship, I think it’s a combination of factors, not just one book.
    1. An authoritarian childhood. If you were brought up to obey your parents blindly — not to think, but just toe the line and follow the rules, both spoken and unspoken, you are a target for all kinds of abuse.
    2. An authoritarian church. If you were judged — and people were marginalized — for not following the rules perfectly, you are set up for codependent one-way relationships.
    3. An authoritarian marriage. If you are taught men are always right (even when they are wrong, sinful, and selfish) or that you must love and give everything to your wife, you will end up abused, disrespected and ignored.
    These teachings have logical consequences: They lead to abuse, domination, and negativity.
    ANY book that hints at topics such as long-suffering or duty, becomes — in the mind of a person who was raised authoritarian home — yet another demand for just shutting up and accepting abuse and disrespect.
    We all know marriage takes work, patience and forgiveness, but in the mind of the person who was brought up in a strict authoritarian culture, there is no limit to the type of bad behavior you must endure.
    That’s not God’s way. It’s not the way of love.

    This would make an excellent article.

    (Daisy had made some of the same points about authoritarian churches and families setting people up for abuse, including at work and in friendships.)

  43. Lea wrote:

    ishy wrote:
    suddenly I realize that all the comments that he dismissed with “If you can find the place in the book where it says that…” were from women.
    He’s taking it personally, when this is the place where he should be LISTENING.

    But if Jeff’s comment didn’t get approved, then he’s actively choosing women to dismiss publicly while hiding the fact that there are men that have problems with the things he says.

  44. Gary Thomas can tell people that there’s nothing in his book Sacred Marriage that supports abuse, but he needs to realize that he’s part of the abuse problem in the evangelical church. When his book was first published back in 2000 my (former) pastor said it was one of the most important books about marriage he’d ever read. He then proceeded to regularly state from the pulpit that marriage does not exist to make us happy. Marriage was created by God to increase our holiness. That’s the point that my pastor took away from Sacred Marriage.

    So when I had difficulties in my marriage those things were sent from God. I was supposed endure these trials because they made me more holy. Who would ever walk away from a situation that increased your sanctification? Why would I ever have a problem when my “holiness” was being increased daily. My husband never hit me–that would be abuse. His demands that I have a perfect home and perfect children and that I serve my church by teaching Sunday School with him were for my own good. His anger when I didn’t meet his impossible and unknowable expectations was justified. Right? The whole point of marriage is to make me more holy, and my husband was encouraging me to do good works. If I ever challenged my husband or complained about anything he told me that I was sinning.

    When my husband accused me of having an affair it was obviously because I’d made him feel insecure in the relationship. I needed to double down on my attempts to be simultaneously very attractive to my husband and invisible to other men. That’s how a woman becomes holy.

    As the years went by my husband became more and more entitled. He thought he could do or say whatever he wanted and it was my job to serve him. Our children existed to make him look good and do his bidding. There was no escape. I was doing God’s will because “God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.” I was desperately unhappy. And in the end I was suicidal. I wanted to die because of the pervasive emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse I was enduring.

    The end of the story is that I eventually divorced my husband because he was having an affair, two of my five children are atheists, and I’m done with church. I believe that my failure to hold my husband accountable for his actions encouraged him to be more abusive. That time he accused me of having an affair? I suspect he was having an affair back then, too. They call it Projection.

    In the meantime, Gary Thomas has made a lot of money with his Sacred “Whatever” books.

    I’m glad his eyes have been opened to the abuse that’s rampant in evangelical marriages. He needs to change his message and become an advocate for abused women. There are many of us out here.

  45. ishy wrote:

    But if Jeff’s comment didn’t get approved, then he’s actively choosing women to dismiss publicly while hiding the fact that there are men that have problems with the things he says.

    I don’t know. I do think some of the pastor types are more vicious with women than men in comment sections. Definitely more condescending.

    Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Marriage was created by God to increase our holiness.

    In addition to all the abuse issues, it certainly leaves single people in the dust. I know some terribly unholy married people. I think that’s nonsense.

  46. @ Deb:

    I didn’t. It wasn’t as aggressive as the comment I just left. It didn’t occur to me it wouldn’t get published. And, honestly, the fact that he did publish some others leads me to think maybe there was a problem on my end.

    However, here is what I just left:

    [quote]
    Somehow, it seems like a previous post didn’t go through. So I’m going to try again.

    Gary Thomas, I believe you are genuinely sickened by what abuse victims endure, and I appreciate that. However, in my small group we are going through a video series by you based on your Sacred Marriage book, and I can tell you many of the things you teach in that book can contribute to abusive environments.

    In the video, you say “difficult marriage is redundant”, and in recounting the story about a woman telling you she was in a difficult marriage, you cut her off to say this. It seems you do not understand that “difficult marriage” is often either code for abuse, or it is the awakening stages of a victim beginning to understand that his/her marriage is not OK and something is wrong. At the very least, such a statement must NOT be written off as “you’ve told me nothing”; it needs to be investigated and understood.

    And not all marriages are difficult. I am remarried now, and my marriage is far from difficult. My previous marriage was “difficult”. Being a single parent was “difficult”. My current marriage is empowering, live giving, and full of grace.

    In the video you talk about Abraham Lincoln and you go through great pains to paint his wife as a very hard woman. You describe behaviors like her walking into a meeting and throwing a glass of water at him. And then, you state clearly that God gave Lincoln this women for his betterment. How do you expect abuse victims to hear this? How are they NOT to think this is for them?

    You say that churches are misusing your materials, but it’s a pretty natural conclusion when you use an example of a woman putting her husband through a lifetime of hell for his betterment, that abuse victims should seek “holiness” (sticking it out and enduring) over “happiness”.

    These ideas were used very destructively in my life. I desensitized myself to any pain I was feeling in order to seek holiness. It wasn’t even your materials my churches used, but the ideas are very familiar. And now I’m watching the video and I know exactly how an abuse victim would react, and also what the community trying to support that victim with do with it. And it’s not in a way consistent with your rant here. It’s not what you want.

    But these are your words and your teachings, still being used today, and they are hurting people.
    [/quote]

  47. Every time I view this video on Piper’s counsel for abused women to “endure being smacked”, the following Scripture pops into my mind:

    “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

    This passage does not say that Satan ‘is’ an angel of light, but that he sometimes puts on a disguise to make it look like he speaks for good instead of evil. The devil does his best deception within the ministry. TWW continues to expose the enemy’s masquerade.

  48. Jeff S wrote:

    @ Deb:
    I didn’t. It wasn’t as aggressive as the comment I just left. It didn’t occur to me it wouldn’t get published. And, honestly, the fact that he did publish some others leads me to think maybe there was a problem on my end.

    I didn’t see any comments that gave specifics on the problems in his book, aside from the few that mentioned mutual submission. Which leads me to think he’s just not publishing those, and then claiming nobody actually can critique his book.

    If that one doesn’t go through, you should post a review where it really might hurt — Amazon.

  49. Lea wrote:

    And furthermore, what is good advice for a normal problem is terrible advice for an abusive situation.

    This is something my wife and I have discussed a lot since watching the video. Full disclosure, I was triggered a lot harder than she was. But she said “we’ve experienced the extremes- abusive marriages and an amazing one, but what if this is good for what is in between?”

    And the thing I have to ask is, in what way is what he teaching going to help marriages? What is the measure of success? Because this whole “be holy more than happy” is a desensitizing to emotions, and I do not think that is good in ANY relationship. I know what he wants to address- he’s trying to get people to not look at their spouse as a fulfiller of their needs and wants. To own their problems and seek the good and grace.

    I think a good understanding of boundaries would accomplish what he’s trying to get at, and do it in a way that does not aid abusers. That is, if I’m looking at someone else to fulfill my sense of self worth, and angry when they don’t, then I have a boundary issue, because it’s not my spouses job or responsibility. But boundaries will also help me recognize when the pain I’m experiencing is coming from my spouse and invading what is ME, whereas his take might make me thing it’s time to suck it up and be holy.

  50. Velour wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    @ Velour:
    Has Natalie officially be excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist? I’m not up-to-date on her situation.
    Deb, I’ve been following Natalie’s story and announcements on Facebook. She hasn’t been officially excommunicated from Bethlehem Baptist yet, but the pastors/elders are getting there. Some friends/church members of hers took notes at the latest big announcement about her. All lies from the pastors/elders. Despicable. Like the poor woman hasn’t been through enough in a bad marriage.

    Why doesn’t she send a resignation letter and tell the church to cease speaking about her behind her back, or at all, or they will be sued?

  51. Lea wrote:

    I don’t know. I do think some of the pastor types are more vicious with women than men in comment sections. Definitely more condescending.

    I was speaking specifically about the comments on Gary’s post, not so much in general. They seem either praising or vague or easily dismissed. And all of ones he dismissed that I saw were written by women. So either he’s not letting through male comments that have critiques, or not letting through any comments that have specific criticisms.

  52. Honestly, it seems like the workaround for Piper’s approach is to murder the abusive husband, dispose of the corpse at a pig farm, ask for forgiveness from the one-time individual sin of murder, and move on with your life and marry someone better. I mean, seriously – from their theological approach the person who did that would be in much better shape than the person who divorces and remarries, thus committing a continuous and ongoing sin of divorce (at least, until the original spouse dies).

  53. Jeff S wrote:

    I think a good understanding of boundaries would accomplish what he’s trying to get at, and do it in a way that does not aid abusers. That is, if I’m looking at someone else to fulfill my sense of self worth, and angry when they don’t, then I have a boundary issue, because it’s not my spouses job or responsibility. But boundaries will also help me recognize when the pain I’m experiencing is coming from my spouse and invading what is ME, whereas his take might make me thing it’s time to suck it up and be holy.

    He doesn’t understand abuse.at.all to begin with, so he doesn’t understand how what he has written can lead to problems, even in a healthy marriage. YES, healthy marriages can be damaged when a book like this is taken as truth!

    So many people are so unqualified to write books. They do more harm than good. If only they would stop trying to make money . . .

  54. ” … church leadership is misusing Thomas’ book Sacred Marriage to guilt wives into staying with their abusive husbands …”

    Actually, this is a problem with most Christian literature. If a preacher/teacher will twist Scripture to fit his personal belief system, he would have no problem adapting popular books to suit his fancy. A good example of this is LifeWay’s “The Gospel Project” Sunday School literature used in SBC churches and elsewhere. Written exclusively by New Calvinists, it contains subtle indoctrination to reformed tenets. However, a good non-Calvinist teacher can use the same material and weave his way around aberrant teachings through Spirit-led exegesis of Scripture, rather than eisegesis with an agenda to indoctrinate.

    When someone recommends a “Christian” book to me, I always put it before the Lord in prayer. If I start reading something and find myself in doubt about what is coming off the page into my mind, I use the following principal that has kept me from chasing rabbits too far: “When in doubt, don’t!” So I lay the book down. This same principal has delivered me from making various mistakes during my Christian journey, as I continually test the water about me.

  55. Jeff S wrote:

    Because this whole “be holy more than happy” is a desensitizing to emotions, and I do not think that is good in ANY relationship.

    Oh, I’m not talking about that at all! I think that concept is deeply stupid.

    I just mean that to be about general advice, like being nice to your spouse and doing something for them, etc, might be good for a normal problem, not abuse. I haven’t read Thomas’s books so I don’t know what else he said.

  56. @ Max:

    I actually told our small group up front I didn’t want to do a marriage study (I think so many are awful). Nevertheless, we ended up doing this one. When I renewed my objection, I was told “it’s a small group of married couples- it’s a given we’re going to do a marriage study”.

    It’s disheartening, because all we wanted to do was just connect with other Christians. Whey does it have to include a marriage study? And yes, I understand we won’t always agree on what study we want to do, but I’d think we shouldn’t to something that someone in the group actually thinks is *harmful*.

    I know the leaders of this group are just facilitators and so I’m not really upset with them. Just the situation. It’s hard going and having to deal with teaching I think is hurting people 🙁

    If I never do another marriage Bible study again, it will be too soon.

  57. @ Lea:

    Definitely. The whole “What if God wants you to be holy more than he wants you to happy?” is kind of the main thrust, so my wife and I have just spent a lot of time discussing if this concept can be applied in a healthy way at any level.

    But you are right- a lot of what works in a healthy couple just becomes something completely different when there is abuse. And the point that is missed, I think, is often we don’t know when there IS abuse. Regarding the Bible study I’m in, when they say “well this isn’t for abuse cases”, I have to ask “how do you know?” A marriage can look really good on the outside, but behind closed doors someone might be dying inside 🙁

  58. ishy wrote:

    I was speaking specifically about the comments on Gary’s post, not so much in general.

    I am catching up on them so I didn’t want to comment too specifically yet. The only one I remember from before is the one where he defended patriarchy, and I did see one where he defended comp. But then he kind of said mutual submission is right, but not really? Confusing. Nobody tells husbands to submit, consistently, in the evangelical community. So, maybe address that.

  59. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Marriage was created by God to increase our holiness.

    Wrong.
    The only thing that can make me holy is the sacrifice of Jesus, His death and resurrection, His precious blood that was shed.
    They have made an idol of marriage, because they have equated marriage with the sacrifice of Jesus and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

  60. ishy wrote:

    . They seem either praising or vague or easily dismissed.

    I did just see one where he both praised the comments from a lady named Becky giving some really good and specific advice regarding couples counseling and abuse being a bad idea (and some other things) and stated that he is not a trained therapist and doesn’t have a lot of experience with this! What is this guys background that made him decide to write this book? He is married?

  61. Gary Thomas, thank you so much for your compassion and for speaking out.

    Elizabeth and Jill & their churches and church leaders were influenced by your book “Sacred Marriage”. They remained in abusive marriages because of your book. No doubt the religious pressure was great.

    You say that nothing in the book condones abuse. “If you can find a passage that does, please let me know as I’d want to amend it immediately. The pursuit of holiness has nothing to do with abusing or staying in an abusive relationship.”

    I believe you. Nothing in your book explicitly condones abuse. You are a person of influence. Clearly, christians take stock in what you say. You need to realize that they don’t consider what you didn’t say.

    I have observed christian people of influence spout off all manner of declarations with such ease for how to live one’s life, totally oblivious to the potentially harmful implications for the christians who absorb them. It is irresponsible.

    Given the tremendous amount of pressure christian culture puts on marriages & hearing from people like Elizabeth & Jill, I suspect I am justified in feeling that your book is also irresponsible.

  62. Lea wrote:

    The only one I remember from before is the one where he defended patriarchy, and I did see one where he defended comp. But then he kind of said mutual submission is right, but not really? Confusing. Nobody tells husbands to submit, consistently, in the evangelical community. So, maybe address that.

    Yeah, he definitely waffles from one extreme to another. But maybe it means he’s starting to rethink his whole philosophy?

    I don’t know if posting right after you realize something is always the best policy. It will come off half-baked.

    Time will tell if he lets Jeff’s second comment through, and then we’ll know if he’s really hiding the fact that there are criticisms by silencing them, or if he really does want to listen.

  63. Lea wrote:

    What is this guys background that made him decide to write this book? He is married?

    I suddenly have deja vu. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, anyone?

    I have two published fiction books, and after a number of years in writers’ groups, I can tell you, if people think they can get paid by writing a book, even if they have no experience with it, they will still write it and try to get a platform on it.

    And Christian publishers love to publish the most stereotypical stuff. But trade secret–most of them are owned by secular publishing companies. They only want to sell books. They care not one whit about God.

  64. One of the things I’ve noticed in reading these stories is that many have had men change radically on their honeymoon. I don’t know if anyone is teaching this to women, but that is clearly a grade a Bad Sign! That means the entire previous relationship was a conscious deceit. Maybe those are good candidates for annulment.

  65. Jeff S wrote:

    It’s disheartening, because all we wanted to do was just connect with other Christians. Why does it have to include a marriage study?

    Yep. This is all too common. Church leaders think the only way to get folks interested in Bible study is to throw some canned program at them. I’m sure the early church enjoyed their time with each other by meeting, praying, sharing testimonies, studying God’s Word, listening to the Holy Spirit speak through others, and just fellowshipping with other believers with a common bond of love. They probably didn’t sit around doing marriage studies or going through 12-week courses on what it’s like to be a Christian. They already knew.

  66. Lea wrote:

    One of the things I’ve noticed in reading these stories is that many have had men change radically on their honeymoon. I don’t know if anyone is teaching this to women, but that is clearly a grade a Bad Sign!

    i.e. “I’ve got it, she’s mine, she can’t leave, I can finally take off the Angel of Light mask.”

  67. elastigirl wrote:

    I have observed christian people of influence spout off all manner of declarations with such ease for how to live one’s life, totally oblivious to the potentially harmful implications for the christians who absorb them. It is irresponsible.

    Remember Job’s Counselors.
    It’s always those who have NEVER been there who are first with the glib platitudes and wagging-finger lectures for those who ARE.

  68. https://www.amazon.com/Sacred-Influence-Wives-Shape-Husbands/product-reviews/031027768X/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_viewpnt_rgt?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=avp_only_reviews&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=helpful&filterByStar=critical&pageNumber=1
    Critical reviews on one of GT books.
    There are a lot of positive reviews, but. ……….. those reviews seem to be directed towards women not understanding their “roles” as submitters and helpers. Several say it’s a good book, but they would not recommend it for marriages where abuse occurs.

  69. Max wrote:

    “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
    This passage does not say that Satan ‘is’ an angel of light, but that he sometimes puts on a disguise to make it look like he speaks for good instead of evil.

    My take on this is the Rabbi from Tarsus is speaking of how successful sociopaths are masters of camouflage.

    The devil does his best deception within the ministry.

    “Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the altar!”
    — Screwtape

  70. Velour wrote:

    Some friends/church members of hers took notes at the latest big announcement about her. All lies from the pastors/elders. Despicable. Like the poor woman hasn’t been through enough in a bad marriage.

    But PASTOR and Elders have to Make an Example of her.
    Otherwise their own wives might get ideas?

  71. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    (While at Cambridge, during a chemistry lab session I set fire to a small drop of acetone on the bench. I didn’t intend to set fire to the much larger pool of acetone in the sink…)

    This is called “FOOM!”

  72. ishy wrote:

    I think the church has been reinforcing this fantasy, while not being honest about what marriage really entails. I think it does the same thing with Christian women, about finding a knight in shining armor who is going to defend her and love her at all costs.

    I think Ishy has hit the core of the problem.

    Breeding Unrealistic Expectations — just like pornography, but in the opposite direction.
    (Or is it so opposite?)

  73. From reading the above comments of various women who endured Thomas’ teachings on “Sacred Marriage”, it’s clear that their experiences were anything but sacred! Whether or not Thomas’ words were twisted by authoritarian teachers and spouses to keep women under un-Biblical submission, matters not. In their cases, the book served to affirm in the minds of some men that they were on track in the unhealthy treatment of their wives. Pursuing holiness never has an “It’s OK to abuse people” element to it! Perhaps Thomas now realizes that his book has been used by some folks wrongly and his “Enough is Enough” campaign is a way to redeem himself.

  74. Jeff S wrote:

    Marriage was given pre-fall, so its primary purpose CAN’T be making people holy (because they already were).

    Good point.
    I was thinking …… (and I know I’m going off the rails here, but ….). Certain animal species choose one mate for life. Does that make those species more holy?

  75. @ Nancy2:

    Goodness, that books from 2007!

    There seem to be an awful lot of people writing books about how to fix your marriage, without actually knowing very much about bad marriages! That was written almost 10 years ago and he’s just now figuring out about abuse??

    Oy. I want to give people credit for learning. And I do. But maybe do some research before you start giving advice. Sheesh.

    Also, from the reviews Nancy, this one from a guy cracks me up: “This book is so full of insights and help for any wife who wants to encourage her husband to grow and mature spiritually without frustrating him. Gary’s uniquely male insights for wifes tops any book I have read by a female author.”

    No wonder he likes it! It tells wives just to be nice to him, without any of the messy insight into women and what they might actually want one sees from a female author.

  76. As I reflect further on this whole matter, I’m left with the thought this morning that we have far too many teachers in the American church … presenting too many conferences, writing too many books, and serving up too many canned studies. Yep, we don’t need any more Christian teachers, we need more Gospel preachers! And we don’t need The Gospel Coalition (= The Gospel Cartel) telling us what the gospel is! We need to just flush it all and get alone with our Bible, seeking the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth. It’s getting really hard to do that in the institutional church.

  77. @ Nancy2:

    Did you see this one?

    For example, sections titled, “Cover for him”, Becoming more pleasant”, & “The most delicious woman in France” (where Mr. Thomas actually uses the character of a “mistress as an example of GODLY CHRISTIAN wife”- his own admission in quotes.p.116) do not discuss shaping the souls of husbands.

    WTH???

  78. Jeff S wrote:

    Because this whole “be holy more than happy” is a desensitizing to emotions, and I do not think that is good in ANY relationship.

    As well as begging the question “What is Holy?”

    If you’re like Kirk Cameron, “Holy” is keeping your nose squeeky-cleen to pass the Rapture Litmus Test with an ever-increasing list of “Thou Shalt Nots”.

    If you’re on the outside looking in, “Holy” is The Church Lady from SNL, always counting coup on Heathen/Heretics/Lukewarms like you & me.

    If you’re in ISISstan, “Holy” is Shari’a, the stricter and harsher the Holier.

  79. Lea wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Did you see this one?

    For example, sections titled, “Cover for him”, Becoming more pleasant”, & “The most delicious woman in France” (where Mr. Thomas actually uses the character of a “mistress as an example of GODLY CHRISTIAN wife”- his own admission in quotes.p.116) do not discuss shaping the souls of husbands.

    WTH???

    I think we are getting a peek into the ManaGAWD’s own sexual fetishes/fantasies.

  80. Jeff S wrote:

    In the video, you say “difficult marriage is redundant”…

    How about, “Difficult life is redundant”? Thank you Jeff, for pointing out that marriage is supposed to be a stabilizing force in the face of life’s difficulties, not merely another cross to bear.

    Someone mentioned a scene at church, where the pastor dude was greeting people in a pew, shaking the hands of the guys, and skipping the women, as if they weren’t there. And it made me wonder, what if Gary had been at a conference with men and women, especially husbands and wives? Would the women have felt free to tell him these horrible stories? Would he have heard them?

  81. Lea wrote:

    Did you see this one?
    For example, sections titled, “Cover for him”, Becoming more pleasant”, & “The most delicious woman in France” (where Mr. Thomas actually uses the character of a “mistress as an example of GODLY CHRISTIAN wife”- his own admission in quotes.p.116) do not discuss shaping the souls of husbands.
    WTH???

    Oh, yeah!
    This was, I believe, the 2nd one of the positive comments. Just the first two positive comments convinced me that GT doesn’t have a high view of women.

  82. Lea wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    Did you see this one?
    For example, sections titled, “Cover for him”, Becoming more pleasant”, & “The most delicious woman in France” (where Mr. Thomas actually uses the character of a “mistress as an example of GODLY CHRISTIAN wife”- his own admission in quotes.p.116) do not discuss shaping the souls of husbands.
    WTH???

    Those titles are repulsive on many levels. And using the character of a mistress as an example for a Godly Christian wife . . . no words 🙁

  83. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    “Nowhere do we corrupt so effectively as at the very foot of the altar!”
    — Screwtape

    HUG, in case folks missed this quote embedded in your upstream comment, I repeat it here. The American church has been corrupted because the American pulpit has offered up strange fire from the altar in far too many places.

  84. GSD wrote:

    Someone mentioned a scene at church, where the pastor dude was greeting people in a pew, shaking the hands of the guys, and skipping the women, as if they weren’t there. And it made me wonder, what if Gary had been at a conference with men and women, especially husbands and wives? Would the women have felt free to tell him these horrible stories? Would he have heard them?

    GSD, I am the “someone” who made that comment – this condescending attitude by a young “pastor dude” was a sad thing to behold (sadder still, there are so many more like him in the reformed movement). We need to remember that Gary Thomas is a New Calvinist and a proponent of complementarianism. I would fully expect him, in a mixed crowd, to elevate men and subordinate women – bless their hearts, that’s just what they do. I doubt that women in that setting would feel free to speak directly to him, or that he would turn an ear their way. But, giving him the benefit of further doubt, perhaps his “Enough is Enough” campaign is genuine and he is attempting to reverse the curse that has fallen on some readers of his book.

  85. GSD wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    In the video, you say “difficult marriage is redundant”…
    How about, “Difficult life is redundant”?

    Reading through his comments, this comes up. It seems like he makes a distinction between ‘difficult’ and abusive, but it is fairly unrealistic for him to expect everyone in the world to keep those things distinct. Difficult can have a wide range of meaning for people. Some people who fill out surveys 1-5 go straight to the ends (1/5) and some gravitate to the middle, regardless of circumstances. It’s the same with language.

  86. “The reason I share the above information is to demonstrate that there is a range of pastoral views regarding divorce. Some pastors believe divorce is NEVER allowed, advocating ONLY for separation and then hopefully reconciliation. Some permit divorce as a last resort, while prohibiting remarriage. And there are a number of pastors who allow parishioners to divorce and remarry in certain circumstances like adultery and spousal abuse.”

    This has to be very confusing for an abused wife seeking counsel. In a large church like BB, the pastors really should try and come to agreement on what they believe and how they will counsel people in the areas of divorce and remarriage. If part of a denomination with an official stance on these, is everyone on board? The last thing people in bad situations need is conflicting teaching and advice.

  87. Lea wrote:

    GSD wrote:
    Jeff S wrote:
    In the video, you say “difficult marriage is redundant”…
    How about, “Difficult life is redundant”?
    Reading through his comments, this comes up. It seems like he makes a distinction between ‘difficult’ and abusive, but it is fairly unrealistic for him to expect everyone in the world to keep those things distinct. Difficult can have a wide range of meaning for people. Some people who fill out surveys 1-5 go straight to the ends (1/5) and some gravitate to the middle, regardless of circumstances. It’s the same with language.

    The problem in the video is, he stops the woman from saying anything after her “marriage was difficult” in order to impart the wisdom to her that “difficult marriage is redundant”. If he’d allowed her to explain, and THEN followed with that statement after she complained about something that was in the non-abusive realm, it wouldn’t bother me as much (“as much”, because I still find the notion of my current marriage being “difficult” as silly. My current marriage empowers me to face the world so much better, so there’s at least one example I know of a non-“difficult” marriage). In his presentation, “I’m in a difficult marriage” is all he needs to know about a situation before he can start offering sage wisdom.

    But to double down, he then followed it up with a description of Lincoln’s marriage that SOUNDED (at least as he described it) abusive. What are we supposed to think he’s getting at?

    If he’s unaware that some people use the word “difficult” to describe “abuse”, then he needs to learn more before he teaches. And using the example he did didn’t do him any favors. Either way, the way he presented the concept of “difficult marriage is redundant” was in the context of shutting a woman down who was seeking his wisdom.

    I reacted to this moment in the video quite strongly because there was a time that my former pastor’s wife met me in the waiting room at a hospital after one of my wife’s episodes. And I was just in tears and spent 15 minutes just detailing the hell that I was in. And after all was said and done, hearing all the details, she looked at me and said “Everyone goes through this- marriage is hard”. That wrecked me. It was like she wasn’t even listening, because I didn’t believe for a second that everyone’s marriage was like mine (and now I now for certain it isn’t- my second marriage is night and day different from that).

    Gary Thomas has no idea what a knife through the heart such a statement can feel like when uttered to someone in deep despair. And that’s why I hope he can listen and understand.

    He’s one of the few who actually has added “this is not for abuse situations” type disclaimers. He endorsed my friend’s book about abusive relationships. He wrote the “enough is enough” blog post. So my comments are not to oppose him, but I hope educate him to what it feels like to be on the receiving end of what he’s saying.

  88. Lea wrote:
    One of the things I’ve noticed in reading these stories is that many have had men change radically on their honeymoon. I don’t know if anyone is teaching this to women, but that is clearly a grade a Bad Sign!

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    i.e. “I’ve got it, she’s mine, she can’t leave, I can finally take off the Angel of Light mask.”

    Exactly. The first day of the honeymoon my ex-husband took off the mask. I was now a subordinate employee, not a partner. A divorced friend of mine recently referred to herself as her ex’s “support staff”.

  89. Another thing that irks me is pastors and other Christians giving advice/orders to the victim that are legally dangerous and/or deprive them of justice. Most if not all of them have never been lawyers in any state, and acting like it’s all good because “God’s law is higher than man’s law” and Christians are supposed to be a witness to the world in how they live, while pressuring vulnerable people to make decisions with consequences they themselves will not have to bear, is as foolish as it is callous. I have to wonder, is it the seminaries where pastors get the idea they can…?

    *practice law without a license

    *practice marriage counseling without a license

    *practice psychology without a license

    *practice psychiatry without a license

    *practice medicine without a license

    *practice financial planning without a license

    Have I forgotten any?

  90. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
    i.e. “I’ve got it, she’s mine, she can’t leave, I can finally take off the Angel of Light mask.”

    Exactly. The first day of the honeymoon my ex-husband took off the mask. I was now a subordinate employee, not a partner. A divorced friend of mine recently referred to herself as her ex’s “support staff”.

    I understand that some amount of “no longer feeling you have to be on your best behavior once you’ve said ‘I Do’ and have passed the finish line” is normal, but when combined with an abuser’s personality, things get a lot more extreme and a lot more ugly.

    More generally, this also reflects the widespread attitude of the actual wedding day as the goal, with little thought to the actual marriage afterwards. So much effort and energy expended “to GET married” with “BE married” downgraded to a generic afterthought.

  91. Jeff S wrote:

    He’s one of the few who actually has added “this is not for abuse situations” type disclaimers. He endorsed my friend’s book about abusive relationships. He wrote the “enough is enough” blog post. So my comments are not to oppose him, but I hope educate him to what it feels like to be on the receiving end of what he’s saying.

    And a “watchful waiting” attitude to see if he actually follows through or whether this is a sop or fluke before returning to the comp default “ME MAN!”

  92. Yes, the wedding as the goal line is definitely an issue.

    I don’t know if it’s related, but my second wedding we did for about $200- we invited everyone over to our house, had no attendants, and told people to bring food instead of gifts. We crammed 50 people into our living room and my wife and I and the pastor did our thing. We had a dance and then ate potluck. It was a great beginning. No sense of “relief” it was over, just the excitement of what was to come.

  93. I still don’t understand why anyone cares what John Piper says about anything. Did he just start pontificating one fine day, and people sucked it up? I don’t get it. I should add that there are a LOT of things I don’t get.

  94. On his blog post, “Enough is Enough,” Gary has responded in the following manner to women who say that his book guided (guilted?) them into staying in abusive marriages:

    “I can’t respond to a general attack. If you think there is a passage for which I need to repent in one of my previous books, I’m open to that if you point it out, but I don’t believe I’ve written anything before contradicts what I say in this blog post. Perhaps people have jumped to their own applications of my words, but I don’t see this as me saying something new.”

    I attempted to post a response which went into moderation. I can’t find it now, so I think it was rejected. Here is an edited version:

    Gary, staying in a difficult or abusive marriage is the whole premise of your book, no?

    A healthy marriage doesn’t need the advice that marriage is meant to make you holy, not happy. A healthy marriage is experiencing holiness as well as happiness. Someone in a healthy marriage isn’t likely to seek out a book on marriage counseling for advice.

    So your audience a the ones who are hurting.

    Only a person in a hurting marriage needs to heed the advice that, hey, you aren’t meant to be happy. Stop you whining, dig deeper, seek to be holy in the midst of your troubles.

    I don’t think you realized the depths of despair or the widespread destruction of souls within Chrisitan marriages (as evidenced by these hundreds of testimonial postings).

    The questions you should research are:
    What is happening behind closed doors of Christian homes? (These testimonials are a great place to start)
    How did it get so bad for so many? (Look into patriarchy, headship, submission)
    What can be done to rectify? (Find and address the root cause)
    How can these hurting women be helped now? (Listening to them, believing them, is a great first step. Empower them to love themselves enough to get out of the cycle of abuse)

    Research: What is the cycle of abuse? What are the areas of abuse?

    Feel the the fear of the young wife, in the middle of the night, as her strong husband towers over her in anger, literally spitting mad, fists raised, anger out of control, shouting insults whose arrow is meant to pierce her heart, his vows to love and cherish her long forgotten. His intent is to cower her, and he is mightily succeeding in crushing her soul.

    Now envision a crying child in the next room. How will you help this woman?

  95. roebuck wrote:

    I still don’t understand why anyone cares what John Piper says about anything. Did he just start pontificating one fine day, and people sucked it up? I don’t get it. I should add that there are a LOT of things I don’t get.

    Piper wasn’t even a blip on the evangelical radar until the end of the last century when he hit the scene with his book “Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist.” With the success of that book, he promptly mastered social media to promote himself and his aberrant theology. New Calvinism would not be the same without him. I don’t get it either … why so many young folks are attracted to a guy who looks and acts like the weird uncle your mama told you to stay away from. I guess he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, as the new reformation put down roots.

  96. @ Darlene:
    Just FYI, it’s not clear if the guy behind BGR blog is a troll or not.
    There have been a few articles about him and his blog which say he’s actually an atheist pretending to be a sexist Christian either for kicks and giggles or to gather information for some book or research he’s doing.

    Still, even if he is a parody site, I find a lot of what he says and writes to be present in actual, true, Christian gender complementarianism.

    There are several articles and blog posts online exposing the BGR guy, such as this one:

    Is Biblical Gender Roles a Big Hoax?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2015/10/is-biblical-gender-roles-a-big-hoax/

  97. Withholding my Name wrote:

    “I can’t respond to a general attack. If you think there is a passage for which I need to repent in one of my previous books, I’m open to that if you point it out, but I don’t believe I’ve written anything before contradicts what I say in this blog post. Perhaps people have jumped to their own applications of my words, but I don’t see this as me saying something new.”

    Not a fan of this attitude. I didn’t see what he responded to, but was he “attacked”?

    As an author creating material people are supposed to apply to their own situation using his principles, he seems to cast off responsibility people’s “own applications of [his] words” rather easily.

  98. Loren Haas wrote:

    So how can Gary Thomas write such a popular book about marriage and not know how prevalent abuse is in marriage? I am truly puzzled that he was surprised to hear these stories. He obviously has little contact with real life marriages.

    This brings up a few questions or thoughts in my mind.

    I think a lot of Christian men who are complementarians but who are NOT abusive truly live in this little bubble where they assume all other comp husbands are NOT abusive.

    I believe comp at its root is abusive and sexist, EVEN IF the man who lives it out does not abuse his wife.

    But anyway, when you start pointing to how some comp men abuse women or hold very sexist views, along will come some other comp guy who says, “But no true comp would ever do thus and so.”

    John Piper and the No True Complementarian Fallacy
    http://www.heretichusband.com/2013/01/john-piper-and-no-true-complementarian.html

    Complementarianism working well depends on a man’s personality and temperament.
    (The teaching itself does not work or produce good change in a man.)

    Goodness knows I’ve read enough testimonies by Christian ladies who said their abusive husband would spout off gender comp teachings at them (such as “wife shall submit to the husband”) as justification for their abuse or controlling behavior.

    I disagree with the ‘God wants you holy not happy’ shtick to which this author guy appeals.

    The Bible does not say that at all. There is no Bible verse that says, “God is more interested in your holiness than happiness” – that is an assumption a lot of Christians make.
    (Whether the principle is even in the Bible is debatable, IMO.)

    The Bible does not say God wants women to be abused, or that God uses abuse to make a woman more holy and godly, nor does it say that marriage should be miserable, a chore, or for you to be unhappy, and God wants it that way.

    I assume some Christians cherry pick and totally misapply Bible verses, (such as “God works together all for good to those who love him” and “rejoice in all suffering” etc), to rationalize in their minds why they think God can and will allow women to be beaten up physically or emotionally in marriage to make women “more holy.” It’s a distortion of the biblical text.

    I can see how an abusive husband or a preacher who wants to maintain the status quo, who doesn’t want to deal with an abused wife, would find this guy’s book handy.

    Because any time an abused wife says, “Help me, I’m being abused, I want out, I want to leave the spouse,” all the preacher man (or abusive spouse) has to do is say,

    “But God wants you to stay in this awful marriage, because enduring this abuse will make you holy! He wants you to joyfully endure trials! God doesn’t care about your happiness or if the abusive marriage is making you unhappy.”

  99. Jeff S wrote:

    Not a fan of this attitude. I didn’t see what he responded to, but was he “attacked”?

    I think people are being direct but not nasty.

    One woman named Elizabeth wrote, “Wait a minute. I just realized that you’re the author of Sacred Marriage. I endured abuse for way too long because of your teachings. I stayed longer than I should have because of YOUR teachings. I thought I was following God’s will because YOU told me that marriage was to make me holy not happy.”

    Gary’s response to her, “Elizabeth, I don’t believe anything in Sacred Marriage supports or condones abuse. If you can find a passage that does, please let me know as I’d want to amend it immediately. The pursuit of holiness has nothing to do with abusing or staying in an abusive relationship.”

  100. I was told that suffering was my lot and that my service to God was all that matter- not my happiness.

    I was also told that if God want me to remarry, he could take my wife at any time.

    (None of this referenced teaching by Gary Thomas, but I believe the first part certainly is consistent with the view he presents in his book).

  101. Withholding my Name wrote:

    “The pursuit of holiness has nothing to do with abusing or staying in an abusive relationship.”

    I’m confused as to what we were supposed to glean from the Abraham Lincoln example.

    He literally said that God looked at Lincoln, said that he need to grow him, and said “I have just the woman for you”. (paraphrased, actually, but that’s the gist).

    If he isn’t saying that enduring an abusive marriage builds holiness, he really needs to work on his communication skills.

  102. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    I am so sorry! I do plan to look into Sacred Marriage. When my daughter and son-in-law were married a few years back, someone recommended Sacred Marriage. My SIL, who is a strong Christian, was not impressed with the premise of the book. I didn't know anything about it at the time, so he came to that conclusion without any input from me.  🙂

  103. Jeff, the counsel you received sounds familiar. I’m sorry for the suffering you endured,

    Did you ever remarry?

  104. Daisy wrote:

    I believe comp at its root is abusive and sexist, EVEN IF the man who lives it out does not abuse his wife.

    Complementarianism is nothing more than patriarchy, cloaked with kid gloves. High ranking Complementarians have admitted that, using flowery words, of course.

  105. Nancy2 wrote:

    Never mind what I said about Gary Thomas before – I don’t like him! I read reviews on a couple of his books and checked out his church’s website. He really pushes wives “submitting”, and wives being “helpers”

    Yes, complementarians promote this stuff, which oppresses and silences women and beats them down, tells them divorce is never allowed, and then they wonder, “Why do women end up in such abusive marriages, or stay?”

    Or, not too long ago, and maybe it was on this blog, but I saw someone post a link to some site where some complementarians were crying and puzzling, “Why, WHY, are more women not participating in thus and so?”

    I can’t remember what it was – maybe some Southern Baptist site or something – where the author of the page (who was complementarian) was crying and upset because she couldn’t understand why women were not joining her church’s ‘Widget Making Committee,’ or not writing more books, or whatever it was.

    And I’m sitting there marveling at how dense some of these comps are, that they are so blind to all this.

    Some Complementarians sit around wondering why women don’t participate as much in church activities or speak up more or write books (or whatever) when they themselves, by their complementarian teachings, are forever telling girls and women,
    “You are second rate to men. You must remain silent. Let men lead. God does not want women to teach or lead. Your voices and experiences do not matter. You are really only on the planet to marry, make babies, and to serve a husband.”

    If you condition girls and women in that manner, don’t be shocked or saddened when you do not see many girls or women participate in the faith, or even TRY to participate or do things like write books, or lead conferences or whatever else.

    These complementarians set up the very system and conditions that exclude and discourage women, then they have the nerve to sit around on their blogs, discussion boards and sites, actually lamenting or wondering why women are not represented more or don’t participate that much.

  106. Jeff, rightl

    Who was his intended audience writing a book on staying in an unhappy marriage? The unhappy.

    And I contend that a huge reason people are unhappy is because they are suffering abuse in one form or another,

  107. @ Withholding my Name:

    Yes, I remarried two years ago. My life is amazing now and I have the most amazing wife. I would say that God gave me the wife of my dreams, but the reality is my dreams were way, WAY too small. She is my best friend, easily, and empowers me to be the unique person God created me to be. And I aim to do the same for her.

    Which is why I am so burdened for others. Because the vision of marriage the church is selling is dim compared to what it really can be. Some people read what I write sometimes and feel like I am “stuck in the past”. In fact, in our small group they told me it’s what it sounds like. But I’m not. I just remember what it was like and I don’t want anyone else have to be there any longer than necessary!

  108. Nancy2 wrote:

    Never mind what I said about Gary Thomas before – I don’t like him! I read reviews on a couple of his books and checked out his church’s website. He really pushes wives “submitting”, and wives being “helpers”.

    Post Script.
    I don’t know if I care to visit his site.

    I am over 40 years of age, I have never married. Does Book Author Guy’s site have any suggestions for never married ladies? Probably not.

    And telling us “prepare for marriage” (what if I never marry? How about tips on how to cope and live as a single adult so long as I am single?)

    Or telling single women things that center around a Martha Stewart lifestyle…

    Such as, “be a good hostess and make great dinner parties for your married pals,” or, “instruct younger wives to be submitt-y” does not count.

    What do guys like this book author guy have to say to and for me for my life, not how I can mentor another woman to be a doormat Stepford wife.

    Beyond telling women to submit, which only applies to married women (in their theology), they have no advice or anything relevant to give to single women, and sure as heck not never married women over age 40.

    If you take away wifehood and motherhood, complementarianism pretty much falls apart. Minus motherhood/wifehood, they have an empty gender theology.

  109. Withholding my Name wrote:

    Only a person in a hurting marriage needs to heed the advice that, hey, you aren’t meant to be happy. Stop you whining, dig deeper, seek to be holy in the midst of your troubles.

    We need to remember that Mr. Thomas is a New Calvinist. They have a strange view of suffering for your faith. A young, restless and reformed pastor at a church near me actually encourages his congregation to look for ways to suffer! Piper’s teaching (linked above) advises the abused woman to endure smacking (did anyone else feel like smacking Piper when you heard him say that?). If suffering comes in your Christian journey, the Lord will walk with you and help you through it. But I don’t believe Scripture teaches we must suffer to prove our faith or to endure at the hands of an abusive spouse and call it suffering for Jesus. Oh, by the way, you can be happy in your pursuit of holiness when you do it the right way.

  110. Darlene wrote:

    The fact is we can acknowledge that our wife has a brain and life experience and at the same time let her know that we as the head of the house cannot let her make a moral decision that we do not think is best.”

    That is all irrelevant any how.

    A woman married to that kind of guy walks into the voting booth alone, and he will never see who see votes for.

  111. @ Max:

    I, too, am puzzled by Piper's popularity among the young folks. I do know that he was a regular speaker at Passion conferences, which attracts thousands of young, highly impressionable Christians.  Passion has been for almost 20 years, so LOTS and LOTS of people have been influenced by the Neo-Calvinist messages delivered at these events.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passion_Conferences

    Piper will be speaking again at the upcoming Passion Conference.  Beth Moore and Francis Chan will also be speaking. 

    http://268generation.com/passion2017/

  112. Deb wrote:

    I wonder if part of the masquerade involves weird hand gestures

    The first time I saw Piper speak, I actually thought there was something wrong with the man physically causing those gyrations on stage. I’ve since learned that there is something seriously wrong with the man spiritually.

  113. Withholding my Name wrote:

    There was a time in my marriage that I lost my voice when my husband became overbearing due to his own personal struggles. He experienced burnout and became intolerable and mean-spirited.

    I kept submitting and tried to keep the peace, as I had been told to do for decades from the pulpit, to no avail. The cycle kept going on and getting worse, these was no physical abuse.

    I remember that Cloud and Townsend’s book “Boundaries” has an example of this.

    They have a story in their book based on a fictional woman character who is married to a very consistently grumpy husband named “Walt.”

    The wife keeps placating Walt and “loving him out of his grouchiness” which becomes exhausting.

    So, she later learns to practice boundaries, and so she stops enabling his snotty behavior. As a result, Walt stops acting like a moody, disrespectful teen.

    A good book on verbal abuse (it helped me):
    The Verbally Abusive Relationship
    https://books.google.com/books?id=y9Kz6F22OdsC&printsec=frontcover&dq=verbally+abusive+relationship&source=bl&ots=tlxpHFaYvi&sig=iE97wE740y3RoEDECKqI_otC4o0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=QScSUPDIL4aQ9gSb8YDgAQ#v=onepage&q=verbally%20abusive%20relationship&f=false

    Sadly, a lot of Christians don’t recognize verbal abuse as abuse or for grounds to end a relationship. They only seem to regard physical abuse as being real and serious, but emotional and verbal abuse can also be harmful.

  114. @ Daisy:

    Boundaries is the book I’d replace most marriage Bible studies with. It isn’t perfect (in that it doesn’t discussion the possibility that divorce can be a necessary boundary), but the principles apply to healthy, unhealthy, AND abusive marriages.

    This is the study I’d wished we’d done instead.

    But, at least I’m now informed enough about Gary Thomas to contribute.

  115. Deb wrote:

    a regular speaker at Passion conferences

    The Passion Conferences boosted New Calvinism into existence. Thousands of young folks hungry for a deeper relationship with Christ go to these conferences with good motives … but end up being indoctrinated into reformed theology via speakers like Piper. I’m not sure if that was the intent of the Passion Conference organizers, but it has certainly been the outcome.

  116. Deb wrote:

    Thomas defended complementarianism.

    Until these guys realize that complementarianism is the root of the problem, and consider they have been misinterpreting the Bible wrong all this time, I’m afraid not much is going to change.

    As I was saying above, for comp NOT to be abusive, it depends on each individual man. If the guy in question is naturally nice, sweet, and respectful of women, it shouldn’t cause much of a problem – and it makes you wonder why they think comp is necessary, since some men are loving to women WITHOUT it.

    But for dudes prone to abuse, comp is a gold mine of rationalizations to keep their wives under their thumbs.

  117. I don’t think Louie Giglio was ever a New Calvinist, and he was a big part of that. So I don’t think it was really an intent of the Passion Conferences. Beth Moore and many worship leaders like Chris Tomlin also gained a lot of exposure from Passion.

  118. ishy wrote:

    I see some non-Christian guys with this fantasy, but compared to Christians, very few.

    My sister had a Non-Christian live-in boyfriend for decades who was like that.

    She was the breadwinner, worked all day, paid the bills, came home did house cleaning… while her BF didn’t do much of anything.

    He seldom worked, and when he did get part time gigs, he’d spend the money on himself (not help sister pay bills).

    I’ve seen the same thing with a few other family members. The females support the males. It makes me wonder about the men who used to gripe about female gold diggers. I’ve only mostly seen male gold diggers over my life, not female ones.

  119. @ Jeff S:
    Jeff, as I noted upstream, sometimes we need to flush the books and turn a deaf ear to advisors. There are seasons in our Christian journey when we just need to get alone with our Bible, read the words in red, pray, and listen for His voice. There is forgiveness, healing and restoration in Christ … not through the words of mere men.

  120. NJ wrote:

    Another thing that irks me is pastors and other Christians giving advice/orders to the victim that are legally dangerous and/or deprive them of justice. Most if not all of them have never been lawyers in any state, and acting like it’s all good because “God’s law is higher than man’s law” and Christians are supposed to be a witness to the world in how they live, while pressuring vulnerable people to make decisions with consequences they themselves will not have to bear, is as foolish as it is callous. I have to wonder, is it the seminaries where pastors get the idea they can…?
    *practice law without a license
    *practice marriage counseling without a license
    *practice psychology without a license
    *practice psychiatry without a license
    *practice medicine without a license
    *practice financial planning without a license
    Have I forgotten any?

    practice law without a license

  121. ishy wrote:

    Both really want someone completely devoted to their own needs. There’s no way that could work.

    I certainly had that rammed into my head by my mother who was a believe in traditional gender roles. So, I tried very hard to meet all my fiance’s needs. He didn’t try to meet mine. After a few years of that, I grew exhausted and resentful and dumped him. When one party is doing all the giving, the other all the taking, that is not a recipe for relationship success, no.

    But generally in Christian complementarian circles, the females are taught to give all, to deny their own needs, etc., to be play second fiddle to the male.

    The men might be taught to be good providers under comp, but still, the women end up sacrificing more of their wants, needs, and desires – and their identities.

  122. @ Max:

    Oh, I did end up rejecting those advisors- it took a while. This was several years ago, now (you can see that post was October of 2012, and it was long after I wrote that letter). Now my fight is for those who are where I was.

  123. @ Daisy:

    I was told by my pastor (a good man, despite his complentarian ways) that my wife and I would run into trouble if we tried to be egalitarian. Eventually, we’d come to a decision where we just coulcn’t agree, and we needed to prepare it.

    He did agree, though, to conduct an egalitarian wedding (my wife did not vow to submit to me).

    My wife told me to tell him that in the area of gender roles, she would submit to my decision (tongue firmly planted in cheek).

    Thus far, being in an egalitarian marriage is awesome 🙂

  124. ^posted to soon to NJ

    My ex-pastors “practiced law without a license” (a crime) by giving advice about dangerous situations and telling mothers to submit to their husbands (over the protection of children and letting a Megan’s List sex offender/child pornographer touch the children) when that’s a criminal act for the mother (child endangerment) that can get her arrested and prosecuted, including for felonious child endangerment. If convicted, she could face 25 years to life in prison (when it all goes wrong because of the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders) and Child Protective Services can take away her children.

    The pastors/elders are also legally mandated child abuse reporters. It is a crime in California for them not to report. Their acts constitute criminal acts that they can end up in jail or prison for.

    The GBFSV pastors/elders’ “orders” also cross the line into Obstruction of Justice, Criminal Conspiracy (an agreement between two or more persons), Intimidating a Witness,
    and a variety of other crimes.

    If a child is harmed, a Gaurdian Ad Litem can be appointed to represent the interests of the child and can sue the Grace Bible Fellowship of Silicon Valley pastors/elders for damages.

  125. Jeff S wrote:

    In the video, he talks about a woman who came to him to talk about a “difficult marriage” and he cuts her off, saying “difficult marriage is redundant”.

    I’ve not yet made it through the rest of your post, I just wanted to pause to address that part right now.

    If this is how complementarians are selling marriage – that it’s this difficult, painful task, AND, if I end up with an abuser who I cannot divorce (according to them) – why should I get married?

    Why would I want to get married??

    Complementarians are not making marriage look appealing.

    As of the last two years (coming up on three), there are more single adults in America than married couples.

    For the Christians who even pay attention to this fact, they (such as Al Mohler) are screaming and yelling on their blogs and in their conferences at singles to go out and marry right now this instant, because it’s shameful and wrong to be single.

    First of all, getting married is not that easy. You can’t just snap your fingers and make a compatible partner appear.

    Secondly, again, if, as complementarians are teaching, marriage is such drudgery and so difficult (and I as a woman have to endure abuse off a husband), I might as well skip it and stay single.

    I’m not seeing any incentive to get married going by what complementarians are saying.
    Marriage is terrible. Marriage is awful, hard work. If my husband smacks me and regularly verbally abuses me, I must stay and waste my time with that for 20 plus years.
    I’d rather pass, thank you, singleness looks preferable.

  126. Jeff S wrote:

    If he’s unaware that some people use the word “difficult” to describe “abuse”, then he needs to learn more before he teaches.

    I think he obviously DOES need to learn more before he teaches, since ten years later he’s like ‘I’m just learning about this new fangled thing called abuse’.

    My point was, he seems to have his personal definition for ‘difficult’ and has decided difficult and abuse are not the same thing. That’s really not the way to go, imo.

    I will say one more thing. I think there are a fair number of people who are SO WORRIED someone might divorce for frivolous reasons, they feel the need to constantly make these ‘marriage is difficult/hard’ comments, because it’s like otherwise people will just get divorced all willy nilly. It’s a weird tick. They don’t do the reverse in their advice, by constantly saying ‘this does not apply to abuse’ which is where it would really be helpful.

  127. Withholding my Name wrote:

    Only a person in a hurting marriage needs to heed the advice that, hey, you aren’t meant to be happy.

    But his advice to women in the book nancy linked seems to be ‘be nicer to your man, to make him happy’. I don’t think covering for your husband, doing stuff in bed, etc is meant to make him holy! (But maybe he thinks so. IDK.)

    I just hate the premise that a woman can ‘fix’ a man. Or that the abused can fix the abuser. No!

  128. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    The first day of the honeymoon my ex-husband took off the mask.

    I definitely think this is a thing we should be telling young women. If your husband turns evil on your wedding night, it’s time to run.

  129. Jeff S wrote:

    And then he proceeds to talk about Abraham Lincoln and his wife who he goes through great pains to demonstrate as an awful women, and then talks about how God CHOSE this spouse to grieve Lincoln to make him great an be an amazing president.

    Again, only read down this far in your post, I’m working my way thru, wanted to pause to just yak about this section.

    It’s so grating to me, the older I get, to hear Christians say, “God sent me my spouse,” or, “God gifted you with your spouse,” or, “God will send you a spouse.”

    And I hear or see these comments regularly on Christian TV shows or blogs.

    I no longer think God sends people their spouse, or I am highly skeptical. If you are married, it’s because you bumped into the guy, or you dated around. It wasn’t divine intervention, it was you and your choice at work.

    I had always wanted to be married, but I am still single over 40 yrs of age. God never “sent me” a spouse, in spite of years of praying for one.

    This might be written by the same guy who the OP is about – in this case I agree with him:
    Stop Believing God Told You to Marry Your Spouse
    http://www.crosswalk.com/family/marriage/relationships/no-god-didn-t-tell-you-to-marry-your-spouse.html

  130. Daisy wrote:

    Complementarianism working well depends on a man’s personality and temperament.

    And if he is of good temperament and a decent man, it would probably work anyway! So what good is comp? If you have any problems, it falls apart.

    Gary seems to be one of the ‘no true compsman’ people.

  131. Daisy wrote:

    If you take away wifehood and motherhood, complementarianism pretty much falls apart. Minus motherhood/wifehood, they have an empty gender theology.

    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    Apologies for posting so many times in a row!

  132. Jeff S wrote:

    Beth Moore and many worship leaders like Chris Tomlin also gained a lot of exposure from Passion.

    And both continue to be used by the New Calvinist movement. Moore is one of the few women blessed by New Calvinist leaders as OK to send "their women" to hear. And Tomlin's song lyrics support the "grace" message of New Calvinism, so he is harmless enough to expose to their target markets of Generation Xers and Millennials. So the young folks swarm to Passion Conferences by the thousands, sway to the beat of the drums, and receive a dose of reformed theology. I don't think Giglio had this in mind, but that's the way it is.

  133. Jeff S wrote:

    So yeah, churches may be abusing this teaching, but can you blame them? Is it so crazy to think after hearing such things that an abused spouse should “suck it up and be holy”?

    And how many people won’t realize they are in an abusive marriage because they are so focused on being holy, they don’t acknowledge their real pain and suffering? I know, cause I was there.

    My mother was a believer in traditional gender roles, but this sort of thinking ran over into other areas of life with her, not just gender roles and marriage. She seemed to think the Bible supported this.

    As a teen, when I was bullied at school by other teens, and would come home crying or angry about it, she would coach me to repress the anger (or hurt).

    I was taught that godly Christians are never assertive, never have boundaries, that having boundaries was selfish and mean. We’re all put here to be doormats for others to use.

    (And this isn’t just my mother that was saying this, I’ve read books and blog posts by other Christians who teach the same thing.)

    I was also taught by her to view abusers with pity and compassion (I have seen this with other Christians, too, where churches want to show mercy and grace to abusers, but judgment and law to victims).

    So, in my personal example, when I was a kid, if some kid was spitting on me daily, punching me, or cussing me out, my Mom wanted me to rationalize it by thinking,
    “Oh, the poor dear must be acting out because he has a sad home life. I should not fight back. I should just sit in silence and endure abuse and feel sorry for the bully, it’s what Jesus would want me to do.”

    I’m afraid this kind of thinking is prevalent in regards to life in general among Christians, not just marriage.

    A lot of Christians think that other Christians should just be doormats. They think it’s holy or godly to endure abuse. They think it’s selfishness to fight back or stand up for one’s self.

    I’ve since learned in the last few years, thanks to reading work by Christian and Non-Christian psychiatrists, that no, it’s not normal, noble, godly, or healthy to be a doormat, or to lack boundaries, and to allow folks to mistreat you.

    Most churches and Christian authors, though, send the exact opposite lesson.

  134. Lea wrote:

    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    There’s another subtle thing he said in the video last night, and I hesitate to bring it up because I’ll admit to a little projecting here.

    But he spent a great deal of time talking about wanting to treat his spouse in a transactional manner (that is, only being good to her if she is good to him), but then reflecting that when he thinks of her as God’s daughter, he understands not to do this. Now, he equally applies this the other way around (think of your husband as a son of God), but I just feel like subtly (since the primary example he’s using of his wife) is that she doesn’t get to be important or loved in her own right, but rather only due to her relationship to God.

    Maybe I’m reading in here, because again, he does apply it to both genders, but he sure does use his daughters and his wife as God’s daughter as his examples pretty consistently.

    From the video, I could not tell he was a complemantarian, but it does not surprise me to find out that he is, and I felt like when he was giving these illustrations it was a bit of the old “women’s identities in relationship to men are what give them value”.

  135. Jeff S wrote:

    hen we did the questions after the video, our group leaders actually told my wife and I we should talk about our current marriages, not our previous ones. We said “Our current marriage isn’t difficult- if we are talking about growth because of a difficult spouse, that was what happened before. This marriage is awesome!”

    It must have really grinded their gears that you have a happy marriage.

    I get the impression at times that some Christians want other Christians to be miserable. Or they think being happy is wrong, or they don’t want other Christians to be happy.

    I can’t figure out what is going on with that. But it is weird.

  136. Lea wrote:

    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    Because they view it as securing their place in the “order” of things.

  137. @ Jeff S:

    Thank you for sharing that Jeff. That ‘transactional’ thing reminds me of something someone said about some men putting ‘niceness’ in to get sex? It is VERY dangerous, this way of thinking of people. Very damaging.

    Jeff S wrote:

    then reflecting that when he thinks of her as God’s daughter, he understands not to do this

    When he should be thinking of her as herself, a woman he loves with her own qualities, strengths and weaknesses.

    No wonder it’s so confusing to try to tell some of these people that women are not all the same. They literally can’t understand because they can’t think of them as individuals.

    And single women have no purpose at all.

  138. Daisy wrote:

    Why would I want to get married??
    Complementarians are not making marriage look appealing.

    NO. SKUBALON.

    Even from this male’s POV. Who’d want a Jacqueline Chick, larval Church Lady, or domestic animal with a MP3 playback of Bible verses instead of a brain? (“What is thy will, Milord husband? How might I better Submit?”) No matter how dynamite she’s supposed to be in the sack? Married to any of those archetypes, I’d be even more alone than I am single. Sex and service, but no Companionship.
    Daisy wrote:

    It’s so grating to me, the older I get, to hear Christians say, “God sent me my spouse,” or, “God gifted you with your spouse,” or, “God will send you a spouse.”

    And I hear or see these comments regularly on Christian TV shows or blogs.

    Standard Christianese duckspeak. Always sounds like one day she shows up magically on your doorstep, boobs and all: “Hi! You don’t know me but God sent me to be your Wife!”

    (Can’t find the photo meme, but doesn’t that sound like the buildup to a genderflip stalker movie like Fatal Attraction?)

  139. Lydia wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    Because they view it as securing their place in the “order” of things.

    Maybe, but I think it’s deeper than that.

    Brad mentioned on spiritual sounding board that Tripp referred to ‘his’ marriage, in regards to Tullian. Kim didn’t even exist to him.

  140. @ Daisy:
    Nah, the leaders are good people- they are just way in over their head with this and don’t realize it.

    People have no idea how damaging and dangerous this subject can be.

    There was a reason they requested we not talk about the past relationships. They were wrong to ask it, but I do understand where it came from, and their line of thinking was mistaken, not evil. I, unfortunately, would be wrong to go into too much details.

    Our current church, for all it’s faults, is not very authoritarian at all. But groups will do what they will do, and popular marriage studies are popular. Everyone in the group but my wife and I wanted to do this study, so we were overruled.

  141. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    But women are saying that Sacred Marriage has enabled or worsened their intra-marital abuse. There may even be men who have found likewise. These people’s stories are evidence that has to be considered. Specifically, they are evidence that the book does support abuse, whether Mr Thomas intended it to or not.

    Completely agree. And this seems to be a line of thinking most complementarians don’t want to recognize or grapple with.

  142. @ Jeff S:

    Oh my! Thanks so much for that insight on the study.

    When I first read this post something did not sit right with me. He writes a book on marriage and yet is overcome with marriage horror stories when he goes to speak at a conference? Where has he been?

    Perhaps a sequel, ‘How to be holy by leaving your abusive spouse’. :o)

    Yes, abusers would love it because it is always the other spouse who is not Holy enough.

  143. @ Lea:
    It is creepy when you stop and think about it. As if she is not an important factor in the grand scheme of things. And the kids, too.

  144. Lea wrote:

    They literally can’t understand because they can’t think of them as individuals.

    Everything today is about group identity or group labels— not individuals.

  145. @ Lea:

    To be clear, he was speaking AGAINST transactional thinking very strongly, he just did it in a very weird way.

    Overall, I agreed with much of what he said in this particular lesson. Just not some of the ways he said it. There was another strange example I won’t go into. But the point he was driving at (treat your spouse well because they should be treated well, not because they gave you something) was solid.

    It’s also worth noting that at one point he DID address remarried folks who had been married to abusive spouses, and he was very encouraging to them that while their previous spouses may not have ever responded to their acts of love, that God would count them as successful. Given the feeling of defeat that can come from divorcing an abuser, this statement came across very positively and WAS in fact encouraging, to both my wife and I. There was something about the way he said it that really did seem to respect the fact that sometimes there is a sole aggressor in a relationship and there is nothing you can do about it, and leaving a marriage like that can be done in a way that is honoring toward God.

    I only say this to say, I don’t think his idea that abusive marriages are not OK is a new leaf. He seems to have always had that perspective; it’s just, I don’t think he sees how his teaching can be reasonably used to make those situations worse.

  146. @ Jeff S:

    I agree with everything in your post.

    I wonder if you could try finding a book or video series that does a better job of teaching about marriage and bring that in?

    Ask your church group if they’d allow you to try an alternative book or video series. If they could see the difference between a good source and a bad one, that might be eye-opening for them.

  147. ishy wrote:

    I was reading your post and going to say that you should comment on his post, but suddenly I realize that all the comments that he dismissed with “If you can find the place in the book where it says that…” were from women. Now I’m annoyed.

    I would maybe tell such women to pretend they are an abusive or controlling husband. Take the book and re-read it through the lens of an abusive or controlling man.

    They should be able to see how an abuser could use the book for their own purposes, if they read it from the POV of an abusive person.

    The book does not have to explicitly state things like, “It’s find and dandy for a guy to beat his wife,” for the book to never the less unintentionally convey messages that are supportive of abuse.

  148. Lea wrote:

    I will say one more thing. I think there are a fair number of people who are SO WORRIED someone might divorce for frivolous reasons, they feel the need to constantly make these ‘marriage is difficult/hard’ comments, because it’s like otherwise people will just get divorced all willy nilly. It’s a weird tick. They don’t do the reverse in their advice, by constantly saying ‘this does not apply to abuse’ which is where it would really be helpful.

    Yes! Just go read pastor blogs for a few years. They are convinced people are getting divorced because they don’t like the way their spouse combs their hair or something ridiculous like that. They have no clue how devastating and soul crushing it is to live with a “Christian” verbal abuser or a narcissistic personality as if it is normal.

    They must see black eyes and broken arms for it to even merit a thought.

    They have the same shallow excuses for anyone who leaves church. It’s the music or the new carpet, etc.

  149. Jeff S wrote:

    To be clear, he was speaking AGAINST transactional thinking very strongly, he just did it in a very weird way.

    I get that, it’s just that I would hope you would respect and love someone for reasons beyond simply being a daughter/son of God.

    Jeff S wrote:

    I don’t think his idea that abusive marriages are not OK is a new leaf.

    That is good, but it seems like he is just now learning things maybe he should have looked into ten years ago or before he started writing books. Instead it’s like this is brand new information or something. Maybe it’s new information simply that people are being counseled to stay in abusive marriages for these crazy reasons. Including his book.

    I do hate the general idea of marriage existing to make us holy.

  150. I’ve already suggested Boundaries, which I think is hands down, the best book on relationship and should be required reading. I’m also quite fond of Tim and Cathy Keller’s book, if you can just skip the chapter on Male Headship (which essentially amounts to, “It doesn’t make and sense, but we do alright with a very weak version of it, and God commands it so it must be good”).

    Anyway, I’ve done what I can do, and I’ve had to figure out a way forward along with my wife. This whole study has been quite challenging for us, but we’re trying to find the right balance between truth telling and peacemaking. My wife’s perspective is we should continue to tell the truth, and they probably won’t kick us out- haha.

    (Have I mentioned my wife is awesome?)

  151. ishy wrote:

    Nobody in Christian marriage books ever talks about Ephesians 5:21. It’s like Fight Club.

    If you do bring up Ep 5.21, some comps deny it applies to husbands.

    We had a comp guy here who repeatedly insisted 5.21 was for every one in the church EXCEPT FOR husbands.

  152. Janey wrote:

    These teachings have logical consequences: They lead to abuse, domination, and negativity.
    ANY book that hints at topics such as long-suffering or duty, becomes — in the mind of a person who was raised authoritarian home — yet another demand for just shutting up and accepting abuse and disrespect.
    We all know marriage takes work, patience and forgiveness, but in the mind of the person who was brought up in a strict authoritarian culture, there is no limit to the type of bad behavior you must endure.

    I agree with all that, especially this:

    “These teachings have logical consequences: They lead to abuse, domination, and negativity.”

    This is one thing complementarians remain blind to. They don’t want to deal with where their teachings can lead.

    They want to live in La La Land where all men perfectly implement complementarian “male headship” teachings, so no wife will ever be abused.

    So no need for them to think their complementarian views may be incorrect. It’s not the doctrine that is wrong, it’s the men.

    It’s a way for complementarians to be lazy, not deal with the problem, to brush it aside.

  153. Jeff S wrote:

    if you can just skip the chapter on Male Headship (which essentially amounts to, “It doesn’t make and sense, but we do alright with a very weak version of it, and God commands it so it must be good”).

    Ha! I think that’s pretty much the view of most “good” comp marriages. Checking the box in the least destructive way possible.

  154. ishy wrote:

    I was reading your post and going to say that you should comment on his post, but suddenly I realize that all the comments that he dismissed with “If you can find the place in the book where it says that…” were from women. Now I’m annoyed.

    The gaslighting effect. Ir is only normal for people to interpret what they read based on their own experiences. he is missing an opportunity!

    He communicates a way of thinking but won’t recognize the obvious outcome of such thinking in many abusive marriages.

    The Neo Cals have been masters of this tactic. They can parse a statement till the cows come home. “You misunderstood”, “that is not what I meant”. And so on.

  155. ishy wrote:

    But if Jeff’s comment didn’t get approved, then he’s actively choosing women to dismiss publicly while hiding the fact that there are men that have problems with the things he says.

    Most excellent point.
    It will be interesting to see if he publishes Jeff’s comment.

    Usually it’s the opposite with complementarians – they will publish comments by men but not the ones by women that are critical.

  156. @ Elizabeth Lee:
    It sounds as though you’ve been to Hell and back, and I am so sorry.

    Your post was really good at pointing out how and why certain teachings or Christian books can harm people. IMO, it should be required reading by all preachers and Christian book authors, too.

  157. In my own small little world, I know of only one woman who endured abuse. She married a literally crazy husband who just about killed himself one day. My pastor went in to the hospital where the prognosis was grim and prayed for the unconscious man. A miracle happened, he survived and woke up in his right mind. He changed and within a short period of time became a sweet and gentle soul.
    On the other hand, I know of two men in these situations. One was lucky. He was only dating a woman who nearly beat her ex-husband to death. Shortly thereafter, she died in jail while awaiting her trial. The other circumstance is simply ridiculous to hear. The biggest, strongest weightlifter I know who worked as a police officer married another police officer as his second wife. Police are trained how to take down a violent suspect while doing minimum permanent damage to them. She started attempting to beat on him. He divorced her. If there is a truth here it is that theological interpretations that ignore what Jesus said about hardness of heart being the reason why Jews were allowed to divorce, and by inference this is still allowed, also can imprison men who are in abusive relationships. The county where I live, I have been told, has a greater ratio of women beating their men up than vice-versa. I do not believe women are less violent then men over all today. Just that they tend to be smaller. I currently do not believe in a legalistic interpretation of scripture regarding divorce. Yes, God hates divorce, but He also hates many other sins that we commit. Like tying up up heavy burdens on others and not lifting our own finger to help. The lack of compassion is a significant sin in and of itself.

  158. Jeff S wrote:

    If I never do another marriage Bible study again, it will be too soon.

    Heh. Imagine being over 40, never married, and sitting through billions of “How to Strengthen your Marriage” sermons. Been there, done that.

    Then the pastors have the audacity to say, “But if you’re single, don’t worry, this marriage sermon can still benefit you!”

    Then, Mr. Pastor, why target that sermon to marriage??

  159. Jan wrote:

    They have made an idol of marriage, because they have equated marriage with the sacrifice of Jesus and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.

    Yep. If this blog had a ‘Like’ button, I would have clicked it for your post.

  160. Lydia wrote:

    The Neo Cals have been masters of this tactic. They can parse a statement till the cows come home. “You misunderstood”, “that is not what I meant”. And so on.

    I remember this one intellectual snob from the Seventies who was into Apologetics for Communism; exact same tactic of parsing letter-by-letter to discredit you.

  161. Did anyone else see the Kevin DeYoung quote in his article?

    My suspicious-self-in-all-things-evangelical is wondering if these guys aren’t gearing up for a new market niche. Sort of a, “If you can’t beat them, join them and gain a new following”?

    The trick might like in the idea they retain the power to decide how bad the marriage is and worthy of divorce. (Wink)

    I wasn’t impressed with his response to Elizabeth. He missed a great opportunity to minister. Oh that pastoral Pride.

  162. Daisy wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    If I never do another marriage Bible study again, it will be too soon.
    Heh. Imagine being over 40, never married, and sitting through billions of “How to Strengthen your Marriage” sermons. Been there, done that.
    Then the pastors have the audacity to say, “But if you’re single, don’t worry, this marriage sermon can still benefit you!”
    Then, Mr. Pastor, why target that sermon to marriage??

    I’ve told a pastor friend of mine that instead of doing marriage series, they should do “relationship” series and use marriage an example rather than a focus. He thought that would be an interesting approach. I’m pretty sure in never went beyond the restaurant table conversation though.

  163. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    In my own small little world, I know of only one woman who endured abuse.

    Hmm, I can think of four or five off the top of my head but they had already divorced by the time I knew them, mostly.

    Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    The county where I live, I have been told, has a greater ratio of women beating their men up than vice-versa. I do not believe women are less violent then men over all today. Just that they tend to be smaller.

    I don’t know what to make of it when people say things like this. It doesn’t seem likely to me, but then the only man who told me his wife had abused him turned out to be a complete liar so I may be biased. It certainly happens sometimes.

    If you look at stats for hospital visits and murders I think you’ll find that that ‘smaller’ thing makes a difference.

  164. Lydia wrote:

    Lea wrote:

    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    Because they view it as securing their place in the “order” of things.

    The Great Chain of Being, from God at the top to dirt at the bottom.
    The Lord in his Palace and the Serf in his hovel, both positions predestined by God.
    Who holds the whip, who feels the whip, and any dissent is Rebellion against God’s Created Order.

  165. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    The Neo Cals have been masters of this tactic. They can parse a statement till the cows come home. “You misunderstood”, “that is not what I meant”. And so on.

    I remember this one intellectual snob from the Seventies who was into Apologetics for Communism; exact same tactic of parsing letter-by-letter to discredit you.

    Which means you are automatically emotionally unstable.

  166. Daisy wrote:

    Imagine being over 40, never married, and sitting through billions of “How to Strengthen your Marriage” sermons. Been there, done that.
    Then the pastors have the audacity to say, “But if you’re single, don’t worry, this marriage sermon can still benefit you!”

    That was exactly how I read Sacred Marriage way back when. Because one of my lame singles classes decided we should read marriage books “..because we’re all going to get married one day!” And they didn’t just read this one, but about 3-4, until everyone rose up and refused to read any more.

  167. @ Nancy2:
    From one of the reviews on the page you linked us to
    – – – – – – –
    I believe it was at the point where Mr. Thomas was explaining why men love their cars and how their cars, unlike their wives, are very clear about their needs and never ask a man how he’s feeling.

    This goes on for a page or so, and at no point does Mr. Thomas qualify that his wife has some advantage that his car doesn’t.

    I found this passage so demeaning, regardless of the author’s intent, that I couldn’t go on.
    – – – – – –
    Oh goodness. This book sounds horrible.

  168. ishy wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Imagine being over 40, never married, and sitting through billions of “How to Strengthen your Marriage” sermons. Been there, done that.
    Then the pastors have the audacity to say, “But if you’re single, don’t worry, this marriage sermon can still benefit you!”
    That was exactly how I read Sacred Marriage way back when. Because one of my lame singles classes decided we should read marriage books “..because we’re all going to get married one day!” And they didn’t just read this one, but about 3-4, until everyone rose up and refused to read any more.

    And I thought marriage studies for couples were useless . . .

  169. Daisy wrote:

    I believe it was at the point where Mr. Thomas was explaining why men love their cars and how their cars, unlike their wives, are very clear about their needs and never ask a man how he’s feeling.

    After having spend $2,000 taking my car into the shop for a darn check warning light over the course of three weeks before the dealership finally figured it out, I can easily say my wife is more clear about her needs than my car is.

    And frankly, my wife does ask about how I’m feeling. It’s nice to have someone care.

  170. Lea wrote:

    Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    In my own small little world, I know of only one woman who endured abuse.

    Hmm, I can think of four or five off the top of my head but they had already divorced by the time I knew them, mostly.

    Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    The county where I live, I have been told, has a greater ratio of women beating their men up than vice-versa. I do not believe women are less violent then men over all today. Just that they tend to be smaller.

    I don’t know what to make of it when people say things like this. It doesn’t seem likely to me, but then the only man who told me his wife had abused him turned out to be a complete liar so I may be biased. It certainly happens sometimes.

    If you look at stats for hospital visits and murders I think you’ll find that that ‘smaller’ thing makes a difference.

    Women historically used poison and manipulation.

    The stats show much more male spouse on female spouse violence. It could be because men are ashamed to admit it or seek help. You rarely hear about a female adult raping a male adult, for instance. Demi Moore played a female rapist from Micheal Crighton’s book. It was all the rage in sexual harassment circles for some reason.

    Are there mean women? You bet. When it comes to domestic violence they are still a small percentage. They tend to stay in manipulation, verbal abuse mode.

  171. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I think Ishy has hit the core of the problem.
    Breeding Unrealistic Expectations — just like pornography, but in the opposite direction.
    (Or is it so opposite?)

    Not that I disagree with Ishy on that, but I think sometimes things can go to far in the opposite direction, too.

    There’s such a thing as too- lowered- expectations.

    I remember in my relationship with my ex, he was not physically abusing me.

    I rationalized from that (that there was no hitting or beating) that his other (poor) treatment of me was not so bad.

    I ended up putting up with a lot of other crud just because the guy was not physically beating me.

    But he was selfish, a mama’s boy (he was okay with his mother verbally abusing me, tho I never gave her a reason to),
    He didn’t try to meet my needs, insisted I meet all his, and he financially abused me.
    At times, he was also a bit emotionally or verbally abusive.

    I put up with all that trash for years, all because the guy was not punching me.

    You know what? A guy not punching you is ‘Basic Human Decency.’ It is ‘Boyfriend 101.’

    A guy should not be hitting you to start with anyway. That’s a given.

    A woman should expect far, far more than “he doesn’t hit me” from a guy.

    I wish I had understood that when younger, but I was brain-washed by parents, church, etc., to think it was godly and normal to be used, taken for granted etc.

  172. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    In my own small little world, I know of only one woman who endured abuse. She married a literally crazy husband who just about killed himself one day. My pastor went in to the hospital where the prognosis was grim and prayed for the unconscious man. A miracle happened, he survived and woke up in his right mind. He changed and within a short period of time became a sweet and gentle soul.

    Did the suicide attempt involve brain damage?
    In some rare cases, brain damage HAS been known to change the personality. Just most of the time it’s change for the worse instead of for the better.
    Lea wrote:

    I don’t know what to make of it when people say things like this. It doesn’t seem likely to me, but then the only man who told me his wife had abused him turned out to be a complete liar so I may be biased. It certainly happens sometimes.

    If you look at stats for hospital visits and murders I think you’ll find that that ‘smaller’ thing makes a difference.

    I too think Mr Jesperson’s experience is atypical, a skewed sample.
    But your own experience (even if atypical) colors how you view reality.
    (An extreme example — that brouhaha over the Duck Dynasty guy some years ago.)

    On the average, men are physically stronger than women and can do more physical damage; in a physical fight the man is probably going to win. One-up position.

    Women would tend to fight or attack from a one-down position, indirectly. Women are more likely to emotionally/verbally abuse and men to physically abuse. So women have to get sneaky and indirect when they attack/fight.

    “A man will shoot you in the face; a woman will poison your drink behind your back.” (Physically weaker, coming from a one-down position, attacking indirectly, “Staying Sweet”.)

    And Comp/Male-Supremacist culture makes this dichotomy worse with its rigid gender roles. It makes the only way for women to wield any power indirect, through deception and manipulation, raising Sweet Smiling Sociopaths. Which makes men distrust women even more, and resolve to keep control for their own defense. And things just keep racing for the bottom.

  173. Jeff S wrote:

    I’ve already suggested Boundaries, which I think is hands down, the best book on relationship and should be required reading.

    I agree. After I read Boundaries in Marriage I attempted to set a few boundaries. It didn’t fix my marriage because abusers don’t like limits. However, that book helped me see that what I was living through was not acceptable or normal.

  174. Daisy wrote:

    Not that I disagree with Ishy on that, but I think sometimes things can go to far in the opposite direction, too.
    There’s such a thing as too- lowered- expectations.

    Unrealistic in the other direction.

    More and more I’m convinced of the wisdom of the title of that old Moody Blues album:
    “A Question of Balance”.

    And you name it, we’ve gone out-of-balance in both directions.

  175. Jeff S wrote:

    And I thought marriage studies for couples were useless . . .

    So I went out of town to visit a friend valentines day weekend, in part to distract myself from a bad breakup, and her church decided to preach on marriage that day! Joy! And then they said ‘oh single people, don’t worry. you’ll get married someday’ *eyeroll*

  176. Lydia wrote:

    Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Lydia wrote:

    The Neo Cals have been masters of this tactic. They can parse a statement till the cows come home. “You misunderstood”, “that is not what I meant”. And so on.

    I remember this one intellectual snob from the Seventies who was into Apologetics for Communism; exact same tactic of parsing letter-by-letter to discredit you.

    Which means you are automatically emotionally unstable.

    “YOU’RE THE ONE WITH THE PROBLEM, MAN!”

    I still think two generations ago, these True Beleiver Young Calvinists would have been True Believer Young Communists. Different mass movement, different ideology, same dynamic.

  177. @ Max:
    My take on the Piper phenomenon (and others) is they were masters of market niche promotional propaganda. They targeted young men in youth group, young men in college, young men going to Seminary, young men in Seminary and young pastors. It spread from there. Get them young. Plant them in churches. Promote the books and conferences.

  178. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    Within a month of meeting, my (second) wife and I started reading Boundaries together. It was my second time through, and it prompted so many valuable conversations that have carried through to today. It also helped her set boundaries with her mother, which her siblings have failed to set (and she continues to make their lives a living hell).

    Boundaries aren’t about fixing other people, but they can help us assess when someone else is out of line. They didn’t fix my first marriage either, but they helped me survive. And they have definitely enhanced my second marriage.

  179. Lea wrote:

    There seem to be an awful lot of people writing books about how to fix your marriage, without actually knowing very much about bad marriages!

    A few years ago I saw a news story about a guy who shot his own wife. (I don’t know what the guy’s religious beliefs were.)

    A few years before shooting her (she died), while married to her, he wrote a marital advice book on how to have a great marriage that was still on sale on Amazon at the time of the news story.

    Also, that pervy IFB pastor who was found guilty of statutory rape (of 16 y.o. girl) and was jailed for it – he had a few books for sale on Amazon about marriage, and one he wrote where he gave dating advice.

    No, I don’t want marital or dating advice from 50-something y.o. men who misuse their pastoral positions to exploit girls, who think it’s acceptable to have sexual relations with teen girls.

    I also don’t want marital advice from guys who do things such as shoot their wives in the head.

  180. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    I still think two generations ago, these True Beleiver Young Calvinists would have been True Believer Young Communists. Different mass movement, different ideology, same dynamic.

    I think the ideology is the same: collectivism. Every collective has the great leader. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel, etc

  181. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    But your own experience (even if atypical) colors how you view reality.

    It does, but apparently it is also a ‘thing’ for male abusers to lie specifically about their partners as part of the gaslighting/trying to look good thing. So that sort of thing is not uncommon.

    Certainly it does happen. And yes, poison was traditionally considered a ‘woman’s weapon’. But a gun is just as easy. I just don’t think that it’s anywhere near a 50/50 split.

  182. The difference between a Parasite and a Symbiote:

    The Parasite is Win-Lose. (AKA the Zero-Sum Game.)
    The Symbiotic is Win-Win.

  183. Daisy wrote:

    Also, that pervy IFB pastor who was found guilty of statutory rape (of 16 y.o. girl) and was jailed for it – he had a few books for sale on Amazon about marriage, and one he wrote where he gave dating advice.

    Polishing-the-Shaft Schaapf?

  184. Lea wrote:

    For example, sections titled, “Cover for him”, Becoming more pleasant”, & “The most delicious woman in France” (where Mr. Thomas actually uses the character of a “mistress as an example of GODLY CHRISTIAN wife”- his own admission in quotes.p.116) do not discuss shaping the souls of husbands.

    Is that from a reviewer on Amazon of Gary T’s book?

    If I’m understanding the second half, it sounds like that cliched trash Mark Driscoll types advocate.

    Telling Christian wives to be sweet, angelic, innocent things all the time, except for the bedroom. Then, some of these sex- obsessed, sexist Christian men tell Christian women to act like porn stars.

    I notice these types of Christian men never, ever tell the men to consider what the Christian wife may prefer in and out of the bedroom, and how to get her motor running, shall we say. The emphasis is always on what the man wants and prefers (sexually – and in other facets of life).

  185. Jeff S wrote:

    Boundaries aren’t about fixing other people, but they can help us assess when someone else is out of line.

    One of the points made in the gift of fear that I thought was useful is that you should be wary of people who will not take ‘no’ for an answer, even if it is a small, innocuous thing. I think that is because its a sign they don’t respect boundaries.

  186. GSD wrote:

    Someone mentioned a scene at church, where the pastor dude was greeting people in a pew, shaking the hands of the guys, and skipping the women, as if they weren’t there. And it made me wonder, what if Gary had been at a conference with men and women, especially husbands and wives? Would the women have felt free to tell him these horrible stories? Would he have heard them?

    Good point.

  187. Deb wrote:

    @ Max:
    I wonder if part of the masquerade involves weird hand gestures…

    In Star Wars, weren’t “weird hand gestures” part of the Jedi Mind Trick?

    And then there’s Scientology’s Tone 40 Voice which commands instant obedience.
    (Think Elron was knocking off “The Voice” from Frank Herbert’s Dune?)
    But what The Tone 40 Voice sounds like is never described…

  188. @ Jeff S:

    I find it’s not just Christian books about marriage that can be misunderstood and cause harm, but the Bible itself.

    The Bible itself has been, and still i,s misquoted or misunderstood, and as such, is hurting people.

    I’ve read of Christians from years past who used the Bible to defend slavery, to condone whites owning blacks.

    Today, churches misuse the Bible to limit women and tell them to stay in abusive marriages, or that women are not allowed to teach or use their gifts.

    For years, I had problems with depression and anxiety – and Christians wouldn’t help me if I went to them. They would sometimes quote verses from the Bible at me, which was not helpful.

    (Quoting things from the Bible, such as, “perfect love casts out all fear” at someone who is dealing with anxiety is not helpful, and it does not heal or cure anxiety.)

    The Bible itself can and is sometimes misapplied by Christians and ends up hurting people who are already hurting.

  189. @ Daisy:

    Yes, that was from a reviewer. I haven’t read the book, because I don’t read these kinds of books. This one was geared towards women making their men holy or some such thing.

  190. NJ wrote:

    while pressuring vulnerable people to make decisions with consequences they themselves will not have to bear,

    This, this! This drives me nuts. It’s a big pet peeve of mine.

    So many Christians like to give advice to other people, even if that advice may be insensitive or unhelpful, but they feel okay about it, and they are not the ones who have to live with the outcome or ramifications of the advice they are spewing!!!!

    I could rant on that topic all day long but will shut up now.

  191. NJ wrote:

    I have to wonder, is it the seminaries where pastors get the idea they can…?
    *practice law without a license
    *practice marriage counseling without a license
    *practice psychology without a license
    *practice psychiatry without a license
    *practice medicine without a license
    *practice financial planning without a license
    Have I forgotten any?

    It also makes you wonder why pastors don’t stop and wonder- if you really think you alone can do all that stuff yourself just after sitting through a handful of Bible study courses at some Christian college,

    Why do some people, say, go to medical school for 8 yrs, and attend longer, to become psychiatrists? Or get educations in some of these other fields?

    There is something very wrong with preachers who think they can be competent “Jack of All Trades” or ‘Renaissance Men’ at different occupations or specialities that other folks have to get college degrees in.

    I wonder if these seminaries or Mega-Churches will start saying these seminary grads are also qualified to be dentists, bakers, plumbers, and computer programmers, even though they never sat through a tooth class, computer class, cooking class, etc?

    Just reading the Bible alone or attending a seminary does not make a person qualified to be a hair stylist, lawyer, baker, dentist, auto mechanic, or whatever.

  192. GSD wrote:

    Someone mentioned a scene at church, where the pastor dude was greeting people in a pew, shaking the hands of the guys, and skipping the women, as if they weren’t there. And it made me wonder, what if Gary had been at a conference with men and women, especially husbands and wives? Would the women have felt free to tell him these horrible stories? Would he have heard them?

    By George, I think you have hit on something!

  193. Daisy wrote:

    @ Elizabeth Lee:
    It sounds as though you’ve been to Hell and back, and I am so sorry.
    Your post was really good at pointing out how and why certain teachings or Christian books can harm people. IMO, it should be required reading by all preachers and Christian book authors, too.

    Yes, I have been, but I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I divorced my abuser, and I’m financially okay. Many of the women who have been a part of this have been stay-at-home moms for many years. They get to choose between abuse and abject poverty.

  194. Daisy wrote:

    @ Nancy2:
    From one of the reviews on the page you linked us to
    – – – – – – –
    I believe it was at the point where Mr. Thomas was explaining why men love their cars and how their cars, unlike their wives, are very clear about their needs and never ask a man how he’s feeling.
    This goes on for a page or so, and at no point does Mr. Thomas qualify that his wife has some advantage that his car doesn’t.

    How many oil changes and maintenance checks has he done??? Has a relay switch ever gone out on his car on a busy 4-lane parkway? When the slave cylinder went out on my husband’s truck, more than 400 miles from home, his truck didn’t exactly respond well to his needs. The wife (me) was the one who pulled into the interstate rest stop at 1:00 am to help him.
    If GT’s vehicle ever breaks down, I hope he relies on having a good heart-to- heart discussion about his needs with the car to fix everything! After GT published that comparison in a book, any woman with any backbone would hang up on him if he called her for help!

  195. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Yes, I have been, but I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I divorced my abuser, and I’m financially okay. Many of the women who have been a part of this have been stay-at-home moms for many years. They get to choose between abuse and abject poverty.

    To Comp Hubby, that’s a Feature, not a Bug.

  196. roebuck wrote:

    I still don’t understand why anyone cares what John Piper says about anything.

    You and me both. I have come to realize in the last few years that the preachers I see on TV or on the blogs don’t necessarily know more about life, the Bible, or God than I do (or than the average person does).

    I also have been learning so much more just from reading other people’s life stories than I have learned from sermons.

    Like I’ve learned a lot just from reading the experiences in this thread by people who talked about how and why their last marriage soured and ended.

    That is far more instructive to me than listening to professional Christians, such as Piper, Driscoll, and whomever, bloviate about what they think the Bible says or what they assume God wants (about marriage or about anything).

  197. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    The Great Chain of Being, from God at the top to dirt at the bottom.
    The Lord in his Palace and the Serf in his hovel, both positions predestined by God.
    Who holds the whip, who feels the whip, and any dissent is Rebellion against God’s Created Order.

    The weak are the meat which the strong do eat…

  198. Lydia wrote:

    Every collective has the great leader. Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel, etc

    Ayn Rand, Calvin, Swanson, Piper, Got Hard, Driscoll, Pearl, Furtick, both Douggies, Star Scott…

  199. Jeff S wrote:

    Not a fan of this attitude. I didn’t see what he responded to, but was he “attacked”?
    As an author creating material people are supposed to apply to their own situation using his principles, he seems to cast off responsibility people’s “own applications of [his] words” rather easily.

    Yeah. I think he’s being disingenuous with his attitude.

    Just because he doesn’t explicitly tell men in his book that they can hit their wives does not mean his principles cannot be construed by an abuser to mean as such.

  200. Jeff S wrote:

    I was told that suffering was my lot and that my service to God was all that matter- not my happiness.

    I hate the whole teaching about God not caring if we’re happy. The Bible doesn’t say that at all, so one wonders where Christians who teach it are getting it from.

    Jesus did say bad things would happen to us in life, but he also said he wanted us to have an abundant life.

    “Abundant life” to me does not denote “God wants you to be unhappy all the time”

  201. Jeff S wrote:

    He literally said that God looked at Lincoln, said that he need to grow him, and said “I have just the woman for you”. (paraphrased, actually, but that’s the gist).
    If he isn’t saying that enduring an abusive marriage builds holiness, he really needs to work on his communication skills.

    I take your point on that in regards to marriage, but I also want to say this is another pet peeve of mine:

    Christians who act like they know with 100% certainty as to why X, Y, or Z happened in someone’s life.

    Like any time a hurricane or flood slams some part of the U.S.A., Piper or Robertson, or some other Christian chuckle-head will say,
    “This natural disaster was obviously a judgement of God’s because City Q supports homosexual marriage! (or City Z doesn’t support Israel).”

    I’m like, buddy, how do you know??? You do not. You’re just assuming.

    My sister told me that her ex- Mother- In- Law was told by a Christian friend, “The reason you have this health problem is that God is punishing you for sin in your life.”

    -Oh really? And how do you know that? You don’t. You’re just assuming.

    As I get older, I find I am a lot more humble about this stuff (not that I was ever one of these overly judgmental types to start with).

    I don’t always presume to know why God allowed or X or Z to happen in a person’s life.
    Maybe God had nothing to do with X or Z.

    Why did God allow Lincoln to end up marrying a mean-spirited woman? Who knows? It’s pretty presumptuous to sit there and assume, “A-ha, God allowed Lincoln to marry this awful person to teach him a lesson.”

    Also, where does this “marriage sanctifies people” stuff speak to never-married adults?

    I don’t believe marriage sanctifies anyone (that is an inner work of the Holy Spirit, not a spouse or marital status), but,

    How does these types who promote this view suppose that a never- married lady over 40, such as yours truly here, is sanctified, since I am not married to a meanie to push me in to being holy?

  202. SCCL Facebook group just mentioned this, about the PizzaGate shooter, Welch (story via NY Times):

    Mr. Welch likes to read. A favorite is “Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul,” by John Eldredge, about masculinity in evangelical Christianity.

    Source:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/07/us/edgar-welch-comet-pizza-fake-news.html?_r=2

    Re:

    Edgar M. Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., was arrested Sunday after firing a gun inside a pizza restaurant in Washington as he investigated false claims in online articles that the pizzeria was at the center of a child sex slave ring, the police said. No one was injured by the gunfire, and Mr. Welch surrendered peacefully.

  203. Lydia wrote:

    This is exactly why the Christian book business is so ridiculous. They are written by men who live in bubbles.

    And women. And going off the thread from the other day, the women supposedly leading these “new” discussions on women in ministry as if women and women in ministry just started existing or as if women have not been trying to talk about this forever (and it’s only “new” for conservative evangelical circles – these discussions took place in mid-late 90’s everywhere else). A lot of these women are usually speaking from a bubble and hand selected (there are a few exceptions to this.) It feels ahistorical to me and a bit self-congratulatory, naive/ambivalent/disconnected from what is really and has been really happening with women outside of surfacey issues of women feeling like they don’t have a “place”.

    It’s not just a let’s get more women in ministry discussion, but how are we treating/viewing women in the first place. If we are not also and and primarily asking questions such as: Why *are* so many women suffering in horrible, abusive marriages? And if they don’t think mistreatment of women in marriages and in the church in general is a problem, their bubble/disconnect has just been confirmed.

    This right here is the discusssion we need to be having first. And the necessarily general questions from that: maybe there is something in our theology and structures and view of God that is not correct or at best, not given proper orientation/placement in the larger reality – used as a principle, not binding and true for all times/peoples. But the system is often designed to not ask or nuance those questions, the necessary questions that need to be asked. So, it’s a cycle of never truly dealing with anything.

  204. Humanity, and this includes churches/ministries which probably makes it worse because of the spiritual/God affect put over it – there is often the illusion of discussion and change taking place when a problem arises, without any real discussion/change actually taking place. It still ends up being controlled and avoidant of the real issues while pretending to deal with the issue that is being addressed. In my opinion, that makes things worse, because it becomes more crazymaking, difficult to move toward change. The acknowledgement of the problem is addressed, but then the conversations around it are all still so controlled by hand picked people or people responsible for the problem in the first place – then everyone is supposed to respond and pretend that what is happening is profound, or something, while nothing is still being dealt with. It’s so bizarre to me.

    The emperor still has no clothes on, everyone! Everyone finally admits the “emperor/issue” is naked. But then, it regurgitates and cycles back to off-centered issues and pretending he has clothes on again….and he still doesn’t. And then people in frustration/”Am I crazy?” have to keep bringing up he/issue still has no clothes on, or the emperor has clothes on now, but they don’t fit, aren’t the right clothes. It never ends.

    Hopefully Gary Thomas looks deeper and reflects more on what he is seeing and noticing, and doesn’t engage in deceptive change tactics, where he deludes himself and others into thinking and presenting progress or change instead of furniture arranging and decorating tactics while the house is still on its way falling down. This can happen intentionally or non-intentionally.

  205. Lea wrote:

    I will say one more thing. I think there are a fair number of people who are SO WORRIED someone might divorce for frivolous reasons, they feel the need to constantly make these ‘marriage is difficult/hard’ comments, because it’s like otherwise people will just get divorced all willy nilly. It’s a weird tick.

    Very good point, and I’ve also noticed this as well.

  206. Lea wrote:

    I just hate the premise that a woman can ‘fix’ a man. Or that the abused can fix the abuser. No!

    A woman cannot change a man, true.

    My gosh, even most secular relationship advice pounds women in the head with the whole thing about how you cannot change a person does not work, so don’t waste your time trying to do so.

    Sad that secular relationship advice columnists and books get that right but most Christian authors and pastors fail it.

  207. I see a number of people have appeared to comment about something that I did not say. These comments have peaked my interest to see what some of the latest statistics concerning violence actually say. Right at the the top of the first page of search results I found this: http://www.batteredmen.com/NISVS.htm It states that in a comprehensive survey of over 10 million physically abused people, that 53% were men. There is quite a bit of interesting analysis of the results on the page. What is on this page speaks for itself. Anyone who has seen my comments on WT’s blog knows that I am very concerned about truth and a stickler for details.
    There are additional events that I know of I did not mention. The Christian man friend who had his first wife break a coffee pot over his head. She could have killed him. The other sweet guy I know who had his first wife take a knife and with a demonic voice threatened to kill him. Two additional male friends who get divorced because their partners were emotionally abusive. Within my small circle of friends, there are five Christian men divorced who had abusive wives. That is a very large percentage of my total. I am not claiming that that is the norm. I know that it is not. Most of my friends are men. The women are married to men who are also my friends. I carefully chose my friends. But the statistics of this 2010 study suggest that women have actually become more violent then men, which was news to me, but not surprising. Apparently, the old violence ratio has become a myth.

  208. Lea wrote:

    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.
    Apologies for posting so many times in a row!

    Women who are single (whether never married, widowed,divorced) are living proof their gender teachings are incorrect and irrelevant.

  209. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Even from this male’s POV. Who’d want a Jacqueline Chick, larval Church Lady, or domestic animal with a MP3 playback of Bible verses instead of a brain? (“What is thy will, Milord husband? How might I better Submit?”) No matter how dynamite she’s supposed to be in the sack? Married to any of those archetypes, I’d be even more alone than I am single. Sex and service, but no Companionship.

    Every so often, I’ve seen Christian women say on social media groups or blogs that they went through this phase where they bought into complementarianism, and so they try to be very submissive to their husbands.

    The problem is in these cases I read about, the husband was either an atheist (who had no belief or interest in biblical gender comp views), or a Christian guy who was not familiar with comp.

    So, these women said when they started being all submissive, it either freaked their husbands out or annoyed them.
    They said their husbands told them, “Will you please knock it off with this submission stuff??? I want a best friend and a partner in life, not a Stepford Wife who acts like I’m in charge of her!”

    I do suspect that normal men who have normal self-esteem and healthy views of women and relationships, who aren’t sexist or controlling, would prefer a non-submissive wife.

    I think this submission junk complementarians push ultimately is only appealing to men who have hang-ups, who are sexist, and/or who are abusive to start with.

    I cannot see how a normal guy who wants a normal, happy relationship would be fulfilled or happy with a wife who acts like a pet dog, a robot, or a blow-up doll.

  210. A few points, I can remember the first time in the faith family as a kid that it was mentioned to me that God really hates us and most likely will kill most of us or let us die some horrid death. Having almost died several times as a kid, Pneumonia, near drowning, and being burned 3rd over 45% of my body before I was seven had a profound impact on me as a kid. It should not have but it did. Having also witnessed two suicides, one successful the other one not before I was 14 also had an impact on me, again it should not have but it did. So I was susceptible to the terror tactics of religion. I was literally terrified of God, still am at times.

    I added those events for perspective, not for seeking self-pity, understanding, sympathy, empathy ……or anything else. I add that caveat because that is how I have always had to couch statements in real life faith communities to avoid any misunderstandings, which always seemed to happen. I add all this to show you how most of my conversations go in the real world faith communities I have been in. It takes an hour to say five minutes of content. Most of the time is listening to what a piece of filth I am, a disappointment I am to God and the leaders, what a wretch I am to the Body of Christ etc.

    Well anyway back to my point When I was going to have my first communion at 7 or 8 I went through the classes and took it really seriously because it was for God. Stupid I know as most of my fellows told me just to blow it off or just make something up for confession. I felt that was lying and I could not do that, but I also struggled with confession because of my understanding of the atonement and the finished work of Christ. I was watching garner ted Armstrong worldwide church of God early in the morning and he scared the H out of me with the all the RCC being the beast and all that nonsense. At 7 I should have had all that figured out but I did not.

    Anyway, I was chased / asked to leave my holy communion by the alcoholic priest who was also a nutcase. That stuck with me because that was my high point when it comes to faith communities, to be honest. I mean I use to believe that my parents / brother / sisters souls were lost and their blood was on my head and I will answer to a Holy, Angry, Wrathful, King for squandering my talents, which I was often told I did not have any. The Evangelical Religion broke my heart and soul with a vengeance.

    Then in all this I was blessed to do the work I do and I saw / see the risen Christ every day in so many little “miracles”. The hope in the darkness and all this “hurt” gave me perspective and vision. I still have the tapes that run in my head at times all the rhetoric and spiritual nonsense. But I find help and hope in Jesus the risen Lord, the incarnate one who entered time to walk with every wounded soul and bring them home. I do believe this has been my saving grace. I just needed to share that thank you.

  211. Jeff S wrote:

    To be clear, he was speaking AGAINST transactional thinking very strongly, he just did it in a very weird way.

    This become somewhat of a theme during the last election cycle.

    Many people were noticing that a lot of men (politicians) who spoke out against sexist comments by the one candidate couched it in terms of, “We don’t want our wives or daughters spoken of in this manner.”

    That misses the whole point. Men should refrain from making sexist comments about women because it’s wrong. Because women are human beings.

    To keep bringing up sisters, mothers, and wives is to only ascribe women value based on their being ‘owned’ by a man in some capacity, or related to one.

    Some of us women never marry. I seldom see my brother. My father is getting older – one day he won’t be here any more. So I won’t have a man to define me.

    Not all women have uncles, brothers, or fathers – for those women who do not, they still deserve to be treated with kindness and respect and not subjected to profane comments or sexist attitudes.

  212. Jeff S wrote:

    I’ve already suggested Boundaries, which I think is hands down, the best book on relationship and should be required reading. I’m also quite fond of Tim and Cathy Keller’s book, if you can just skip the chapter on Male Headship (which essentially amounts to, “It doesn’t make and sense, but we do alright with a very weak version of it, and God commands it so it must be good”).

    I’m glad you brought up the ‘Boundaries’ book with your church group. I don’t know if I agree with 100% of its content, but most of it is pretty good.

    I’ve found the books “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Evans, “No More Christian Nice Girl” (by Paul Coughlin) as well as “The Disease to Please” by Harriet Braiker to be helpful, too.

    All those books also deal with the topic of boundaries, more or less, and other, similar topics.

  213. In regards to the view that marriage makes people holy.

    It just occurred to me. Okay, suppose you have a marriage where the husband is abusing the wife, and the wife obviously is not going to be happy with this.

    Your book author guy would tell the wife to just deal with it, because this abuse is making her holy.

    But how does this work out for the abuser? I don’t see anything in this teaching that makes the abuser holy.

    If these book author guys are going to be fair or accurate with their teaching, should they not be saying,
    ‘if mistreatment makes someone more holy, we need to tell the abused wives to abuse back, so she needs to hit the abuser over the head with a baseball bat, like Negan?’

    How is the abusive husband “made holy” by abusing his wife?

    I’m not seeing how marriages are making the abuser holy. I’m not seeing these authors or pastors explain any of this.

  214. Daisy wrote:

    Your book author guy would tell the wife to just deal with it, because this abuse is making her holy.

    To be fair, I don’t actually think he believes this. He just apparently doesn’t see how his words are being used to say this.

    I agree that nothing about any of this will make a man holy.

  215. Lydia wrote:

    The trick might like in the idea they retain the power to decide how bad the marriage is and worthy of divorce. (Wink)

    Considering that some churches don’t think physical abuse or being married to a pedo is bad enough (e.g., Karen and the TVC church), you wonder what grounds would pass muster with these guys.

    A lot of male pastors seem abnormally resistant to granting that divorce can take place, no matter the reason.

    They put way too much importance on the institution and none on the people in it.

    If people divorce and a marriage dies, life as we know it continues. The sun will come up again tomorrow. I cannot figure out why they are so slavishly devoted to marriage.

  216. Daisy wrote:

    I think this submission junk complementarians push ultimately is only appealing to men who have hang-ups, who are sexist, and/or who are abusive to start with.
    I cannot see how a normal guy who wants a normal, happy relationship would be fulfilled or happy with a wife who acts like a pet dog, a robot, or a blow-up doll.

    I don’t even think it’s appealing to the extreme complementarian men in the long run, which is why they end up straying and having affairs. There’s no challenge in someone who does what you tell them to do.

  217. Jeff S wrote:

    I’ve told a pastor friend of mine that instead of doing marriage series, they should do “relationship” series and use marriage an example rather than a focus. He thought that would be an interesting approach. I’m pretty sure in never went beyond the restaurant table conversation though.

    Thank you for trying.

    In the past, I’ve read several adult singles online say they approached their pastors with the same issue, for the pastor to either blow them off on the spot,

    or, to ACT caring about it and swear they would change in the future, only for things to continue on as they always did (which meant more marriage sermons, or constant sermon illustrations using marriage as the example).

    I don’t know why pastors think marriage has to be the only relationship example they can point to in a sermon – (or parenting – I’ve never had children an tire of the “my son and my daughter” stories pastors use).

    I have never married, but I have, and had, friends, aunts, uncles, bosses, co-workers, neighbors, hair stylists, doctors, dentists, mail men, I have a sister, a brother, grand parents, cousins, etc.

    You don’t have to be married to someone to have a relationship with that person.

  218. Daisy wrote:

    From one of the reviews on the page you linked us to
    (this is from a review of a G. Thomas book):
    – – – – – – –
    I believe it was at the point where Mr. Thomas was explaining why men love their cars and how their cars, unlike their wives, are very clear about their needs and never ask a man how he’s feeling.

    There’s something else I wanted to say about this (I just noticed this)-

    The reason why most women don’t tell men about what they need and want is because they have been socialized not to do so from the time they are girls, especially in complementarian churches (but secular culture also re-enforces this in girls as well).

    Many women are raised, from the time they are girls, NOT to get their own needs met.

    I had that hammered into me all the time by my mother, and even now, I get this from my sister and dad.

    Women are taught (especially in complementarian churches and literature) that it is selfish for them to have needs of their own and to get them met.

    We women exist only to meet the needs of other people (we are taught).

    The reality is, though, that women DO have needs.

    We are taught not to be direct about those needs or about anything else – so we become passive aggressive and manipulative.

    We’re taught that only boys and men should be assertive and say what they want and need.

    So, this is another case where complementarians set up the problem they turn around and complain about later.

    If you are a complementarian man or preacher who is fed up with women being in-direct then stop teaching and pressuring women to be indirect!

    You are the ones who define “being feminine” to mean be indirect, passive, and a doormat, and you tell women they are in error if they do not behave like that.

    You complementarians are the ones telling women and girls it is wrong for them to be bold, assertive, and to say point-blank what we feel and think and need, so you have only yourselves to blame for women being indirect and passive.

    We ladies get criticized, told we are being bossy or masculine, if we are plain-spoken and directly ask for what we want, or if we get assertive and tell a man, “I don’t like it when you do thus- and- so”.

    That’s why we ladies don’t typically tell men what we need or want. You comps teach us to be that way. It’s your own fault, so why do you publish these books where you complain about it??

  219. Jeff S wrote:

    And frankly, my wife does ask about how I’m feeling. It’s nice to have someone care.

    Have you thought about getting a talking car, like Michael Knight’s K.I.T.T.?

    KITT could ask you how you’re day is going 🙂

    KITT, from the Knight Rider TV show:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo8Qls0HnWo

    Did Speed Buggy talk (Speed Buggy from the old cartoon show of the same name)? If so, you can go for rides in Speed Buggy, and he’ll ask you how your day was.

  220. Lydia wrote:

    Are there mean women? You bet

    I worked for one. I had one lady boss who harassed me for a couple of years.

    My sister is verbally abusive.

    Women can be cruel and mean, that’s for sure.

    But most every article, report, and book I’ve read on the topic of domestic abuse indicates that usually, in a hetero relationship, that male- on- female violence is greater in number than female- on- male.

  221. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    I agree. After I read Boundaries in Marriage I attempted to set a few boundaries. It didn’t fix my marriage because abusers don’t like limits. However, that book helped me see that what I was living through was not acceptable or normal.

    That’s a good reminder.

    I was reading in another (similar) book that you enforce boundaries for you, you do it for your own sake – not just for your abuser, or the mean person in your life, but for you.

    Even if you putting your boundaries in place does not produce a desired result in the horrible person in your life, you do it for you – for your self esteem, and so on.

  222. brian wrote:

    At 7 I should have had all that figured out but I did not.

    If you had had all that figured out at 7, you would have been a very abnormal child. Cut yourself some slack …… a lot of slack. What you went through as a child would have a very negative impact on the strongest person, even a strong adult. Thanks for sharing, and I wish you well in your struggles to deal with everything. From what you’ve told omTWW, you have come a long way in the right direction.

  223. Lea wrote:

    So I went out of town to visit a friend valentines day weekend, in part to distract myself from a bad breakup, and her church decided to preach on marriage that day! Joy! And then they said ‘oh single people, don’t worry. you’ll get married someday’ *eyeroll*

    I was reading a book by two single Christian authors about singleness.

    One of them had moved to a new town, was church shopping, went to a new church and looked at the proposed sermon schedule and church activities for the next X months that was on a church bulletin board. She was trying to see what groups she could join or meetings she could go to.

    She said everything on the board was about and for marriage. (Picnics for married couples, etc.)

    The sermon schedule blocked out for the next 6 to 8 weeks was a sermon series about ‘How To Have a Rockin’ Marriage.’

    The author wrote something like, “And what were single people at this church supposed to do during all this time?”

    Absolutely nothing on this activity calendar thing was even remotely addressing the lives or needs of singles -for weeks on end.

  224. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Polishing-the-Shaft Schaapf?

    That would be the guy, yes. He wrote a dating advice book that was for sale on Amazon.

    I just went to Amazon, and his books are still for sale:
    -Preparing for Marriage by Jack Schaap
    -12 Myths of Marriage by Jack Schaap
    -Dating with a Purpose: Common Sense Dating Principles for Couples, Parents, and Youth Workers by Jack Schaap

    I have no interest in taking dating or marriage advice from a perv.

    The reviews on Amazon about the dating advice book are pretty good, LOL.

    Here is one of them:

    “Criminal pedofile adulturist Priest writes book on how to date teens

    By Chadwick

    54 year old “Pastor” Schapp was found guilty of transporting a 16yo girl across state lines to have sex with him on multiple occasions. He is married with two kids and claims to be a man of god and wants to instruct young girls about dating. He suggests girls keep thier weight down to attract a man.”

  225. Daisy wrote:

    Beyond telling women to submit, which only applies to married women (in their theology), they have no advice or anything relevant to give to single women, and sure as heck not never married women over age 40.

    If you take away wifehood and motherhood, complementarianism pretty much falls apart. Minus motherhood/wifehood, they have an empty gender theology.

    As I like to say, “complementarianism” (not a real word) has nothing to offer single people. And if this was really “gospel” (it’s not) it would have something for single adults. It does not.

  226. Emily Honeycutt wrote:

    It’s not just a let’s get more women in ministry discussion, but how are we treating/viewing women in the first place.

    If we are not also and and primarily asking questions such as:
    Why *are* so many women suffering in horrible, abusive marriages? And if they don’t think mistreatment of women in marriages and in the church in general is a problem, their bubble/disconnect has just been confirmed.

    This right here is the discusssion we need to be having first.

    And the necessarily general questions from that: maybe there is something in our theology and structures and view of God that is not correct or at best, not given proper orientation/placement in the larger reality – used as a principle, not binding and true for all times/peoples. But the system is often designed to not ask or nuance those questions, the necessary questions that need to be asked. So, it’s a cycle of never truly dealing with anything.

    Excellent observation.

    I raised a similar point as to what is in your second paragraph.

    The fruit of complementarianism has been bad.

    You’d think in light of that complementarians might want to re-visit their views, and consider they have been misinterpreting what the Bible says about women and marriage for a long time now.

  227. Darlene wrote:

    The fact is we can acknowledge that our wife has a brain and life experience and at the same time let her know that we as the head of the house cannot let her make a moral decision that we do not think is best.”

    It is revolting to think that anyone would listen to this twisted individual.

    Yes it is and is this even legal?

  228. I don’t think it was an accident that I was constantly stopped at that woman’s conference and forced to hear despicable story after despicable story (“forced” isn’t the right word. I could, of course, have walked away). I think God wanted me to see the breadth and depth of what is going on, and in this case, perhaps to be His voice.

    Shouldn’t a person be well acquainted with all of these things BEFORE they write books and teach others about marriage?

  229. Christiane wrote:

    My own feeling is that many ‘ministers’ in the neo-Cal world have likely abandoned all that is reasonable and instead, laying all conscience aside, have followed their pied Piper into the darkness (for how can ‘the Church’ stop an abusive husband when they have taught him that it is God’s will that his wife is to be a submissive?)

    It’s not just the neo-cals, not by a long shot. It is a long standing problem in the Christian church, including conservative, evangelical, and the Catholic church. The traditional idea has been that abused women have a responsibility to stick it out for life, regardless of their suffering.

  230. Max wrote:

    GSD, I am the “someone” who made that comment – this condescending attitude by a young “pastor dude” was a sad thing to behold (sadder still, there are so many more like him in the reformed movement). We need to remember that Gary Thomas is a New Calvinist and a proponent of complementarianism. I would fully expect him, in a mixed crowd, to elevate men and subordinate women – bless their hearts, that’s just what they do.

    Thanks Max, it was a great story that made an impression on me. Yes, it’s what these pastor-dudes do, often without thinking about it. There may be an element of sexual paranoia, where they avoid speaking to women for fear that someone would misunderstand their intentions.

    I’m more inclined to think that their attitude toward women is a logical outworking of their theology. Women are less than, the derivative image of God, and thus don’t merit attention. I guess that at some point, women become mere objects to them, and that objectification can lead to all sorts of dysfunction.

    I guess my spouse and I have an egalitarian relationship. Truth is, we are so preoccupied with the challenges of life [job issues, aging parents, teenage children, etc.] that we don’t stop to think about it much. We are united against the forces of… pigheadedness.

  231. @ Mr. Jesperson:

    One of my problems with people who want to argue stats about which gender is abused the most is that it still avoids the issue of who is socialized to put up with abuse and attract abusers the most?

    And that would be women – even if one wants to grant that there are more male domestic violence vics than female onese.

    American secular culture and complementarian culture condition females in such a way as to raise them to have qualities that bullies, abusers, and users consider desirable – such as being passive.

    Most American men are encouraged from the time they are boys to have strong boundaries, be assertive, etc, all traits that do not make them easy marks for predators, bullies, and abusers.

    Girls are not usually raised that way, but in the opposite way.

    There are studies that demonstrate that this takes place in the American public school class room: Teachers will reward and encourage boys to display characteristics our culture consider good and admirable for males, such as being outspoken and assertive, while teachers penalize girls for showing those same qualities.

    The girl students are rewarded by the teachers for stereotypical female traits, such as being quiet, passive, sweet, clean, cooperative, and neat.

    (These qualities don’t do much of anything to help girls weed out and repel abusers when they start dating when older.)

    Your link aside, about every article and other study I’ve ever seen state women out-number men as abuse victims.

  232. Loren Haas wrote:

    So how can Gary Thomas write such a popular book about marriage and not know how prevalent abuse is in marriage? I am truly puzzled that he was surprised to hear these stories. He obviously has little contact with real life marriages.

    I just started reading this thread, so I hope I’m not repeating anyone. One thing that occurred to me is that because he was at a women’s conference, women were free, away from their husbands, to discuss their marriages openly. Also, because Gary is not a pastor at their church, they were in a safe place knowing that their stories wouldn’t get back to unsafe people at church (leaders, friends of husband, etc).

  233. Victorious wrote:

    I think some of these harmful books and teachings could be prevented or at least recognized for the fallacy if a list of the 59 one-anothers would be posted in the foyer of every church, on the wall of every Sunday school classroom, and handed out prior to every marriage conference!

    http://www.smallgroupchurches.com/the-59-one-anothers-of-the-bible/

    This would make so much better of a study.

    I think, even aside from the bad marriage advice, I do have some problems with this ‘suffering is good and God sends it on purpose’ kind of advice. Yes, when one finds himself in a painful situation that he cannot escape from, God is our strength and He can use it for our ultimate spiritual growth. I don’t feel like this means that suffering is inherently good or helpful. It destroys many people, too.

    When we take this teaching too far, we lose a sense of compassion, we lose the desire to lift the burden of suffering from others and the world. We start to look at God as one who is always finding ways to torment us “for our own good.” He becomes like a parent who would walk into a room and just randomly spank a child for no reason, a child who is already doing his best. We can become fearful of praying for God’s help, believing he will just send more suffering.

    And in the Sacred Marriage book, we have the example of marriage, which ought to be a refuge and support, being just another venue for God to beat us down with more suffering.

    I just think it is a kind of a masochistic way of life.

  234. Jeff S wrote:

    But I’m not. I just remember what it was like and I don’t want anyone else have to be there any longer than necessary!

    Thank you, Jeff. Your voice is so important. And you also give survivors hope with the story of your new marriage 🙂

  235. NJ wrote:

    *practice law without a license

    *practice marriage counseling without a license

    *practice psychology without a license

    *practice psychiatry without a license

    *practice medicine without a license

    *practice financial planning without a license

    Have I forgotten any?

    Give child rearing advice with no child development training!

  236. @ Julie Anne:
    J.A., you make a good point, but how sad is it that these women do not feel safe talking to there own pastors? I have been in the place of evading the pastor because they were unsafe or unhelpful. Fortunately, leaving thar church was a real option as my wife was in agreement. My heart goes out to those who feel stuck and without an ally.

  237. Lea wrote:

    I will say one more thing. I think there are a fair number of people who are SO WORRIED someone might divorce for frivolous reasons, they feel the need to constantly make these ‘marriage is difficult/hard’ comments, because it’s like otherwise people will just get divorced all willy nilly. It’s a weird tick. They don’t do the reverse in their advice, by constantly saying ‘this does not apply to abuse’ which is where it would really be helpful.

    I get that feeling, too, and I just don’t get it. I’m sure there are a few people out there who jump to divorce without giving their marriage a fair chance first, but I think most people who marry do so with the expectation they are going to make it work. Divorce is not easy! For most people it is a really difficult decision after a lot of suffering. It’s like going through a death, in a sense. These people are suffering enough already. I just don’t think anyone else has the right to stand in judgment as to whether someone else has “the right” to divorce or not. Only the persons in that marriage know what they are living with. Only they know the consequences of staying or leaving and only they will have to live with them.

  238. Jeff S wrote:

    @ Daisy:
    I was told by my pastor (a good man, despite his complentarian ways) that my wife and I would run into trouble if we tried to be egalitarian. Eventually, we’d come to a decision where we just coulcn’t agree, and we needed to prepare it.
    He did agree, though, to conduct an egalitarian wedding (my wife did not vow to submit to me).
    My wife told me to tell him that in the area of gender roles, she would submit to my decision (tongue firmly planted in cheek).
    Thus far, being in an egalitarian marriage is awesome

    You’ve had quite a metamorphosis over the past five years . . . it is good to see.

  239. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    On the other hand, I know of two men in these situations.

    I know a very dear, kind, gentle Christian man who met “the perfect woman” through a Christian dating organization. The instant the wedding was over, her mask came off, and he has been living in his own private hell (and I do mean hell!) for the many years since. He has been trying to “love sacrifically” all this time, in the belief that “God hates divorce”. I do not feel it has made him more “holy.” It has cut him off from all other friendships and his own family and, as a result, he has become odd. The inner resentment and cognitive dissonance he keeps buried has had an unfortunate effect on him, he isn’t the same person he once was. And through his allowing this woman to cut him off from his own loved ones, he has allowed this evil to wound all of them, too.

    Abuse destroys people, plain and simple. The best that can be said is that some survive in spite of it. If there are children involved, they are damaged. Living with abuse does not produce miracles of goodness.

  240. Lea wrote:

    Certainly it does happen. And yes, poison was traditionally considered a ‘woman’s weapon’. But a gun is just as easy.

    Or psychological terrorism. A skillful liar who knows how to groom authorities can do terrible things.

  241. Mr. Jesperson wrote:

    But the statistics of this 2010 study suggest that women have actually become more violent then men, which was news to me, but not surprising. Apparently, the old violence ratio has become a myth.

    This could be a side effect of the high rate of drug abuse and types of drugs being abused these days. But it doesn’t surprise me. Yes, men might be stronger than women overall but a man married to a violent woman is not necessarily one who is willing to respond with violence, so it is a moot point who is stronger. I used to listen to the police scanner in my community off & on and it seemed like, to me, there were roughly the same number of calls for domestic violence going in each way. I don’t know that these statistics are the same within Christian circles, though. And within the comp community, where children have been raised to be doormats and men have been raised to feel entitled. That would need some study.

  242. GMFS

    Jeff S wrote:

    I was told by my pastor (a good man, despite his complentarian ways) that my wife and I would run into trouble if we tried to be egalitarian. Eventually, we’d come to a decision where we just couldn’t agree, and we needed to prepare it.

    This, I think, illustrates the fundamental ignorance at the heart of current complementarianism and, indeed, authoritarianism generally. Namely, the inability to understand, and the refusal to believe, that relationships do not all come down to a battle for control between people who each, ultimately, only want their own way.

    In truth, the “unbreakable impasse” is a myth created to frighten people away from building Christian relationships.

    Lesley and I have often, in 24 years of marriage, come across non-trivial * situations where we didn’t at first agree. But we have never come across a non-trivial situation where we couldn’t agree. This is nothing to do with being “lucky so far”: life cannot possibly defeat us that way. There can never be a non-trivial situation where we just can’t agree, because we have built our relationship specifically around Jesus’ command to love one another.

    There have often been decisions where one of us has felt something hasn’t been right. Because “love one another” necessarily includes “respect one another”, each of us knows that when the other feels something isn’t right, there’s a very good reason for it. We may not have been able to put our finger on what it is, or articulate it. But we always know at this point that the immediate task is to find this reason. This will go one of two ways:
     The problem was a genuine_but_unfounded concern (or, perhaps, one that applies to a different situation), and the actual need was to be listened to: mission accomplished and the decision itself, which wasn’t actually a problem, can go ahead;
     The problem was an important insight or spiritual discernment that was well-founded, and the decision should not be made without it.

    Resolving these mythical impasses by one party over-ruling the other doesn’t solve the problem in anything other than the short term.

    * There are infinitely many trivial things on which we “disagree”. Lesley likes cucumber, for instance, and I hate it. But nothing can force or trick us into fighting over this. For that matter: if it should somehow happen that I could honour or otherwise demonstrate my love to her by eating cucumber – I’d eat cucumber.

  243. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Resolving these mythical impasses by one party over-ruling the other doesn’t solve the problem in anything other than the short term.

    Of course, none of the above will work in a loveless marriage. But creating a hierarchy of authority won’t make a loveless marriage happy either. It’ll just make it generate unhappiness in a way that looks more efficient.

  244. siteseer wrote:

    [is it the seminaries where pastors get the idea they can…] Give child rearing advice with no child development training!

    Or, in Gothard’s tragic case, give child-rearing advice without any personal experience at all.

    The fact that his bizarre and megalomaniacal superstitions attracted so many people, who gave them so much authority, is an extraordinarily stark and sad example of the pitiable fallenness of the human race…

  245. Daisy wrote:

    This become somewhat of a theme during the last election cycle.

    Yes, this was my thought. However, it may have been this kind of talk during the election cycle that made my hearing things GT was saying in a different late- and this is why I think it’s possible I could be projecting. I want to be clear.

    But after a lot of what was said during the election cycle, “think of her as someone’s daughter” does raise a flag for me.

  246. Daisy wrote:

    I was reading in another (similar) book that you enforce boundaries for you, you do it for your own sake – not just for your abuser, or the mean person in your life, but for you.

    This was actually a revelation to me that was HUGE, and I didn’t learn it from the Boundaries book (though it may have been in there), but from the session I did at the institution where my ex-wife was being treated (I’m not sure she learned much, but I learned a LOT, and it was very good information)

    And that was this: boundaries are not about controlling another person. That’s just not what they are for. They are for identifying the difference between “you” and “not you”, and ultimately protecting yourself.

    So, for example, if there was some behavior my wife was doing that I didn’t like, boundaries didn’t give me a tool to change it. If she was doing something that was harmful to me, then they WERE a tool to protect from it. And thus, I started thinking clearer about why certain behaviors were problematic and damaging, and I started focusing less on her changing and more on myself being safe. Drawing those boundaries was hard (and boy did she react to it), but I could also confidently say to myself that I wasn’t trying to control her, I was setting reasonable expectations for myself.

  247. It appears that whoever manages Gary Thomas’s blog did, in fact, remove my comment. Unless I’m misunderstanding or not seeing it (which has happened before).

    Here is a screen capture of the post (last line is cut off- it said: ‘But these are your words and your teachings, still being used today, and they are hurting people.’):

    http://imgur.com/a/TjKlr

    Disappointing 🙁

  248. @ Jeff S:
    One of the best descriptions I have read. It can never be about changing the other person. That is just being controlled by some pathology.

    Boundaries are scary. They often require hard decisions to protect yourself.

  249. Jeff S wrote:

    It appears that whoever manages Gary Thomas’s blog did, in fact, remove my comment.

    I made an additional comment with a link to my long comment here. It was deleted also. Which is fascinating, because on his Facebook page he says this: “Several of the comments criticize me but we’ve left them up because I believe wisdom and truth is best discerned in community; where I’m wrong, I want to be corrected.”

  250. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Or, in Gothard’s tragic case, give child-rearing advice without any personal experience at all.

    The fact that his bizarre and megalomaniacal superstitions attracted so many people, who gave them so much authority, is an extraordinarily stark and sad example of the pitiable fallenness of the human race…

    the worst child-rearing ‘advice’ I have ever encountered was the Pearl’s teachings on beating babies as young as six months old ….. the graphic descriptions of beatings and the reports of the deaths of children at the hands of some parents using the Pearls’s brutal child-discipline advice led me tho think that these people AND their followers had departed from Christianity and had instead entered into something utterly satanic

  251. @ Elizabeth Lee:

    I really didn’t think my comment was THAT harsh. I also think I was pretty specific about what I thought was wrong and how it could be harmful.

    I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially because he endorsed a friend of mine’s book on abuse, but I’m becoming strained to do so.

  252. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    This, I think, illustrates the fundamental ignorance at the heart of current complementarianism and, indeed, authoritarianism generally. Namely, the inability to understand, and the refusal to believe, that relationships do not all come down to a battle for control between people who each, ultimately, only want their own way.
    In truth, the “unbreakable impasse” is a myth created to frighten people away from building Christian relationships.

    The problem is that this concept is built into many theology constructs. It is taught over and over that men and women are at odds, that women want to usurp men, that we are all so selfish that we just can’t see it. We are hopeless sinners. And this is taught in the Church to believers . . . new and old believers alike. They are not taught that God has, and is doing a work in them. They are not taught about taking off the old and putting on the new. Instead, they are taught hopelessness and that everyone needs an authority to keep them in place because we are all such rotten sinners. It is sad.

  253. Bridget wrote:

    They are not taught that God has, and is doing a work in them.

    seems to be an absence of believe in the Holy Spirit and in the guiding and supporting interaction of the Holy Spirit with a person’s conscience

  254. Jeff S wrote:

    I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, especially because he endorsed a friend of mine’s book on abuse, but I’m becoming strained to do so.

    There is a possibility that his staff has started deleting critical comments. I also told him on Facebook that at least two comments have been deleted. I await a response.

  255. siteseer wrote:

    NJ wrote:

    *practice law without a license

    *practice marriage counseling without a license

    *practice psychology without a license

    *practice psychiatry without a license

    *practice medicine without a license

    *practice financial planning without a license

    Have I forgotten any?

    Give child rearing advice with no child development training!

    Agreed, although I see this more often with popular Christian authors and bloggers.

  256. Does anybody here know much about Choi Soon-sil? She’s been in the news a lot lately; apparently she’s a cult leader who tried to influence the government. I’ve seen the cult described as pseudo-Christian, shamanist, and pseudo-Buddhist; it may be a mixture of all three. It seems South Korea has a lot of abusive cults. Maybe Korea needs its own version of TWW.

  257. siteseer wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    Certainly it does happen. And yes, poison was traditionally considered a ‘woman’s weapon’. But a gun is just as easy.

    Or psychological terrorism. A skillful liar who knows how to groom authorities can do terrible things.

    Yet another reason for men to distrust women.
    And throw in with Male Supremacists and Manosphere PUAs for self-defense.

    (I tend to go on this angle because my upbringing and high school experience left me with a deep distrust of women and a case of virgin/whore dichotomy. I can interact with RL women only as neuter-to-neuter.)

  258. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    It seems South Korea has a lot of abusive cults. Maybe Korea needs its own version of TWW.

    Is there something about Korean culture that makes them vulnerable to extremism and abusive cults?

  259. siteseer wrote:

    I think, even aside from the bad marriage advice, I do have some problems with this ‘suffering is good and God sends it on purpose’ kind of advice. Yes, when one finds himself in a painful situation that he cannot escape from, God is our strength and He can use it for our ultimate spiritual growth. I don’t feel like this means that suffering is inherently good or helpful. It destroys many people, too.

    When “Suffering = Holiness”, people will deliberately seek out suffering.
    Until they’re gargling lye alongside St Rose of Lima.

    When we take this teaching too far, we lose a sense of compassion, we lose the desire to lift the burden of suffering from others and the world. We start to look at God as one who is always finding ways to torment us “for our own good.” He becomes like a parent who would walk into a room and just randomly spank a child for no reason, a child who is already doing his best. We can become fearful of praying for God’s help, believing he will just send more suffering.

    You don’t build bridges with an abusive parent (especially a random unpredictable abuser); you RUN. You run as far away from them as possible.

    About two weeks ago, there was a commenter at Internet Monk who related just that happening in his life: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/69695#comment-1070126

  260. Lydia wrote:

    Lea wrote:
    Because we’re not people without men. That’s what they think. It shines through everything they say.

    Because they view it as securing their place in the “order” of things.

    With themselves on top, of course.

  261. Max wrote:

    And both continue to be used by the New Calvinist movement. Moore is one of the few women blessed by New Calvinist leaders as OK to send “their women” to hear.

    Ever heard of a Judas Goat?

  262. MidwesternEasterner wrote:

    Does anybody here know much about Choi Soon-sil? She’s been in the news a lot lately; apparently she’s a cult leader who tried to influence the government. I’ve seen the cult described as pseudo-Christian, shamanist, and pseudo-Buddhist; it may be a mixture of all three. It seems South Korea has a lot of abusive cults. Maybe Korea needs its own version of TWW.

    I’ve been vaguely following it, but as South Korean citizens demanded President Park Geun Hye’s impeachment (which was carried out yesterday), Choi’s power base might be eroded quite a bit.

    To those of you who don’t know, President Park was impeached in part because of Choi’s influence, and favors given to Choi. Choi is sort of a mystic cult leader, and she’s had influence over Park since she was young. Park’s father was an influential president of the country, and was assassinated. Her mother was also assassinated when she was young. Choi clearly targeted Park because of her family’s influence and because Park was probably fairly vulnerable. It also came out that Park had Choi’s daughter’s high school records falsified so she could graduate (she attended 17 days her last year), as well as pressuring a university to change their standards just to accept Choi’s daughter.

    There’s a lot of abusive cults in Asia in general. That was a concern for people when I was a missionary in Japan. There’s actually a really good Japanese TV series called Trick which is about a detective and a stage magician who debunk these cults.

  263. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    Is there something about Korean culture that makes them vulnerable to extremism and abusive cults?

    There is a lot of animism in most east Asian countries. Animism is so pluralistic that it leads to people trying to please every spirit. A lot of that culture is based on increasing one’s luck in life. Some will pay a lot of money to get lucky charms and other protections from bad luck.

  264. Daisy wrote:

    Deb wrote:
    I wonder if part of the masquerade involves weird hand gestures…

    JAZZ HANDS:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuPSIbABYVU
    (Make sure your volume is on so you can hear the music)
    If HUG is still on this thread, please take a look at that video.

    I’ll see your Jazz Hands and raise you a Vogue:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuJQSAiODqI
    (If you can sit through the commercial. “Vouging” was a club dance of the Eighties which concentrated on framing the face with elaborage hand gestures.)

  265. Jeff S wrote:

    And that was this: boundaries are not about controlling another person. That’s just not what they are for. They are for identifying the difference between “you” and “not you”, and ultimately protecting yourself.

    I agree.

    The book I read sort of also seemed to communicate that practicing boundaries is good for your self-esteem, too.

    I know having been taught the opposite – my mother especially taught me that I should lack boundaries, should not defend myself is someone was being rude to me, that other people’s feelings/needs mattered more than mine – made me feel even more terrible about myself than I already did.

    From a young age, I already felt insecure and unsure of myself – my mother’s teaching made it ten times worse. The teaching I got as I grew older, this stuff about having to put other people first all the time no matter what (even if they are being mean), that it was selfish to have boundaries so just let people walk all over you, made me feel even worse about myself.

    I have an older sister who is usually a verbally abusive bully. I finally stood up to her about two years ago (I put my boundaries in place). It did not change her. She got even more angry and screamed at me louder, and her e-mails became even more shrill and hate-filled.

    But it made me feel better to know I at least tried, I stuck up for myself.

    One other thing I learned from these blogs and books about boundaries, is that if sticking up for yourself does not work (the bully remains a bully), another boundary is to cut the person out of your life or cut contact. I opted to cut contact with my sister.

    Kind of makes me sad, as I was always hoping to have a close relationship with her. But she either is to interested or is incapable of that, so really, my only choice was to stop calling or writing her so much. It’s working for me, though.

    I don’t get as many nasty, rude outbursts from her when I do get an e-mail or call from her.

    I think a lot of Christians teach and believe the opposite of all this, like my mother did.

    They get taught by preachers, or get the wrong idea from misunderstanding the Bible, that God wants all Christians to be doormats and just tolerate abuse all the time, in every scenario.

  266. Bridget wrote:

    The problem is that this concept is built into many theology constructs. It is taught over and over that men and women are at odds, that women want to usurp men, that we are all so selfish that we just can’t see it. We are hopeless sinners. And this is taught in the Church to believers . . . new and old believers alike.

    One reason of several I find that gender teaching annoying is that it is so flat untrue of me personally.

    I’ve no interest in being in charge, being a leader, forcing others to do things my way all the time.

    I prefer being a follower and taking orders. I find being a follower far less stressful than being a boss, being a leader, being in charge.

    I have zippo interest in controlling men in general, controlling a husband or controlling women.

    None of which is to say I want to be controlled in an abusive fashion. I will stand up to people now if they try to unfairly push me around.

    If anything, the Bible in Genesis is saying that many to most women will be predisposed to be passive wimps (not controllers!) and let men call the shots, because women will look to men, rather than God, to be protector and provider, and men will exploit that female tendency… and they do.

  267. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    There is a possibility that his staff has started deleting critical comments. I also told him on Facebook that at least two comments have been deleted. I await a response.

    Does this guy or his staff not realize that they can sit there and censor and delete comments on his blog or Facebook page to their heart’s content, but this will do NOTHING to stop people from criticizing his book in other venues, like this blog?

    If someone ever does a search for his name or the title of this book, this blog post (with all our critiques) will show up in the results.

    It’s not as though his blog or FB page is the ONLY resource out there for people looking up his name or book.

  268. Elizabeth Lee wrote (quoting Mr Thomas’ Facetube page):

    “Several of the comments criticize me but we’ve left them up because I believe wisdom and truth is best discerned in community; where I’m wrong, I want to be corrected.”

    Which is an odd thing to say, really. Entering into any public discussion of any kind is to invite some criticism. Writing a book that you want as many people as possible to read is to invite some kind of criticism. Only a very unstable and insecure person would not leave any critical comments up.

  269. @ Headless Unicorn Guy:

    Oh yeah, I’m familiar with the song / video. There was actually a video/song very similar with the hand gestures and stuff that came out a few years before the Vogue one. (I cannot remember the name of the song or artist, though.)

  270. Daisy wrote:

    Does this guy or his staff not realize that they can sit there and censor and delete comments on his blog or Facebook page to their heart’s content, but this will do NOTHING to stop people from criticizing his book in other venues, like this blog?

    I think about this when people ‘block’ someone on twitter. I guess what they’re really doing is ensuring that their followers and/or sycophants don’t see it.

  271. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    Only a very unstable and insecure person would not leave any critical comments up.

    This applies to a goodish chunk of the pastor world, apparently. They hate criticism.

    And yes, criticism is tough to take when it is personal. I imagine Gary doesn’t like knowing that his book is being used to justify and excuse abuse but he NEEDS to know that, and if he is wise he will listen and hear and learn.

  272. Christiane wrote:

    … the worst child-rearing ‘advice’ I have ever encountered was the Pearl’s…

    Indeed. Thomas Szasz famously said of Jim Jones: “I think he was an evil man”. The abominable Pearl reminds me a lot of that quote.

  273. Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:

    About two weeks ago, there was a commenter at Internet Monk who related just that happening in his life: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/69695#comment-1070126

    Wow, good example. Poor guy!

    I think that this mindset ties into what they call “negative filtering” in cognitive therapy: it’s known that we tend to filter all our experiences through our belief system. We tend to see those things that would reinforce what we believe as proof our beliefs are accurate, and those things that would refute them as aberrations or flukes. So if you have this mindset of God sending suffering drilled into your head, you are going to start seeing everything bad that happens as proof God is purposely sending suffering to you, but you’ll categorize the good things that happen as flukes. Or worse, as him setting you up for future loss. It’s really a self-defeating way to think! How long can a person live with that mindset before they have some real damage to their psyche?

  274. Daisy wrote:

    @ Darlene:
    Just FYI, it’s not clear if the guy behind BGR blog is a troll or not.
    There have been a few articles about him and his blog which say he’s actually an atheist pretending to be a sexist Christian either for kicks and giggles or to gather information for some book or research he’s doing.
    Still, even if he is a parody site, I find a lot of what he says and writes to be present in actual, true, Christian gender complementarianism.
    There are several articles and blog posts online exposing the BGR guy, such as this one:
    Is Biblical Gender Roles a Big Hoax?
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2015/10/is-biblical-gender-roles-a-big-hoax/

    Daisy, I don’t know if you are aware of this, but the BGR guy did an interview the Alan Colmes. Why would he go to this length if he is a Poe (fake)? Have you ever read his responses in the comment section? He doesn’t sound like a guy who is faking it. I think he’s the Genuine Article.

  275. GSD wrote:

    at some point, women become mere objects to them, and that objectification can lead to all sorts of dysfunction

    Coyotes when ensnared in a leg-hold trap will eventually chew their leg off to get free. I suspect that many poor wives of hard-core complementarian New Calvinists are at that point.

  276. Lydia wrote:

    My take on the Piper phenomenon (and others) is they were masters of market niche promotional propaganda … Get them young … Promote the books and conferences.

    Indeed! There would be no New Calvinist movement if it weren’t for a multitude of Generations Xers and Millennials who have been Piperized and Mohlerized. The Gospel Coalition (= The Gospel Cartel) goes after young minds which can be indoctrinated and released on the church in America – these young pastors, in turn, indoctrinate more young minds which expands the target market for books and conferences. It’s a well-tuned religious racket, with no spiritual substance to it.

  277. Daisy wrote:

    Darlene wrote:
    The fact is we can acknowledge that our wife has a brain and life experience and at the same time let her know that we as the head of the house cannot let her make a moral decision that we do not think is best.”
    That is all irrelevant any how.
    A woman married to that kind of guy walks into the voting booth alone, and he will never see who see votes for.

    But you can bet that he’ll get the answer from her when she walks out of that voting booth. And she had better tell the truth or else….

  278. Daisy wrote:

    Until these guys realize that complementarianism is the root of the problem, and consider they have been misinterpreting the Bible wrong all this time, I’m afraid not much is going to change.

    I’m not so sure that I would say that Comps are misinterpreting Scripture. I know many on this blog may disagree with me, but I think if one reads the New Testament letters and Paul the Apostle in particular, they must necessarily conclude that the Bible teaches Complementarianism. It is something with which I struggle because I have rejected the Comp/Pat model of marriage. One might say I understand those particular “woman submit, woman is more easily deceived than man, etc.” as a sexist and chauvinist attitude. Then again, Paul the Apostle said seemed to agree that “Cretans are liars” and “Women will be saved through child bearing.” I’ve concluded that I don’t believe every actual sentence and viewpoint within Scripture is inerrant. And that’s…well…that.

  279. Lea wrote:

    No wonder it’s so confusing to try to tell some of these people that women are not all the same.

    Your comment reminds me of a discussion I was having with people on Facebook yesterday. A Fb friend asked how people stay married for life, lamenting that spouses no longer want to be committed to each other all their lives. Some of the responses were revolting. By the way, for the most part these were Calvinists so they have a Comp. view of marriage. One woman bore her heart and soul of how her husband expected her to dress and act like a whore in the bedroom, performing lewd sex acts. One of the men responded to her: “So he was a sinner. Yup. Me too.” Several people blamed Feminism as the cause for destroyed marriages in the church. One woman insisted that the problem people have today is that they begin a marriage having expectations of their spouse. Oh yeah, and the “marriage is meant to make us holy not happy” mantra was carted out followed by some hearty “Amens.” I posted the article about the advice Paige Patterson gave the abused wife to “pray by her bedside when her husband is asleep” to show that there is a distorted view of marriage i the church. He read the article and saw nothing wrong with Patterson’s advice to the physically abused wife. One woman insisted that all women are Feminists and when they come into the church, they bring their destructive views with them. Then she quoted a section of a book that she recommended and I thought for sure I was back in my former Christian cult. I’ll post it here just to show you the toxic thinking that is present within many segments of Evangelicalism:

    “Eve is deceived and rather easily. Eve was convinced that God was holding something from her. Not even the extravagance of Eden could convince her that God’s heart is good. When Eve was deceived, the artistry of being a woman took a fateful dive into the barren places of control and loneliness. Now, every daughter of Eve wants to control her surroundings, her relationships, her God. No longer is she vulnerable; now she will be grasping. No longer does she want simply to share in the adventure; now she wants to control it. And as for her beauty, she either hides it in fear and anger, or she uses it to secure her place in the world. In our fear that no one will speak on our behalf, or protect us or fight for us, we start to recreate both ourselves and our role in the story. We manipulate our surroundings so we don’t feel so defenseless. Fallen Eve either becomes rigid or clingy. Put simply, Eve is no longer simply inviting. She is either hiding in busyness or demanding that Adam come through for her; usually, an odd combination of both.” The Allure of Hope by Jan Meyers

    I told her flat out it was hogwash. 😉 This is the Real Face of Complementarianism.

  280. Darlene wrote:

    Then again, Paul the Apostle said seemed to agree that “Cretans are liars” and “Women will be saved through child bearing.”

    OK, some Bible translators intentionally mis-translated the sentence about child bearing from a noun (the Childbearing, referencing the birth of Jesus Christ), to a verb “childbearing”. There is a big difference between being saved by the Childbearing (noun) and “childbearing” (verb).

  281. Elizabeth Lee wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    It appears that whoever manages Gary Thomas’s blog did, in fact, remove my comment.
    I made an additional comment with a link to my long comment here. It was deleted also. Which is fascinating, because on his Facebook page he says this: “Several of the comments criticize me but we’ve left them up because I believe wisdom and truth is best discerned in community; where I’m wrong, I want to be corrected.”

    Well, there you go. He wants to control the medium. What is he afraid of? Already I’m beginning to have suspicions about Mr. Thomas. If he isn’t willing to listen to people’s concerns and criticisms, then he will never learn where his message has had a deleterious effect.

  282. Velour wrote:

    some Bible translators intentionally mis-translated the sentence about child bearing from a noun (the Childbearing, referencing the birth of Jesus Christ), to a verb “childbearing”. There is a big difference between being saved by the Childbearing (noun) and “childbearing” (verb).

    I think a lot of fundamentalism is based on bad English translations. Translators put their biases onto the English text, instead of translating what it actually says, and I believe many of them have done so intentionally. There’s a lot of places where the text is gender neutral, but translators translate it male only. Then there’s the places like above that are translated plural when they are singular. Another place that happens is “I do not allow a woman to teach.” The whole passage is singular in Greek, referring to one woman, not women in general.

    The more I study the Greek in a lot of these problem passages, the more I disagree with fundamentalist Christianity.

  283. Darlene wrote:

    Here’s the entire passage that the Comp. woman on Facebook quoted to me. She was thoroughly convinced that Feminism is the biggest problem in the church and destroyer of marriages.
    https://www.ransomedheart.com/daily-reading/ezer-kenegdo

    My complementarian friends who are the loudest about it are the ones who clearly have some issues in their marriage. Some of them have gone years without dealing with those issues.

    It’s gotten to the point that whenever someone harps about how they are not something loudly and for a long time, I wonder if that’s exactly the problem they are having.

  284. ishy wrote:

    The more I study the Greek in a lot of these problem passages, the more I disagree with fundamentalist Christianity.

    That was my take away from cursory Greek studies concerning comp/Patriarchy. Historical background was another nail in the comp coffin.

  285. Darlene wrote:

    his message has had a deleterious effect

    From the comments posted here, it appears that “sacred” turned into a curse for many women.

  286. The extrabiblical idea that marriage is an unbreakable covenant has lulled people to sleep. If marriage is a contract (as described in exodus and deuteronomy) then there is an urgency and accountability to fulfill it. Otherwise oh well, i can do whatever i like with no consequences.

  287. From His newest blog post: “But stopping the abuse is just the first step. Now it’s time to address the second. Christians shouldn’t be known for merely avoiding evil.”

    It seems we are moving on rather quickly. It’s not surprising that he perceives the Christian response to abuse as “avoiding evil”, but what he doesn’t seem to understand is that “abuse is bad” is not a radical action. Confronting evil is what the love of God demands.

    If stopping abuse is the first step, we need to linger there longer than one blog post.

  288. I won’t have time to read the comments on this thread, but I want you and your readers to know that I submitted a comment on the Enough Is Enough post at Gary’s blog and it has NOT been published ( just checked for the nth time).
    Here is what I submitted:

    Gary, I first submitted this comment on 1 Dec (Australian time, probably 30 Nov your time). It has not been published. I just read in this thread that you said some comments were lost when your site was being upgraded. So I’m submitting it again.

    Gary, I’m glad you’ve been awakened to the extent of domestic abuse and the horrors that so many Christian women (and some men) have been put through.

    I co-lead the blog A Cry For Justice with Pastor Jeff Crippen. I would like to ask you some questions. If you want to reply by email rather than on this thread, feel free.

    Q 1. Before you read Jeff Crippen’s comment in this thread, were you aware of our blog?
    [ cryingoutforjusticeDOTcom ]

    Q 2. Did you know that the saying “God hates divorce” is based on a mistranslation of the Hebrew in Malachi 2:16?
    If you didn’t know, I beg you go to the A Cry For Justice blog and put in the search bar the words:— God hates divorce? Not always.
    That post will explain the mistranslation and how badly it affects victims of abuse.

    Q 3. I see in this thread you have recommended Leslie Vernick’s site and her books. Have you read my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion” ?
    If not, can I beg you to read it? My book explains that the bible DOES allow divorce for domestic abuse and the texts which support this are 1 Cor 7:15 and Ex 21:10-11 (plus others).

    Q. 4. Do you recommend Jeff Crippen’s books “A Cry For Justice” and “Unholy Charade” ?

    Q 5. Are you open to feedback and constructive criticism which might help you become even more helpful in responding to domestic victims and educating the Christian community about this issue? If so, feel free to email me.

    Q 6. Are you going to review what you wrote in your books “Sacred Marriage” and “Sacred Influence” in the light of your new-found awareness about domestic abuse in Christian communities?
    (This might be a good idea, especially since some women are reporting that churches used ideas from your books to pressure them into staying in abusive marriages.)

    Thanks!

  289. Also, Gary allowed himself to rant, so I’m going to too

    In his “Enough is Enough” post he used the cliche “God hates divorce”.

    I am so TIRED of people repeating that cliche. Ever since 2008 when I published “Not Under Bondage,” I’ve been writing about how that cliche is not true —it is based on a MISTRANSLATION of Malachi 2:16.

    People like Gary Thomas seem to studiously ignore my work, so they go on repeating the falsehood that ‘God hates divorce’. He is not the only one; there are many many other well known authors like him, who keep repeating the cliche.

    This article of mine summarises why the cliche is not true:
    https://cryingoutforjustice.com/2013/10/24/god-hates-divorce-not-always/

  290. Jeff S wrote:

    If stopping abuse is the first step, we need to linger there longer than one blog post.

    I agree Jeff S! Gary Thomas seems to be skipping over into the airy-and-light way too soon, by following up ‘Enough is Enough’ with ‘It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish’ http://www.garythomas.com/not-enough-not-abuse-cherish/

    Did his fingers get burned by going into the subject of domestic abuse.? Doesn’t he realise that one post is not going to be nearly enough? Did he get rapped over the knuckles by his church or his publishers?

    Or is he ignorant still? Even though he’s had an awakening moment, the awakening moment is only the first step in a LONG journey to understand all the dynamics of domestic abuse and how to best write about it to help victim/survivors.

    And btw, I submitted a comment at his post ‘It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish’ and is has not been published either. I checked just now for the nth time….

    It looks to me like Gary Thomas is trying to pretend I don’t exist.

    I guess my work is too much of a hot potato for him to pick up.

  291. Irene wrote:

    The extrabiblical idea that marriage is an unbreakable covenant has lulled people to sleep.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “sleep” but can you give some evidence for the statement that breaking the marriage covenant is “extrabiblical”?

  292. Max wrote:

    From the comments posted here, it appears that “sacred” turned into a curse for many women.

    Yes, and children.

  293. Darlene wrote:

    I’m not so sure that I would say that Comps are misinterpreting Scripture. I know many on this blog may disagree with me, but I think if one reads the New Testament letters and Paul the Apostle in particular, they must necessarily conclude that the Bible teaches Complementarianism. It is something with which I struggle because I have rejected the Comp/Pat model of marriage.

    I’m not completely sure I know what you mean.

    I was brought up to be gender complementarian but rejected it several years ago.

    It might be more accurate to say that the Bible does not teach a complementarity that presumes male hierarchy.

    A lot of Christian gender egalitarians believe that the sexes complement one another, but they do not agree that the Bible teaches that God ordained a male hierarchy.

    Have you seen the sites Junia Project
    http://juniaproject.com/

    Or ‘Christians for Biblical Equality’?

    Both sites publish material in favor of Christian gender egalitarianism as well as critiques of complementarianism.

  294. Jeff S wrote:
    JeffS said “It seems we are moving on rather quickly.”

    Thomas may need to move quickly. His new book “Cherish” is scheduled to be released January 10th.

  295. Darlene wrote:

    Daisy wrote:
    Until these guys realize that complementarianism is the root of the problem, and consider they have been misinterpreting the Bible wrong all this time, I’m afraid not much is going to change.
    I’m not so sure that I would say that Comps are misinterpreting Scripture. I know many on this blog may disagree with me, but I think if one reads the New Testament letters and Paul the Apostle in particular, they must necessarily conclude that the Bible teaches Complementarianism. It is something with which I struggle because I have rejected the Comp/Pat model of marriage. One might say I understand those particular “woman submit, woman is more easily deceived than man, etc.” as a sexist and chauvinist attitude. Then again, Paul the Apostle said seemed to agree that “Cretans are liars” and “Women will be saved through child bearing.” I’ve concluded that I don’t believe every actual sentence and viewpoint within Scripture is inerrant. And that’s…well…that.

    All of those mean something different in Greek than they have been translated into English Bibles. I not only have become egalitarian in studying the Greek, I’ve lost a lot of respect for (nearly all male) English translators who clearly are translating their bias.

    For example, in Greek it doesn’t say “saved by childbearing”, but “saved by THE childbearing”, ie. Christ’s birth.

    And in the Ephesians 5 “women submit” passage, never does any complementarian talk about Ephesians 5:21: “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The “header” which attributes that to the passage before and not the passage on marriage was made by editors. I believe it clearly lays out mutual submission in marriage, as does all the other 51 “one anothers”.

  296. Jeff S wrote:

    Christians shouldn’t be known for merely avoiding evil.

    It would be great if christians actually were known for avoiding evil.

  297. @ Lea:
    what IS known is how little we hear Christians say ‘I am a sinner upon whom God has looked.’

    too often, we get the classic finger-pointing self-righteousness that substitutes hypocrisy for a life that lives out the faith in repentance and in service to those among us who suffer

  298. siteseer wrote:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “sleep” but can you give some evidence for the statement that breaking the marriage covenant is “extrabiblical”?

    I think it would be a more fair question to ask where the idea that a marriage covenant is unbreakable comes from.

    Some people do have the idea that the word “covenant” serves as an unbreakable contract, but this just isn’t the case. That’s not what the word has ever meant, even when used in the Bible.

    A marriage covenant is certainly Biblical- but that doesn’t suggest it’s unbreakable, and I think that was the point of the statement.

  299. Christiane wrote:

    @ Lea:
    what IS known is how little we hear Christians say ‘I am a sinner upon whom God has looked.’

    I think the reformed folks are doing far too much ‘i’m a sinner, we’re all horrible sinners’ and far too little avoiding of sin.

  300. Barbara Roberts wrote:

    ‘It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish’

    I just read the article halfway through while thinking ‘man, he just keeps repeating ‘cherish’ over and over again, what’s up with that?’ until I got to the point where his new book ‘Cherish’ will be out in a few weeks.

    So, um, mystery solved. We’re just back to selling our books again.

  301. @ Lea:

    One more thing about his new article (promoting his book).

    Imagine if men ordered this book for themselves and their wives and said, “I want to build a cherishing marriage in 2017. I want you to feel even more cherished by the time 2018 rolls around.” Husbands, how do you think that would make your wives feel?

    What if women decided to study together how to cherish husbands who stumble in so many ways? What if they said, “Being negative and complaining hasn’t gotten us anywhere. Let’s see what happens when we choose to follow through on our promise to cherish our husbands”

    Can I say how much I hate this little tidbit for giving the wife a bunch of negative traits randomly? Is this because comp or because written from a man’s perspective or because he feels he knocked men enough by calling the abusive ones out already?

    He also has the husband ordering the book ‘for his wife’ which is basically telling her what to do. I think I would be annoyed if someone said ‘I ordered this book that telling you you should cherish me and I’m going to cherish you in return’. I think maybe if you’re reading books about how to be nicer to your wife, you should just do it without telling her she has to do it too.

  302. I didn’t say breaking the covenant is extrabiblical. Let’s think about what marriage was during bible times. First, the agreement–or covenant as you guys are calling it– was between the girl’s father and her future husband who asked for ber to be his wife. Second, there was a ketubah signed at the ceremony that was not a state document and did not establish relationship. The man signed in front of witnesses that he would provide for the woman food, clothing and conjugal rights. If he didn’t do that or divorced her, the money he paid was returned to her as a provision. The woman who had no rights had some protection by the very rules that were established. The ketubah was based in exodus and the woman signed that she accepted the man’s proposal. That is nothing like today’s covenant marriage. Today what does the man have to do? We are told he should have unconditionally respect if he sits on the couch while the woman provides. The covenant marriage of today–or the idea that nothing in life should be reason to divorce is made up by today’s christian leaders. When i tried to find out who started that saying my searches kept taking me back to focus on the family.

  303. Lea wrote:

    He also has the husband ordering the book ‘for his wife’ which is basically telling her what to do.

    I think the idea of getting the book ‘for his wife’ is because in Gary Thomas’s world, men don’t care about squishy things like “cherishing” and women do. In his world, women would be thrilled if their husband wanted to do a study like this together, because it represents men stretching in uncomfortable ways.

    I think it’s this same flawed box about men and women wanting different things and stereotyping them. This annoys me, because I don’t really line up with a lot of what men are expected to be. I think it’s too low of a view of men.

  304. Jeff S wrote:

    I think the idea of getting the book ‘for his wife’ is because in Gary Thomas’s world, men don’t care about squishy things like “cherishing” and women do.

    I mean, if that really were the case then he would be the one who needed to read the book.

    But then he jumps right to telling the wife to stop complaining, which makes me think that is the real goal in getting the wife to read the book (although Gary’s goal is probably mostly ‘buy more books’ because otherwise I’m pretty sure a couple could share).

  305. And now that i am started down this rant…the covenant people who accuse those who divorce of messing up the picture of christ and the church are tbe ones messing it up– i believe. If the father signed a contract with the son for the church (and the bride gets to agree) it makes sense that jesus said, all that the father has given me i have kept. It also makes the parable of the virgins make sense. The groom had to make a house ( jesus said i go to prepare a place for you) and the father inspected it and agreed when it was ready for the bride. At a time the bride did not know (like the waiting church) the groom came for her. So those (like me) who are in a marriage where the husband has not porovided are actually the ones messing up the picture!

  306. And when i try to make sense of the whole picture i wonder whether mutuality isn’t the prescribed way a relationship is made (from the bible or psychology or even our experiences) and complementarianism isn’t the added responsibility a man has to see that his family is taken care of. I am not against women working but there is no way i should have had to homeschool and keep house all day and work at night to pay bills. My husband’s part in this–being the one to decide i would do it!

  307. Lea wrote:

    But then he jumps right to telling the wife to stop complaining, which makes me think that is the real goal in getting the wife to read the book (although Gary’s goal is probably mostly ‘buy more books’ because otherwise I’m pretty sure a couple could share).

    The most charitable reading I have of what he wrote is that he was trying to offer something for the ladies (‘he’ll talk about feelings’) and something for the men (‘she’ll treat you better’). Perhaps I am overly charitable, but even taken in that light, it’s not a great thing to say.

  308. Irene wrote:

    I am not against women working but there is no way i should have had to homeschool and keep house all day and work at night to pay bills. My husband’s part in this–being the one to decide i would do it!

    My view is that when a couple gets married, they should be a team and make decisions that are best for the family. When a selfish person is making a unilateral decision, they are not doing that.

    You would think the ‘yay patriarchy’ folks might see the flaws in their plan here, but maybe they aren’t flaws for them.

  309. @ Lea:

    They do see the flaws. But the write them off as the system being abused. Because, of course, any system can be abused.

    The problem is, try to think of an example where a man might use his authority to override his wife’s will to arrive at a decision that wouldn’t happen in an egalitarian relationship that actually is healthy. It’s hard to think of one- I’m pretty sure it’s a very rare occurrence.

  310. Jeff S wrote:

    The most charitable reading I have of what he wrote is that he was trying to offer something for the ladies (‘he’ll talk about feelings’) and something for the men (‘she’ll treat you better’).

    Be charitable 🙂 It just rubbed me the wrong way I guess.

    I think action is preferable to talking. And you shouldn’t really assume who has the problem in the marriage anyway, because either could be guilty of not ‘cherishing’ and that’s the person who needs to work on it and they aren’t going to unless they are convinced and I don’t think someone a husband who is whatever he said ‘stumbling’ needs to pop in and tell his wife to read this book about how to cherish HIM. Act first.

    Of course, maybe I found this extra interesting because of your comments about how he is inclined to be ‘transactional’ and has to work on that.

  311. Lea wrote:

    Christiane wrote:

    I think the reformed folks are doing far too much ‘i’m a sinner, we’re all horrible sinners’ and far too little avoiding of sin.

    They don’t need to avoid it. It’s all been Predestined.

    And they’re the Predestined Elect, with the personal Get-Out-of-Hell-Free Card signed before the creation of the world, so they’ve got their Reserved Seat no matter what. So why Avoid when you can Indulge?

  312. Lea wrote:

    Barbara Roberts wrote:
    ‘It’s Not Enough to Not Abuse: We Have to Cherish’
    I just read the article halfway through while thinking ‘man, he just keeps repeating ‘cherish’ over and over again, what’s up with that?’ until I got to the point where his new book ‘Cherish’ will be out in a few weeks.

    Has he sent the 2000 Benjamins in to ResultSource yet to reserve its spot on the Best-Seller List?

  313. Barbara Roberts wrote:

    People like Gary Thomas seem to studiously ignore my work, so they go on repeating the falsehood that ‘God hates divorce’.

    Can’t let their own Widdle Wifeys get any ideas…

  314. Jeff S wrote:

    I think it’s this same flawed box about men and women wanting different things and stereotyping them. This annoys me, because I don’t really line up with a lot of what men are expected to be. I think it’s too low of a view of men.

    Someone at Julie Anne’s blog was just saying several days ago that men are logical, women are emotional.
    (That took place in the S.S.B. thread “Survivor of Tullian Tchividjian’s Alleged Clergy Sexual Abuse Goes Public with Her Story – Part 2”)

    I then stepped in to leave a post disagreeing with that sentiment.

    I checked back this morning, and I noticed some other man left a follow-up comment saying that while there may be exceptions, that still, on average, it is true that most women are emotional most men are logical.

    I left him a reply saying I still disagree.

    Many to most women in U.S. culture are conditioned heavily from the time they are kids to be emotional – we’re taught it’s OK to cry or be sad in public (to a point, anyhow), while boys are shamed for crying or showing sadness.

    Now in my family in particular, things get a littler trickier on this score.

    In some ways, I was conditioned to be a stereotypical female, which means I was taught it’s OK for me to be weepy and sad in public – at least my mom taught me that.

    But Dad’s side of the family thinks it’s shameful for anyone of any gender to show any emotion (except for anger) and you are certainly NOT supposed to admit to others if you are feeling sad.

    You’re supposed to repress all those negative emotions and soldier on and be a tough guy (even if you are a woman).

    But I definitely got the message from my traditional mother that it’s OK for girls to cry, and secular culture sends that message, too.

    I think, I suspect, that men who have sexist undertones in their assumptions or thinking use the view that “women are emotional” stereotype as a justification as to why they can just ignore any points we have to make.

    If we women disagree with them about something, or are upset about an injustice, I think these types of men find it easier to dismiss our concerns out of hand by thinking, “Oh she’s just being a typical emotional woman!,” rather than seriously grappling with what we are saying.

    They can just wash their hands of whatever issue we bring before them, ignore it, do not have to act, by assuming we are over-reacting, rather than being super logical, like a man would be.

  315. Daisy wrote:

    I checked back this morning, and I noticed some other man left a follow-up comment saying that while there may be exceptions, that still, on average, it is true that most women are emotional most men are logical.

    Just tell them that that statement is emotional and not logical 🙂

    Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can read rants like Turk’s and say that men are just being logical!

  316. Lea wrote:

    But then he jumps right to telling the wife to stop complaining, which makes me think that is the real goal in getting the wife to read the book (although Gary’s goal is probably mostly ‘buy more books’ because otherwise I’m pretty sure a couple could share).

    One of the things I find extremely annoying about gender complementarianism is the uneven amount of time and attention they spend on telling women what to do – and at that to please a man.

    Now, yes, some of their attention will be spent telling men (husbands) to be sensitive to their wives. They will make assumptions about all women being passive, meek, emotional things who are dying for a guy to do things all women supposedly are into. Like all women supposedly want a man to read them love poetry and bring them candy in a heart-shaped box.

    So, gender comps will tell husbands to try to “emotionally connect” with their wive, and bring them candy and so forth.

    However. It looks to me as though 95% of gender comp time and energy is devoted in lecturing women, brainwashing them, and writing blog posts and books telling them how to make a husband happy.

    And a lot of that will center on trying to convince women to “submit” to a husband, with the gender comp definition of “submit” to mean be an underlying to a husband – the husband is your boss.

    Most of their time is spent on trying to make women feel that their only job in life is to make a husband happy. It’s very lop sided. I don’t see them spending as much time telling husbands how to make a wife happy.

    Certainly in the area of sexuality this is so. Gender comps like all women are uninterested in sex and only care about holding tea parties and getting hugs.

    So their chapters about this will revolved around telling or lecturing women on what gross sex acts that most men supposedly prefer and to do them. I honestly do not ever remember seeing a gender comp article pressure men into putting their wife’s sexual preferences at the top of the list.

    Anyway, everything is very skewed in gender comp teaching on how women can and should serve and please men. It is a very lop-sided, unfair, one-way street with these guys.

    And they try to tell women that this unfairness is actually quite fair, biblical, and it will bring them fulfillment. The whole thing is a snow job

    Comps try to convince women that being second fiddle to a man, and not getting their own needs met, is okay, will make them happy, and it’s what God wants. It’s a bunch of hogwash meant to keep women blind to what is really going on. Comp is not in the best interest of women.

  317. Daisy wrote:

    I honestly do not ever remember seeing a gender comp article pressure men into putting their wife’s sexual preferences at the top of the list.

    Without getting too graphic, sometimes I wonder what these men’s sex lives are really like. When they request women do one thing, do they think men should do the reverse?

  318. Irene wrote:

    And now that i am started down this rant…the covenant people who accuse those who divorce of messing up the picture of christ and the church are tbe ones messing it up– i believe.

    Complementarians make way too much out of marriage. Marriage is not necessary to enact a picture of God’s relationship with the church.

    I am over 40 years old and have never married. Yet, I accepted Jesus as a kid. As such, I am just as part of “the church” as a single as any married couple.

    Jesus, God, and God’s relationship with “the church” is just as fully represented in me alone as a single adult as it is in a Christian married couple.

    Most adults in USA are single now, as of the year 2014. Not married.

    So I don’t know how these comps hope to keep pushing their “marriage done the comp way points to Jesus!” rhetoric when most people are not even marrying any more.

    If your (the complementarian) version of the Gospel depends on marriage, and most folks are single these days, something is terribly off – and you’re not going to be effective in presenting or sharing the Gospel if you make it hinge upon marital status.

    The Bible may toss out the occasional marriage analogy to help folks understand how God feels about the church, but no where does the Bile say marriage is NECESSARY to be saved, or to paint a picture of God, etc, and so on.

  319. @ Daisy:

    I was shamed hardcore when I was younger for crying a lot in public. But now, I don’t care. I am who I am. The interesting thing is, my meyers-briggs is INTJ, and I DEFINITELY make decisions as a “thinker” not a “feeler”; but I do feel very deeply and I work hard at being in touch with those emotions.

    So if I feel something, my first thought is to identify why those feelings are occurring, analyze and understand them, and then make decisions. I used to override my feelings (which I feel like the church kind of teaches you to do), but not anymore. The pain of my divorce cured that habit. Ignoring emotions can be dangerous.

    One thing I value about my relationship with my wife is, she values my transparency. If I’m frustrated, or angry, or whatever, she just listens and tries to understand. And then helps ME understand. And I think that a lot of what the culture might condemn me for, she accepts and even uses to empower. This, to me, is the greatest power of marriage- when someone can see you that transparency and use it to build you up. Even when I’m being dumb- lol (it’s usually coming from somewhere!).

    My wife and I tend to reverse on a lot of gender roleish stuff. And there are other places we fit the cultural norms. But she’s the project person- whether its crafts and typical-female stuff, to messing with the cars and other males stuff. And I am the cook- whether it’s creating complicated meals (female stuff) or grilling steaks outside (male stuff). In the end, we just do what God has gifted us and impassioned us to do. The really big thing, though, is that I’m the more empathetic of the two. She says I’m “kinder”, but it’s really only in a superficial way. That is, some of my mannerisms may be “softer”, but she’s a nurse who spends so much time caring about and fighting for her patients. Not just a job, but part of who she is. But, since she does tend to be more “tell it like it is”, I think she exhibits more of the traditional male external behaviors than I do. I’m always trying to empathize with everyone!

    None of this stuff gender comps talk about really help with any of this. Because we are people, not genders. We do much better when we just communicate and explore who we are, apart from cultural expectations. What has helped is Tim Keller’s general message of friendship and companionship. My pastor put it this way: your spouse is someone who is “for” you; even though he (like Keller) was a comp, he hit the nail on the head with that. My wife and I are always making sure we know we are “for” each other, even when we don’t quite “get it” (yet).

  320. @ Daisy:

    I think marriage has some unique features that make it wonderful. But so does singleness. We should be able to celebrate the features of each without making it feel like others are missing the main deal if they aren’t married (or aren’t single).

    I definitely felt “second class” when I was a single parent. And I’m still annoyed that things like small groups revolve around married/single status.

  321. @ Irene:

    I’m sort of piggy backing on what you said a little.

    I really do not see how a marriage can last or how either party can be happy under complementarianism.

    Comp basically tells women to be codependent. It tells them to be doormats, and to lack boundaries.

    For a relationship to be healthy, strong, and equally enjoyable for both individuals, you have to have boundaries in place.

    Telling women to consistently cave in on big (or little) decisions, as complementarians advise women to do, to let the man have the final say so, is to create a hill of resentment.

    I was engaged to a guy for several years. I tried playing the perfect comp fiancee to him. He got his way all the time.

    I did my best to meet all his needs. He usually didn’t give one whit about my feelings or needs.

    He seldom did stuff to please me. He had to have his way all the time, and I caved in and gave it to him.

    But that’s how I was raised to be and to think that is what a “Christian” relationship looked like.

    After a few years of that, I was exhausted, resentful, and tired of my needs and feelings being squashed or overlooked. That was one of several reasons which led me to breaking up with the guy.

    Comp does not work on a practical level and cannot sustain a long term relationship.

    Comp teaches women to settle for less and then tries to brainwash them into thinking-
    a. It’s God’s design for women to settle for less and
    2. they will be happy settling for less.

    In reality, living out a relationship as they advise creates resentment. It does not work in the long run.

  322. Jeff S wrote:

    The problem is, try to think of an example where a man might use his authority to override his wife’s will to arrive at a decision that wouldn’t happen in an egalitarian relationship that actually is healthy. It’s hard to think of one- I’m pretty sure it’s a very rare occurrence.

    A few months ago, I read what came across to me as a bizarre blog post about this sort of subject on Aimee Byrd’s blog.

    It was on her “Housewife theologian” blog. (She’s a soft core complementarian.)

    Byrd wrote a post about how in complementarian marriages, the men should have final say-so in “big” life decisions (I’m curious, who gets to decide what constitutes “big”?), but if a man is truly loving and considerate of his wife, he will cave in on “little issues” (which sounds patronizing to me).

    For instance, if a couple gets into a dispute over where to eat, Taco Bell vs. Burger King, and the wife wants Taco Bell, the husband should cave in and go to Taco Bell.

    However, in “big” life decisions, Byrd was saying something about how God specially equips men to be Leaders and to know what is better for a Family Unit than women, so if a husband wants to move to Colorado from New York for a new job (for instance), the wife should cave in and run with it and not quibble, fight, or disagree.

    I can only suppose Byrd thinks that all sounds very reasonable, but I still see a million problems with it, and the thinking under-girding it is still sexist, one-sided, and unfair to women at its core.

    Also, I don’t recall the Bible saying anything about all men supposedly being more equipped by God to be better at seeing the “big picture” or making “leader” type decisions (or however she put it) than women. That is pure assumption on her part.

  323. Daisy wrote:

    Also, I don’t recall the Bible saying anything about all men supposedly being more equipped by God to be better at seeing the “big picture” or making “leader” type decisions (or however she put it) than women. That is pure assumption on her part.

    About that (this just crossed my mind):
    As a matter of fact, we have millions of examples in the Bible of men making really horrible, stupid, wrong, or evil decisions about all sorts of things, big and little!

    There is nothing in the Bible suggesting that God designed men to be “better” at making decisions than women.

    The Bible has examples of men and women making horrible, wrong, or foolish choices, and also examples here and there of men and women sometimes making wise or right choices.

    The Bible just does not have this premise that either biological sex has a monopoly on making wonderful decisions.
    So I do not know where Byrd was getting this idea from that women should always capitulate to men in “big” decisions because men are more gifted at decision making.

  324. Daisy wrote:

    So I do not know where Byrd was getting this idea from that women should always capitulate to men in “big” decisions because men are more gifted at decision making.

    She’s trying to stay in her ‘camp’ imo, while at the same time being sort of reasonable. I see this ‘big decisions’ thing (which is basically what I grew up thinking this whole thing meant) as people trying to obey what they think the bible says while actually being smart enough to know that it would never work in every day things.

    But I don’t think it works in little things for the husband to always defer either. I think people who care about the other persons happiness (not holiness!) will want to do the things they want sometimes and there will be a natural back and forth on these trivial things. Big decisions in adulthood I think must be made by both! I cannot imagine anything that would make me resent a person more than being forced into a big decision/move/what have you that I hated and could not accepted because they played the man card. That’s just a terrible idea.

  325. Tim (and Kathy) Keller also take the same view on the whole “big decisions” thing.

    It’s actually a way to take then wind out of the sails of my comp teaching while still staying in the camp and checking the box.

    But, someone once said (in the comments here) that 49/51 isn’t good enough and still represents oppression. She wasn’t wrong.

  326. Jeff S wrote:

    Not just a job, but part of who she is. But, since she does tend to be more “tell it like it is”,

    That’s how my Dad is, and I think I naturally tend to be that way too, but years and years of conditioning by my mother tried to to weed that out of me.

    As to the rest of your post, I agree. I don’t think all men and women fit the neat little gender stereotype boxes complementarians assume they do or think they should.

    I am into some stereotypical girly girl stuff, but in other ways, I’ve been a tom boy over my whole life.

  327. Daisy wrote:

    Jeff S wrote:
    Not just a job, but part of who she is. But, since she does tend to be more “tell it like it is”,

    That’s how my Dad is, and I think I naturally tend to be that way too, but years and years of conditioning by my mother tried to to weed that out of me.

    I go back and forth. When I get irritated I sometimes get blunt!

    I feel like if someone is really listening to you, it doesn’t matter if you are laid back or straight forward because they are paying attention. Because they actually care. If they aren’t, no communication style is acceptable.

  328. @ Daisy:

    A P.S. I wanted to add to that. Again, the complementarian view disregards women who are not married.

    If Byrd feels that God grants men better decision making capabilities, where does that leave women (such as me) who don’t have a man?

    Does Byrd really think God leaves divorced, never married, or widowed women helpless, or at a disadvantage to married ladies?

    Not every woman has a husband to turn to in aiding in making “big” life decisions.

  329. Jeff S wrote:

    But, someone once said (in the comments here) that 49/51 isn’t good enough and still represents oppression.

    I think the smartest comp proponents simply say that the husband can make ‘big decisions’ but that particular we can’t agree so I choose issue mysteriously never comes up.

  330. Lea wrote:

    Big decisions in adulthood I think must be made by both! I cannot imagine anything that would make me resent a person more than being forced into a big decision/move/what have you that I hated and could not accepted because they played the man card. That’s just a terrible idea.

    I agree. I wrote a long post several posts above where I mention I lived out such a relationship for years with my ex.

    I let the ex have his way in big and small decisions the entire time (and he was more than happy to get his way constantly and ignore what I wanted), and it was one reason of a few I broke up with him.

    The ex constantly getting his way all the time in all decisions made me feel very resentful, under appreciated, overlooked, taken advantage of, etc.

  331. Jeff S wrote:

    But, someone once said (in the comments here) that 49/51 isn’t good enough and still represents oppression. She wasn’t wrong.

    That’s a good point.

  332. The flip side is, my ex wife and I would talk about decisions, and later, if she didn’t like what we agreed on, she would claim that she submitted to me and I had abused my authority.

    I never pulled the “authority” card even once, nor did I even think about having it. Now, though, I’m explicit about NOY having it 🙂

  333. Jeff S wrote:

    But, someone once said (in the comments here) that 49/51 isn’t good enough and still represents oppression. She wasn’t wrong.

    Like the 3/5ths compromise that counted a slave as 3/5ths of a person ……. comps deny women full personhood.

  334. @ Jeff S:
    I find the whole comp thing demanding or expecting the lady to submit creepy, impractical, dangerous and stupid.

    My ex fiance was not a bright guy, at all. Had we married and he made all our decisions for us, I’d probably be a bag lady today, living in a card board box on a street in tattered clothing.

    I would not trust my ex to be able to fight his way out of a soggy paper bag (or smart enough to do so), so I could not imagine following his lead in life on how, where, when to buy a home or car, or to do anything else.

    Some men are not very wise and intelligent. I cannot believe that comps would make the “woman submit” thing uni-laterial for all women every where for all time, and make it a one-way street.

    Some men are very, very dense, and a woman would be better off in NOT following that guy’s lead or choices.

  335. Daisy wrote:

    Some men are not very wise and intelligent. I cannot believe that comps would make the “woman submit” thing uni-laterial for all women every where for all time, and make it a one-way street.

    They can change, too. My ex-fiance changed from an egalitarian to a comp after we were engaged. One of the last things he ever said to me was, “I can’t marry someone who doesn’t do what I tell them to do and not question it.”

    There were a lot of extenuating circumstances that didn’t have anything to do with being a Christian, but it came down to the fact that he changed a great deal in a very short amount of time. He really did change, too, and it’s caused me to doubt in a lot of people, that they will continue to be that person after I put my trust in them.

  336. Daisy wrote:

    Complementarians make way too much out of marriage. Marriage is not necessary to enact a picture of God’s relationship with the church.

    When the impression I get from the NT is “Marriage is Good; Single is Good.”

  337. Daisy wrote:

    The woman who wrote this was raised in the Christian faith, and her husband was also a Christian:
    My Ex-Husband Used Religion As an Excuse to Abuse Me
    http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/12/husband-used-religion-to-abuse-me/

    From that article, this quote I found especially interesting:

    “They blamed their children’s issues on the “outside world” corrupting their perfectly-reared boys. Self-righteousness clouded their perception.”

    I saw this at Liberty over and over and over. Parents to their children, and even other students on each other (when they themselves acted just as bad or worse).

    I know I’ve mentioned it before, but that one professor that declared that he forced his daughter to sign a contract when she was 13 that he would choose her husband was particularly memorable. He said that he would choose someone from a “well-known Christian family, because that’s the only way I know he will be a good Christian”.

    I now know he’s a Calvinista.

  338. Nancy2’s prayer request:

    Nancy2 UNITED STATES on Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 02:31 PM said:
    Prayer request:
    My brother-in-law was injured in a head-on collision. He is in Maine, we are in Kentucky, so I only have sketchy info. He has head and neck/back injuries …… do not know how severs, but as of this morning, he was still in a medically induced coma.

  339. Christiane wrote:

    the worst child-rearing ‘advice’ I have ever encountered was the Pearl’s teachings on beating babies as young as six months old ….. the graphic descriptions of beatings and the reports of the deaths of children at the hands of some parents using the Pearls’s brutal child-discipline advice led me tho think that these people AND their followers had departed from Christianity and had instead entered into something utterly satanic

    You’re right there. I shop at thrift stores, & I buy every copy of their poison I find, it makes excellent [you guessed it!] lining for the cats’ litter box. And it doesn’t harm anyone who has small children.

  340. Velour wrote:

    Nancy2’s prayer request:
    Nancy2 UNITED STATES on Mon Dec 12, 2016 at 02:31 PM said:
    Prayer request:
    My brother-in-law was injured in a head-on collision. He is in Maine, we are in Kentucky, so I only have sketchy info. He has head and neck/back injuries …… do not know how severs, but as of this morning, he was still in a medically induced coma.

    Praying.

  341. Daisy wrote:

    I’m not seeing any incentive to get married going by what complementarians are saying.
    Marriage is terrible. Marriage is awful, hard work. If my husband smacks me and regularly verbally abuses me, I must stay and waste my time with that for 20 plus years.
    I’d rather pass, thank you, singleness looks preferable.

    It does sound like something to be avoided at all costs, doesn’t it? Makes you wonder what goes thru people’s heads when they say stuff!

  342. ishy wrote:

    They can change, too. My ex-fiance changed from an egalitarian to a comp after we were engaged. One of the last things he ever said to me was, “I can’t marry someone who doesn’t do what I tell them to do and not question it.”

    Figured the wedding was a done deal and took off his Angel of Light mask a little too early?

  343. ishy wrote:

    They can change, too. My ex-fiance changed from an egalitarian to a comp after we were engaged.

    I say this with a certain reticence, because this sounds like a very disappointing and demanding period in your life, but the ex- part is perhaps something to be quietly thankful for. Nobody should be in any kind of committed relationship with someone who can only cope with unquestioning obedience.

    On the other hand, I would imagine that he became your fiancé in the first place for good reasons. I’m sorry to hear things ended the way they did.

  344. Nick Bulbeck wrote:

    On the other hand, I would imagine that he became your fiancé in the first place for good reasons. I’m sorry to hear things ended the way they did.

    He had some very bad things happen to him, and listened to people who were more worried about protecting their own problems than helping him, I think.

    But, I said this to say that people can change, and dramatically, if they let their guard down and listen to men instead of God. I wish he were the only person I’d seen it happen with, but he’s not. I’ve seen decent Christians turn very self-centered and theologically warped because they were vulnerable. Sometimes others take advantage, sometimes they just go off on their own.

  345. ishy wrote:

    He said that he would choose someone from a “well-known Christian family, because that’s the only way I know he will be a good Christian”.

    There’s always the Duggars or the Hybels…