“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.” -C. S. Lewis
It appears that some women with lots of initials after their names believe that only women can properly respond to what they hold to be (or define to be) a *women only *issue. That is only women can properly interpret a rather embarrassing usage of a common phrase which could possibly embarrass women. And if those women say it is OK, it must be OK.
Here is the statement from some female professors at Louisiana College.
Now I am sure that there are few people out in Webville who would ever mistake me as a quiet, submissive female who caves to male interpretations of *happenings* without fail. At the same time, I have identified a number of men whose opinion I respect. Wade Burleson is one of the foremost proponents of women in leadership and ministry within the SBC. Perhaps these women didn’t have the time to do their research on who is an advocate and who is not an advocate for women’s issues (besides women, of course.)
And since I have the proper DNA, let me say something in the most female of ways. At time, there are some women who might play the female card in order to be accepted by conservative SBC male leaders or conservative SBC institutions. They may even be given certain perks for defending the status quo.
I’m not saying that this applies to these women. They could truly believe, deep down inside their hearts, that they are correct in their interpretation of what was said. So be it. But they should not do what men have done to women in the past. I’m sure many of them would remember those days. I sure do. “Those poor little women just don’t understand things like we men understand things.”
I implore you to make your case but please cut out the *Those idiot men just don’t understand things like the way we women understand things.” You are kicking to the curb some men who really get the problems that all women face in the SBC. I left the SBC because of witnessing a mess surrounding the sex abuse of a number of teen boys. The perp is in prison. But, before that happened, I was told that women could not teach men unless they were under the covering of a man. I watched women being told to put up with abusive marriages and learn to submit better. Women have had it rough in the SBC. That’s why we need to discover who our friends are.
I thank God that He brought men into my life who deeply respect and promote women as leaders. Take a moment and read Wade’s last dozen or so posts. I think you will get it. He is on your side.
I support Russell Meeks and believe that he correctly interpreted what was said. I have asked a number of millennials what *mow your lawn* means. They all laughed. They get it, too. Meeks really believes in what he heard. Who in the world would resign his position due to a simple misunderstanding? I’m sure good academic jobs do not abound in Pineville. Academic positions are not easy to come by anywhere.
I have one thing to say to Louisiana College. The Matthew 18 sledgehammer is one of the most misused verses in Scripture. It’s a way for one person to say to another “I didn’t like what you had to say. It embarrasses me even though you may be right. So, I’m going to call you a sinner in order to get you to shut you up.” Foul! Instead of sending emails to an entire organization, why not sit down and hash it out one on one like you know Jesus want? Better yet, just don’t play Biblical gotcha games.
So, I am reposting Wade’s post on my blog. I own the blog and I am definitely a female who believes that women have been placed unjustly in subordinate positions in the SBC.
Dee BSN, MBA and all around meddling provocateur (AAMP)
(If a PHD is ever awarded for *provocateuring,* I should be awarded one straight away.)
On Sunday, February 10, 2019, investigative reporters Robert Downen (Houston Chronicle), Lise Olsen (Houston Chronicle), and John Tedesco (San Antonio Express-News) published the first of their stomach-churching three-part series entitled Abuse of Faith.
Southern Baptists have a pattern of covering up for their own.
On Thursday, February 14, 2019, just four days after the release of Abuse of Faith, Dr. Joshua Dara, the Dean of The School of Human Behavior at Louisiana College (Southern Baptist-affiliated), spoke at the school’s chapel service.
A video or audio recording of Dr. Dara’s chapel presentation has never been released to the public. Other recordings of chapel sermons at Louisiana College, both before and after Dr. Dara’s message, can be watched or heard at Louisiana College’s website.
According to those present at the chapel service, Dr. Joshua Dara spoke on the topic of relationships. It was an appropriate topic for Valentine’s Day. But what he said was extremely inappropriate.
In the course of his message, Dr. Joshua Dara suggested to the ladies listening that he knew why their phones were not ringing, meaning why members of the opposite sex weren’t calling them. Dr. Joshua Dara suggested that men like the ladies who keep their houses clean and mow their lawns.
People fifty years of age and older who compose a majority of the Southern Baptist Convention probably think that mow your lawn means getting on a John Deer lawnmower and cutting the grass in front of your house.
Of course, in the context of a college talk where most ladies live in dorms, that definition of mow your lawn doesn’t fit. And besides, cutting grass in your yard as the definition of mow your lawn is from a culture that existed long ago.
Today, in our pornographic “women-are-sex-objects” culture, mow your lawn means “shave your pubic hair.” The kids at Louisiana College got the pornographic reference. That’s why many burst out laughing.
But there’s more.
Dr. Dara suggested that someone who has men go in and out of her house is like a “crackhouse.” So, keep your house clean and mow your lawn to get your phone ringing, but don’t let all those men who are calling you go in and out of your house at their pleasure or you’ll be known as a “crackhouse.”
Of course, entering a lady’s house is a cultural euphemism for sexual union. To give Dr. Dara the benefit of the doubt, I’m sure he was attempting to relate to college kids with humor.
But even assuming the best intentions of the chapel speaker, the language used by Dr. Dara is wholly inappropriate and offensive. That’s why the recording has not been released. Administrators are keeping it under wraps.
That’s also why Karen Watkins, the Executive Assistant to Louisiana College President Rick Brewer, sent the following email to faculty and staff less than a week after the chapel message. The first part is written by Philip Caples, the LC administrator in charge of chapel services, and the second by Josh Dara. Read carefully the apology contained within it:
“What occurred was evidence of differences in cultural perceptions and nomenclatures.”
“I am sorry to hear some of you were offended…”
Dr. Russell Meek and His Offense at the Chapel Message He Heard
Dr. Russell Meek, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Louisiana College, sat horrified listening to Dr. Dara speak during the February 14 student chapel. As a faculty member representing Louisiana College, Russ knew he had to do something.
The next morning, Friday, February 15, 2019, following the school’s Handbook and Procedure Policy Manual, Dr. Meek asked for and received a meeting with Dr. Philip Caples. Dr. Caples is the Vice-President for Integration of Faith and Learning at Louisiana College, and he is over the school’s mandatory chapels.
Dr. Caples listened as Dr. Meek expressed his concerns. He let Russ know that he had heard from other faculty as well. Though the meeting was brief, Russ felt hopeful. He believed that the administration of Louisiana College would issue some kind of formal discipline against Dr. Dara, or at the very least, a public statement distancing the college from what Dr. Dara had said.
Dr. Meek went on to teach his classes that day and heard from many of his students, both male and female, who expressed their frustrations and confusion over the chapel message. Dr. Meek would later write an email to his students:
“I just wanted to thank you for speaking up in class today about your feelings regarding the chapel sermon. A biblical view of humans as created in God’s image and intrinsically valuable because of that is very important to me, as it is to you.”Then, the following Wednesday (Feb 20), the President’s Executive Assistant Karen Watkins sent the email from Caples and Dara which seemed to fault listeners at the previous week’s chapel for not understanding the“cultural perceptions and nomenclatures” of the speaker.
Twenty-one minutes after that email from Karen went out, President Rick Brewer sent another email to the faculty and staff of Louisiana College a second email. This email, sent from the office of Norman Miller, Director of Communications at Louisiana College, warns the reader about Matthew 18.
Norm Miller, one of the contributors to the now-defunct SBC Today, followed the instructions of the Louisiana College President and sent this second email as a warning to Louisiana College faculty and staff that they were not to speak of this chapel message to anyone other than to the speaker himself.
President Brewer also sent a Matthew 18 reminder email to students on the same day he sent one to the faculty (Wednesday, February 20, 2019). That email, according to a student who spoke to the President, was intended to protect Dr. Dara.
An Appeal to Address the Issue of the Sexualization of Women at Baptist Institutions
After receiving both emails from the President’s staff, Dr. Russ Meek drafted and sent an email to President Rick Brewer on Friday, February 22, 2019.
In his email to the President, Russ stated clearly his offense, not only with Dr. Joshua Dara (the chapel speaker) but now his offense with the administration of Louisiana College and President Rick Brewer himself for not addressing the issue.
Russ wrote, “You admonished us to reach out personally to someone when offended, so I am sending you this email as a brother in Christ. I realize that you are my boss and the leader of LC, so please know that I write this with humility and with a deeply grieving heart. I am not angry; I am very saddened by the events that transpired last week. This is indeed much more than an issue of being offended,; it is an issue of biblical truth and how God himself views women and tells us to view them.”
Dr. Russ Meek then wrote the following to President Brewer. It’s rather lengthy, but it’s important for you to read carefully. It represents the kind of leaders we need in the SBC to change the culture.
“On Thursday morning, still reeling from the sexual abuse uncovered by the Houston Chronicle and reported on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, I came to chapel at Louisiana College looking for a reprieve from the darkness swirling around the SBC. Instead, I was confronted head-on with the culture that makes such abuse possible.
Joshua Joy Dara, the dean of LC’s school of human behavior, delivered a message on relationships-fitting for Valentine’s Day. He offered sound advice to women about finding a godly spouse. Toward the end of his sermon, his language took an offensive and unbiblical turn. He addressed specifically the women in the chapel service, telling them to think of their bodies as houses. He then told them to “mow your lawn” and advised that if they were not getting attention from men, it was because they were “not taking care of your house.” He continued in this vein, at one point stating that women who have “let too many men” into their house are a crackhouse. Let that sink in – crackhouse.
In those final minutes of his sermon, Dara reduced women to physical objects who existed for a man’s pleasure. He then told them that if they had sex with too many men, they were not only valueless but indeed repulsive. A crackhouse.
This sermon has not been posted on LC’s YouTube channel, which houses dozens of other chapel messages, and those who have asked for a copy of the sermon, including the school’s Title IX coordinator, have been denied access to it. I -along with others at LC – expressed my concerns and the concerns of several of my students to the vice president for the integration of faith and learning. I was shocked that a dean at LC had presented such an unbiblical, false picture of women.
Let me say this clearly: no woman is a crackhouse. No woman exists for the pleasure of a man. No woman’s value is in her physical appearance. The Bible is very clear about this. In the poem of the valiant woman in Proverbs 31, the only thing said about beauty is that it is fleeting. Peter calls women to be beautiful on the inside rather than focusing on their outward appearance (1 Peter 1:3- 4). The Lord said to Samuel when he was seeking to anoint the next of Israel, “Do not look on his [Eliab’s] appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). Think even of our Lord Jesus Christ, who “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isa 53: 2). When Jesus encountered the woman at the well, did he call her a crackhouse? No, he gave her living water.
Dara wrote an apology that was emailed to the faculty, staff, and student body. In it, he apologized for “the tone” of his sermon, expressed gratitude that it was brought to his attention, and ended by saying, “I’ll be sure to weigh my warped sense of humor against my sense of propriety and choose something that isn’t controversial. ” I am thankful for Dara’s apology, but it still troubled me that he did not address the misogynistic view of women in his sermon.
Dara delivered a public message in chapel, at the least implicitly endorsed by those who gave him the platform to do so, in which he reduced women to sexual objects and communicated that their value was in how many sexual partners they had. Yes, this is offensive. Yes, this is a false gospel. And yes, this message was delivered publicly as biblical truth. Such a message goes far beyond the confines of Matthew 18. Louisiana College is not a church, and this was not a private sin. In addition, one wonders how victims of sexual abuse and harassment are to feel safe in a place that rebukes them for complaining about misogyny preached in the school’s chapel. Is a rape victim supposed to confront her rapist privately before seeking “more ‘official’ redress”? And what if the rapist repents? Is the victim supposed to forego “more ‘official’ redress”? I know such questions are absurd, but Brewer’s email was sent in the context of concern over degrading and sexualized comments about women. How can we protect the abused from the powerful if the powerful are able to hide behind Matthew 18?
The fruits of misogyny are abuse. Physical, verbal, sexual abuse. Men are told that women are objects for their pleasure. Women are told that their value is in their sexuality and physical appearance. And all this is presented as true . As the Southern Baptist Convention reckons with the current sexual abuse scandal, we must address institutions that foster the teaching and worldview that engenders such abuse.”
Problems at Louisiana College
If you’ve made it this far reading this blog, then you a Christian interested in solutions, not just the problems.
Dr. Russ Meek’s email to President Brewer led to a meeting on February 25, 2019, in Dr. Brewer’s office with the following four people present: 1). Dr. Rick Brewer, President of Louisiana College, 2). Dr. Cheryl Clark, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, 3). Dr. Philip Caples, Vice-President for the Integraton of Faith and Learning, and 4). Dr. Russell Meek.
Dr. Caples didn’t say much in the meeting, but Dr. Brewer and Dr. Clark had a great deal to say to Dr. Meek. Three days after this meeting, on February 28, 2019, Dr. Russell Meek resigned from his position at Louisiana College, effective May 4, 2019.
What was said in the President’s office to Dr. Meek will be summarized in five statements with a sentence or two of commentary from me:
- Dr. Clark said to Dr. Meek, “Why do you want to do that at all (make public what happened at the chapel)? Why do it? If every action that we take at this institution is either for the good of the institution or it harms the institution? Which do you think that’s going to do? How is that going to help the institution? What good comes out of that? That’s what I don’t really get. I really don’t.”
Dr. Clark, go back and read article Abuse of Faith. The systemic problem in the SBC is leaders are more concerned with the institution than with the abused. You, of all people, should know better.
- Dr. Brewer said to Dr. Meek, “This (Russ’s email above) has already been reviewed by our attorney. He says it’s actionable. It’s libelous. It’s slanderous. It’s defamatory, and it’s inflammatory. And by the way, you’re taking on one of the most powerful, if not one of the Top Five most powerful people, in Central Louisiana. Not me, Joshua Dara. He’s an attorney as well, Russ. He’s got a strong legal mind.”
Dr. Brewer, take it from one who has been threatened multiple times (me). When threats like yours are made, it’s a tell-tale sign that the threatened person should keep pressing.
- Dr. Brewer said to Dr. Meek,“Go see Dr. Dara. Go sit down with him. He’s one of our own. He’s a dean. Now what if he had been a person who just came and spoke and flew out and he wasn’t a member of our team, a member a family? We’d take a different approach most likely on that. Yeah. But, uh, he (Dr. Joshua Dara) is with us. He’s a member of our family.”
Dr. Brewer, are you serious? Protecting your own is never a Christian principle. Judgment should begin in the house of God.
4. Dr. Meek said to all LC Administrators present: “I’m concerned for the women who think that what Dr. Dara said is true. Their identity is not found in how many sexual partners they’ve had. My concern is for the women who think, ‘I’ve had sex with a lot of guys.’ Is she a crackhouse? I have a family member who was molested as a child by multiple people in her family. Is she a crackhouse? Is her identity bound up in how many sexual partners she’s had? If men don’t pursue a woman is it because the woman is ugly? He said if your phones aren’t ringing It’s because you’re not getting taking care of your house. Dr. Brewer, women are made in God’s image. This is a fundamental gospel issue. Who humans are. I’m not mad; I’m grieved. If I had a daughter I would be horrified to know that she was being told these things about herself.”
5. Dr. Brewer said to Dr. Meek about the chapel video: “We’ll post it. But I heard so much riff-raff, why would I put that out there for some of the cynics on this campus, faculty, and students, who will take the clips they don’t approve and post them on Twitter and make fun of this man. Would you want me to do that Russ? It’s uncontrollable at that point, isn’t it? But I’ll be glad to put it out there if that’s what bothering you and other people that you think I’m trying to hide. I’m not trying to hide anything.”
The video of the chapel sermon is still not posted.
Louisiana College administrators canceled the scheduled April 2019 conference entitled “What is a Woman Worth?” – a conference that was to be led by Dr. Meek – and refused to reschedule it for later in the semester.
Dr. Russ Meek resigned and is no longer a faculty member at Louisiana College.
All the administrators named above remain at Louisiana College.
On the official last day of employment at Louisiana College, Dr. Russell Meek wrote a paper entitled Misogyny in Baptist Higher Education.
At some point, all Southern Baptists will understand what the issues really are.