Complementarians see women and ‘gag’

Last week we discussed a vicious, hateful diatribe by Gospel Coalition blogger Thabiti Anyabwile, who argued that the best way to defend his idea of morality was by nurturing disgust for and toward gay men and lesbians. (See “50 Shades of the Gospel Coalition” and “The theology of assholes.”)

A couple of terrific posts this week — neither directly related to Anyabwile’s rant — can help us to understand why Anyabwile and his fellow “Gospel Coalition” complementarians thought posting his nasty argument was worth doing.

The first is from Kendra Weddle Irons, who blogs at Ain’t I a Woman? In a post titled “On Submission,” Irons discusses the household codes of 21st century anti-feminists, which are derived from the household codes of a handful of New Testament passages, which are a response to the household codes of the first century.

It’s a good discussion of what those passages originally meant and of what they should mean for us today, but the part of Irons’ post I want to highlight comes from the beginning, where she describes what’s at stake, in their view, for the anti-feminist Christians preaching their gospel of anti-feminism:

Any woman who rejects her God-ordained role as a submissive wife diminishes the glory of God because her clear divine calling [as] a wife is to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and to carry through on his direction. To do any less than this or to doubt this is God’s designed plan is to reject the notion of womanhood and also to disobey not only to her husband but, by extension, God.

Gender differences and roles are not peripheral aspects of faithful living but are instead essential in the life of a good Christian because without a wife duly submitting to her husband the sacrificial love of Christ for the church is not appropriately conveyed. It is only through the perfect model of a Christian marriage that God’s honor is reflected and Jesus’ sacrifice is clearly understood.

You see, this is critical stuff. Most likely the continuation of Christianity as we know depends almost entirely on how well women submit to their men and given the devil’s successful campaign against biblical womanhood waged through the secular feminist movement, all truly Christian women need to return to their own Edens (homes) eager to repair the damaging work Eve started.

That’s not an overstatement. It’s an accurate and fair summary of “the argument put forward by Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian in their True Womanhood conferences and materials and of John Piper of Desiring God, not to mention a host of others ranging from Mark Driscoll to those associated with Focus on the Family and Vision Forum.”

For these folks, men’s authority over women and women’s submission to that authority is a central, essential keystone to their whole understanding of Christianity. Take it away and everything falls apart.

It’s very much the same view as the one we discussed earlier regarding Tim Keller’s litmus test of condemning homosexuality. Change that, Keller said, and you require these Christians to “Completely disassemble their whole approach to authority. You are basically going to have to ask them to completely kick their entire faith out the door.” They regard “complementarianism” — the anti-feminist reassertion of “traditional” gender roles — as an essential component of their faith. (“Essential” is their word — see this Wartburg Watch post on “The Gospel Coalition’s Complementarian Conundrum.”)

Given that, people like Keller, Piper, Anyabwile and the rest of their colleagues at the Gospel Coalition cannot allow themselves to be any less extreme than the fringe-y whackjob Bruce Garrett discusses in the second post I want to highlight. Garrett responds to comments from some guy named David Usher of the anti-gay AA religious-right affiliate Council for Marriage Policy.

It would be overly generous to describe Usher’s argument as a “slippery slope” reasoning — his prediction of feminist calamity is far more paranoid than even that. Marriage equality, Usher says, will lead inexorably to the enslavement of men:

Usher’s dystopian screed warned that the Supreme Court will create multiple classes of marriage. In a section called “Class 1: Mother-Mother marriages,” he predicted that “[w]hen two women marry, it is a three-way contract among two women and the government. Most women will bear children by men outside the marriage – often by pretending they are using birth control when they are not.”

… Gay men, he said, will have the worst time of it under legalized same sex marriage because “[i]n most cases, these men will become un-consenting ‘fathers’ by reproductive entrapment,” although how the devious Class-1 lesbians will accomplish this is left to the reader’s imagination.

After having some fun at the expense of Usher’s notion that gay men will somehow be lured into unwitting sex with women, Garrett cuts to the heart of the matter. David Usher hates women:

Usher might well be a closet case but I suspect he’s a straight male supremacist who really hates how a pretty girl can make him all hot and bothered. The homophobia of men like that is really misogyny; gay males draw his contempt for making themselves into woman. That his libido recoils at the thought of having sex with another man makes him feel justified in that contempt.  But really, that contempt, or fear, or loathing, or all of it mixed together, is directed at women.

Usher writes:

Progressive terminology morphed from “gay marriage” to “same-sex marriage” over the past five years because the feminist power-agenda is not attached to orientation. The feminist goal has always been to create an institution where any two women can marry each other, have children out of wedlock, and force individuals who cannot be part of the marriage to support it economically, with government as a statutory guarantor.

Look at that — really look at it.  This isn’t about lesbians — it’s not about homosexuality — it’s about women.

And that, ultimately, is also true of Thabiti Anyabwile’s contemptuous disgust for, and horrified fascination with, the mechanics of gay sex.

Look at it. Really look at it. It’s not about homosexuality. It’s about women.

Anyabwile is disgusted by women. He hates them.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

A few more links to other good posts reacting to Anyabwile’s swirling miasma of homophobic misogyny and misogynist homophobia:



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  • dpolicar

    I have no idea what William Wilberforce would think of the state of morality in Western Civilization today. Nor do I care overmuch. Do you think William Wilberforce’s hypothetical opinion is important, and if so why?

    With regards to the broader question… well, all right. If on your view we need only look at current events to see that a steady decline is occurring, then we simply disagree on how a conclusion like that can even be justified in the first place.

    So yes, I agree with you completely that your vision of the future and the present can be disputed; in fact, I dispute it.

    And either way, we are not actually restricted to waiting and seeing. We can also act, to make things better or worse. And we can encourage others to act, or discourage them from doing so.

  • The reason I bring up Wilberforce is because it seems that social justice Christians do not have any qualms about latching onto and appropriating the moral authority when it pertains to social justice while ejecting their other views, (Bonhoeffer is another example). I like to point at them to set a standard apart from the tennis without nets approach of moral relativists. If the highest moral authority is ourselves under the enslavement of a Hegelian dialectic I’m not very impressed.

    Soberly approaching a moral man such as Wilberforce could provide an example of more than just how much things have gotten better. He could be a benchmark for how things have gotten worse, if one were so inclined.

  • I found you offensive precisely because you used an offensive epithet. Your discourtesy invites discourtesy in return.

    Were there a hell I would wish you in it.

  • dpolicar

    So, I’m not sure I’m following you here, but what I’m getting is you think Wilberforce’s hypothetical opinion about modern life is important because he’s a moral man, and consequently a source of moral authority.


  • Wrong. You’re not called “intolerant” if you actually follow the bible and what it preaches, you’re called intolerant if you’re intolerant even if you pretend the bible justifies it.

    You’re not called a homophobe if you suggest the bible proscribes homosexual behavior. You’re called a homophobe if you use the bible to justify your homophobia.

    You’re not called slut-shaming if you suggest that the bible recommmends modest dress. You’re called slut-shaming if you shame sluts — even if you pretend that the bible is your reason for doing it.

    You aren’t called a misogynist if you suggest the bible tells women to subjit to their husbands. You’re called a misogynist if you try to compel women to submit to their husbands, even if you pretend the bible is the reason you’re doing it.

    If you want to pretend that those passages in the bible order misogyny and homophobia, go right ahead. Lots of atheists agree with you. But you don’t get to go around saying “the bible orders me to be misogynistic and homophobic therefore I am exempt from the rules of basic human decency that preclude that”

  • smrnda

    The question was whether you yourself were oppressed.

    I have Black friends who have been subject to pretty shitty treatment by law enforcement. However, that hasn’t happened to me.

    However, I think that my duty as a non-Black person in the States is to oppose racist policing policies and practices, not to tell my Black friends that they’re ‘blessed’ to be so oppressed. I’d imagine you’d fight for a change in the laws to make life better for Christians abroad?

    Are you suggesting that it’s only *selectively bad* to be on the side of opposing oppression?

  • smrnda

    So… it’s a nearly meaningless vague word like a few other nearly meaningless vague words?

  • Okay, seriously? You tried twitting him on something that really wasn’t germane to the discussion, and now you’re trying to double down by twitting me over, fundamentally, easily googleable English slang terms.

    I may not like GIL any more than you do, but you’re not helping your case by trying on this sort of thing.

  • chgo_liz

    Stop looking in the mirror when you pontificate.