“Bible believing” pastors and the enabling of domestic violence

“Bible believing” pastors and the enabling of domestic violence April 28, 2015

Eraser deleting the word Patriarchy

I didn’t know the pastor who phoned me from Alabama. But my alarm bells went off the moment he identified himself as a “Bible-believing Christian.” That’s code for the kind of anti-gay, anti-science, anti-women, anti-thinking Christian who ruins Christianity.

I certainly felt the man’s pain, though. He was profoundly concerned about his daughter, whose increasingly abusive husband had finally cut her off from all contact with her family and friends.

“Her husband now controls every aspect of her life,” the pastor told me. “First he made her quit her job. Now he won’t let her out of the house. She can’t even use the phone anymore. And I know he’s hitting her. Can you help me figure out how to help my daughter, when he won’t let me anywhere near her?”

We discussed the particulars of his daughter’s situation, and arrived at what seemed to be the best way for him to proceed.

Then he said, “I don’t understand how this could have happened to her. It’s keeping me up at nights. I want to rescue my daughter from the situation she’s in—and I also want to do whatever I can to stop what’s happened to her from ever happening to any woman. Do you have any ideas on how I might go about doing that?”

“I know one thing you can do right away,” I said. “Since you call yourself a ‘Bible-believing Christian,’ am I correct in assuming that you believe, and teach, that God has ordained that wives must be subservient to their husbands?”

“Yes, I preach a Biblical view of marriage.”

“So, your daughter grew up believing that a wife should be subservient to her husband. All of her life, she believed that the role of the Christian wife is to practice ‘sacrificial obedience’ towards her husband.”

After a pause, the pastor said, “But I also taught her to have high self-esteem.”

I waited for the screaming in my head to pass.

“But surely you can see,” I said, “that, actually, you didn’t. You cannot teach a girl that she is, by virtue of the simple fact that she was born female, naturally and by the will of God subordinate to men, and at the same teach her to have high self-esteem. One half of the message ‘You were born inferior—but you’re great!’ is destined to cancel out the other half. You can’t have broken legs and win a foot race.”

“I’m not sure what you’re saying.”

“I’m saying that a woman who grew up believing that a wife must be subservient to her husband is essentially primed—is psychologically conditioned—to become emotionally and spiritually trapped in an abusive marriage. You can understand that, yes?”

“I’m not sure that I can.”

“Well, then, frankly, you owe it to yourself, your daughter, and any woman whom you ever pastor to think about it until you do understand. You can’t remain in the dark about this. You’re costing women their lives. And you can understand why, right? First you make a girl believe that in order to please God, her father, her family, her pastor, and her whole church community—in order to avoid spending eternal damnation in hell—she absolutely must, once she’s married, live her life being sacrificially obedient to her husband. That’s her mindset; that’s who she thinks she is. And then you kiss her on the cheek, and give her away (and I beg you to consider what a perniciously dehumanizing phrase that is) to a man who, love her though he may, is also perfectly aware that she will willingly endure any treatment that she gets from him. He is free to beat her if he wants to, confident in the knowledge that, because of the way you trained her, pastor, because of what you made her believe about herself, she’ll take it. She’ll take it or (she believes) she’ll go to hell. I know this is hard to hear, but what’s happened to your daughter is largely on you. It’s the horrible, inevitable legacy of the Christianity that you preach. You have to take responsibility for that.”

A long, long pause happened. Finally, the pastor said, “John, you just given me a lot to process. I’d like to hang up the phone now, think about all you’ve said, and then call you back. Is that okay?”

“Sure,” I said. “Of course. I’ll be here, any time.”

That was almost three months ago. I haven’t heard from the pastor since.

(The pastor phoned me because of my brief book on why women stay in abusive relationships.)

""Without an explicit directive from God..."?How "clear" must the directive be?Unless I'm mistaken, in the ..."

Taking God at His Word: The ..."
"Even if you marry a believer, there is no guarantee they will always stay a ..."

Christians in love with non-Christians (and ..."
"Do keep us informed of if you get accepted. It's a whole new crew at ..."

The Bible and sex addiction

Browse Our Archives

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jeannette Meade

    Thank you.

  • Susan

    I wish I’d had this post to link to when I lost my temper and shrieked at a friend online when she naively brought up complementarianism as the Christian form of marriage.

    I’m still darkly proud of what I did say. (“You want to be literal about the Bible? READ IT.” This after I won the war of Bible quotes and her husband snidely called me as a Biblical scholar…. is that praising with faint damnation or what?) But I still wish I had managed to make my point without jettisoning a friendship I really enjoyed. This link would have helped a lot.

    The battles of the First World are so often fought in flamewars on Facebook.

  • Matt

    I waited for the screaming in my head to pass.

    That is exactly how I felt reading his response to you. Girls are told in a million tiny ways growing up that we’re less than. When I am read female I get called “sweetie” “honey” and “darling” by strange men old enough to be my father when I’m just trying to get dinner. When it comes straight from her father that God decrees she must take whatever is meted out to her, what the [censored] did he think would happen?!

  • Michelle M

    This story could have been written about my life, right down to having a “bible-believing” pastor as a father. I eventually had to pull up my own bootstraps and leave my ex, knowing that I might lose my own family in the process. Maybe this pastor didn’t turn around right away, but hopefully you planted a seed that will grow down the line.

    I suspect the pastor probably gave a few more sermons on how husbands should treat their wives and thought that was good enough. I reckon he has no idea of the pathology of an abuser. The sad thing is that he will lose his reputation, career, and livelihood if he openly agrees with you.

  • usingmyvoice

    John Shore, you have just stated the case far better than I could have as a woman who was raised exactly the same way as that pastor’s daughter. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Alan Christensen

    We’ve (mostly) redefined marriage in the sense that women aren’t property any more, and that’s a good thing.

  • Amy Wallace

    Yes, exactly. This is is also why so much sexual abuse of children happens in the church – because members are primed to believe in and accept the spiritual and moral supremacy/leadership of the preachers.

  • BarbaraR

    When I was a kid, little girls were often badgered by little boys who hit us or threw rocks at us or otherwise behaved extremely badly. And we were told, “That’s how you can tell he likes you.”

    So. Much. Damage….

  • sassyfran

    I stayed in a verbally abusive “marriage” for 31 years (some physical abuse), and it wasn’t until I found the book which saved my life (The Verbally Abusivd Relationship by Patricia Evans) that I began my journey to freedom.

    What followed was an 18 month nightmare I willingly put myself through in order to educate the pastor (of disaster) and the deacons.

    (Because I let the x live in my house for awhile after the divorce)….my name was put up on a big screen, followed by the words, “Conduct Unbecoming a Child of God.” 3 times…I was called to a meeting of deacons (not allowed to have a woman with me, and asked “Are you still having sex with your x?” No boundaries. I stood up in front of the congregation and said, “Wow, I didn’t think this many people would show up to help me celebrate my birthday.” Fortunately, I was born a free-thinker with a PhD in common sense, LOL….www.churchabusepoetrytherapy.com was the result of the debacle. I am a Sophomore at 68, because I wrote about my life of overcoming (and thriving) an won a scholarship.

    I presented my paper, Society’s Hidden Pandemic, Verbal Abuse, Precursor to Physical Violence and a FOrm of Biochemical Assault at my State’s Counseling Assocation. If anyone is interested, Iwould be glad to send it to you (carleton@oakland.edu)…..Alice, Vietnam era Veteran, dancer, singer, author, poet, born standin’ up and talkin back!
    I am the moderator of an abused survivors’ group.

  • Jeannette Meade

    You are awesome and inspiring.

  • sassyfran

    Thank you, Jeannette!

    xoxo, Alice (and/or) my evil twin, Francesca!

  • Guy Norred

    Wow, just wow–on more levels than I can communicate.

  • Kim Marie

    What happened with this abused woman? Instead of waiting 3 months for the father to contact him again, there should have been immediate followup to make sure she was safe. For shame, John Shore.

  • Kim: Put your wagging shame finger back in your pocket. You have no idea what I did or didn’t do to ensure this woman’s safety. All I said was that her father never called me back.

  • Jeannie E. Hess

    They’re also fought on Disqus. There is a cyberbully who is practically stalking me right now over this very issue.

  • In seminary, a friend (male) of mine and I had an argument with another student (female) about her being called to ordained ministry in the church. We had just heard her preach an amazing sermon. “Oh, no,” she said, “that was just to fulfill my preaching class requirement. [My denomination] won’t ordain women preachers.” The argument went on and on about how we could see her calling, plain as day. She insisted that women are not to be ordained and preach in the church.

    Twenty-some years later, I’m still dumbfounded at how we–two males!–were advocating for HER to become ordained in her church…and she insisted that would not be.

    *Her church did, however, allow her to become a hospital chaplain.

  • otrotierra

    I’m sorry to hear about this. I’d like Disqus and blog moderators to work together and bring a stop to all bullying and trolling.

  • JenellYB

    I wasn’t a pastor’s daughter, but was raised by parents with those beliefs. Pregnant and married to an abuser that should have been charged with child rape instead of marrying me, at age 15. At age 18, by then 2 babies, it got so bad I HAD to get out. Nothing I told my parents made a difference. I don’t think they even believed most of it. He was of course always nice around them. They were not only not supportive, would not help me in any way, they actively tried to convince me to go back. Every time I moved to escape his stalking and threats of violence, he would almost immediately find me again. It took a while, and was terribly hard to have to accept, that it was my parents that told him where I was. I eventually had to keep my location secret from my own parents, for almost 2 years, until he had moved on with another woman. So, even if parents are pastors, they can be just as unthinking and cruel, in Jesus name.

  • How could he follow up? Unless the caller wanted to give that information, such as return contact information, actual physical location, how to contact the daughter, etc. how could he? What if John has tried to contact the pastor in question, and has been unsuccessful? We don’t know

  • That is the sheer irony of faith, isn’t it? Jesus tells us to treat others the way we want to be treated and to always be mindful of those who are abused and rejected. Not what I see when I look at most of his “most devout” followers today.

  • Susan

    Wow. Stalking you over complementarianism? I figured someone would be much more likely to stalk over the sin status of homosexuality. I’m very sorry you have to deal with that.

  • Yes. The statement in weddings about the father who gives away his daughter is saying that the bride is not human on the same level that the groom is. This is one of many subtle, but powerful messages given to the feminine half of our species to demean them. Another one of my all time favorites is calling the wife “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3.7).

    Two thousand years later, the world has grown up and moved on. It is the evangelical Christian that is still stuck on these old superstitions about women being “property,” who is just a little more than an older brother in regards to siblings. Two thousand years later and the majority of American Christians are still in fear of breaking social norms that is embedded in ignorance. This makes me wonder if we are in an enlightened stage of humanity, because sometimes, it sure doesn’t look like it…

  • Pavitrasarala

    “Put your wagging shame finger back in your pocket.”

    Can I borrow that phrase?

  • Excellent point! Thanks for sharing that thought!

  • I knew a former Southern Baptist minister who is called former for the reason you mentioned above. He saw that preaching on husbands loving their wives wasn’t getting through to two or three congregants that he knew were abusive. So, he started preaching on the empowerment of women to LEAVE, and started publishing materials on where to find help, shelters, etc, etc… He also disfellowshipped those who were hurting others. Three or four months was all Kimball Street Baptist Church could handle. He was stripped of his ordination.

  • Hey Jeannie, there is a way you can keep him or her from trolling you, if he is following you from one thread or blog to another, go to your list of followers and click on the down triangle (there should be one right to the right of his thumbnail) and a drop box will appear. There is an option that doesn’t say block but it say something similar to that. When he or she then goes to your profile page to see what you have been up to, all they will see is Sorry, Private. Deal with it! and a pic of an emoticon with shades will appear. This is how I got rid of my cyberbully here. He no longer knows where I’m at.

  • Good for that pastor. He did the right thing. I wish his story was much more common, not the getting canned part, but the deciding to end the enabling of domestic abuse within the church.

  • Kim Marie

    Then I await your epilogue, with the hope that that woman is now safe and she is being counseled about the destructive teaching of ‘sacrificial obedience’.

  • And I will be polite, and pretend that was an apology.

  • Pavitrasarala

    I grew up in a non-religious household but still got the same messages about being subservient because of the toxic level of abuse and dysfunction that existed, laced with misogynistic attitudes and a large smattering of sexual abuse.

    The end result was the same. I landed in the arms of a sociopath who simultaneously swept me off my feet while tearing down the essence of my being.

    I finally got out because I feared what would happen if I stayed more than if I left. It took over 4 years to get to that point. Just like the pastor in this article, my birth family was baffled as to how I ended up with such a scumbag. Gee, I wonder.

    I became Catholic as an adult. As much as the Church frowns on divorce, I also got tremendous support from various priests, nuns, and parishioners when I ended my marriage to my ex.

    Those in the Church who supported me got that there’s the letter of the law, and then there’s the spirit of the law. They got that showing the compassion and mercy that Christ would extend was more important than pointing at some rule and using it to justify acting more like a Pharisee.

    There were also those who shunned me because I divorced, without getting to know why. It really does take all kinds. It hurt, but now I realize that their choices reflect their own issues, not mine.

  • Pavitrasarala

    My faith doesn’t ordain women as priests (priestesses?), but there are a few hints of progress. Apparently they’re talking about allowing the ordination of women as deacons. Not sure if I’ll see it in my lifetime, but I am excited that it’s up for discussion… and I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face when my parish priest said he was in total support of the idea.

  • Pavitrasarala

    I hope he considers taking his new message to another church that is willing to embrace it. His calling to serve God should not be squelched because he’s realized all human beings deserve dignity and respect.

  • Keri Wyatt Kent

    This pastor’s insistence on not being able to see is astonishing. I find similar responses when I talk to “Bible-believing” patriarchists. They absolutely refuse to see how this twisted theology sets up women for abuse. Thank you for writing this.

  • You may. I’ll send you a legal contract stipulating all the details. [JOKE! This is a joke.]

  • Thank you, Using.

  • Thank you, Jeannette.

  • Matt

    It is so good to have you and your humor back, John.

  • yael58

    Thank you very much, Jack–I will do just that very thing. God bless!

  • yael58

    Thank you for your kind words, Susan. He said that I must hate Jesus, that I don’t believe the Bible, that I should stop pretending to be a Christian, and oh yeah, because I called John Piper a wolf in shepherd’s clothing for his hideous and ignorant “advice” to women who suffer from domestic violence. (I would say that about anyone who said this to someone caught in the violence of DV.) This last one really offended him because he makes an idol of Piper and thinks Piper can do no wrong.

    AFAIC, I am shaking the dust off my feet with this guy. He is as to me a pagan and a tax collector.

  • Laura Dormuth

    I am a PK who was in an abusive relationship for 24 years. I know my parents struggled with helping me, wanting me to be safe and “follow” the bible. My mom said she cried to God for my safety and for my marriage to be healed and she felt she just didn’t know what to believe, after all divorce is wrong. What people don’t realize is when you teach a woman to submit no matter what because God will bless your obedience what they are saying to someone who is being beaten down at home is for God’s blessings you need to endure. You are taught to forgive, to love and pray, be silent, after all a quiet answer turns away wrath…blah blah blah. When you are taught relationships are about authority somewhere love and trust are forgotten and abuse takes root. I struggled for 24 years, wanting with all my heart to do the right thing, to be a better wife and christian. Between the abuse both physically and verbally from my husband and the teachings from the church to submit, to love, to forgive, you are tossed back and forth in and the cycle of abuse actually is strengthened. It’s hard for many to understand or even admit, I feel for this young lady. This blog is spot on in my opinion, it exactly describes the turmoil going on in your mind. Thanks for sharing

  • Bev Murrill

    You are right. That is why that girl stayed, and also why the father couldn’t see it, and didn’t ring back. No matter how much he wants his daughter free, he can’t do it at the cost of his mindset! Ugghhh

  • Michelle Par

    In my Catholic grade school there was a boy who “liked” me via all sorts of rough physical contact (none of it sexual). My parents, mostly my mother said that it was “because he liked me,” until my mother and I saw him holding his own mother in a head lock. Then there was horror that he treated his mother that way, and then not another word about him, or how he “liked” me, and no reevaluation of that explanation.

  • Romney Simpson

    I was brought up in a fundamentalist christian household. Both parents taught sacrificial obedience. My Mother was verbally and emotionally abused and my brothers and I were physically, verbally and emotionally abused. I’m one of those who was considered “rebellious” because I could not submit. I was told that by not submitting that I was defying God and damning myself to Hell. Most of the time I wouldn’t respond because that would end in more abuse. But I still wouldn’t submit. They accused me of not submitting to God and I would disagree. My response was always that it didn’t make sense that a being as powerful and as omniscient as God would create two beings and make one inferior to be ruled over by the other, just be an accident of birth. Not because they were more qualified or had superior intellect. At 17 yrs old I finally fought back against my abusive Father and broke free. I came to the stunning conclusion that I didn’t have to put up with any of that. I didn’t have to allow it. I was in control of whether someone treated me badly or not… and that I could walk away. Incredible revelation for a 17 year old. I’ve carried it with me my whole life. My daughters have been raised knowing that they do not have to submit to anyone but God. That if they find a good man and want to marry them they need to be equal partners. I’m teaching my sons that women are their equal and that they need to give them the same respect that they expect. Thank you so much for this article! It renews my faith that there are those Preachers out there that truly understand. I have found so few in my lifetime.

  • Mike Stidham

    In about a month, I will be walking my daughter down the aisle of a church at her wedding. She and I both kind of snicker at the thought of “who gives this woman to be married?” Even as a “Bible-believing Christian”, my first response is “Whaddaya mean? She’s marrying this man on her own volition; there’s no shotgun or anything. She’s lived on her own since high school; I’m just here for the ride.” Women were subsumed as a result of the Fall, but in Christ, are women not equal to men? Should a Christian marriage not recreate the equality between women and men that existed in Eden?

  • Congrats to you and your whole family, including the new addition! Funny you should mention that. I was discussing that very issue just a moment ago with a neighbor of mine. He said that his wife was to submit to his authority and that is because Eve made Adam eat the “apple [sic]”. So she is punished for that. That is her God given role. My response: “Even if that makes it right, it would have been a curse, as you called, a punishment. Didn’t the crucifixion cancel all debts, meaning punishments and curses?” He looked down for a moment and said he’d have to think on it. I went back into my apartment in total disbelief…

  • So beautiful, Romney. Thank you.

  • Last I talked with him years ago, he was going to the Disciples of Christ, which allows women in the ministry. I don’t know what had came of that though. Last I heard, he still takes the Bible very seriously, but has really loosened up on the notion of man being the despot of the home. I have tried to get in touch with him about 3 or 4 years ago, but we lost contact. I do know someone who knows him. Maybe I ought to give her a call and give an update here!

  • Times are changing; you never know, it just might be in your lifetime! Progressive Christianity is growing in influence. Keep on smiling, it certainly seems to moving in the right direction!

  • R. G.

    Yup…that’s why I stayed for 8 years in an abusive marriage. I’m so glad I learned to value myself and get out eventually. Now I counsel women in a local domestic violence shelter, so I get to give back. 🙂

  • My father allowed that he would not baptize his boys into any religion of his choosing. That it was a choice that required time and understanding that only belonged to the individual. He did make sure I had exposure to most every religion and church for no other reason than the experience. My father was the Patriarch, his wife of 45 years the Matriarch. They cooperated as parents which in its essence was never 50/50 because it was always 100/100. But if you want to bring the question of whether or not a patriarchy sets up women for abuse then its only fair to describe their mutually agreed upon responsibilities. As patriarch my Dad was the disciplinarian. None of his four kids he raised liked to be grounded. But the sting of a belt would only occur whenever the situation went to a lie or stealing…in our case…rarely. He was the breadwinner, but once his kids had demonstrated a certain maturity, encouraged our Mother to explore the job market, which she did out of want, not need. Mom also disbursed our family love and history before and after their marriage, and planned family events with consideration of my Dads schedule first, but also of our extra-curricular schedules. Mom cooked, sewed, shopped, and saw to her kids needs by herself if immediate but usually after having a family discussion. I’d witness that their relationship was consistent in that it always had my father as the figurehead of the horse with our Mom as the neck. There were never any blinders or reins needed. I want to remind everyone that when it comes to a “Patriarchy” it needn’t be owing to any doctrine other than to what purpose a marriage aspires. In the case of my parents they were never as interested in whether or not they had raised good kids…they were however, 100% invested into their purpose which had always been to raise good parents!

  • KarenH

    Given how much that pastor is going to have to process, 3 months isn’t really that long. He may yet call back.

    I hope he does.

  • Patricia Oliver

    You are so right! That’s exactly what they used to say.

  • Andy

    I’m guessing he didn’t take logic in seminary.

    “Here’s your problem: A contradicts B.”
    “I don’t see how.”
    “Well, A says X, Y, and Z. B says not X, Y, or Z. Therefore, A contradicts B.”
    “You told her to do A, and now you can’t understand why she’s not doing B?!?”

    There is simply no way in their minds that A can be wrong. Anything that suggests that it is either is discarded or throws the whole brain into chaos. The archaic, misogynistic dogma runs deep, and it’s horrible.

    I have known several women, mostly from the south, that have been divorced after finally breaking free of the subservience they were taught. I dare not think about how many are still living under it. It’s awful.

    I was talking with one of them recently. Of course, she was raised to submit to her eventual husband, which she did for many years after they got married. She finally divorced him after around 9 years. He had cheated on her a few years back, and she tried to make it work. She tried to remain loyal. I don’t think he was physically abusive, but she was still trapped in a subservient relationship for many years. She hated sex for a while because she felt like she was obligated to do it whenever her husband wanted to. It made me mad thinking about it when she told me about it, just imagining how many other women are still stuck in the same situation. Still makes me mad.

    I feel fortunate that my parents didn’t raise me or my siblings to think that way. It’s terrible and it’s holding back the world.

  • hillaryrobyn

    This is a very great article, one that many of my family members should read. I deal with this mindset with many of my friends and family.

    After posting an article on Facebook about why I left the church, I was given a suggestion for a church to check out. My first red flag was on their website. The first thing you see is a button that says “sew a seed, reap a harvest. Donate!” Nope, I thought to myself. Then, the husband of the woman who referred me there said “we’re a BIBLE believing church!” (just like that) and I then said nope, nope, nope!

    My father’s family is Southern Baptist, and the majority of them are racist misogynistic a-holes. Their favorite verses are any that they can twist and alter in such a way to justify their hate. My uncles were in our kitchen one time, discussing the Bible. One (the worst of the bunch) said “Well, you know, the Bible says that women should submit to their husbands…” in a lightly veiled attempt to excuse spousal abuse. My mom turned around and politely said “Yeah, and then it says that husbands should love their wives like Jesus loves the church, and He doesn’t abuse it, does He?” His face turned red with anger and he stormed out of the room. Not only was he stumped for a response, but a woman, who he deems inferior, had just put him in his place. He hated my mom because she was smarter than him and had a quicker wit, and recently deleted and blocked me from Facebook because I remind him so much of her. That makes me happy, though. Without her teaching my sister and I that we are equal to men and can do whatever we want no matter who disagrees and to always be independent, we would be like the poor woman in this story.

    My husband and I started dating when we were 16. His parents (moreso his mom) are very religious and fully believe that the wife should submit to the husband in every aspect of the relationship. I let my husband know right from the beginning that that would not fly in our relationship. He and I are equals and neither is above the other.

    I am saddened for this woman, and every woman who has and is going through this. This idea of ‘women have to submit, no matter what’ is a plague on humanity that needs to be eradicated.

  • David Gambill

    Kim, I strongly suspect this conversation never tooI place, that this “Bible-believing” Christian pastor is a fictional character created by this self-declared novelist to advance his agenda.
    The other purpose is to give “Progressive” Christian the bogeyman necessary to keep their message of hate toward fundamentalists fresh.

  • David Gambill


  • excellent. thank you, Hillary.

  • Scott C

    (1) ““Bible-believing Christian.” That’s code for the kind of anti-gay, anti-science, anti-women, anti-thinking Christian who ruins Christianity.” How to start…Christianity cannot be ruined, contrary to apparently popular opinion. Bible-believing and anti-gay, anti-women, anti-thinking have nothing to do with each other. Plenty of self-proclaimed progressive post-Christian Christians are every bit as narrow-minded and naive and lost as certain so-called bible-believers.

    (2) ““But surely you can see…that, actually, you didn’t. You cannot teach a girl that she is, by virtue of the simple fact that she was born female, naturally and by the will of God subordinate to men, and at the same teach her to high self-esteem…‘You were born inferior—but you’re great!’” Well-informed bible believers do not teach girls that they are inferior to men, period. They do not even teach that wives are inferior to husbands, period. The massive, modern-day misunderstanding that equates leadership with superiority has nothing to do with the NT teachings on the roles of husbands and wives.

    (3) The end advice given to a man in need was to go and “think about it until you do understand.” This is just ridiculous progressive intolerance. The man in need’s worldview was so repugnant to the author of this article, that the best advice he could offer him was to go think about the error of his ways until he gets it. In the meantime, a woman slips further into an already clearly abusive situation.

    John, I appreciate your words in the sense that you advance the discussion about gender roles as they relate to modern-day Christianity. But, if you continue to perpetuate the “either-or” stereotypes of the modern-day progressive hero vs. the misogynistic-Fundamental villain, you will polarize this argument in such a way that might leave even more women without real help. There is a large bible-believing base of Christians out there who find your characterization of them repugnant and needlessly provocative. Take a brief moment and consider that this discussion is far more nuanced than you give it credit for.

  • Jason

    Who says he even attended seminary?

  • 1 – Your point is irrelevant. People who tend to ID themselves as “Bible-believing Christians” represent a subset of narow-minded person. Sure, thee are others. That doesn’t make John’s reaction wrong. You might want to spend some time thinking about the function of the word “code” in that sentence.

    2 – Of course, leadership has to do with superiority. It can’t not. If a person gets to trump all disagreements by virtue of being male, then it’s pretty clear that, lip service aside, women are being relegated to an inferior position.

    3 – Yes, the guy needs to think. John isn’t a police officer, a social worker, a crisis responder, or a vigilante. He’s a writer. This is what advice he can offer — get the head right. He’s not in a position to launch rescues, and if you call John for advice, that’s not what you’re looking for.

  • I was in college in North Carolina in the early 90s. While I was there, the state was debating legislation which would make it a crime to rape your wife.

    Hotly debating, I fear. And there were pastors who strictly opposed it. I heard such a sermon one Sunday … It was pretty awful. And there were women who internalized this lesson — men’s desires are far more important.

  • Andy

    Well, John did refer to him as a pastor…but I guess I shouldn’t make assumptions, so thank you.

  • Scott C

    Ken, I am flattered that you replied. That is not sarcasm, either, thank you.
    With all due respect, you continue to perpetuate the stereotype. Religious bigotry contaminates the discussion, which is about a willingness for a serious author who wrote a book about saving women from abusive relationships to put aside such bigotries and help solve the problem at hand. What could be more Christlike? Whether or not you and I agree or disagree on the leadership/superiority matter or the meaning of the phrase “Bible-believing Christian,” at the end of the day, if an author has the courage to write a book explaining how to help women in abusive situations, he is actively engaged in their rescue. Otherwise, he’s just a writing hack trying to sell books. Since there is no evidence that Mr. Shore is such a person, I submit that he holds as near as much responsibility for assisting those who reach out to him as the professionals you listed.

    I do not discount that the man and folks in his position need to think: there are many people who profess to be “bible-believing” who have instead embraced an age-old butchering of scripture. There are still people who mistreat women with ridiculous doctrines of superiority. In this sense, you and the author are right, but it won’t matter if the lion’s share of the dialogue is marred with religious bigotry and stereotypical either-or arguments.

  • Scott: You have no idea what work I have or haven’t done to help women trapped in abusive situations. And you have no idea what I did or didn’t do relative to this particular woman’s situation. All I said was that her father hasn’t called me back.

    And I’ll let you know when I start losing sleep worrying over what Christian leaders who teach the subjugation of women think of me or my work.

  • Andy

    I hadn’t seen that one. I’d never heard of this guy, but I’m glad I read your post. The “Hint to people running fundamentalist faux-colleges” bit was pure gold.

  • Scott C

    John: You are right. I don’t know what you do. I don’t know the amount of work you have done, even though I can assume it is substantial, given the importance of your topic. I don’t know if there was anything done regarding the specific anecdote you provided. What I do know, is based on your account of the conversation, you left the man with little more than he should go rethink the last twenty plus years of parenting in hopes that he might come to an answer as to how to help his daughter better. In this post, all you have given is the fruit of your frustration with certain Christians who refer to themselves as bible-believing, but clearly don’t understand it. My concern is that, as a leader in the religious community who clearly has the ears of many who value what you say, you would serve us better if you avoided turning a large group of Christians who are bible believing and refer to themselves as bible believing into anti-gay, anti-women and anti-thinking. I would sincerely hope that after this short discussion, you might conclude that I am not anti-thinking, anti-gay or anti-women…but I assure you, I am happy to refer to myself as bible-believing. If you were willing to modify your language, you might win a few hearts and minds of folks like this pastor.

  • BarbaraR

    It’s John’s experience – and I am going out on a limb here and assume the experience of most of the regular readers here – that when someone identifies as”Bible-believing,” they almost invariably turn out to be anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-thinking.

    John doesn’t need to change his language to appease anyone.

  • Jason

    My cousin is a pastor….but he only has a bachelors degree in religion….Seminary is, unfortunately, not required to be a pastor at a lot of churches….

  • DrewTwoFish

    I’m sorry. There comes a time to call a spade a spade. John provided what practical help he could and the man asked him specifically what he could do to address the problem. John answered him.

    As someone who lost decades of his relational life to anti-gay teaching and ended up losing his faith, I’m tired of hearing about the hurt feelings of those who do damage by trotting out this anti gay/woman/thinking crap.

  • Andy

    I didn’t know that. I’m pretty sure it was required of priests — and probably deacons too, but I’m not sure — in the church I went to growing up. Might explain his archaic attitude. Then again, a lot of people of the cloth went to seminary and have widely varying stances, so I guess it doesn’t really matter. Point is, he doesn’t seem to understand logic.

  • Fred the Barbarian

    Many of us don’t need a bogeyman to be reminded how violent and hateful fundamentalists are. We grew up around them.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    I didn’t know the pastor who phoned me from Alabama. But my alarm bells went off the moment he identified himself as a “Bible-believing Christian.”

    Yours too, huh?

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    There is simply no way in their minds that A can be wrong. Anything that suggests that it is either is discarded or throws the whole brain into chaos.

    Just like an Army Intel vet describing working with the locals in Iraq. You could only open their minds so far, then “the wall in the mind slams down” and the thoughtstoppers start looping at high volume — “IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN! IT IS WRITTEN!”

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    Nothing I told my parents made a difference. I don’t think they even believed most of it. He was of course always nice around them.

    Successful sociopaths are masters at camouflaging what they really are. (“For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light.”) If they weren’t, they would have been exposed and caught long ago. We only hear about the ones dumb enough to slip up.

    Remember the stories about how pedophiles “groom” their victims? Well, it isn’t only pedos and it isn’t only the victims. Sociopaths and abusers also groom third parties — especially those in authority positions — as allies and accomplices. Very handy if the victim finally speaks up and finds themselves alone and surrounded by the abuser’s allies — alone against everyone else.

  • David Gambill

    Well, does hating the Fundamentalists back make you feel any better?

  • Fred the Barbarian


  • paganheart

    Seen on a bumper sticker once: “Eve was framed.” 🙂

  • I just about believe that very thing!

  • Andy

    Mine three.

  • Snooterpoot

    I think “complementarianism” is a code word for penis and vagina. My parents were married for almost 64 years and I never once heard either of them utter those words.

  • Snooterpoot

    Wah! Bad old people who believe everyone is a child of god and should be given all of the dignity, respect and love accorded with that are persecuting me and other fundamentalist Christians! Wah!

    You are pathetic.

  • paganheart

    I overheard my sister-in-law telling my eight-year-old niece that a few months ago, when my niece told her about a boy who had pushed her off a swing and called her awful names at recess. It was all I could do not to run out of the room screaming…how I wish my parents had never, ever, EVER told me that!

    Fortunately I have since been told that the boy involved was removed from the school and placed in an alternative program for kids with severe behavioral issues (it was not his first offense, apparently.) Hopefully he gets the help he needs….because something tells me that eight-year-old boys who push girls off swings and call them names all too often grow up to be men who give their girlfriends and wives black eyes…or worse…and call them names….

  • Andy

    That “boys will be boys” thing is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard.

  • David Gambill

    Why don’t you spare me your sarcasm, you sniveling little punk I am not a fundamentalist Christian , but I’ll be damned if this fraud .is going to call berating his favorite whipping boy serious thought

  • Snooterpoot

    Your ad hominem attack is not unexpected. That’s all you seem to have, David.

  • Jason Scroggins

    I didn’t read this article because I didn’t need to. I already knew what it was about. And I don’t usually respond to these things because it’s like untangling a huge ball of strings tied up together. Nobody that says such sh*t is interested in any kind of Truth. I have read the Bible my whole life and obviously it does not condone ‘domestic violence’. The Old Testament does under certain circumstances but the New Testament does away with it. So, no, ultimately it does not. But this article does not even have to do with domestic violence in general. It is implying the kind only by males against females. Females commit domestic violence against males all of the time. It is just expressed in a feminine way because they are females. For example, the utter destruction and devastation caused by a black hole in outer space is violent. Yet it uses an inward force rather than an outward kind. Such is the way it is with females. That is also how females rape men all of the time, too. By using extreme seduction against male’s will. But our current day society refuses to look at this whole other half of the picture right now for some reason. Aside from they are just simply (reverse) sexists. And that is why I am against this article and others like it- because they are sexist. * Unfortunately, I just read something by John Shore about him ‘helping’ women in ‘abusive’ situations. So he just admitted that he is biased, first nof all. Secondly, true statistics (not the ones fabricated by the sexist d.v. industry) show that there are about an equal number of female and male d.v. victims. But then again, John Shore is not even interested in Truth in the first place, only ‘half- truths’ which are no Truth at all. I wasn’t going to put this on here, but I was an Anti- Feminist Activist for four years so John’s sexism does not get past me at all. There is both an art and a science to gender roles and relations and if there were a degree in it, I would hold a Masters. All any of you need to know about males and females, really, is that age- old common sense concept of one is an ‘innie’ and one is an ‘outtie’. And both can be used for good or bad, they each just express those two things in different ways. One gender is not inherently, or even conditionally, worse than the other. Because of dishonesty in the world, ‘sexists’ purport it to be so, however.

  • David Gambill

    What hit closest to home, Sniveling, little , or punk? I don’t see where you are coming out of this mud wrestling match clean. Now if you consider that this foray on the part of the author isn’t at all constructive in dealing with domestic violence, maybe you could redirect that considerable intellect of yours.

  • Snooterpoot

    On the contrary, I think this blog does something constructive in dealing with domestic violence, you big old mean bully. (See? Two of us can play that immature little game!)

    You have no way of knowing if a submissive Christian woman who is being abused by her husband might read this and find the courage to get help. All you do is indict Mr. Shore. That’s not constructive at all.

    Don’t even start telling me I know nothing about domestic violence. I saw my aunt almost beaten to death when I was twelve years old. I saw the scars, both emotional and physical, that being beaten left on her. The sorry excuse for a human being to whom she was married committed suicide after he fired a pistol at her and thought he had killed her. The damned coward killed himself instead of facing prison. More than 50 years later I am haunted by what I saw, and by the fact that my aunt died a bitter and angry woman.

    I’m sorry my sarcasm hurt your feelings. I guess you can be a bully but you can’t take a little sarcasm to call you out on it.

    We’re done.

  • Snooterpoot

    No bait, thank you. I had a nourishing dinner and I am quite full.

  • BarbaraR

    He’s gone. Ain’t nobody got time for that kind of nonsense.

  • lrfcowper

    “The end advice given to a man in need was to go and “think about it until you do understand.” This is just ridiculous progressive intolerance. The man in need’s worldview was so repugnant to the author of this article, that the best advice he could offer him was to go think about the error of his ways until he gets it. In the meantime, a woman slips further into an already clearly abusive situation.”

    Um, no. You didn’t read the article too closely if that’s your conclusion.

    ‘We discussed the particulars of his daughter’s situation, and arrived at what seemed to be the best way for him to proceed.

    ‘Then he said, “I don’t understand how this could have happened to her… I want to rescue my daughter from the situation she’s in—and I also want to do whatever I can to stop what’s happened to her from ever happening to any woman. Do you have any ideas on how I might go about doing that?”’

    John gave advice on rescuing the daughter from the situation and then, WHEN ASKED, gave advice on ways to avoid other women suffering the same fate in the future.

  • Sharla Hulsey

    John said they’d talked about a practical solution as well as talking about how patriarchal religion had set the stage for her becoming a battered wife. I am guessing that that practical solution and how it played out need to be kept confidential, probably for the safety of the man’s daughter. I’m okay with letting that be.

  • Snooterpoot

    Thank you, Barbara.

  • BarbaraR

    My pleasure.

  • Yeah, ‘pastor’ like ‘reverend’ is an honorific signifying nothing on its own. Lovely to read you again, Andy!

  • Thank you, Lrf. You’ve more patience than I.

  • David: I don’t lie.

  • Andy

    Thank you! Same to you of course!

  • I grew up in a “bible believing” church that would qualify as a fundy cult. When I left, I spent about 12 years in the Southern Baptist denomination. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the passage “wives submit to your husbands” during those periods of time, with silence on the roles of husband being also submissive. Instead they were the head of the family, under god of course, and women were inferior, considered physically, emotionally and spiritually weaker.

    I was married to a man who was emotionally, verbally and physcially abusive for 23 years. The number of clergy or lay people who spoke against his actions, or his type of actions or encouraged me to leave….zero. The number of clergy who put responsiblity of my husband’s actions on me, and to work to make the marriage healthy…one. The number of family members, all of whom are Christians, who spoke against his actions, his type of actions or encouraged me to leave…zero.

    I knew I had done the right thing in leaving my ex, when I read John’s piece, Seven Reasons Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, in Huffington Post. My score was a six. It was the first time I had read, from a religious viewpoint anyone offering a shred of compassion, credible advice and understanding of not only what I had endured, but in such a way that made sense, wasn’t condenscending, and put full responsibility on the abuser, not the abused. That’s right, I had encountered No One Else discussing domestic abuse, in a religious setting, until I read John’s piece.

    Trust me John has won more hearts and minds, with his compassion, his candor, his humor, and his respect, than any of the pastors I knew during my first marriage. I hope he never modifies his language. Like many others here, my experience with the phrase “bible believing” has been code for anti-gay, anti-thinking, anti women, anti-progressive thinking on social issues. I think the phrase “bible believing” is erroneous. it is instead, believing in a particular view of the bible

  • Andrew Dowling

    Wow, that’s disturbing

  • Yes, it was.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Many don’t have more than HS diplomas. Anyone can open a church and call themselves a ‘pastor’.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The issue inherent with the term “Bible-believing” is that the Bible is not something to be “believed” . . it’s not the Christian Quran, although many would like it to be. It’s to be analyzed and wrestled with, using one’s God-given intellect and integrity.

  • My state has the worst laws against spousal rape in the nation. We also flip between first and second in regards to women murdered by former or ex romantic partners. Note that seperated couples are not included in the provision.

    South Carolina Code 16-3-615. Spousal sexual battery

    Current as of: 2014

    (A) Sexual battery, as defined in Section 16-3-651(h), when accomplished through use of aggravated force, defined as the use or the threat of use of a weapon or the use or threat of use of physical force or physical violence of a high and aggravated nature, by one spouse against the other spouse if they are living together, constitutes the felony of spousal sexual battery and, upon conviction, a person must be imprisoned not more than ten years.

    (B) The offending spouse’s conduct must be reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities within thirty days in order for that spouse to be prosecuted for this offense.

    (C) The provisions of Section 16-3-659.1 apply to any trial brought under this section.

    (D) This section is not applicable to a purported marriage entered into by a male under the age of sixteen or a female under the age of fourteen.

  • 30 days?


    Female under the age of 14?

    Yeah, that’s … No. Just, no.

  • There are hundreds of small independent churches all over where the clergy has no theological credentials other than owning a King James translation and a “calling”. They also tend to be quite proud of their lack of seminary training.

  • Guy Norred

    After all, part of the Great Commandment is that we are to love God with our mind.

  • Elyse Frances Enger

    The important issue is that evangelicals need to understand that Christian narcissism often disguise itself in “holy” and “righteousness” while meteing out injustice. And this culture also enable domestic violence.

  • Elyse Frances Enger

    I agree. I also pointed out that it’s Christian narcissism that end up enabling domestic violence.

  • Dave Noelle

    Although the article raises some very valid concerns with conservative patriarchal theology, to reduce and polarize abuse to politics and then blame a victim (abuse victimizes more than just the main target! ), that I find completely unhelpful. I mean domestic abuse is far from contained to conservative evangelicals for goodness sakes!!! (I know too many people that work as councilors, police, or work in women shelters to be so naive.) So whereas the ideologies on submission may at times contribute to the problem, I can’t imagine lambasting someone in that place of pain. Not the time and place! Too soon.

  • Snooterpoot

    I think you missed the point, Dave. John didn’t say that domestic violence is limited to families with a conservative Christian background. He did say that the rigid theology of Biblical inerrant believers forms a woman’s belief that no matter what she must submit to her husband.

    I have heard these preachers ask women what they did to make their husbands angry. I have heard these preachers tell women they have to be better wives by having a spotless home, dinner on the table when her husband returns from work, perfectly behaved children, and so on, and so on, and so on.

    As I stated in an earlier comment, I have seen domestic violence. I know what it does. I helped to establish a program of safe houses in the east Tennessee area where I grew up. I’ve stayed awake all night long with a gun in my hand to protect women who are abused when we’ve feared their abusers found out where they are. I have lived the conditioning women have received!

  • Snooterpoot

    Which is why I refer to these men as preachers. Pastors and ministers are quite different than preachers. The preacher in the Southern Baptist church in which I was indoctrinated didn’t even have a high school diploma. He was “called to be a preacher” and that was good enough for that particular congregation.

  • Dave Noelle

    Again, I’m not under playing how bad theology could be a contributing factor to abuse or domestic violence. But shouldn’t getting the victim out be the first concern? I mean from what is written, there is no way that there was time to discuss in depth theology. Does not most conservative Christianity equally condemn family violence, teach a man is to honor, love, esteem, and protect his wife and family? Even to death as Christ did?

    Look, I’m no fan of the religious right or institutional religion at all. But as a Canadian I find it sad that even domestic violence would be polarized and used to justify the dualism and scapegoating in the American culture wars! When someone broken is reaching out for help, especially from a violent situation, they don’t need a theology lesson and blame games! (That is like telling the rape victim her dress was too revealing.) There is a time and place of course. That being said, statistically the most likely scenario for abuse is actually in liberal cultures “intimate partner” scenario where two people that don’t even know each other start a relationship with sex and have no intention of commitment. The odds of abuse in these scenarios are terrible, as abusers keep moving from victim to victim. It has sadly so common for women (or men) to experience an abusive intimate relationship that we think it is normal! Yes people often get out easier than a marriage, but it is almost impossible to measure the social damage when it is normal for men and women alike to have experienced abuse.

  • Snooterpoot

    Women have to be ready to leave the abusive situation. It’s not a situation where someone can go to the home and just remove the woman. It can take years and years of abuse before a domestic violence victim gathers up the courage and enough self esteem to leave. I truly wish that a victim of domestic abuse could just be identified and told, “Leave. We will help to keep you safe,” but it just doesn’t work that way.

    The fact is that more victims of domestic violence are killed by their abusers when an escape is attempted or has been completed than there are when the victims remain in the home.

    It is not like telling a rape victim that her dress is too appealing! That is a poor analogy, at best, and quite insulting, at worst.

    That being said, statistically the most likely scenario for abuse is actually in liberal cultures “intimate partner” scenario where two people that don’t even know each other start a relationship with sex and have no intention of commitment. The odds of abuse in these scenarios are terrible, as abusers keep moving from victim to victim. It has sadly so common for women (or men) to experience an abusive intimate relationship that we think it is normal!

    I’d like to see some empirical evidence to support that. It looks more like a political statement that criticizes “liberal cultures” than an actual study, or studies, that support that statement.

  • calling John Piper a “wolf in shepherds’ clothing” is slander. You’ve violated the 9th commandment (Ex. 20:16) and so should examine yourself as to whether you are really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
    You also sound like a very angry, hateful person who probably needs psychological counselling.

  • get a grip on reality and see a counselor. Mention possible paranoia.

  • Sad situation (with Laura in the “featured comment”). She should be in the kind of environment described by John Piper where the church wouldn’t just tell her to “forgive” but would shelter her and confront the abusive husband, bringing him to church discipline. It’s when church discipline is lost that people are left with denial and having to suffer in silence, which is not the Biblical way.
    And, of course, we also believe that God has instituted authorities who bear the sword to bring His wrath against the evil doers (like the abusive husband) (Rom. 13).

  • “Complementarianism” is, indeed, what the Bible teaches. Read it.

    The problem Laura (in the “featured comment”) faces is that she lacks the kind of church John Piper describes: one that will confront the abusive husband, bring him to church discipline. It’s a shame that some people, so hateful of Biblical teaching, actually attack him for teaching what the Bible says would protect vulnerable women like her.
    Also the Bible teaches that God has instituted authorities, not only the church, who bear the sword to bring His wrath against the evil doers (like the abusive husband) (Rom. 13).

  • Susan

    By exactly the same argument, the Bible teaches slavery. Read it.

    If you’re going to take it all literally, you don’t get to pick and choose your quotes.

    The rest of us, who believe that Biblical teaching remains strong in the face of social change over the last two thousand years, may weigh the intent of these passages against Christ’s message of power to the powerless.

  • Susan

    I suppose I should clarify that my “Read It” retort came as a response to her claim that the Bible’s support of slavery came only from the Old Testament.

    The thing about Biblical literalism that horrifies me is that if one is going to read the Bible as a culture and context-free set off modern instructions, you better have read it and REALLY know what to do with the most upsetting passages. If you’re going to claim that Paul’s description of woman submissive in marriage is the only interpretation of marriage supported by the Bible, then you’d better know what to do with Paul’s advice to slaves and slave owners. At the very least, you dang well better know that those passages exist. There are a lot of them. There’s a reason nobody quotes them from the pulpit.

  • We (apparently, largely) agree so let me offer these as either hopefully helpful ideas:

    Science owes it’s start to Bible-believing Christians.

    Is God “anti-gay” when He imposes the death penalty on homosexual behavior(Lev. 18, 20), or when He says it is “unnatural”, an “error that deserves a penalty”, (Rom. 1:26f), a sin that one who commits it will not enter the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9f), etc?
    Of course, what probably underlies the idea is that one can be “gay” without engaging in homosexual activity, which is a capitulation to the idea that one is “born that way”.

    Is showing women what are their God-ordained roles being “anti-woman”?

    2. It is absolutely correct to teach that wives are not inferior to husbands; that equating leadership with superiority is a “massive, modern-day misunderstanding” and that misunderstanding is the unspoken presupposition of feminism..

    3. In seminary I went jogging with a woman pastor and told her that I don’t believe in women pastors. She said, “You’ll see”, as though it were a self-evident fact that any reasonable person will come to recognize. Twenty-five years later I see that the exactly same approach to scripture (namely, that of twisting and negating the Word of God) that justified women pastors is now being used to justify homosexuality. They scoffed then that accepting “evangelical feminism” would lead to a “slippery slope”. Now the culture — and the culturally enslaved parts of the professing “church” — are in a moral free fall.

  • No it doesn’t. The Bible first mitigated a pre-existing institution and then introduced ideas, like that slaves have rights, that eventually destroyed slavery. It does no such thing with men-women complementarity. It teaches from the beginning women were made to be “helpers”, that man is the “head of woman” in the same way as the Father is the head of Christ (equality of nature but complemenatarity of roles), rooting gender role differentiation in creation and the Trinity — thus cross-cultural and permanent.

    Christ’s message was NOT “power to the powerless”. That’s the message of modern liberalism. Jesus’ message is that the Kingdom of God has come and He exercises that rule through the church, which is to make disciples of all kinds of people, teaching them to follow what He says — not worldly feminism.

  • I’ve quoted Paul’s advice to slaves from the pulpit. And I’ve explained the Bible first mitigated a pre-existing institution and then introduced ideas, like that slaves have rights, that eventually destroyed slavery; that it never roots slavery in creation or the Trinity, nor does it justify race-based, perpetual slavery — assumptions that most feminists wanting to set up a false comparison want people to import to the Bible so as to discredit it; and that it was Bible-believers who ended slavery.

  • The egalitarian/feminist position is that those texts restricting women were exceptions based on situations that no longer exist. But this runs directly counter to the explicit teaching of scripture. The apostle, after laying a theological foundation for gender differentiation based on the Trinity and on creation, states, “If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice — nor do the churches of God.” (1 Cor. 11:16.) In another place (1 Cor. 14:33-38), the apostle prefaces his comments about the place of women in worship with “As in all the congregations of the saints” and concludes those comments with “If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself is ignored.” The question begs to be asked: If Paul had wanted to be more emphatic about the divine requirement of gender role differentiation, how could he have done it? The proposition that the differentiation of gender roles was local and contextual simply will not stand up to exegetical scrutiny.

  • The “Christian” feminist position is based on the assumption that God is an incompetent communicator. The egalitarian/feminist proposition holds that God intended for women and men to have undifferentiated roles in ecclesiastical leadership. Specifically, they believe it was God’s eventual plan to have gender be an irrelevant criteria to the selection of a senior pastor. Those of this position who are evangelical also profess to hold that the Bible was inspired by God. “Evangelical feminists” claim to believe that God uniquely guided the composition of scripture and it is therefore authoritative. But these two propositions — that God inspired scripture and that God intended there to be no gender roles in the church or family — are at odds. On the one hand, they have to deal with a Bible that tells us that Jesus selected an all male apostleship, that “the head of the woman is man” (1 Cor. 11:3), that women are not allowed to judge prophesies (1 Cor. 14:34), that a woman should not have a discipling authority over a man (1 Tim. 2:12), that wives are to be submissive to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 1 Pt. 3:1), and that husbands are the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head over the church (Eph. 5:23). All this from the book they claim to believe is uniquely inspired and authoritative. On the other hand, they claim that God intended us to believe in an interchangeability of gender roles. It would seem to me that the only way that the two propositions can be held together is if one also believes that God is an extra-ordinarily poor communicator. If I said, on the one hand, that I believe in “egalitarianism” and at other times that I believe that “man is the head of woman just as the Father is the head of Christ,” that I don’t believe women should judge prophesies, that a woman should not be the head over a church, and that wives are to submit to their husbands, I would either be accused of terrible inconsistency or poor articulation.

  • Susan

    I’d like to know how you read the Beatitudes if you think that Christ has no interest in the powerless. Also, well, about half of the Gospel. The other half, Christ spends railing against materialism.

    Paul was almost two thousand years too early to have done much about the destruction of western slavery. His words were used as some of the strongest *defense* of slavery in the United States.

    Paul’s advice regarding marriage is almost exactly the same as his advice regarding slavery. In both cases, he advises godliness from within the existing social roles and pushes for limited mitigation of oppression.

    Paul’s tone on social change is very different from Christ’s. Christ raises up the oppressed.

  • Dave Noelle

    As requested –

    It is frightening in fact. There is and always has been abuse in a percentage of intimate relationships. But despite all the information and resources, women are more likely than ever to be victimized. Contributing factors – liberal attitudes towards substance abuse (neither partner is making rational decisions under the influence and somehow drugs or alcohol turn otherwise kind and gentle people into monsters, or otherwise self respecting people into willing victims), the number of intimate partners one has (simple math, if one in ten men are abusive, and a woman has 10 sexual partners, chances are near 100% that they will encounter abuse, as abusers in our society are more likely to move from victim to victim… See recent stories in the media of celebrity abusers that had dozens of victims!) Another huge factor is jumping in the sack before we even have any idea who the person is! This especially victimizes women, as sex is generally more emotional and has bigger potential consequences for women. That and so much abuse happens in sexuality because of porn. (There are a number of TedX talks on this, look them up, it’s absolutely terrifying! When 80%+ of sexually active high school girls say they have been coerced into sexual activities that they find painful or degrading, or have been coerced into sending intimate pictures of themselves to their boyfriends, most likely which get passed around or shared illegally as child porn online…. Nearly 100% of kids in the UK said they have received unwanted porn on their phones or social media! (Showing someone porn who is not wanting to see is a former of sexual abuse. And the most common images sent in these scenarios depict violent sex, rape, abuse, degrading images, or things that would cause great physical or emotional distress.)

    To put this in perspective, the abuse rates in the Western world are higher than Afghanistan, despite the fact it is sadly socially accepted in Afghanistan. Many Muslim nations that are more progressive have much lower rates of abuse than the West because there is not the promiscuity, access to porn, and shack up culture where having multiple relationships per year is “normal.”

  • Susan

    Bible-believers stood on both sides of that argument, and they had the Bible quotes to back them up.

    Which is why one cannot take the context out of the Bible.

  • I didn’t say Christ had no interest in the powerless. That’s an absurd distortion of what I said and if that’s how you interpret texts it’s no wonder you can’t make sense of the Bible.

    The beatitudes describe what the Kingdom of God looks like.

    Paul taught some of the principles that ended slavery, revoluntarily teaching that slaves have rights vis-a-vis their “masters”. Your derisive attitude toward Paul is part of your problem you need to correct.

    The Lord Jesus selected and appointed Paul to speak for Him and inspired him with the Holy Spirit to guide his writing. Your rejection of Paul is a rejection of the Lord Jesus Himself. Further, just as a matter of interpretation, your attempt to make a differentiation between Paul and Jesus is absurd and only a reflection of your ideology, namely that you’ve created a fictional “Jesus” into which you import all your ideas. It’s an idol.

  • From creation, women were made for different roles than men. They were created to be “helpers” The word (ezer kenegdo) should not be interpreted as menial or inferior, but it doesn’t means “equal,” — which is actually a mathematical term to mean that two things are identical. Between the sexes, speaking of “equality” means they are interchangeable, undifferentiated, the same. The context of the creation narratives simply does not bear this out. The man is created first and, by himself, given the task of naming the animals. The authority to name carries with it the implication of headship over. He becomes aware of a need within himself and God makes the woman for him. He then names the woman. To imply, as the “egalitarian,” position does, that the woman is simply a mirror image of the man in a female body, is not borne out in this text. The sexes are profoundly distinct. What in practice that means is a matter for debate.
    However, the creation narrative certainly more than hints at some kind of differentiation between male and female gender roles.

  • We are not left completely to our own devices in interpreting these texts. God inspired several passages in the New Testament which exegete the creation narratives for us. In one, the Apostle states, “For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” (1 Cor. 11:8-9.) In another, the Apostle states that women are not to be in authority over a man for the theological reason that “Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1 Tim. 2:13.) Male headship (kefelh) and other expressions of gender role differentiation are rooted in creation. It is the abuse and the ignoring of male headship that is a product of the Fall.

    Professor Wayne Grudem has done and exhaustive study on the word kefelh in classical and koine Greek and found that when it is used metaphorically it nearly always means “head” as in “authority over.” (See Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.)

  • The question is what caused the end of slavery. Slavery was the norm until Christianity. Bible-believers ended it. See this article about self-professed “secular Jew” who won a Nobel Prize for his work on slavery and concluded that Christians ended it: http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=27-04-017-v

  • Susan

    Paul also taught that wives have rights vis a vis their husbands. I don’t see the difference you think is so important.

  • Yes, you’re right. Often abused women are isolated and suffering from lack of self-esteem that keeps them from walking out. That’s why the kind of involved church-community John Piper describes that would intervene, provide protection for the abused and then confront the abuser is important. Sadly, though, the same kind of hatred of authority that lies at the root of feminism also hates the idea of a church with authority to discipline abusive husbands.

  • Frank

    Yes he can continue to remain In ignorance.

    It’s no accident that people who create their own god and scripture have a negative reaction to bible believing Christian.

  • Susan

    Christians ended slavery almost two thousand years after Christ? I’m sorry. That makes no sense.

    I’m pretty sure you should read some more pro-slavery arguments from the 1800s. You’ll see as many Bible quotes in the pro-slavery arguments as the anti-slavery ones.

    Some very good Christians led the abolitionist movement, but Christianity owned the abolitionists and the slave-owners alike. The distinction between them wasn’t their literal reading of the Bible.

  • Yes. The difference is that the Word of God never teaches that slavery is rooted in creation, that slaves were created originally to be slaves, that slavery is reflected in the Trinity, must be preserved for the sake of “the angels” (1 Cor. 11:10), that no difference of opinion is allowed on the topic, etc.

    Further, you don’t show any contextual understanding of slavery, apparently confusing 1st century slavery with race-based, perpetual American slavery. Once you understand the context of 1st century slavery, you realize it is not as akin to American slavery as many assume. You have to understand the context.

  • [“I’m smarter than you” comment deleted]

  • Susan

    You just introduced context for slavery. This means that one cannot pull Bible quotes out and use them without context in the modern age.

    Turns out this is also true for many other issues, including marriage.

    That was my original point.

  • Susan

    Your zeal remark is hilarious. I just realized how many other threads you’ve jumped into on this post alone.

  • I’m very sorry for your experience and hope you are in a much healthier and happier condition now.

    I believe if the “Bible-believing churches” you were a part of had followed all of the Bible — including the portions on church discipline — your hurtful experiences could have been largely avoided or redeemed. In the kind of environment described by John Piper where the church wouldn’t just tell her to “forgive” but would shelter her and confront the abusive husband, bringing him to church discipline. It’s when church discipline is lost that people are left with denial and having to suffer in silence, which is not the Biblical way.
    And, of course, we also believe that God has instituted authorities who bear the sword to bring His wrath against the evil doers (like the abusive husband) (Rom. 13).

  • No, “pastor” is a job description, for those who shepherd God’s people.

  • [Fundie comment deleted]

  • [Anti-woman comment deleted]

  • Susan

    Convenient that you, as a male, see the Bible’s instructions for female subservience as so different and unassailable compared to slave subservience.

  • BarbaraR

    He’s gone. Jeez, he was tiresome.

  • Susan

    Though this is tangential, I was recently horrified to realize how recently spousal rape was not considered a crime. I think of that as something from the last century (that’s 1800s you pedants, not 1900s), but in fact it is an issue from the last *generation*.

  • Susan

    Honestly, I don’t think John should have called the pastor back. The pastor came to JOHN for advice. John gave it. The pastor may or may not have taken it to heart. That is the way of advice.

    What the pastor didn’t do was sign up to be harassed. I’m quite sure John knows the difference.

    I guess we’ve all banged on the point that this post was not about the abused woman. It was about the pastor. It’ll either hit home or it won’t.

  • Susan

    I’ll try not to feed the trolls in the future

    Though I’m pretty new to discussions here, and I honestly hadn’t seen a lot of these arguments. It was darkly fascinating. Know your adversary, I guess.

  • BarbaraR

    You did just fine. Stick around and (unfortunately) you’ll see a lot more of this kind of patronizing fundamentalist tactics. This guy was like a broken spigot: you gotta turn the water off completely.

  • Canada’s problem with domestic violence is just as bad as the US. http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-violence

    And that quote of Dave Noelle’s, is utterly unfounded and not based on evidence. For the record, none of us
    think its normal, even those of us who have the misfortune of being victims. We knew it wasn’t normal. We just had to figure out a way, to either exist in that environment hoping it improved,or bide our time till we could get out, often both.

  • Porn, promicuity and a “shack up culture” have nothing at all to do with domestic violence rates. The percentage rate difference between global regions, income, and culture, under 15% http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/violence/VAW_infographic.pdf?ua=1

    I’d be curious where you get your information from, other than a TedX talk.

  • Pastor *can* be a job description. It can also mean you’re the self-proclaimed leader of three dementia patients. Point is, it’s not like minister or priest which denote some kind of training. You can flunk third grade and still be a “pastor.”

  • Church discipline was very common in the church I grew up in…so obviously that was a fail, as that was reserved for people who didn’t fall into line and smile under church oppression, or was considered “rebellious”, of if you were a woman, a sinner, because of divorce, or getting pregnant without a husband leading you around.

    I have yet to hear of a single church in my lifetime who has done anything you claim John Piper suggested. I’ve heard plenty of the opposite in my research. I am so not a fan of Piper’s theology

  • Dave Noelle

    I did post another link. And I was unaware TedX was an unreliable source? Lmao…

    A large part is simple math. The percentage of abusive men may vary less than many think, yes. (We have spent a lot of time in Islamic countries and have many friends from Islamic countries, I’m not convinced that the cultural lack of prosecution means much as far as likelihood to abuse. Fear of consequences does little to deter.) So the more partners one has, the more likely one is to encounter an abusive scenario!

    But statistics on kids and sexually explicit materials, coercion, unwanted pics, etc are undeniably astronomically higher as Internet porn has became friends primary source of sex u education for kids!!!! Research it

  • Guy Norred

    And that empirical evidence should take into consideration that that person who has no intention of a commitment is at least a little more likely to report the abuse than the one whose identity is more wrapped up in the relationship.

  • Snooterpoot

    Your link doesn’t support your assertions. Again, I think you are looking to make a political statement that denigrates liberals.

    I think I am through with you.

  • Dave Noelle

    Snooter… from the article…

    “Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.” So unless you can demonstrate that conservative evangelicals abuse rates are MORE than triple the national average…??? This is nearly impossible considering how already high number of women experiencing abuse, considering again the math thing. Say, for arguments sake, 1 in 10 fundamentalist evangelical men are abusive, and half as many, 1 in 20 men in the “sex first, get to know you later culture” are. Now if that conservative culture averages say 1.5 sexual partners, about 15% of women would experience abuse. But if the “normal” woman has ten “normal” sexual partners, statistical odds are 50% will experience abuse!

    Now as someone else posted, Canada’s abuse rates are quite similar to America. Yet the religious right in Canada is like 2% of the population, as compared to easily 10x that in America. So clearly problematic theology may fuel an abusers excuses, but there is not a shred of verifiable evidence to suggest any correlation between the religious right and spousal abuse. Yes there are abusers in that and every demographic. But to make it about theology is IDENTICAL to telling a father whose live in boyfriend abuses her that it is his fault because he taught her that relationships and commitment are cheap and temporary, and ultimately about personal gratification so it must be her fault or she should just move on to the next guy and hope things work out better next temporary non committed sexual relationship with someone you don’t actually know yet.

  • Snooterpoot

    This addresses violence between people who are dating, not domestic violence. They are two different things, therefore, the link you provided doesn’t support your assertion.

    I don’t think you provided any empirical at all to support the claim that I quoted before. There is no evidence whatsoever to tie “liberal attitudes” to domestic violence. If anything, my experiences with assisting abused women shows that they tend to be in relationships with very conservative men who want to “keep them in their place.”

    You can stop your thinly veiled attack on people with a liberal political philosophy. That’s all you are doing, and you’re using domestic violence to support a political statement. I find that abhorrent.

  • Dave Noelle

    I wasn’t talking about liberal politics! Gosh. I was referring to liberal attitudes towards sexuality and relationships. But there is an obvious political component to the article too. Would he respond this way to a more “liberal” person whose daughters live in boyfriend was abusive? (Which is over 3x more likely than a married partner.) Would he go off on a lecture about how it is the father’s fault his daughter is being abused? Certainly he would not! But a more conservative fundamentalist type certainly may! Exactly the same thing! It’s polarization and scapegoating in order to avoid the issue entirely, because polarized opinions rarely have any sort of realistic explanation for why some people and things don’t fit their mold.

  • Snooterpoot

    You continue to disregard the message of John’s blog, so I have to assume you are a troll. I’ve fed you enough.

  • Dave Noelle

    Feel free to assume whatever you want. I could care less. And as for the blog, as I have mentioned many times in this conversation, I do agree that a theology of subservience or one sided submission is dangerous. I have just made the point that attacking a grief strikes father and blaming the victim is disgusting! I don’t care what political or religious persuasion they are, blaming a victim of abuse is low.

  • Rust Cohle

    //anti-gay, anti-science, anti-women, anti-thinking Christian who ruins Christianity.//

    Actually, the Bible is pretty anti-gay, anti-science, anti-women, and anti-thinking, no matter how much whitewashing is attempted.

    Progressives who remain Christian are the enablers of the crazies.

  • Elyse Frances Enger

    Something for you to mull over; many abusers are narcissistic and enjoy having power over others, including their own spouses. And they also have many psychopathic traits.

    So to reference my earlier comment, it is “Christian” narcissism that prevails in many domestic violence cases in bible-thumping households.

  • Linda

    My husband (soon to be ex) and I were christian and brought up with the same belief system even though we were originally from another country. He was very physically, emotionally and verbally abusive to me. I would like to point out that he was not an alcoholic in any way. He was charming, a strong christian, well educated( we were both training together in medical school).

    The submissive theology was truly one of his biggest holds over me. He kept making me think i was not submissive enough and rude anytime i tried to stand up for myself. Gradually, my closest friend of many years became my dictator and would drag me and interrogate me as he saw fit. I would keep trying to give more and more and more of myself but it was never enough. When i sought advice from my mother, she felt that the answer was more submission. I couldn’t have an opinion of my own or have time for myself.It was so bad i could not even watch any T.V show of my choice.

    I am very scarred because many things i believed in were rocked by this experience. I “kept” myself for my husband only to find out after our marriage that i had vaginismus ( a medical condition where penetration is extremely painful or impossible ). I had to go through a painful set of dilators to even endure the act of sex – which broke the camel’s back because anytime he would watch porn (which he was addicted to – he would blame me for making him do that). Although today, I have 2 beautiful children that i am thankful for – the only good things that came out of this mess.

    I struggled with guilt and shame that i wasn’t performing my wifely duties, fatigue from the abuse and the burden of studying, confusion concerning christian faith on issues concerning pre-marital and marital sex, divorce and male and female roles in a marriage. This relationship almost killed my spirit and my faith.I really used to cry and tell God he didn’t love me and honestly felt that he made the world just for men.

    It was not until i started being courageous for myself , reading up on abuse and finding out he probably had a personality disorder-( borderline personality disorder) that i started empowering myself slowly. During one of many nights that i ran out of the house, i finally opened another email account that he didn’t have the password to and joined a group for spouses with borderline -bpdcentral. It saved my life. It gave me back my sanity which helped me find the courage to finally open up to other people i could trust when i started working. And after one fateful day , i found to courage to run out of the house, call the police after he hit me and finally go to court to get an order of protection.

    Long story short,its been 2 years, i am still struggling to take care of my kids myself while doing medical residency without my family here and i have never been happier.My children are doing very well without the tension and palpable fear in the home. I am just grateful that i left and in shock sometimes when i remember the hundreds of horrible incidents i went through.

    I must say though that this rocked my faith, i am now a mother of two, 30 and have no idea what to do when it comes to dating (never actually been on a date because our relationship stemmed from friendship – which i had all confidence was ideal). Now with kids and at this age, I don’t even know where to start when it comes to men and sex because he was my first.

    I had a lot of anger and regret but have chosen to move on and stay positive. What i have also chosen to do is to not be rigid with ANYTHING in christianity/the bible. It is being interpreted by people and hence is horrendously flawed. There were so many ironies in my life (another one being that i was actually was in love with a boy who was muslim but ashamed of it. I didn’t honor that love,and because i wanted to do the christian thing, i married the supposed closest friend to me – a christian bornagain boy who seemed safe,spiritual,generous and ideal – obviously that didn’t go well.

    Ten years later- what have i learnt

    I learnt to trust my heart and guts above all else especially when someone who affects my life is doing so based of some quote from the bible ( i think the interpretation of religion is so so flawed – proven time and time again by science and practical life experience). Let’s call a thing a thing when it’s staring us in the face and be willing to modify if it doesn’t add up to what we believe.That’s actually what jesus did in his day concerning many jewish laws.
    It’s the same thing happening over again today where people try so hard to hold to what is familiar and in doing so hurt so many people and are actually hindering what God is all about.I believe the kingdom of God/all that we need is already in us if we are willing to do the work. Every external thing including the bible is subject and privy to too much variation, exaggeration and misuse.
    I will make it clear that i still identify as christian, have never felt closer to God because i feel he saved me ( only when i acted) because of the great people that came and left at the right time to help me.

    So to myself and all people, i say be open , don’t judge harshly. It is crucial to be willing to change/learn new things.

    Sorry for the rant ,it was therapeutic for me because i would have killed for an article like this many years back but i found my truth still and hope this helps someone else.

  • Getting the victim out safely is always first priority … would “shaming” work? I know it worked with a gay kid about to be sent off to a reparative camp by his fundie parents..

    Practically, it’s very simple. Shine a big bright light on this guy. Legal, non-violent, vigils held in front of the daughter’s. Let the husband know he’s being watched. Let him explain to his friends and co-workers what’s going on. Make him drive/walk past silent accusing faces. Assure him that the police will be called if shouting or signs of abuse are heard. Let him live in fear that every moment he spends away from his home could be the moment she walks out and tells the world about the monster with whom she lives.

    As important, a vigil sends a message to this woman that she is deeply loved and missed. She will see safety in numbers. That she has a safe place to go. That she has options.

    The biggest question facing this Pastor, his parishioners, and the daughter’s friends: how will they respond when she tells them to go away? Because she probably will initially. If her husband is who this pastor says he is, the husband will force his wife to tell people to go away.

  • gimpi1

    One of the problems I have with the whole Christian story is the whole “company punishment” thing. The idea that I’m responsible for the actions of one woman thousands of years ago (that did not even exist – we have good evidence for that) is profoundly unjust. God is nasty, unfair and unjust? Is that how people really see God?

    It’s also interesting that people with more power can always find “reasons” why they should keep their power, or why other people should have less power. Can you say rationalization?

    (And, remember, Genesis can’t have really happened. People evolved over a great deal of time. You can regard Genesis as a metaphor for the development of self-identity or a sense of right and wrong, but there weren’t two people, a talking snake and an apple 6,000-some-years ago. It just can’t have actually have happened. Most Christians know that, right? I really hope so…)

  • gimpi1

    Yes, because when someone robs a bank, we shelter the tellers, and confront the robber, tell him to give the money back and stop stealing… oh wait.

    Domestic abuse is a crime. Behaving violently towards one’s spouse is a crime. It should be treated as such. Mr. Piper appears to fail to grasp that basic idea. Do you?

  • gimpi1

    I’m in my mid-50’s and I can remember when spousal rape not only was not a crime, but was regarded as a joke. Not only was it considered impossible to rape your wife, there was the old, “You can’t rape a whore” meme running around, and “whore” was often defined as any woman who traveled, had a job, lived alone or had ever dated. Also, getting a woman drunk (or slipping her a mickey) and having sex with her wasn’t regarded as rape. It was presumed to be the woman’s fault for drinking. Date-rape was hardly ever acknowledged, since if you went out with him, you either must have “wanted it” or you “should have known this would happen.” And, of course, white men could not rape women of color.

    In the past, rape was considered very rare, because many types of forced sex were not regarded as rape. This is what some conservative people mean when they speak of “legitimate rape.” They mean that most forms of rape aren’t really rape. Only a stranger dragging a virgin into the bushes is rape.

  • gimpi1

    Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around all over the world.

  • j p

    The bible does not teach, “that no matter what she must submit to her husband” and any preacher who preaches that should have only four legged sheep as followers. The bible also says, “Husbands submit to your wives.” It is people who twist the gospels to their own desires that cause these issues, just as we have Islamic leaders making the worst use of the Koran these days. I have also seen many times the opposite of this condition where a woman, empowered by the power of the courts and encouraged by her friends will divorce her hard working husband in hope of trading up for a more romantic partner. The man, doing what he thought was most important, working hard to provide and letting her make all the family decisions (which she will say made him less of a man) winds up losing his family and dreams and a substantial portion of his past and future income. There needs to be a balance between these two extremes or our children and our future suffers.

  • j p

    Anything that adds to a person’s power has the potential to be abused. For instance the teacher student relationship may lead to instances of pedophiles being drawn to that profession. similarly the profession of police officer may attract some masochistic people. Religion is something like politics in that aspect. There are bound to be some that desire followers and power over them. However, I take some exception to the emphasis that evangelical Christians are more likely to cause these conditions than other segments of the population and that it is due to people believing the bible. The culmination of the bible message is the teachings of Jesus and anyone understanding them and trying to follow them would not become an abusive husband. The flaw is in the man and not in the bible.

  • Snooterpoot

    Oh, please.

    I have also seen many times the opposite of this condition where a woman, empowered by the power of the courts and encouraged by her friends will divorce her hard working husband in hope of trading up for a more romantic partner.

    That’s nothing more than misogynist claptrap. What’s the matter? Do we bad old feminists who demand to be treated equally scare you?

    The man, doing what he thought was most important, working hard to provide and letting her make all the family decisions (which she will say made him less of a man) winds up losing his family and dreams and a substantial portion of his past and future income.

    Let her make all the family decisions? Really? You’re on a roll, j p. Let’s see how many more sexist and misogynist statements you can come up with.

    This is the 21st century, not the 1950s when the home was as you described.

    Your comment is utter nonsense.

  • j p

    I’m glad you said “some conservative people”. I think most consider it to be rape that is not when it is a case of a woman reporting it falsely for purposes of regret or revenge. My step daughter was date raped and never pursued charges to save herself from the trauma of going through the whole process. Maybe it is just me but I can’t even imagine enjoying sex if it is against the will of the other person. I don’t know how those thoughts even take root in a man. Maybe that would be a worthwhile avenue of study, finding out where those thoughts start or where they come from. And, I bet some “liberal” people have unhealthy ideas of “real rape” versus something they define as more acceptable.

  • j p

    Equal is in the eye of the beholder, just as rich usually means having some amount more than I have now. I believe in equality but I also believe that we all have varying strengths and weaknesses. If the wife is better at finances she should take charge there if the man is better at cooking he should take charge there. I am not tied up with gender roles but I do see too much divorce and the harm it does. Most comes from unrealistic expectations, lack of ability to communicate and a lack of support from friends, families and wise counselors. I’m just saying that men are suffering in all of this mess too. What ever happened to real love?

  • Snooterpoot

    Thank you. I have a better idea of where you are coming from. Divorce can be extremely harmful, but it’s not in every situation. I think people often enter into marriage without thinking it’s a lifetime commitment. It’s like they think marriage is disposable – if they don’t like it they’ll leave.

    Mrs. Snooterpoot and I vowed to remain married until death. We intend to keep that vow even though the stresses on same-sex marriages can be much greater than on opposite-sex marriages.

    We’ve been together for almost 15 years; we got married on our tenth anniversary as a couple. Our marriage is based on mutual respect, faithfulness, honesty and, most of all, our deep and abiding love.

    I wish everyone could be as happy as we are.

  • j p

    “I heard the passage “wives submit to your husbands” during those periods
    of time, with silence on the roles of husband being also submissive.”
    I have had a different experience where I have never heard the call for wives to be submissive to their husbands apart from the call for husbands also to be submissive to their wives. I would not attend a church where that is not so. I can’t understand how people can follow a religion without reading and understanding the book that is supposed to contain all of the doctrine they claim to believe. You should have been defended. You should have had people who would shelter you and assess your husband correctly and hold him accountable. There are many churches that are not healthy. In fact that was one of the things if not the thing that pissed Jesus off the most. I think the thing about the essay or excerpt above that is offensive to Christians is that is sounds like it is implying that anyone who says they believe in the bible is like this, without emphasizing that it is not that they believe the bible but they choose what they want to believe in the bible and don’t focus in on the core message above all else. I have seen religious shamans who are akin to Barnum and Bailey. I have issues with people saying “Repeat this prayer after me and you will be saved”. There are plenty of simple people out there who will never read the whole bible, let alone understand it, who are hungry for a “good leader”. And there are enough wolves out there willing to rope them in. Maybe people need someone like John to save them from the wolves but I don’t believe they need to be saved from the bible, only from the perversion of the bible.

  • j p

    Some things are repairable and some are not. Some churches do not have anyone with the wisdom to tell the difference. It is a shame when someone endures more pain than they should from something that should stay broken. But it can also be a shame to throw away something that can be repaired.

  • j p

    I think it is possible for a person to truly be called to be a pastor and be a very good one without a formal education, but I would be testing him or her on every word and deed until I was sure what they were all about.

  • Thank you Gimpi for sharing your thoughts. You are right on so many points — Let’s look at the Genesis account shall we?

    First of all, in chapter 3, I read about a snake that was the most clever creature God put in this world. For such a clever creature, he was actually quite stupid. What did this serpent have to gain? Nothing! He had everything to lose. If his attempt succeeded, he still would have set himself up for the wrath of God, would he not? Which is what he got when he was unsuccessful. Talk about your rich payouts !

    Before chapter 3, we read about two trees, one that will give instant eternal life, which is why it is called the Tree of Life (how original..) and the other that will give death, rather immediately, but is called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. If the man and woman ate from the bad tree they would have knowledge and become like God in that respect. Afterwards, what would of happened if they ate the fruit of the good tree? According to God, “he would become exactly like one of us, living forever… which is why we have to keep him from eating from the good tree.

    Why didn’t the snake, who supposedly knew all this, eat from the bad tree and gain all that knowldege and then ate from the good tree and be unstoppable as far as God was concerned? That would have been the smart thing to do, but for all his cleverness, the snake brought in the humans and really messed things up…

    This is very strange, because wasn’t there a lie in there somewhere that the snake said to the woman? According to Paul, Eve was tricked, but I do not see how Eve was tricked. The snake told her that she would not die on that day (which she didn’t on that day because Adam and Eve would have Cain and Able and along came Seth when Abel was gone — but that is a totally different story). The snake told Eve that God was holding the humans back, that God was keeping something from them.

    Sure enough, God was keeping something… knowledge and life from them! That is why Adam and Eve was expelled out of paradise.

    If all this wasn’t bizarre enough, add on to the fact that in scientific, post-modern Western society — this story is not only the main creation myth we have, but a vast majority of us still believe it’s validity! Now that is INSANE!

    The only thing that does make sense out of all this is this:
    The status quo, the powers that be, want us to believe the truthfulness of this myth — so they can remain in power and keep the status quo. In this case, the status quo are the local witch doctors (oops, I meant pastor, priests, deacons, bishops and elders) of the neighborhood church.

    What makes this even more puzzling is how people can’t seem to understand that when thought out like I have above, authority figures should always be questioned (God was holding back). Instead, it is interpreted that we should always trust in authority figures (God would never lie to us), which now come to think of it, seems to be in direct contradiction to what this myth is telling us.

  • j p

    You know, it just occurred to me that we don’t get told many stories from wives at the end of their lives who felt like they, she and her husband, did it right and how they did it. I think, like a successful doubles tennis playing team they find their boundaries and skills and know the extent of their court and how it all needs to be covered. In that kind of team there is a certain kind of subservience within agreed upon zones. There are probably times of ruffled feelings and blame but if they are to be successful there has to be respect and equality, even though they know they are superior at some aspects and inferior at others. But they work to a common goal and do their best.

  • j p

    “the weaker vessel” (1 Peter 3.7).
    That is another one that gets abused. What is important, the hull of the boat or what the boat is carrying? Those words were written in a time when people didn’t have the advantage of civil society. Conquering was a given. Forensics barely existed. On average a woman was not as physically strong as a man. A good man took on the responsibility of protecting his wife and children. Some people want to construe that as the woman being less but she may be much more than the man if you count what is contained within the vessel. The bible also has stories of such women.

  • j p

    I hope so too. Sadly some have no clue on what to not take literally. And the parts they should take literally sometimes get lost for “unknown” reasons.

  • j p

    Have you ever read any authoritative explanations about what all that is supposed to mean? You are doing what people say the dumb Christians do and interpreting it literally. Like a koan, you will not understand it until you are ready to understand it.

  • j p

    Some people can’t stand to hear a story without the ending. And some of those demand that it is a happy one.

  • j p

    Well, often they will be boys, That doesn’t mean they should get away with abuse.

  • j p

    I am happy for you. I feel some shame myself for what I went through, being a man and holding on to a marriage where I was being abused. My wife was very unfaithful and had become an alcoholic. She would be drunk when I got home from work. She was often very verbally abusive and when I would try to stop her from going off drunk she would scream and kick me. I would have to lock myself in a room to hear her trying to break down the door to fight with me. I knew that If I engaged her in physical fighting it would be me in trouble. I would leave the house sometimes but I had 3 kids and had to come back home. I called the cops once and they treated me like I was scum, being a man who couldn’t “man-up” to a woman. One time she was very drunk and took off in the car so I called the cops and told them. I knew her usual place to go to buy more beer and flirt. They busted her and I had to pay all the costs and drive her to all the obligatory things. She never forgave me for that. I kept hoping and praying that things would turn a corner. I wasn’t innocent in all of this. I was not as mature as I wish I could have been, who is? She brought serious issues into the marriage from her childhood. I brought an introverted shy, not very experienced at being loved, short man into it. The camel’s back broke the day before we were to go on a three week family vacation I had planned with more most of it at Virginia beach which she wanted, with stops in NYC, Atlantic City, DC, and Pennsylvania. She said she had to go out for awhile and I knew she was going to see a guy. When I asked she got so mad at me she said it was over and stormed out. I went with my 3 kids. When I got back she was living in the house with the guy and his kids but left with him so our kids and I could stay in the house. If she didn’t physically leave me I don’t know how long I would have tried to hold on. I gave up after more than a year of her being gone and her being pregnant and filed for divorce. It hasn’t been happily ever after since then. But I’m glad it is over.

  • Actually, I was showing how the literal reading can come to some ridiculous conclusions. Thank you for expressing your concern…

  • Elyse Frances Enger

    When I was talking about Christian narcissism I was referring to the evangelicals’s tendency to believe that they are “special” and “chosen” and their entitlement. This attitude is making matters worse.

  • Oh.. I want a piece of that action! Count mine four!

  • Phenomenal. Thanks for this, Linda.

  • Linda

    J.p, thank you for your story as well. Abuse is often underplayed when it is coming from a female (but it is just as serious) and i am sorry that you had to go through that. It doesn’t matter how you got out what matters is that you did. MANY MANY PEOPLE CAN’T SAY THAT – male or female. One experience does not define you,so remember that past is past.Its an illusion now. Eckhart tolle’s the power of now is a great book that i am reading that helps me let go of identifying my past experiences as myself. I recommend it.

    When you can understand how you got into that position, deal with it and let it go. Forgive, love and embrace yourself because when you do you attract someone out there will love the wonderful “introverted shy, not very experienced at being loved, short man” that you are:)

  • j p

    Thank you. It is funny how God works. I worked late last night and put on the radio on the way home and this song started at that moment

    We were young and drinking in the park

    There was nowhere else to go

    And you said you always had my back

    Oh but how were we to know

    That these are the days that bind you together, forever

    And these little things define you forever, forever

    All this bad blood here, won’t you let it dry?

    It’s been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?

    If we’re only ever looking back

    We will drive ourselves insane

    As the friendship goes resentment grows

    We will walk our different ways

    But those are the days that bind us together, forever

    And those little things define us forever, forever

    All this bad blood here, won’t you let it dry?

    It’s been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?

    And I don’t wanna hear about the bad blood anymore

    I don’t wanna hear you talk about it anymore

    I don’t wanna hear about the bad blood anymore

    I don’t wanna hear you talk about it anymore

    All this bad blood here, won’t you let it dry?

    It’s been cold for years, won’t you let it lie?

    Bastille – Bad Blood

    I took it as a message to let that wound heal and fade away and part of that process is to be done talking about it. It all happened a long time ago now. I have talked about it infrequently but enough. Unless my talking about it can help someone else, it only digs the old wound open again. Thank you for your kind words and I will look into your suggestion.

  • gimpi1

    Of course some liberal people have very unhealthy ideas about rape. One is that sex is “no big deal” so forced sex is not really a major deal either. I think psychotics come in all flavors, and they often shop around to find a philosophy that suits their needs.

    I do think the religious conservative emphasis on purity and submission for women (and not men) creates some dangerous beliefs. In my viewpoint the whole female subservience meme, coupled with the obsessive worry about female purity is unfortunately ready-made for abusive behavior. You certainly can see that in some aspects of Islam. You also see in in some of the more conservative sects of Christianity. And it’s dangerous.

    Honor-killings aren’t common in conservative Christianity, but domestic violence can be. (Google Christian Domestic Discipline and Taken in Hand if you have a strong stomach) Sexual molestation of parishioners has become a major scandal in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist church, the Roman Catholic church, and at several conservative Christian colleges.

    Anytime you make the chain of command in a family more important than the people in the family, you create the potential for abuse. Anytime you venerate authority over others more than care of others, you create the potential for abuse.

    Another reason I think abuse may show up more in some conservative institutions is that there is a big emphasis on keeping up appearances. one you frankly don’t see in most progressive movements. Progressive people are more likely to turn on their own if they see abuse. Some conservative organizations have gotten into trouble for trying to pressure the victims of abuse to keep quiet, allowing the abuse to continue for years, even decades.

    Consider Bill Gothard and the Institute for Basic Life Principles. He had been apparently molesting many different girls for decades, and anytime one complained, they were accused of “seductive” behavior (like being pretty) and told to keep quiet or risk expulsion and scandal. It took enough victims speaking out over a long enough times (and internet connectivity) to bring his abuse to light. Bob Jones and Pensacola universities have had similar problems, over a similar span of time. The IFB church has had pastors sent to prison for molestation and rape of parishioners, mostly young girls sent to them for counseling. Then there’s Doug Phillips of Vision Forum and his long-term abuse of a nanny. And of course the Roman Catholic church has apparently moved priests around to cover up abuse for decades.

    That desire to “preserve your witness” at the expense of the truth is the one real difference I see in the groups that have gotten into trouble and those that haven’t. To me, it appears to be a bit more common in conservative groups. What do you see?

    Dangerous and abusive people are everywhere. The best we can do is bring their actions to light when they occur, protect their victims, and try to purge ourselves of ideas that make it easier for them to prey on others.

  • gimpi1

    Well, I think the first step in repairing something is to admit it’s broken. In too many churches, any statements from a woman about abuse seem to be discounted. Women are presumed to be at fault. They are told to be more pleasant, more submissive, lose weight, whatever. The idea that someone being testy, assertive or overweight is no excuse for violence – ever – is just not addressed. Women seem to suffer from a presumption of guilt in some churches.

    It’s important to try to help struggling marriages. However, it’s more important to protect the physical and emotional safety of people in toxic or abusive marriages. Wether or not to attempt to save the marriage is then up to the person who has been abused.

    I’m speaking with some experience here. My first serious romance was abusive. It took me about a year to realize he was the problem, not me. It took me at least 15 years to realize that all men weren’t secretly abusive. That’s one of the reasons I married so late (early 40’s) It took me that long to decide I could trust my now-husband.

    Assault is a crime. So, yes, if your husband hits you, threatens you, rapes you, stalks you, or keeps you prisoner in your own home, that’s a crime. Law enforcement needs to be involved, most especially because abuse often takes a profound turn for the worse when a victim speaks out or tries to get out. That’s when abusers kill. “Church Discipline” is not up to this, any more than they are up to addressing other violent crimes.

  • gimpi1

    Yes, the typical literal Christian reading of Genesis presents the Christian God as a trickster – more on the lines of Loki than a loving, just, compassionate God.

  • Absolutely! When I show this to Christians, some of them do get real upset when they see what you just said, God as a trickster – more on the lines of Loki. I often times wonder what good doing such a thing would do, that is showing them what I shared above; because I usually end up being branded a heretic… but one thing is for sure. The next time they read the Creation Myth and the Fall of Humanity, they will never read it the same way ever again…

  • Kylie Recla Banks

    Thank you for this article.

    I was raised in an evangelical conservative Christian home, as was my (now ex) husband of 13 years. For as long as I can remember, I didn’t fit the typical female role that the church promotes. I have always been stubborn, strong willed, independent and tend to be a leader.

    However, the church and the teachings about men and women were all I knew, the only examples I had in my life of how to create and maintain successful marriages/families. Part of me knew that I would never be the “Proverbs 31” woman, but I also knew that I had no choice but to work the rest of my life trying to live up to that standard. I corralled the parts of me that didn’t fit, and wrangled them into submission to the standard I had been taught. I never lost my fighting spirit, but I managed to subdue it quite a bit, and at the same time instilled an instinctive self doubt and indecisive nature that kept me from being too dominant in my marriage.

    There was always issues in my marriage, but about 5 years ago things began to cross into emotional/verbal abuse. I blamed much of it on myself and allowed the responsibility to be put back on me when I was called names and/or manipulated emotionally. Always in the back of my mind was the thought that if I could just be the right kind of woman who willingly submitted to her husband and allowed him to have his “proper place” in the marriage, things would be so much better.

    I doubled down my efforts to fix things, to give my husband his proper respect and place in the home. I had been taught that this was what fixed things. Wives just needed to trust God, pray for their spouse, be obediently submissive, and it would get better, right?

    Things got increasingly worse, and the physical abuse began. Still, I stayed, determined to stay true to my vows to God and the commitment that I believed was for the rest of my life, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse. I tried multiple different avenues to get help, guidance, anything that might fix the situation.

    About 2 years ago I began to seriously question the beliefs I had clung to for so long. I began to examine Christianity from all the different angles, to dig into the arguments for/against it, and make an honest assessment of what I came up with. In about 6 months I knew I no longer believed in God at all, and told my husband that i was an atheist.

    Even though I no longer believed in God, I still took my marriage vows seriously, and still tried to fix things. Things got increasingly worse, but it wasn’t until being thrown across the room in front of my 3 year old son, that something inside of me broke, and I was done. My divorce was final about a month ago.

    I am slowly rebuilding my life and rediscovering the girl that I silenced and subdued for so long. I’m building a real self esteem that is based on the fact that I am an awesome person who does cool things. I find my worth in who I am, not because I was made in the image of any God, or to compliment a man.

    I am trying (through a lot of work, study/research, and counseling) to replace old belief patterns about how to interact with others (male and female) and what my “place” in the world is. I am learning how to teach my 3 daughters to feel complete and sufficient in and of themselves, so that they never feel compelled to tolerate abusive behavior from anyone in their lives.

    My heart often grieves for the young girl that I might have been had I not been taught and believed that I, as a female, had been born to be the helper and silent partner of a man. I can’t ever know what might have been, but I choose to be in control of my future and how I allow others to treat me from here on out.

    Thank you for bringing this issue to light and helping those still caught in this harmful way of thinking. Although I am no longer a believer, I applaud anyone who works towards a more equal and healthy dynamic between the sexes, inside and outside the realm of religious teachings.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    I agree with the others here who have said it appears you have missed the point.

    This isn’t about whether or not there is MORE domestic violence in Patriarchal Authoritarian/Complementarian Christian marriages than there is in the general population. This is about the fact that 1) There is domestic violence in these circles and 2) That the religious teachings of male headship and strict gender roles and female submission contribute to domestic violence in these marriages.

    Somehow I think you’ve gotten the impression that John is blaming the victim. John isn’t blaming the victim. John is answering the Father’s question: How did this happen?

    And any psychologist or person with social work/psychology training will explain how women and men who come from certain childhood environments including abusive homes or who have developed certain personality traits (because of their early conditioning) are more prone to end up in abusive relationships. That’s not victim-blaming. That’s pattern recognition. That’s identifying risk factors.

  • Elizabeth 44

    Thank you for your story. People, like those police officer, just don’t understand that men can be the one being abused. That the dynamics are very much the same.

  • Cowtipper12

    Many times, it takes courage to take family problems to a stranger for advice. This father is losing a daughter to an abusive husband and is trying to save her. This daughter has already lost her safety and is losing her family to an abusive marriage. The entire family is a group of victims trying to save themselves from this husband, this predator… this bully.

    Unfortunately for the father in question, when he called for help, he run into the arms of another brand of bully. Another predator. This predator uses his role as adviser, his position of power over families in trauma, to further his own world view. John Shore verbally attacked this victim for his religion. That ANY father seeking help for an abused daughter should hear “…what’s happened to your daughter is largely on you. It’s the horrible, inevitable legacy of the Christianity that you preach. You have to take responsibility for that.” It doesn’t get much more sickening and wrong. The fact that this father heard THIS from a man that was supposed to be HELPING him and his family makes it SO much worse. The bully, John Shore, is essentially telling this family that the abuse is their OWN fault for believing in organized religion. At no point in this article does John Shore cast blame on the abusive husband.

    To add insult to injury, this bully, John Shore, went so far as to type out his phone conversation into this article. It’s obvious that the intent of this article is to spread his message BEYOND his original victim to other fathers. To tell religious fathers everywhere that it’s their fault if their daughters are ever abused, because of the way they were raised in faith. Had this father been a rabbi, a mullah, or other religious leader, would the message be any different? Most organized religions teach traditional values of some sort. John Shore’s attack isn’t just against Christianity, though he may believe so.

    What is worse, John Shore’s entire argument is a fallacy based on his anti-religious beliefs. Girls of EVERY faith (or no faith) get trapped in abusive marriages every day. If John Shore’s verbal attack had a foundation of truth, something that could be backed by statistics, his statements might be forgivable (even though his delivery was awful)… but that is not the case. Abuse doesn’t discriminate based on religion. Atheist women get abused too… does John Shore cast the blame for their abuse on them as well?

    I will admit to not knowing John Shore’s occupation, but apparently it is one that people turn to for support. If John Shore’s job is a therapist on the other end of a victims hotline, I truly hope that this article is the catalyst that sees him moved to another position. It’s clear that he can’t be trusted to give unbiased advise to sufferers of domestic abuse. The poor father in this article has never called for help again, because John Shore essentially chased him away with a string of accusations. Any therapist that verbally attacks victims and chases them away from getting the help they once sought TRULY needs to look for another occupation. I just hope that Mr. Shore hasn’t done irrevocable damage already to this family… or to any other person that has or will seek his so called ‘advice’.

  • Meg

    As a woman who believes that a woman should submit to her husband, I believe I should mention that this case is not so with all who believe in a woman submitting to her husband. I believe a husband should also love his wife as Christ loves the church. I do not think a wife should submit in a sinful, or unlawful situation, she should be able to call the police. I would also like to mention that though I believe in submitting to my husband I do not find myself unequal to him in any way. Just so everyone doesn’t stereotype the submissive relationship, think what you want but if the marriage is truly biblical, this would not happen. Oh and my husband and I believe that we should BOTH serve each other…

  • the number of intimate partners one has (simple math, if one in ten men are abusive, and a woman has 10 sexual partners, chances are near 100% that they will encounter abuse, as abusers in our society are more likely to move from victim to victim.

    The problem with that statistic is very simple. It assumes that every woman has the exact same chance of being in an abusive relationship as the next, which is unfounded. Actually, it is the women with low self esteem who are prone to be in abusive relationships. One after another. The women who are confident in themselves, who value their contributions and who they are, will not tolerate any guy talking down to them. Therefore, they leave the relationship long before it becomes abusive. But for those women who think that they are not worth enough to stand up, they will remain in those dangerous relationships. That is a fact.