Courtship, Doug Wilson, Marriage, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement

David Bayly’s Ideas on Courtship and Marriage as a Battle until His Bride Surrenders


David Bayly’s ideas on courtship and marriage as a battle and raging war of a man against his virgin bride to be conquered until she surrenders, similar to Doug Wilson


This men-conquering-women-thang really gets my goat.  What is up with that?  Ok, thanks to Cindy, I found an old blog post by Bayly Brothers and it sure seems they are in bed with Doug Wilson as far as conquering women goes.

Ok, first the title:

Wooing as warfare, part 1…


photo credit: [martin] via photopin cc


First, a question to the single ladies who want to be married:  does this title sound appealing to you?  ::::gag::::

Do these guys think their words are palatable to common mankind?  Do they even care?

David Bayly begins the article with a quote from Proverbs 30:18-19 using the ESV translation, no surprises there.  This is the complementarian-preferred translation.  Beneath the ESV excerpt, I have included the last line of Verse 19 in other translations for comparison.


Three things are too wonderful for me;
four I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a serpent on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a virgin.


Other translations:

and the way of a man with a maid. (KJV, special for Ed)

And the way of a man with a maid. (NAS)

And the way of a man with a virgin. (NKJV)

how a man loves a woman. (NLT)

and the way of a man with a young woman. (NIV)


The gist of the article is:  wooing as warfare.  The proverb talks about three wonderful things and another of which the writer does not understand.  I am not clear that the Proverb’s focus on the wooing of a man with a virgin/made/young woman is war or battle, yet this is the focus of David Bayly’s article.

(David) The way of a man with a woman is one of life’s great mysteries. From every perspective the process is mysterious, resembling a blindfolded sabre dance on uneven ground.


Did he just say Sabre Dance?



“Uneven ground”  – beside the obvious that uneven ground implies there is going to be a battle of sorts as one tries to get equal footing, I also wondered if the “uneven” words also refers to the uneven roles as in complementarianism/patriarchy?  Continuing. . .

The young man who pursues marriage enters a foreign land where he wages war. On the hinges of that battle lie happiness or shame.

Holy cow.  I’m sending my daughters the following text right now to warn them about men who think like this:


To My Dear Daughters:  Be on the look out for weapons on your prospective suitors.  While you are looking for love, some men are looking for war.  Check all pockets for concealed weapons.  

love, Yo Mama (yes, that’s the lingo we use)


There’s more:

But though a potential bride may be deeply loved, she’s also at some level the foe. To achieve victory the young man must not only win her, he must defeat her and her family, snatching her from their bosom, converting her to himself, breaking her natural bonds with father and mother, brother and sister, nurse and friend, dog and home.  (woof, woof, ja adds)

Folks, there’s nothing gentle, kind, and loving about the relationship he’s describing.  As he himself says:

There’s little that’s tender about it. At funerals we cloak harsh reality in kind words and soft colors. So too, at weddings soft words and vibrant colors disguise a bloody truth. The wedding ceremony is really a mini-Versailles, an Appomattox-in-a-nutshell of capitulation and triumph, the surrender of one woman to one man, the victory song of groom over both bride and family.

Holy Moly – – marrieds, was your wedding like this?  I know there can be family feuds, but wow – this guy is over the top (OTT).  And there’s that surrender (Doug Wilson lingo) word.  ick

Interestingly, Mr. Bayly does not seem keen on modern courtship as it pertains to this “wooing war.”  He implies that it’s too safe and controlled and will likely cause problems:

The modern courtship movement is in many ways a doomed attempt to render the wooing process conflict free. It seeks to keep temptation at bay. It seeks to manage the relationship of potential groom to potential bride. It provides forms which guide the man’s approach not only to his potential bride, but to her family. It is, in a word, safe.

And then he goes on to discuss why courtship is not so good.  Please note the similar language that both he and Doug Wilson use:

And for that very reason it is ultimately dangerous, because marriage is not safe, and the wooing which leads to marriage is not safe. It is war, and the quicker our children understand this the better. It is war against sin. It is the breaking of families and established orders. It is secession and union all in one, penetration and insemination, not merely lacy ruffles and Pachelbel canons but velvet-gloved violence. All this courtship conceals. But it will out—in marriage if not before.

As I was going over warrior pictures, I found one that made me consider that ladies might re-question that whole warrior battle idea.  I don’t want to ever come across in a way that doesn’t allow people to see both sides, so here ya go:


photo credit: SiamEye via photopin cc

This might work for some.  (Just thinking out loud here . . . of course.)


152 thoughts on “David Bayly’s Ideas on Courtship and Marriage as a Battle until His Bride Surrenders”

  1. Lydia:

    He also taught that “unsubmissive wives trigger abuse”.

    I want to make sure I understand you. You’re saying he taught that unsubmissive wives caused their husbands to abuse them kind of like short skirts cause men to rape them? As in – – it’s the woman’s fault?


  2. @JulieAnne:

    I want to make sure I understand you. You’re saying he taught that unsubmissive wives caused their husbands to abuse them kind of like short skirts cause men to rape them? As in – – it’s the woman’s fault?



  3. “I want to make sure I understand you. You’re saying he taught that unsubmissive wives caused their husbands to abuse them kind of like short skirts cause men to rape them? As in – – it’s the woman’s fault?”

    yep. He taught it at the Denton Bible church years back. Denny Burke did a blog post on it affirming it. It got over 1000 comments. For a while it was deleted (because the mutualists were much more scholarly, perhaps?) and I am not sure if it is back up or not. I will see if I can find it. See, these guys want to make statements like that and then pretend when questioned closely WE ARE THE ONES who read “into them” bad stuff that is not there. They are deceivers. If I can find it quickly, I will link to it. Not sure if many comments are gone or not. It was getting ugly because their rebuttals, lack of contextual reasoning and prostitution of the Greek was ridiculous! And these are the PAID “scholars”!!!


  4. @Lydia:

    “When the penis enters the room, the woman is to submit”

    That sounds like PORN.
    AKA as in “On her knees before his Throbbing Manhood.”

    Very spiritual.

    For the First Church of Priapus.


  5. @Lydia:

    See, these guys want to make statements like that and then pretend when questioned closely WE ARE THE ONES who read “into them” bad stuff that is not there. They are deceivers.

    “Oceania has always been at peace with Eurasia, Comrade” crossbred with “What’s YOUR problem, man? YOU’re the one with the problem!”

    Remember Screwtape’s letter to Wormwood dealing with semantics? Specifically, the redefinition of words into their “diabolical meanings”?

    And these are the PAID “scholars”!!!

    Scholars in the same sense as lawyers in the famous quote from either J.P.Morgan or J.D.Rockefeller:

    “I don’t pay a lawyer to tell me if what I want to do is legal or not. I pay a lawyer to tell me how to get away with what I want to do!”


  6. Here is a quote from Ware’s sermon:

    “The very wise and good plan of God, of male headship, is sought to be overturned as women now, as sinners, want instead to have their way, instead of submitting to their husbands, to do what they would like to do, and seek to work to have their husbands fulfill their will, rather than serving them; and their husbands on their part, because they are sinners, now respond to that threat to their authority either by being abusive, which is, of course, one of the ways men can respond when their authority is challenged .or more commonly to become passive, acquiescing and simply not asserting the leadership they ought to as men in their homes and churches.”

    Now, what do we do with this? Does anyone else see the MANY glaring problems with this teaching? The foundational premises that are just plain wrong?

    Think of it. Passive women are good. Passive men are sinners. Authoritarian men are good, authoritarian women are sinners. Women’s wills are the same as their husbands or should be. She is there to serve him because his will is right and should be hers.

    So women who are not submissive provoke husbands who then react by either abuse them or acquiesce to them.

    How is this different from the foundational principles of Islam concerning women?


  7. “That sounds like PORN.”

    I know, It is horrible I wrote it. But what else could it be when you strip away all the proof texting, redefining concepts (even God!!!) and flowery Christianese words? That is what it is. Porn.

    They are all Mark Driscoll’s to some varying degree.


  8. @Patrice:

    Gary W, maybe the sun-worshippers had it correct after all. I’d prefer to defer to a ball of fire than this bunch of human males lol

    Especially if said Avatar of that Ball of Fire is female?

    And now for something not-quite-completely different:
    In heroic fantasy and fantasy role-playing games, I notice that the Sun God is often cast as the Head Good Guy of a polytheistic pantheon. Anyone have an idea as to why this is? Or is this one of those Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe?


  9. @Lydia:

    How is this different from the foundational principles of Islam concerning women?

    Because they proof-text the Bible instead of the Koran.
    Word of GOD instead of book of the Devil, you know.


  10. Hey, JA, here’s a fun T-Mobile flash mob if you need another break from the heavy subject matter. Also, if anyone ever has some time to kill, and needs to lift their spirits, google “Improv Everywhere” and check out their YouTube channel. Hilarious!


  11. From the link that Lydia provided to Denny Burk’s article, you can click the link to his account of Tommy Nelson’s affirming of CBMW, 2008.

    Here’s a quote about the deadly cancer of egalitarianism that is affecting the church–Satan’s new ploy!! What paranoia! What rubbish!

    “Pastor Nelson notes that a generation ago the only “Christians” embracing egalitarianism were the liberals and the Pentecostals. He warns that the egalitarian error is now gaining ground among evangelicals and that “trajectory hermeneutics” is in large part to blame. Citing Wayne Grudem’s book, Nelson said that egalitarianism is the “new path to liberalism” because it effectively sets aside the authority of the Bible. He said that the egalitarian view must not be considered a viable evangelical option because it is a deadly “cancer” within the church. Pastor Nelson says that egalitarianism is “Satan’s new ploy to get into the church.”


  12. Lydia,

    Ware does paint a false dichotomy in that Denton Bible Church. If a wife doesn’t submit, a man has only two choices: passiveness (which is effete) and violence. There are no stops in between; no pass go and collect $200. I argue that when an abusive man hears this, they understand that Ware is legitimizing abuse. It’s not a zero tolerance statement about abuse which you would think would be more appropriate, but a rationale for it. If you end up doing it, it makes perfect sense. That evil woman in sin gave you no other options.

    I was told by someone that all Ware was doing was describing how men and women can both be sinners. She doesn’t submit — sin. He hits her — sin. Somehow, these two are not related.

    When I also mentioned the “saved through childbirth” business to an apologist who is beholden to the SBC that Ware also says in this sermon, I was told that because six minutes earlier he makes clear that “through Christ all are made alive,” and that the Bible “applauds singleness.” So it just can’t mean that having babies is salvific, because he says “this is most usually the case.” It’s just an outward sign of salvation, apparently — the sign of a good Christian woman. But the guy defending Ware does admit that he states that salvation always refers to eternal salvation, or as Ware says in the sermon, the difference between “heaven and hell.” At least the guy defending Ware states that he doesn’t agree and does contradict himself, but he’s really said nothing that objectionable.

    Yeah, whatever.

    James Hamilton at SBTS and Tom Challies also say the same thing about childbirth, too. Women are saved from the stigma of Eve’s sin when they give birth because they’ve embraced their role through Godly womanhood — and it’s the Godly womanhood that saves them. As MacArthur puts it, “A woman’s greatest spiritual resource is a man.”


  13. This is what Ware said about childbearing in that sermon, quoting from Bob Allen’s article about it:

    “Ware also touched on a verse from First Timothy saying that women “shall be saved in childbearing,” by noting that the word translated as “saved” always refers to eternal salvation. “It means that a woman will demonstrate that she is in fact a Christian, that she has submitted to God’s ways by affirming and embracing her God-designed identity as—for the most part, generally this is true—as wife and mother, rather than chafing against it, rather than bucking against it, rather than wanting to be a man, wanting to be in a man’s position, wanting to teach and exercise authority over men,” Ware said. “Rather than wanting that, she accepts and embraces who she is as woman, because she knows God and she knows his ways are right and good, so she is marked as a Christian by her submission to God and in that her acceptance of God’s design for her as a woman.”


  14. John MacArthur says engaging in marriage is “war.” That’s why Jocelyn Andersen titled her book “Woman this is War.” She’s quoting MacArthur in the title.


  15. From the article JA just posted: “Remember, only you can roll up your sleeves and go hard every single day for your bride.”

    Ummm . . . did he intend for that to sound the way it did? Do they ever even think about what they’re saying?


  16. “Gentlemen, don’t even think about marriage until you have mastered the art of warfare.”
    John MacArthur (Quoting World War Two Field Marshall Montgomery)
    Introduction to his teaching, “The Fulfilled Family. . . .”


  17. Gibson doesn’t have the usage down right. The man’s enemy is the woman in CBMW’s paradigm. Satan’s greatest instrument (as they say was demonstrated in Eden) is always a man’s own wife.


  18. Affirmation #4 from the Danvers Statement:

    The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Gen 3:1-7, 12, 16).

    In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.

    In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.


  19. Cindy, I’m going to have to go thru this thread and pull links and quotes for my files. Thank you. If these guys are going to use warlike words, they better have the balls to admit what they really mean. I thinking some men from this camp are trying to minimize the real agenda.


  20. Put this one in the file, too. It equates anything other than their view as an attempt to take over the Church with open theism. Elsewhere, Moore takes this stance and extends it, saying that the Christians who don’t follow his paradigm are in same-sex marriages.

    Click to access JETS_49-3_569-576_Moore.pdf


  21. “Elsewhere, Moore takes this stance and extends it, saying that the Christians who don’t follow his paradigm are in same-sex marriages. ”

    Oh yes, I remember that one. Can you imagine those skulls full of mush listening and taking that to heart? But the good news for guys like Moore is that when their teaching causes problems for couples, it is a sin to make that known so it is all swept under the rug anyway….


  22. “Satan is after our marriages. We have to work hard at being intentonal.”

    “Intentional” is their new favorite buzz word. I am seeing everywhere in those circles. As if all we do is UNintentional. It is so silly. I think intentional has replaced one of the older buzz words “purpose”.

    One needs new buzz words for their movements less they have no pithy sound bites to share with us peasants who are “unintentional”?

    Being “intentional” can be cause for alarm. Take CJ Mahaney for example…….


  23. You know who uses the term “intentional”? New agers love it. They’ve been using it for years in complementary and alternative health/energy healing. Hmmm.


  24. The teaching that a husband must enter into war with his bride is simply evil. Sadly, I am not surprised that there are many who promote such evil. What does surprise me is that few if any in what goes for mainstream Christianity will stand up in opposition to this sort of thing. Then again, the history of what has gone by the name of church since the time of Constantine, not to mention Augustine, has been troublesome indeed.


  25. Keep in mind that, if you pray expecting it to make a difference, such as praying “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and it having any meaning at all, then you will be accused of “open theism”. All it means is that God responds to prayer and that everything is not predetermined from before creation. That God answers prayer other than saying “well my eternal plan is a, b, and c and what you asked is not part of it” or “what you asked for I already planned to do”. If you don’t believe prayer matters to God and changes something, then why pray????


  26. @JulieAnne:

    Man, this war-like stuff is sure prevalent among these guys. I just saw this in my Twitter feed.

    More like The Gospel According to Warhammer 40K.
    “In the Grimdark Future of 40K, there will always be WAR!”
    Makes you wish someone turned them on to WH40K instead of the Bible. Then at least the Grimdark damage would be limited to their gaming group.


  27. @GaryK:

    The teaching that a husband must enter into war with his bride is simply evil.

    Because it reduces the marriage (and its male-female interactions) to nothing more than Power Struggle. And when you reduce anything to Power Struggle, there are only two possible end states: His boot stamping on her face or her boot stamping on his. And anything goes to make sure YOU’re the one on top doing the stamping.

    “A cold Iron Throne
    Holds a boy barely grown;
    His crown based on lies,
    Game of Thrones…”


  28. Headless Unicorn Guy — I have to hand it to you. I never dreamed I would see Warhammer 40,000, Christian Patriarchy ideology, and toxic relationship advice discussed together in one breath.

    Seriously, though, when a relationship is seen as combat, there IS no relationship. There is only one person imposing their will on the other, with no regard for learning about the other person or growing as a pair. It’s ripe for abuse, and it suggests deep insecurity on the part of the “conqueror”.


  29. Haven’t read comments yet, but here are my thoughts:
    1. Bayly really seems to think women are a completely different species, what with us being like a ‘foreign land’.
    2. Proverbs in general is quite a lyrical book, it’s not really the sort of place from which you can draw hugely specific conclusions. Bayly’s really stretching with his use of those verses.
    3. Any man who seems himself as at war with my family and friends will get my foot in his rear.
    4. Wedding ceremonies are a mini-Versailles? Well I’m a pacifist, sweetheart, so my relationships ain’t accurately described with violent imagery.
    5. If this is what relationships are meant to be like, I’ll stay single forever, thanks.
    6. Julie-Anne, I really need to read here more often!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. From the MacArthur “The Role Of The Husband” sermon that was linked to:
    “We said that a woman’s submission is initial, it’s basic, it’s just God’s beautiful design, and she submits to his provision, to his headship ( verse 23), “For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church.” To his “Saviorship” if you will, as a preserver, Christ even as to the church as the Savior as well. So, she, in verse 24, is told that as the church is subject to Christ, so is she to be to her own husband in everything, in a beautiful submission to the husband who is a savior, a preserver, a provider, a head who cares for her.”

    This makes a husband a god,an idol, and a wife an idolator. To his “Saviorship” if you will? NO,NO,NO.


  31. Carmen, That is exactly what it is. Idolatry. And what is even worse are these men who are teaching idolatry and putting themselves in a position to be idolized as a “savior” figure. I would not want to be them on J-Day. And yes, I am “judging” because this is not just errant teaching but outright blasphemy. They are always going on about women “usurping” their “role” while they elevate themselves to godlike status when it comes to women. They are the ones in need of the true Jesus.


  32. Paul Tripp and CCEF constantly tell Christians they must identify the “idols of the heart.”


  33. “Paul Tripp and CCEF constantly tell Christians they must identify the “idols of the heart.”

    Insert favorite guru here_______

    Hee Hee.


  34. “Paul Tripp and CCEF constantly tell Christians they must identify the “idols of the heart.”

    Insert favorite “Title/Position” here_______

    Hee Hee.


    “Titles” become “Idols” — “Idols” of the heart. Ezek 14:1-11.

    Titles, WE, His Sheep, His Kings and Priests, find in our “Christian Lexicon.”
    And in the 501 (c)3, Non-Profit, Tax $ Deductible, Religious $ Corporation…
    That the IRS calls church.

    BUT, WE, His Ekklesia, His Disciples, can NOT find in the Bible.

    1 -Pastor/Leader/Reverend. 2 – Under Shepherd. 3 – Senior Pastor. 4 – Lead Pastor. 5 – Teaching Pastor. 6 – Executive Pastor. 6 – Youth Pastor. 7 – Singles Pastor. 8 – Worship Pastor. 9 – Reverend. 10 – Holy Reverend. 11 – Most Holy Right Reverend. 12 – ArchBishop. 12a – ArchDeacon. 13 – Canon. 14 – Prelate. 15 – Rector. 16 – Cardinal. 17 – Pope. 18 – Doctor. 19 – M.Div.

    20 – Chief Executive Apostle.

    NO kidding. There really is a – Chief Executive Apostle…
    Saw it with my own eyes. 😉

    Houston – We have a Problem…

    Titles – Titles – Everywhere – Except in the Bible…


  35. Unfortunately, My family has first hand knowledge and the scars of the “Bailey Bros’ (this misspelled on purpose) special breed of narcissism. I have personally had David wake my sleeping children from the dining room below their bedroom with his bursts of angry shouts. My sin??? As a women in his congregation I dared to ask for clarification on one of his leadership decisions regarding another family and how they had been shunned for not buying the company line. I learned that night, as did my trouble children, never to question my pastor, about anything. The story has a painful destructive ending, with many more chapters that could be shared. Just know that they are dangerous and abusive and women are only good for breeding machines. Mrs. B is pregnant now and nearing 50. So sad to have them in our area, unless you enjoy meaningless monologues instead of sermons..


  36. JA, I just read this article recently. It explains something weird I saw on some “good, godly, pure” web page somewhere in blogland. It was a posed portrait of a bride carrying a large, ornate sword. I was more than a little mystified at that imagery, but now it makes complete sense.

    A friend of ours was talking with my dad sometime back about how much abuse of members goes on in Fundamental (and other) churches these days and he made the point that if the people wouldn’t sit there and allow it, it wouldn’t happen. I realize that there a lot of people (women especially?) who are brainwashed into thinking this is “normal” and “biblical”, but there is an element of truth there, and I’m beginning to think of it as a sort of spiritual BDSM, if you know what I mean. It’s so strange, and so counter-Christ-like. The Baylys’ warfare wooing fits into that picture in my mind quite well, sadly.

    This article sounds horrible to read it all spelled out in such bold language. There is something more confusing and tragic – seeing it played out in real life. We know a family who had this happen to one of their daughters. They were bamboozled by the guy and his family, but in retrospect I’d say that his tactics sound very much like this. The daughter and her husband and kids now live in the same neighborhood as her parents and some of her other family, but they almost never see her or the kids. In fact, some of them have been told they aren’t welcome at their house except under very specific circumstances. Her husband even “protects” her and the kids from the family dog – no joke. There is no reason for this either. Her family are not “nasty” or ungodly. In fact, it [was] a close-knit, loving Christian family with the usual challenges and happy times. (The dog is kind of icky sometimes…but it’s a dog after all.) The wedding? I won’t even get into that! Painful for her family? Absolutely. Confusing? Yes. Frustrating? That too. Heartbreaking? To say the least. This really does happen, I’m so very sorry to say.

    Not much like my kind and gentle Lord.

    Psalms 18:35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.


  37. I realize that there a lot of people (women especially?) who are brainwashed into thinking this is “normal” and “biblical”, but there is an element of truth there, and I’m beginning to think of it as a sort of spiritual BDSM, if you know what I mean.

    Wow, Mary, that is actually a good way to describe it “spiritual BDSM.” I’m going to stew on that for a while.


Thanks for participating in the SSB community. Please be sure to leave a name/pseudonym (not "Anonymous"). Thx :)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s