Owen Strachan speaks against Fifty Shades of Grey and attempts to show how complementarians do not abuse their wives, and says that Christianity disciplines abusive men
Owen Strachan, President and Editor-in-Chief of Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released an article last night, How “50 Shades of Grey” Harms Women & Jesus Saves Them, after seeing an ad about the upcoming movie during the Super Bowl. He wrote four reasons why the movie is abusive to women, but also seemed to say that if spouses would hold to the “Biblical” roles as defined by complementarianism, we wouldn’t be seeing these kinds of abuses, as his title concludes, “Jesus Saves Them.”
Now, I can understand the problems he has with Fifty Shades of Grey, and I certainly have a problem with any kind of situation where a woman is being forced to do something against her will, and especially sexually, but Strachan defends what he deems as Biblical male and female roles as the solution to abuse saying that those who challenge complementarianism are the problem:
We commonly hear today, from a secular culture and also from many voices of progressive Christianity (so-called), that the Bible is oppressive to women. Men are called to be heads of their home, goes the line, and women are called to submit, and that makes the Bible hugely problematic.
Ok, notice he says “progressive Christianity (so-called).” So, those Christians who do not hold to CBMW’s views of male headship are now “so-called” Christians? Is he questioning the salvation of those who don’t hold to his secondary doctrinal beliefs? If so, this kind of talk is spiritual bullying. It’s inappropriate and wrong.
Strachan begins by addressing the “sham accusation” that the Bible is oppressive to women:
1. This is a sham accusation, of course. Men are called to be heads, but in the image of Christ. They’re called to lay their lives down for their wives (see Eph. 5:22-33).
What we typically notice from this group is a verse they conveniently leave out right before Ephesians 5:22, and so I sent out a tweet asking why he left it out. So far there has been no response:
But what, pray tell, is verse 21, you might ask? I’ll even quote from the complementarian-approved Bible translation, ESV:
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
This is the verse that is most often absent from those who want to hold to a male headship model of marriage. Isn’t it interesting they forget that THEY – husbands – are also to submit to their wives? I wonder why they leave it out so frequently? Hmmm
And then Mr. Strachan says this:
2. Christianity disciplines abusive men. As I just wrote in a “Three Views” piece for the January 2015 edition of Christianity Today, a man who sexually uses and abuses women will be excommunicated from the church, reported to the police, and opposed with the full force of biblical righteousness.
I’m not going on to the 3rd and 4th point, but just camp here at his Point 2 and you will see why.
I’m glad to see Mr. Strachan saying this, Christianity disciplines abusive men, but this is not the pattern we have seen in the church of late. Has Bill Gothard been excommunicated? How about Doug Phillips? Bill Gothard is working on his Total Success Power teams, and Doug Phillips is at his new non-family-integrated church and has become a member in good standing. Whoa, swallow that pill.
Another staunch complementarian (you know, the ones who endorses “Biblical” roles for men and women), Pastor Mark Driscoll, told women to repent for not serving their husbands oral sex. Let me remind you of that teaching from Driscoll:
She [the wife] says, “I’ve never performed oral sex on my husband. I’ve refused to.” I said, “You need to go home and tell your husband that you’ve met Jesus and you’ve been studying the Bible, and that you’re convicted of a terrible sin in your life. And then you need to drop his trousers, and you need to serve your husband. And when he asks why, say, ‘Because I’m a repentant woman. God has changed my heart and I’m supposed to be a biblical wife.’” She says, “Really?” I said, “Yeah. First Peter 3 says if your husband is an unbeliever to serve him with deeds of kindness.” [Laughter from audience] How many men would agree, that is a deed of kindness. He doesn’t want tracts. Those won’t do anything. What we’re talking about here could really help. (Source)
Why had the wife refused to perform oral sex on her husband? Could she have been sexually abused in the past? Perhaps that act was not her cup of tea. So now a pastoral authority tells her how she is wrong Biblically and she must serve her husband oral sex, and she must repent for not performing it. There is no command in scripture about oral sex. Is this not a woman being forced to perform a sexual act and coerced because a trusted pastor twisted scripture to make it sound Biblical? So, I hear Fifty Shades of Grey has to do with bondage and sex without consent. Is this not the same – a wife being forced to perform oral sex on her husband because it’s Biblical? By the way, this was taught before a mixed audience.
It’s interesting that Strachan has strong words to say about Fifty Shades of Grey, but I don’t remember any church leader going after Driscoll for essentially doing the same thing – – forcing women to do sexual acts against their will. Isn’t this sexual abuse? By the way, coercing a woman to believe that performing oral sex on their husband is Biblical is also spiritual abuse – it’s not in the Bible. At least in the secular world, it’s only sexual abuse, but in Christianity, we now have secondary abuse occurring when the Bible is used to control.
What did Strachan say? Oh yea, “Christianity disciplines abusive men.”
And now let’s talk about a big promoter of complementarianism, C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries, and how they failed to report sex abuse cases. The Washington Post has this to say very recently about former SGM Pastor Joshua Harris and the sex abuse cases which were part of a very public civil lawsuit:
In an interview, Harris said the isolation of Covenant Life, and of a small cluster of churches of which it was a part, may have fed leadership mistakes, including the decision of pastors — himself among them — to handle a child sexual abuse case internally instead of going to police.
A former Covenant Life member who helped with the youth group was convicted last year of molesting three boys in the 1980s. Trial testimony showed that the victims or their families had gone to church leaders for help and that the church officials did not call police. Harris said the thinking of the church was that such allegations should be handled as an internal, spiritual issue, though church spokesman Don Nalle noted that Covenant Life has contacted civil authorities in other abuse cases in the past.
This is new. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time we’ve seen Harris publicly accept responsibility for not reporting sex abuse. This is what the SGM civil lawsuit was about – – the fact that they did not report. It is only because of the Statute of Limitations that the case was dismissed. Where are all of the church leaders who were staunchly defending CJ Mahaney and SGM pastors now? Why are they not demanding public apologies from their buddies they so fiercely defended and even wrote statements on CJ Mahaney’s behalf to show support?
Let’s not lose sight of Strachan’s claim: Christianity disciplines abusive men.
Why is it that I continually hear from several ladies each week about their complementarian churches excommunicating THEM because the church leaders (men) have sided with their abusive husbands who have put on a “Christian” facade and convinced them that the problem is his “unsubmissive wife?” Why is it that certain church denominations have court processes which do not allow women to testify on their behalf? Tell me, whose side will the men be on?
Meanwhile, the wife, who often was a stay-at-home mom has no recourse but to separate/divorce without support from the church, and she and the children are often left in dire housing/financial situations. A typical situation I read is the ex-husband remains at the church under good graces and eventually remarries with full blessing from the church. I lost track of how many times I have read this story.
Mr. Strachan continues:
Those who work against biblical manhood and womanhood, who fight the Scripture’s teaching as marginalizing, are in fact undermining the last cultural defense that still stands against male predation and sexual suffering.
This is where Strachan has it wrong. The Bible is very clear on how to take care of abusers. However, those who have been church leaders have dropped the ball and have NOT followed Biblical rules on ridding abusers from churches and keeping victims and the oppressed safe. Not only that, they have allowed abusing and corrupt pastors to remain in pulpits.
I see that women are marginalized, ignored, and left to defend themselves in their abusive marriages in churches which wear the complementarian banner. Complementarianism/Patriarchy is no safe haven for an abused woman. I do not see that a woman’s personhood is honored, valued, respected when the leaders of these so-called Biblical gender distinctions can’t even use all the Bible verses as they define their roles.
The “my-wife-is-unsbmissive” claim is the security blanket abusers use to convince church leaders of their innocence.
The more I hear stories of spousal abuse and spiritual abuse in churches, the more I am convinced that this bad interpretation of male headship and enforcing it so strongly within the church is pushing men into roles in which they take control of their wives and call it “Biblical.” And because of how men’s roles are labeled in these churches ie, “spiritual head” of the family, and the hierarchical structure of authority, church leaders tend to defer to men FIRST and women often do not get a fair hearing. Their words/testimonies are dismissed as soon as the husband makes the “my-wife-is-unsubmissive” claim.
As long as CBMW continues to perpetuate unbiblical roles of men and women, women will be kept in harm’s way. The leaders connected with CBMW have NOT done a good job speaking out against pastors who abuse their authority over women. Sadly, I don’t think we will have any success in keeping women safe from abuse until men stop assuming an authority that dominates and rules over women. If a man refuses to submit to his wife as she submits to him, there is no Biblical marriage.
And furthermore, while Strachan seems to say that the church saves women, frankly, I’d say that I’m hearing much more outrage about abuse in the secular world about abuse than in the church. I hear of Christian women with no place to go except PUBLIC shelters. Where are the churches who are housing and financially supporting/defending abused wives?
You tell me, does Christianity discipline abusive men? Are women safer in church?