Pastor Jason Meyer of Bethlehem Baptist Church Preaches on Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women, Marking a Change in Direction from John Piper’s Teachings
Yesterday, I received an e-mail from reader, Ben, about a sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church last Sunday concerning domestic violence. This is significant coming from John Piper’s former church and how he handled domestic violence:
“If it’s not requiring her to sin but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, and she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church.” ~John Piper (See: Video and Clarifying Statement)
To read the following summary, knowing where Bethlehem Baptist formerly stood on these issues, it’s encouraging to see a positive change. I don’t think we’re going to see a church go from A to Z overnight. But it’s clear that there has been thoughtful response to a growing problem that has been swept under the carpet for far too long.
I’m grateful to Ben who wrote this summary and shared his personal observations and commentary.
* * *
On Sunday April 26, as part of an ongoing series on 2 Corinthians, Pastor Jason Meyer (John Piper’s successor) of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Minneapolis preached a sermon and gave a call to action on rooting out domestic abuse in the church. Calling this a “draw-a-line-in-the-sand kind of moment,” Meyer said the elders have recently been working through this issue and implementing structure that will identify abuse, discipline abusers, and care for victims.
The sermon manuscript is here (see especially “Application” and following): Fooled by False Leadership
Now granted: Bethlehem still unwaveringly teaches complementarianism. (Domestic abuse was labelled “hyper-headship” — a distortion of what the Bible teaches, just as they believe egalitarianism is.) And as far as I know, no one at Bethlehem has backed off their support for CJ Mahaney and other leaders at Spvereogm Grace Ministries (SGM) that did exactly the opposite of what they’re calling Bethlehem to do.
Nevertheless, there were several positive things in this sermon (and other events this weekend) that I think should be commended. If we want churches to stand firmly against abuse, I think they should be encouraged when they take positive steps, even when they haven’t yet gone as far as they should.
1. The elders at Bethlehem are emotionally invested in this issue.
“This was not a stand-up-and-shout sermon for me to prepare. It was a break-down-and-weep sermon.”
From Meyer’s tone and expression (see the video) and advance notice that this was going to be a sober weekend, I am convinced they are treating this seriously.
2. They are confessing that abuse at Bethlehem has not always been handled as it should have been.
“We have become aware some domestic abuse cases throughout Bethlehem, and we have learned that we have not always handled them well.”
3. They are also acknowledging that they had a lot they needed to learn, and sought outside help.
“We brought a biblical counselor, John Henderson, to train the elders in better detecting and dealing with domestic abuse.”
4. They called out Doug Phillips and Vision Forum by name.
“One example is Doug Philips’ ministry, called Vision Forum. A recent sex scandal that caused Doug Philips to step down has also raised even more questions about Vision Forum’s credibility. We do not want to leave people vulnerable to false teaching by failing to speak out against hyper-headship.”
5. They are taking a clear stand against victim-blaming.
“In these situations, the conflict is not treated as normal marriage issues in which each spouse can look at what he or she is contributing. This is a predator/prey or abuser/abused situation. The prey needs to be protected from the predator. The abuser needs to be held accountable, and the abused needs to be shepherded to safety. Working on communication and having the couple go on dates is not the way to address abusive sinfulness. Telling the woman to submit better—and making her feel like she is to blame in some way—is the worse [sic] thing someone could say in that situation. If there is continual destructive abuse, you should never to ask [sic] the abused what they did to bring the abuse on. One of our counselors shared an analogy that stuck with me. It would be a little bit like the police on a 911 call coming into a crime scene where the wife has been shot and asking her what she did to bring on the bullets. The goal is to care for her and make sure she is safe and the shooter is arrested.”
6. They are also calling for abuse victims to be believed.
“Abusers can be so charming around other people—that is part of the deception. Do you think they will really show their true colors in public? Don’t judge by appearances and discount what a woman says with flippant incredulity. Think about how much she is risking by saying anything at all. Take it seriously. Tell her that you believe her, that God hates abuse, and that you are committed to help her.”
7. Women were involved in creating the new structure and process to encourage abuse victims to come forward and make sure they’re cared for.
(The cringe-worthy language reveals their complementarian bent, but at least the men didn’t decide they knew everything they needed to handle this themselves.)
“Woe to us as a church if our women get the impression that we don’t value their input or contributions. We have sought to involve more input from the wives of pastors and elders, telling them that we not only want their input but that we need it because we have blind spots. An ethos that does not value women can lead to an environment where sick things slip under the radar.”
(It’s not in the manuscript, but would be on the video: Meyer specifically said women helped create the new structure and process. At the end of the sermon, several women “first responders” came to the front in readiness to talk to anyone who needed it.)
8. They are encouraging abuse victims to give the new process a chance.
Elders Statement: “If you are a woman experiencing domestic abuse and would like counsel from a female ‘first responder’ who is a member at Bethlehem, please contact …”
“Please let us help. God hates abuse, and so do we. We are committed to help. If you have come to us for help before and have been disappointed, please give us another chance. We believe that the tide of awareness has risen on all three campuses and that positive changes are happening.”
9. They are calling men in particular to speak up and take a stand: To do nothing is to support the abusers.
“At first glance, it looks like there are three possible doors the men of this church can take. Door 1: side with the abusers, Door 2: take no side, or Door 3: side with the abused and stand up to the abusers. If you are tempted to open Door 2, please know that it is a slide just takes you [sic] to the same place as Door 1. Doing nothing is doing something: it is looking the other way so the abusers can do their thing without worrying who is watching.”
10. Finally, at an all-church meeting Sunday night, a member of the church was excommunicated after pleading guilty to sexual assault of minors.
Given that he confessed, and still claims to be a Christian, one person made the argument that he should remain a member of the church and be part of a discipline and restoration process, as in Matthew 18. But Meyer and the elders said (based on 1 Corinthians 5) that some sins bring such reproach on the name of “Christian” that they merit immediate expulsion, with the hope that someday later there may be evidence of repentance, and restoration of fellowship.
You can see the above is very focused on spousal abuse. I wish more had been said about the abuse of children, but it was mentioned (see manuscript), and Bethlehem already has a very careful process to deter abuse at the church (background checks, screening, and training of child care workers, two-person rules, etc.). I also wish more had been said about police involvement.
But again, there is a danger of making the perfect the enemy of the good. I was very encouraged by the direction; hopefully as time goes on, they will go farther. I do not believe these elders would hush up abuse, tell wives to return to their abusers, force children to meet with and forgive their adult abusers, etc. — the things that make SGM’s history so disgusting.
Julie Anne responding now.
There were a couple of notable paragraphs that I want to draw your attention to:
An ethos that does not value women can lead to an environment where sick things slip under the radar. I have heard this statement before—warning, if you want to see me get visibly upset, just say what I am about to say in my presence: “If wives would just submit better and become more meek and quiet, then husbands would not get so angry.” These thoughts must be taken captive, or else we can create a climate in which domestic abuse can take root and grow.
Hyper-headship is a satanic distortion of male leadership, but it can fly under the radar of discernment because it is disguised as strong male leadership. Make no mistake—it is harsh, oppressive, and controlling. In other words, hyper-headship becomes a breeding ground for domestic abuse.
I’ve seen some complementarian marriages work beautifully. But there is a very fine line that can be crossed when a husband decides “my wife is not being submissive” and ventures into what they refer as “hyper-headship.”
I was looking specifically for the words spiritual abuse mentioned and there was only one paragraph. For those wives who have been living with a husband who uses God, the Bible, the husband’s assumed position of “hyper-headship” over the wife, living with such a person is horrific. Here is where spiritual abuse is mentioned:
We could add that spiritual abuse would be doing any of these things in the name of Jesus and using the Bible to defend them. Abusive leadership uses physical, psychological, and emotional (and spiritual) means to be lord over others. Servant leadership uses physical, psychological, and emotional (and spiritual) means to serve others.
I am greatly encouraged that this topic was discussed with great humility before the whole congregation, that the full transcript was posted, as well as the sermon on video. They clearly want to set the record straight that they plan on dealing with domestic violence and that it won’t be dismissed anymore.
What’s missing, however, are specifics, that hopefully will be addressed at some time. For example, how are abused wives (and their children) going to be assisted? Is there a plan in place? Are there safe houses? Will the church help these families financially? Will the husband/abuser be able to continue going to church? Will they allow a woman to divorce to her abusive husband or try to get the couple to reconcile?
It was mentioned that they “brought a biblical counselor, John Henderson, to train the elders in better detecting and dealing with domestic abuse.” I’m unclear what “dealing with domestic abuse means.” That raises some red flags for me after looking up John Henderson, who is part of Biblical Counseling Coalition. You can read Henderson’s bio here:
John Henderson received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Texas A&M University and both Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of North Texas in Counseling Psychology. Since that time the Lord has dramatically shifted and transformed his view of many things, especially counseling.
Henderson has written a “biblical counseling curriculum for training in the local church.” Additionally, there are a couple of names I recognize as part of the Biblical Counseling Coalition group that leaves me concerned about their counseling. Will they try to keep the counseling in-house only for abuse cases? Hyper-headship is just a softer word for abuse. Someone who has a need to control and uses that control over others has serious mental health issues and the church is ill-equipped to handle such cases. The abuser should be put out of church so that the church is a haven of rest for the survivor and her family.
When the church encounters abuse, they must first report it to authorities, and then it is time to refer abuse victims over to those able to handle such cases, to outside trained mental health professionals, not in-house “trained” biblical counselors. The church’s responsibility should be on the abused woman and caring for her and her family. Abuse survivors can have a range of mental health issues caused by abuse and the church should not be handling PTSD, dissociative disorders, etc.
I agree with Ben, that when we see churches taking positive steps to help the abused, it’s important to acknowledge it. This is a positive step that I am publicly acknowledging . . . with caution . . as outlined above.
141 thoughts on “Encouraging Shift from Bethlehem Baptist Church Regarding Domestic Abuse and Care for Abused Women”
These are very good questions and will need to be answered soon. My first question would be, what is your definition of abuse. How does it relate to biblical divorce and remarriage. Obviously, getting the victim and her children away from the abuser is 1st and foremost.
I don’t know how long it took the Lutheran’s (can’t remember the specific org right off hand) to get this all in writing, but I am sure that BBC will not have this put together over night.
Our gracious hostess rightly asked me how we would go about collecting statistical evidence; what Barbara Roberts did is a great start. It is entirely correct to note that the huge gap between domestic violence claims and convictions indicates that you’re going to have trouble getting good statistical evidence.
Note as well that when–admittedly with contestable methodology–one “drills down” into the data, one finds that “complementarians” who do not live out the “package deal” of church abuse more, but those who do attend church abuse less than any other group? Again, this has to do with fellowship, accountability, church discipline, and I’m sure a bunch of other factors. Absolutely, if one views theology as a la carte, you are going to have people grabbing it and running with it.
This is what Daisy’s anecdotes are getting at, and quite frankly it’s also what the anecdotes I could tell (I grew up in a mainline church where people I loved told me the abuse stories) would say. My anecdotes and hypotheses don’t mean much statistically–mainline was what I knew. In the same way, Daisy’s anecdotes and hypotheses speak about the world she knew.
So I’m going to go with the statistical data I’ve mentioned, as well as that Barbara presents, and likewise issue a “double dog dare” to do what she proposes; help out an abused spouse or two (male or female) and see what comes out of the wordwork. I don’t know that we’ll ever resolve whether egalitarian or complementarian approaches are more enabling, but we might end up helping a few people.
One note along the lines of what Barbara mentions; it is amazing what people will tell you if you’re willing to sit down and listen to them. I have wondered OFTEN what I did to be trusted with certain things I’ve been told.
That is true. If a person visits enough blogs or forums by conservative Christians, one will see plenty of women who have conservative theology, who attended conservative churches, who discuss being abused by their theologically conservative husbands.
And their theologically conservative church or preacher did not help the woman who was being abused.
I think some people want to believe that conservative theology, “right belief,” or “right doctrine” somehow makes a person less susceptible or less prone to sin than a person who believes in liberal theology, but it does not.
Christian gender complementarianism is the same thing as codependency, or very close to it.
Non-Christian Women in secular culture get the same messages from most of secular culture, public schools, parents, television programs, and movies – that there are certain roles and expectations for girls and women, which happen to be the same as complementarianism / codependency.
In American culture, women (even Non Christian ones, and in spite of secular feminism), are still conditioned from birth that girls and women are to display traits such as passivity, un-assertiveness, etc.
Being passive, sweet, yielding to men, etc, are taught to be feminine traits, and women can and do get punished for not living up to gender stereotypes such as these.
(There are articles on the web that explain how, for instance, women who do not live out or up to these gender stereotypes are less likely to receive promotions on the job, etc).
As I have noticed, and as a book or two by Christian psychologists have noted, conservative churches take those beliefs and impose them upon girls and women in the church ten times more so.
While secular culture by and large discourages women and girls from being assertive and having boundaries, churches insist upon these things 100 times more so! Churches uphold these rigid gender stereotypes even more than secular culture does.
And, some churches (the gender com, conservative variety), insist that women and girls being sweet, passive, unassertive, always taking the lead from a male (and other such traits), are “biblical” values, and what God intends for women.
If you read books about codependency by secular psychologists and even Christian ones, they will tell you how raising girls to be this way sets them up for abuse; raising girls this way makes girls and women easier to be taken advantage of by liars, cheaters, controllers, and manipulators.
Further, churches, and Christians who promote complementarianism, are teaching girls and women that traits of codependency (e.g., be passive, be unassertive, lack boundaries, etc) is “biblical womanhood.”
So, you have Christians who think it’s actually biblical and proper to raise girls and women to be easier targets to manipulate and abuse.
I see that conservative theology tends to promote the codependency view (complementarianism) more so than egalitarian ones. The egalitarians and liberals generally outright reject these views on the genders.
I said above,
I think some people want to believe that conservative theology, “right belief,” or “right doctrine” somehow makes a person less susceptible or less prone to sin than a person who believes in liberal theology, but it does not.
This is a very stubborn belief for some conservatives. I am a conservative, and I used to sort of be this way myself.
However, in the past few years, I began noticing that a lot of conservative Christians mouth off loyalty to conservative theology and values, but many of them fail miserably in actually living out what they say they believe.
Conservative Christians will say they morally oppose adultery, porn use, spousal abuse, and on and on, yet I keep running into conservative Christians who are guilty of these things, or I see them admitting to it on their forums, or, I keep seeing study after study that might say things like “80% of conservative evangelical preachers admit to being porn addicts.”
Mark Driscoll is a very conservative preacher with ultra conservative theology. But almost everyone agrees that his views are sexist, vulgar, inappropriate, and that he is egotistical and a bully.
Jack Schaap was preacher of a large IFB church. He was charged with repeatedly having sex with an under-age girl at his church and went to jail over that. There is a blog that has a long-running list of IFB preachers or church elders who have been arrested for child rape.
Having conservative theology, or professing to agree with conservative theology, does not guarantee that a person will live a holy, godly, moral, loving life.
I do think that liberal Christians, or emergents, or progressives or whatever label they use, have some very faulty understandings of certain topics and of the Bible in general, but I’m not seeing where having a more conservative outlook is making a big difference in how life is lived or how people are treated.
I actually think conservative churches might be more dangerous, because the usual reaction by a lot of the conservative muckity-mucks is something like this, in almost every case of child molesting cover-up stories I’ve seen, or stories about other sorts of wrong doing:
“Well, because this preacher has “correct doctrine,” because he’s opposed to homosexual marriage, because he is pro life on the abortion debate, because he believes the Bible is inerrant, we will let his known, continual child molestation slide.”
A last post about this topic (part 3).
I could go on about this. It’s a sore topic for me lately, when conservatives keep insisting that only liberal churches with liberal theology can produce on-going sin or whatever, because I have a friend who is very conservative, and we had a falling out about a month ago, and it pertained in part to this very subject.
This friend, “Helen,” has known me over the internet for over 7 or 8 years, and I’ve been there for her, during her various personal crises. She knows I am a conservative.
Over 3, 4 years ago, ‘Helen” told me in private correspondence that she hated God and is an atheist. I was supportive of her during all that.
After about two years of that, she told me she decided she believes in God again.
Cue my own personal doubts about God and the Christian faith after all that went down.
When I started to doubt the faith a few years ago, and as my political views became less right wing (I am still conservative and right wing, but not as much as before), and I began sharing some of these thoughts in a private discussion board every so often over a two or three year period, this friend, “Helen,” out of the blue in December of 2014, ripped my head off over it.
She started accusing me of being an atheist (I am not an atheist), she started accusing me of being a liberal Democrat (I am a right winger, was still Republican at that point, don’t know if I still am GOP or not).
When I tried to explain to her some of my problems with the Christian faith after she went into her rage, she began yelling at me that I must have been brainwashed by liberals, that I sound just like a liberal, and she insisted several times over that only liberal theology leads to abuse and sin in the church.
She told me I must have sought out liberal Christian sites, or ex Christian sites, to intentionally find reasons against the faith.
I told her Helen needs to get a clue, that no, I have not turned atheist or liberal. I said my doubts actually increased more so after I visited conservative Christian sites looking for answers.
From sites that appeared to be hosted by theologically moderate to conservative Christians (such as this one), is how I had my eyes opened that conservative churches or Christians who hold conservative theology can be just as big hypocritical, sinning dirt bags as any liberal believer or liberal church.
As I said above, I actually think it’s easier for dirt bags, abusers, and creeps to get away with sin in conservative churches, because they can claim allegiance to believing in conservative theology, and gain protection from that.
Also, in regards to sins against women specifically, some abusive me in conservative churches do get some sort of quasi-basis for abusing women in complementarian churches, since they appeal to cherry picked biblical verses about “wives submit to your husbands” type things to maintain they get to rule their wife with an iron fist. You cannot quite get away with that sort of defense or methodology in liberal churches or egalitarian ones.
Liberal Tony Jones had to invent “spiritual marriage” in order to offer up a rationalization of adultery. There was no out and out Bible verses Jones could point to that says, “God is fine with a man cheating on his wife,” after all.
Anyway, this conservative friend of mine, “Helen,” just dumped me after several years of friendship, basically. I really tried to be there for her over the years, too.
When she had her doubts about God, I was supportive of her, I did not accuse her of being a liberal, nor did I scream at her and put her down, but that is how she treated me over my doubts.
“Helen” is really insistent with me on the notion that abuse and sin only happens by liberal Christians in liberal Churches, or that it’s only liberal theology that leads to problems.
I cannot get her to see that it’s just as bad among conservatives, and that conservative interpretations of the Bible and conservative teachings also lead to abuse, or are used to cover abuse and sin up.
Ironically, I get the idea that Helen is not very familiar with the Bible. I suspect she hasn’t read it, or not much of it.
I don’t think she realizes that some of the most theologically conservative religious men of Jesus’ day (the Pharisees) were reprimanded and corrected by Jesus quite often.
Jesus said that the Pharisees did get some doctrinal beliefs correct, but they also got a lot wrong, and he said, in some cases, even the stuff they got right, they lived it out wrong, or treated people wrong in applying what they knew to be true.
And that sounds like a lot of conservative, American churches I read about today. But my friend “Helen” wants to stay blind to all that.
Bike Bubba said,
It is not just the world I knew and grew up in, though that is part of it.
I lived it out. My life turned out rotten, in part attributed to gender comp teachings. I was raised to live gender comp out, and I did sincerely for over two decades, and it caused me much harm. Gender comp does not work in reality, Bike, but it is harmful to women.
After having visited lots of forums, groups, and blogs the last few years that are populated by other women from other churches and backgrounds, it’s not only one type of church or denomination that is problematic.
But I do see a lot of women from conservative Protestant / Southern Baptist / evangelical churches who say they were abused by their conservative Protestant / Southern Baptist / evangelical husbands, and the common theme is that all these women say their churches / spouses adhered to gender complementarianism.
Also, if you see my post above, I explained how secular researchers who cover and study domestic violence, sexism, and other such related issues, report that secular society conditions girls and women to accept abuse, under the very same teachings and opinions about gender roles that churches dole out under the “gender complementarian” view.
Compare what Christian gender complementarians teach to girls/women to what secular culture teaches women about gender roles, as outlined and summarized in various books and studies, and both lists are near identical, and these very qualities is what sets women up to be more susceptible to being abused and targeted by abusers and manipulators.
Daisy, I understand that side, but let’s be serious here; about a quarter of the population professes some degree of fundamental or evangelical faith, versus similar proportions who are Catholic or mainline Protestant. Your observations are not out of line with the general population numbers, especially in an area as messy as domestic violence. What would surprise me would be if we did NOT see a significant portion of allegations there.
Not that anyone ought to rest easy in this regard, but it would simply be remarkable if “fundagelicals” as a group had their act together in such a way that would be immediately obvious to the untrained observer. I wish that were the case, but it is not.
” the doctrine of female submission trains women to endure abuse–with data. ”
Female submission trained every woman and little girl in my family all the way back to my great grandmother to live in misery. I nearly killed myself over this very hurtful teaching, I felt like god was my pimp. It is sick that men want and need women and little girls to be submissive to them. I hated living like a sex slave, and me and my mother are not dogs! It is gross and beyond cruel to teach women and little girls to be submissive to men. Christian men need to stop being so selfish and get over themselves.
This teaching caused me great vile unbearable pain, especially as a survivor of little girl rape! It is very hurtful. You have proved you have the heart of a complementarian. You selfishly ignore Daisy and my feelings, yes complementairian caused great pain to a sexually abused little girl, but so what. Complementarian gives men pleasure/power, and men’s pleasure/power trumps raped little girls.
“Now….evidence. I’ve introduced a set of moderating hypotheses and data to support them. ”
You sound like my father. Something tells me if there was evidence you would have some other excuse. You just do not care what the sex who has to live this demeaning hurtful life says.
It hurts women, it hurts little girls, it very much hurts raped little girls, but it makes men feel so good, and that is what really matters.
The complementairian men in my family mocked, belittle, and dismissed the feelings of women, and little girls.
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Daisy you and me have so much in common. Complementarian ruined my life and my mothers life.
I am a girly girl, I love to cook, clean, and I wanted lots of kids, I wanted to be a stay at home mother. I just could not stand to have a husband, complementarians make marriage miserable. I would rather be dead then married to a Christian man.
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The Lutheran denomination Brenda refers to is the LCMS — Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. It is not just confined to Missouri, the name of the denomination is somewhat misleading to those who are just newly coming across it.
You can find out more about the LCMS’s Domestic Abuse Policy and Resources here: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/12/08/domestic-abuse-project-by-lutheran-church-missouri-synod-lcms-now-online/
100pinkapples, your pain, your anguish — so justly felt, so rightfully voiced — is so important. I hear you, and I sympathise with and understand you feeling hurt by BikeBubba’s call for evidence and statistics.
That is one of the reasons why we eschew statistics at A Cry For Justice. In my experience, allowing debates about statistics on domestic abuse website allows too many victims to be exposed to assertions and hypotheses about statistics, rates of abuse, rates relative to gender of victim, rates relative to theological stream, and the BIG one for Christian websites: rates relative to comp versus egal.
That kind of debate seems to bring out anger and pain too easily. People from both sides of the comp/egal controvsersy voice their opinions so firmly, and in some cases angrily, snidely, cantankerously, that it ends up being triggering for the survivors of abuse.
I don’t mind Julie Anne having a different policy about what comments can canvass on her blog. 🙂 I just wanted to say this to you and others who may be feeling the way you are, so that you know your pain is heard and validated. 🙂
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Thanks, Barb. I couldn’t get the LCMS to come through my memory bank to save my life. The how to look it up portion wasn’t working either. Ugh!!.
Bike Bubba wrote
I lived gender comp out for over 20 years.
Gender complementarianism does not work. It hurt me and held me back in life.
And I was not physically abused because of gender comp like some other women are, I suffered other problems and set backs due to gender comp.
What Christian gender complementarians teach is very similar to what Islam teaches about women and how women should behave, and what American secular culture teaches about women and how women should behave.
Secular, American culture teaches women to have the same qualities that Christian gender complementarians do, but the term for what secular culture teaches to and about women would be “codependency.”
Christian gender complementarianism, as taught by conservatives, Baptists, mainliners, Pentecostals, Reformed, fundamentalists, and whatever other Christian denominations and groups, is identical to codependency.
Muslim groups such as “ISIS” do not use the word “complementarianism” to describe their views about women, but they hold the same presuppositions and attitudes about women, and what they think a woman’s role “should” be in society.
((( hugs to you pink apples )))
In some ways our experiences sound similar, but I can tell you have been through far, far worse than I did. And I am sorry for the abuse you endured.
I will say, though, that I was more of a “tom boy” from youth onwards.
I myself was not much of a girly girl, but my mom tried to get me to be one. She used to buy me feminine dolls to dress and play with, but I preferred Bat Man comic books and so on, things that were considered more for boys.
I preferred wearing cut off jean shorts with T shirts, to wearing feminine dresses. (Still do, though in my late teens, I learned I can slap on the mascara, lip stick, high heels, and short skirts and play the sexy, feminine role, if I have to.)
I have never married, therefore, I have never been physically abused by a spouse.
I was not sexually molested by family members growing up or at any other point.
Gender complementarianism (which is really nothing but a mixture of sexism and codependency) created other problems for me in life, however. It held me back.
I don’t think Christians appreciate or recognize that gender complementarianism can negatively impact females, even at a young age, when they are single.
Gender complementarianism views taught me to hold back in life.
(Secular culture also teaches girls these same things gender comps do, but churches and some Christians pressure girls and women to be even more like this than secular culture. It’s a matter of degree, not difference.)
Some of these teachings gender comps instill in women (and secular culture does this too):
Girls and Women are supposed to be weak, passive, quiet, meek things, and defer to everyone, but especially to men.
Females are not supposed to be opinionated, not supposed to rock the boat. Females are not supposed to be assertive, have boundaries, or stand up to people who are being rude or abusive.
Females are never supposed to get their own needs met, or put their own needs first, but only to cater to other people.
I usually did not pursue my dreams and goals in life as a teen girl or a woman, because gender comp (among other things) robbed me of my self esteem, and any notion that I should be brave and go after what I want in life.
I was taught to sit about quietly, and just pray that God would act on my behalf (such as send me a spouse, which never happened).
Along the way, due to these Christian gender complementarian teachings (and due to a few other factors I shall not mention but that overlap with this one), from my childhood into adulthood, I was targeted for bullying by other kids in school, by bosses on jobs….
And once these bullies get a whiff that you are not going to fight back (because gender comps teach that good Christian girls never fight back), they come after you ten times harder.
I didn’t have the self esteem back in my 20s to feel I was good enough to deserve a smart, accomplished, good looking man – and several flirted with me. But I turned them all down, because gender comp (and other factors) told me I was defective at my core, and if these men got to really know me, they wouldn’t like me anyhow and reject me.
I could go on and on, but gender complementarianism played a role in a lot of the problems I had in life, and it created a few problems.
I don’t know why that Bike Bubba guy in other threads wants to harp on precisely who damages women, liberal or conservative, and at what perecentage, or which denominations teach it, because gender comp damages all women, regardless of WHO is teaching it.
Furhtermore, Christian gender complementarianism damages single, divorced, childless, and widowed women – not just married ones who have children.
Gender comp also creates a lot of unnecessary issues and obstacles for girls and women… my life would have been more fun, fulfilled, and easier, had I realized at a younger age what absolute tripe gender comp is.
P.S. to my last post.
“I have never married, therefore, I have never been physically abused by a spouse.”
Though I was engaged at one time. I was in a long term serious relationship with a man for several years, we were engaged.
My ex fiance financially exploited me for years.
I knew at the time my ex fiance was taking advantage of me (I eventually caught on), but Christian gender complemenatarian teachings tell women you should go through life allowing other people to exploit you.
You’re supposed to put other people’s wants and needs above your own, even if they are hurting you.
To stand up and say “No” to people who are exploiting you is said to be “selfish,” so gender comps tell women to go along with the abuse or exploitation.
Jesus wants you to be made more godly by suffering and being a doormat for others is what they teach for women, and which I now realize is totally un-biblical and wrong.
So there again is another example of how Christian gender complementarianism can hurt a woman who is NOT married.
I was being exploited by my ex fiance. I was not married to him, but he was taking advantage of me, and I had been brain-washed by gender comp teachings to think that was my lot in life.
“Gender complementarianism (which is really nothing but a mixture of sexism and codependency)”
I consider it, loser man needs a female slave that has been bullied and brainwashed to kiss his male bottom.
“I don’t think Christians appreciate or recognize that gender complementarianism can negatively impact females, even at a young age, when they are single.”
As someone who grew up in a family with preachers, the fact is, they just don’t care.
They don’t care what women and little girls think, want, or how women and little girls feel. We are to kiss male bottom and make him happy, if it hurts us, so be it, if it hurts us it makes him feel all the better. Of course comp men will deny this because they are so self worshipping and selfish. They think god screwed up when he gave women and little girls voices.
“because gender comp (and other factors) told me I was defective at my core”
So true, I was dirt for being born female but the putrid man who sexually terrorized me as a little girl was marvelous because he was born a man. My rapist was taught to have pride for being born male and to feel superior to women and little girls, I was taught in comp land to hate my self and kiss male bottom. In comp land men could make me feel bad all they wanted, but I could never, never make those men feel bad.
“because gender comp damages all women”
It very much damages RAPED little girls.
My rapist was a self worshipping misogynist, he loved the bible, the bible told him everything he wanted to know about men and women, men rule, women submit. He did not care how I felt, all he cared about was what made him feel good, and comp men are the same. Selfish, heartless, misogynist. They need their bottoms kissed, and how dare anyone try to take that away from them.
“Gender comp also creates a lot of unnecessary issues and obstacles for girls and women… ”
They don’t care and never will, it makes men feel good, and so what if it destroys raped little girls, or women. In comp land what my rapist wanted mattered because he was a man, what I wanted did not matter because I was a girl, created to serve men. Comp men make me sick.
As a survivor of childhood indoctrinated comp, I have ISIS, the Taliban, men who own sex slaves, men who sexually torture little girls, and comp men in the same group.
Selfish, heartless, misogynist who cant handle women and little girls escaping them, women and little girls being able to say, no! These groups of men have decided it is women and little girls jobs to feel bad to make MEN feel good.
Comp men need nothing more then a whole pie, humble pie.
I love you Daisy, I think you are very smart 😉
Sorry for bad spelling and grammar, I am dyslexic.
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“evidence and statistics”
My grandfather was a southern Baptist preacher, he did not believe in child abuse, he would mock, belittle, and condemn any one who talked about it.
My ultra comp father thought rape victims were drama queens, and rape was something to get over fast. We were bullied to hate people who talked about abuse.
People who hated abuse were god hating liberals.
I could not say I was raped for nine years after it stopped, and it is much easier saying it on the internet then in person.
My mother would never tell any one the things my father said and did to her, she has to protect his image and Christianity. He is dead and she still pretends he never did anything wrong.
I don’t believe we well ever have statistics from abused Christian women and girls, because we are trained to keep our mouths shut and that the things done to us and said to us is our fault and not abuse.
I feel very sorry for my mother, her parents did not love her and my father treated her like a little girl slave, but when I told my mother about my sexual abuse she got mad at me, she told me to keep my mouth shut about it, and get over it. My family is ultra conservative, hard core southern Baptist, in my family, all the way back to my great grandparents, a girl saying I was raped is much worse then a man raping a girl.
Thank you Barbara for all you do and caring. People who care are the most attractive people in the world. You are a sweetie;)
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Reblogged this on The Cross Is All We Need.
Reblogged this on Talmidimblogging.
Anger issues that are on going, controlling or manipulative should be considered a problem right now. It only takes one time of anger to become a tragedy. I don’t know what the specifics are in the case of your “friend”, but if these anger issues are continual over years someone should step in. I don’t know if the BBC counselors are trained to handle abuse cases. Not many Christian counselors are trained well in abuse. The former husband was handed a book by one counselor, “Anger Management for Dummies”. That was real helpful!! NOT!!
Moderator note: This comment was in response to a comment that has now been removed by request. I am keeping the rest of Barb’s comment here (removing name reference) because her information is valuable in general. ~ja
I think you need to become more informed about the dynamics of domestic abuse. It sounds to me like you believe ‘extreme’ = severe physical violence; and ‘anger’ is less extreme.
I believe your concept of the spectrum of seriousness in domestic abuse is very flawed.
For one thing, while severe physical violence is certainly one of the high risk factors (high risk for lethality of one or more of the parties), there are many other factors that contribute to heightened risk. Some of these are sexual violence, threats of suicide, attempts or history of suicidality, child sexual abuse, choking or strangling (even one incidence of this makes the risk very high).
Secondly, while those things I mentioned above are all part of risk assessent for lethality, there is another way of looking at the spectrum of seriousness. Many abusers excercise intense abuse without ever touching their victims in anger (i.e. no physical violence) and without ever raising their voices in anger. Covert aggression is one of the biggest weapons of abusers. Covert aggresion takes many many forms: some of them are gaslighting, contemptuous facial expressions, the silent treatment, financial abuse, isolating the victim, spiritual abuse, sarcasm and mockery, creating chaos, changing the rules unpredictably, Jeckyll/Hyde switching, abuse disguised as a joke, lies, blame-shifiting, and manipulation. In all these tactics used by abusers, anger may not necessarily be overt or obvious.
Furthermore, the victim may sometimes become angry because of the way she is being mistreated. That anger of the victim is justified. It is healthy. It is one way of showing that she is not content with being abused! It is one way of expressing justified grievances. Yeah, sometimes it may be rather raw and ill-judged in the way it is expressed. But it is not abusive anger, it is like the anger of the animal which is defending itself against a vicious predator.
You posit ‘anger’ as a ‘lesser form’ of domestic abuse. You are wrong. Every expression of anger needs to be understood in context, by a respectful conversation which explores and eludicates the circumstances in which the anger was expressed.
Only when we carefully explore the full context can we tell whether a given expression of anger was abusive anger, or whether it was righteous, justified, boundary-setting anger. And remember, when you have a discussion with an abuser, what he will tell you is mostly lies, and the ‘truths’ he tells you are likely to be only half truths — intentionally selected and edited to give you a false impression.
Anger in and of itself is not a sin. Scritpure says, “Be angry and do not sin.” (Ephesians 4:26). That verse actually instructs us to be angry, so long as we take care not to express anger from evil motives or with evil intent, and we be mindful of not doing harm in the way we express our anger. The context and the intent of the person getting angry is what determines whether a given expression of anger was sinful or not.
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As to the reported efforts by Bethlehem Baptist Church to address domestic abuse, I say let us applaud. However, as to KirsieMarie’s attempt to silence all who are not members, I say so sorry, there is nothing BBC can do to avoid being judged in the court of public opinion.
So far as I am concerned, as a member of the jury of the court of public opinion, BBC and it’s current leadership have the burden of actually demonstrating (mere words are insufficient) that they have renounced the misogyny that simply cannot be distilled out of the complementarian heresy of their former pastor, John Piper. This, of course, will require that the complementarian heresy itself be renounced and condemned, and that there be no discrimination insofar as the roles, including ministry roles, women are allowed to fill.
Plus, I wonder just how appropriate it is to use the designation of former pastor where John Piper is concerned. My guess is that he is still very much involved.
But, again, kudos to BBC if and to the extent they are actually endeavoring to address the evil of domestic abuse.
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Actually, one thing Bethlehem Baptist could do to establish their bona fides vis a vis the evil of domestic abuse by “Christian” men (and sometimes women), is that they could bring Barbara Roberts in for a series of Sunday morning speaking engagements. The preachers could get out of the way and let someone speak who knows whereof they speak.
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Thanks for your thoughts here, Gary W — as always they give me a wider perspective.
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So, while I agree with you that it BBC (like any church) may be judged in the court of public opinion, I am concerned that victims of abuse not be additionally traumatized.
And like you, Gary W, I am hoping that BBC will publicly renounce the dangerous doctrines which Piper has taught, and in that renunciation, that they specifically name Piper as a major proponent of those doctrines.
Whether or not complementarianism per se is ‘heretical’ is perhaps a point which I might differ on with you, but I certainly believe that Piper’s extremely unbalanced and ludicrous teaching on male and female roles needs to be totally debunked and got rid of.
BTW, just in case you’re wondering, I’m a ‘non’ when it comes to comp versus egal. I may not remain that way forever, but at this point in time I am not comfortable taking either position. I don’t find either camp satisfactory, as yet. And if I ever do arrive at a position, it will likely be on the cusp between the two. Which, in a certain sense, is not a position at all! Haha.
If BBC ever invited me to speak, I might well ask them to also get Jeff Crippen in too, so we could do a joint presentation. Not because I believe I have to do my ministry ‘under’ a man, but simply because Jeff and I are such close colleagues and we support each other and often complement each other. In our ministry at ACFJ, Jeff does some things better than me, and I do some things better than him. And the other members of our team, especially TWBTC (the woman behind the curtain) are vital to our ministry. And if BBC invited Jeff, I would hope they also pay the air fare for his wife, so she can come too.
Well, yes, of course. I do not wish to in any way diminish Pastor Crippen’s contribution. However, in the case of Piper’s church, if they wish to demonstrate to this member of the jury that they have renounced the complementarian heresy, they will be required to demonstrate their willingness to learn from a woman, alone, standing without so much of a hint of male-authority covering.
As to my use of the term heresy, I include all that is inconsistent with Scripture. In that sense, we are all heretics. Perhaps some think the word heretic applies only to apostates. In my view, all apostates are heretics, but not all heretics are apostate. Organized church has often erred in deeming those with differing doctrinal views to be apostate, to be outside the faith.
I have been putting resources about the comp doctrine/heresy under the Off-Topic Discussion tab at the top of the page, in case you want to read any further on the topic or watch Ron Pierce’s video.
Moderator note: Folks, I can only recall doing this one other time, and it, too, was to protect. I received two e-mails asking for comments to be removed. The commenters were from both sides of the fence. Because of this, and it seems that the intent is to protect victims, I am removing those comments and all the references to those comments. Thanks for your understanding. JA
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Julie Anne, I’m perfectly okay with what you’ve done in moderating this thread.
Thank you, Barb 🙂
Maybe an intent to protect victims is really what was in play, but is it O.K. to note that the person who initially attempted to silence dissent with a string of, to my mind, slanderously accusatory Scriptures has had their way? They have managed the removal of a comment, however ill advised, that put John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in a bad light. If this person was concerned about victims why didn’t they just say so, rather than using Scripture to condemn and accuse?
Well, regardless of the motives of the Scripture quoting accuser (and I really do believe their primary purpose was to protect the reputation of Bethlehem Baptist), it is good that comments that might have heaped further injury on an abuser’s target have been removed.
JA, I think I may be pushing some limits here, so I encourage you to delete this comment if you think it best. It’s just that I do not receive it well when people use Scripture to manipulate silence to protect institutional reputation. It is a form of spiritual abuse.
Thank your for the link to the Ron Pierce video. I am about half way through it. I see that Dr. Pierce has co-edited a book, “Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity Without Hierarchy,” with Dr. Gordon Fee and one other. I was not previously familiar with Pierce, but if Fee is willing to be associated with him, then Pierce must surely be deserving of our receptive attention.
Early in the video there is a chart of various views on gender. Do you know if this chart can be found in printable form on the Internet? Perhaps it is in the above-referenced book, which is now on my Amazon wish list.
Gary, I strongly disliked the use of scripture to silence, too. None of us will know whether the original comment was truthful (about BBC going overboard) from afar and so I defaulted to the “protect the victim” first mode. If the pendulum has swung too far, we will probably be hearing more about that.
But at the same time, I’m also aware that anytime we are dealing with abusers, abusers will often make the claim that they are being victimized by the wife, church leaders, etc, and they will try to convince their friends that they are the victims.
Sorry I haven’t looked for the chart and I don’t know if it’s available online. I haven’t bought his book yet, as I only recently heard about this from a post someone did on Tim Fall’s blog.
Julie Anne, I totally agree with defaulting to protect the victim first mode.
Yes Gary, I agree that in the case Bethlehem Baptist and other churches that have followed Piper closely, if they wish to demonstrate that they have renounced complementarianism, they will be required to demonstrate their willingness to learn from a woman, alone, standing without so much of a hint of male-authority covering.
And on further reflection, I realised that when I said I’d prefer to speak at BBC if they also invited Jeff Crippen to speak with me, I realise I said that partly out of fear. Fear of what the rear guard in the church might say or do to me should I be given a podium. A bit like the Christians in Damascus being afraid of Saul/Paul, after his conversion.
And why would I feel afraid in such circumstances? Because there’s been a long history of Pharisaic male domination in the church, and I’ve been the victim of it at times.
I was actually given a platform to speak last week at the Presbyterian College of Victoria. (that is the theological college/seminary for the Presbyterian Church of Victoria) It wasn’t the College putting the event on, it was Eltham Presbyterian Church, but they used the College venue. They were putting on a series of workshops on Singleness in the Church, and I was invited to speak about Divorce and Remarriage. I am still wondering whether my being given a microphone at the PCV went under the radar of the powerful people, or what. I don’t think it indicates that they are renouncing complementarianism. And it’s not like I was given a pulpit, only a platform. We all know the difference, I’m sure 😦
This is not really related to this post but kinda related to the comments being made. Also, I want to say I don’t like making always or never statements since they tend to be never true 🙂 …. and I am seeing a lot of them spanning throughout this thread. So the following is my personal experience and observations.
First of all good for BBC for making “some” changes.
I have a relative that is a counselor in a town relatively outside of the twin cities. In the town are two very large churches and a few much smaller churches. One is one of those churches that what he calls a Piper Church, Not sure if the Church is related to BBC or not but I know the lead Pastor liked Piper. The other is a large EV Free Church. He is a christian counselor and one day he told me 75% of his counseling cases came from the Piper church. I asked him why this is and what he said I found interesting. He is a PhD counselor btw. He said a lot of depressed people and angry people are drawn to black and white/all or nothing thinking churches. He went on to say the higher truth “language” comes off to these people as language they are attracted to. I found this very interesting!!!!
I have to admit I personally get triggered when people use truth without grace in a kind of boundary violating way… but I also know in the case of abuse safety must come first!
Thanks for taking on such a hard topic of Spiritual Church Abuse!
When I was in an abusive marriage, I didn’t go to my church. I called the police, and then I divorced him.