Christian Marriage, Domestic Violence and Churches, Gender Roles, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., The Gospel Coalition, Troubling Tweets, Women and the Church

Troubling Tweet: The Gospel Coalition Promotes Unbiblical “Gender Role” Teachings

The Gospel Coalition (TGC), Kathy Keller, Domestic Violence, Complementarian, Marriage, Headship


purple ribbons

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.  Ephesians 5:28-30


Today, I want to open up the discussion on the following tweet which was sent out by The Gospel Coalition (TGC).  I believe the author of the quote is Pastor Tim Keller’s wife, Kathy Keller.

TGC has made complementarian marriage to be a primary doctrinal issue so much that if you disagree with complementarianism, some will even go as far to suggest that you might not understand the real Gospel (another way of questioning your salvation without being blunt).


The Wartburg Watch recently posted an article, Do the Complementarian Mandates of Submission and Male Leadership Attract Domestic Abusers? I believe that the complementarian mandates do lay the groundwork for abusers. And then abusers also use their interpretation of the Bible to continue their domineering, abusive authority posture in the home. This sometimes can lead to violence, both physically, emotionally, verbally, and spiritually.

I cannot help but notice that out of all of the women who have contacted me about their destroyed marriages due to domestic violence, 100% of them were part of churches which taught complementarianism. I do not believe this is a coincidence.



At the bottom of this tweet, you can see my response:


These comments came from the SSB Facebook page and I thought they were really good.

When someone points out problems with the gender roles (aka. rules) it’s turned around to say that we “just don’t don’t trust enough.” But for survivors of abuse in complementarian marriages, that trust has been used against us. We trusted God, we trusted our spouses, we trusted the “rules”–all to our detriment. “Just submit” is an evil command if she is being hurt. “Love your wife” is a meaningless command if the abuser is allowed to define their own feelings. “Don’t be a gossip” is an isolating command because it silences a victim from talking out their situation (most cannot put the word “abuse” to their situation for quite a while). “Just trust” guilts a victim into remaining in a dangerous situation. If safeguards are not built into a system, then it is just a setup for abuse.

And the “character of God” allowed the crusades, the inquisition, the holocaust, and a host of wars, famines, plagues, and ethnic “cleansings.” How narcissistic to think that the God who allows such suffering throughout all of human history MUST spare you specifically, even if you follow teachings that leave you vulnerable. (Source)


TGC facilitates abuse because they are comp. Their name is also a total misnomer as they add to the gospel so it is not the gospel they preach and they are not a coalition as they exclude some believers. If they cannot even speak in a clear and straightforward way about their name, why should I trust them in anything?  ~Donald Johnson


122 thoughts on “Troubling Tweet: The Gospel Coalition Promotes Unbiblical “Gender Role” Teachings”

  1. Such a great comment, The Wary Witness. I’m so glad you shared your experience and knowledge. It’s very helpful to the conversation.

    My favorite quote: <At the end of the day, I think the question of cause-and-effect is not the main issue. What we DO know is that abusers use patriarchal teachings to excuse their evil deeds, gain supporters, and trap their victims — in Christ’s name!! And that is despicable. YES!!!!!


  2. Great comment, Wary Witness. It might interest you to know that I grew up in the same kind of household as you – and my father went to church (I don’t know why the roof didn’t cave in). I also have a wonderful husband who has supported me 100%, is completely egalitarian in his thinking and a non-believer. I don’t happen to think religion makes one bit of difference as to how men treat women – it’s whether or not they have respect for women, religious or not. As I have tried to point out on this thread, complementarianism – at its core – is not a respectful way to treat women.


  3. Gov. Pappy – I see you have a ‘new’ blog. . .methinks you’ve got fodder for another entry, here on this one. . 🙂


  4. Excellent analysis, Wary Witness! I believe that at the core of domestic violence perpetrated against women is the belief that men have dominion over women. The atheist who abuses may very likely ascribe to the world view that history proves men are to be the stronger more dominant person. He may even use physiology as his defense, or evolution, i.e.: survival of the fittest, men being stronger than women. Aritstotle, who was no Christian, laid the groundwork for Western society’s views regarding gender roles, which viewed women as subservient to men. Sigmund Freud, who was no Christian and deemed as the Father of Modern Psychology, had sexist views about women, promoting the aberrant idea that women have “penis envy.” What history tells us is that over the course of many centuries, women have been subjugated to abusive systems that justify such ill treatment of women, whether it has been through philosophy, religion, medical science, or any number of categories. Hence, MRA’s (men’s rights activists), and many defenders of Complementarian and Patriarchal teachings bemoan the fact that society has changed, pining for the good old days before Feminism, when men dominated all spheres of society.


  5. “The Catholic Church as well as much of what is called Evangelical Christianity makes profit from lording over people who are trying to seek God.”

    I hope it is not bashing to state a fact. After the Catholic scandal about Priests a ton of land here in town was put up for sale. People had NO idea how much land the Archdiocese owned. Shopping centers, hospitals, office parks –galore. They had owned that land forever and did quite well with developers for decades. I always wondered why that was normal. Can you imagine something similar on the other bank of the Tiber? I can’t but evangelicals are slower to organize on that scale or i bet they would. The sales helped to pay damages that did not even happen here. That is the long arm of Rome. It is part of the Christian industrial complex.

    Of course when it comes to profiting off Jesus, I am an equal opportunity offender. :o)


  6. “But that said, you’ve got to test your hypotheses. If you’re going to say that complementarian theology results in abuse, you’ve got to have some data out there.”

    A while back I was on the board of a secular DV crisis center. We gathered information but did not ask religious affiliation. When one takes out a restraining order, they don’t ask, either. So where are the stats you demand going to come from?

    What we did know is that often pastors came to visit as emissaries for the abusers saying he was sorry and please drop the charges and come back. It worked more than you might think.

    Truth is, we make correlations all the time. We all know that we tend tend to take on the thinking of those we consistently associate with. At some point it becomes the normal. Those who are inclined that way take it to that level. It is, in some ways, akin to Islam when it comes to women. I am sure many Muslim men don’t abuse but their system teaches women are less than men and women are responsible for tempting men.

    Around 2009, Bruce Ware, a prof at SBTS, taught that unsubmissives wives trigger abuse. How is that any different in principle than Islam? Why would any Christian think that way? The argument at the time was that Ware was not condoning abuse. He was just explaining it. I say, the camel is in the tent!

    Piper taught wives should ‘Take abuse for a season’. I could go on and on.

    See the problem? Ware is pretty mainstream in evangelicalism and echoes the thinking in the comp world of CBMW. Piper is a beloved guru to millions. And there are many examples.

    When that thinking is the normal and accepted, I am not sure why anyone would be concerned about stats.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BTDT said

    Bike Bubba,
    You fixated on one paragraph out of the entire article and ignored the rest of his information. How least likely are the “conservative Protestant men who attend church regularly” to beat their wives? 1%? 2%?

    The statics quoted by Christians who work in DV ministries are that “in the Christian community, one in every four women experiences family violence.”

    _A Deadly Formula for Violence By Barrington H. Brennen _

    Question: Dear Sir: Why are so many religious leaders telling us that to solve the problem of violence we must return to the “old family traditions and values?” They are telling us that we need “male leadership.” Do we really need male leadership?

    Answer: As a counseling psychologist and minister of the gospel I must say that your concerns are extremely valid.

    … There is a myth that the lack of male leadership in the home and society is the reason for the corruption in society. History will verify that domineering male leadership is one of the reasons for the prevalence of violence in the society and home.

    …Dr. James Alsdurf, in the book Battered Into Submission, cites author Karen Lindsay who challenges the myth “that if people would only stop worrying about their own personal fulfillment and return to the loving bosom of the patriarchal family, the world would be a happy place.”

    She indicates that the perspective that we need to return to the good old days before the breakdown of the nuclear family is a myth. It ignores the issue of intra-family abuse which has always been a reality.
    When was the golden age of the happy family? She indicates that in reality there has never been a golden age. History reveals abuses against women and children from the beginning of time.

    The Deadly Formula
    …. A violence that turns its head in denial, a refusal to admit that abuse exists, and that family abuse is a sin. Several years ago, while working as coordinator of a treatment program for abusive men, I keenly observed that almost thirty percent of the men I worked with indicated that they were active Christians.

    In my interview with these Christian men, it was shocking to discover that for all of them abuse began or escalated when they became Christians (when they were adults), or when their parents became Christians (when they were children). This brings me to the deadly formula. This deadly formula I have discovered through countless hours of counseling, interviews, and working with families in crisis is:

    When rigid traditional family values are combined with rigid traditional religious beliefs, there is always abuse.


  8. carmen said,

    Ummm. . .Darlene. I believe if you want to find misogynist views, there are plenty in the Bible.

    I don’t think that’s an entirely fair commentary on the Bible.

    There are one or two gender- related bits in the Old Testament I can’t quite grasp, but a lot of the Bible is describing how people of those times and cultures treated women; it was not to say that God approved of, or necessarily agreed with, all or most of it.

    Once we get into the New Testament, interpretation comes into play.

    I think sexist Christian men (gender complementarians) with an agenda definitely choose to interpret certain biblical passages in such a way as to discriminate against women.

    I’ve tried talking to some of these men on other sites, such as “Flag” Ken on T-W-W, and he is impervious to considering the impact of the culture of the surrounding cities on the content of Apostle Paul’s letters.

    That is, some of the comments Paul made about women were only intended for particular churches in particular cultures (because each church was facing problems with pagan religious practices infiltrating the local churches), not timeless commands for all women.

    However, guys like “Flag” Ken don’t to accept that explanation and study, because it takes away male privilege.

    “Flag” Ken actually refers to the use of extra-biblical material (ie, historical documents from that time, or other writings) to understand the cultures to whom Paul wrote as being a “liberal” practice (and hence suspect), though conservative Christian scholars frequently do this.

    I don’t think Apostle Paul was communicating what sexist gender complementarians THINK he was communicating, in other words. Comps are choosing to view the Bible through a sexist prism, even though there are perfectly valid, different, conservative interpretations of the same texts and verses.

    Comps just assume that the God of the Bible is a sexist. You may be making that same error, ironically.


  9. Regarding all the talk about above stats and Gender Comp and Domestic Violence.

    Putting aside some of the argument – is comp more likely to produce an abuser – I’m interested in looking at it like this:

    You have a guy who is abusing his wife. They both go to a comp church. The wife eventually gets up the courage to go to Comp Preacher man and ask for his help or guidance about the abuse.

    Now, how to complementarians handle abuse? It seems to me that the vast majority of them give the same, stupid, ineffective advice, and they engage in the same unhelpful behavior, such as, but not limited to:

    -Blame the abuse on the wife. She must be doing or saying something to cheese the husband off. If she would just stop doing X, Y, and Z, her spouse would stop verbally and/or physically abusing her (supposedly)

    -She should submit more and submit harder to the husband. Golly gee, the Bible seems to say wives should submit to a husband, and a gentle submitting wife can possibly win a NonChristian man over to the Lord, so if she would just submit more, that must be the key.

    -She should pray for her husband and/or about the marriage (this is a view that was promoted in the “War Room” movie, about a woman who was being abused by her husband).

    -She should cook the spouse his favorite meals and wear sexy nightgowns to bed every night.

    Now, I have seen this advice doled out many times over the years in magazine articles by comp Christians to women in troubled marriages.

    I have seen divorced Christian women on blogs and forums say they tried most or all those proposed solutions at the recommendations of their gender comp church or Christian gender complementarian marriage advice books – and none of it worked.

    Gender complementarians do not understand domestic violence and do not care to do so. They will continue to give abused wives bogus, wrong-headed advice on how to navigate an abusive situation.

    Comps also tend to revere marriage WAY too much and erroneously believe any and all divorce is wrong, or that all divorce but for adultery is wrong, so they will shame or pressure women to stay with an abusive husband no matter what.

    You can sit here and quibble percentages all day long about how much gender comp, conservative Christianity does or does not cause or lead to abuse….

    But the fact remains comp does foster an environment, pre-built biblical-sounding justification, and mindset that perpetuates abuse, minimizes abuse (especially against women), because underlying its precepts are sexist ideas, including but not limited to,

    -that women are not as fully in God’s image as men are;
    -women are so stupid / evil / easily deceived, that they need a “male covering” (the need a male leader over them to make choices for them),
    -women ought to be sweet and passive no matter what (ie, proper females should lack boundaries, lack assertiveness, and hence permit men to abuse them), etc etc.

    Bike Bubba (and the other guy in this thread who was discussing holding controlled studies about abuse),
    none of those sexist beliefs I just outlined – which are in fact present in most any and all varieties of gender comp, conservative Christianity – is conducive to healthy, balanced male-female relationships (marriage or otherwise) and sure as heck does not HELP cases where there is abuse in a marriage.


  10. Lydia said,

    What we did know is that often pastors came to visit as emissaries for the abusers saying he was sorry and please drop the charges and come back. It worked more than you might think.

    Preachers, the ones who are believers of gender complementarianism, are some of the biggest enablers of domestic violence, or influencing women to think they should put up with being treated like dirt.

    I was reading a book by a counselor who filled her book with case studies of her patients. In one of them, she talked about a woman whose husband kept gambling her pay checks away.

    The wife had enough, dumped the guy (yay!!), but – the husband joined a church. He came back and plead with the wife to take him back. He had been going to church ever week for X number of months, he said he was reading his Bible daily, he had really turned over a new leaf. The wife was still fairly skeptical at this point.

    So, next thing that happens is the preacher of the church where the gambling addict spouse attends, shows up at her house to chat with her. The preacher droned on and on about showing compassion, mercy, second chances, and forgiveness to people. He talked this wife into taking the guy back.

    So, she takes him back. After X weeks of being together, the husband stopped going to church. She noticed, asked him about it, and he said he didn’t need it anymore.

    After so many more weeks go by, the wife noticed weird financial stuff going on, a used gambling ticket stub in her husband’s pants when she was doing laundry. It turned out her husband had gone back to gambling and was using cash forwards and stuff on her credit card to finance his habit.

    She really had enough at this stage and kicked his behind to the curb. He came back, pounding on the front door, begging for another chance. She refused to cave in. She started dating a new guy who treats her like a queen.

    This is just one example that springs to my mind of how preachers or other Christians encourage women to risk their own safety, ego, self esteem, bank accounts, etc. to put up with mistreatment by a louse of a man.


  11. I also put this in the thread about Domestic Violence:
    Siteseer at T-W-W blog posted this in a thread that mentioned Doug Wilson:
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ~~~~~~~
    Further, his [Doug Wilson’s] teaching that patriarchy is safer for women is laughable. Patriarchal societies are the most dangerous for women.

    I also find it very strange, the concept that it is normal and expected for a man to rape.

    This page contains a good collection of sources for statistics on rape in patriarchal societies and other rape myths:

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Daisy, for all the information! Adding to that sexist list: Intelligent women are to suspend their God-given gifts and their minds, and acquiesce to their husbands – even if their better judgment tells them differently. Somehow, fulfilling this role give glory to God in their view. But in reality, it strips the wife of her very person, in which she must resist her conscience and ignore the wisdom and knowledge God has given her. Here are some examples:

    If the the husband is intending to make an unwise financial decision which will cause the family to go in debt, the comp wife may give her suggestions or opinions, but the final say – no matter how damaging – is up to the husband and the wife must submit to his decision, even if the family goes into debt. By the way, I heard this very teaching from a comp teacher so I didn’t make it up.

    If the husband wants his wife to dress and wear her hair a certain way, but she is uncomfortable with the way her husband wants her to look and dress, she should still willingly submit – even if it is against her conscience or self-esteem. I knew a couple like this. The wife submitted to dressing the way the husband wanted her to dress: in short, sexy outfits with high heels. She hated it and felt very uncomfortable dressing that way.

    These are just two examples. I’m sure others could add to them. This is why I see red flags every time a Comp defender says that a wife does not have to submit if the husbands is trying to make her sin. But what does that mean exactly? Who is to determine what sin is? Sure, you’ll hear the extreme examples of wive shouldn’t watch pornography if the husband wants her to. Or she shouldn’t lie if he wants her to. But more than often, marriage doesn’t present these extreme examples. Who draws the line between what is sin and what is not? Where does one boundary begin and the other end? Well, I’d say that in comp marriages, since the wife agrees to suspend her wisdom, knowledge and better judgment to the husband – it is he who determines every time, i.e.- has the final say (as they say) what is sin and what is not. The wife effectively take the role of a child with her husband acting more like her father.


  13. Daisy, just read your comment about the return to old family values.

    Regarding the corruption in society and the supposed link to a lack of male leadership…

    Who is saying this?

    How is society more corrupt today?

    I’m confused haha


  14. At one point I read somewhere along the line somewhere that Complementarian theology roles attract abusers.

    To be honest, I think its much larger than just that. Any Church that sets itself up as a “higher truth” than other churches (in a prideful way) tends to attract people that are controlling. And controlling people tend be more abusive.

    Don’t get me wrong I believe in the inerrant word of God… but the tone and posture of people can become abusive when we put ourselves on a “higher truth plane” than those around us and start looking down on them!


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