Friday, March 13, 2009

Complementarians Not Traditionalists? Hogwash!

Complementarian leaders claim they are not traditionalists when it comes to gender roles, however, I have been reading reams of their literature and can find little if anything in them to back that claim.

In the late 1980's The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) was founded. They released The Danvers Statement, and in order to soften the true nature of their hard line, traditionalist, theology in regards to gender roles, created the warm, fuzzy moniker "Complementarian" to describe themselves.

The truth is, complementarians are just as rigid, if not more so, than traditionalists. And there is only one major difference, that I can find, between evangelical traditionalists and complementarians in regards to gender roles, and that is that most traditionalists teach that female subordination is a result of the Fall while complementarians, along with fundamentalist traditionalists, teach that female subordination was mandated as part of the original creation.

So what is the real difference between the two? In practical application, virtually nothing. But it is worthwhile to note that evangelical traditionalists now recognize that their theology has always provided a loophole for New Testament Christians in removing the yoke of subordination from women while fundamentalist complementarian theology neatly plugs the hole. Since the late 1980's, evangelicals have been jumping the traditional ship by the boatloads and climbing on board the fundamentalist complementarian bandwagon in regards to gender issues.

Before 1987, most leading evangelical leaders, churches and seminaries were traditional, including the influential Moody Bible Institute. Another example is Beverly LaHaye, president of Concerned Women for America and wife of bestselling author, Tim LaHaye. LaHaye took the traditional position in her 1984 book, The Restless Woman where she carefully explained that males and females were originally created equal but that the Fall changed all that resulting in the ongoing subordination of women in rigidly prescribed "roles" for them in marriage, church, and society. Today, it appears LaHaye has traded traditionalism for complementarianism. She currently serves on the Board of Reference for the "Complementary" CBMW.

Complementary? Who gets complemented? Let's face it, in both complementarian theology and practice, it is the female--always--who complements the male; she completes him, she assists him, her calling is to help him fulfill his calling, etc., etc., so on and so forth, ad infinitum.

Putting the dynamics of such a relationship in perspective isn't very difficult. Take steak and Lea and Perrin's for example, what complements what? Does the steak complement the sauce? Or is it the other way around? What about French-fries and catsup? Do the French-fries complement the catsup?

Of course not! And in a "complementarian" marriage, the wife is always the sauce or the catsup, never the steak or the french-fries. So where is the "complementary" aspect? In practice, it does not exist. Why? Because in practice, in a true "complementarian" relationship, no one should be the steak or the French-fries, and no one should be the mere complementary condiment "completing" the main course.

In view of the uncomplementary nature of complementarian theology, I refuse to any longer refer to them by a title which I believe is deliberately deceptive. Therefore, I have created a title which I believe more accurately describes complementarians and all others of their ilk. From henceforth, I refer to all fundamental and evangelical male supremists as, TRADITIONAL "ROLE" RELIGIONISTS--TRR'S for short

Upcoming New Release: Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery, & the Evangelical Caste System, by  Jocelyn  Andersen, is scheduled for release in 2010. Visit the following link if you would like receive a release announcement by email:

Saturday, March 07, 2009


In reading, Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, by Kathryn Joyce, I was fascinated that a self-described secular feminist and professing non-believer could write with such clarity and sensitivity on the Patriarchy Movement that has made major inroads within Fundamental and Evangelical denominations during the past few decades.

My next book, GENDER, SLAVERY, & the EVANGELICAL CASTE SYSTEM, (release date to be announced) has led me into extensive personal research into the Patriarchy movement, so I felt I was in a unique position to judge Joyce's research and conclusions. I found her research credible and that her conclusions about the movement closely aligned with mine.

Although she and I would most likely not see eye to eye in regards to the abortion controversy, I believe we are very much in harmony regarding many, if not most, aspects of the gender issue. And though the Patriarchy Movement may be only a possible threat to secular women's rights, it is a very real and present impediment to evangelical women's inalienable and God-given rights.

As I have already stated in my book, WOMAN SUBMIT!, I believe the Patriarchal theology most Fundamentalist and Evangelical Christians adhere to is a threat to the physical safety and emotional well being of many Christian women. I do not believe domestic abuse or domestic violence will ever be resolved within the church until the gender issue is properly addressed.

I may not agree with everything contained within the pages of, QUIVERFULL..., but I certainly do recommend the book. I feel it was written out of a sense of valid concern and with integrity. I feel the facts concerning the Patriarchy Movement were presented fairly and accurately.

I was impressed with the lack of malice in Joyce's writing and thrilled to see the subject of Christian Patriarchy getting the attention it so desperately needs and deserves. As a Bible believing Christian, I am appreciative of the graciousness Joyce displayed towards the people and the movement she wrote about—a graciousness that I am certain will not be reciprocated by those who will feel threatened by her message.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Biblical Man Wants Fried Egg Sandwich

"My wife was upset because I wouldn’t let her get her nails done. But, you see, Adam was in charge. The man has the rule over his wife. If a man wakes up at 3am hungry for a fried egg sandwich, then she has to get up and make it for him…”

I was not too sympathetic with what I was hearing from the man behind the pulpit. But as the speaker shared his views on what he believed constituted a biblical marriage relationship, my heart did go out to his wife. He unapologetically ruled supreme in their home, deciding the smallest details of their daily lives, even to the point as to whether or not his wife could have her nails done on a given day.

There was no question about her submission. And because she submitted meekly to his bullying, he was pleased to present his wife as a prime example of a Biblical woman. Even so, I was convinced that describing her as, “scared to death of him,” would have come closer to the truth.

When she was awakened from a peaceful slumber in the middle of the night and forced out of bed to cook her husband that egg sandwich, I wondered if she got up willingly, or did she feel like the live-in body servant he obviously believed she was? Did she joyfully and lovingly make that sandwich and present it to him while enjoying a few companionable moments with her spouse, or did she quietly, and, to all outward appearances, serenely set it on the table thinking, ‘There, I hope you choke on it!’

When he received that sandwich, did he eat it with relish and the satisfaction of believing that all was as it should be in his world? Would it have bothered him to know that his wife did not feel the same way as he did? And if she felt resentful and used at having her rest disturbed for no other reason than to satisfy his craving for a 3am snack, would it have been Christ-like for him to have blithely enjoyed that snack without giving a second thought to her feelings?

While recognizing and appreciating God-given differences between the sexes, this book will explore the Biblical appropriateness of assigning rigid gender roles to men and women within the home, church, and society.

This post is an excerpt from the book, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery, & the Evangelical Caste System, by  Jocelyn Andersen (release date to be announced). The book contains hundreds of references and helpful footnotes. Visit the following link if you would like to receive a release announcement by email:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Saddleback Church, Abuse and Divorce

In a recent audio teaching posted to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church website, Tom Holladay, one of their teaching pastors, stressed that the ministry at Saddleback does recommend separation in abuse cases but never divorce. He was emphatic that the Bible does not permit divorce in cases of domestic abuse.
   I disagree with that opinion. The Bible Does Permit Divorce In Cases of Domestic Abuse, and I refer my readers to Barbara Roberts excellent book, Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adultery, and Desertion. Roberts presents a strong, articulate, and most of all biblical argument that God does indeed permit divorce in cases of domestic abuse.
   Saddleback Church is dishing up typical evangelical fare on the subject of domestic abuse and domestic violence. In and of itself that is not surprising. But has it occurred to anyone to ask why a pastor who is on the extremely liberal end of the Southern Baptist spectrum, to the point of being denounced as heretical by many evangelicals, tows the traditional line, to the hilt, when it comes to domestic abuse and divorce?
   Could the reason be that Saddleback Church also tows the traditional line in regards to the doctrine of male authority and female submission? Male authority which can still be maintained in a controlled separation but is seriously threatened when a woman is given leeway of any kind, for whatever reason, in ceasing to submit to an abusive husband by divorcing him? Is it any wonder then, that Holladay also inserted submission theology into his teaching on the subject of abuse by subtly reminding women of their duty to maintain a submissive attitude towards their husbands, although he tempers the inclusion by acceding that tolerating abuse is not a proper example of displaying an attitude of submission.
   Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author and council member of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW), does the same in her book, Lies Women Believe. Her advice to women in abusive marriages is to leave if they have to, but never, under any circumstances, consider divorce. If a separation must take place, counsels DeMoss, then during the separation, an abused wife is to maintain an attitude of reverence towards her abusive husband’s God-given position of authority over her—which, according to DeMoss, is not abrogated by the abuse.
   Thankfully, Holladay did not go as far as Bruce Ware did in his presentation to Denton Bible Church, last year, by suggesting that women often bring abuse upon themselves by not submitting to their husbands.
   No matter who is discussing abuse, either victims or church leadership, it seems the subject of submission always manages to slip into the conversation. We just cannot seem to discuss the one without discussing the other. Many victims know that abuse is the extreme end result of the doctrine of female subordination, while supporters of the doctrine acknowledge the fact that it must be carefully controlled or disaster can and often does come of it.
   In the audio entitled, "What do I do if I am miserable in my marriage?" Holladay also gives a contradictory message to wives experiencing domestic abuse. While on the one hand, he claims to believe that women are not required to submit to abuse, on the other he defines abuse as being beaten regularly (He stated that he does not consider a husband shoving his wife once as a good reason to separate). So by his own definition, he does expect wives to submit to verbal, emotional, economic, and even a certain amount of physical violence. I would ask Mr. Holladay how many beatings would have to take place in order to qualify as regularly?
   Beaten regularly? What a horror of a life! Thank God that the Bible, along with the judicial powers that be, and the laws of the land, are not in agreement with the callous opinions of Tom Holladay and Saddleback church. God gives his blue print for deliverance from the evil man in Proverbs chapter two (see chapter five of Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence, for a detailed study of that blueprint). There is no loophole in that chapter excepting abusive husbands or restricting abused wives from that deliverance. And I would call Holladay’s attention to the fact that a woman may not survive even the first beating. If she does survive it, what about the second? Which regular beating would he consider to be the most life-threatening, thereby recommending a separation at that point?
   Tom Holladay is wrong. Shoving a wife is abuse and should not be tolerated. Beating a wife once, is one beating too many and should not be tolerated.
   Saddleback Church recommends couple’s counseling to couples experiencing domestic violence. Couple’s counseling will not prevent further abuse and can prove dangerous for the victim. Couple’s counseling may indeed be helpful in marital situations other than abuse, but in the case of domestic abuse or violence, arrest and prosecution along with counseling for the abuser, geared specifically towards the abuse, has proven to be the most effective tool in deterring future violence—with the counseling part being the least effective, as studies in Florida have shown.
   Holladay made no mention of legal recourse against the criminal behavior of the husband who regularly beats his wife, only the need for “healing.” Well, healing is not going to come without acknowledgment of the sinful, abusive behavior and genuine, heartfelt, repentance. Punitive consequences, like jail, are scriptural. This is criminal behavior we are talking about, not simply bad manners. In my own case, it was my pastor—not me—who called the police and had my violent husband, an associate pastor of our church, arrested.
   Women can and do die from domestic violence. With three women dying every single day, over 1000 women dying each year, from the devastating effects of domestic violence, why are our pastors and religious leaders soft soaping this critical issue? Could it be for the same reason they always have, that if they step up to the plate and truly protect women from domestic abuse and violence they know they would be putting traditional "male authority” at risk?
   Besides knowing the horrors of being on the receiving end of domestic abuse and violence first hand, I am in contact with far too many women who are suffering from long term, debilitating effects from assaults they received from their abusive husbands to take this issue with anything less than deadly seriousness.
   And the issue of “male authority” is at the very heart of it.

Woman this is WAR!, examines Bible commentary and translation practices which have historically been androcentric (male centered) and even misogynistic (anti-woman). These have adversely effected understanding of the scriptures, relations between women and men, the happiness of men and women, and, in general, has hindered the work of the gospel, by forbidding women to preach, pastor, or serve as elders or deacons. 

The book chronicles the early history of the women's rights movements, as well as the role of church leadership in aggressively suppressing both women's rights and the historical record of Christian initiatives within the movements. Through the complementarian movement, many of the same arguments used to support the institution of slavery, are still used today in suppressing the rights of Christian women. This book documents identical arguments used by Christian leaders against both movements and is an unparalleled resource for all who desire an in-depth study of gender equality from a Christian perspective. The history of women’s rights is traced back [much further than usual] to the very first feminists…who were Christians—godly women, who brought the issue of women's rights to the forefront as they struggled to alleviate the suffering of others, and found they were hindered in doing so for no other reason than the fact of their sex. This work, provides valuable historical insight into Christian initiatives in the movements for women’s rights, that are rarely included in Christian literature.