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No one’s Messiah

Image

Image via PassionOfAGoddess.com

To Christian men and the churches they attend:

I am not your Christ.

Churches may try to put women on a cross, sacrificing them so that men may be pure and holy.

But I am not your savior.

Churches may expect women to keep silent, to hide their talents, their bodies, to sacrifice who they are to protect men from sin and shame.

But I am coming down off of that cross.

Churches may ask women to endure abuse for a season–like Christ endured crucifixion–so that abusive men might be saved.

But I am no one’s fucking Messiah.

I won’t take the beatings. I won’t bear the shame. If that makes me a bad Christian, fine. If that means I’m going to hell, show me the door.

I’ll let myself in.

Because I know what real hell is like. I’ve been there. Real hell is pretending to happily, silently endure physical, spiritual, verbal, and sexual abuse in hopes of drawing my “brethren” back to the light. Hell is having to bear the sins of Christian men in my body. Hell is hanging on a cross built by a church, dying to save abusive men.

I won’t go through that again.

I am not your Christ.

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Some humans are more equal than others: John Piper on spousal abuse and submission

I’m doing a series on complementarianism’s manipulative claims at promoting equality. You can read the intro here. The first entry, on Joshua Harris, can be found here.

When I first left the tiny bubble of the Independent Fundamental Baptist Church and stepped into the larger (but still restrictive) bubble of conservative evangelicalism, I learned that I was supposed to love John Piper.

However, even though I was still a (fairly rebellious) conservative at the time, John Piper’s view of women prevented me from becoming that evangelical Christian who’s always putting quotes from Desiring God as her Facebook status (instead I became that feminist that won’t shut up about bell hooks, but I digress).

I’ve never been much of a Piper fan and videos like the following are why:

For those of you unable to watch this video, I’ll share the “highlights (though I really encourage you to watch it, because I cannot describe to you Piper’s non-verbal communication, but I believe it suggests he sees this as a completely abstract subject. He chuckles at parts and that really reveals his character and attitude toward women):”

What should a wife’s submission to her husband look like if he’s an abuser?…Part of that answer’s clearly going to depend on what kind of abuse we’re dealing with here–how serious this is. Is her life in danger?

This man and his hand motions, I swear.

This man and his hand motions, I swear.

He then goes into a rather confusing explanation of his belief that a woman’s submission to her husband is not absolute because she must also submit to God. This explanation includes awkward hand-motions. If a man is “calling her to engage in abusive acts willingly” then

She’s got a crisis of submission there, of course. To whom do I submit now?

Yes, abuse is a “crisis of submission.”

Should she “go along with” her husbands abuse and submit to him? Or submit to God? Piper says she must humbly explain that she would love to submit to him, if he wasn’t requiring her to sin (apparently being abused is a sin).

If it’s not requiring her to sin, but simply hurting her, then I think she endures verbal abuse for a season, she endures perhaps being smacked one night, and then she seeks help from the church…[The church then must] step in, be her strength and say to him, “No, you can’t do this.”

Piper’s words speak for themselves. And for years, people have been outraged by them. Kind of hard to keep up the pretense of complementarianism being good for women, when one of its biggest proponents is saying women should endure abuse for a season.

I guess John Piper realized this and recently decided to “clarify” his words (and four years too late. How many women in those four stayed with abusive husbands in part because of this man’s words?).

His “clarification” reveals the pattern that I discussed in the intro to this series. Complementarians take words and ideas that are actually very clear, and insist that they don’t mean what everyone in the world naturally thinks they mean.

John Piper might have said that women should be submissive even in cases of abuse, and should endure abuse for a season. But don’t misunderstand exactly what he said! Here’s a clarification!

Frankly, I see this as insulting to his critics’ intelligence.

His “clarification” does clear one thing up though. It makes it clear that, under no circumstances is a woman allowed to stop submitting to someone.

Sure, she can’t always submit to her husband. Not just because she shouldn’t have to put up with abuse, but also because, as John Piper said in his first sermon, submitting to abuse is a sin! His clarification makes this same point:

In expecting his wife to quietly accept his threats and injuries, he is asking her to participate in his breaking of both God’s moral law and the state’s civil law.

This isn’t about her escaping from suffering. It’s about her fleeing the temptation to “sin.”

And does an abusive man lose his right to lead? Can a woman stop submitting to her husband when he starts to abuse her?

Yes and no. But mostly no.

According to Piper:

A wife’s submission to the authority of civil law, for Christ’s sake, may, therefore, overrule her submission to a husband’s demand that she endure his injuries.

So, a woman never gets to stop being submissive. But since she must also be submissive to civil authorities (and feminists have pointed out time and again that civil authorities abuse women too), sometimes that responsibility to submit can overrule her responsibility to submit to her husband.

But she’s still to remain submissive to this man that decided to “smack her around for a season.”

This legitimate recourse to civil protection may be done in a spirit that does not contradict the spirit of love and submission to her husband, for a wife may take this recourse with a heavy and humble heart that longs for her husband’s repentance and the restoration of his nurturing leadership.

As Dianna Anderson points out, this “legitimate recourse” isn’t about stopping the pain she’s suffering. It’s about helping her abuser “see the light.”

The woman doesn’t get to divorce her husband. She gets to submit to a system that has done its share of abusing women (or she can submit to the church…but same difference, right?) while she waits for her husband’s leadership to be restored.

His being an abuser does not disqualify him from leadership. His leadership is merely suspended for a time.

How many abusers flock to Christianity when they learn that they will be treated like kings? I’ve met a few in my day.

All humans are equal.

But some humans have an unconditional right to leadership. Other humans have an unconditional responsibility to submit.

Some humans are more equal than others.

Complementarian evangelical leaders like to pretend that their view of women is something other than exactly what it sounds like. They like to pretend that feminists (with our silly, womanly emotions) are just overreacting, misunderstanding, or twisting their words.

“Real” complementarians practice godly, Christ-like leadership. They don’t dominate or abuse their wives. Feminists just don’t understand what’s really good for them–they don’t understand that complementarianism isn’t about a hierarchy. It’s just about separate roles.

“Equal, but different,” as Mark Driscoll says.

Apparently, this “difference” is enough to keep women out of leadership roles in the church and the family, and often enough to keep them out of the public sphere altogether. Equal but different. Separate but equal.

Of course, it’s a woman’s “choice” to submit to her husband’s leadership. A choice that will be judged by an almighty God with a history of striking people dead and sending them to hell.

But sure, a choice.

Women “choose” (under the threat of Almighty judgment) to submit to their husbands, who lead them lovingly and gently. It’s all good.

They’re still equal.

But, you see, no matter how nicely complementarians say what they believe, a phrase from a George Orwell book always comes to mind:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are

more equal than others.”

Having “liberated” us from the way popular culture and media objectifies, degrades, and oppresses women, complementarian leaders can now objectify and oppress us in other ways with nicer words (and with support from God).

Centuries ago, Christian men such as Martin Luther preached the same beliefs of submission and headship, without the pretense of believing in equality.

The beliefs have not changed. They’re just wearing a mask.

Changing the way we talk about those beliefs does not change their implications.

I want to expose “equal, but different” for the lie that it is.

So I’m going to be doing a short series on the words of a few complementarian leaders, showing how, despite their claims of “equality,” their views degrade, oppress, control and limit women.

I want to talk about Joshua Harris, John Piper, and Mark Driscoll this week. To make this subject less painful,  the leaders will be represented by a puppy, a parakeet, and (of course) a fluffy bunny (respectively).

I may decide to continue with the series beyond that (but long time readers of this blog know how I get with series). If anyone has suggestions of other sermons/books/blog posts by complementarian leaders that reveal the inherent inequality present in complementrianism, or if anyone is interested in writing a guest post on the subject, feel free to tell me in the comments (make sure to include a corresponding adorable animal). 

Because, I believe that, once you strip away the bullshit, the motto of complementarianism could be:

All humans are equal, but some humans are more equal than others. 


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Why?

Trigger Warning for discussion of Sandy Hook Elementary shootings

Why?

I guess that’s what everyone’s wondering in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings this week. Why did this happen? Could we have prevented it? How can we stop it from happening again?

As an activist, I turn my eyes to social structures, to laws, to ideologies of domination. I think of words from Martin Luther King Jr., from so many years ago, that apply still today: “we must be concerned not merely about who murdered them, but about the system, the way of life, the philosophy which produced the murderers.”

Because we still live in a world where some people are taught that they are better than others.

We still live in a world where random, senseless acts of violence occur, and where people are all but handed the tools to commit these acts.

We still live in a world where it’s almost heroic to kill children overseas with our drone strikes in order to prove that America is the “greatest country on earth.”

Why? In the context of our culture of domination and violence, what does this single event mean? And what can we do about it? I’m not writing this to answer those questions. I’m writing this because I’m lost and I don’t know and I’m desperately asking…

Why?

As a self-identified Christian, I turn to God.

Other Christians don’t have to ask why. They don’t have to ask why because their God is a monster, and somehow they’ve made peace with that. Or at least they pretend to, leaping at the opportunity to post pictures on Facebook declaring their faith in a petty, spiteful, evil being who, all because of the separation of church and state,  would leave 20 children and 6 teachers to die.

I don't know the actually image source, so for now I'm just going to guess--"Image via An Asshole"

I don’t know the actual image source, so for now I’m just going to guess–“Image via An Asshole”

Even several Christian leaders seem to worship this God of Hate. Bryan Fischer’s answer to why is, “God would say to us, ‘Hey, I’ll be glad to protect your children, but you’ve got to invite me back into your world first. I’m not going to go where I’m not wanted. I am a gentleman.”

What gentleman has the power to save 26 people from death and just stands by and watches?

Why?

John Piper has already told us that it is right for his God of Hate to “slaughter women and children anytime he pleases.” His God doesn’t just stand back and allow evil to happen in order to get revenge over Engel v. Vitale. His God plays an active role in the killing. His God guides the hand of the shooter. His God was sending us a “warning…to see our souls as depraved.” 

And I wonder, who is going to send God a warning? How can we show this Monster of a God how depraved it’s own soul is?

Why?

Why do we see this God as good? Why do we not hold this God to nearly universal standards of decency that we Christians like to claim come from God? Why do we worship a monster like that?

I try to drown out the voices of so many prominent Christians whose God is a God of Hate that kills children to prove a shallow point. I try to believe in a God of Love despite the fact that I’m being told that the God of Love isn’t really the Christian God. That evil can be called “love” as long as God does it.

But no matter how successful I am in drowning out those voices, I can’t escape the Why.

So, I won’t try. I’m asking why.

Maybe some of my “why”s will  have answers that will let me join others and work toward change.

Maybe some of my “why”s will simply dissolve as we do this work, only to emerge when the next tragedy strikes.

I don’t know. My thoughts are scrambled and every time I try to gather them I find myself frustrated to tears. For now I’m done trying to give answers. For now I’m just asking. Sometimes it’s okay to just ask for awhile.