• A Response to the Complementarian ‘The Beauty of Womanhood Essay’ by Abagail Dodds

This essay by Mrs. Dodds is available from the John Piper “Desiring God” site, as well as an excerpt from Mrs. Dodd’s own blog:

The Beauty of Womanhood Her Uniqueness Makes Her Essential – Desiring God

The Prism of Womanhood – Hope and Stay (Dodds’ blog)

Because many Christian gender complementarians harbor false ideas about women who reject complementarianism, and adhere to false notions of what gender egalitarianism is, I wanted to clear up a few things about myself from the start.

You can see the longer version of my beliefs on my blog’s About Page. This is a shortened list:

  • I have always been conservative, both on social and political issues.
  • I do not hate motherhood, men, or marriage.
  • I used to be a Christian gender complementarian.
    … I understand complementarianism. I did not reject complementarianism because of liberalism, secular feminism, hatred of the Bible, or due to ignorance of what complementarianism is.
  • I am not a Christian-hating, abortion- supporting, hairy, bra-burning feminist, liberal, or Democrat (nor am I an atheist).
    In other words, I am not the stereotype a lot of Christian gender complementarians make women like me (ones who disagree with complementarianism) out to be.

I find most of Dodds’ piece to be disingenuous. She applies the word “complementarian” to some terms or concepts that are actually egalitarian in nature. On some points (not all), she is trying to sell a watered-down version of gender egalitarianism under the label “complementarian,” which is not honest nor accurate.

Maybe Dodds is not even aware that she is doing this: I find that a lot of complementarians, in their blog posts and discussions in comment boxes on blogs and forums, like and agree with egalitarianism, they apply egalitarian practices to their own lives or marriages (if married) in many aspects, but then they slap the label “complementarian” on these egalitarian beliefs.

Another inaccurate or deceptive tactic Dodds uses is to sprinkle the word “single” (as in unmarried) through-out her essay, while all the time, for the vast majority of the essay, defining her version of “biblical womanhood” or “femininity” to only be able to be practiced within the contexts of ‘stay at home motherhood.’

In other words, Dodds’ understanding of God- approved femaleness can really only be fully realized within the confines of married motherhood, yet she continually tosses out the word “single” in her essay, as if to say her views about femaleness are applicable to single adult women as well as to married women or to mothers. Dodds’ treatment or negligence of adult singles is a topic I will  return to later in this post.

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• Even Warm and Fuzzy, True, Correctly-Implemented Gender Complementarianism is Harmful to Women, and It’s Still Sexism – Yes All Comps (Refuting “Not All Comps”)

In earlier posts, I explained how I used to be a comp (gender complementarian) as a child and in my 20s but realized once for all by my mid-30s that complementarianism is false, so I rejected it.

One argument Christian gender complementarians frequently bring up any time a person criticizes complementarianism and its negative consequences on them, or someone they know, or how complementarianism harms all women, is to maintain that any harm was not caused by a true complementarian but by someone who was a fraud – someone who was not a genuine complementarian.

Or, the complementarian may argue that the complementarianism in question that harmed the person was an aberration of complementarianism, or of complementarianism incorrectly implemented.

This “Not All Comps” defense by complementarians has become extremely old hat, and I get tired of seeing it come up around the internet.

The reality is that true complementarianism practiced with the best intentions, at its pure base, is still sexism.

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• Gender Complementarianism: Marriage, Singleness, Purpose, Identity, Domestic Abuse

ALL THE SINGLE LADIES

Despite the fact that some Christian gender complementarians have claimed they do not believe God designed all women to only be SAHMs (stay at home mothers), and despite the fact that they deny that they believe that God expects all women to partake of a stereotypical, 1950s American nuclear family position – I would say again, as I have in another blog post, that the paltry amount of time, resources, respect and attention complementarians spend on never-married, childless, chlidfree, divorced or widowed women betrays this declaration.

For every article or respectful commentary about single, childless women you may be able to point me to written by a gender complementarian, I am sure I could easily point you to three, five, ten or more by complementarians about wives or mothers.

Complementarians are abnormally, almost exclusively, interested in instructing women how to be a wife or how to be a mother. They have very little to say about women who are childless, childfree, or who may never marry, or who don’t want to marry, or whose husband has died or divorced them.

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• Christian Gender Complementarianism is Christian-Endorsed Codependency for Women (And That’s Not A Good Thing)

I am a former gender complementarian. I described more of my journey out of complementarianism in other posts on this blog.

This is the third post on this blog in my series about Christian gender complementarianism and codependency. The last post explained, in a basic overview, what codependency is and how some Christians misunderstand it, or who actually believe that Christians should be kept in bondage to codependency, because these believers unfortunately think that codependency behavior is “biblical.”

In this post, I want to spell out a little more clearly how gender complementarianism is largely nothing but codependency for women with Bible verses sprinkled on top of it to make it appear as though being codependent is God’s design for women.

TL;DR

There is a table towards the bottom of this post with a side-by-side comparison of some of the major similarities between complementarianism and codependency, if you are in a hurry and don’t want to read this entire post.

REGARDING SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CHRISTIAN GENDER COMPLEMENTARIANISM AND CODEPENDENCY

Under Christian gender complementarian teachings, which I heard or saw role modeled by my parents (my mother especially), I also heard or saw codependent behavior for women advocated in Christian sermons, books, television shows, and printed magazine articles, and now, years later, I see it in a lot of Christian blogs.

As I noted earlier, the Bible shows that God condemns or frowns upon codependent behavior in followers of his, yet gender complementarianism (and its adherents) encourage women to practice these very behaviors that God dislikes.

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• Basic Overview of Codependency – And How Some Christians Misunderstand or Misrepresent Codependency

Christian gender complementarianism shares several of the same characteristics of codependency, so I wanted to write a post giving a basic overview of what codependency is.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression in adolescence by a psychiatrist. I had to see other psychiatrists and the occasional psychologist from the time I was a child and into my young adulthood for depression. I also had (and still have) anxiety and anxiety attacks.

In the years after my mother died – when the major portion of the grief had lifted – I began suspecting that something more than clinical depression had to be at the root of my issues, and it probably had something to do with how my parents raised me.

I got on the internet and started searching various terms and phrases, such as “too nice” and “are Christians supposed to be doormats.”

Through that searching, I initially found the book “No More Christian Nice Girl,” written by Christian authors Dr. Jennifer Degler and Paul Coughlin discussed on a few sites.

Free sample chapters of that book can be read here (all on Crosswalk’s site, Paul Coughlin’s blog):

Additional internet searching brought up the phrase “people pleasing,” and eventually “boundaries.”

After even more extensive internet sleuthing, I found the term “codependency.” The word and concept of codependency described in full all the other terms and behaviors I had been reading about.

I than began reading up on these subjects.

As I was reading the characteristics and descriptions of codependency, I was astounded at how similar they were to Christian gender complementarianism, especially as it is tailored to “biblical womanhood” (or, to put it another way, the teachings gender complementarians insist are God’s design, intent, or role for women).

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• Doctrines, Theological Views, and Biblical Hermeneutics Have Real-Life Consequences – Personal Experience Vs. Sola Scriptura

I intend on following this post up with one to two more, (time permitting), explaining how, even when practiced correctly and “biblically,” Christian gender complementarianism is damaging to men and women. (Edit: see the bottom of this post for other posts on this blog I have since published about complementarianism vs codependency.)

Before I could tackle that subject, I felt it necessary to write what amounts to a prequel or two.

Hopefully, my prequels won’t be as bad as George Lucas’ The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, or Revenge of the Sith. But you’re not having to pay several bucks to read this. It’s free. So you can look at it like that.

Even in my current waffling state on the faith, where I am in-between being a Christian and being agnostic (or maybe a deist), and have been that way the last two or more years, my sympathies on these issues (e.g., hermeneutics) are usually with the conservatives.

I am right- of- center on most political and social topics as well. I have never in my entire life been left wing.

Having said that, I do think that believers who are more liberal, or left of center, sometimes have valid points or criticisms regarding some conservative beliefs or conservative understandings of Scripture.

Where I admitted I am not currently a fully sold out, on-fire Christian is the point where many of your avid, conservative Christians will tune out anything I have to say from that point forward. They erroneously believe that only currently devout, completely, on- board Christians are qualified to understand or critique Christianity or various Christian beliefs.

The sad thing about this is not only does that tendency show narrow-mindedness, but you may be in danger of losing even more devout Christians to the ranks of quasi- agnostics to all-out atheists if you don’t listen to what I’m saying in posts like this one – because I am explaining some of the very things that caused me to doubt the faith.

(More and more Women Are Leaving the Church, by the way.)

I used to be a gender complementarian myself and was brought up by Christian parents who believed in traditional gender roles. I realized due to the Bible itself that gender complementarianism is false and therefore abandoned gender complementarianism sometime by my mid-30s.

IT’S NOT JUST ABSTRACT: IDEAS, DOCTRINES, AND THEOLOGY  HAVE REAL LIFE CONSEQUENCES

A person’s interpretation of the Bible and choice of adherence to particular doctrines can have concrete fall out in one’s life – and in the lives of others, when or if one decides to promote one’s doctrinal beliefs to other Christians on television shows, at a church, on radio programs, podcasts, blogs, books, or other mediums.

Christians who are overly fond of sola scriptura – and hey, I do respect sola scriptura (but within limits; I refer you to this bible.org page as well as this Janet Mefferd podcast for views on that topic that mirror my own) – tend to go to absurd lengths in trying to diminish the truth that doctrine can negatively impact people’s lives.

The physical and emotional well-being of people take second place, among some Christians, to upholding sola scriptura, doctrine, defense of conservative biblical hermeneutics, and belief in biblical inerrancy at all cost.

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• Ken Ham Unequivocally States on TV Program that a Belief in YEC is NOT Necessary to Be a Christian

On an episode of the Christian program It is Written,  broadcast on August 31, 2014 on American TBN network,  YEC (Young Earth Creationist) Ken Ham was asked by the host in an interview if belief in YEC is necessary to be a Christian, and he said NO.

Ham clearly stated that belief in YEC is NOT necessary to be Christian, to be saved. He said he knows many Christians believe in things such as theistic evolution, and he believes that they are saved.

Ham said his concern with the current generation of Christians rejecting YEC views is that it may cause future generations to doubt the Bible.

From the It is Written site (link to home page),

Creation or Evolution?
Many people today believe that overwhelming evidence supports the theory of evolution. They accept that their ancestors looked like apes. Can Bible believers confidently believe in the Creation story? Join John Bradshaw as he visits with Ken Ham, president of the Creation Museum.

You might be able to watch the Ken Ham interview at the link below (I saw the interview on television; it was televised Aug 31, 2014. I have not had time to watch this particular online video but assume it is the same interview that was aired on the show, but I may be incorrect):

Link, Creation video / Ken Ham Interview

Creation or Evolution? / 2014-08-31 | PRODUCTION #: 001327

Many people today believe that overwhelming evidence supports the theory of evolution. They accept that their ancestors looked like apes. Can Bible believers confidently believe in the Creation story? Join John Bradshaw as he visits with Ken Ham, president of the Creation Museum.

“It Is Written” television program has a You Tube account (link, It is Written on You Tube). As of today, I do not see a copy of the Aug. 31, 2014 Ken Ham episode on You Tube.

A PDF form of the show is available here (it is a transcript of the Ham interview):

Link, PDF transcript of Aug 31, 2014 Creation/Ham show

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