• Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians

Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians

Part 2: Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians: Are Women Weak, Vulnerable, Or Strong?


INDIRECT COMMUNICATION AND MANIPULATION

Quoting in part a commentator at Wartburg Watch blog, Darlene, who wrote:

…Because at the root of this system [complementarian “Spirit of Eve” teaching] is the idea that women, in their weakness, are always attempting to find a vulnerable spot in men in order to manipulate and control them. Men, therefore, must be vigilant and not let their guard down lest ‘Eve’ succeed and overcome them.

(The quote above is from the December 2017 Wartburg Watch thread, “What is the Difference Between Nouthetic and Biblical Counseling? Just the Spelling.”)

I notice that complementarianism sets up a few no-win scenarios for women, or complementarians create the very problems they complain about.

I explained in an earlier post how Christian gender complementarianism is much the same thing as codependency, just with a few Bible verses sprinkled on top to make it appear biblical.

Codependent people feel uncomfortable expressing themselves directly, or are afraid if they are too blunt with people, it may hurt people’s feelings or make them angry.

In my case, my mother brought me up to think that behaving in such a fashion – not expressing my opinions to others and communicating indirectly – was the only proper, lady like, Christ-like way of behaving.

American secular society is no better.

American girls and women are socially conditioned to be indirect, passive, and soft spoken, because if they’re not – if they do not express themselves, gently, quietly, and sugar coat everything they say – they will be branded as bossy, bitchy, or as “ball breakers” by boys and men.

Other girls and other women may feel that, or tell, assertive females they are being bitchy as well.

(Sometimes women pressure other women to conform to societal gender norms. Mary Kassian is one complementarian woman who plays this role for complementarian sites and groups – she exists in the complementarian world to pressure or market complementarianism to Christian women who may have reservations about it, or to reassure them they made the right choice if they already chose it.)

On the one hand, complementarians, their teachings about womanhood, and secular American culture, all pressure, encourage, or condition girls and women to be docile, quiet, passive – all the opposite of outspoken, assertive, openly opinionated, and direct (qualities which these same groups encourage boys and men to have).

Complementarians teach girls and women to be quiet and indirect, but, they will, under the “Spirit of Eve” type teachings that commentator Darlene was mentioning, then also FAULT and shame girls and women for being indirect (manipulative).

We have two complementarian (and secular) gender expectations going on: women are to be simultaneously indirect but not indirect.

Complementarians such as John Piper think women should be indirect when talking to men, otherwise, men’s delicate sense of masculinity or their ego will be damaged. Piper and others like him encourage women to “beat around the bush” or to “sugar coat” any and all communication.

Yet, when women carry through with this, and act in a manipulative manner to get their concerns, opinions, or needs known to men, these men (and the Pipers out there) turn around and accuse women of being manipulative, deceitful jerks. It’s a no-win situation for girls and women.

You can read more about this topic on another site:

The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles, Exhibit D: ‘Biblical’ Manipulation

Complementarians (and secular culture) really want it both ways. Women are held to two opposing standards at once.

This also applies to emotions.

YOU’RE TOO EMOTIONAL – NOT RATIONAL ENOUGH

American girls and women are permitted, or even expected by the culture, to express emotions (except for anger) openly – we ladies are allowed to cry and act “weak” in public, in front of others.

A lot of us ladies were raised being told it’s okay to be So Emotional.

(At least I got this teaching from my mother, religious teaching, and the wider culture – that it’s acceptable for me to feel or show emotions openly since I am female, but I did not get this teaching from my father.)

However, some American men, including Christian complementarian ones, criticize women on the very basis they are supposedly “emotional.”

(Pause here. If God designed women to be emotional, as some complementarians assume, who are they to then ridicule or criticize women for being emotional and not “logical” enough? Why mock or criticize something God created? It makes no sense.)

American men will say that women are not logical and rational – but are too emotional.

Society (and men) tells women it’s acceptable for women to be openly emotional, but when or if they are, society (and men) turns around and says, “women are too emotional and not rational like men, and this is wrong and bad.”

This is perceived as being inherent in the female biological sex, but I don’t think so. It’s a case of nurture vs. nature.

I don’t think women are more emotional than men, but rather,  women are told it’s more acceptable for us to break down and cry publicly but that it is not acceptable for men to do.

Stand-up comics used to make a lot of lame-o gender stereotyped jokes off this sort of thing in their comedy routines, and Christian preachers also like this sort of humor as well.

A lot of preachers love injecting their sermons with gender-based observational humor, like how all women love to shop, are terrible drivers, and so forth.

Women definitely do get penalized in culture for living out the very gender norms they’re told since childhood they should be living out.

COMPLEMENTARIANS: MEN ARE EMOTIONALLY WEAK BUT SHOULD BE LEADERS

While complementarians like to believe or teach that women are weak and too emotional, they also teach, in an indirect way, that men are emotionally weak creatures.

I say this because I often see complementarians insisting that women support the men around them. I’ve seen them apply this to all women in any and all relationships to men, not just to marital relationships.

Complementarians implore women to constantly validate and affirm men.

As but one example, Wartburg Watch bloggers quoted complementarian Mary Kassian telling Christian women the following (via a Nov 2017 post, “Can We End Violence Against Women by 2030?,” which they in turn got from the Desiring God site):

“Love your brothers. Respect them. Affirm them. Encourage them in their pursuit of godliness.”

– complementarian Mary Kassian to Christian women Re: how to treat Christian men

I’ve seen similar attitudes by other complementarians on other complementarian sites. I’ve heard it from complementarian preachers on Christian television shows on Sunday mornings.

Complementarians are always asking girls and women to support and affirm the boys and men around them.

This absolutely clashes with secular and other complementarian sexist views that women are “more emotional” than men.

If men need all this constant emotional support and validation from women, that’s a form of emotional weakness.

I don’t have a problem with men or women needing emotional support. If there’s a God, I think he designed all humans, male and female, to be this way. Everyone falls apart at times (emotionally) and needs encouragement and support from someone else.

However, according to most secular culture and complementarians, women are the emotionally weak ones, and they should therefore (among other reasons) submit to male leadership.

If men are emotionally weak and need constant affirmation from women as complementarians suggest they do, they should not be leaders, or the only ones permitted into church leader roles.

MEN ARE SEXUALLY WEAK BUT SHOULD BE LEADERS

Complementarians believe that boys and men were designed by God to be visually stimulated more so than women, that men supposedly want sex more than women do, and that men are incapable of sexual self-control. They teach and believe that men are more easily seduced than are women.

(As to men supposedly lacking self control, this is an un-biblical belief: see Galatians 5: 22 – 23)

Therefore, complementarians promote this one-sided teaching of female modesty, where they beg Christian girls and women to “dress modestly.”

(I have yet to see complementarians asking Christian boys and men to dress modestly, so as not to cause a “sister in Christ” to stumble.)

If it’s true that men and boys are so sexually weak and are not capable of controlling their sexual urges, then they should not be entrusted with leadership roles at all, or only in conjunction with women leading along side them, but this conflicts with the un-biblical belief of “Male Headship” (male-only rule) that complementarians adhere to.

WOMEN ARE NOT REWARDED LIKE MEN ARE UNDER THE CONTRADICTIONS

Even though complementarians believe or teach in a round about way that men are emotionally or sexually weaker than women, they still insist that only men be allowed to be in leadership positions.

Men are rewarded for their failings and flaws. Not so women under complementarianism.

As far as the complementarian expectations for women go, those are a little more annoying, in that, complementarians teach girls and women to be one way (such as show emotion or communicate indirectly), but when they behave in these ways, complementarians tell women, or mock them for, being illogical and manipulative.

Some complementarians may even insist that God “hard wired” or designed women and girls to be emotional (illogical) and indirect (manipulative).

As to any complementarians who argue that God created women to be passive, emotional, indirect, or to act as emotional supports for men, if these behaviors or qualities are all innate to the female sex, then why oh why are complementarians constantly badgering, imploring, and asking girls and women to do those things?

Should you really have to remind, lecture, beg, or scold girls and women to be passive, docile, supportive, openly emotional, and so on, if God supposedly designed them with those traits in the first place?

WRAPPING UP

Complementarians ask girls and women to live and act in ways that they then later turn around and then criticize them for.

I don’t consider complementarianism biblical in the first place, but if you’re going to ask women to live by this set of rules and norms (ones that you made up – they’re not biblical, you just say they are), the least you can do, complementarians, is make those rules fair and consistent, and not fault or mock women for following them.

The gender norms complementarians ask people to live by are secular, cultural ones; they are not ones dictated by God.

We have American (secular) cultural gender norms being read back into the Bible by American Christian gender complementarians and assumed to be God’s intent for the biological sexes, and then, we also have complementarians wrongly assuming that all ancient Middle Eastern (or ancient Roman or Greek) gender gender and marital cultural norms are applicable today.

Even in the course of the New Testament, where we see apostles Paul and Peter making comments about asking husbands to honor their wives as the weaker vessel and so forth and the like, it’s because in the culture in which those texts were written, men had legal and social control and power over their wives.

Therefore, the apostles were asking the men of that day and age to not abuse their secular power, to lay it aside, and give their wives equal consideration.

Complementarians, though, have to assume from these texts that God designed women every where to be weaker than men – physically and mentally weaker – though the text is addressing cultural realities of the time in which they were written.

LISTS AND RULES

I really do not see any place in the Bible where God defines manhood or masculinity one way, and womanhood or femininity one way.

Evangelicals, and other types of Christians, love rules and clearly delineated lists of things to live by. I suppose they find it too difficult or taxing to have to wake up each day and make decisions on their own.

Men and women don’t fit all these gender norms and rules that complementarians say that they should, or that God designed them to be.  Complementarians want to put all boys and men into a blue box, and all girls and women into a pink box.

I myself never fit in that pink box for girls and women.

I didn’t like dolls or wearing dresses when I was a girl, for one thing. As a kid, I preferred to wear cut-off jeans with t-shirts. I preferred to climb trees, ride bikes, and do other activities considering more “boyish.”

I’ve never felt maternal or cared if I had children or not, yet complementarians like to bray from their blogs, sermons, books, articles, and such, that God designed all women to be maternal, to be wives and mothers, to want children, and that a woman’s “highest calling” in life is to be a mother, and so on.

According to complementarians, I’m supposed to be a, or aspire or want to be, a Susie Home-Maker type who sits at home all day reading crock-pot recipe books and knitting doilies (this is the sort of content one can find for women on many a complementarian site for women). None of that has ever held interest for me.

I also have zero interest in being or acting like a docile, quiet, passive doormat, or, should I marry, engaging in a “one way submission” to a spouse, where he gets all the “final decision making ability” due to the sheer fact he was born with a penis. (A penis does not trump ovaries and a vagina.)

I do not fit into the Pink Box complementarians have constructed for me to fit in, and I have no interest in fitting in to it. They can keep their box (or better yet, burn it).

Complementarians make no room or exceptions for men and for women who don’t fit up to what they define as “biblical manhood and womanhood.”

If complementarians could drop their insistence that all girls and women must be, do, act, and think like X and just allow them to be the individual God created them to be – whether that fits X or not – then, we’d be getting biblical.

I feel sorry for anyone still trying to live by a complementarian philosophy or outlook.

If you do live out the complementarian world view, you’re going to be held to a standard or set of rules that if you follow, you’ll be criticized or ridiculed for by the very people who told you to do so in the first place.


More:

Part 2: Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians: Are Women Weak, Vulnerable, Or Strong?

The Semantic Games of Gender Complementarians

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

Twitter Trend: Historic Bitches Badder Than Taylor Swift – Complementarians Really Seem To Hate These Sorts of Lists

The Shifting Goal Posts of Complementarianism Show How Bankrupt It Is

Examples of Girls and Women Being Assertive at Work, in Life, Women as Rescuers and Heroines

Gender Complementarianism Does Not Adequately Address, or Address At All, Incompetent, Loser, Or Incapacitated Men

Gender Complementarian Trinitarian Analogies Do Not Work

Yes, Complementarianism Infantilizes Women – and the Complementarian Tie-Breaking Vote Doctrine

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

5 thoughts on “• Contradictory Expectations For Both Sexes by Christian Gender Complementarians

  1. I preferred dolls to trucks. Things went awry in junior high when I found I preferred “boys’ fiction” like Lord of the Rings to prairie romances. The parochial school taught us to spend hours on clothes, hair, and makeup. Being vain, cowardly, and foolish were vices in boys, but for us they were our crown jewels.

    For boys the virtues included arrogance, selfish ambition, and lack of compassion.

    Last time I checked, all 9 of the Fruit of the Spirit applied to both genders in the Body of Christ. And sin is sin. Even if guys ARE hornier, they need to override these sinful impulses. Weaknesses vary, but God gives all His children the power to flee or conquer the sins that beset us.

  2. I have anxiety over this complementarianism movement because I experienced spiritual abuse by my “covering/headship/prophet/bishop” at the time by him forcing me into this “pink box”. I was labeled rebellious, unsubmissive and too manly because I loved more masculine (at least what the church labels) activities such as hiking, atv riding and athletic training for strength & cardio. I am educated, can take care of myself independently and have never had children because I have never had a desire for motherhood. I serve my country and community by saving lives in search & rescue and security.
    I want to go back to church because there is freedom and peace in a Christ but because of the complementarianism movement being hugely mainstream now, I have chest pain and anxiety over how I will be treated again and forced/manipulated to fit into this box.
    I don’t know if this letter will even reach anybody but I hurt so badly through the pain inflicted on me by a former “spiritual covering” and what I presently hear from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth & Family Life Radio. I am anxious about how I will be treated, at a new church, once I am literally sat down (as I was invited to a dinner) and corrected on how I don’t fit into biblical womanhood and how I need to submit to show obedience. There is much more to this story such as how it was highly recommend that I write a letter of apology to this “covering” about how I slapped God and him both in the face. The story continues…
    The pain and anxiety are still there because that’s all I hear on Christian radio is about John Piper and Wolgemuth’s teachings which are how I was terrorized in the past.
    I want to go back to church but am extremely anxious because of these painful teachings. Please help me, I hurt so badly.

    • Gwen,
      I am so sorry for your experiences with negative, abusive church members.

      I’ve read other people who say they were abused by former churches or Christians, so they experience anxiety when going into a church, so some of them stay out of churches for years.

      I have various reasons as to why I myself don’t attend church regularly, one of which is that I’m a never-married, childless woman, and most churches (who are caught up in complementarianism) only recognize and minister to married women and/or to women who have children.

      I never totally fit into the Christian Gender Complementarian boxes. I tried to fit. But I just did not fit, partly because I was a tom boy and not into stereotypical girly-girl activities that complementarians teach God designed girls and women to be interested in or good at.

      I sometimes don’t check this blog for a few days at a time.

      If you need someone to talk to, you may have luck over at TWW (The Wartburg Watch Blog)

      TWW is a blog for spiritual abuse survivors and others.

      The majority of participants at that blog are very supportive and empathetic.

      The blog owner of TWW, Dee, does not agree with gender complementarianism, and most of her participants don’t agree with it, either, so you won’t have to be concerned about anyone trying to sell you on complementarianism or shaming you for not agreeing with it.

      There are some Christian gender egalitarian sites that write articles regularly challenging complementarianism, and some of them permit comments, such as (most of these sites also have Twitter accounts):

      Junia Project

      Jory Micah’s Blog

      Christians For Biblical Equality

      Ashley Easter’s Site

      You may find therapy and / or anti-anxiety medications helpful. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried seeing a therapist before or not.

      I still have anxiety myself – though not all of it is directly caused by complementarianism – and these books were helpful to me in cutting down anxiety and dealing with other issues:

      No More Christian Nice Girl by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler

      No More Christian Nice Girl – free preview of one book chapter

      Podcast: Interview with Deglar on the Book No More Christian Nice Girl

      Podcast: Almost Heretical: Questioning / Refuting Gender Complementarianism

      The Disease to Please by Harriet Braiker

      I wish you well, Gwen.

      • Thank you so much for listening and writing back. I will look at the Wartburg Watch Blog and hopefully find support there. I too am a tom-boy and childless (I’m a helicopter mechanic, flight mech, I hunt, & run competitively in races)…all things the complementarianism teaches I shouldn’t do or naturally like. They teach I should only aspire to be a wife & mother, period. But we are all different and all enjoy varieties of interesting activities and some are not drawn to be a wife & mother. I don’t know why complementarianism has to link these harmless interests to following the Bible and maybe even salvation. It hurts so badly that I am labeled less Godly because of hobbies and remaining child free (I am married but with zero interest in having kids) and hopefully I will meet women like me on the site you recommended.
        I appreciate you sharing some of your story with me, as now I know that I’m not the only woman out there who is also a tom-boy and childless and who understands how the church only preaches to married women & mothers. It makes me feel unwelcomed and uncomfortable at church and listening to FLR because I feel sub-human through hearing how men get to be strong leaders, are driven, have fortitude, persevere…all masculine traits that women shouldn’t or couldn’t naturally possess and if they do, their rebellious or troublemakers.
        Thank you again, for listening and posting helpful resources.

  3. To clarify, the dinner I mentioned being invited to was by the “spiritual covering” and his family. This happened several years ago and am concerned it will happen again, presently, if I go back to a church. The “covering/prophet” proceeded to tell me and debated with me on how I don’t fit in with the typical womanhood. I still hurt because complementarianism is so big now that every time I hear it taught, it rips open wounds and I feel forced into a box that isn’t truly who I am but they subtly teach that if we love Christ that we must fit into the box. I’m so hurt and anxious.

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