Complementarians Threatened by Movies Featuring Strong or Independent Women Characters – A Response to the Editorial by Greg Morse
A minor stir was caused online a few days ago, when someone at the pro-complementarian “Desiring God” site wrote an editorial critical of the latest MARVEL movie Captain Marvel, which pertains to a former Air Force pilot, Carol Danvers, who is also known as super hero Captain Marvel.
If I understand my MARVEL nerd culture correctly, Captain Marvel is supposed to be the strongest or most powerful character in the MARVEL comics universe.
(By the way, I once read on the Wikipedia page for Wonder Woman that Wonder Woman is physically stronger than Superman.)
The guys at “Almost Heretical” tweeted this at the Desiring God tweet:
If you want to get free of all this crap, we did a series walking through every verse Piper used to defend his view of women. Might change your life…
[Podcast program] 30: Jesus ended hierarchy
Here is the Desiring God page in dispute (it was written by the same doofus who incorrectly declared that being introverted is sinful):
Behold Your Queen The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel – by Greg Morse
Here is what Morse opines in his article at the Desiring God site:
So, did the movie [Captain Marvel] live up to the hype? Did it come close to being “the biggest feminist movie ever,” the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of the movement? Squint as I might, I can’t imagine how it did. The film was not the worst movie I’ve seen, but it stood galaxies away from the best. Maybe suitable for Redbox.
DC studios gave the world “Wonder Woman” starring Gal Gadot in the title role about two years ago, and it was a smash at the box office.
Captain Marvel is now also a smash hit, according to news outlets.
Here are a few headlines about that:
I’ve not yet seen the Captain Marvel movie and don’t know if I will go to the theater to see it or not.
Many movie reviewers have said it is not bad, but not great, either – it is middling, seems to be the movie critic consensus. I’m not interested in reviewing how good, bad, or middling the movie was. That is not the purpose of my post here.
Before the movie even rolled out, a bunch of angry neck beards and incels (i.e., sexist men) who harbor scathing hatred of comic book based or sci fi movies featuring strong lead women characters, ran over to Rotten Tomatoes to start down voting the movie immediately.
As a former complementarian, allow me to point out that I find some of these Hollywood movies about women to be more inspirational than I do complementarian interpretations of the Bible, interpretations which continue to brainwash women and girls into thinking they are, especially as compared to men, irrational, too emotional, physically and mentally weak, and intended only to serve as a “side kick” to help a man meet his goals in life.
Complementarians would further have you believe that the “Bible clearly teaches” and that “God designed” women to be hysterical, inept, weaklings who are not worthy of having or going after their own dreams in life.
The Bible says
- both men and women were created in God’s image,
- that God gave both the man and woman dominion of the earth, and that
- Eve (the first woman) was made from the rib of Adam (the first man).
And why was Eve created? Because, the Bible says, Adam was not finding companionship among all the wildlife: he needed someone or something of his own kind.
So right there, in the start of Genesis, we can see that even the Bible is communicating that men and women are more alike than they are different, which runs counter to Morse’s comments in the putrid essay at Desiring God that….
I do not blame Marvel for inserting the trending feminist agenda into its universe. Where else can this lucrative ideology — which contrasts so unapologetically with reality — go to be sustained, if not to an alternative universe? Verse after verse, story after story, fact after fact, study after study, example after example dispels the myth of sameness between the sexes. The alternative universe where an accident infuses the heroine with superhuman powers, however, seems to stand as a reasonable apologetic for the feminist agenda.
If the sexes were not essentially the same or made of the same stuff or not of the same kind, a lion, hippo, or parrot would have met Adam’s companionship needs in the Garden, but alas, no. Hence, Eve.
As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women.
That sure is a lot of Benevolent Sexism crammed into one small paragraph.
For decades, Disney gave us movies filled with the secular gendered stereotypes of woman awaiting her prince to come.
That sort of depiction of women had become so cliched that Disney started to reverse the trend, even in their animated fare, such as the movie “Frozen,” where, instead of relying on marriage, two sisters found strength and companionship with one another.
(Reminder: Christians treat marriage like an idol and tend to either ignore or marginalize adult singles, depending on the particular church. Jesus of Narareth instructed Christians not to love their nuclear families or spouses more than they do him, but to this day, that is precisely what they do – so people who are single and childless have no community among Christians.)
To author Morse, I would instruct you to stop romanticizing a sexist past, where all women are always helpless and in need of a human male savior. (The only savior is Jesus of Narareth, not a preacher or husband.)
Women are not perpetual toddlers, so stop expecting them to behave as such.
Complementarianism, by the way does, not protect or cherish women.
A lot of men who profess to be complementarian have affairs on, or else physically or emotionally abuse, their wives.
Churches comprised of complementarians are notorious for mishandling domestic abuse cases.
Instead of protecting women in abusive marriages, complementarians wrongly tell them to enable the abuse to continue by instructing these wives to keep on deferring to, submitting to, and praying for their abusive spouse – none of which will halt the abuse.
Greg Morse further wrote (link to page),
The great drumroll of the previous Avenger movies led to this: a woman protecting men and saving the world. The mightiest of all the Avengers — indeed, after whom they are named — is the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.
The Bible uses the word “ezer” to refer to woman – a term which does not suggest weaker than, or forever reliant on the man, but to be his equal counterpart.
That is, if God created the first man to be Batman, then God intended for the first woman to be Black Widow (who is a woman spy character in the MARVEL comics). Both Batman and Black Widow are humans – unlike other comics characters, they are not aliens or demigods who can fly, have super strength, x-ray vision, or other super powers.
But both are good fighters. Bat Man and Black Widow can fight at each other’s sides.
Of the word “ezer” found in the Bible, which was used to describe woman:
According to R. David Freedman, the Hebrew word used to describe woman’s help (ezer) arises from two Hebrew roots that mean “to rescue, to save,” and “to be strong” (Archaeology Review (9 : 56–58).
Ezer is found twenty-one times in the Old Testament.
Of these references, fourteen are used for God and four for military rescue.
Psalm 121:1–2 is an example of ezer used for God’s rescue of Israel: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
The quality of Eve’s help is never that of an inferior or subordinate. Eve by definition was created to lend a vital form of power. When you remember “woman’s creational DNA” as ezer—as strong help, it explains two perplexing issues.
First, it shows how women, as a whole, never perform according to the cultural devaluation made of them.
Throughout history and within Scripture, we observe women’s successful leadership, which, I tell my students, is a fact not readily incorporated into curricula used in churches, colleges, or seminaries.
Second, if ezer is woman’s “creational DNA,” this also explains why women are so devastated and demoralized when churches fail to recognize their God-intended purposes. Treating females as inferior and subordinate violates an essential component of their calling as ezer. And, it also explains why the more we recognize women as powerful help, the more they in turn extend strong help to others.
Regarding this by Morse (link to page):
Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men. Cinderella trades her glass slipper for combat boots; Belle, her books for a bazooka. Does the insanity bother us anymore?
As I explain elsewhere on my blog, I was a tom boy when I was a little girl, even though I grew up in a family that strongly promoted traditional gender roles, and I was repeatedly dragged to complementarian-propagandizing Southern Baptist churches.
Despite growing up in such a suffocatingly sexist environment, I had no interest in doing things like playing with Barbie dolls, and I did not and could not relate to the weakling, girly Disney Princesses that Morse is reminiscing about.
Instead, as a little girl, I enjoyed the weekly TV show “Planet of the Apes,” I loved watching Adam West as Batman in reruns (I wanted to be Batman and drive the cool Batmobile), and when I saw ‘Star Wars’ in movie theaters in the mid-1970s, as much as I liked Princess Leia (who was not a passive doormat), I wanted to be Han Solo.
I wanted to fly around in a spaceship with a Wookie co-pilot having cool adventures.
To Morse: you need to accept the fact that not all girls and women are alike.
We girls and women don’t all fit into your complementarian box.
You tell us we should all be perpetual Damsels in Distress and merely sit about looking pretty and wearing glass slippers. I was never interested in being that or doing that, and the Bible does not teach that.
Quite bizarrely, under a section entitled, “She Will Not Be Appeased,” Morse goes into a seemingly unrelated diatribe about women serving in the military, in real life.
I have no idea what this section of his post has to do with the previous discussion in his post, up to now, of Captain Marvel, the alien-empowered superhero.
The Captain Marvel character, as Carol Danvers, was a pilot in the military, but that didn’t seem to concern Morse too much, as I don’t see where he harped on that.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw headlines go through my social media saying that the United States may start requiring women to register for the draft, as men have had to do.
But we still have a volunteer military, so I don’t know why so many get upset about a draft.
Additionally, from what I can recall, even though for years the American military did not permit women to serve in combat roles, when women did serve overseas, they would get fired at by enemy combatants anyway.
So it was all a moot point. Women who were not in officially recognized combat positions were still seeing combat regardless.
As one woman military personnel explained in one interview I read a few years back, advancing through the upper ranks or receiving other benefits and career perks only come with having served in recognized combat roles, which is why some women were advocating for being allowed in combat positions.
Otherwise, only male members have a chance at advancing or receiving certain perks in the military- which isn’t fair to women who are serving.
Unquestionably, men ought support women’s desires to be affirmed, respected, and honored
Much of Morse’s writing under this section is way too flowery in prose and far too maudlin.
At any rate, complementarianism – and complementarian men – never did anything to support me, affirm me, respect me, or honor me.
As I’ve detailed in older posts (so I shall not get into it too much here)-
Complementarianism conveyed to me, from my youth and on-wards, including but not limited to the following soul-killing messages:
- I am not to have dreams of my own (dreams and ambitions are for boys and men only),
- I am worthless,
- God loves men but not women (or loves males more than females),
- I am not a full human created in God’s image but only exist to serve a husband, should I marry (which I never did).
None of those complementarian messages inspire in me anything great or wonderful, but played a role in chipping away at what little self esteem I had.
And still, in this post by Morse on the “Desiring God” site, he’s telling me that all I should aspire to in life is to sit pretty, wear some pointy glass slippers, and wait for a man to rescue me. That is not an empowering message, or a motivational one, but a sexist, condescending one.
Morse writes (link to page),
Yet the feminist agenda does not condone this exclusion. It will not be patronized by any messages of “you can’t,” “you won’t,” or “you shouldn’t.”
Even when we say, “You can’t go into the lion’s den for us”; “You won’t risk a brutal death to protect us”; “You shouldn’t expose yourself to the bullets bearing our name” — even then, the deprivation still causes offense.
But our God, our nature, our love must firmly say, You are too precious, my mother, my daughter, my beloved. It is my glory to die that you may live.
Here is where Morse actually admits quite openly what I’ve said in a previous post or two on this blog (and on other blogs) about complementarianism:
Complementarianism is not interested in lifting women up and telling us what we CAN do, but in telling us what they think we should NOT do.
Complementarianism is an anti-motivational, anti-inspiring, depressing, kill- joy message.
Complementarianism robs women of hope.
Complementarianism does not instill in me, a woman, a sense of getting up, going out, experiencing life, living it to the full – which is why Jesus Christ came to earth, he said.
Complementarianism asks me, instead, to take a seat and let men do all the living.
Complementarianism demands that I sit passively, do nothing with my life, and just watch life go by – watch men live life.
Fighting, adventure, meaning, goals, dreams, and ambitions, are all for men, not for women, which is what complementarians teach.
Pardon me for not finding any of that alluring.
Morse wrote (link to page),
God’s story for all eternity consists of a Son who slew a Dragon to save a Bride.
Morse, are you not aware that the Bible teaches that “the Bride of Christ” is composed of both men and women believers?
The Bible also says that believers of Christ will be his army- and it does not say this army is composed of men only.
From Revelation chapter 19:
He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is The Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and pure, follow Him on white horses. And from His mouth proceeds a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and He will rule them with an iron scepter.
Yeah, there’s nothing in there about the army of Christ consisting only of men. Will you be lecturing Jesus, the conquering Messiah, that he is in error to permit women believers in his heavenly army?
Of course, we also have Jael and Deborah in the Old Testament who fought and defeated Israel’s military enemies.
Have fun with this other post on my blog, Morse:
Women are already living lives as police officers, military combatants, military pilots, civilian pilots; your complemetarian agenda has failed.
I think you and other complementarians need to accept the fact you have failed, and that women are not abiding by your sexist interpretation of the Bible anymore. Accept it and move on already.
Even sans complementarian interpretation, the Bible is set in patriarchal cultures in which it recounts horrible stories of men doing things such as allowing their own daughters to be raped by groups of men (all to defend other men from being raped or attacked), and then chopping up the body parts to later mail them off to various tribes.
There are stories in the Bible of brothers raping their own sisters, and the fathers not doing anything about it. I could go on with other examples.
Aside from Jesus of Nazareth, who pretty much treated women with respect and not like after-thoughts, dainty, weak flowers, or as sub-humans, the majority of the Bible is a very depressing book for ladies.
What does it say about Christianity or the complementarian misunderstanding of the Bible that I find Hollywood films depicting women characters such as Wonder Woman, Ripley, or Captain Marvel more encouraging and empowering than I do what they have to offer?
I was brought up in a complementarian family in a complementarian church (Southern Baptist), and it played a large role in why I did not like being female, felt ashamed of myself, which I have blogged about before here and here.
Complementarianism never empowered me or made me feel empowered.
Complementarianism, like the sexist messages in secular culture, made me feel small, and told me to feel and act small, because living large and being big was for men only, and a woman who does not live a small life intimidates men or makes them feel insecure.
I exist only, supposedly, to act as a prop for some man, is what complementarians taught me then, and as they are telling me now. I reject your messages, complementarians.
Morse, your essay was terribly patronizing to me as a woman. It’s a patronizing piece towards all women. You should be ashamed.
You want to tear women down so you can feel like a big, brave, noble knight on a fiery steed. I’d still rather be Han Solo.
I may wish to edit this post in the future to correct mistakes or add more commentary.
So Really, Complementarians Would Rather Little Girls Emulate Male Actors as Male Characters than Women Actors Who Are In Women’s Roles – Very Strange (Regarding the Captain Marvel Post by Greg Morse)
‘Submit to Your Husbands’: Women Told To Endure Domestic Violence In The Name of God (via ABC Aussie news)