Category Archives: Uncategorized

On New Beginnings and Old Battles

IMG_3252Long time, no blog!  The Perrys have made it through another busy summer in touristy coastal Maine, and a month ago today, we pulled out of our driveway and headed south to central Virginia where my husband has taken a pastor position at New Beginnings Ministry. Big changes!  Although saying goodbye to our friends and church in Maine broke my heart, I am excited for the adventure of a new hometown, new friends, a year of homeschooling, new ministry opportunities, and getting back to Kingdom work here on the blog!

After so many busy months, my tank is on empty.  I am refueling with some good, nourishing books.  First, I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, Of Mess and Moxie, whose essays go from deep and convicting to belly-laugh-inducing.  Such a worthwhile buy, and I would highly recommend her podcast, if you’re into those. Second, I was thrilled to get my copy of Brené Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness, a week after arriving in our new home. The timing couldn’t have been better, as I feel a bit like I’m living in the wilderness in this in-between phase of saying goodbye and not really feeling at home here yet, and also feeling the worry of being my authentic self as a pastor’s wife.  I was a pastor’s kid growing up, so the church has always been my second family, a deep love of mine, and also the source of much of my deepest pain.  I sat reading Braving the Wilderness in the bleachers while watching my sons’ football games that Saturday, shamelessly public-crying at multiple points throughout the book, as Dr. Brown demonstrates her findings on true belonging through touching and often heart-wrenching stories.

A section that has been on my mind over the past couple weeks, with the controversy over whether or not NFL players should kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and a criminal justice system that is rigged against people of color, was when Dr. Brown discussed the dehumanization process that is necessary for oppressive systems to subjugate others.  She describes the process as beginning with our language and escalating from there, and warns us to be vigilant against using demeaning, derogatory language towards others.  Quoting from the book:

An important example is the debate around Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, and All Lives Matter.  Can you believe that black lives matter and also care deeply about the well-being of police officers?  Of course.  Can you care about the well-being of police officers and at the same time be concerned about abuses of power and systemic racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system?  Yes.  I have relatives who are police officers—I can’t tell you how deeply I care about their safety and well-being.  I do almost all of my pro bono work with the military and public servants like the police—I care.  And when we care, we should all want just systems that reflect the honor and dignity of the people who serve in those systems.

But then, if it’s the case that we can care about citizens and the police, shouldn’t the rallying cry just be All Lives Matter?  No.  Because the humanity wasn’t stripped from all lives the way it was stripped from the lives of black citizens.  In order for slavery to work, in order for us to buy, sell, beat, and trade people like animals, Americans had to completely dehumanize slaves.  And whether we directly participated in that or were simply a member of a culture that at one time normalized that behavior, it shaped us.  We can’t undo that level of dehumanizing in one or two generations.  I believe Black Lives Matter is a movement to rehumanize black citizens.  All lives matter, but not all lives need to be pulled back into moral inclusion.  Not all people were subjected to the psychological process of demonizing and being made less than human so we could justify the inhumane practice of slavery. (Brené Brown, Braving the Wilderness, pp. 76-77

I love the term rehumanizing.  It sounds like a synonym for redemption, or restoration.  A biblical vision for healing and shalom.  Beautiful Kingdom Warriors have been waging an age-old spiritual battle for the rehumanization of those who have been disenfranchised, abused, subordinated and made powerless to restore to them their God-given dignity and authority as humans made in the imago Dei.  It is extraordinary that we can be partners with God in this great work of redemption!

Evil is very real and very present in our world.  Our current age is marked by conflict.  “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus taught us (Mt. 5:9).  What a challenge in our day!  In order to be a peacemaker, I believe we must be good listeners, to strive to understand the perspectives of conflicting sides in order to facilitate reconciliation and peace.  Being a peacemaker involves restoring justice and shalom for all.

However, as social beings, we instinctively gravitate into tribes, and in our sinful nature, we instinctively consider our tribes to be better than others and to draw lines of inclusion and exclusion.  Yet we all belong to one race, the human race, we all bear God’s image, we are all equally loved by our Savior.  As Christians, our deepest place of belonging and identity should be in the Kingdom of God, as God’s beloved children.  We should not be so tied to a church denomination, political party, race, nation, etc. that we fail to love our neighbors (Mt. 22:39) and consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3).

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Google these names, bear witness to their stories, imagine how you would respond if these were your loved ones.

Additionally, we are told by the Apostle Paul to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). I cannot help but grieve with my black brothers and sisters when men and women and children are murdered through police brutality.  Blood cries out from the ground for justice, and God hears those cries.  We should be angry about the injustice black men and women face in our criminal justice system.  We should lament our nation’s history of dehumanizing the lives of people of color in order to become “great.”  We should fight racism and white nationalism for the evil that it truly is.  One of my favorite quotes is from the founder of Samaritan’s Purse, Bob Pierce, who prayed, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”  Racism surely grieves the heart of God.

The Church that I love so much has wolves in sheep’s clothing, abusers preying on the vulnerable.  On a weekly basis, I read a story of a pastor caught molesting children, or a deacon who has murdered his family.  I sometimes post these stories to TBKW Facebook page.  Some of the highest rates of domestic violence by career are in the clergy, military and police.

An example of “bad apples” in the Church from my own life is that during a three year time-frame while my family served with New Tribes Mission, three men were dismissed for sexually abusing children.  Three out of only dozens of missionaries in those contexts.  And they were dismissed, not reported for their crimes, and surely went on to harm more victims.  Injustice that grieves the heart of God.

If the Church is not immune to evil, why do we think our police force is?  There should be reform and training and consequences for abuses of position in our police force.  Yet white Evangelical Christians statistically get caught in the either/or tribes of being pro-police or pro-patriotism rather than the Kingdom vision for justice and shalom for all.  We can want what is best and safest for our police as well as for private citizens.  We can have a more nuanced position than the options that are presented to us.

I don’t really know much about Kaepernick.  But I agree that Black Lives Matter, and I protest injustice and the dehumanization of black people in our criminal justice system.

As Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, we are partnering with God in the work of restoration and healing of this broken, fallen world.  The most powerful way that we accomplish this mission is in loving God and loving our neighbors, and that extends beyond our tribes.  I am thankful to Dr. Brené Brown for the language of rehumanizing those who have been diminished by injustice.

I think this Beautiful Kingdom Warrior and American patriot has the right idea in joining the #takeaknee movement, explaining his support as “wanting to be like Jesus”:

“The world is broken. But God is not done yet.  God’s work of restoration is not yet finished.  This is our hope.  God is our hope.”  – Pastor Eugene Cho

Amen.


I am so happy to have you here!  Please leave a comment with your own thoughts on loving our neighbors and being peacemakers in this broken, conflict-ridden world.  I’ll approve if you’re respectful.

I have written about racial reconciliation before here.  I pray that white Evangelicals will begin to listen well to their black brothers and sisters.  I would encourage you to follow black theologians and authors, listen to their podcasts, read their articles and books; for instance, this year I have read Lisa Sharon Harper’s “The Very Good Gospel” and have listened to the podcast Truth’s Table, “Midwives of culture for grace and truth” with Michelle Higgins, Christina Edmondson, and Ekemini Uwan.

And “Like” us on Facebook!  I may not always blog, but I have a daily stream of articles from around the web that I have found to be interesting, helpful, or important for raising awareness of gender issues in the Church.

God bless and come again!

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Guest Post: For the women who have been held back because of their gender

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This is for all the women who have ever been held back because of her gender:

I am a woman.

Beautiful, strong, and kind.

Teacher. Leader. Educator. God lover.

Spiritual. Emotional. Trying not to be cynical.

Because there are people who don’t see me for the person that I am – inside.

They see me as one-dimensional. Daughter of Eve. High heels. Tight jeans.

Sometimes I like red lips and too much mascara.

They see my womanhood as a threat. A temptress. Seductive.

Even with 30 extra pounds and graying hair, I’m a distraction. A nuisance.

Am I a disturbance? Someone to put on a shelf. Not needed. Not appreciated. Not valued. Not included.

No.

I am feminine. I am a mother. Daughter. Friend. Human being.

My voice matters. My opinions are valuable and significant. My ideas are worthy and creative.

I am NOT Charlie Brown’s teacher – open your ears and listen.

My existence should be praised. Honored.

If my presence makes you uncomfortable, that is on you – not me.

I will not apologize for my body type and my hair length.

Women are not just curves and shapes in clothing.

We are brains, strength, power.

If you would see us for who we are, not what we look like, you could learn.

I could teach you.

You could see that we could have a seat at the table. SHOULD have a seat at the table.

The lies need to be silenced and you should awaken to the truth, that I – that women – can do and be ANYTHING.

We are enough. I am enough.

Man – YOU are enough.

If you believe that, you wouldn’t be threatened by ME.


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This beautiful post originally appeared on my friend Amber Jone’s Facebook timeline, where she regularly ministers with inspiring and encouraging messages.  Her husband Dale and my husband Logan grew up together and remain close friends.  Both Amber and Dale are pastors at Forest Park Church in Elizabeth City, NC.  Her bio on their website says:  “[Amber’s] role is to provide creativity and style to Forest Park, during the weekend services and online. Amber has a passion for the Arts and is talented in many aspects, including music, drama, design, fashion, and social media. She has been singing in churches since she was eight years old and has served on Praise and Worship teams since she was a teenager. She is passionate about seeing people recognize the love and grace that is offered through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Her other passions include her family, music, Ecuador missions, friends, and shoes. Amber married the love of her life, Dale Jones, in May 2001. They both share the love of music and have ministered together through singing since they met. They both serve as Worship leaders in the FPC Worship Band. Her heart also belongs to two other guys – her sons Barrett, born in 2004, and Chandler, born in 2007. Amber earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and was employed by the Elizabeth City Pasquotank Schools from 1999-2004. In 2004, she became a stay-at-home mom. Amber’s favorite passage of scripture is 2 Corinthians 5:17 ‘This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!'”

Her post also included this disclaimer: “This is not about the men close to me. I am surrounded in my inner circle with men who are very supportive of me and women in general.”  What a gift!

And I can’t leave this post up without also blessing you with Amber and her brother Ricky Braddy’s beautiful singing in a service at FPC (posted by their mom, of course!):

Don’t miss this book sale!

17796847_10155246093601473_4651034078428381506_nChristians for Biblical Equality has slashed prices on egalitarian books in their online shop.  Most are at least half off, and many are as low as $2 or $4!  There are also several titles available in Spanish, Creole, Arabic, and other languages.  Stock your library while you can get a bargain!  And don’t forget to add the free Journals to your cart.

CLICK HERE FOR CBE’S SALE

Happy shopping. You’re welcome. 🙂

A Litany to Honor Women

Happy International Women’s Day!  A day to celebrate all of the great women of our past and present, and to raise awareness that the fight for equality is far from over.

I love “A Litany to Honor Women” from Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (the pocket edition is only $5 right now!), which celebrates women heroes of our faith.  The portraits are by Sarah Beth Baca, which can be purchased here to grace your homes with the stories of women used by God in extraordinary ways, as an inspiration to your family and friends.

A Litany to Honor Women

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Deborah

We walk in the company of the women who have gone before,
Mothers of the faith both named and unnamed,
Testifying with ferocity and faith to the Spirit of wisdom and healing.
They are the judges, the prophets, the martyrs, the warriors, poets, lovers and saints
who are near to us in the shadow of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams.

We walk in the company of Deborah,
who judged the Israelites with authority and strength.

We walk in the company of Esther,
who used her position as Queen to ensure the welfare of her people.

We walk in the company of you whose names have been lost and silenced, who kept and cradled the wisdom of the ages.

sarah beth baca mary

Mary

We walk in the company of the woman with the flow of blood, who audaciously sought her healing and release.

We walk in the company of Mary Magdalene,
who wept at the empty tomb until the risen Christ appeared.

We walk in the company of Phoebe,
who led an early church in the empire of Rome.

We walk in the company of Perpetua of Carthage, whose witness in the third century led to her martyrdom.

We walk in the company of Saint Christina the Astonishing, who resisted death with persistence and wonder.

We walk in the company of Julian of Norwich,
who wed imagination and theology proclaiming “all shall be well.”

sarah beth baca junia

Junia

We walk in the company of Sojourner Truth,
who stood against oppression, righteously declaring “ain’t I a woman!” in 1852.

We walk in the company of the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo,
who turned their grief to strength, standing together to remember “the disappeared” children of war with a holy indignation.

We walk in the company of Alice Walker,
who named the lavender hue of womanish strength.

We walk in the company of you mothers of the faith,
who teach us to resist evil with boldness, to lead with wisdom, and to heal.

Amen.


Thanks for stopping by The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors.  If you like this post, please pass it on!  Thank you!  You can find us on Facebook too, where each day we are sharing inspiring and challenging links from around the web that illustrate the need for equality between men and women in the Church.

Guest Post: Prototype

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I am their prototype for women.

I am a stay-at-home mom who has the propensity to do far more for my boys than I should, and in the back of my mind, I am aware that I want to teach them that women are strong, courageous, human. The old adage — “Actions speak louder than words” — well, I think it’s very true.

On an ordinary Saturday evening, my husband decided to cook dinner. When my oldest, who’s five, asked him to play instead my husband responded, “No, I’m making dinner right now.”

My son’s response: “What?! Mom does that.”

My fiery eyes met my husband’s while I inhaled a deep breath, and he, with a slightly amused smile, told my son that mom does not always make dinner. To further his enlightenment, he had my son join the ranks for dinner duty.

My son has never heard in our house that it is my sole responsibility to cook dinner, but he’s watching, and that’s what he sees. If I always cook dinner, he will believe that women always cook dinner, so I’m trying to stick my nose in a book and let dinner happen upon the table without my help a little more often.

My three-year-old is the kind of boy who would still live in my womb if I let him. Of course, at three he still needs some help, but he could get dressed by himself. He could put on his own shoes. He could pick up his own messes. Heck, he could even walk on his own two feet all of the time! Mostly, though, he’d rather just let me do everything for him.

He loves to respond to my requests with, “No, you do it.” I know he also says this to his dad from time-to-time, and I’m sure three-year-old girls also say such things to their parents, but when it comes to the dynamics between my boys and I, I know this habit can plant a seed. It won’t stop at mom does everything for me, it will morph into the expectation that women can be bossed around, that women are around to take care of them.

I have primarily been home day-in and day-out every day of my sons’ lives. I still remember telling my oldest one day that some moms go to work and their kids go to daycare. It felt weird to need to say that, to explain it. But I stay home, and most of the mom-kiddo combos that we spend time with are also home — similar schedules are magnetic.

If I never work, if my only responsibilities are to them and to our home, then they will more easily assume that all women should do this. So, I work. At home. I write. I photograph. I edit. And I call it work. I’m rarely making money, but money isn’t the measure for work. I want them to know that — that we all have jobs to do. We all have gifts and abilities and things that we offer outside of our own homes and families. It’s work raising them and taking care of our household, but that work is shared work. (Or at least, we think it should be.) My writing and my photography — it’s my work. It matters, and the whole family works together to make room for it.

I’m grateful for the ever-expanding presence of women in my sons’ lives. Teachers at school, who go to work everyday. Doctors, who give them checkups. Friends, who have different dynamics and norms and routines in their homes. Family members who do things differently. I may be their primary prototype, but other women in their lives will help dispel assumptions about what all women are like.

I have to be aware of the ways my actions and habits affect the way they see an entire gender. I’m grateful for a husband who also understands this and realizes that he is the primary example of how a man treats a woman. Thank God he treats me well.

I am the standard of women for them whether I want to be or not. Though they will hear that women are equal from my lips, it’s far more important that they see that reflected in the way our family functions, in the way I actually live.


denise-lillyWe are honored to share this guest post today from our dear friend!  Denise Lilly lives in Maine with her husband and two boys. She writes and photographs for clarity, hoping it will hone her sight. Read more on her blog, Eyes to See, and her self-published book, Cling: Faith Lessons from my Son’s Early Years, available on Amazon.

If you relate to this struggle of teaching your sons what to expect from the women in their lives, please share Denise’s post!

Michael Kimmel: Why gender equality is good for everyone – even men

Filmed at TEDWomen 2015, sociologist Michael Kimmel made a strong, and often funny, case for gender equality.  I encourage you to watch these sixteen minutes and then share with others.  I’m transcribing my favorite quotes below:

“That’s how privilege works. Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”

“White men in Europe and the United States are the beneficiaries of the single greatest affirmative action program in the history of the world. It is called ‘the history of the world.'”

“Research by Catalyst and others has shown conclusively that the more gender-equal companies are, the better it is for workers, the happier their labor force is. They have lower job turnover. They have lower levels of attrition. They have an easier time recruiting. They have higher rates of retention, higher job satisfaction, higher rates of productivity. So the question I’m often asked in companies is, ‘Boy, this gender equality thing, that’s really going to be expensive, huh?’ And I say, ‘Oh no, in fact, what you have to start calculating is how much gender inequality is already costing you. It is extremely expensive.'”

“It turns out that the more egalitarian our relationships, the happier both partners are. Data from psychologists and sociologists are quite persuasive here. I think we have the persuasive numbers, the data, to prove to men that gender equality is not a zero-sum game, but a win-win. Here’s what the data show. Now, when men begin the process of engaging with balancing work and family, we often have two phrases that we use to describe what we do. We pitch in and we help out.  And I’m going to propose something a little bit more radical, one word: ‘share.’

“Because here’s what the data show: when men share housework and childcare, their children do better in school. Their children have lower rates of absenteeism, higher rates of achievement. They are less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. They are less likely to see a child psychiatrist. They are less likely to be put on medication.  So when men share housework and childcare, their children are happier and healthier, and men want this.

“When men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier. Duh. Not only that, their wives are healthier. Their wives are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be put on medication, more likely to go to the gym, report higher levels of marital satisfaction. So when men share housework and childcare, their wives are happier and healthier, and men certainly want this as well.

“When men share housework and childcare, the men are healthier. They smoke less, drink less, take recreational drugs less often. They are less likely to go to the ER but more like to go to a doctor for routine screenings. They are less likely to see a therapist, less likely to be diagnosed with depression, less likely to be taking prescription medication. So when men share housework and childcare, the men are happier and healthier. And who wouldn’t want that?

“And finally, when men share housework and childcare, they have more sex.”

So, what we found is something really important, that gender equality is in the interest of countries, of companies, and of men, and their children and their partners, that gender equality is not a zero-sum game. It’s not a win-lose. It is a win-win for everyone. And what we also know is we cannot fully empower women and girls unless we engage boys and men. We know this. And my position is that men need the very things that women have identified that they need to live the lives they say they want to live in order to live the lives that we say we want to live.”

In 1915, on the eve of one of the great suffrage demonstrations down Fifth Avenue in New York City, a writer in New York wrote an article in a magazine, and the title of the article was,Feminism for Men.’  And this was the first line of that article:Feminism will make it possible for the first time for men to be free.'”


Thanks for watching this video!  We have more great resources throughout our blog and Facebook page for learning about gender equality.  Unlike this TedTalk, most of the resources we share come from a Christian perspective.  But Kimmel’s message applies to the Church as well.  Gender equality in Christian families and ministry is good for men too.  The Gospel is not tarnished by treating women as equals and giving women equal opportunities in ministry.  In fact, the Church’s patriarchal stance is a stain on the Gospel.

Naghmeh Abedini’s New Year’s Exhortation to the Church

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“I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly.” – Jesus

On New Year’s Eve, Naghmeh Abedini (who we posted about here and here) shared this exhortation on her facebook page:

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The full message says,

Happy New Year! May this be the year that the daughters of the Most High and the church rise up in one accord and say “Enough is Enough.”

May this be the year that we discover who we truly are in Jesus and that the knowledge of His Great Love for us sets us free and brings much healing to us and to the body of Christ.

I implore you church leaders to stand up for the abused and oppressed and say that it is not acceptable for daughters of the King to be used and abused in such a way . I implore you church leaders to stand up and keep leaders and heads of families accountable and say in one accord that it is not acceptable for those who call themselves Christians to be in such bondage to pornography, adultery, control and abuse. I implore you church leaders to bring back the discussion and the importance of repentance. I implore you church leaders to call the church to repentance and that we would turn from our wicked ways, and turn to God.

May this be the year that as the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we show the world what a true model of marriage looks like and that many would see the light and beauty of Jesus in our transparency and brokenness and that many would be saved.

Love you all! We serve a mighty King and He is in control.

 

Amen!  May it be so!!

Naghmeh links to an article by Gary Thomas, “Enough is Enough,” in which he denounces the abuse many women face in Christian marriages.  For instance, he says,

Another woman told me about putting up with her husband’s appalling behavior for over forty years. I was invited to look in her face, see the struggle, see the heroic perseverance, but also be reminded that counsel has consequences. So when I talk to a young woman in her third year of marriage and it’s clear she’s married to a monster, and someone wants to “save” the marriage, I want them to realize they are likely sentencing her to four decades of abuse, perhaps because of a choice she made as a teenager. When these men aren’t confronted, and aren’t repentant, they don’t change.

Jesus said what he said about divorce to protect women, not to imprison them. Divorce was a weapon foisted against women in the first century, not one they could use, and it almost always left them destitute if their family of origin couldn’t or wouldn’t step up.

How does it honor the concept of “Christian marriage” to enforce the continuance of an abusive, destructive relationship that is slowly squeezing all life and joy out of a woman’s soul? Our focus has to be on urging men to love their wives like Christ loves the church, not on telling women to put up with husbands mistreating their wives like Satan mistreats us. We should confront and stop the work of Satan, not enable it.

Physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and financial abuse are a silent epidemic in our country and around the world.  In the comments under Naghmeh’s post, she elaborates to say she believes that 70% of Christian wives are living with one form of abuse or another in their marriages.

10653672_540932686036868_4005151008959911077_nUnfortunately, most pastors are unequipped to respond appropriately to abuse.  My husband and I went through seminary and hardly heard a word about domestic violence in our classes.  Because women suffer in silence, trying trying trying to pacify their controlling husbands with submissive and meek obedience, pastors may never hear anything from a woman until she is reaching hopelessness and desperation.  And he will likely encourage her to do more, be more, suffer more for the sake of saving her marriage.  He will not understand the psychological impact of living in an abusive relationship for years.  He may bring both in for couple’s counseling, without personal expertise in abuse, and further damage the woman through treating this as a marriage issue rather than as the husband’s sin.

In conservative churches, where headship and submission are taught, women can be subjected to abusive relationships with no hope of relief.  Men have full reign to lord authority over their wives, controlling them rather than living as one with them.  The stigma of divorce leads to shunning of women who leave abusive marriages, and traditional gender roles leave women financially dependent on their spouse, unable to leave without a way to make a living.  The teaching that headship and submission image the relationship of Christ and the Church leads husbands and wives to strive harder to achieve cultural constructs of gender roles rather than becoming more the individuals that God created them to be.

In Rachel Held Evan’s post, “Is patriarchy really God’s dream for the world?”, she says,

If scripture is not enough to convince you that patriarchy is a result of sin, you need only look at the world to observe its effects.

  • Worldwide, women ages fifteen to forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.
  • Every 9 seconds, a woman  in the US is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. I wish I could say that all complementarians categorically condemn female submission to male violence, but John Piper has said that, in order to model godly submission, a woman may need to quietly “endure verbal abuse for a season” or “getting smacked one night” before “seeking help from the church.” (He says nothing about contacting authorities). Similarly, in Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi Pearl advises a woman whose husband pulled a knife on her to “stop complaining” and focus instead on not “provoking” her husband’s anger. This is destructive advice and reveals something of an assumption that the preservation of male hierarchy is more important than preservation of a woman’s dignity.
  •  At least 3 million women and girls are enslaved in the sex trade.
  • Study after study shows that societies characterized by the subjugation of women are more violent, more impoverished, and more unjust than societies that empower women.  In their excellent book Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn argue that “in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.”  Empowering women increases economic productivity, reduces infant mortality, contributes to overall improved health and nutrition, and increases the chances of education for the next generation. Several studies from UNICEF suggest that when women are given control over the family spending, more of the money gets devoted to education, medical care, and small business endeavors than when men control the purse strings. Similarly, when women vote and hold political office, public spending on health increases and child mortality rate declines. Many counterterrorist strategists see women’s empowerment as key to quelling violence and oppression in the Middle East, and women entering the workforce in East Asia generated economic booms in Malaysia, Thailand, and China. (You can find all of these studies cited and analyzed in Half the Sky, which I highly recommend.)

Interestingly, John Piper discussed the unhappy dynamic of much of his marriage in October.  Piper is one of the most influential proponents of complementarian theology (the belief that God designed strict gender roles for men and women), co-founding The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and The Gospel Coalition, a massive coalition of churches which holds complementarian ideology as a core aspect of their beliefs.  In my experience and observation, couples that treat each other as equals (whether they are complementarian or egalitarian) are far happier than couples that function as a hierarchy with the husband at the top.

unsafe relationshipI truly believe that mutual submission between husbands and wives is the correct Biblical teaching.  Giving husbands authority over households rather than all living under the authority of Christ as equals leads to unhealthy and ungodly dynamics and often, abuse.

If your marriage is emotionally destructive and you need to establish boundaries as you work toward healing, here are some resources:

Immediate Help:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233.  Crisis help or to develop a safety plan.
Family Renewal Shelter: 1-253-475-9010 (24-hour crisis line) or 1-888-550-3915 (toll free).  A Christian resource for crisis help and assistance developing a safety plan.
American Association of Christian Counselors

Support Resources:
Document the Abuse: Assists women who fear for their safety in developing an Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit.
Women’s Law: Provides state-specific legal information and resources.
VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday): Allows crime victims to obtain timely and reliable information about criminal cases and the custody status of offenders.
Lighthouse Network: 1-877-562-2565.  Assists individuals and their loved ones in finding effective treatment for drug, alcohol, psychological or emotional struggles, 24/7.

Books:
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope – Leslie Vernick
Why Does He Do That?  Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men – Lundy Bancroft

Other:
The Emotionally Destructive Marriage:  Free resource page
Self Centered Spouse:  Series of blogs by Brad Hambrick
A Cry for Justice: A blog addressing the needs of the evangelical church to recognize and validate the reality of abuse in the Christian home.
Myths about Domestic Violence


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