Mary Kassian claims that complementarians are often misrepresented, and then lists some “straw women” who, in her view, does not represent the position of women under evangelical masculist (otherwise known as complementarian) thinking.
But people very much like Dora do exist among evangelical masculists. Okay, not quite 100% like them. Because Dora and her friends are actually Kassian’s straw woman representation of what egals find tragic.
For example, nobody picture Dora as a woman who “likes it when her husband acts like a domineering boor.” We say she dislike it, but her understanding of submission mean she has no meaningful way to stand up against it. Bertha don’t want 26 children, but she does have 7. Repressed Rita do not find ministering to children and women menial, or feel only a senior pastor can minister. Rita just happens to have a valuable message which would benefit men or a man (too) – but men do not want to hear it. “Rita feel she can’t can’t do anything important if she can’t be head pastor” is Kassian’s very dishonest misrepresentation of the very real limitations – much bigger than “cannot be head pastor” that comps put on women’s ministry, a straw man version of the true egal criticism. Some seminaries do not even allow Rita to learn there, to develop her teaching gifts and understanding.
Beyond these mutual accusations (Mary Kassian use more straw woman arguments than her opponents!), beyond whether her view is historical or not, the important issue is this:
Real people are getting harmed by complementarianism
- They include the complementarian (submissive, with the comp understanding of submissive) women not married to perfect complementarian (loving exactly as Christ loves, wise enough to always lead the right way) men, who try to submit anyway. They suffer from his foolish or selfish decisions. He may be a good man and his flaws made while leading rather minor, so that her suffering is small. Or he may be monsters who completely abuse the wife’s “submissiveness.” (Abused Annie)
- They include the children whose mothers do not protect them from unwise or unloving decisions by fathers (or male pastors or other church leaders!) because Mom thinks doing so will be unsubmissive, not following her “role.” (Unprotected Uma)
- They include ordinary guys who are less than perfect, who don’t to hear they are acting wrong from the life partners to whom it is glaringly obvious, who do not get their character sharpened by the spouses who are supposed to be their strong allies. (Ordinary Oscar)
- They include the men, women and children who would have benefited from hearing Repressed Rita’s great prophetic message. But Rita was delegated to leading the women’s Bible study group, and few beyond that group ever heard her. If only those in authority knew of the importance of Rita’s message, it would have been advertised beyond their small congregation, and many others could have benefited. (The need-the-message-but-not-hearing-it Nicholsons)
- They include the unbelievers who do not come to Christ, because Christianity is perceived as unjust. The message of God written on their hearts speak of justice, but the image they have of the church does not. (Unbelieving Ulrich)
- They include the Bertha’s who have more children than they can really handle, who home-school them and are too overworked to think of spreading the gospel, the needs of the world, or even prayer or Bible study. (Baby Popping Bertha)
Abused Annie, Unprotected little Uma, Ordinary Oscar and Unbelieving Ulrich are not straw people. They exist, with many other victims of masculism. If Mary Kassian isn’t one of them, good for her. But what can she and her allies Grudgem and Piper do to help these victims?