Biblical™ Womanhood theology, if consistently applied, is worse news for widowed women, divorced women, not-married(-yet) women, and girls of all ages, than it is for married women.
The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood does not officially say women should live with male relatives, not go to college, not work outside the home, and not be independent. But they are – I will motivate my accusation just now – on a road that logically lead towards the views, by Biblical™ Patriarchy supporters, that I will quote here*:
“And does it really make economic sense to invest tens of thousands of dollars for a woman to get an advanced education (often having to go into debt to finance that education) that she will NOT use if she accepts that her highest calling is to be a wife and mother?” – Brian Abshire, quoted from now-deleted material at the Vision Forum ministries website.
Kevin Swanson and Dave Buehner believe parents should not raise daughters who are “going to compete with men in the marketplace,” but should train their daughters to be “a woman who will be a helpmeet to a man so he can compete in the marketplace.” They speak out against female independence.*
Unfortunately, some girls have been told by their fathers, who in turn have been told by their corrupt culture, that it’s a sign of maturity for a girl to stop looking for her father’s instruction and start relying chiefly on her own judgment. … The proverbs that extol the glory of our parents’ instruction never indicate that it’s just for little children and that girls with “good heads on their shoulders” don’t need it. Now, when a girl marries, her father’s authority is transferred to her husband, and she is no longer obligated to obey her father. – Anna and Elizabeth Botkin
(What happens if the father is dead/ abusive/ has a world view by which he does not want the adult daughters in the home? Why do A&E ignore that the Proverbs talk equally of obeying mothers and fathers – why do they speak only of the father’s authority? And the Proverbs does not indicate that married men and women are exempt from obeying parents, nor does it tell daughters to be more obedient than sons.)
Someone else testifies to the following conversation with someone who believes in economically marginalizing women:
I once asked a comp[lementarian] who said all women who worked outside the home were sinners what working women should do. He replied “quit the job and go home and submit themselves to their husbands if married, and to their fathers if not.” I asked, “What about women who are single and have no father, or their father doesn’t want them back home?” “Submit to the closest male relative,” he said. – By a commenter in a Facebook group I am part of.
Any sensible person can guess how the result of this would be, for many women, living in poverty and ignorance, and leaving many of their gifts undeveloped. Not all women have fathers, and not all fathers want their adult daughters in the home. Some fathers are abusive. In a situation where women are desperate and does not have the means to cope without men, prostitution have traditionally been where many of them ended up.
I posit that a church that truly believes in complementarianism simply cannot give a long term solution concerning the position of unmarried, divorced, or widowed women. They can offer them only one solution: Marriage. And where the church have a shortage of men, or if no man is willing to marry, say, a 69-year old widow or a mother of 5 whose husband abandoned her, the “gospel gender roles” churches have to keep these women needy. If you know of complementarians who want women to be able to cope without a husband (as they officially will claim to), then these complementarians never thought through the gospel-related claims of CBMW and their ilk.
How do I motivate this terrible accusation?
Premise 1: The Biblical™ Manhood and Womanhood crowd calls theirs a “gospel vision”, a “picture of the gospel”, or “the gospel … confronting culture”. In this gospel picture, men portray Christ and women the church.
Premise 2: The gospel is a message of Jesus saving the lost and broken. Central to the gospel message is that one party was lost – and the other party is a Savior. (We place ourselves under the leadership of Jesus firstly because He saved us.)
Conclusion: If marriage should portray the gospel, then women should be saved from an unpleasant fate by marriage. If marriage symbolize life with Jesus, single womanhood symbolize being lost. A single woman who is educated, who lives her life fully and for Jesus, who is happy and independent and live without fear is a terifying thing in such a worldview. Such a woman, to a gospel marriage mindset, is like an atheist who blatantly state that he is happy and fulfilled in his godless state, and he finds religion and the rules it imposes a drag.
If women are not lost without men, complementarianism cannot be a gospel message to them.
Daisy, a regular commenter on Spiritualsoundingboard.com, often say complementarians ignore single women. I will go further: Complementarians want more than for single women to get lost, in the sense of disappearing. Complementarians need single women to get lost, in the sense of being desperate because of a dire situation. Otherwise, they won’t have a gospel-like salvation message.
Complementarians not only need for single women to be desperate, they need girls to be lost too, so that the kindness from a complementarian man exceeds anything that the woman experienced in her life. Parents, under a marriage-as-the-gospel world view, should not treat their daughters very well. The poorer the average single woman is, the more unloved and un-appreciated, and the more unsafe when going out into the world, the better for preaching marriage as a “salvation” picture.
I am not surprised that Owen Strachan of CBMW found no inherently complementarian good news for single women when he tries to mention the hope the church can offer them:
[T]he church offers hope to men and women suffering from sin. It does so through the gospel and its body of ethics… All around us are women abused by men… The church must help them understand how the world’s promise of liberation is bankrupt. The church offers women called to marriage the hope of a husband who will be a self-sacrificing head… – Owen Strachan
The only hope he has for abused women is marriage. What about the woman who won’t marry, or won’t marry again? What good news (gospel means “good news”) does Strachan and his ilk have for her?
Nothing. If marriage is the gospel, she is lost.
* Speaking out against female independence, and using the helpmeet text: Explaining male-female relationships based on “It is not good for a man to be alone. I will make a help meet for him” would actually, if honest, lead to speaking out against male independence, to keeping boys in the home of their mothers until marriage, to not educating boys in such a way that they think they can cope without a woman, to tolerance of polyandry because really, the poor guys cannot cope alone and with a shortage of good women to marry they need to share one.
** If you want to think deeper over the passage where advice to men and women was compared to Jesus and the church, and how to see a gospel picture in it that does not make single women in the modern church losers, read here: