First, some disclaimers:
(a) I don’t know Ruth Tucker or Mary Kassian.
(b) I attended SBTS from 1993-1994. Kassian was not at SBTS at the time. Quite frankly, there is no way she would have been hired in the pre-Mohler days. Back then, there were a few conservatives in the NT department, but that was it.
I was there when Mohler was inaugurated. I was there when liberals dominated most departments at SBTS. To say that “the liberals were in charge” at the time does not do justice to the situation.
Any attempt to raise legitimate concerns about women pastors, any attempt to raise legitimate concerns regarding egalitarianism were dismissed as sexism.
If you believed in referring to God using masculine pronouns (and objected to feminine pronouns and gender-inclusive language to refer to God), then you were a sexist.
If you suggested that the Scriptures restrict sex to heterosexual marriage and that any aberration from that–including homosexuality–is sin, then you were a homophobe. If you objected to abortion, then you were a misogynist.
While Mohler gets a fair amount of flak at TWW, I can honestly say that he did a great service at SBTS: he cleaned up a mess that needed cleaning. If you think that egalitarians do not foster a culture of abuse, then you are only looking at one side of the story. They were very domineering at SBTS, and were effective at shouting down and crowding out dissenters.
It was so bad that a few of my friends–who were very feminist and anti-Mohler–were embarrassed by the way conservatives were treated. Complimentarians were subject to all sorts of ridicule, and honest discussion was damn-near impossible.
I would contend that any discussion regarding Mohler and his treatment of such matters must be weighed with respect to the disaster he inherited at SBTS. I can attest to the abuse he received, and I can attest to the abuse heaped on his wife, all by egalitarians who hated him and did everything they could to make him look bad. If you call that Christian, then I question your Christianity.
(c) I am not a neo-Calvinist. I subscribe to Calvinism as a hermeneutical model–taking Scripture at face value–but not the dogmatic teachings of the Calvinist camp. While I admire Mohler’s intellect, and while I have great respect for Piper and Keller and Chandler on a number of matters, I don’t fawn on their every word. I bust them when they are wrong, I laud them when they are right.
(d) I share the concerns of The Wartburg Watch regarding Neo-Calvinism, particularly the goings on in the celebrity pastor circuit. I also share their anger at ministerial failures: overstretches of authority, failure to report abuses (including sexual), and heavy-handed leadership. I am also dismayed at the lack of accountability among their ranks. I am long convinced that if Mohler or Piper or Keller had taken Driscoll (and Mahaney and Harris and Dever) to the woodshed, then the outcomes would have been considerably more favorable. Mars Hill would still be there, Mahaney would still be at Covenant Life Church, and 9 Marks wouldn’t be 9 Marxism.
(e) When TWW gets on their “complimentarianism causes abuse” kick, they begin to lose credibility.
Fact is, any church governmental system can be abused, and any gender-relation framework can be abused. While we’re at it, let’s not kid ourselves: churches led by a “plurality of elders” are no more prone to abuse than congregational churches. And, by the way, Southern Baptist Churches–overwhelmingly–are congregational. At their root level, deacons and pastors are voted on, and most matters of importance are voted on. And while they market themselves as complimentarian, trust me: the women often run the show behind the scenes. They often dominate the key committees that have the power to hire, fire, allocate money, and select teachers for classes or small groups.
If you don’t think those types of churches cover up abuse, then you are smoking something I would legalize.
If you don’t think those churches have authority issues, then you’re out of touch with reality.
I’ve been to a fair share of “egalitarian” churches, particularly in the evangelical world. Their pastors could be every bit as shady; they had abuse-related baggage; they even had cultures that didn’t tolerate any dissent. Would they run you out of town for disagreeing with them? No, but they wouldn’t invite you to the proverbial party, either. You were always an outsider, and that was that.
To that point, Mary Kassian makes an astute observation: humans can, and will, exploit any system, Patriarchal, Matriarchal, Egalitarian, Complimentarian…doesn’t matter.
Africa has many matriarchal societies. Men screw to their hearts’ content and live it up, while women do the heavy lifting. Poverty is terrible, and disease is rampant.
The Middle East is Patriarchy on steroids. In Iran, barefoot and pregnant is the law of the land. Men dominate everything and take sexual license with everything: their wives, other men, boys, and–yes–girls. Some are so barbaric that they perform clitoridectomies on girls, often with the complicity of the adult women. It’s a sick dynamic.
The West has fluctuated between shades of Complimentarian and Egalitarian. With the passage of the 19th Amendment–which gave women the right to vote–this created, overnight, a large voting block to which any aspiring politician must pander for the vote.
If you think that this “egalitarian” paradigm has been good for America, then you must dismiss the 60+ million children killed in the abortion mills, or otherwise say that the death toll is worth universal suffrage.
Enter TWW’s assessment of Kassian and her review of Tucker’s book Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife.
Having read Tucker’s account, I cringe at the pain she suffered. I have a great friend who married under similar circumstances, had a bad marriage, and it, too failed. While I do not blame her for the abuses of her husband, there are some poignant lessons that people can learn from her story.
(1) There is value in Biblical commands and proverbs, particularly the need to seek counsel, and the command to honor your parents.
Tucker, from the reading I’ve done, is not a dumb person by any stretch, and is in fact otherwise bright. But, by her own admission, she was “in love”. That is understandable, particularly given when one is young and idealistic. Her future husband had been kicked out of Wheaton for stealing, and had been arrested for voyeurism. At this point, he had established himself as a cheater who was given to sexual fetish.
While we all have to battle various lusts–including sexual lusts–and while that is particularly difficult when you are young and with hormones raging at Mach 9, there is a fine line between lust and fetish. I may not know where that fine line is, but her husband clearly crossed it.
Her parents objected to the marriage, but Tucker did not heed their warnings.
While this does not excuse or justify the abuses she suffered, let’s be honest here: honoring one’s parents, and trusting their counsel, can save you from a world of heartache.
(2) Once you are in that type of abusive relationship, there is no easy way out. If you are dependent on his income, then getting out throws you into instant poverty. If there are kids involved, their lives will be ripped inside out. If he is abusing the kids and you report him, the economic impact will be severe. In the Church, you can become persona non grata, even if the breakup isn’t your fault.
(And yes, I know that men also suffer in this dynamic, but I am using the case of the woman because, in this instance, we are dealing with the account of a woman.)
My church has a cadre of volunteers who work at a women’s shelter; we have had women in our church who have stayed in that shelter. I can attest to their destitute state, as well as the baggages they must unpack in varying degrees for the rest of their lives.
In that regard, I empathize with Tucker.
OTOH, Tucker commits a huge logical error by using her particular experience of abuse to promote the premise that complimentarianism leads to abuse. She attempted to argue from the particular tot he general, and failed miserably.
Unfortunately, she ignores the obvious problem: her husband’s abusive tendencies are less about complimentarianism than they are about his own character: he was a sexual fetishist, he was a thief, he had profound anger issues. He was kicked out of college due to his character issues; he was fired from at last one ministerial post due to his character issues; his sexual abuses are consistent with his fetish behavior before they were married. And while he insisted on wifely submission, he blatantly ignored Paul’s command to husbands: love your wives as Christ loved the Church.
Moreover, this also casts serious light on Tucker’s own character issues, and while none of these issues justify the abuses she suffered, they do call into question her own judgment and even her own egalitarian viewpoint.
If you insist on an egalitarian paradigm, then you accept that you ought to be judged by the same yardstick as your husband.
That being the case, I find Tucker’s failure to report the sexual abuses of her husband–against their adopted daughter via the foster care system–every bit as egregious as his abuses against Tucker. By doing as she did, she empowered an abuser and failed in her duty to protect those who were clearly being abused. I also find it deplorable that TWW gives her a pass on that front, given their rightful excoriation of Mahaney, Harris, and others who either have covered up sexual abuses or have given passes to those who have.
You cannot have that both ways.
In America, the law gives you the right to kill your child before birth (and your husband has no legal say-so), gives you the right to end your marriage without proving fault, the right to compete for just about any job in the country, and even gives you deference if you file a claim of domestic violence against your husband. And yet you refused to report sexual abuse to the very authorities who could have done something about it?
As for Kassian, while I generally agree with her assessment of Tucker’s book, I do question whether a complimentarian marriage would have saved Tucker from abuse. While I am a complimentarian myself, I would also contend–and Kassian seems to admit this–that any framework can be abused. I’ve seen abuses in egalitarian marriages; I’ve seen abuses in complimentarian marriages; I’ve seen them in patriarchal marriages; and–yes–even in matriarchal marriages. We humans are capable of exploiting just about anything.
As for TWW, I take serious issue with their character assassination of Kassian. It reminds me of the same jackwagons who ran the show at SBTS in the pre-Mohler days: if you don’t like what your opponent says, then ad hominem is the way to go.
Every time they do that, their credibility sinks.