Sunday, May 29, 2011

Keeping Vows

Some complementarians like to use the account of Abigail and Nabal as support for their argument that a wife should never leave her husband, even if he is abusive. They claim that if the abuse is as bad as the woman says, that God will intervene and either change her husband or smite him so he dies, as He did with Nabal—unless it is God's will that the wife endure abuse for a reason that only God knows. With this reasoning—and it is man's reasoning—they make it clear that according to them, in order for a wife to be obedient to God, she must do nothing to protect herself or her children from harm at her husband's hands.

There are several problems with using Abigail and Nabal to make this point. First, there is no indication that Nabal was abusive to Abigail. Often when a man is abusive at home, he is seen as a pillar of society in public. But in this case, Nabal was known as being churlish and evil in society, and we have no indication what he was like at home. When Abigail told him she had fed David and his men, there is no suggestion that he yelled at her, cut her down, or beat her.

Second, Abigail did not submit to Nabal's every wish or command. In fact, when she went to David with food after Nabal had denied food to David and his men, according to complementarian teaching, she rebelled against Nabal and against God because she did not submit to her husband's authority. In other words, the way Abigail managed to stay married to Nabal was by NOT submitting to him at times.

Third, it appears that Nabal did not live in the same house with Abigail at least part of the time, which could have made it easier for Abigail to stay married because she would have had to endure less of her husband's churlishness, yet had a number of servants to get things done. We know at the time of the account that Nabal was in Carmel sheering sheep, instead of at home in Maon. We also know that Nabal had a lot of property in Carmel, which would have given him good reason to be away from home frequently. Because of our own culture, we could assume that Abigail went with her husband to Carmel, but since he was out working all day, he didn't find out about the busy beehive of food preparation and loading onto asses that happened at his wife's direction, nor about the envoy of asses that left his property, even though it could have taken quite a few hours and been hard for either Nabal or his men not to notice if they were anywhere in the area. Or we could assume that Abigail stayed behind in Maon while Nabal was in Carmel. But if Abigail was in Maon, why would David have been coming against her, instead of against Nabal in Carmel? Especially since we know David knew Nabal was in Carmel. Further, I Samuel 25:36 tells us that Abigail went to Nabal and found he was holding a feast at his house, and that he was merry and very drunk, so she waited until morning to tell him what she had done. Now it seems if they lived in the same house, the servants would have had a limited amount of time to prepare Nabal's feast in the hours after Abigail left with the asses loaded with food, and before she returned in order for her to not have known he was throwing a party fit for a king. Also, if Nabal's feast was held in a house the couple shared, it is unlikely the writer would say the feast was “in his house.”

Fourth, God does not always deal with regular people in the same way that he deals with people he has chosen and anointed for a task. David was God's anointed. Therefore, God sometimes extended extra blessing to those who helped David, and extra trouble to those who gave David trouble. Consider all the trouble Saul dealt with, probably because of his attempts to hunt down David, God's anointed, and kill him. Consider also the widow of Zarephath, who fed Elijah, God's anointed, during a famine when she was nearly out of food, and as a result neither her meal, nor her oil ran out until God sent rain. Yet, there were many other widows during that famine who received no help from Elijah. Recall the curse of leprosy that came on Miriam for her action against Moses, who was God's anointed. David was blessed for not harming Saul, who was God's anointed.

Clearly, there is a biblical pattern of blessing for those who bless and protect God's anointed, and curse or harm for those who harm God's anointed. So God's smiting of Nabal was because of his refusal to aid David, God's anointed, and had nothing to do with Nabal's treatment of his wife.

Fifth, there is a problem with complementarian logic that would require a person to remain in harms way. There are many biblical examples of people who got out of harms way. David fled from Saul, even though he had agreed to play music for him. Paul fled those who would kill him. Lot did not deliver his visitors to the demanding men at his door. Elijah fled from Jezebel. And Jesus didn't stick around to let the people throw him over a cliff, either.

Would any of these complementarians demand that a person remain with the church they had vowed to be faithful to, even after they realized the leader was taking them down a wrong path and would require them to drink poison, or otherwise harm themselves in any way? Would these complementarians demand that a person remain in a church where they are being sexually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually abused by a leader in that church?

Yet, somehow they would have us all believe that marital vows are more binding for women than other vows or agreements, even if keeping those vows leads to our illness or death, as is the case with domestic abuse and domestic violence. It is a known fact that chronic stress increases one's likelihood of getting cancer and other diseases. Recent research has shown that women whose husbands are abusive have much higher rates of illness than non-abused women do, even illnesses like bladder infections that seem unrelated to abuse. And these same complementarians seem to disregard the vow the husbands made before God and man to love and cherish their wives.

I want to know, why are church leaders focusing on wives keeping their vows and submitting, but only giving lip service to husbands truly loving, cherishing, and sacrificing for their wives?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Are Complementarian Women Next?

A face book page calls on Saudi men “to beat Saudi women who drive their cars in a planned protest next month against the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on women taking the wheel.” Another case of submission tyranny. But that's over there. It can't touch women here in the United States, right? Think again.

When Sandra Day O'Conner wrote the Supreme Court opinion, and based it on European law, she opened up Pandora's box of atrocities, which includes tyranny against women. Consider: only a few years after O'Conner's written decision, judges are beginning to allow Sharia law in their court rooms, including laws that restrict and punish Muslim women according to Sharia law. and In other words, the Muslims who are pushing for Sharia law are wielding an ever larger influence in the United States as well as in Europe and other western countries, and many nations are making concessions and allowing Sharia law to be practiced alongside their own, and even superseding their own.

In addition to Muslim pressure, complementarians are pushing to repeal rights that have been won for women, including the right to vote, the right to obtain a restraining order against their abusive husbands, etc. (do your own research. I refuse to provide links to their sites.) Similar to radical Muslims, complementarians also believe women should stay in their homes (with the exception of women like Mary Kassian, Phyllis Schlafly, & etc who go around teaching other women to stay in their homes and defer all money-making and decision-making to their husbands) and that husbands should maintain strict authority over their wives.

Added to these pressures, many voices are blaming Israel for disallowing citizenship to Muslims who live in Israel, which I presume includes banning them from the right to vote. In other words, in trying to vilify Israel for restricting the Muslim influence from taking over in that country, liberals in the US, are laying the groundwork to allow Muslims full citizenship and voting rights in the US. All it would take is a concerted effort by both Muslims, complementarians, and other anti-women-freedom groups, most of whom believe in producing large families, to raise up a huge block of voters to overturn the current laws that protect and give rights and freedom to women.

The bottom line is that our constitution, our declaration of independence gives the rights of equality specifically to men, not to women.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

At the time the Declaration of Independence was written, black men were not included as being equal, and later it was decided that a black man could be counted as half a person. Women were not included in that equality statement either. In fact, women were not allowed to vote until 1920, 144 years after our nation was formed. Although Amendment XIX (19) was ratified in 1920, it only states
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Nothing has ever been written into the law or constitution about the inalienable right of women to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, nor about their God-created equality.

With that lack of protection in our foundational laws, and with the growing pressure from Muslims and complementarians, with liberals pushing to allow illegal aliens citizenship status and to not block the corridor from Mexico, (or claiming that it is already blocked, when it is not,) with the children of illegals (some of them could be Muslim, Sharia-loving illegals) being granted citizenship if they are born in the US, the door is wide open for a takeover that would allow radical Muslims and/or complementarians to fill over half the seats in the house and senate, and for a radical Muslim or radical complementarian to become president within one generation. (perhaps sooner).

Indeed, even in the United States, which is purported to be the land of the free, women's status, freedom, and protection from tyranny is heavily dependent upon the mercy and goodwill of men. As recent as April 9, 1923, in Adkins vs Children's Hospital, just 2.5 years after women had won the right to vote, the court decided that the 1918 minimum wage act for adult women was “an unconstitutional interference with the liberty of contract.” # 11 of
It took 14 years for that law to be overturned in “West Coast Hotel Co v. Parrish” . As recently as 1893, just 118 years ago, the supreme court decided that "a woman had no legal existence separate from her husband” (bottom 1/5 of page) and as recent as June 29, 1992, a whole 99 years later, that the court concluded in the Pennsylvania case regarding abortion rights that “A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.”

If women are not seen as having these inalienable rights from God, but instead have received them from men, those rights can also be taken away by men.

But laws of our country aside, how many complementarian husbands deny their wives the right to drive when and where the wives choose? How many Christian homes in the USA have the same prohibitions against women driving that the Saudi's do? How many more husbands, in the name of husband authority, will inflict that rule upon their wives in the coming year? And how many so-called Christian husbands beat their wives for driving their cars? Perhaps the Christian community would do better to focus on those in their own pews, instead of worrying so much about radical Muslims. After all, they have much more influence in their own pews than they do among Muslims.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Complementarian Equality

Complementarians claim that they do believe in equality of the genders, but that men and women have different roles. However, their behavior says they do NOT think men and women are of equal value. Complementarian Phyllis Schlaffly is a lawyer who works with father supremest groups to repeal WAVA, the Women Against Violence Act, which allows women to obtain a restraining order to protect themselves from their abuser. Apparently, Phyllis thinks the right of men to maintain authority over their wives through threats, verbal assault and physical punishment ought to be protected, even though their wives are afraid for their lives and frequently the wives who are afraid of their husbands do end up severely battered or even murdered by their husbands. Schlaffly claims it is unconstitutional to inflict a restraining order on a man without finding him guilty in a court of law.

On the other side, people like Bruce Ware suggest husbands would not beat their wives if wives submitted. The first thing pastors tell wives who complain of being abused by their husbands, is to go home and submit to their husbands. In other words, Ware and friends prejudge wives as guilty without a trial.

When couples go to pastors for counseling, pastors tend to focus on wife submission. Only after they have been working with the couple for 6-12 months or more, and see that the wife is actually submissive and docile, do they even begin to suspect the husband may be at fault. By that time, they have helped produce such an extreme imbalance in the marriage, it is frequently beyond saving because their intervention has taught the husband that he is lord, king, master, and god of his wife, and the husband is unwilling to relinquish his entitlement and privilege.

So on the one hand, complementarians refuse to believe a man is guilty of abusing his wife until the truth is so obvious they can no longer deny it. On the other hand, they refuse to believe the wife is NOT guilty of insubordination and insist she must be at fault, until the truth is so obvious they can no longer deny it.

Just how is this presupposition equality? Clearly complementarians believe men are more righteous, more believable, more right than their wives, and their behavior is more justifiable. Complementarians also believe wives are liars, untrustworthy, selfish, unrighteous, unscrupulous, rebellious, God haters, men haters, & etc., and their behavior is NOT justifiable. And these beliefs continue in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I repeat: how can they claim their teaching/belief is equality of the genders? Doesn't this show a belief in male superiority and female inferiority? In fact, this shows they do NOT deal with men and women, husbands and wives, with anything remotely resembling equality. It is NOT just about differing roles. It IS about inequality and about MAINTAINING that inequality.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.