Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jon Zens Talks About His New Book: No Will of My Own (How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood)

Author Jon Zens joined in earlier today at Jocelyn Andersen's Blog Talk Radio (BTR) to discuss his new book, No Will of My Own: How Patriarchy Smothers Female Dignity and Personhood.

Using examples from a study of the effects of sexual incest on girls in the Netherlands, “a book that powerfully exposes the severe ill-effects of church or religious authority-based patriarchy on women,” Jon demonstrates how the effects of overt sexual incest within Christian families parallel the disturbing covert trends emerging from within the Quiverfull/Patriarchy Movement in the U.S.

In his Introduction to No Will of My Own, Jon states, “In this case, incest is the extreme at one end of the spectrum, while non-sexual forms of female suppression lie at the other. [The Netherlands study] focuses on incest, but by putting the worst extreme under the magnifying glass, the negative attributes in patriarchy that affect all females are thereby exposed” (pg.23).

Halfway through our time on BTR this morning, I began to worry if we would get to talk about both the unique and vitally important aspects of the book itself! Both Jon and Jocelyn enjoyed elaborating on (exposing!) the theology that undergirds patriarchy as it is practiced in many sectors of the Christian church today, and I enjoyed listening to their passionate discussion. If you were one of those who listened to the live streaming of the show, you must go back to the archives to listen to Jon's summary of the book and his encouragement to those who encounter the phenomenon of the “Stay at Home Daughter” theology and its ideas which continue to gain popularity, particularly within many Christian homeschooling communities. The archives contain a few extra minutes of content (than did the live broadcast), and you won't want to miss Jon's words of wisdom at the very end of the show.

Of interest to the survivors of Hephzibah House, I'm sure that they will be encouraged to know that Jon also mentions their plight as an example of the abuses of patriarchy in No Will of My Own, a recent topic both here on this website and on Jocelyn's BTR. As noted on pages 46-7:
How can a woman under the thumb of patriarchy say to the Lord, “not my will but yours,” and “not my life but yours” when she has no will or life of her own? If her life and will do not exist, then the giving of herself fully to our Lord Jesus Christ is prevented or obstructed. Those who are not allowed to have a relationship, an opinion, an expression, a life, or a heart of their own will be hindered in entering into a personal relationship with the Lord because it is in the Lord's name that they are told they do not exist. “The Lord is my shepherd” is taken out of their reach by those proclaiming the dominion of males, which then results in abuse, enslavement, and a rationale for men to fulfill their desires for power and the gratification of their own flesh.
What about daughters who do ask questions and have formed some opinions of their own? Well, predictably, there are some places where fundamentalist and patriarchal families can send their daughters for “rehab.” The Hephzibah House is one of them. It is an oasis for those wishing to put females “in their place” as subservient to men (Jeri Massi has an audio presentation at; cf.,

Jon Zens has been the editor of Searching Together magazine since 1978. Since 1977, he and his wife Dotty have been traveling domestically and internationally, sharing with groups insights about living in Christ under the New Covenant and alternative church life. Since 2001, they have been working with ministries that help women out of the sex trade. Jon and Dotty have three children and six grandchildren. He serves as a special consultant to the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition, and many look forward to him joining in the next Seneca Falls Convention, currently planned for the Fall of 2012. Jon holds a B.A. in Biblical studies from Covenant College (1968), a M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia (1972), and a D.Min. from the California Graduate School of Theology (1983). Read more details about Jon and his ministry at the more extensive bio listed on the Pagan Christianity website, as well as his supportive thoughts about the book by the same title by Frank Viola and George Barna.

I know that in addition to many others, Jocelyn and I are grateful to Jon's bold stand against the abuses of women, particularly this disturbing and heart-wrenching aspect of it. It was a honor and joy to have him join us today, just as it is such a great honor to have him serve with us at FreeCWC. May God continue to bless him abundantly for his bold and valiant stand against the tide of political and social pressure by his willingness to expose the dark underbelly of patriarchy and its many ugly tentacles that extend throughout Christianity, even today.

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Our Recommendations:

In No Will of My Own, Jon Zens challenges us to examine a frightening, but logical and authentic end result of living under patriarchal Christianity. His conclusions are shocking, sound, and well documented. I applaud him for his courage and thank him for this invaluable resource.
Jocelyn Andersen, author of, Woman this is WAR! Gender, Slavery & the Evangelical Caste System

Too often, the Church avoids painful discussions of unpleasant topics, especially those which take place within its own circles. No Will of My Own brings the heart-wrenching consequences of idolatrous patriarchy out of the darkness and into the light. Jon Zens graciously contrasts the insidious ideas that prop up the pagan practice with Biblical and common-sense truth, offering healing encouragement to the wounded. As the issues of gender and priestcraft pose some of the most significant challenges faced by today’s Evangelical Church, 
his vital treatise proves both powerful and timely.
Cynthia Kunsman, of and the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition