Thursday, March 15, 2012

Complementarianism, Scapegoats, and New Meaning to the “Fountain” at Bellefontaine

--> Have you ever heard the expression “kick the dog and he shall bite you”? When we're not behaving in optimal ways, we human beings have a tendency to take out our frustrations and disappointments on lesser creatures or even inanimate objects. If you had a bad day at work because the boss gave you a lot of grief, did you come home to take it out your frustration on your children or your spouse? Did you loose patience with the family pet when they were behaving like a pet because you had not productively expressed that stress in a healthier way? It's much easier to vent at other people who are not a threat to you, expecting that there will be no consequences or limited consequences for doing so. Adam started doing it in the book of Genesis. But as the first phrase aptly notes, consequences do revisit us.

But what Adam did was a bit more complicated and went beyond venting frustration. He also attempted to lay blame on Eve to avoid bearing the consequences of his own actions himself. The complementarians claim that this was a just and reasonable conclusion on Adam's part to some extent, because they assume that women are subordinate to men because they are defined by complementarianism as ontologically (of essence) and teleologically (of purpose) subordinate and therefore man's lesser. It's more than just an issue of a hierarchy in terms of the rules they believe that God established. That isn't enough. They have misused Scripture to “read into” what has been written in order to make women into lesser creatures in terms of both essence and sole purpose. Why would this be a problem? Their concept of perceived hierarchy adds to the weight of the blame placed on Eve and takes some of the burden off of Adam (and therefore men) in their minds.

Remember the other cliché that says “'misfortune' rolls downhill”?

Status and the fallacy of the appeal to authority often gives people moral permission to treat subordinates differently and with less consideration than they would give to a peer who is on a linear par with them or a superior.

Demoralization and Dehumanization

Hanna Arendt wrote extensively about the holocaust and totalitarianism, and she wrote some of the best commentary we have today concerning the trials at Nuremburg, particularly concerning Adolf Eichmann. She was tough on everyone. She not only noted how Germany blamed the Jew for all of the evil in the world, but she also believed that those sitting in judgement at Nuremburg also laid too much blame on Eichmann, holding him accountable for more than just his own human rights violations. Each group of people felt great motive and found it easy to demoralize their opponents because of the benefits the perception afforded them (though in the case of Eichmann, there was great cause and just reason to rightfully moralize). Demoralizing an enemy makes it easier to hate them, therefore it is easier to justify any immoral acts committed against them. During wars, one must use every weapon one can find against the enemy, and ideological weapons prove profoundly effective.

In her writings on totalitarianism, Arendt also notes how much of Europe manifested anger and greed which fostered their hatred and jealousy of Jews because of the Rothchilds who controlled much of the banking in Europe prior to the World Wars. She believes that this greed and jealousy fostered the conditions that favored discrimination against Jews in the early 20th Century. Germans gained great benefit by considering that the Jewish People were less than human, and Hitler capitalized upon this greed and selfishness. As I've written in the past, quoting the book Occidentalism, demoralization can quickly become dehumanization, as we see also see in the case with the Jews. (“The dehumanizing picture of the West painted by its enemies is what we have called Occidentalism,” pg 5.) If someone is seen as less than human, people feel that they are not obligated to treat them with human dignity. They can be defined as deserving of inhumane treatment. This is very common during times of war, and it's remnants can still be heard in the South following the War Between the States in the phrase of “Damn Yankee” which carries with it the connotation that those from North of the Mason Dixon line cannot be Christians and are actually something more like demons who hate Christianity. This belief continues to thrive in the US today, even among Christians.

We also must consider the inherent human trait and drive to punish evil. Bandura's studies (and those of Milgram and Zimbardo also) demonstrate that people will be gracious and kind to those they believe are innocent and good, but to those who are defined as immoral and as “animals,” they tend to deliver great punishment. They are also willing to subscribe to “moral disengagement” for a cause, displacing their sense of ethics in favor of following what someone else has decided for them. They believe that this reduces their own culpability for their personal actions, because the means used to carry out harm and punishment can be justified by the ideology of a group. Please visit the embedded links in this paragraph to understand the very powerful influence that these human traits carry in terms of a person's willingness to participate in and natural tendencies toward punishment.

Defining Women and Wives as Adversaries

Within complementarianism, we see all of these factors at work. We see many examples of logical fallacy and extra-Biblical doctrine used to justify aggression towards women. Women are said to naturally seek to dominate and overthrow men. We see leaders in complementarianism state that men have good cause to consider abusing their wives when they don't submit to a husband's authority, and though they don't officially condone the behavior, they justify it indirectly. We see leaders in complementarianism (Piper and Patterson and Gothard) state that women are obligated to endure at least a certain measure of abuse in the name of their ideology's submission requirements. And there's plenty of ideology to go around.

Add all of these things to the premises of complementarianism. In addition to teaching that women are ontologically and teleologically subordinate to men which in some ways defines them as less human and less spiritually capable than men, they teach that women are little more than a type of child that requires an overseer. Though they ignore that Genesis Chapter 4 notes that Eve named her sons without mentioning any input from Adam, they attest that Eve is subordinate to Adam because he named her. They assert that Adam failed to lead Eve around like a child in the garden (a sin before sin?). All women are said to be easily deceived, lacking spiritual discernment. Women's testimonies and reciting of Scripture are said to be without meaning, power, value, and effectiveness. I could list and list the teachings of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) for days, but I'd rather just refer you to a critique of their Danvers Statement. In addition to the denial of full personhood, CBMW are also saddles women with the blame for original sin (Piper, J, Grudem, W, eds, Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books (1991), p.179- 193.). They claim that it was really Eve who committed original sin, but since she was not created fully in the Image of God and did have a childlike, secondary status, Adam had to take the blame because of primogeniture.

But there is another factor which perhaps fosters more discord in marriages because of the Danvers Statement than all of these factors put together. CBMW teaches that it is woman's natural and inherent drive to seek to dominate and overthrow men. You can read it in the Danvers Statement and in the volumes of rebuttal in the 570 page book which defends the Statement because CBMW feels that Christians require this much explanation to discern what the Bible teaches. You can also link here, paying attention to “Affirmation #4” in my response to the Danvers Statement. I hope complementarian men sleep with one eye open in bed at night, because only God knows what the evil woman might do while he's unconscious! Just as the Michael Pearl identifies children as the natural, “diabolical” enemy of the parent, so does CBMW define all women, even Christian women, as the bane of men.

Cause for Retaliation and Punishment at a Men's Conference?

Almost two weeks ago, Paul Dohse attended a men's conference in Central Ohio which featured Voddie Baucham as the keynote speaker. Having little prior knowledge of the dark underbelly of the specific teachings of complementarianism and what the ideology requires of women, Paul was appalled by the things that were said about women. He was especially perplexed by the teaching that there was sin that is not sin unto death, apparently, because it was stated that Adam sinned before the Fall of Man by failing to lead his wife. Baucham identified only two possible camps in the church: either you were on God's side (complementarianism, of course), or you were a part of the evil empire of evangelical feminists.

Paul expressed great distress at what he viewed as passive-aggressive behavior on the part of men who were permitted to use the ladies rooms in the church because of the large volume of men in attendance that day. He found that the ladies room stalls to be disgusting, noting puddles of urine on the floor which he could not avoid. Even the tread on his shoes for which he was grateful could not protect his pant legs from baptism. He believed the behavior to be be deliberate on the part of the men attending that day, particularly after listening to the speakers define women according to the complementarian paradigm.

I guess it’s an age thing, but I needed several trips to the bathroom during the conference and noticed something that was indicative of all of the stalls in the women’s restroom. When I encountered it the first time, I cleaned it up myself, but soon realized that would be futile to continue if I didn’t want to miss the whole conference. I am talkin’ urine all over the toilets and the floor. In regard to the toilets, the first time I left a stall that I did not clean up myself, I was not careful to not  touch the toilet as I turned to open the stall door and got urine all over the back of my pant legs. As far as the floor, we are talkin’ large puddles. We are talkin’….”I’m glad these shoes I’m wearing have a high tread.”

I would like to suggest to Voddie that he teach his kool-aid drinking followers to get it all in the toilet before they attempt to take on Christianity’s number one enemy, “gender feminists.” Somebody had to clean that mess up, and if it was the ladies at Calvary, they may all now be feminists at this writing. And because many of your followers believe that Adam sinned before the fall, teaching them to get it all in the toilet may be difficult, so maybe you could teach them how to clean a toilet. Because after all Voddie, if they can’t even pee in a boot, they will be no match for the feminists.
Jocelyn Andersen, a domestic abuse survivor, corresponded with Dohse and wrote in two venues about Paul's observations I believe that she would agree that Calvinism has already become a Christian woman's worst nightmare and has been for decades, though she would note that the problem does not merely rest within Calvinist circles . At the Freedom for Christian Women Coalition Website, Andersen wrote that Baucham “even labeled women as being just a notch above the serpent on the “food chain,” of which males were at the top, of course.”

She went on to write at The Examiner in an article entitled Complementarian Men Symbolically Urinate On Women:
Paul Dohse, editor of “Paul’s Passing Thoughts” at, wrote that while using the women’s restroom, he found the toilets and floor in every stall sprayed with urine. He wrote that this was the case throughout the entirety of the conference. In an email interview, Dohse’ would not go so far as to say that he believed men at the conference were demonstrating hatred and contempt for women by symbolically urinating on them, but he did say that, “it's hard for me to believe what I saw wasn't deliberate.”
He blamed the condition of the women’s restroom, in part, on the anti-woman messages preached at the conference by Dr. Voddie Baucham.  Baucham, who will be coming to the Orlando area this fall to speak at a conference with Dr. R. C. Sproul, is a prominent leader within the complementarian movement. He presented three keynote messages at the Bellefontaine conference, and according to Dohse, Baucham’s messages were saturated with anti-feminist rhetoric and an “us” against “them” attitude. From the urine-sprayed condition of the women’s restroom, it seems clear that Baucham was successful in whipping the men into an anti-feminist frenzy.

New Calvinism's Scapegoat

In the Old Testament, the Isrealites were required to take a lamb or a goat to the Tabernacle on the Day of Atonement in order to cover the sins of their family. Once every year, the Levitical priest would then go before God for the sins of all the people to pour blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. But before Jesus came to rend the veil that separated both men and women from God's presence, allowing both to go boldy to the Throne of Grace to find help and forgiveness directly, people were required to select a goat upon which they imputed the sins of their family which was sent out into the wilderness, the payment that was also owed to sin. The goat would be devoured alone in the wilderness, and there was quite a panic if that scapegoat wandered back into the camp as it is recorded in the ancient Jewish literature!

CBMW and groups that promote their ideolology have effectively made scapegoats of the very women that they contend to defend and protect. Instead of receiving the blessing of Christ through imputation of our sins to Him on the Cross in exchange for His holy status of right standing before God through justification through the Blood of Jesus, they insist on imputing sin onto women. They blame women for every problem found within home, church, and society. Is it any wonder that men “whipped into a frenzy” would seek to express their frustration in some way against dehumanized, demoralized, demonized, and scapegoated women?

In Occidentalism, Westerners are blamed for all of the evil in the world. Hitler blamed the Jews. Complementarianism blames women, even the Christian women for whom they assume the role of leader, caretaker, and intercessor.

The Response

I understand that elsewhere online, members and representatives of the church that hosted the conference claim that Paul deliberately lied about the conditions in the ladies room when their local newspaper featured a quote from The Examiner on the local topics section of the Bellfontaine, OH website. And as a consequence, I've learned that Paul was approached by three church leaders (who did not represent the church that hosted the conference. The church that did host the conference contacted the leadership of the church to express their concerns about what Paul had written when he came forward to speak about the condition of the restroom as well as the doctrinal issues which encompass not only complementarianism but the doctrinal errors of the infused, progressive justification preached and believed by the speakers of the conference, a doctrine sometimes called “Gospel Sanctification.” Please note that the group did not consider the meeting to be a “Matthew 18 confrontation” (what some see as a formula among Christians for dealing with offenses as well as overt sin). The men parted amicably (without offense) with the three leaders from local church that approached him, though they strongly disagreed about the situation. It was stated that the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Bellefontaine, OH does wish to meet with Paul to discuss the matter further.

What I don't understand is why doctrinal issues and matters of observed behavior require what appears on the surface to me to amount to what most Christians consider a “Matthew 18” confrontation, even though the people who recently met with Paul denied that it was such an effort. I can well understand that the pastor of the church that hosted the conference would be grieved to read about Paul's experience, but I don't understand why that pastor could not express that directly on Paul's blog in the comments in an open forum. I know that the type of feedback that Paul offered is painful for ministers to hear, especially concerning special events like conferences such as these which are meant to help believers and to promote a better understanding of Scripture, not detract or hinder their spiritual walk. I also fail to understand why the church in Bellefontaine went to the effort of first figuring out who Paul was, who attended with him, and who might intervene and confront him on their behalf. Why not contact Paul directly? Why require several private meetings?

I cannot but consider to some extent that this is an effort in damage control on behalf of these men who are rightfully embarrassed but also likely feel uncomfortable with the fact that their doctrine has been challenged so openly and directly. We shall see what unfolds, and I hope that the individuals and groups that take issue with Paul's experience and statements about the doctrines preached at the Men of God 2012 Conference in Bellefontaine follow liberty.

Will the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church view these matters of gender and Gospel Sanctification doctrine under the liberty among believers, viewing the matter as an issue of intramural doctrine? Or will he side with CBMW and Baucham who attest that matters of gender represent essential Christian doctrine, a direct reflection of God's Identity and Lordship? It is the position of CBMW as well as Vision Forum with whom Voddie Baucham is affiliated that those who reject their specific gender views worship a false god and are little more than open theists. I suppose that time will tell. I certainly hope that the matter doesn't degrade into this. I would, however, not be a bit surprised if it did.