Monday, April 3, 2023

Mess with the Bull and You'll Get the Horns: The Dominating Behavioral Context of CBMW

(Complementarianism) Patriarchy is about Power
On the 15th Anniversary of my Cancelling

Thirty years ago, I joined a Quiverfull Movement church without even knowing that there was such a thing because it seemed like a regular Evangelical church. Young Evangelical women today face even more pressure to conform to Quiverfull standards than I did, and I get frustrated that people think it’s all about babies. The lifestyle undoubtedly involves children, but it focuses on ways of controlling people and circumstances. I grieve today because I’d hoped to be a better agent of more potent, meaningful change. 

Ideas Have Consequences” 

In light of Evangelicalism’s Mad Month of March and the questionnaire that a student recently asked me to complete about my related experiences, I found myself thinking about my own crazy Spring fifteen years ago. Discernment ministries threw away a golden opportunity to state that protecting Christian women from the physical abuse of their Christian husbands/fathers was at least as important as currying favor with the men who taught that God required it. They described it as the “pastoral” choice. My husband told them they were “cowardly.”

I gave a talk on the errors of the Quiverfull Movement (QF) and got jackbooted right out of counter-cult apologetics in 2008. I thought the controversy concerned criticism of their Trinitarian views, but I always forget the officially approved statement. I asserted, then and now, that QF doctrine developed from and was strongly influenced by teachings from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). (Isn’t it the mission of CBMW to influence the Church — especially QF ones — to adopt the “best Biblical view” of gender?) 

After the fact, I learned that the counter-cult organization “had permission to go after Phillips but not the SBC,” one of many statements denied by the person there who spoke them to me. That vanished along with all memory/evidence of the extensive peer review that I sought to be gracious, accountable, and accurate. 

Because of my Christian love for my contact person who I decline to identify (and to spare the jobs of people involved with two organizations), I have kept silent. I feel gaslighted by my cancelling (before that was a thing), and I have wrongly borne the shame of their allegations. Given that the gender debate seems far worse now than it was then, and after fifteen years, I decided that I have the right to disclose this much of my perspective. (My husband says that I'm obliged to tell it, particularly as the SBC works through its problems of hidden abuse.) 

Where do people think Quiverfull came from? The ideologues of QF followed the logical conclusions taught to them in Reformed and SBC seminaries — the same ideas that CBMW proffered to the pew. No longer ignorant of how QF celebrated them, they felt sullied, so they denied it by deeming me wrong. (Their aggression toward me only proved my thesis.)

My personal experiences in QF attesting to those connections amounted to nothing. I didn't have enough documentation to connect the camps? My lived experience was the documentation which is why I came forward. I didn’t err by failing to prove my thesis. I broke an unwritten rule of their hidden curriculum. I exposed unpleasantness. 

Someone noteworthy explained that: 

[I’m familiar with] many of the issues mentioned in your lecture—homeschooling, Dominionism, Bill Gothard, full-quiver, family integrated church, Russell Moore, etc.—but I’ve never seen anything that brings it all together in such a cogent way. I’m not surprised you are getting hammered. 

[. . .] Many of the ideas in your lecture have been whispered about with regard to Southern Seminary for a decade, but until now no one has publicly spoken out and named names.

 Dominating Behavioral Contexts 

In the shadow of the Butler ordeal, the survey that I completed for that student last week set me grieving over the physically abused women in the churches I’d left. I spontaneously quoted Zimbardo’s description of the Stanford Prison Experiment, describing the gender debate as likewise creating a “dominating behavioral context” because of the abuse it facilitates. 

Did I experience a mere fraction of a dominating behavioral context when denied the promised opportunity to defend my scholarship after that 2008 lecture? Six months before that talk, I reviewed every slide in my presentation with my contact at the organization. Six weeks before the conference, I repeated that process by phone and noted the changes. Each time, I offered to drop the names of the SBC professors I planned to quote but was directed to keep them. They promised me that I could defend my thesis later if problems arose. 

The video went live, but things turned ugly when a ministry encouraged readers to watch it. They told me I could save myself if I shut down the video (throwing physically abused women under the bus?) and demanded that I remove their agencies' names. Why did they think I willingly risked telling such unpleasant truths so boldly in the first place? I chose to become anathema, letting them throw me under the bus instead. 

Months later, I was asked if I hadn't considered that I'd actually “pushed together” the QF and the SBC/CBMW camps. What?!?! First, I am not that powerful! To those who deny the common sources, goals, and teachings from the beginning, I suppose it seems that way.

If you are a woman making a statement in an SBC space and have a negative opinion about the bulls of CBMW, know that you will get their far-reaching horns. Know that those horns apparently reach into parachurch organizations, and those organizations face bullying and threats under CBMW’s hegemony, too. Discernment ministries probably risk losing their voices and livelihoods if they stand up to CBMW. 

No wonder abused women in the SBC find the current efforts to hold leadership accountable so deceptively inadequate.  (Follow Christa Brown for more info who inspired me to write this post in the hope that it will make a difference.) 

Pray for and bless those who fight for and fight against justice along with your prayers for the wounded. Everyone needs the Lord’s intervention. Those abused include a broader population that extends beyond the most obvious survivors. 

Please note that I restored the names of the organizations involved in my experience in some of my materials after Voddie Baucham published them in a false narrative in one of his books.

Supporting Documentation

Materials reviewed by at least two Board Members. Initial submission made on August 10, 2007 included all of the names of persons and organizations for which I was later “canceled.” A Board Member (who was not my contact person) approached my husband at the conference in March 2008 and complimented the proposal. View the original pdf HERE.

Materials reviewed on August 24, 2007. View full email pdf, side-by-side comparison of the original draft and final presentation, and links to both PowerPoint files HERE

It has been stated repeatedly since the video went online in April 2008 that my contact never saw any materials and had no knowledge that SBC professors, their seminaries, or CBMW would be named in my talk because it was supposed to primarily focus on Doug Phillips. I believe that my contact who reviewed the PowerPoint was unfamiliar with the persons named and did not appreciate their significance until after the fact. 

In 2016, the Evangelical Theological Society disavowed the Eternal Subordination of the Son Doctrine (ESS). Near the bottom of this webpage, note that Ware repents of ESS but refuses to change his view that the Father's authority stands eminent [read preeminent] above that of the Son, and Jesus submits to the Father's (highest “yet not more” authority). I mark this “mind change” as an abandonment of the terminology only. (I was told that Ware took issue with my use of the term ESS which added to the inflammation my talk.)

It is a distinction without a difference. Giles has written a book about the rise and fall of this ideology, but I think nothing changed. CBMW still asserts that women must submit to a man's greater authority based on their view of the Trinity. At least there is now a growing discussion that Evangelicals have strayed away from solid doctrine through too much focus on Social Trinitarianism. Refer to this interview with Adonis Vidu at Gordon Conwell and note his new book.

Email post-conference documenting offer to drop material from the final presentation to avoid offending anyone in the SBC and seeking peer review within days after the conference. This also serves as documentation of what my critic said to me which I found inappropriate. Note that my husband approached this critic in a private conversation at the end of the lecture and said he believed Ware to be a heretic but that I did not. He said “I was too nice” to make such a statement. After April 11, 2008, multiple people (including my contact at the organization) accused me of calling Ware a heretic. I only cited the writings of Giles, described the view as anthropomorphic, and stated that “I don't feel comfortable about Ware.” I believe all complementarianism uses it to subtly dehumanize women which can facilitate abuse.  It is not just an error of Patriarchy and Quvierfull, but they certainly make use of the principle.

Screenshot noting reference to drop material from the presentation highlighted in my husband's open letter to the organization. The full pdf can be accessed HERE

More documentation of request for additional peer review days after the conference in response to a critic's claim that I'd “embarrassed the seminary” and that I could not possibly have understood Ware. Another Christian counter-cult apologist was gracious enough to spend three days reviewing her research with my contact at the organization to attest that I understood the subject and had not misunderstood/misrepresented Ware's views.  Read additional documents HERE.


I was not required to contact anyone or do anything more after this review process. This March 13th   email was the last communication regarding the matter until I was urged to delete the video. My contact described what I would call Ware's problem of equivocation, an informal logical fallacy. (Read more HERE.)

Additional emails and screenshots noting the dramatic change in the nature of the discussion after I refused to delete the video. They wanted to wipe all record of it off the face of the earth.  View full pdfs HERE discussing how CBMW cannot be questioned in counter-cult apologetics forums.

And for those who interpret all of this as some violation of the principles of Matthew 18, plase note this companion post:  Complicated Forgiveness: Colliding with Organizations that Cancel You.