The title of this post is certainly no newsflash. Kirk Cameron has been flexing his male privileged spiritual muscle for a long time now. But the article I ran across today really got me to pondering some things. I’m interested to know what you think.
The Bible and the Church have been the greatest stumbling blocks in the way of women’s emancipation.
~Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Elizabeth Cady Stanton witnessed the damage of the bible in her day as it impeded her progress in the fight for women’s rights. For the Christian culture today, equality for women remains an arduously slow evolution.
While society as a whole continues to evolve and grow with newly acquired knowledge, the bible remains frozen in time. Those caught in the crosshairs between growth and Christianity are bound to be bifurcated, for how can any of us evolve to higher thinking and yet, still hold fiercely to a stagnant set of religious beliefs outdated by thousands of years?
Kirk Cameron illustrates how stuck many Christians are. Christians who take the bible seriously must deny progress in order to hold tightly to antiquated concepts in a book they highly revere but rarely read.
An article published on The Christian Post website earlier in April titled, Kirk Cameron: God’s Word Instructs Wives to Respect, Follow Their Husband’s Lead reports his views on marriage in a nutshell:
“Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband. When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.” ~Kirk Cameron
Cameron falls into the complementarianism camp. Complementarian Christians believe and want others to believe the husband and the wife are equals but with different roles in their marriage and in the church. The husband is the breadwinner, the head of the family. The wife tends to the home.
In reality, it’s not an equal set up at all. Family life can get sticky when kids enter the picture especially for professionals. Typically, it is expected that the wife will give up her career in lieu of raising children. Positions of authority in the church are most often limited to men. And while many complementarian couples will say they work out their differences together, in the event of an impasse, the ultimate decision lies with the husband.
That is not equality. Any child could tell you that.
Try an experiment in a room full of 5 year olds. Tell all the girls that the boys get to be the boss of them and see just how ‘fair’ the girls think that set up is. This just isn’t rocket science.
Colossians 3:18-19 and Ephesians 5:22 are often referred to by couples living this lifestyle as the “Christian Model for Marriage”. As for Cameron, he believes the bible gives him authority over his wife because it’s scriptural. Period. Ironically, the bible is actually far more severe in its limitation of women than he is as a Complementarian!
1 Corinthians 14:34 specifically says women are to keep silent in the churches and learn from their husbands at home. It’s highly doubtful that Cameron holds his wife to this strict standard. And yet, it is every bit as biblical as the scriptures he models his marriage by.
Not only is Cameron failing by being lenient… he faces extreme difficulty even getting into the kingdom of heaven in the first place. Given his net worth is estimated at some 20 million dollars, one might wonder if he takes seriously the words of Jesus when he said:
Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.
If he doesn’t take that scripture seriously, with all of heaven riding on it, why take the scriptures that subjugate his wife seriously when the consequences are so much less grim? Is the kingdom of heaven and your entire eternity not be worth giving up 20 mil?
In his defense, he’s being a human… I could go on and on about the many ways in which he is violating his own holy book as is every Christian who calls it ‘God’s Word’. And it cannot be any other way. I, too, was a massive hypocrite. One only needs to read the book to see how impossible it is to live by and how much of it would be criminal if you did.
Making wrong seem right doesn’t happen over night. It takes years of indoctrination. It takes immersion in the bible and in the Christian culture. It takes instruction by trusted leaders and the continual influence of fellow believers.
However, I believe if you were to ask Cameron flat out: Is sexism wrong? he would answer with a resounding, “Yes, sexism is wrong!” just as he would if you asked him if slavery or racism is wrong. Societal peer pressure is also powerful and you’d have to be a butt-notch to answer any other way.
And yet, it IS sexist to subjugate women and worse to tell women they must stay in their marriage, “regardless of how their spouse is treating them.” Cameron teaches a sexist doctrine without apology and yet would recognize sexism itself as wrong.
Complementarianism is no different in its twisted mentality than was the concept of “separate but equal” in 1890. Where would we be in our society today if the scriptures read, “I suffer not a black person to teach a white person or be in authority over whites.” Where would we be?? And the same Christians who condemn blatant racism continue to accept blatant sexism.
No… It’s worse than mere acceptance. They teach it. They pass along the shackles to the next generation of women and lock them up tight in the name of their Lord and by the authority of His Word just as Kirk Cameron is doing.
It’s easy to disregard Cameron. Many resort to name calling when it comes to him and his message. In fact, it’s not tough to disregard any person who spouts this kind of garbage. But when God does it, it’s a betrayal at its worst and leaves horrendous emotional scars.
I know from experience; reconciling a good, fair, loving, merciful, perfect God with this message of male supremacy is a vagina vexer… (or ball breaker if you’re a guy).
How deeply ingrained is this kind of theology?
Very. But it’s not unbreakable.
What do you suppose would happen if Chelsea were to stand up to Kirk and say that she disagrees with his message of subjugation? What if she challenged him saying she no longer believes he is her authority and now wants to live life as a full and equal partner, as a fully grown, responsible adult woman?
My bet is that if she stood her ground refusing to remain in an unfair marriage, he’d find a way to change his theology to match hers and meet her demands.
So, why doesn’t Chelsea Noble make that stand? Why don’t all Christian women?
Given that I don’t know Chelsea Noble, all I can do is address how the Christian women I DO know handle the subjugation message based on actual conversations I’ve had.
- Many believe the bible is the ultimate “Word of God” and Jesus is the only way. They are stuck with nowhere to turn. They make the best of it even though they can’t make sense of it.
- Many Christians don’t even know these restrictions on women exist. They don’t read the bible much, if at all. Theirs is a social gospel. Their church – a social club and their pastors preach a ‘feel good’ version of the gospel. These pastors know; the message of subjugation wouldn’t feel good to at least half of their congregation.
- Many were raised this way. If they’d been raised in Colorado City, they’d be stuck in a plural marriage to an old goat 10 times their age like Warren Jeffs of the FLDS pictured here. Some will even admit the fact that geography has everything to do with their belief system.
- Some were like me. They read the words of scripture and were appalled and confused. The loving God they thought they knew could not behave in such an unfair way. But the more they studied, prayed and inquired, the more psychological damage they endured and the more they felt betrayed by God.
- Some women like the simplicity of the submissive role. It absolves them of adult responsibility and the consequences of their decisions.
The root problem will always exist within this static book called the bible. Women are not equal between those particular covers. And they’re not especially valued, either.