On Christian Women & Mother Bears

by | May 10, 2021 | Faith, Family, Pornography, Uncategorized | 41 comments

Be a Mother Bear and Protect Your Kids
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Can I share some random thoughts I had this Mother’s Day about protecting the vulnerable around us?

Let me start with recounting how my Mother’s Day began. My mom and I went on a walk with Rebecca and her son Alex (four generations!) by the waterfront trail where we live.

Three Women Mother's Day

At the waterfront trail, we found a number of geese families, together with about a dozen goslings each.

watching Geese with Alex

My grandson’s favourite things in the world are ducks and geese, and these were our first sightings of babies. So it was a BIG DEAL.

The geese, however, were not very peaceful. Four of them kept fighting, because the babies kept swimming back and forth between different adults, and it seems like the adults were laying claim and stating ownership of said babies. Alex was thrilled by all the honking and wing flapping.

But that’s what mothers do. We fight to protect our babies.

That’s good and right.

But what if our religious communities tell us that it’s a sin to do that? Then we’re stuck between two very strong, very opposing forces. Every fibre in our being may want to protect our kids, but we also believe that the God we serve would think that’s a sin.

Allow me to invite Rachael Denhollander to explain. After Josh Duggar’s charges were released, including the fact that he had hundreds child sexual abuse materials (child porn) of children as young as toddlers on a hidden hard drive, Rachael, who led the fight against Larry Nassar and is a sexual abuse victim advocate, had to speakout. She wrote a long Twitter thread about the Josh Duggar situation, and how women are routinely blamed for men’s sins, and bear the cost of men’s sins, while men are often excused. It was very good. I shared it on Facebook, and allow me to quote some of it (it’s so good I wish I could quote the whole thing):

When Josh was arrested, his father began calling people in the church asking them to be Josh’s custodian until trial, so that he could be released on bail. He found a man willing to take him in. Except that man’s wife teaches piano lessons to children, and she was not comfortable having Josh home with her all day, because she would be alone with him while her husband was at work.

That didn’t matter to the husband, however. She has to find a new place to teach all those children because her husband wants Josh to live with them until his trial. Every single family who takes piano from her, and the wife herself, has to uproot their routine, livelihood and the child’s music education, because Josh. Everyone is expected to bear the cost, except Josh.

And the wife’s own very reasonable fears about being alone all day with a man who enjoys the sexual torture of toddlers didn’t matter to the husband either. The FBI agent recommended to the judge that Josh be kept in custody, especially since the wife was afraid to have him in the home. But when she was called to the witness stand and asked if she was in agreement with having Josh live with them, she responded that “her husband had made the decision, and she was here to support him”.

Because under that theology he has the authority and her job is to submit. No matter what…

Everyone – EVERYONE else, from Josh’s own children, to a woman afraid to have him in the home, to his own wife, are bearing the risks and costs of his behavior. And they are being told it is godly and right to do it.

Each man in the situation, from Josh’s dad, (who isn’t protecting his own grandkids or caring about the risks to anyone else), to the husband who decided it was fine despite his wife’s very justified fear, make the decisions. The women and children who pay the price, are expected to submit, forgive, and support, no matter how foolish or wicked the decision….

But we don’t think it’s a big deal in Christian culture because we’ve also peddled the “boys will be boys” mindset. Except we’ve added Scripture to it, and told women they’re responsible for men’s lust and addictions. That if they don’t have sex enough, his needs won’t be met and he’ll stray. We’ve talked about his sexual needs like it’s impossible to go more than a few days without release, but couched her sexuality as existing solely for his benefit. We’ve turned women into dangerous beings who control whether men “fall”, and also into the solution for it. And yes, defining women and sexuality this way is the norm, it’s not the exception. Telling women to be more sexually available to help their husband keep it in his pants is the norm, not the exception. Women are taught as the cause and solution to men’s sexual perversions.

Until our theology changes to actually reflect Scripture, we shouldn’t be surprised at any of this. It’s a story I see every single day. It’s wicked. It’s evil. And it’s long past time that we called it that – not just the abuse, but the twisted theology that fuels it.

Rachael Denhollander

On Twitter and Facebook

I wrote my own thread about Josh Duggar, to elaborate on some of what Rachael said about how our toxic theology makes his sin our fault, but also how our toxic theology sexualizes children. 

Now that Josh Duggar has been indicted on possession of Child Sexual Abuse Materials (child porn), some depicting toddlers, we must confront the sexualization of children in evangelicalism.

Let’s start with teenagers, and go all the way down to toddlers.

Shaunti Feldhahn, in For Young Women Only, tells girls “82% of boys feel little ability and little responsibility to stop the sexual progression.” Telling girls that boys have “little ability” to stop legitimizes date rape and puts the blame at the girl’s feet.

Furthermore, in a post to teenage girls, she warns that their date’s dad will be tempted to “visually take in, linger on, and fantasize about all the details of this great body he’s seeing.” Let that sink in. Teens are being told that it is normal for adult men to sexualize them….

What about toddlers? In For Women Only, Shaunti Feldhahn is making a case for the “male brain”, that men are visual from the earliest ages. She tells an unfortunate story of her son at 4: his “tummy felt funny” when seeing Victoria Secret models’ tummies, sounding like arousal.

She tells a similar story in Through a Man’s Eyes, where a 3-year-old gets an erection from looking at sewing patterns for women’s underwear. She says men have this male brain whether they’re “nine or ninety.”

Curiosity is normal in toddlers. Playing doctor is normal. Touching one’s genitals is normal, as is getting erections in boys. But adult male sexual response and arousal in pre-pubescent children? Definitely not normal.

If these stories were told in a pediatrician’s office, they would warrant follow-up screening questions for child sexual abuse, according to my husband, an examiner in pediatrics for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in Canada.

Beyond that, this is the EXACT SAME argument made by pedophiles for lowering the age of consent. They argue that toddlers & young children have sexual feelings the same way adults do. Our evangelical resources should not be making the same arguments as pedophile lobbying groups.

Twitter Thread

Some days I just feel sick when I look at how deep this stuff goes.

It’s like Alice in Wonderland, looking down the hole. Once you venture through, it’s amazing how deep it all goes. It’s very sobering.

But I was doing pretty well on Saturday and Sunday for the most part. I dealt with all of this on Friday, and I was putting it behind me and enjoying my family.

And then I saw Al Mohler tweet a slaveholder to justify restricting the rights of women–all on Mother’s Day. 

Al Mohler is extremely influential in the SBC, the largest denomination in the United States. He is head of their largest seminary that trains their pastors. And yesterday, on Mother’s Day of all days, Al Mohler resurrected a slaveholder (one of the founders of his seminary), to tweet this:

John Broadus was a slaveholder. He OWNED HUMAN BEINGS. He founded the seminary supporting slavery, and made theological arguments supporting slavery.

How is he supposed to be a moral authority on how we should consider the rights of women?

And notice how he doesn’t just stop women from preaching; he stops them from speaking at all when men are in the room. And this is supposed to be authoritative.

I was spitting mad last night.

Maybe it’s a Canadian thing; I don’t know. but I simply don’t understand this. I really don’t. I understand wrestling with your history as a people and trying to acknowledge the good that was done even by people who believed bad things at the time, or even acted badly in certain spheres. All countries wrestle with that, and we have our own issues in Canada, especially with the treatment of the Indigenous population.

But I don’t understand considering people who owned human beings as moral authorities when it comes to deciding how much rights you should give another class of human beings.

Thankfully everyone jumped all over him (including me), and I love these two responses:

Erin Harding Tweet to Al Mohler

And, of course, the indomitable Beth:

Beth Moore al Mohler Tweet

I don’t know if this stuff makes your blood pressure skyrocket like it does mine.

I want to make it clear: I’m not actually upset at Al Mohler or at JimBob Duggar or at Josh Duggar in some ways. There will always be bad people who make dumb decisions. What I’m upset about is that making such dumb decisions does not result in the church rejecting you or chastising you.

Like, if everyone said, “No way. That’s not of Jesus,” then this would stop. People like this would lose their platform and their support. Their churches and communities would shrink and no longer be influential. We could look to more healthy things.

But instead Al Mohler is still in one of the most powerful positions in the SBC. People still support the Duggars and refuse to see that we have a real problem on our hands with regards to our church culture.

I guess I’m just asking that we act like those mother geese.

When someone tries to attack the vulnerable, let’s call it out and make a big stink. Let’s not just be silent for the sake of peace. Let’s say, “this isn’t acceptable.”

But also–and maybe this is more hopeful (this is what I’m telling myself)–let’s realize that we do have power. I think the reason that people haven’t spoken up, haven’t left bad churches, have tolerated horrible books in Bible studies is because we feel like we don’t have a choice. EVERYBODY else believes this; we’re all alone. So we have to just go with the program or we’ll lose everything.

What if that’s not true? What if there’s a groundswell that will no longer tolerate bad stuff? What if speaking up would actually work now?

I think we’ve reached a tipping point. Rachael’s thread went HUGE. Everyone is talking about it. Al Mohler’s tweet backfired big time. People are noticing. They’re speaking up.

And that means you can, too. Together, we can change conversations. We can protect the vulnerable again. We can argue for the dignity of women and children. We can argue that men are not animals. We can argue that we are all made in the image of God.

If you’re looking for some resources to help you start, I highly recommend The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr. And check out our rubric and scorecard of evangelical books, too, so that you can see which marriage & sex books scored harmful, and which were helpful.

You’re allowed to be a mother bear. Or a mother goose.

You don’t need to toe the line all the time. You just need to run after Jesus. And if someone is telling you to run in a direction that you know is not healthy–then that person isn’t worth listening to.

 

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Be a Mother Bear and Protect Your Kids

What do you think? Are things changing for the better? Do you find more people in your own circle willing to speak up about this? Let me know in the comments! (And I hope for my blood pressure’s sake the answer is yes!)

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

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41 Comments

  1. Bethany#2

    I assume his point was to point out, this issue of women wanting to preach isn’t new. Personally, I think this issue is a complicated area.
    As far as the new testament shows, women are fine to be very active in ministry, but to a point. Deaconess and maybe considered an elder, counselors, helping church Plant ECT. And in history, mission work has followed and seems to be blessed of God.
    But in the bible, the qualifications usually used to find a pasted, specifically describe an older family man. With children who have grown up in good character, and a good marriage.(right? I think that’s the basics in….what small book is it? Peter, Titus? I don’t recall)
    Other church positions are less defined and women are scattered around usually. Serving many different ways.
    The common problem is that young married men go to seminary and start pastoring. They aren’t mature yet, but have plenty of opinions to go around instead.

    Reply
    • Dorthea

      I’d like to ask what does it mean to pastor? Is it guiding someone into Christ likeness, in which case are not all Christ followers called to do that? Or is it sharing the good news of Jesus Christ? In which case the very first person who did that was Mary Magdalene when she ran to tell the disciples that Jesus was alive. In which case Jesus himself purposely chose a woman tone the very first person to preach the good news. I think we have to be careful how we define words and scripture especially as many modern translations have been changed to reflect our modern language meaning that the true meaning of what the authors wrote thousands of years ago can get lost in translation.

      Reply
      • Bethany#2

        The title pastor is a person in charge of preaching every Sunday. But on the whole, it’s a position as overseer of that church’s spiritual and physical wellbeing. Often needing help to care for all of them, deacons were created. Something of an assistant in running the congregation. Making sure everyone got the help they needed.
        A pastor is a heavier title than a person sharing the gospel and talking about God.

        Reply
    • MamaBear

      Curiously, when you are a mother Bear/goose for your child, not only will certain theologies like above, shut you down, but so will our “system.” Which ignores how prevalent sexual abuse of children is.
      I’m fighting for my children’s safety against a man who used scripture and his own cruelty and self-obsession to justify to my face his arousal at seeing me sexually abused by others and sexually abusing me himself. But when I point this out to courts they ignore that a bad husband might be a bad father until proven otherwise. They send our kids to him unsupervised. When I fight back they tell me I’m just angry. When my kids tell me about sexual abuse and I advocate for them they say I’m making it up, that I can’t prove it, and I’m not there to be able to prove it. (Note- this is because I left to protect my kids as I saw abusive behaviors turning on them. And the rules to this game aren’t published in advance. When my children tell others about their abuse, they’re passed along to the next person. Once they stop telling their story (what does a child think when everyone keeps asking them to repeat what happened? Do they feel like they’re not believed? Not telling the right story? Are they just tired of revealing painful things days in a row?) then it al gets thrown out because they didn’t repeat it again to the “right” person. Then they send the kids back….and then the kids lie and recant, because they know no one will help them and it’s up to them to play within their abusers rules.
      I’m fighting. I’m fighting daily. But the fight just ends with being told to wait until the abuse is so obvious and so heinous even those in denial can’t deny it. Or I can wait and pray that they speak up again, even when they’re a little older and can keep repeating the truth until someone listens.
      We need the system to support children too, and not just the men it was built to protect. Kids should at least have some protection and not only by an organization that like these churches is pushing first and foremost for family reunification at the risk of ignoring everything we know about child psychology and risking children to be able to say they put families first, instead of putting safety first.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, MamaBear, I’m so sorry. That’s so awful. I will say a prayer for you. Are there any nonprofit organizations that an help you in this? That’s just heartbreaking.

        Reply
      • MamaBear

        Thank you! We need all the prayer we can get. Incidentally, your book “the great Sex Rescue” has been an incredible way to find healing working through years of marriage to a sexually abusive “Christian” husband. It’s the picture of what it should’ve been so I can recognize what was wrong instead of just blaming myself.
        To answer your question, I’ve talked to everyone I can find and praying something will change through courts or CPS or something and begging God to watch over my kids when I can’t. We have wonderful nonprofit organizations here that are supportive of me and have helped me learn and heal so much, but I just become more and more flabbergasted at the way the legal system works in child abuse cases, especially when the abuser is a parent.

        Reply
  2. Rachel

    I am so grateful people are riding up. We have 4 men our family trusted who were accused of abuse and 3 are registered now. How our kids were spared or why, I don’t know. It’s made me angry how our local churches have NOT handled these situations.
    Thank you for continuing to put our information and bring awareness. May we all rise up as mama bears. Oh God show us the way!

    Reply
  3. Dorthea

    If the only people you can find to quote to support your theology are unrepentant slave owners than something’s wrong with your theology. Notice how in all the discussions about women’s submissive role in the church no one ever quoted Jesus. Why? Because Jesus didn’t oppress people at all! And if Jesus didn’t support suppression of other human beings than neither should we, if we’re truly his followers.
    It’s NOT complicated.

    Reply
    • Amber

      Yes! As they say on the Meeting House After Party podcast, “that’ll peach” 😉 👍🏻

      Reply
    • Bre

      Yes! Not that I have anything against any of the authors of the NT, but I find it a little wonky that people elevate select sentences from someone’s personal letters over Jesus. Jesus didn’t speak explicitly on the topic, but he never said anything against women and was very counter-cultural and affirming of their equality and humanity. At the very least, all this toxic, abusive junk that Sheila has been debunking is definitely wrong because it flies in the face of both Jesus’s general teachings and the few things he said that were specifically about women. Sometimes, I sadly feel like we interpret Jesus through the lense of the other, human teachers of the NT instead of interpreting them through the lense of Jesus, who they themselves were trying (and sometimes failing) to emulate.

      Reply
      • Elissa

        It kind of sounds like you are saying that the words of Jesus are truer or more reliable than other parts of Scripture. That is dangerous territory if we claim as Christians to believe that ALL Scripture is inspired by God, because it leaves you and me and anyone else as the authorities who get to decide which NT authors we want to believe, or say are really following Jesus’ teachings. Beyond that, remember that even though the gospels *record* Jesus’ words, He didn’t personally write them. Just like the other NT books, they were written by MEN who wrote down, with their own emphasis, what they heard Him say. Our trust in the truth of the Bible is not based on the people who wrote it living perfect lives, or even believing perfect theology, but in the perfection of the One authoring the whole process.

        Reply
  4. Rachel

    Sheila, there IS a groundswell and you are part of it. I was on TikTok yesterday and a user named @itsisaacdavid used a youtube clip of your podcast about toxic purity culture to illustrate the need for change in heart change. I credited you in the comments, and it was so refreshing to see how mainstream you’re going. KEEP IT UP.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, yay! That’s awesome. Do you follow Rebecca on Tiktok? She’s rebeccalindenbach I think!

      Reply
      • Rachel

        I will now!

        Reply
  5. Bre

    YES! A thousand times yes! One thing that always gets me is that these people who claim that women can’t preach and must be ultra submissive (particularly the SBC) because “the Bible says so and you’re sinful if you disagree” somehow forget they made the EXACT same claims for slavery…so people using the original Greek and debunking the commonly accepted translations using in-depth scholarship are blaspheming against the “clear original meaning of the texts” when it comes to women in leadership, but it’s okay that the “Biblical” foundations of slavery were disproven using many of the exact same methods? Something stinks. This smacks of the arguments from the church that it was a “crime against nature” to let women go to university. Sadly, it seems like the church is always the last hold out for equality/social change…when your beliefs are grounded in the Bible, it’s hard to open your mind to the fact that YOU could have misinterpreted God’s word or that our Bibles were translated by fallible humans.
    I get a kick out of the gross SBC pastors trying to defend demeaning women with it being a “timeless truth” of God that could never be wrong. Not only was the SBC very wrong on slavery but, as I discovered when watching a “History of the Pro-Life Movement” lecture by my favorite Pro-Life speaker, while they are now Pro-Life (side note; how come some of these same people who say nasty things about women can speak so eloquently about the value of life and being made in the Image of God? I saw a beautiful sign at the March for Life… and then wanted to puke because it was a quote by Wayne Grundem. Why…just why?) they were VERY pro-abortion in the past. Their convention actually released a new article saying that Roe V. Wade wasn’t extreme enough. You can disagree with me on that specific issue, but my point is that the SBC should maybe check themselves on their sexism as they have a record of getting things wrong. Same with other churches of their ilk. True, God’s word is unchangeable, but our understanding of it isn’t and we are apt to get it wrong and then make it the hill we’ll die on, so maybe we should be a bit more self/historically aware.

    Reply
    • Bre

      *News article* . In the past. They’ve since changed their stance…I hit wrong keys and it made that sentence say the exact opposite of what I meant*facepalm*

      Reply
  6. Dawn

    Shelia, I want to thank you for your encouragement. I have been looking at ‘justice’ issues for some time, quietly. With your release of GSR, at the encouragement of my daughters, I became a book ambassador. Tomorrow I am speaking at a ladies meeting for our church, I chose to speak about Tamar. Standing for justice, confronting Judah, and the change in heart that came for Judah because of Tamar’s boldness. This is not a platform I have ever been comfortable with, but because of the boldness of other ‘mamma bears and geese’ I am following the call I’m hearing from Jesus. Thank you and Rebecca and Joanna and other women who are bold for Jesus.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s so amazing, Dawn! Yes! Be good, not just nice. That’s amazing! I’ll try to remember to pray for you tomorrow!

      Reply
  7. Jane Eyre

    Toxic church teaching mimics toxic family relationships. Toxic families usually expect everyone else to stay silent about one or two people’s obvious wrongdoing and not criticise the family to others. They believe that problems can be solved by someone other than the wrongdoer submitting to abuse or acting as the scapegoat. (Ex., if creepy uncle Josh makes crass comments about teenage Kate’s body, the problem can be solved by Kate shutting up about how gross it is.) The problem person is the one who talks about the problems, not the one causing problems.
    “Furthermore, in a post to teenage girls, she warns that their date’s dad will be tempted to ‘visually take in, linger on, and fantasize about all the details of this great body he’s seeing.'”
    That wrongs the young woman and wrongs his wife.
    When I was in my 20s, a LOT of older men stared at me and commented on my body. They sometimes made specific references to how my young body was nicer than the body of women their own age – dressed up in the thinnest veneer of not entirely being about my body. All I ever thought was, I am someday going to be middle aged, and what I am hearing is that a lot of men, maybe even my own husband, will think my body is unattractive and will stare at younger women’s bodies.
    If you ever want an argument for mot getting married, the conditional acceptance of a woman’s body is definitely one.
    On the flip side, it is lovely to hear you and Keith talk about how you are attracted to each other. Your attitude is OF COURSE married couples find each other hot. So refreshing.

    Reply
  8. Krista

    While reading your post I had the same feelings and thoughts as when the Black Lives Matter movement picked up steam last year. I have a black son. My mama bear self would do anything to protect him. We need that same kind of fervor and passion for protecting all our babies and all our women friends and family members from this wrong teaching. I hope that some day this movement impacts the kind of change we are slowly starting to see in the way we treat people of colour.

    Reply
  9. Lisa Johnson Scott

    “Maybe it’s a Canadian thing; I don’t know. but I simply don’t understand this. I really don’t. “
    I think it is partly a Canadian thing to not get how *intertwined White Christianity in the US is in the Lost Cause* of what the Civil War was all about. It continues today very strongly in many conservative churches. Quoting a slave owner isn’t seen as a big deal at all.
    PS In fairness, our history is founded on slave owners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson so it is a constant work to determine how to separate the ideas from the slave owners. But imho the Confederacy is a different thing.

    Reply
    • Boone

      Where I’m from in East TN most families had men fight on both sides. Many times it was brother against brother. My own family suffered divided loyalties. My mother had two ancestors, father and son, that joined the 49th Tennessee volunteer Infantry out of Cheatham County. They were poor farmers. They had been told that a army was coming up the Cumberland River and that army had been promised their property and their women as the plunder of war. They did what any man would do. They joined up to protect hearth and home. The 49th was captured with the fall of Fort Donelson. They were exchanged at Vicksburg and fought at Port Hudson and Jackson, MS. One of them fell wounded at Ezra Church near Atlanta. The other made the charge at Franklin, TN. He died in front of the trenches. On the bloody morning after Franklin only 35 men answered the muster roll. Those 35 marched north to Nashville. After that battle there were only 6. Those 6 went east with what was left of the Army of Tennessee. They made one last charge at Brntonville, NC. Those six men lined up by what was left of the 49th’s flag and advanced. Three of them made it back to Tennessee. What makes a man do that. Is it hate. Is it love. Is it honor. Three from a thousand. There were as many reasons for the war as there were men fighting it. You can’t judge 19th century men by 21st century values and morals. There are a lot of causes that are never talked about in schools because they would shred the popular narrative. I would encourage you to study further. Try to read accounts and letters from the common soldiers. They tend to be closer to the truth.

      Reply
      • bethany#2

        I thought about saying something similar, but decided that it maybe wasn’t the main point. I’m native to the Memphis TN area and their civil war history was honestly the worst you could ask for. They were a big Mississippi port for cotton, and mostly stayed neutral. Seems the majority of them were more interested in making money and staying alive to spend it. War is hard, but choosing greed over either side is cowardly.

        Reply
    • Chris

      Thomas Jefferson said that “Maintaining slavery is like holding a wolf by the ears. You don’t like it but you don’t dare let it go.” Like a lot of the founders, he was born into it. I agree that its hard to separate the thoughts from the man. As to the original quote that started all this that guy that Mohler quoted was NOT a slave owner in 1880. No one was. Slavery had long since been abolished. Just sayin.

      Reply
    • Wild Honey

      Tidbits about the American Civil War that demonstrate how complicated it was (and remains):
      Mary Todd Lincoln (Abe’s wife) had four brothers/half-brothers fight for the Confederacy. Two died in battle. She couldn’t publicly mourn them (being that they’d died committing treason).
      Robert E. Lee (the senior general of the Confederate forces for most of the war) was the son of a Revolutionary War officer/hero. He was offered a senior command ​for the Union, but turned it down when his state (Virginia) declared secession.
      Lee was most definitely a racist and would separate enslaved families (which some slave owners frowned upon), but also went on the record as saying that slavery was a moral and political evil. But he also thought the South should be allowed to emancipate slaves gradually [as individual Union states had been able to do], instead of by force. [ed. note, I’m not saying this is right, only that it was his belief.]
      Lee was in the process of freeing the enslaved people on his plantation when the war broke out. The plantation had been inherited from his father-in-law, who mandated in his will that all enslaved persons be freed within five years of his death. [Basically, the old man wanted the enslaved persons freed, but didn’t want to have the do the dirty work of figuring out how to free them while making his plantation still function. He left that up to Lee.] This plantation is now known as Arlington National Cemetery.
      PS – Lee’s wife was a great-granddaughter (thru adoption) of George Washington (yes, that George Washington).
      Britain may have outlawed slavery 30 years prior (England declared it illegal 90 years prior, but it wasn’t abolished throughout the the British Empire as a whole until 1833) to the Civil War, but was officially neutral during the course of the war. Many elites actually supported the Confederacy. This sentiment was similar in France (which abolished slavery in 1794, then re-established it, then ended it again in 1848 [speaking of complicated]).
      Just picking a bunch of random countries for comparison… Mexico abolished slavery in 1829, Cuba in 1886, Portugal in 1761, Brazil in 1888, Turkey in 1933, Russia in 1861 (similar time-frame to Civil War).
      No, not a Civil War buff. Just the daughter of one.

      Reply
  10. Misty S.

    Sheila… I just love you. You and your team. Thank you for all you are doing. Thank you for the ways you are challenging everyone. Thank you for taking the brunt of the backlash so often. I’m praying for all of you.
    I had a mama bear moment the last week. My teen girls work at a store across the street from my office so we ride together and they walk from my parking lot. Well only one of them was working one day and some guys that were repairing the sidewalks were catcalling and yelling to the point she had her pepper spray out and was on the verge of a panic attack. The next day she refused to walk that way because they were there again, she would rather walk the long way around the building than deal with them. Let’s just say I had a nice talk with the surpervisor about how they needed to not yell people walking by because they did it to my teenage daughter yesterday. I told them they needed to put their head down, mind their own business, and do their job.
    Then I went upstairs and told my boss if anyone complains about the crazy lady yelling at the contractors down stairs it was me. I told them what happened and they were going to pass it up the chain of command. I don’t think they will be hired to do any more work for us.
    I have been badly burned by the “husband gets to make the final decision ” crap. I’ve been badly burned by the marriage is more important the the people in it belief. I’ve been devalued by someone else’s sins and addictions. I’m in a much healthier, happier place now and I promise you this… My girls will not live with that twisted theology that makes them somehow less than, but responsible for a man. They will live empowered by the Holy Spirit to fill the calling on their lives, and be responsible for themselves. The end.

    Reply
  11. Andrea

    I was encouraged by the deluge of negative responses Al Mohler got. I had to scroll for a looong time before coming across one that was even mildly supportive. These are the last desperate kicks of the dying patriarchy. And as bad as the misogyny and racism are, they are a diversion tactic from the pedophilia that is still going unpunished in the SBC.
    This was my favorite tweet: “Someone dusted off a slave-owner just for Mother’s Day. It was really special.”

    Reply
    • M

      John MacArthur has a 3 min u-tube video discussing the benefits of slavery…. sounds similar to the “Christian “ slave holders justifications. Disturbing.

      Reply
  12. Bethany#2

    I got the sense that this isn’t supposed to be part of your fight. When I read the article, I understand that it made you upset, but in comparison to other quotes and tweets you’ve addressed, this one just feels pretty. I’m not at all familiar with the “slaveowner” or Al Mohler, and its a quote that feels like it lacks explanation. (Like “public mixed assemblies”, is that a party or a church service? From that time period women had obviously different approaches to those. And I was more confused than upset by it.)
    You have started a movement of changing the conversation back to a healthy biblical state. I’d hate to see it dismissed and this post came off as overdramatized. I just don’t see this quote as worth the effort, whether or not it’s a good quote.

    Reply
    • M

      I think it’s disturbing because the way they justified slavery is the same way they justify suppressing women…
      It is a gross misinterpretation of scripture. Read “Paul and Gender” by Westfall. It is wrong.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      To me it’s not the quote. It’s the fact that he’s dredging up a slave owner to do it. I agree, it’s not my usual thing. I just sometimes get so exasperated, and this one is particularly difficult to me. How can someone think a slave owner is a moral authority on how we should treat women? If it was just the quote I wouldn’t have cared. But the slave part–we have to not do that anymore.

      Reply
      • Elissa

        So, King Solomon was a slaveowner… does that mean we should discount his advice on how to treat people found in Proverbs? And for the record, I’m not trying to defend what Al Mohler did or saying it was appropriate, nor am I saying some random SBC guy from the 1800s is on the same level with a biblical author, I’m just genuinely curious to know where and how you draw that line.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          The thing about slavery in the U.S. in the 1800s is that there was every reason to know it was wrong. We had the Holy Spirit. Christians were fighting against it. Loud voices were making very strong cases against it. They can’t plead ignorance. There had already been a huge abolitionist movement in Britain that had won 80 years earlier. I think that’s the big difference to me.

          Reply
  13. Mara R

    Rachael D. -“The women and children who pay the price, are expected to submit, forgive, and support, no matter how foolish or wicked the decision….”
    I read Rachael’s words on Facebook the other day. I then read Matthew 23 this morning as part of my Bible reading schedule. The heading for the first part of this chapter is”Phariseeism Exposed”.
    Jesus – ” And they tie up heavy burdens and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as their finger. ”
    This is what all the men with all the authority are doing to the women and children in this story. They are laying heavy burdens on them and not lifting a finger to help or do any of the work themselves.
    And I thought this morning…
    Patriarchy and Complementarianism in Christianity are Phariseeism.
    And if Jesus is our example and He exposed Phariseeism, then guess what? We can do so too.

    Reply
  14. Ati

    Hi Sheila, thank you for this blog. I kept thinking that my anger was wrong…it doesnt need to be! Some things are so wrong and we are called to call it out. You are my example!
    I do have a question, how do we deal well with this anger, without bitterness eating away inside?
    Thank you for courageously speaking out!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Good question about the anger! I’m not sure I have a really good answer, because I struggle with it. But what I’ve found is that joining communities online that see things in a similar way does help, because I feel like others hear my concerns.

      Reply
      • Amber

        I recently heard a Q and A on Greg Boyd’s podcast wherein he explored the topic of anger and went through the original language to show that what we often think of as “righteous anger” isn’t (or shouldn’t be?) actual anger but rather a sorrow over injustice that pierces the heart. I remember that in the original language, the idea was that a Jesus follower is expected to experience this word – often called anger – that is really a sorrow that compels one to act. In other words, it’s a social justice mandate straight from the NT. So, while I don’t know the answer really, I wonder if our experience of deep sorrow/pain may be the Spirit working in us for change. This coming from a woman who ruminates over these topics constantly and has yet to really DO much….just saying….I thought the podcast was really fascinating.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I really love Greg Boyd. He was my staple when COVID was starting. I should go listen to his podcast. Thank you! I think a lot of it is that kind of sorrow. I’m definitely feeling that today. It’s been a bit of a glum day.

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  15. Kristen

    Count me in as a mama bear. I’ve seen too many religious organizations work harder to protect their institution than the gospel of Jesus. So much damage has been done while boasting Christianity – but I feel an awakening happening, and it’s so refreshing! Growing up in conservative churches and then having my husband pastor some of these churches, we’ve witnessed a lot of suppression, and finally said no more. We stepped away from full time ministry to heal from the wounds we were subjected to. God has been so faithful to provide a church we can attend that we feel so much healthier in. I’ve followed you for several years and am cheering on what I see happening right now!

    Reply
  16. Sarah

    Do you follow the DTR Blog? She was trolling Al Mahler and a few others on that tweet pretty hard and it was very funny. She’s a funny woman and part of this backlash you mention. It definitely seems like a shaking of the foundations is going on in churches, perhaps in part to do with the wider cultural conversations that have been sparked on racism and sexism in the last few years especially. I’ve been listening to a lot of the Preacher Boys podcast and it’s eye opening. Think the prayer and conversation around this issue just needs to keep going and I believe we will see change.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I sure hope so! I feel like i should know the DTR blog and likely do but I can’t remember now. I was on the Preacher Boys podcast a while ago! Did you see it?

      Reply

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