Keith’s Views on Deconstructing the Faith–and Reconstructing Something Healthy

by | Jan 28, 2022 | Faith, Theology of Marriage and Sex, Uncategorized | 49 comments

Deconstructing Evangelicalism Because of the Treatment of Women
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Sheila here!

My husband Keith’s manifesto on Wednesday about how the evangelical church has treated women went quite big, and he has one more thing he’d like to say.

This all fits well in what we’re talking about this month about putting the “Christ” back in “Christian marriage!”

I have one more thing I want to say as we wrap up our series on Monday, but I’m going to let Keith have ALMOST the last word. 🙂

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Deconstruction Definition

To those who may not know, deconstruction refers to a movement that is growing in the evangelical church right now to question the beliefs that you were brought up with to try to get to the truth. Which beliefs are true essentials of the faith? And which are merely cultural trappings that may have hurt us?

Think of it as a house inspector pulling a moldy or rotten house apart to get to the still healthy foundation. What is it that we’re actually built on? Is anything that was built on top of the foundation rotten? What is healthy?

Deconstruction is often prompted by major doubts about the church, mostly because of what appears to be very unChristlike behaviour on the part of its proponents.

Some people deconstruct and leave the faith altogether, but many are just trying to find their way to a healthier faith that is more consistent with the Jesus we know.

I have been watching the backlash against deconstruction that is going on in the evangelical church these days with increasing consternation.

At first it was funny. Matt Chandler talking about how people were doing it just because it was “sexy” has resulted in some excellent memes.

But recently, there has been a mad rush to decry it from multiple organizations including The Gospel Coalition (TGC), The Council of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood (CBMW), Desiring God – basically every bastion of the Evangelical Industrial Complex has chimed in. The message is all the same: “Watch out for deconstruction! Avoid this perilous new heresy!”

I read the recent Desiring God post about deconstruction. It is an impassioned plea not to leave the faith when you have doubts, which is admirable. But as an apology for “Why I am not deconstructing”, it fails because it is based upon the same fundamental misunderstanding that anti-deconstructionists all have: they equate deconstruction with wanting to leave Jesus. “The Church isn’t perfect, but don’t leave Jesus,” they say.

As someone who considers himself to be firmly in the deconstruction camp, I can assure you, we are not trying to leave Jesus.

We are just having a hard time with the trappings that you have surrounded Jesus with.

We are trying desperately to cling to Jesus despite the harmful ideas that the evangelical church has been attaching to Jesus and then calling non-negotiable. And if every time we try to remove those trappings and get to the heart of what Jesus intended you say we aren’t really Christian, is it any wonder why sometimes deconstruction does end up with people leaving the faith?

In other words, people who are deconstructing aren’t leaving Jesus; you are pushing them away from Him!

On a personal note, the key issue for me is the way the church has treated women.

I recognize other people have different issues (eg. racism), but I will speak here only to this one subject. There was a time when we could have healthy debate and maybe agree to disagree about women’s ordination and what submission looked like in marriage. But now the evangelical zeitgeist has hardened to an overtly misogynistic and hateful view of women. You can deny it all you want, but that doesn’t make it any less true. And if you disagree with what is taught or if you (gasp) promote the opposite idea, that women deserve equal and fair treatment, then you simply “aren’t Biblical”.

A sentinel event for me, was John MacArthur telling Beth Moore to “go home”. When you see someone act like he did and then get treated as a hero rather than a villain, your moral compass can’t help but ask if you are hanging out with the wrong kind of people.

The equal parts derision and vitriol that have been spewed at Moore since she left the SBC has in my opinion deeply underscored this point.

And for those of you who don’t think the evangelical view of women is fundamentally flawed, let me recap 2021 for you.

It started with the revelation that Ravi Zacaharias, one of our most respected apologists, a man who we thought to be a man of great integrity, was not only an abuser, but a human trafficker. A man who we all thought knew more about Jesus than anyone else had used hundreds of women over his career for his own sexual fulfillment then discarded them like used playthings, warning them not to tell anyone, lest “the message of the gospel be hindered.”

Then the year ended with not just the conviction of Josh Duggar for possession of child pornography, but a florid and shameful demonstration during his trial of how far people who claim to represent Jesus will go to cover up and justify the abuse of women to protect the reputation of men.

In the middle we saw the release of “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill”, which documented in scathing detail the actions of Mark Driscoll, a man who called women penis homes among other misogynistic comments. Yet despite all the evidence of how toxic he is, Jimmy Evans of XO marriage and Dave and Ashley Willis of the Naked Marriage podcast continue to support him and give him a platform at their marriage conferences and on their board. And churches keep hiring them for conferences!

So my question is: after seeing all this is, how do we explain people who are NOT deconstructing?

The difference between those who are deconstructing and those who are not is whether or not you realize that these men did not arise in a vacuum.

People who are deconstructing realize these men are not a few bad apples in an otherwise healthy tree. They see that the tree is rotten. It is self-evident that an organization’s views of women will shape how that organization will treat women.

For anyone with eyes to see, it is clear that the evangelical church desperately needs a healthier view of women.

The obvious answer is to start treating women as equals in every way and giving them a voice, but this is simply not an option to those who refuse to reject “Biblical” manhood and womanhood. Instead, when the evangelical church has been confronted with the fruit of their teaching, when they have been called out on the terrible ways they have treated our sisters in the faith, in every case they have reacted either with callous indifference or doubled down on these clearly flawed and harmful doctrines and just intensified the pain.

The first point in The Gospel Coalition’s critique of deconstruction is to “not throw the baby out with the bath water”. This is a common refrain from anti-deconstructionists. But here’s the thing. If we are talking about the Christian faith, then the “baby” is Christ. It is not the institutional evangelical church. And it is certainly not any particular biblical hermeneutic.

Evangelicals used to believe in tiers.

Some things were first tier and you really couldn’t be a Christian if you didn’t believe them (eg. the Trinity). Other things were second tier. They were important enough that denominations felt that if you were going to be a member, you had to agree with their stance (eg. method of baptism). Then there were a whole host of third tier items where even people in the same denomination might disagree. Anything other than first tier issues is not essential to faith.

Unfortunately, most of the people whom I have seen confront deconstruction with the “baby and bath water” argument are clearly being disingenuous. They are not concerned about not throwing out the baby (i.e. Christ) as much as they are clearly interested in keeping their particular part of the bath water. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think they are being intentionally deceptive most of the time. I think the majority of them have simply lost the ability to tell the difference.

For instance, I find it quite ironic that the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW)  has now started to post articles critiquing deconstruction. CMBW is an organization which is based upon a third tier “doctrinal distinctive”: the issue of women in leadership in the church and home (well, in their case, keeping women OUT of leadership in the church and home). This organization has been instrumental in moving this issue to the first tier, insisting that if you don’t believe their stance, you clearly don’t believe the Bible. And now they are writing anti-deconstruction arguments. The whole thing is so absolutely “meta”!

Personally I think the “bath water” of patriarchy and misogyny needs to be chucked if the church is going to stay healthy and thrive in the future.

Unfortunately, the powers that be in evangelicalism have invested all their energy in making sure that that particular section of the bath water stays part of the deal. As a result, the places within the evangelical community that fully accept women as equals are few and far between.

People who are saying, “I want Jesus, but I don’t want misogyny”, are hard-pressed to find an area within evangelicalism they can call home. When they can’t find a place in the evangelical body where those two aren’t linked, they leave. Then the very ones who fused patriarchy to Jesus despise them for their lack of faith. But decrying someone for leaving after you handed them their coat and showed them the door says more about you than it does about them.

Another point the TGC article makes is that people deconstruct because they have received poor teaching. (Don’t worry, this is it; I’m not going to tackle all four points). It says that instead of deconstructing, we should combat bad teaching with good teaching. I agree. But that’s precisely the problem. The evangelical establishment is refusing to give good teaching. Worse, they “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). just look at their reaction to Sheila’s survey of 20,000 women for The Great Sex Rescue showing definitively that their view of women and sex hurts marriages and makes sex worse for couples. They have ignored the evidence and shot the messenger!

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

The evidence is now overwhelming that a hierarchical view of the genders causes harm of every sort to women up to and including physical and sexual abuse.

Given that our Saviour said “a good tree cannot bear bad fruit”, this teaching should have been gone a long time ago. Instead, they cling to it and preach “patriarchy protects women and those instances of abuse are exceptions”.

I disagree, but if it were true, then my question is this: “Where were the guardians of the true version of this teaching when Beth Moore was being verbally assaulted on her way out the SBC door?” “Where were they when Owen Strachan was tweeting out sympathy for Ravi Zacahrias while that scandal was unfolding?”

If God has a perfect plan where men are in charge for the good of women, where is the self-policing? Where is this famous protection that patriarchy provides? No, we all see these arguments for what they really are: men trying to hold on to power by whatever means possible and getting angry at those who are divesting them of that power.

Let me finish on a note of encouragement.

When I observe the monolithic juggernaut that is the evangelical establishment just getting around to critiquing deconstruction, I have to admit I laugh a little, given that many of us are now eager to get on to the next phase: “reconstruction”. Signs of life are everywhere. Hearts and minds are changing.

Sheila has completely redirected the conversation about marriage and sex. And next week, Sheila and I start the launch of “The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex” which we hope will move us closer to a healthier understanding of Christian male sexuality. Others are stripping away the other “trappings” that have been inappropriately attached to Jesus. We still don’t know what the future will hold, but it looks bright to me and full of hope.

It looks like after fighting for so long, maybe we can all take a breath and be reassured by the words of St Paul that these “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor 4:17)

Sheila here:

As I think about what Keith has written, my hope is that those questioning the church’s treatment of women (or others who are deconstructing for other important reasons) will no longer be pushed out of the church. Instead, I hope that our voices and numbers will become so big that we can reclaim the church. I hope people will keep speaking up. I believe that most in the evangelical church actually do want to serve Jesus and do not believe that the things we have taught about gender are essentials at all. 

As our voices become louder, I pray that we won’t have to leave, but instead those that teach toxic things will be more and more marginalized, and the church will be reclaimed. And I do believe that is happening! Thank you all for your support as we do what is really deconstruction work. 

And I’m excited to move to RECONSTRUCTION with the launch of The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex: Let’s build a healthy view of biblical sexuality in marriage, from the ground up!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Deconstructing Evangelicalism Because of its Treatment of Women

What do you think about deconstruction? Do you see hope for the future? Let’s talk in the comments.

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Blog and Podcast Contributor, Co-Author with Sheila of two upcoming marriage books

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

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  1. Tracie

    THANK YOU for putting words to what has been in my heart for the better part of three years.

  2. Jo R

    “Where is this famous protection that patriarchy provides?”

    Well, obviously these “teachers and preachers” are “protecting” all the women still sitting in the pews from having their minds “poisoned” by a little actual, biblical truth.

    Another grand slam, Keith! For all of us women who have been putting up with these terrible lies (because how could we not? In addition to never being able to say no to our husbands about anything, not just sex—which we had to participate in on men’s terms, of course—we were also commanded to remain silent in church where we heard this vile garbage spouted in the first place), THANK YOU!!!!! 🙏🙏🙏👍👍👍🥰🥰🥰

  3. Lori

    Thank you! Thank you to you and your wife for speaking up, being willing to be on the forefront and take the backlash and helping to bring truth, healing, wholeness, health, wisdom, and freedom not just back into the bedroom but into people’s walks with the Lord! God bless you both!!

  4. Chris

    Keith, I’ve told Sheila this before but I’m going to tell you also: you two are soooo Catholic. 🤣. You just don’t know it yet. You guys should make an appointment with a priest.

    • Jen

      or Eastern Orthodox 🙂 !

      • Dean

        I am Eastern Orthodox, my wife is Catholic, we strongly agree with Keith and Sheila’s view on marriage, and the notions of the husband being the boss of the wife tend to astound us. That being said, some Eastern Orthodox priests and some Catholic priests can be misogynistic, at times.

    • Sue R

      Chris, I must have missed your earlier comment telling Sheila that she is Catholic. This is so funny — because you are right. I am Catholic, and so are Sheila and Keith. But I don’t think they need an appointment with a priest. I think they’re doing great on their own and bringing more people to Jesus (or back to Jesus) no matter the “religion.”

      • Anon

        And how ironic is it that the evangelical community would be the first people to cry that “Catholics aren’t real Christians,” yet I’ve seen more Roman Catholics with a far deeper and firmer understanding of Biblical truth!

    • Jane Eyre

      I’m laughing, but it is true.

    • Anonymous305

      I see how their view of marriage is more Catholic, but the idea of going directly to God without a human mediator and of personal Bible study doesn’t match my impression of Catholics.

  5. Bethy

    Chef’s kiss as usual team

  6. Anon

    If I want to create a garden on a piece of weed & rubbish infested land, I don’t just charge in and start planting flowers. That would just increase the mess. Instead, I dig over the ground first, getting rid of all the rubbish and weeds and THEN the ground is clear and ready for planting.

    A homeowner doesn’t slap a coat of paint onto rotting wood and rusting metal. Instead, they clear away the rot, scrape off the rust, sand away the old, flaking paint and then they have a solid foundation to work on.

    A dentist doesn’t put a filling in a decayed tooth – they clear away all the decay first, because they know that if they put the filling on top of decayed matter, the problem will get worse.

    In literally EVERY other area of life, we know we have to clear away the rubbish and the bad stuff before we can see any kind of lasting change. SO WHY DOES THE CHURCH THINK IT CAN DO DIFFERENTLY?!!!

    • EOF

      Because it’s the rubbish that doesn’t want to be discarded.

      • Julia


    • Kate Mulder

      Or new wine into old wine skins?
      I feel like Jesus was preaching deconstruction to his generation.

  7. Sonyam

    Thanks for this Kieth! Your comment about the bad apples reminds me of an analogy I heard from Catherine Pugh about racism in the police force–if there are a few “bad apples” spoiling the bunch (in this case stoking misogyny and making church unsafe for women and driving out those who are deconstructing), where is the produce manager? Those who are in positions of authority and haven’t dealt with these bad apples properly need replaced with people who will do the job faithfully.

  8. Jess

    I’ve found deconstructing to be great spiritual growth because He’s all you have to cling to when your worldview is getting turned upside down.
    I bought myself the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible and highly recommend it for the difficult passages. It is so refreshing to read the various understandings instead of one perspective. The notes on Eph 5:22 include “It should go without saying that this is a general principle not applicable to situations of abuse”

    • Another Rachel

      I agree, Jess. My experience has been the same. When all you have left is Jesus, what better starting point is there for rebuilding and rediscovering, then reinforcing and strengthening my faith? He is, after all, the Alpha and Omega, the author and perfecter of our faith, the one who started it all. I’m just taking it back to the Gospel, to John 14:6, and restarting there without all the cultural/theological/denominational baggage.

      Deconstruction does NOT necessarily mean deconversion.

    • Anon

      ‘deconstructing to be great spiritual growth’. Yes!

      I’m a gardener, and one of my favourite jobs is to take a neglected old shrub that’s looking terrible and give it a good pruning. We call this ‘renovation pruning. It looks really brutal because by the time you’ve taken out everything that is dead or diseased and cut away a lot of the old wood, it doesn’t look like you have much left. But suddenly there is air and light and room to grow – and within a season or two, the shrub is blooming better than ever before – and growing stronger and more healthily too.

      I think we need some renovation pruning in the church. It’s going to look terrible, but once it’s done, we will be amazed at the new growth.

      • E

        As a fellow gardener, I love this!

  9. Jane Eyre

    Really lovely post. I’m of the belief that since Christianity is Truth, it can withstand any (logical, sound) arguments and questions. If you “deconstruct” math, you’ll wind up at the exact same place.

    I’m also of the belief that if something is a total mystery except to the insiders, but is also intended to be universally applicable, someone is pulling a fast one. (Obviously, you need enough background to be able to ask good questions and understand what you’re looking at.) Is there any particular reason that we need these self-appointed experts to tell us how to be faithful? Is there any reason that we can’t question them?

    The total lack of independent (ie not because of who they are married to) women’s voices in the evangelical world is deeply concerning. Women have voices… if they are married to a rock star and talk about marriage the way their husbands talk about marriage. Sheila and Beth Moore are very unusual.

    • Jo R

      “Is there any reason that we can’t question them?”

      Apparently, ovaries. 🙄🙄🙄

      • Anonymous305


  10. Jim

    I believe that one of the reasons that deconstruction is receiving backlash is because it is an umbrella term.

    As Keith stated, deconstruction is often linked with de-conversion.

    I have seen and read a number of interviews with Christians that ‘deconstructed’ and often it started with questioning one or more teachings to then throwing out all of Christianity. Often those within the Church were not able to answer the doubts that they had and then decided to walk away.

    Deconstruction is also linked to the rise of progressive ‘Christianity’ that has thrown out the historical Christian worldview and supplanting it with progressive political ideologies. Things like the divinity of Christ or the authority of the Bible are being thrown out in order to be ‘more inclusive’. Sean McDowell has had several conversations with progressive ‘Christians’ that articulate their positions.

    I agree that instances of abuse need to stop, abusers should be prosecuted and removed from leadership positions, and women should be treated as equals. I do believe that we are on that trajectory and I have seen these changes in my Christian circles. We should also continue to verify that teachings line up with the Bible.

    I am reminded of Corinthians 2:3-5.
    ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.’

  11. A2bbethany

    Sometimes it’s scary to seriously question your own beliefs. I experienced that as a teenager, when cementing beliefs about self defense and creation. But through asking the taught beliefs of my parents, I made them into my own. It’s the only way to make them personal.

    That’s one good piece of advice I got from the book, before you meet prince charming (not a bad book for young teens, but it’s been years). As they pointed out the importance of deciding before you date, how far physically you want to go. Rather than being carried in a moment, but later regretting going that far.

    And then I carried it into every other aspect of life, like church attendance. Would I still go after I was on my own, and no longer had mom and dad pushing me? Or my own dress code, ECT.

    I sometimes wonder if adults skip that growing pain, of separating beliefs from the world and family. I know I didn’t do it fully, but having partially done it, helped me alot.
    That would explain those who are defending what they think is good, but not actually having thought about it.

  12. Just interested

    Can you be specific what TGC are doing wrong?

  13. Codec

    It is important to try to put yourself in a bit of a birds eye perspective.

    For as bad as misogony and misandry are and they are things have improved over history and your books are helping with that.

    I would like to see you guys adress the idea that a man should protect women and children. I think it is good to protect others and I think sometimes that good ideas and intentions get twisted into bad wicked things.

    I honestly want you guys to do a post on Aragorn since you have brought him up before.

    • Anon

      That would be great, considering “The Lord of the Rings” was written by a devout Roman Catholic! (See the above posts about Catholics to get the reference)

      • Codec

        I like character discussions.

  14. Marius

    Thank you, Keith!

    Yes, the rot in the Evangelical church goes far deeper than misogyny – you could look at the identification of Evangelicalism with far right politics, racism, wealth, and so on.
    But your diagnostic is spot on:
    “men trying to hold on to power by whatever means possible and getting angry at those who are divesting them of that power.”

    I am a pastor; I served Baptist churches for 25 years, before having had enough and ‘escaping’ to a mainline Protestant denomination.
    From the outside, I look back and it’s hard for me to believe that I stayed in that toxic environment for so long!

    I love Jesus, and I continue to serve Him with the sisters and brothers that genuinely want to follow Him. But I hate what evangelical leaders have done to His church.

  15. Anonymous

    I know this is isn’t a topic you are tackling here, but I have to tell you. I hadn’t really connected the struggle I’m having as deconstructing until I read this post. Our child came out to us as being non-binary and, although we weren’t surprised given some of the amazing discussions we’d had previously, it is causing me real struggle as I question what I had been taught growing up about gender identity and sexuality. I’m pretty sure our church stands as you do with equality for women, but I don’t really know where it stands on the issue of gender identity. That causes me concern for our family and our child, in particular.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is a tough road to walk! I think the big thing is just to see your child as a person, and not a doctrinal issue. I’ve seen so many people do that. I wish you all the best as you try to navigate this! It sounds like you have a real heart for keeping the relationship.

      • Anonymous

        Yup, our child is definitely not a doctrinal issue. 🙂 They are a pretty special person. Thanks.

  16. Katie

    I agree that it sounds like some serious work needs doing on the North American church. But I don’t agree that the cause is a commitment to men in leadership in the home / church, because I’ve been in loads of churches here in the UK which hold to that doctrine, but where I have literally never seen women treated the way you describe.

    There are too many women within the church here to be treated as second-class citizens, even if people had the inclination to do so! (which I’ve never seen). It sounds like the North American church culture is very different – and very nasty – but I don’t think it is necessarily caused by holding to differences in male/female roles within the church and family, or else we’d expect to see the same in British churches as well.

    Not many people here who support male leadership would support the type of approach to gender roles that’s taken by the Council for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood. Culturally it’d be pretty odd for us, since women are respected in the workplace and in public life – so of course, it’s natural that they’re respected in the church, even where there is male leadership.

    In that context, women aren’t eligible to be pastors or elders, just like most men in the church aren’t eligible to be pastors or elders, and like men aren’t eligible to be breastfeeding mothers. None of those mean that either men or women are any more or less worthy of respect; those are the jobs people do, not anything to do with their inherent worth or dignity as persons. Personally I think the only reason we get angry at women not being able to be pastors but don’t get angry at men not being able to breastfeed is because we somehow value church leadership but don’t value breastfeeding. I think both are fantastic Christian roles in which people can serve.

    So I’m very glad you’re pointing out wrong practices and wrong teachings, but I don’t think that the cause of those wrong things is having men in leadership.

    • Rb

      I don’t know what I personally believe about women in leadership (still working that one out) – but breastfeeding is a biological and physiological thing that literally only women can do. A man can’t breastfeed, ever. So why would men get mad about it 😆
      Whether women can lead or not is completely different.

      That said, I wanted to say that I am Australian, and we are probably similar to the uk in that while most conservative churches don’t ordain women, the gender roles aren’t as front and centre as in the US. There are pockets of it of course, and also cases of abuse etc. But just not to the same extent! We have attended a Presbyterian church (which is one of the more conservative denominations) for almost 7 years, and I have never heard gender roles or anything along those lines preached from the pulpit. Our church ran a marriage course a few years ago which was very egalitarian in its approach, and when our minister preached on Peter’s epistles recently he handled the passage about husbands and wives very carefully, putting the focus back on Jesus and how living for him should influence and inform our relationships with him and each other.

      It does concern me how often books like love & respect and every man’s battle are recommended on a Christian mums fb group I am in, but I always try to recommend Sheila’s resources when these topics come up.

    • Jo R

      I believe your comparison of leadership to breastfeeding is not particularly apt.

      Breastfeeding requires certain anatomical structures that function in a particular way, while leadership is about skills, training, and perhaps a certain inherent personality type.

      Persons without those inherently necessary anatomical structures can never breastfeed, as there is no amount of training or experience that will begin and sustain milk production, but leadership doesn’t require a particular body part—except in the North American church. That’s rather the point in the whole discussion. The church here has decided there IS an “organ of leadership,” and since women don’t have that organ, then by definition they can’t be leaders. In the minds of many men, and way too many women, it’s simply not allowed for a woman—a person without that organ—to be a leader, even if she has the skills, training, and personality to do so.

    • Anon

      I’d love to know whereabouts you are in the UK, because I’m also from the UK and have been treated like a second-class citizen in most churches I’ve attended.

      It’s even worse if you are single and childless, since you are ‘failing’ to fulfil your ‘primary functions’ of looking after a man and raising babies.

      It’s been interesting to note the number of people who started treating me as ‘grown up’ when I got married for the first time – in my 40s!!! But I’ll never be fully adult to them because I can’t have kids.

  17. Phil


    First off let me say that I would DISAGREE whole heartedly that North American Church’s are general nasty places. It is a shame that you have gotten that notion about us particularly from reading this blog… Here is my analogy with out a real survey. Here in the USA many people go to church on Sundays for an hour and that is the extent of their God for the week. Those people aren’t really so much the problem…but yet they are getting some of these messages. he The real problem is people who are engrained in the church who hold positions of influence from folks such as Sunday school leaders to youth leaders and board members and people who are involved all the way up to and including Bishops and Synod folks who hold misbeliefs and are spreading it by their actions and misspoken words. These people are creating an atmosphere that gives a silent message that misogyny and hierarchy and even gaslighting and lots of other bad stuff that is not Jesus are ok. Particularly this message is given to women…. And you know what? There is total truth in that. What I have observed in our church with the small group we have been teaching in Sunday school is that many of the women and males do hold some of these beliefs in some form that they have learned somewhere along the lines. For them it has not effect them in such ways that Sheila has been sharing on the intensity scale here on the blog. But here is the thing: The message is present both chirstian and no Christian environments. I’ll give a bet it’s even present in the UK. While Western Culture is different this is an old age problem that is not going away anytime soon. I love Sheila’s work and the messages that are here about TRUTH. To balance the equation I have been witness to wonderful churches and ministries here in the USA. I have been part of negative atmospheres and positive atmospheres in my home church growing up. I sometimes struggle with all the “deconstruction” message here on the blog. I am not afraid to share that here. I have shared it with Sheila before. It doesn’t change the fact that I agree with her work and love her work. In every church from here to the UK you will find a bad message somewhere. We are human and we are fallible. The problem is you can’t just deconstruct all the time. You have to build you have to encourage. You have to be like Paul. You have to be part of both sides of the equation. You have to step up. I read peoples stuff here on the blog about running form the church and not being part of a church and I don’t trust the church etc etc. Well guess what? If you don’t step up and change it it wont change! I wish you could come to me and my wifes Sunday school class. We don’t actually teach. The people think we do but all we do is ask questions in hopes of getting to the TRUTH. It is way awesome. My church has some issues. But you know what? I LOVE MY CHURCH and I am here to testify that MY CHURCH IS NOT A NASTY PLACE – and I am 100% positive there are plenty of awesome church’s here in the USA!

  18. Nathan

    Good post, Phil. My church is also pretty good, but with some pitfalls. They believe in SOME of the male hierarchy model, and they say “have sex with your husband often, or he’ll stray and it’s your fault”. On the other hand, they DO recognize that people can say “no” sometimes. They also recognize that the submission message applies to both spouses equally.

    • Jo R

      Why do these preachers and teachers never give the converse idea: “Husbands, have great conversations and be emotionally romantic with your wives, or they’ll stray”?

  19. April Heivilin

    Amen!! Hearing the lies represented as Biblical truth by Mark Driscoll (etc) was so damaging to people I know, and the misogyny lives on even here liberal Seattle. Thank you for sharing Biblical truths that demonstrate freedom in Christ for all.

  20. Allen Humphries

    I agree with 99% of what Keith expressed in the post. In my case, deconstruction involves removing the superstructure to expose the unsound portions of the foundation so they can be replaced. Some of the building was not built on the one true foundation.
    I will re-use the good parts of the superstructure in my reconstruction, but everything will get checked for weakness or contamination before it is re-used.

    I started this process about 5 years ago. It won’t be finished anytime soon. It may may never be finished. Like a real building that needs constant maintenance and repair, I suspect I might too. My understanding is imperfect, and I still see as through a glass darkly, but clearer than before.

    My wife and I are enjoying working through Sheila’s book.

  21. Columba Booth

    Deconstruct the evangelical “church” all you want. It’s full of rot, as Sheila often reveals. As long as you’re talking about exposing and disposing of the harmful stuff in the church, great.
    Deconstruction, though, has far deeper and more sinister roots than what you’re describing here. We need to be careful with terms. The deconstruction movement, as I understand it, has more to do with undermining the truth of the Gospel and shipwrecking people’s faith. The fact that compromised organizations such as The Gospel Coalition and others oppose deconstruction does not mean deconstruction is a good thing.
    Biblical illiteracy and the emphasis on emotions superseding knowledge in the evangelical church are why deconstruction works.
    Have you read Another Gospel? by Alissa Childers? She describes her journey from ignorant but happy Christian, to almost losing her faith in a deconstruction class, to digging into theology and apologetics, to a renewed, solid faith built on truth.
    How about an interview or guest post with Alissa Childers? This is an important topic.

  22. Mara R

    Keith in above article: “If God has a perfect plan where men are in charge for the good of women, where is the self-policing? Where is this famous protection that patriarchy provides?”

    Sorry I’m so late to the party. Reread this because considering sending the link to it for someone else to read. So I get that this comment will be completely lost due to my tardiness.

    Anyway, back in the day, I called this (the above assertion by patriarchs) the second lie the patriarch. Patriarchy doesn’t protect women and children. It protects itself.

  23. Bonnie

    Thank you Sheila and Keith. God has given you wisdom and as such is a blessing to so many. As a Canadian, I am glad you are too. Some of these men in the American evangelical community also have some good teaching but there should be absolute freedom for them to be challenged. Eg. I saw a you tube video where John McCarthur asked for prayers for Jim Coates of Grace Life church in Edmonton Alberta Canada who was ” in jail for preaching the gospel” (You can find it by either googling it or looking at you tubes by BTWN (Bible Thumping Wingnut). I was in Alberta when this happened and Jim Coates was jailed for violating public health orders around Covid..(rightly or wrongly). MOT for preaching the gospelI!!!! I then commented that this was incorrect. I wanted to email John McCarthur but no email address available on his web site. I am writing all this to demonstrate that even celebrated teachers can demonstrate a lack of obvious critical thinking. And it seems the Christian community should be able to readily correct and confront this. Keep up the good work.


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