Keith: It’s a Short Line from Male Power to Abuse of Women and Children

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Abuse | 60 comments

How Male Power Leads to the Abuse of Women and Children

Sheila here!

Last week I published some “Fixed it for Yous” from biblical counselors which were extremely disturbing.

My husband Keith was just infuriated, and asked to write his response.

He’s quite passionate about this, and he’ll be recording this for our podcast this week too!

So here’s Keith!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

The abuse of children is unconscionable.

Knowing I am a pediatrician, I am sure no one will be surprised to learn that I have a soft spot for children. In fact, I have been that way as long as I can remember.

In high school, I volunteered to tutor kids in younger grades who were struggling in school. I was the kind of teenage boy that actually liked babysitting – – and who parents felt they could trust with their kids! While Sheila and I were dating in university we started leading our church’s high school youth group and we have been involved with children & youth ministries off and on ever since.

I find the Bible stories of Jesus with the little children so rich and meaningful and I know I am not alone in that.

When the writers of “The Chosen” spend an entire episode depicting the interactions of Jesus with a group of children who find his camp in Capernaum, we instantly realize that this is not a fanciful diversion from the true story of the gospel.

Although nothing in that episode is actually recorded in the gospels, it clearly and completely resonates with everything the gospels actually do say. Jesus pointed to children over and over again as examples for us adults to follow precisely because children can teach us so much about God. Who has not experienced that sense that we are somehow touching heaven when seeing the undiluted joy of discovery in the face of a child seeing something marvellous in creation for the very first time?

Which makes the teachings from John Street and Jay Adams that Sheila has been exposing recently all the more hideous and vile.

For those of you who did not see Sheila’s “Fixed It For You” posts earlier this month, let’s start with Street’s:

Biblical Counseling and Abuse Advice

Dr John Street is Chair of the Graduate Program in Biblical Counselling at Master’s University, which is run by Dr John MacArthur. 

When Sheila shared with me that a man who calls himself a Christian had publicly said these words, I was literally speechless.

In fact, I still can’t wrap my head around it. The reality that Street is not the only one to think this way, though, has been hammered home time and again as I have watched the various comment sections since Sheila first posted. To my amazement and horror, people keep trying to justify Street by saying Sheila is “taking him out of context”.  They claim Street was “telling the girl’s story in her own words” or “he was just presenting her perspective of events”. But in what context is it EVER okay to refer to an adult man having sexual relations with a 4-year old girl as “sleeping with her”? In what context it is EVER okay to say that the abuse of a young girl was “BECAUSE” (Street’s word) the mother was not giving the abuser enough “sexual satisfaction”? 

There is no context that makes this right. This teaching is pure, undiluted EVIL.

And sadly – though not surprisingly – this is actually NOT an instance of Street being taken out of context. I watched the video myself (start around the 6:00 mark) and felt sick to my stomach as he went on to talk about how this woman after being sexually assaulted as a child “handled things biblically”. And what did he mean by that? She rejected “abuse literature” which would say “you’re a victim” and instead recognized “the depravity of her own heart when going through this”.

Yes, you heard that correctly: telling a 4-year old girl that she “was a victim” of sexual abuse is not biblical according to these people. No, that is a worldly interpretation. The “biblical” method is to explore her own sinfulness in the situation.

And Street is not an aberration in saying this; he is speaking right out of the official playbook as Sheila’s two follow-up “Fixed It For You” posts from Dr Jay Adams, the founder of Biblical Counselling shows:

Biblical Counseling and Abuse: Jay Adams
Biblical Counseling and Abuse: Blaming the Victim

Christ, have mercy!

When I was in medical school I spent a summer doing research work for a Child Protection Team that assessed and treated children who were victims of physical and sexual abuse.

My research job was basically being a “data monkey”. I took all the information from each case (demographics of the victim and the perpetrator, details of the abuse, findings from the team’s assessment, etc) and I organized it and input it into a database that would be used for future research. Part of the experience was also to get some exposure to clinical medicine by observing the team as they did their assessments.

Many times during that summer and (sadly) during my subsequent career as a pediatrician, I have looked into the faces of victims of childhood sexual abuse and seen the maelstrom of emotions as they try to sort out what has happened to them. I learned from the therapists on that team to say, “It is important for you to know that when this happens, it is always the adult’s fault; it is never the child’s fault.”

But men like Street and Adams would say that those therapists and I are worldly and incorrect. To be “biblical”, we ought to explore the child’s “own depravity” in what happened.

To them I can only say: “Woe to you who call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20a). How will you stand before the One who said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them. For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these?”

How do men who profess to be followers of Jesus say such vile and inexcusable things?

It comes down to our view of men and women. MacArthur is famous for his stance that men are ordained by God to be in authority over women. To me, the fact that people making these atrocious statements are based in his university is no coincidence. It seems obvious that teaching God has put men in authority over women comes with an intrinsic danger that we will prioritize men over women, but I have yet to see those who believe in male authority grappling seriously with this issue. All I have heard is their assertions that their position actually protects women and children.

But do we actually see that happening in the church?

Consider what Julie Roys has brought to light about how MacArthur publicly shamed and excommunicated his parishioner, Eileen Gray, after she decided to protect her children by refusing to take her abusive husband back into the home. This man that MacArthur was so eager to reunite with his children was subsequently convicted of aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child and child abuse, but MacArthur and his supporters still stand by their decision to support him over Eileen and her children. In their mind, Eileen’s husband had repented and wanted to reconcile so Eileen was in sin for not forgiving him.  This is what they call “Biblical”.

But anybody who knows anything about abuse knows about the abuse cycle.

Abusers say they are sorry and will change, they “love bomb” their victims and make it seem like everything is all better now – – until the next time.

I take Jesus’ admonition to be “shrewd like serpents” quite seriously when it comes to abusive men.  When I see men weeping and crying about the abuse they have committed, I hear the words of John the Baptizer ringing clearly in my mind: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:7b-8). In my opinion, if an abusive man is truly repentant he will humbly accept that he needs to prove he truly has changed before he even thinks about asking anything from anybody.

But what response do we see from these teachers?

The priority of men and the expendability of women and children in their minds are plain for all to see.

Consider how Street, faced with the story of a man who abused his 4-year old step-daughter for years, slickly and smoothly switches the focus away from the abuser to the 4-year old and her mother. How can anyone not be sickened watching Street make excuses for a man that any other person would consider a monster? Jesus said, “If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” In stark contrast, however, men like Street & Adams encourage sympathy, painting the abuser as a poor man whose hateful wife deprived him of sexual satisfaction.

It is disgusting and evil beyond all comprehension.

MacArthur and others who preach male authority make the case that we ought not to let our culture interpret the Bible. Well the words and actions of MacArthur, Street and Adams demonstrate that they come from a culture where, to put it bluntly, men matter in a way that women and children simply don’t. And it is long past time for them to stop pointing fingers at feminist bogeymen and to realize that in fact is it their patriarchal and misogynist culture that is skewing their interpretation of the Bible.

If these teachers would only heed Jesus’ admonition to “remove the plank from their own eye”, they might see they are unjustly accusing egalitarians of a sin that in fact has come home to roost among them a hundred times over. You cannot say you speak for Jesus and then promote such evil as Street and Adams are spewing. 

If the working out of your theological position results in deliberately putting children into harm’s way and even blaming victims of child abuse for what happened to them while making excuses for the men who abused them then it is not from Jesus no matter how many Bible verses you stick onto it.

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How Male Hierarchy Leads to Abuse

What do you think? How did this stuff become “biblical”? How do we fight against it? Let’s talk in the comments!

Keith Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

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60 Comments

  1. Anonymous for this one

    I have come to hate the passage of Scripture that says to remove the beam fron your own eye before pointing out the more in others. This was used against me when there was a big issue that needed addressing in my marriage. I felt like the church expected me to hit a level of perfection before they’d help address the elephant in the room.

    It also happened that they didn’t want to help because they were doing the same things in their own marriages!!

    Male domineering behavior is so ingrained in the culture, too, that it is “normal.” I will NEVER go back to that church and I limit interaction with those people as much as possible. The only thing that helped me was ditching the submissive wife nonsense and being my own adult. I also stopped being a “missionary spouse,” that is, trying to submit my way to his salvation. I mean, I pray a simple prayer for him every day, but at this point I’m really like, “he’s in your hands, God, because he’s making his bed, he has to sleep in it. I’m not responsible for his salvation. I am only responsible for my witness.”

    This past Sunday was Easter dinner. I have special dietary needs and asked my mom what was in a particular dish. She didn’t know (someone else brought it) but instead of telling me she didn’t know, she told me the name of the dish and that it was made from potatoes, and she said it all loudly and in a very particular clear, but anxious voice. I puzzled about it but realized it is a learned behavior from years of living with my dad. When he asked a question, you gave an answer. “I don’t know”, or “let me find out” weren’t acceptable. He wanted an answer NOW, even a BS one. It’s part of his need for control and power. He’d rather feel the power of making someone give him BS than patiently waiting for an accurate answer, or respecting an “I don’t know.”

    The entire premise of this abusive patriarchy is to control women and children in an attempt to control themselves. It’s like making an entire family starve because dad needs to lose weight.

    I was in a christian marriage group where a man said that he wished Christian women had to wear burkas like Muslim women because he’s sick of lusting after women. No one even considered removing him for being unsafe. Predation isn’t normal male behavior. Constant lusting is not normal male behavior. Pedophilia is not normal male behavior. It is sin and deviancy that has been normalized in certain circles.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      AMEN! Perfectly said. Yes, predation isn’t normal male behaviour.

      I think it’s really interesting that you have enough distance and insight that you were able to see the reasons behind your mom’s behaviour. That shows a lot of growth that most people never get to.

      Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      There are a lot of things that are quite difficult in the shirt term but make your life immeasurably easier in the long term. A man who “constantly lusts” after women would do well to receive counseling and learn to see women as co-equal creations of the Lord. That’s hard in the short term but reaps benefits for years.

      You would think that a good pastor would say this, because we should all be focused on eternity… but noooo. Women have to change because it’s too hard for men to grow.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        “Women have to change because it’s too hard for men to grow.”

        I’ve linked this here before.
        It applies.
        It hasn’t changed so those who have already read this can skip.

        Those who haven’t, here’s an old discussion about how hard some men have worked to make Christianity all about protecting the scared and sensitive places of wounded men by making their version of Christianity so much harder on women and a lot less of a blessing (and even very abusive) to women.

        http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2011/05/jock-strap-religion.html

        Reply
    • Angharad

      “I have come to hate the passage of Scripture that says to remove the beam fron your own eye before pointing out the more in others. This was used against me…”

      They needed to actually READ the bit of the Bible they were throwing at you. If you read Matthew 7, Jesus is talking directly to people who are IGNORING the plank in their own eyes while criticising others for not removing a speck of sawdust. He never said that we had to be perfect before we could challenge sinful behaviour in others. He was speaking to people who spent all their time picking holes in other people’s lives while claiming they themselves were super-spiritual and didn’t need to change. It’s kind of ironic that a passage which was teaching AGAINST being judgemental has actually been used by judgemental people to control others. It was never meant as a stick we could use to beat each other up with for not being ‘perfect’ enough, but rather a spur to each individual to examine their OWN heart before God.

      Reply
    • Matrix

      Pedophilia is an abomination, but regarding the rest of that last paragraph I wish women could see things from a man’s brain for just a few moments. Men are visual creatures and easily distracted by the shape of a woman. It’s a constant struggle against this natural inclination. Men who don’t fight it are savages, and men who do are civilized. Men who tell you that they are not that way are liars. Women who don’t want to acknowledge this will get burned.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        I just want to point out that more recent neuroscience has shown that women are just as visual, there is simply greater arousal non-concordance. We need to stop talking about how men and women are completely different creatures. It’s actually not true.

        Reply
        • n

          My college degree involved neuroscience classes, and Sheila, it means so much to me that you keep challenging this lie with facts. I endured marriage counseling for several years with a counselor who eventually brought up that ridiculous “spaghetti and waffles” book. It was the first I had ever read it and I was horrified… but it did explain a lot about why we weren’t getting much of anywhere in counseling. That counselor decided he trusts Jesus but not the Bible (massive eyerolls), and we finally felt released to end counseling with him. but ever since, I’ve been hoping and praying for Christian authors who use actual scientific studies that can be replicated. Thank you for being a Christian author who respects the scientific method and the fact that Jesus is the Truth.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            You’re so welcome! I’m glad you find it helpful. We really need to get back to judging the fruit, which means DATA!

      • Jo R

        Pretty sure Jesus told MEN who have a problem with their eyes causing them to sin to gouge out those eyes. Jesus did NOT tell everyone around the men with sinful eyes to, for example, cover up.

        (And how would women in that culture even have been able to cover up more than they already did?)

        Reply
  2. Laura

    I am so sick of hearing a lot of Christians throw around the world “biblical.” Do they know what they mean when they use that word? For example, I told a friend that I don’t want the kind of marriage where the husband gets to be the head of the household. She said to me, “You don’t want to have a ‘biblical’ marriage?” I couldn’t explain my reasons to her.

    As I reflect on this conversation, I would love to know what she meant by “biblical marriage?” Is a marriage “biblical” based on the examples of marriages from the Bible? Well, a lot of marriages in the Bible were polygamous, mainly in the Old Testament. So the next time, someone talks about a “biblical marriage,” I may get really gutsy and ask them, “What do you mean by ‘biblical’? When you say ‘biblical,’ are you referring to the Old Testament or after Jesus?”

    I think many Christian leaders like MacArthur are still hung up on the patriarchal ways of culture that was prevalent during the time the Bible had been written. Do they think those who don’t follow the rules from 2000 years ago are sinning? It’s also the counterculture behavior that was mentioned in last week’s blog. I often hear Christians quoting Romans 12:2 as not being of the world. So, to believe in equality for all people is of the world, that Christians should stick with patriarchy because that was in the Bible?

    What people need to learn is the difference between “biblical” and “Christlike”? What these creepy (I could say some really nasty words here) counselors like Street and Adams believe is far from being “Christlike.” Christ should be the example to follow!

    Reply
    • Amy

      The difference between biblical and Christlike is an important distinction that many miss. Church people have a tendency to take their favorite out-of-context bible verse, slap it on whatever situation is in front of them, and then declare that it’s “biblical” thus shutting down all further discussion on the matter. It almost takes on a form of spiritual bullying and is anything but Christlike.

      Reply
      • Angharad

        A TRULY Biblical viewpoint will ALWAYS be Christlike – Christ came to fulfil the law, not abolish it. The problem is when people take their own sick & twisted views and label them ‘Biblical’ in an attempt to put themselves above challenge or argument. The Bible has some pretty stern warnings for those who add to or take away from God’s word and for those who cause ‘little ones’ to stumbel – I wonder some of these teachers aren’t quaking in their shoes when they recall that some day, they are going to have to answer to God for the claims they have made. Are they so blinded that they believe they are in the right? Or do they not really believe in the God they claim to follow?

        Reply
        • Nathan

          That’s exactly what happens. Then, when you disagree, they claim that you’re going against God and the Bible, when you’re really just opposing their ideas. When people start to claim that they speak for God, watch out.

          And, just out of curiosity, and you may have mentioned this before, is your username “Angharad” as in Princess Eilonwy daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat?

          Reply
          • Angharad

            I used to be ‘Anon’ here, but then we had a thread where half a dozen others started posting as ‘Anon’ too and it got really confusing! I’m half Welsh, so I thought I’d pick a Welsh name to go by, and Angharad means ‘much loved’ – I thought it was appropriate since so much of Sheila’s work is about helping women to realise they are loved by God and they matter to Him!

        • EOF

          I’ve always wondered if they believe in God, or if they just think they’re so special they’re exempt from answering to God.

          Reply
          • Mara R

            I think that it has more to do with this attitude:
            ***
            Psalm 50:21 These things you have done and I kept silent;
            You thought that I was just like you;
            I will rebuke you and present the case before your eyes.
            ***

            They think that God thinks like they do. That God looks at authority like they do. That God is as concerned about patriarchy and male headship as they are. That God’s construction of society includes hierarchy as an essential and integral part of Christianity.

            They are like Paul before his road to Damascus. He believed that he was doing God’s work by supporting the martyring of Christians. It took God getting in his face and blinding him to get him off his high horse and help him start the journey to find out who God really was.

    • Peregrine

      Words do indeed get twisted. For example, I would like to consider myself a fundamentalist Christian, searching for the fundamentals in the word by which to live. It would seem to put me quite at odds with the typical Fundamentalist(tm) crowd.

      Reply
  3. Nathan

    Keith asks
    > > How did this stuff become “biblical”?

    I must admit, this one has me stumped. I can see how male patriarchy in general became “biblical”, at least in the eyes of some, but how other stuff became biblical…

    1. Covering for and enabling abuse
    2. A mother getting herself and kids away from abuse is worse than the abuse itself.
    3. Protecting the image of a man (even a fake image) is more important than protecting the well-being of women and children

    I have no idea. Like I said before, it’s one thing to believe that men should be in authority. It’s quite another to demand that women and children remain in an abusive situation so that the man looks good.

    And it seems to me that the “biblical” view of people like Street, Adams and MacArthur is “when abuse happens, find a way to blame every EXCEPT the man”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think it’s because “biblical” became synonymous with “adhering to the power structures that we like.”

      Reply
  4. Nathan

    And a response to some stuff from yesterday

    > > I have seen comments here and other places that have Christians discounting the authority of the Bible.

    I don’t know about other places, but here I have never seen any post discount the authority of the Bible. What I HAVE seen is people, posts and peer reviewed research discount the statements of some self-proclaimed Christian scholars who CLAIM that their views are biblical, when in fact they’re derived from gross misinterpretations of scripture and their own weaknesses.

    > > if you do not believe that the Bible is the ‘God-breathed’, ‘divinely inspired’ Word of God

    I do believe that, although I don’t believe that every phrase should be taken as literal truth or fact, and I also believe that, since it was written by men, some of their prejudices and societal mores have been written in. We need wisdom to sort that out.

    Reply
    • Jim

      Nathan,

      We were warned to not discount the authority of the Scriptures by Jesus, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and John.

      Please refer to:
      John 5, starting in verse 30
      John 10
      John 14
      Matthew 5
      Isaiah 40
      2 John
      2 Timothy 3
      2 Peter 1

      Reply
      • Nathan

        I believe in the authority of Scripture, I just don’t believe that every event mentioned is historically accurate, and I don’t agree that somebody’s interpretation is correct just because he says it is, and I believe that some things in there are just the feelings of the individual writers.

        Reply
        • Elissa

          Just curious, what do you use to determine what is just “the feelings of the individual writers” and what you should take as authoritative? Something more than your own subjective opinions? Seems like it could be pretty easy to slip into ignoring whatever part you don’t like by excusing it as just the feelings of the writer.

          Reply
        • Jim

          Nathan,
          How do you tell the difference?

          How do you keep yourself from writing something off that you just don’t like?

          Reply
          • Mara R

            I’ll tell you how I do it.

            I start with the Words of Jesus in Red and work from there since He is the Chief Corner Stone and the Firm Foundation upon which we should build our understanding of God and Christianity.

            I start with the Golden Rule and the Two Greatest Commandments that He brings to the forefront.

            As far as the whole Bible being God Breathed and the Truth, I don’t find that my attitude in the two paragraph above clash with this thought.

            I am not perplexed about the Creation Story and Evolution because I know that the essence of the creation story is the truth, whether creation took seven days or millions/billions of years. I know that the audience that the story was originally written for were not in the position to understand the science involved and needed a simplified version. Simplified is not lying or not the truth. It is a way of relaying truth that doesn’t overwhelm with too many not-understandable details.

            I could present many more examples. But I’m trying to be good and keep my comments from being too long.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, exactly, Mara! We interpret Scripture through the Word of God, who is Jesus.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            What do you make of this verse, Jim? “while I was still searching but not finding— I found one upright man among a thousand, but not one upright woman among them all.” (Ecclesiastes 7:28). Do you think that is God saying that there are no upright women, or do you think that is Solomon?

          • Jim

            Sheila,

            You would need to look at the context of the passage, not just one verse. It is too easy to draw conclusions from one verse without looking at the context.

            For me, I will look at the entire chapter to start. I would also look at the historical context of the verse and other translations to see if there is a consensus.

      • EOF

        We can’t blindly follow. We’ve been lied to countless times about what scriptures mean because of either poor translations or out of context interpretations, or both.

        We need to learn how to properly interpret scripture for ourselves. Our society is about as far removed from the original audience as possible, and we don’t inherently know how they would have received the words or what the authors meant. We have much to learn. I feel like it’s a lifetime endeavor.

        Taking single scriptures out and applying them out of context gets people into a LOT of trouble. The Bible was never meant to be used in that manner. Chapters and verses are relatively new in the grand scheme of things.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Exactly, Nathan. I find this a really tiring argument. You can believe the Bible is God-breathed and still also believe that we have to see it through cultural lenses. For instance, many people insist that women can’t teach men because “that’s what the Bible says”, but three verses earlier it also tells women not to wear gold jewelry or braid their hair. We’re already picking and choosing!

      Reply
  5. Jen

    Great thoughts, Keith. Male
    power is one issue here, and another issue is sin leveling. I’m really struggling to understand “not judging” vs. Truth and its consequences. Sin breaks relationships, first with God and then with those around us. So how do we understand the speck/plank verse or the woman caught in adultery verse? I’m wondering if both of those verses are really aimed at people (Pharisees) who roam around looking for rule breakers as opposed to the people affected by someone else’s sin. We aren’t supposed to tolerate sin! We aren’t supposed to even eat with people who refuse to change. And refusing to change means that they’ve been called out for their sin . . . So we have to hold people accountable. Yet, “teachers” like the ones mentioned in this article have lost understanding of their responsibility and would surely point back to “not judging” when called out on it. It’s circular reasoning.

    And then there’s the assumption that when someone sins, everyone who is affected by it did something to cause the sin – that they had some role to play. Sounds like Adam in the garden “The woman you gave me . . .”

    Let’s go back to the Word, which clearly says that we don’t have the right to hurt other people. And, oh! Look at that! There are different punishments for different offenses! It’s like not every sin is the same or has the same consequences!

    Perhaps any and every sin separates us from God, but different sins have different effects on our relationship with those around us. God made us like himself, with creative power. A man who assaults the children in his care is creating pain and death, not life.

    I’m all over the map here, but I’m trying to work out how it can be both/and. Do not judge AND protect the innocent and oppressed.

    Reply
    • Angharad

      There is a difference between challenging wrong behaviour and being judgemental. The Bible has numerous examples of believers confronting other believers when they did wrong. E.g. Look at the prophet Nathan’s challenge to David in 2 Samuel 12, or Samuel’s rebuke of Saul in 1 Samuel 13. In the New Testament, Matthew 18 talks about going to a brother or sister to point out their sin and attempting to win them back to the right path.

      We are called to stand for justice and to challenge those who do wrong – the key is to do it out of a desire to see the wrongdoer restored, not out of a self-righteous, critical attitude.

      Reply
      • Nathan

        > > There is a difference between challenging wrong
        > > behavior and being judgmental.

        Very true, and this is a key thing that many people miss.

        Reply
  6. Nathan

    > > I’m wondering if both of those verses (speck and plank sin)
    > > are really aimed at people (Pharisees) who roam around
    > > looking for rule breakers as opposed to the people
    > > affected by someone else’s sin.

    This is a very good point, and I’ve never thought about that before. There’s a HUGE difference between somebody calling out others for minor transgressions that don’t really hurt the person doing the calling out, versus a mom trying to get herself and her kids out of an abusive situation.

    I can’t image Jesus telling such a woman “So you say that your husband is beating your and molesting your children? Well, until you yourself are absolutely perfect, I don’t want to hear about it, and you should stay in the situation”.

    Reply
    • Angharad

      The whole theme of the Sermon on the Mount reads as a challenge against hypocrisy and self righteousness, against judging others for committing actions while cherishing the root causes of those actions (hatred, lust etc) in your own hearts, against IGNORING huge sins in your own life while judging others for every tiny error they make. The phrase about the speck and plank actually refers to ‘ignoring’ or ‘paying no attention to’ the enormous block of wood you have in your own eye. And look at how it ends up. It doesn’t say ‘remove the plank from your own eye so you can see clearly enough to judge the other person for their speck.’ It doesn’t even say that you will be able to see to ‘tell the other person what to do’. No, it says that once you have removed the plank from your own eye, you will be able to see clearly to REMOVE the splinter from the other person’s eye. So even when we’ve dealt with our own ‘plank’, it doesn’t give us the right to sit around in judgement – instead, it gives us the ability to HELP the other person to see clearly.

      Reply
  7. Nathan

    One more to add to my “how did this stuff get biblical” list.

    The idea that when a man sins, it’s his wife’s fault for not having sex with him enough, or isn’t submissive enough, or doesn’t pray enough.

    Reply
  8. Angharad

    How did it happen? I think two reasons.

    The first is that far too many Christians don’t really know their Bibles. When I was a kid, just about everyone brought their Bible to church so they could follow along with what the preacher was saying. And it wasn’t unknown during the after-service coffee time for a preacher to be questioned by a member of the congregation. “You didn’t give a reference for that – what part of the Bible is it from?” or “You said this – how does that line up with these other Bible references?” In the past few years, I’ve noticed that I’m in a minority for bringing a Bible to church, never mind referring to it. I’ve even had other Christians get angry with me for doing it, like I’m somehow wrong for wanting to follow what the preacher is saying in my own Bible. With attitudes like these around it’s very easy for unscrupulous leaders to teach falsely because no one is interested in ‘searching the Scriptures’ to see if what they are saying is true!

    The second is the way we don’t really question the culture we are raised in. If you are surrounded by people who assume that sin is always the woman’s fault, you absorb those teachings yourself and it is very hard to shift them because they become so deep-rooted in your unconscious. And it’s also hard to take a stand when everyone around you is telling you that you’re wrong. I remember once being groped at a united church service by a man who was on the leadership team of another church. I instinctively struck his hand away and then told him to back off. I was ‘rebuked’ by other women in the church afterwards who told me that I needed to apologise to the ‘poor man’. His sexual assault was apparently my fault for ‘tempting him’. Even though I KNEW he was the one in the wrong, I still felt so guilty. Imagine how much harder for those who are raised to unquestioningly accept that the woman is always the guilty one.

    Reply
    • Amy

      In addition, our pastors aren’t preaching from the whole bible.

      I attend a small church where the pastor picks a book of the bible and preaches his way through it. It could take months to get through the whole book, but it forces him to cover some uncomfortable passages and to look at the book as one complete message from God.

      In contrast, my daughter’s dad takes her to a larger church in our area. I have occasionally attended their services and noticed that the pastor preaches on topics and not entirely through a book of the bible. When that’s your strategy, it’s all too convenient to ignore or exclude portions you’d rather not cover or to patch random sections together to promote a certain agenda.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I think both of these are very true!

      The other issue is that people often know VERSES, but they don’t understand the story the Bible is trying to tell. When we approach the Bible like a series of verses that we can use to prooftext anything, we don’t treat it like it was meant to be.

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    • Laura

      I have noticed that pastors have claimed there are certain things found in the Bible, but I cannot find one verse where they claimed it was. For example, some Christians, even my pastor, say that the husband is “the priest” of his home. I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible. They don’t define priest which means mediator. We all have a priest, Jesus. So, I don’t need my (hypothetical) husband is not my priest. Jesus is!

      Reply
      • Angharad

        Any time a preacher says ‘the Bible says’ but doesn’t give a reference, I ALWAYS ask. A Godly speaker will be delighted to have listeners who are ‘searching the Scriptures to see if these things be so’. And if they’re false teachers, we should be calling them out anyway.

        Reply
      • Mara R

        There is a priesthood of the believers. But it’s all of us. Not just husbands and fathers. (I Peter 2:5)

        This is what patriarchy does, it takes from women what God freely gives to all and call’s it God’s divine order for the home.

        Patriarchy sucks (life and liberty out of Christianity).

        Reply
  9. Anon

    “How can anyone not be sickened watching Street make excuses for a man that any other person would consider a monster?”

    Excellent question, Keith. I’d change the phrase “any other person” to “any SANE person,” because making excuses for a pedophile is insane. And as I’ve stated before, this is yet another thing (among too many) I’ve looked at and said to myself, “No wonder people think Christians are nuts!”

    Reply
  10. Jamee Campbell

    Keith,

    Thank you so much for your wise words. It is good to hear from men of conscience. Too many in the church refuse to hear these things because they are mostly coming from women and they discount it as a result. We need more men in the church to speak up against this attitude that its ok for men to abuse their wives and children while the church stands back and supports them because of their belief in male authority.

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  11. Mara R

    As always, Keith, it is a pleasure to hear your perspective.

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  12. Nathan

    From above…
    > > Nathan,
    > > How do you tell the difference?
    > > How do you keep yourself from writing
    > > something off that you just don’t like?

    Prayer, serious thought and sometimes gut instinct. I ask myself would Jesus REALLY want me to do this, or act like this, or think like this?

    For the most part, though, I “write off” stuff that leads to abuse or puts some humans in a nearly divine position over other humans due to gender.

    I truly believe that God did NOT create one gender to be over another, nor do I believe that He wants us to stay in abusive situations to make the institution look good.

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  13. Karena

    I LOVE how many men are chiming in on this conversation! It’s so encouraging to see the wise and earnest discourse, as well as the passion to seek to interpret Scripture as God intended.

    Jesus told us that he is the exact representation of the Father, so if we know Jesus, we know the Father. Bottom line: look to Jesus, His words and His example; there we will find the heart of God.

    I’ve seen women trying to speak ‘truth to power’ (men who think they are the ones who are/should be in power) for quite some time now, but if another person or group of persons (the powerful men in question) believes they have a monopoly on the truth, then those of us outside the group automatically have a diluted and lesser voice. But when truly godly men speak truth to those other deluded, power-hungry men, perhaps some truth will start to permeate, with some humility and help from the Holy Spirit.

    Keep reading, commenting, and speaking up, o godly men, for those of us who can’t be heard otherwise!!!

    Reply
  14. Stefanie

    Loved your last line!

    …then it is not from Jesus no matter how many Bible verses you stick onto it.

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  15. Aurora Rose

    What gets me is the lack of follow through. As another comment stated, if we’re going to follow biblically historical views, then what about polygamy?
    And what about Deuteronomy 22:25-27? It is clear that rapists are to be put to death. But of course, if you don’t believe it’s rape, say…because you’re married, then I suppose that changes it. Of couse that’s a load of stank. Rape is rape no matter when or where it occurs.

    Then there’s the issue of children and millstones. I for one wouldn’t mind if that sentence were still happening to those who raped children. That may be difficult to read, and difficult to say, but if we’re going Old Testament then that’s what is required.
    It’s not like there’s a question.
    Leviticus 18:6 & 17(NIV)-“No one is to approach any close relative to have sexual relations. I am the Lord.” (v.6) “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter… That is wickedness.” (v.17)

    And what happened to their own view of strength? Do they believe men are so weak that they must give in to the lusts that their flesh desire? Are they incapable of self control in their personal lives?And let us not forget ‘their’ all powerful God they tell everyone to lean on. Apparently he is not as strong as the God of the Bible. Oh, but we are told we will face trials and tribulations. Yes, and those are separate things from sin and temptations. One we endure through, the other we overcome. Sexual temptation is not a trial it is a sin issue.
    The problem is, people want their sins. It feels good. They don’t want to fess up and actually change before God. God calls us to repentance, not just confession. Go and sin no more is Jesus’ instruction; not go and blame others for helping you give into sin, but STOP! No more!
    Come on people, casting the blame for your own sins on someone else because you gave in, it’s just Wickedness and an excuse. We ARE responsible for things that we actually do. According to Jesus, even things we think of doing. It’s like my god-dad told me, You can’t keep a bird from flying into the tree, but you can certainly keep it from nesting. Shoo those thoughts away. Stop blaming others because you don’t (or didn’t soon enough-like before losing your family.)
    We all have temptations. For example, if I, or you, or anyone, sees an attractive person, it doesn’t mean we have to get aroused. And if we get aroused that doesn’t mean its sinful. It’s what is done with that feeling(s) that determines its path and the outcome. A choice is actively made and we act on that and continue in those thoughts OR we take the thoughts captive and bring them & self into submission to Christ (real biblical leadership-if that’s really their concern). We can also choose to ignore the options on purpose and blame the lack of self-control (another biblical concept) on others. Ignorance here is a choice too, don’t be fooled.
    Attractiveness can happen whether someone is wearing a moomu or a bikini, depends on what turns your libido on. What you do with it, is on you!

    On another note, can I just say

    War & Periods

    What? Apparently the writers referenced in the article also forgot some other historical scriptural elements. The men had to go to war every year during the season for it. Remember David and Bathsheba?
    2 Samuel 11:1-At the turn of the year, the season when kings go out [to battle], David sent Joab with his officers and all Israel with him,…David remained in Jerusalem.
    And…then he had the affair. Bathsheba was back home. So obviously the wives didn’t go with them into battle. The men went without sex for weeks and months; unless of course they were rapists and/or adulterers, which they were told not to be.
    So what?
    Well a lack of self control was not an option for them then without clearly being in sin. They went without for long periods of time. It wasxplanned and expected. So this lie that says men have to have it all the time is exactly that, a lie. My husband went to war too, and yes he was faithful to me.

    Then there’s periods. Deut 18:19-“Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period.” In biblical times women could not be sexual with men when they had a flow of blood. The men would be considered unclean too, especially the priests(teachers, church leaders, pastors). They couldn’t participate in temple duties if they were unclean. In fact, in Deut 23:10-11 the Bible even speaks of nightime ejaculation making a man unclean until the next day. It is also in Deut 15 17-25. Verse 24 is even more detailed. “If a man has sexual relations with her and her monthly flow touches him, he will be unclean for seven days; any bed he lies on will be unclean.” This meant men and women went without for at least a week, every month. I dont see that one being taught, do you? Seems to be a foreign concept in our modern times that it might even be an option to be abstinent for periods of time even IN marriage.

    Seems like these sex crazed men are controlled by their thougts and feelings. They are busy not controlling themselves, while trying to blame and control their victims (and others.) They can’t see their own sin even though they’re standing in In a giant pile of it. God please help them all, seriously, please help them! (For all our sakes.)

    Reply
  16. Luke P.

    Preach it, Keith! Makes me sick someone would suggest any blame whatsoever on a 4 YEAR OLD being sexually abused! 😡

    Reply
  17. Christina

    Keith,
    I am currently writing a paper on the women and Matthew. What you’ve written here is going to be a wonderful citation-thank you!

    I would like to ask if you also have a source you can share with me regarding the fact that a child is never actually culpable in their abuse.

    Brilliant and so profitable, as always Keith,
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Laura

      I just checked out the link and don’t see any comments on it. Do you think they delete any comment that they disagree with?

      Reply
    • Anon

      “False and dangerous” is right – those are the Gothard umbrellas. Gothard warped Christianity into his own cult, and those umbrellas should be avoided at all cost. No wonder you pushed back at these.

      Reply
  18. Peregrine

    Regarding the MacArthur shaming story: forgiveness seems easily leveraged by abusers, especially when they get people to gang up on their victim like this.
    Does Jesus tell us to forgive those who have hurt us? Absolutely, and we should work to do that. However, FORGIVENESS may be freely given (and shame on MacArthur for trying to coerce it from her), but TRUST has to be earned. Nobody has to let anyone back in to their life until trust has been rebuilt, and it is the victim’s prerogative whether to even consider thinking about allowing trust to be earned back.

    I think it can be helpful and important to make this distinction, to allow victims of abuse a way around the continued abuse of allowing the abuser to define what forgiveness means. The abuser doesn’t get to set the terms. Nor do his shameful lackeys.

    The root of penitentiary is “penitent”, and it is a good place for the abuser to spend the rest of his life developing a penitent heart.

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  19. Anonymous to save sibs embarrassment

    AMEN! As I was sexually abused by my father from age 6 to age 11 (when my Mom divorced my father and we snuck out of state) I would love to scream in these guys’ faces! He was sexually abusive to Mom, too, taking her 6 and 7 times a day. She had no idea he was abusing me and my siblings until I told her when I was 19. Not sexually pleasing him, MY FOOT! Evil is evil, call it what it is! Makes me wonder if they are covering their own hineys for the same thing!!!

    Reply
  20. Sarah

    Bravo Keith. Excellent as usual. Keep fighting the good fight on behalf of the powerless.

    Reply

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