PODCAST: The Strike at Putney, and What Would Happen if Women Just Stopped?

by | Jan 5, 2023 | Podcasts, Theology of Marriage and Sex | 10 comments

The Strike at Putney podcast
Merchandise is Here!

It’s a new year of podcasts–and Lucy Maud Montgomery joins us for the first one!

In her book The Making of Biblical Womanhood, Beth Allison Barr makes the case that the idea that God created the genders with different roles, where men are to lead and women are merely to submit, is a new notion. It isn’t biblical; it is cultural, and it is the same cultural phenomenon we’ve seen for millennia where men are in power over women.

At the end of Beth Allison Barr’s book The Making of Biblical Womanhood, she wrote:

Biblical womanhood is Christian patriarchy. The only reason it continues to flourish is because women and men–just like you and me–continue to support it. What if we all stopped supporting it?

Beth Allison Barr

The Making of Biblical Womanhood

Well, 120 years ago, in 1903, Lucy Maud Montgomery answered that question in her short story The Strike at Putney.

It’s one of my favourites, and you’re going to love my mother reading it for us in this podcast! Then Keith, Rebecca and I all talk about what it means for us.

You’re going to love my mom’s voice!

Listen in!

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

 

Timeline of the Podcast

0:10 Some exciting points of 2022
4:45 “The Strike at Putney” read by Sheila’s mom!
26:15 When Icelandic women went on strike
29:15 Re-evaluating our own church attendance actions
36:10 Deciding church based on youth programs
39:30 Staying at a church over doctrine issues
47:00 Maybe you’re in the majority
56:15 Keith’s thoughts for men
1:01:15 Research on health benefits based on churches

What does all of this mean for us?

In this podcast, I share how we stayed at churches for far too long because I thought I could change them. But in the end, I realized that by attending the churches, I was increasing that church’s reputation and desirability. I was volunteering and making programs better. I was leading worship and making Sunday mornings better. We were giving money to pay for programs. And our friends thought, “well, if they go to that church, and they’re good, safe people, then the church must be good and safe.”

But what happens if someone starts going to the church because of our work, and then they have marriage issues, and they go to the elders and they’re told they need to submit more? What happens if abusive spouses are told they can’t leave? (that actually happened at the first church I was at to a good friend).

Then I’ve made things worse, not better. 

The question we all need to ask ourselves at the dawn of this year is a simple one: Is there something I should stop? 

I don’t know what the answer is for you. I don’t know what you should do. But most people in the pews, even at more conservative churches, believe that women can divorce for abuse. Believe that women and men should be equals in marriage. Believe that women can teach men. 

So even if your church teaches the opposite on all of those things–we are the majority. And the only reason churches (and entities like Focus on the Family) are able to continue to teach things that we know are harmful is that we all just take it. 

So what can you stop?

Maybe you can:

  • Go to a different church that values women
  • Stop leading a ministry that is bringing young families into a toxic church
  • Speak up when your women’s ministry wants to do a study that you know is harmful
  • Get on the library committee so that you can remove harmful resources from the church
  • Speak up to your leaders/pastors about the reality of abuse in marriages at your church, or about the books in your church’s resources (a great way to speak up is to share our rubric and scorecard!)
  • Refuse to go to the marriage conference/marriage night if the speakers are known to be harmful

I don’t know what the answer is for you individually. Jesus calls all of us to different roles as He grows His church, and your role may look different from mine.

Over the course of my church experience since I’ve been married, I’ve done pretty much all of these at one time or another. And you can likely think of more!

But what would happen if we all just stopped?

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Things Mentioned in the Podcast

The Strike at Putney by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Have you ever said “no” to something because you couldn’t keep supporting it anymore? What did you think of The Strike at Putney? Let’s talk in the comments!

Transcript

Sheila: Welcome to the first Bare Marriage Podcast of 2023.  Yay.

Rebecca: Yay.

Sheila: Happy new year, everyone.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence based, biblical advice for your sex life and your marriage.  And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.

Sheila: And there will be some other guests along the way.  This is going to be sort of a different podcast.   

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: We have—my mom is going to make an appearance.  Three generations.

Rebecca: Yes.  Has that happened?  Yes.  It has to have happened once.

Sheila: Once.  Yes.  And we’re going to get some fiction into this podcast.  So it’s going to be awesome.  Before we do that though, a couple of really cool things I just want to share with you about 2022.  So we hit almost 900,000 downloads of the Bare Marriage podcast last year.

Rebecca: In just one year. 

Sheila: In just one year.  It took us three years.  If you remember last December 31st, we got to a million downloads.  So it took us three years to get to a million.  And then in just this last year alone—

Rebecca: We almost got to a million.  Yeah.  That’s insane.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So thank you to everyone who listens to our little podcast that we do in our—

Rebecca: In my old childhood bedroom.

Sheila: Yes.  We really appreciate you tuning in every week.  And I asked Connor, your husband who works for me, to pull up our top podcast and top posts of the year.  I was just curious.  And do you want to guess?  Do you know the answer?

Rebecca: The top podcast from last year? 

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: I don’t know.  

Sheila: It was an interview.  

Rebecca: It was an interview.  Okay.  I honestly don’t know one it would be.

Sheila: It was Alyssa Wakefield’s, Groomed for an Abusive Marriage.  

Rebecca: Oh, that makes so much sense.

Sheila: She (cross talk) from an abusive marriage.  A really good podcast.  

Rebecca: That makes so much sense.

Sheila: A two-part podcast.  So I will put a link in there.  That was our number one download.  It was really an interesting one.  And the number one post was the Two Different Kinds of Marital Rape in Evangelicalism, which was—that was close to the end of the year.  Last year.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Still was one of the most popular posts.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Even though it didn’t have as much time.

Rebecca: Because usually, our most popular posts are from a couple months in the past because it takes—it gets more likes and views and stuff over time, right?  But something in December, November—wow.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  So really struck a chord.  And it reminds me as we think about what Alyssa Wakefield and Two Different Kinds of Marital Rape have in common is that we have just untangled this huge tangled mess of bad theology that is hurting people.  That’s what we were talking about in The Great Sex Rescue.  Coming up in 2023, we’re so excited, in just four months, our new book, She Deserves Better, is launching about how we can help protect our daughters from these toxic teachings.

Rebecca: Yep.  How we can do better for the next generation.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because we need to stop this.  We need to stop—

Rebecca: We need to stop bailing out the boat and just fix the hole that’s causing the water to rush in.

Sheila: Yeah.  And we know that there are certain theologies that lead to men, especially, feeling entitled to women’s labor, to sex, to whatever, and to women feeling like second class, like I exist only to serve and I can’t speak up for myself.  And my relationship with God is somehow tainted because of that.  And so we know these things happen.  We know these things hurt marriage.  We’ve measured it.  We’ve measured it.  This is what we spend our lives doing is doing research on how these things hurt.  But the question is what do we do about. 

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: And so I want to read to you a great book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood by Beth Allison Barr.  She was on our podcast back in 2021.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: And she talked about how the whole concept of biblical womanhood is flawed.  I won’t go into her arguments about it.  You can listen in to the podcast to find out about that.  But I want to read you just one bit at the very end of the book.  She says, “Biblical womanhood is Christian patriarchy.  The only reason it continues to flourish is because women and men, just like you and me, continue to support it.  What if we all stopped supporting it?”  So she asked that question.  What would happen if we all stopped?  And 120 years ago, a very beloved Canadian author answered that question.  What would happen if we all just stopped?  Lucy Maud Montgomery, who wrote Anne of Green Gables, also wrote a short story called The Strike at Putney, which is now in the public domain.  And I have invited my mother to read it for us.  So I hope you really enjoy this part of the podcast.  This is one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Rebecca: I love this story.  

Sheila: I think you will love it.  So here we go answering Beth Allison Barr’s question.  What would happen if we all just stopped?  Here is Lucy Maud Montgomery’s, The Strike at Putney.  Thank you, Mom.  That was three generations of Wray women on this podcast.  I love her voice too.  

**** Elizabeth Wray now read The Strike at Putney. You can find the link to the story in the podcast notes. ****

Rebecca: And now everyone can have a bit of a glimpse of what my childhood sounded like.  With all the stories.

Sheila: Exactly.  Exactly.  And we have now invited a Gregoire man onto the podcast.  My husband, Keith, is recording downstairs.  We’re upstairs.  You’re downstairs.  Hi, baby.

Keith: Hey.  Hey, everyone.  

Sheila: And we thought that we could just talk about what would happen if we all just stopped.  And The Strike at Putney—it reminds me of a real story from Iceland.  Okay.  24th October 1975.  90% of the women in the country decided to go on strike.

Rebecca: 90%

Sheila: 90%.    

Rebecca: That’s intense.

Sheila: Originally, they tried to call it the women’s strike, and they couldn’t get enough support.  So they changed the name to the women’s day off.  And 90% went along with it.  So they didn’t go to work.  They didn’t look after the kids.  They didn’t do housework.  

Rebecca: Amazing.

Sheila: And it was so funny because—when you’re listening to the radio or watching TV news, there would be kids running around in the background.  And you could hear kids’ voices because the men all had to take the kids to work.  And apparently, the grocery stores ran out of sausages by 10:00 in the morning because it was one of the few things that men could cook easily that kids liked. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because the reason that these women were going on strike is because their unpaid work was also being taken advantage of, right?  If I remember?  

Sheila: Right.  Yeah.  Because there was this whole conversation about how women just weren’t as important, and so the women said, “Well, what would happen if we took the day off?”  And while it as known as the women’s day off, the men had a different name for it.  It was called the long Friday.

Rebecca: The long Friday.

Sheila: And five years after that, a woman won the presidency in Iceland.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because people understood that you can’t just taken women for granted, right?  They actually do work too.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  

Keith: It reminds of this story.  When I was a kid, I remember a story that—it was a Walt Disney thing.  And it was Goofy and Mrs. Goofy.  And she was saying about how he doesn’t appreciate what she does, and he was basically saying, “Well, you don’t really do anything.  You just sit around the house all day.”  And then she said, “Well, let’s switch roles for a day.”  And of course, the point of the story is he just could not cope with all of the (cross talk).  Really hard.  And I kind of underestimated what’s involved here.  And I think that has been the case for a lot of older guys like me that we don’t really understand what women do who are homemakers.  And it’s—people tend to not value that.  And it’s really important work.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And it’s just—and it has been very lopsided.  Okay.  So we’re not trying to tell you that we all need to go on strike.  That’s not the point of this podcast.  But I did think that that short story was such a good example of how it was women who were holding up that church.

Rebecca: Yeah.  The backbone of the church was women.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And so they were the ones that were supporting the church and keeping it together.  And that’s the case today as well is that it is largely women who are keeping these churches together.  And so we are often the ones who are supporting and enabling churches that can end up hurting.  

Rebecca: Much like the church in The Strike at Putney.  A lot of these churches are willing to take women’s tithe money, women’s time, women’s resources, women’s volunteer hours, their gifts, their services.  The only thing they won’t actually take is their opinion.  They won’t actually allow women to speak.  They’ll allow women to do everything else.  And it’s not fair.  It’s not fair.

Sheila: Well, and it’s also not what God ever intended.

Rebecca: No.  It’s not.

Sheila: Because God gave all of us gifts.  And we have no mediator between God and humanity except for Jesus Christ.

Rebecca: Exactly. 

Sheila: Women do not have a special mediator in their husbands.  We all have unfettered access to Jesus.  And Jesus has called us all to do the things that he has equipped us for, and the Holy Spirit has given us gifts, which are not gender specific.  And that has been really not taught well and not lived out in church.  And so I thought we could just share some of the things personally that we, as a family, have gone through as we—over the last—gosh, how long is it now?  15 years.  As we’ve really been grappling with some of this.  And how we realize that we were supporting stuff and propping stuff up that we didn’t agree with.  And I remember we had been going to this one church for nine years.  I’ve talked about it a bit on the podcast.  We were really heavily involved.  I was leading a praise team.  Keith—I think you and I taught youth Sunday School for awhile.

Keith: Yeah.

Sheila: For a year or two.  I think one of the kids we taught Sunday School with is now at your church.  Our favorite kid actually is now at your church.  We just did so much.  We volunteered so heavily in that church.  And yet, they just didn’t allow women’s voices.  That deacon’s board debated for a year whether I was allowed to say anything between songs as I was leading worship because I was a woman.  

Keith: And they used language to make it sound nice.  “We just want to follow God’s principles of leadership,” as opposed to, “We want to exclude women from positions of leadership.”    

Rebecca: Or, “We would rather not hear a prayer than hear a woman pray.”  

Keith: Well, they wouldn’t say it that blatantly.

Rebecca: Exactly.  That’s what I mean.

Keith: Everyone would realize that that’s what they’re saying.  But they say—if you just call it for what it is, they all get very uncomfortable, and they try to get you to stop talking about it rather than addressing the issues that you’re bringing up.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I also know that there were women who went to get help for abusive marriages.  And the elders, not the pastor—the pastor was pretty good at that point.  But the elders told her to go back and submit more.  And I remember realizing that we stayed in that church because we thought we could change it.  

Rebecca: We thought there were good people here.

Sheila: We thought there was good people there.  By being here, we’re helping the church.  But I realized we were giving all of this money to the church that was being used to hire pastors who—because some of the other pastors were not as great.  It was being used to promote programs where teens were taught really bad stuff.  By volunteering, we were creating these amazing programs for kids.  We were creating good worship so that when someone walked into the church it seemed like a really vibrant, good church.  We were making this church better.  And what would happen if a woman went to this church partly because of stuff we were doing and then she was having trouble in her marriage and she went to the pastor for help?  And she was told by that elder’s board to stay in that abusive marriage.

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: And what if she was there because of us?  And I think we need to sit with that question for a minute.  Is you may think that by staying you can change things, but what if because of all the work you’re putting in you are making the church seem healthy when it isn’t?  Because you are lending your seal, your reputation to that church.  Keith, you and I are fairly well known in this—we live in a smaller town.  You’re pretty well known.  And at that point, I was running a weekly column in a local newspaper.  We were both pretty well known.  And so the fact that we were going to church meant, “Hey, this is a good church,” because we were lending our reputation to it.  And I just realized yeah.  People are coming here, and they are getting hurt because of us.  But why did it take us so long to leave?  Because it did take us quite a few years.  And I think a lot of it is, first of all, obviously, you have friends there.  And that’s hard.  It’s hard to leave your friends and family.  And we did find that when we left most of our friends ended up leaving too.  So that wasn’t as big an issue as we thought.  But a lot of times you stay because of friends.  Often, it’s because of children’s programs.  “Oh, I need to go to a place that’s got good kids’ programs and youth group.”  I mean that’s one of the biggest things we hear.  But that can really backfire.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I know that, for my experience in that same church, we—I went to their youth group for awhile even after we left the church because it was, quote unquote, the best youth group in the area.  And while I was there, the youth pastor at the time was lauded for expanding the youth group, getting so many more kids in.  It was so vibrant, and it ended up being an incredibly unsafe place for sexual abuse survivors.  I, obviously, can’t go into it.  But very, very unsafe.

Sheila: Yeah.    

Rebecca: And the number of people who were harmed who went to that youth group because it seemed so fun and there were so many people there—I also contributed to that as well, right?  What if me and my friends had decided to go to the small, struggling Free Methodist church’s youth group with the five kind of weird kids and revitalize that one, right?  Instead of just going where it was easy.   I think that there is a level where when I think back on the choices that we—that I even made or even with the things that I was involved with in Ottawa sometimes.  How much of it is that I was failing to carry my own cross by giving up the convenience of really nice shiny bits of church because it was going to be too difficult or inconvenient to go to a church that I knew was healthy and safe?  How much is that not us as Christians carrying our cross?  If we’re like, “Yeah.  But I don’t want to go to that church because it’s got terrible worship”?  Okay.  But what’s more important?  You having good worship or knowing that the church that you’re going to is going to not harm someone who has been abused.  What is more important as a Christian?  A good kids’ program or a kids’ program that isn’t going to groom the ones who—the children who come from really difficult family situations.  Because the kids’ program was great.  It was not great for kids at risk. 

Sheila: Yeah.  Let me also say too that this whole idea of going to a church because it’s got a great youth program even if you disagree with the church—I don’t think we realize—big plug here for She Deserves Better, our book.  It’s coming out April 18.  We’re going to have some amazing preorder bonuses, I think, starting March 1st.  Please go preorder it.  When you preorder it, it helps us so much because it moves it on Amazon.  You’re guaranteed the lowest price.

Rebecca: And also if you preorder before, we have the preorder bonuses ready.  You’re still going to get the bonuses.  They just won’t be available until March 1st or something.

Sheila: Yeah.  So please.  It helps us immensely.  And it’s based on an all new survey.  And if you thought Great Sex Rescue was whoa, this is even more so.  

Rebecca: It’s pretty intense.

Sheila: It’s pretty intense.    

Rebecca: We’ll put it this way.  This is Great Sex Rescue written post Great Sex Rescue.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  So we got even—we got a lot firmer.  What’s the thing about tea?  We brought the tea or something?

Rebecca: Oh my goodness.  Yes.

Sheila: I’m so Gen X.  I’m sorry.  I don’t know.

Keith: I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Sheila: But one of the things that we found is that youth group tends to be the most toxic part of the church.  

Keith: So you mean that in toxic churches, the youth groups are even more toxic.  Yeah.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Yeah.

Keith: I can see that because I don’t think every youth group is the most toxic part of the church.  But I think that what happens is teenagers are very—Rebecca said this on previous podcasts.  Teenagers are, by nature, extreme.

Rebecca: Oh yeah.

Keith: Their emotions are very high.  They see things in very extreme terms.  And it’s just because their prefrontal cortex hasn’t totally matured yet.  And everything is a big deal.  And so if you teach something in—upstairs and your youth group is downstairs, what’s being taught downstairs is 10 times more concentrated than what’s upstairs.  I think that’s what you’re trying to say, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  And think about what is it that youth groups talk about 90% of the time?

Rebecca: Sex.

Sheila: Relationships and sex, right?  And so all the gendered stuff that we know leads to male entitlement—all the stuff about all boys struggle with lust, and so girls have to cover up.  All the modesty messages.  All of that stuff which can be so harmful if it’s not done right.  All of that is magnified in a youth group.  And so if you stay at a church which isn’t healthy when it comes to gender issues because it’s got a good youth group, think about what you’re doing for your kids.  If your kids get on fire for Jesus in a toxic church, they are more likely to go to church camps that can be even more extreme than your church.  They are more likely to go to youth rallies that can be even more extreme on these issues.  They’re more likely to go to even some Christian schools that can be more fundamentalist.  And who are they likely to marry?  People who are even more so than you.  And so you may be staying because you think it’s got a really vibrant youth program.  But who are your kids going to meet?  Who are they going to hang out with?

Rebecca: Yeah.  In a vibrant youth program in a church that is dedicated to make sure women stay smaller than men, what are the kinds of youth in the youth program?  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  And then there’s one other reason people stay, and that’s the, “Well, the other churches don’t preach the Gospel.  Our church preaches the Gospel.”  Now imagine, everybody, that you have 10 doctrinal beliefs.  Obviously, you don’t—we have more than that.  But let’s just imagine there’s 10, okay?  For the sake of argument.  Now, you already don’t agree with your church if you’re going to one of these more fundamentalist churches.  You already may not agree with your church on how it handles abuse, on how it talks about gender, on how it talks about marriage, on how it talks about divorce.  You may not agree with your church on those things, so you’re already going to a church you don’t agree with doctrinally.  And maybe that church down the street which does handle abuse well and which does handle gender well maybe they see baptism differently than you do.  Or maybe they see the gifts of the Spirit differently than you do.  And so you’re like, “Well, I can’t go there because that’s not the way that I’ve been taught about God.”  But you’re already giving on an issue.  Which issues are you willing to give on?  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Keith: I think that’s one of the things I would say is people often don’t leave these churches because they’ve been told, from the pulpit, “This is where Jesus is.  And if you go anywhere else, you are abandoning Jesus.”  And what we have seen recently is a massive movement called deconstruction where what has happened is people have seen all these things happening in the church, all these beliefs that are known to be toxic, are known to be hurtful, are known to be harmful, and they’ve been taught so conclusively that if you don’t believe this then you don’t believe in Jesus.  Things like if you don’t believe that women are less important than men.  And they don’t say that they think—they say they think women are equal to me.  It’s just that women are equal to men, but they can’t lead.  And women are equal to men, but they have to submit to their husbands in everything even if they’re abusers.  And all these kind of things.  Or even the issue—something like creation, right?  If you don’t believe the earth is 6,000 years old, you don’t believe the Bible.  And therefore, you don’t believe in God.  And therefore, you cannot be saved.  And so people say, “Well, I guess I don’t believe in God then.”  And they’re leaving the church in droves.  And instead of the church saying, “Whoa.  Maybe we’re attaching things to Jesus that we shouldn’t,” they double down, and they make fun of the people who are leaving saying, “How come you didn’t believe—if you—you don’t believe in Jesus?”  And they make fun of them and deride them.  And it’s just like those of us who still believe in Jesus but don’t believe in all this nonsense, we really need to band together.  And we need to say, “No.  You don’t speak for us.”  I mean the whole idea that women must submit to men—John MacArthur and John Piper say things like women shouldn’t be police officers.  What normal, functioning adult believes that?  You know what I mean?  The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood says things that are ridiculously preposterous.  And we all know it’s preposterous.  But we don’t say anything because they’re good Bible teachers. 

Rebecca: Because it’s Piper.

Keith: I think you have to ask—if your theology results in a massive abuse scandal which is not only women were abused but that systematically it was covered up for decades, how are those people good Bible teachers?  

Sheila: Mm-hmm.

Keith: But somehow they still have people convinced.  If you question anything we say, you are out of the fold.  You are not with Jesus.  We have to wake up.  We have to realize that you know what?  Jesus isn’t associated with that kind of stuff.  Jesus doesn’t want women to stay down.  I mean Jesus—Mary and Martha, right?  Martha was doing all the housework.  Mary was sitting there learning about the things of God.  He commended Mary, right?  That’s what God wants.

Rebecca: Well, something I was thinking about over Christmas—

Keith: Churches that say, “Women, get back in the kitchen.”  Sorry.  I just want to say one more thing.  Churches that say basically, “Women, get back in the kitchen,” they need to be told, “You are not from Jesus.”  And we need to stop being scared to say that.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Something that I noted over Christmas was that both Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ death are punctuated by stories of women succeeding where men did not.  And that does not mean that—so first of all, you have Zechariah, who laughed in the angel Gabriel’s face pretty much.  And he was struck mute until John was born.  He was like, “I’ll show you.  You question me.  You laugh at me.  Yeah.  No more talking.  See how you like that,” right?  And then you have Mary in the very next section who humbles herself and was like, “Well, I mean yeah.  Let’s do this.  Let it be unto me as you have said.”  And that’s a really strong contrast.  Then at the cross, you have Peter denying Christ.  You have the disciples running away.  And it’s only the women and John who remain, right?  

Sheila: Yeah.  Mm-hmm. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  And so it’s—you have these two stories of the two big moments in a person’s life.  Birth and death.  And who is there in the Gospels?  It’s women.  And this doesn’t mean that men shouldn’t be in leadership.  It doesn’t mean that men can’t be trusted.  But, to me, what it says is, in this culture that the Bible was written in where women were seen as unreliable—they were not supposed to be in charge.  They couldn’t do these big things that men did.  They were just women, and they were seen as genuinely lesser beings.  They were seen as, in essence, deformed men.  That is what women were see as back then.  The Gospels open with a young girl doing what a priest could not.  And they end with women doing what the 12 could not.  So I just don’t understand how we can read the Gospels and see what is included and see the story of Christ’s life and how people can conclude that, therefore, Jesus wants women to be silent when throughout Jesus’ story it is women who step up in a culture that says that they weren’t even capable of doing that.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  The Samaritan women too.  And to think that Jesus would want not only women to be silent but women to be objectified and hurt because we know that objectification is one of the main doctrines of church’s today.  That women are sexualized.

Rebecca: It’s not even just something that happens because of bad doctrine.  That actually is the doctrine.  The things that we measured in our survey are things like a woman should give her husband sex when he wants it.  Women have to have sex to keep their husband from watching pornography.  Men simply struggle with lust.  It’s every man’s battle.  Women should—there’s all sorts of things where the doctrine is that God designed that men take, and women give when it comes to sex and women’s bodies.  Men take women’s bodies.  And women give their bodies.  That’s the doctrine behind this.  This doesn’t even like, “Oh, they believe some bad things, and so then women are objectified.”  No.  They believe that women are objectified.  And so therefore, women are objectified.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  And big shout out to Great Sex Rescue is on sale.  The Kindle version.  Well, actually, the eBook version across all platforms for $2.99 for the entire month of January.

Rebecca:    Are you serious?  That’s awesome.

Sheila: Yeah.  So if you have not read The Great Sex Rescue yet, please do.  We had a comment at the end of 2022 where a woman said that she never bought it because she figured it was just a bunch of stats and kind of academic.  And then when it went on sale for $2.99 briefly in November, she bought it.  And she was like, “Oh my gosh.  This is so readable.  And it’s got so many stories.  And I feel like I know you guys so much better.”  So we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we say in The Great Sex Rescue in this podcast.  So please $3.00.  It’s a great time to get it.   

Rebecca: It’s half of one Starbucks drink, guys.

Sheila: If you already own a paperback version, buy the Kindle because you can use the search function.  I do this all the time for books that I really like.  If I ever want to find stuff, I get the Kindle version because you can use the find button.  So anyway, just a quick thing.  So yes.  So these churches are actually teaching that women are objectified, okay?  And so let’s get back to The Strike at Putney.  

Rebecca: Yes.  

Sheila: And get back to that question.  What would happen if we all just stopped?  Now The Strike at Putney worked because they were all connected, right?  They all banded together.  It wouldn’t have worked if it was just a couple of women, right?  And so that’s why realistically most of us can’t do a strike in our church because we could never get all the women to agree.    

Rebecca: Well, a lot of women are in charge of something really important.  A lot of churches, if they lose one worship leader, that usually screws a lot of stuff up.  

Sheila: It does.  Yeah.  But the other thing is we need to understand—sometimes when you are in the middle of that—of a toxic church or a church that just is not teaching this well.  And you think you’re going to change things.  We don’t always realize that we are the majority.  

Rebecca: Yes.

Sheila: We are the majority.  Okay.  Let me give you just one example.  In our stats from our survey of 20,000 women, we asked, “Is divorce valid in the case of physical abuse?”  All right.  83% said yes.  “Is it valid in the case of emotional abuse?”  76% said yes.  I would like to see that number higher.  But I’ll take 76% as a starter.

Rebecca: Exactly.

Sheila: Okay.  Do you know what?  John Piper, John MacArthur, Focus on the Family all say you cannot divorce for physical abuse.  And they’re not the only ones.  The majority of SBC churches also say that.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  The denomination, as a whole—the stance is that you can only—

Sheila: The denomination as a whole is a little bit more difficult.  But please.  If you go to a SBC church, if you go to an independent fundamentalist Baptist church, if you go to some of these more conservative churches, ask your pastor what the stance is about divorce for abuse.  You may be surprised.  And remember, that if they do not believe you can divorce for physical or emotional abuse, it means that when women go to their pastor for counseling because that’s where women in crisis usually go first is to their pastor.  They will be told things that will hurt them.  They will be. 

Rebecca: And even if your pastor agrees that divorce is a good idea, in a lot of these churches, it’s not actually the pastor who makes the call.  It’s the elders or the deacons or whatever you call them.

Sheila: Or the counseling services that are recommended.  So 85% of evangelicals believe you can divorce for abuse.  Focus on the Family does not.  What would happen if we all stopped giving money to Focus on the Family?

Rebecca: Until they changed this.

Sheila: And instead gave that money to a local pregnancy crisis center, to a local women’s shelter, to an organization fighting sex trafficking.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I think that what’s important to say is a lot of people who don’t like the deconstructionist movement or who get mad when people start to stop volunteering or something.  They say, “Well, you have to do things.  You have to tithe.  You have to give to the kingdom.”  And my question is just—yes.  I agree.  We should be giving.  We should live—we should be cheerful givers.  Why does it need to be places that are harming people?  Right?  If we know that Focus on the Family has a crisis marriage line and that Focus on the Family will not tell people to get divorced—I actually think it’s unethical to give them money because that means that you are giving them money to tell women who are being abused that they cannot leave their abuser.  That is horrible.  Why wouldn’t you give that money to fighting sex trafficking or to—yeah.  Helping crisis pregnancy centers or to helping with unhoused people in your city.  Why wouldn’t you give that money to places where you know that they’re not going to be sending abused women back to their abusers?  A lot of people understand spoon theory, okay?  We talk about this in chronic health conditions and chronic fatigue and things where in the beginning of the day we all have the same number of spoons, okay?  So I have 10 spoons to get stuff done.  Problem is if you have fibromyalgia getting out of bed might require two spoons whereas for everyone else it doesn’t even take a spoon.  You just get out of bed, right?  And so the problem is we only have so many spoons.  And that’s why chronic illnesses are so difficult is because things that are basic like making yourself breakfast takes four spoons when it should only take one spoon.  And at the end of the day, you just don’t have enough spoons to get everything done, right?  When it comes to our giving, our time, our efforts, we only have so many spoons.  We are not magical unicorn beings who have unlimited number of spoons.  You have 24 hours in the day.  You have only as much money as you are given by your salary.  You have your bills to pay.  We have so many spoons.  Say you have 10 giving spoons between your time and your money, all that different stuff.  And you spend five of those spoons with the church.  You run a women’s Bible study.  You give your money there.  You show up for the bake sale.  You do the church stuff for five spoons.  And then one spoon is helping your Great-Aunt Margaret, who is going into a home.  And you have two spoons that you use for the local PTA board.  You have one spoon that you help with that kid down the road who you’re pretty sure isn’t in a great family situation, and you let them come to your house as much as you can.  You try to help parent them a little bit.  And then you have one spoon—   

Sheila: Been there, done that.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And then you have one—your last spoon you give to another aging family member, who needs helps just with stuff every now and then.  And you’re happy to do it.  So that’s your ten spoons.  But what happens if now half of your spoons have gone towards a church where you have built up this amazing women’s program— and then you have a bunch of young moms from the area coming.  And it’s so amazing.  And you’re seeing so many people coming to church, and you’re feeling so encouraged.  And three of those women are in marriage where they are—one of them has a husband who has a really severe pornography addiction that he is asking her to act out in the bedroom.  You have one woman, who the mental load is so bad—the mental load inequality is so bad that she is overwhelmed, and her husband keeps getting fired from work because he keeps being lazy and missing deadlines.  And instead of looking for a job, he’s spending 16 hours a day video gaming and not helping with the babies.  And then you have one woman, who is being emotionally abused by a man who is using Bible verses and manipulation and withholding affection and love as a way to control her and get her to do what he wants.  Those three women are now in your church going to this Bible study.  And they go to the pastor.  They go to the biblical counseling services that are with this church that they may not have gone there if it wasn’t for you and your five spoons.

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: And what are they told?  The woman with the sex—with the sex-addicted husband, who is being asked to fulfill his pornographic fantasies is being told, “Well, I mean there’s not anything biblically against that.”

Sheila: And, “Maybe you need to give him more sex.”

Rebecca: “Maybe you need to give him more sex.  Maybe you’re just being a little bit withholding.  Yeah.  Have you really been having as much sex since you had the twins?”  You can’t really—he doesn’t change.  He’s still a man.  And these are all things that we have heard from our focus groups, by the way.  And then the woman, who is overwhelmed because her husband is just playing video games all day and keeps on losing jobs and she has the entire family on her shoulders, is being told—is given Love and Respect, which says that she needs to understand that her making more money than him is disrespectful to him.  And so she needs to make sure to respect him more and to shove down her own needs more so that he doesn’t feel disrespected by her success.

Sheila: Right.      

Rebecca: And then you have the woman whose husband is just flat out a narcissistic abuser, who is using spiritual manipulation to get her to comply.  And what is she told?  “Well, you are supposed to submit.  He’s right.  Are you being a nagging wife like it says in the Proverbs?  Are you being respectful of him?  Maybe we can work on this together.  But if you do submit to him and respect him, he will love you in turn.”  

Sheila: And God will honor you—if he never changes, you will get your reward in Heaven.

Rebecca: Exactly.  And so you have now spent five of your spoons that God has given you—you have five—you have given half of your spoons to this church where—yeah.  A lot of people are going to the church.  But as a result, women are being decimated.  These women are being just destroyed.  And the question is what if you have spent those five spoons and you had volunteered somewhere else?    

Sheila: Yeah.  You’d gone to one of these struggling churches that could really use you.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  What if you had started a young mom’s get together group with your local—I don’t know.  A local smaller church or even a community center or something and you talked about Jesus, and it was affiliated with a church.  Sure.  But it wasn’t with a church that was going to then harm the women.  And at some point, we have to recognize.  If we are people who know what is healthy and good and we are leading lambs to wolves, then we are the hired hand that they are talking about in Scripture.

Sheila: Yeah.

Rebecca: The Good Shepherd cares for the sheep.  The hired hand doesn’t.  The hired hand will give the sheep to the wolves because they are getting their money.  And at some point, we need to recognize that if we are willing to bring sheep into a wolves’ den we are complicit.  And that’s hard to grasp.  

Keith: Yeah.  I think there is kind of two ways we can look at the whole issue of women in the church, right?  And one of them is that men and women both have talents and things that God has gifted them with.  And they’re both supposed to use those talents.  And the other viewpoint is that women are basically just assistants to men.  And maybe that’s a little bit of a stark way of putting it, but that’s kind of the way I see it.  I’ve been around on this planet for over 50 years now.  And I’ve seen over the time of my life the people who believed in full equality between men and women have debated with the people who believe that men are supposed to be in charge and women are supposed to submit to them for that whole time.  And I remember from 30 years ago what was being argued by the hierarchy, “You have no biblical support for your viewpoint.”  And what was being argued by the people who were looking for equality was, “But women are getting hurt.”  And what I have seen 30 years later is a tremendous amount of scholarship saying that a lot of these passages were misinterpreted.  Let’s take, for example, the passage on divorce.  The reason that Focus on the Family does not agree with divorce in the case of abuse is because the Bible clearly says God hates divorce except that the Bible doesn’t clearly say that.  And it was speaking into a time where women couldn’t divorce because women were dependent upon men.  To divorce your husband was basically to assign yourself to poverty and hunger.  So the injunction that God was saying about divorce was saying to men do not abandon women and put them in harm’s way.  And yet, what’s happening now is we’re using that exact same verse that God spoke to save and uplift and help women to keep women in horrible situations where they are being physically beaten by men.  And then they have the gall to say, “You have no biblical support for your viewpoint.”  It’s crazy.  So we need to start saying, “You know what?  If the Gospel that you’re preaching is that women are less than men, it’s not the Gospel.  And I’ll go to that church down the street that believes in infant baptism or that sprinkles instead of dunks or whatever because that’s where Jesus is.”  Jesus is not in the business of putting people in harm’s way.  Jesus said, “Whoever of you causes the little ones to stumble, it’s better for them to have a millstone tied around their neck.”  He’s in the business of protecting the vulnerable, not subjecting the vulnerable to further abuse.  I mean it’s crazy.

Sheila: Exactly.  And I just want to reiterate too.  The majority of people agree with us.  We get this idea that we’re the minority because the upper echelons of evangelicalism, conservative evangelicalism, preach that women are less than.  But our study found, of 20,000 people, that 53%–sorry—52% of people believe that women can be a teaching pastor.  And we had more conservative people filling out our surveys than normal.  There was a study out of Harvard that looked at people of all denominations.  And they found that—I think it was close to 75—let me just pull it up.  That three-quarters of SBC women believe that women can be pastors.  Three-quarters of SBC women.  Again, we were more likely to have conservative people filling out our survey.  They just had churchgoers, in general.  We were more likely to have people that were really heavily involved.  But even we had—what?  Over 50% of women think that women can be pastors. 

Keith: At this church that does not believe in letting women be pastors.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Well, that’s overall.  If you look at just the Southern Baptist, we had lower.  But they looked at Southern Baptist women and they had 73%.  That was a higher percentage of men.  But interestingly, they found the more that men went to church the less they believed in women in leadership.  It didn’t change for women.  But the more men went to church the less they believed in women in leadership.  And so by propping up these churches, the more we get involved the more you start seeing women as less than in these denominations.  We are the majority.  And what would happen if everybody who disagreed with their church on these fundamental issues if they started pouring in to other churches that are healthy?

Rebecca: Or they just did their own strike where those churches didn’t have a worship team anymore?  They didn’t have—how many of these churches that are saying women are not as worthy of serving as men are have women who are running their children’s ministries, have women who are running all sorts of things.  But if they just said, “Okay.  Then if you really believe that men are supposed to be the ones who serve and lead then find men to serve and lead.”  

Sheila: Yep.  Okay.  Let me do a research of the week segment here because I want to tell you some research that feeds into this.  This is from the American Sociological Review from 2021.  It’s an article called When Religion Hurts: Structural Sexism and Health in Religious Congregations.  And I’m going to summarize it.  Okay?  Or actually, why don’t you?  Because you know this better than I do.

Rebecca: Yeah.  I’ll summarize it.  So pretty much what Homan found is overall we have known for a very long time going to church leads to better health.  You actually have longer life expectancy, if you go to church.  That’s actually been found in multiple, multiple studies.  There’s lots of different ones.  You have better mental health benefits.  You have better—even there have been studies on hypertension goes down if you are a church attender.  There’s lots of studies on this.  But Homan wanted to find whether or not structural sexism affects that.

Sheila: Right.

Rebecca: So what they looked at was whether or not a woman was in a church that limited her capacity to lead based on gender and then their health outcomes.  And what she found was that men had great health outcomes across the board.

Sheila: Right.  

Rebecca: It didn’t matter if men were going to a church that believed women could be in leadership or not.  Men had great health benefits.  Women only had health benefits if they were going to churches that allowed women in leadership positions.  Women did not have those same health benefits if they went to churches that structurally and systematically kept them out of the positions of leadership and quieted women’s voices for the sake of men’s.  So what this really shows is—here.  Actually, Homan, herself, wrote it great in the abstract.  Let me just read the last sentence of the abstract, okay?  “Our result suggests that the health benefits of religious participation do not extend to groups that are systematically excluded from power and status within their religious institutions.”  That’s intense.

Sheila: Yeah.  Okay.  So let me tell you along with that—okay.  This is not research of the week.  This is just a Twitter thread that was interesting.  

Keith: Twitter thread of the week.

Sheila: Twitter thread yesterday.  And I can’t find it now.  But basically, he was talking about people who are really hard core campers.  Outdoor enthusiasts.  And he was saying, “You know what they do when they’re going to stay overnight in the wilderness?  Is they sleep on a geothermal mat of some sort.  And they don’t do this just for comfort.  They do this because if you don’t your body will try to warm up the entire earth,” because heat goes out to try to even out, right?  And the ground is cold.  And so your body will just shed heat trying to warm up the earth underneath it.  And it can’t because the earth is so big.  And when you are in a church that is just eating the life out of you—

Rebecca: You have these churches that are so willing to take your service, your time, your everything, but they won’t actually echo it back in the same way because you’re a woman.  You will always have a limit on you.  You will always be seen as less than, and it doesn’t matter if your church is filled with lovely people.  What this study has found is that being in a religious setting where you are seen as inferior because of your sex means that a lot of the benefits of religiosity are lost.  And not just for you but for your daughter.  Not just for your daughter but also your daughter-in-law someday.  For your grandchildren.  For all the people who matter to you.  For your friend, who is really struggling and who you are desperately trying to bring back to Christ.  If you bring her to a church that says that she is less than, you are bringing her to a church that will not help her in some ways.  It’s just so difficult. It’s so tricky.   

Sheila: Yeah.  And so as 2023 begins, I believe God is saying to some of you who are listening right now that it is time to stop supporting churches and organizations that hurt women.  I don’t know what that looks like for you in particular.  I’m not saying we’re all called to leave toxic churches.  In any big campaign, there are people who are called all different things.  Corrie ten Boom, in World War Two, was called to hide Jews, but she was an extreme pacifist and would not pass on the names of collaborators to the underground for fear that they’d get killed and she’d be responsible for it.  Other people were those underground who were going around killing the collaborators.  There’s all different people who are all called to different things.  But some of you God has been nudging you to leave your church, and consider this podcast that confirmation.  For some of you, it might be even a bigger thing.  Maybe your church is part of a denomination or a convention that is toxic, and you, yourself, your church is awesome.  But what’s going to happen when your young people leave for college across the country?  They’re going to try to find a church just like yours because they love your church.  And they’re going to go to a church of your denomination.  And they’re going to get burned because you’re lending your reputation. 

Rebecca: Or else they’ll become the people who do the burning.  

Sheila: Yeah.  So maybe your church needs to leave.  Or maybe you need to stop running ministries.  Or maybe you need to start running ministries.  We’ve heard from so many women who got put in charge of the libraries of their church.  Deliberately last year.  They said, “I worked to get in charge of the library, so that I could purge it of all the toxic stuff and put good books in there.” 

Rebecca: There was one person—it was the best ever.  She took a before and after picture of the marriage shelf.  And it was stocked full.  And then she had taken everything out, and the only things there were Boundaries, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and The Great Sex Rescue.

Sheila: And, I think, How We Love.

Rebecca: Oh, and How We Love.  Yeah.  Yeah.  And it wasn’t even able to be a shelf anymore because everything was so bad in the library. 

Sheila: I don’t know what God is calling you to do.  But I do know that what Beth Allison Barr said is so true.  This will only end when we stop supporting it, and we are the majority.  

Rebecca: And I think that a lot of women support it because we’ve been told, as women in the church for so long, that our job is to serve.  That is our God-given responsibility is just to serve.  And I think that we hear Jesus saying, “Don’t throw your pearls before swine,” right?  Don’t throw your pearls.  Don’t put all this effort towards people who aren’t going to appreciate it.  And we don’t take that into heart because we’ve been told, “You don’t have any pearls.”  You have volunteer hours.  You have time.  You have all this stuff that you give us, but you don’t actually have pearls because you’re a woman.  Men have pearls, right?  But you don’t have pearls.  (audio cuts out) pearls somewhere where you can use them for good and where you’ll be appreciated and where you can rest assured knowing that the efforts that you are taking are not leading sheep to wolves but are freeing them and setting them up for success and wholeness and health.  And you do not have to leave the church to do that.  You might have to leave your church.  But you don’t have to leave the church.

Keith: One of the things that you guys also—you talked about how you get criticized that you’re actually the majority.  And the people make it sound like you’re an extreme thing.  The other thing you get criticized for is being anti men.  So for instance, you gave up these scenarios like the porn-addicted husband, the man who is playing video games all day, all that kind of stuff.  And people use that to say that you think all men are like that.  And you don’t.  I mean most men are not like that.  The problem is that in the church there are men like that.  And nobody is doing anything about it.  Really.  And we, as men, need to start saying, “No.  What’s right is right.”  And if women are not being given what they deserve in the church, we need to stand up for that.  I mean the whole idea—if you come to the Bible with the preconceived notion that men are more important than women, you will read all those verses from that lens.  If you come to the Bible with the assumption that men and women are equal, you will read the Bible with that lens.  And I, personally, am sick and tired of people who are patriarchal hierarchialists telling me I don’t read the Bible clearly because I don’t follow the plain reading of Scripture, right?  And then they ignore Galatians, which says that there is no male or female.  And they ignore the stuff I just said about divorce being actually to protect women.  They ignore all these things because they just have their own biased viewpoint, and they say that I’m biased.  If I’m the biased one, when people point out the actual flaws like the rampant sexual abuse in the SBC and the complete cover up of that, why is there not a soul searching moment?  Why is there not a, “What did we do wrong?  Maybe these people who have been saying that we’ve been treating women inappropriately for so long—maybe they actually have a point.”  I don’t see that happening.  I don’t see that happening.  We, as men, need to stand beside ours sisters and say, “You know what?  You should be protected.  The church should be a safe place for you.”  And we have to stop—silence is not spiritual.  For men and women.  We need to speak up.

Sheila: And we’ve been talking about what to do for other people, right?  How you don’t want to throw your pearls before swine.  But remember that you’re a person too.  And a lot of us have been bleeding.  And we have had all the heat try to go out of us as we’re trying to help everybody else.  And a lot of us are starting 2023 exhausted.

Rebecca: Yes.  Spiritual burnout is real.  

Sheila: And maybe what God is calling you to do is just to stop and have a quiet year.  

Rebecca: Maybe this can be your Sabbath year.  Take this as a Sabbath year.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And just reflect and see Jesus again.  Like I said, I don’t know what this is going to look like for everybody.  Yeah.  Some of you just might need to restock.  Maybe you need to speak up when your women’s Bible studies are looking at really damaging books this year because we did find that the place where women hear the most damaging messages is in women’s Bible studies and small groups.  So maybe you need to speak up there.  Maybe you need to speak up on social media when your church posts John Piper quotes.  I don’t know what it is.  But may this be the year that we stop supporting toxic stuff, and we get back to Jesus’ view of how we value women.  So that is what we’re going to do on Bare Marriage coming up in 2023.  We have a lot of fun things planned this year.  On the blog, we’re starting our entitlement series.  How to get over this whole idea that anyone, be it your husband or your wife, exists to make your life better and how that can lead to toxicity in marriage both ways.  We have a great fixed it for you book, which is launching in February.  I’m so excited about that.  She Deserves Better is coming in April.  So there is so much happening both on the podcast and online in 2023.  And please check us out.  There has been so much happening in our Patreon group.  And we’re going to have a Patreon update for you on next week’s podcast.  But if you want to support us for as little as $5 a month, it’s a great space.  Our Facebook group and the money goes to help support our research, so you can see that at patreon.com/baremarriage.

Rebecca: Something that I’ve loved about the Patreon over the last almost two years now too is how many people are just genuine community.  

Sheila: Yes.  It is.

Rebecca: It’s a genuine community at this point.  It’s really lovely.

Sheila: Yeah.  So please check that out.  But thank you for joining us on this first podcast.  And I want to end where we started with just this simple question for all of us.  What would happen if we all just stopped?

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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10 Comments

  1. Estelle

    That was so sweet to have your mom read us the story! What a lovely way to start off the new year!

    And challenging prompts from Rebecca to get us thinking!

    Reply
    • Phil

      Totally off topic here but You know what was fun about todays Podcast besides the content which was awesome…? Watching Keith smile as Becca was going off 😬. I listen to the podcast direct from the site and even though I listen while I drive I always put the video on. I lay the phone in the middle console and I glance at it when you might want to see a facial expression or especially when people are laughing. I really enjoy watching people laugh. Today while Becca was going off I glanced down and there was Keith just beaming with a big huge smile watching the video from in the kitchen. You could see the joy of watching his own daughter going of for God. Really cool to watch. I have been intentionally watching my children as well as my wife. They will say whats wrong Dad? Or my wife says Yes? I say – just watching 😬

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, that’s lovely!

        Reply
  2. Mara R

    Question around the 34 minute mark:
    “Why did we stay so long?” after talking about being there gave credibility to the church and the belief that things could change by your presence and influence.

    Another thing was and still is going on. Just like all the cliched sayings about women needing to stop being selfish and stay in their marriage through the tough times for the sake of the children and not making God mad, there were/are sayings about church attendance.

    Sayings like, “You’ll never find the perfect church. Once you find it, it won’t be perfect anymore because you are now attending it.”
    Or that long joke about a guy that was shipwrecked alone on a remote island building all kinds of things, like a house, a school and two churches. When asked why he built two churches, he at first said he didn’t want to talk about it. Then finally said something about not being able get along in the first church (even though he was alone through it all)
    They are always saying… “The grass isn’t greener on the other side. You should just stay where you are and bloom where you are planted.”
    The social, cultural pressure is thick, just like it is for women trying to escape abusive marriages. They are in deep denial concerning the existence of abusive Christian husbands (and wives, maybe) and abusive, toxic church culture.

    Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      A good touchstone for whether it’s the place (church, marriage, country, university, workplace) or a personal issue: have you been happy elsewhere? If you were reasonably happy single, in a different relationship, in undergrad, in a different church, or just reasonably content in general, it’s the specific thing you’re complaining about. “I’ve never had a problem with my previous five bosses and this person is a nightmare” isn’t the same as “I was happy when I spent my summer backpacking around Europe and not working 9/5.”

      Reply
  3. Nathan

    Denial is likely part of it. “He’s not That abusive, is he?”, or the other attitudes of how even if he is being abusive and dangerous, it’s the wife’s fault for not submitting enough, not praying enough, not having enough sex, etc. It’s all part of the push to absolve men for ANTYHING bad that they do, and give them ZERO accountability, no matter what.

    The worst part of it, though, is that so many men (and even women at times) are willing to risk the health, well-being and even the lives of women to keep this ideology going.

    Just imagine a Christian church founded on basic Christian principles AND the ideas that God loves men and women equally, men and women are equal in marriage, sex was created for the pleasure of both men and women equally, men and women have the right to say no when they need to, and both have the right to leave an abusive marriage. Also, imagine the insults and name calling hurled at that church from certain sectors.

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  4. Amy

    Well, that podcast was fabulous. L.M. Montgomery is my favorite author from girlhood. I have all her novels, several biographies about her, and have even read the 5-volume set of her published journals. I do find it fascinating that she became the wife of a minister nine years after writing that story. It now makes me wonder what things she did to implement her own “Strike at Putney” as a pastor’s wife, especially during a time when women were fighting for other basic rights, such as voting rights.

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  5. Laura

    What a wonderful podcast to start out 2023! I am so excited for your upcoming books Fixed-It-For-You and She Deserves Better! A few years ago, I stopped going to women’s Bible studies not necessarily because I thought they were toxic. I stopped going because the Bible studies were not really about the Bible, just about a Christian author’s book with some Bible verses mixed in. I wasn’t getting much out of them. It wasn’t until during COVID restrictions and not attending church and Bible studies that I realized how toxic women’s Bible studies were. Now, I did form special bonds with some of the women and enjoyed the fellowship, but some of the gendered teachings were just harmful as well as some advice was given to newly married women. One bit of advice the Bible study teacher gave to a young newlywed was that she should obey her husband. This woman was concerned about helping pay off her husband’s student loans and wanted to have a job that was within walking distance of their house. They did not have children so she did not understand why he did not want her to work. If I could do it over again, I would have taken the woman aside in private and suggested to her to address her concerns to her husband about helping pay off his student loans and reminding him this job was during the day and was in walking distance of their house. I hope that this woman was not in an abusive marriage. I got the impression that her husband was controlling; he happened to be from Central America where the culture is patriarchal. And don’t get me started on other women’s Bible studies where the pastor’s wife encouraged some of the women to stay in abusive situations telling them they are honoring God by remaining obedient to their abusive husbands. God will reward them. Ick!

    Reply
  6. Renae b

    Your mom needs to read stories and sell it. Her voice was so soothing and put me right to sleep (totally not an insult) after I turned on the podcast while I was having trouble sleeping lol!

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  7. Lisa Johns

    Love, love, love the story! (And your mom’s lovely reading voice!)
    This podcast really has me thinking about what I support or not … and it’s not going to go away! This has actually been something I’ve thought much about over the last few months. For instance, do I subscribe to a particular news service where I know the reporters often seek out stories to illustrate their particular patriarchal viewpoint, just because the coverage of general news is interesting (and because it enables me to comment), or do I use this money instead to support what people like you are doing … haha, you know you win this one! (I’ll settle for less news coverage. You’re much more encouraging.)

    Reply

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