It’s our podcast with Aimee Byrd–plus something super fun!
I’ve been looking forward to this podcast for a long time.
First, I just love Aimee Byrd, and while we talk a lot online, I haven’t had the opportunity to have her on my podcast yet. So this was a treat.
And then Rebecca and I take the submission quiz that Dannah Gresh, author of Secret Keeper Girl and And the Bride Wore White, still uses in her ministry to preteen girls. Rebecca and I took the quiz live in our launch team Facebook group for She Deserves Better, and it was so interesting and illuminating we thought we’d do a truncated form of it for the main podcast too!
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 How you can support us!
2:00 Getting to know Aimee and her work
12:20 Pink and Blue Faith
19:00 Fluffy women’s bible studies
23:30 Eternal subordination of the Son
34:20 Taking a submission quiz
Aimee Byrd has been on the forefront of standing up for women disciples of Christ
She belonged to the OPC, a very conservative denomination, and she was learning and reading and studying theology. But there was no one to mentor her because she was a woman. And when she started to question this–why is it that women are not encouraged to study?–she hit a brick wall.
Her first big book was Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (the title hearkens back to John Piper’s and Wayne Grudem’s work Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhoood). She critiqued many complementarian authors for actually distorting the Trinity, with the theology of The Eternal Subordination of The Son.
And she was on the receiving end of some of the worst bullying I have ever seen by men who are supposed to be high up in the church. It was thoroughly evil and disgusting–all because she dared question whether women can study the Bible too. She wasn’t even arguing for women in leadership! Just studying the Bible.
Aimee’s voice is important, and I’m so glad to have her on the podcast!
Rebecca and I take a submission quiz!
In She Deserves Better, we talk about two particular questions from Dannah Gresh’s submission quiz (it’s found on p. 30) that is still up on her website and still part of her updated curriculum for preteen girls.
Those questions only give full submission points to girls who don’t think and don’t have an opinion; and who don’t seek help in a difficult situation but instead do nothing and wait for adults to act.
Seriously, this is nothing less than grooming girls to be abuse victims!
Things Mentioned in the Podcast
- Our Patreon! Support us for as little as $5 a month and get access to our exclusive Facebook group, unfiltered podcasts, and more!
- Our new book She Deserves Better!
- Aimee Byrd’s book Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and her new book The Sexual Reformation
- Aimee Byrd’s story of the bullying she went through in her denomination, and some more recent thoughts on the aftermath., and Aimee Byrd’s work on the Eternal Subodination of the Son heresy
- Take the submission quiz yourself! It starts on p. 30 of this download, but you can also find the “bellies are intoxicating” on p. 24.
- The modesty podcast where we talked about the “bellies are intoxicating” statement.
What do you think of that submission quiz? Why do you think churches are so afraid of women studying Scripture? Let’s talk in the comments!
Sheila: Welcome to episode 190 of the Bare Marriage podcast. I am Sheila Wray Gregoire from baremarriage.com where we like to talk about healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice for your marriage and your parenting. And I am joined by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.
Sheila: Rebecca and I are going to do something radical. We are going to take a submission quiz. That’s right.
Rebecca: We are. I would like to know just how submissive I am.
Sheila: That’s right. Our listeners probably already know the answer.
Rebecca: I think I’m very submissive. I think that’s what it is. I think we’ll find that I am very submissive.
Sheila: Yes. Indeed. Before we do that though, a quick thank you to some very important people. To our patrons, who help support our blog and our podcast and all of the research that we do. It was our patrons’ money that helped fund the research project for our new book, She Deserves Better. So thank you so much. And Patreon is just such a great community. We have so much fun in our patron group on Facebook. It’s the best. We get totally unfiltered. And we have unfiltered podcasts and some extras from the interviews that we do. So if you want to support us even for as little as $5 a month, come on over to patron. The link is in the podcast notes. So thank you to our patrons because they make our life better. They make your life better. They’re an awesome group of people. And remember, another way that you can support us, of course, is by buying our merch. We have biblical womanhood merch, which is super fun. We have our anti rape raccoon merch.
Rebecca: That’s still going.
Sheila: It’s limited edition. We’re going to stop that at the end of May, so go take a look at that as well as the, “If you pull something out of your butt, it’s probably crap.” That was said on a podcast by Rebecca a couple weeks ago.
Rebecca: Yeah. Again, just so glad that that’s immortalized now. Yeah.
Sheila: We have love and respect merch. Lots and lots of things. So that’s another great way that you can support, so go check that out. Now before we get to the submission quiz though, Rebecca, we have someone awesome, a good friend, that I would like to bring on the podcast. And here is my interview with Aimee Byrd. Well, I am excited to have Aimee Byrd—my friend, Aimee Byrd, on the podcast today. Aimee, what is it? The feminist outrage machine. Or—
Aimee: Well, I’ve been called, as an insult, the feminist outrage machine. And I really took that as a badge of honor and thought, “Would my publisher want to put that on the top of my next book?” (cross talk)
Sheila: Mark Gungor once called me the patron saint of sexually unfulfilled women, and I put that in my Twitter bio.
Aimee: Yeah. Maybe I should do that. These are gifts that just keep coming to us.
Sheila: Yeah. Last week I was a serial killer worse than Ted Bundy.
Aimee: Oh, I mean these could be band names. There’s so many things we could do. Stickers.
Sheila: I know. But Aimee is in very similar spaces to me. You have written The Sexual Reformation, which is an awesome book, looking at how the theology for the Song of Songs can teach us about our relationship with God and how He sees us. And it’s so well done.
Aimee: Thank you.
Sheila: If we want to figure out how to use an analogy of sex to understand God, then this is the way to do it. Not the TGC article that was out early in March. You’ve also written Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which is a riff on a book by John Piper and Wayne Grudem.
Aimee: And Wayne Grudem with many contributors. Yeah.
Sheila: Yes. Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. You’ve written Why Can’t We Just Be Friends? and a whole bunch of other books examining how the gender conversation happens in the church. So I wanted to talk to you today specifically about—not your latest one, The Sexual Reformation, which is very, very good—highly recommend it—but Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Sheila: Because that’s come up a lot in our talks about She Deserves Better. So can you tell me what made you write that book? What’s the impetus for it?
Aimee: It’s been quite a journey. I was kind of an accidental author. I found myself lonely as a thinking woman in the church. And so I was in a complementarian church in the Reformed denomination. And I thought, “Well, maybe,”—and I was really kind of just not satisfied with the resources that were marketed towards women in the church. I found them to be a lot lighter, a lot fluffier, full of error. These are the things in the women’s ministries. And I wanted to read the deep stuff. So my first book really was writing into this void and just thinking, “Well, if maybe we could raise awareness of why theology is important for women too and why we are theologians, so let’s be good ones,”—all of us think something about God. What is it? Maybe use that as a tool to help women talk about this stuff. And so that’s what kind of launched me into writing. And the book was received well, and so I get invited to do a podcast with a pastor and an academic. I get these speaking engagements. All this stuff that I never signed up for. I was very uncomfortable with at first. But it ended affording me a lot of really nice opportunities, but then I also got an eye into a lot of church culture all over the country, outside of the country. And even academic culture. I made a lot of culture and friends in the academic world. And so I found myself being able to kind of go upstairs and have a conversation and then go downstairs and have a conversation. And I really was trying to step into that gap there for the thinking lay person, but I found, as a woman, this was very difficult to do if I didn’t stay in my lane. And I found the lane to get narrower and narrower and narrower. So with each book I wrote, I’m kind of writing into questions I’m having—theological questions about how a woman functions as a disciple in Christ’s church. Who she can talk to, what she can say, how she’s loved and cared for and valued. And so yeah. Part of that led to talking about friendship and where I really focus on the sibling ship that we have in the body of Christ and then Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood arose out of in that space I started getting a lot of pushback at this point when I started talking about, “Oh, she’s talking about friendship. Aimee wants married people to go have romantic candlelight dinners with other people in hotel rooms.” Okay. Not the argument in the book.
Sheila: It’s like okay.
Aimee: I started to get a lot of pushback in that way. The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, who once liked what I was saying, was now kind of starting to write against me. I was finding a lot of very subtle ways to blacklist me and things like this. And so I started to really feel the effects of this whole movement that is called Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. And so they put the word biblical in front of it, and we all want to be biblical. And I want to be a biblical woman. But really my book is kind of showing a critique of this as, “Hey, this is a movement that started a little over 30 years ago. Let’s look at its beginnings and particularly its book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. But what needs recovered? What is it that they’re teaching in there?” There was some unorthodox teaching on the Trinity in that book that then is used to subordinate women to men. There’s some really ridiculous stuff in there about women not wanting to be too muscular and their husbands—how they would carry the purse, if they needed to. Really weird stuff. If it’s okay for a man to ask a woman for directions.
Sheila: Yes. I’ve gone off on that one so often. Because how can you give directions to a man in a way that is neither personal nor direct?
Aimee: And how I can answer the door and make sure the mailman knows his masculinity—all this weird stuff. So I wanted to write into that. But what I really wanted to do was show something much more beautiful that we are invited into as men and women in the church. And so I wanted to restore the dignity and personhood of both man and woman because I think that a lot of the theology in this movement takes the dignity away from both.
Sheila: Yeah. Exactly. And, of course, you did get so much pushback. And maybe I’ll have you on another podcast to share about that some time, and we have a joint therapy session. But what was so amazing is that while you were writing all this you were still very much in complementarian spaces. And yet, they were still coming after you.
Aimee: Yeah. I made it very—I was very careful because I was in the orthodox Presbyterian church, which is very confessional. So I was very careful to write within the bounds of the confessions of my church which we’re supposed to have the freedom—here are the bounds of our confessions. And that gives us the freedom and curiosity in that then. And so that’s exactly what I did. And I wanted to write about—I wanted to be a voice from the inside critiquing and saying, “Hey, we can do better. We can grow.” And I was focusing on discipleship, not leadership, but I was writing to leaders. That’s who I was thinking was my primary reading audience, and I wanted to think about how we read our Bibles. How does this affect the way we read our Bibles, this theology, as men and women? What do we think discipleship is? And where does that happen? And what are our great—what’s our great honor and responsibilities of brothers and sisters in the body of Christ to one another? What are the privileges there that we have?
Sheila: Right. You used a yellow paper analogy, and that’s actually the cover of your book. Can you tell us—I love the story of where this is from?
Aimee: I know. So there’s this novella that’s kind of old now written by a feminist, who became a feminist because she started going to—it’s called The Yellow Wallpaper. And she was—what we know now—suffering from severe postpartum depression. But at the time, that was not a diagnosis. But the popular diagnosis at the time was something called neurasthenia, and it was kind of about nervous energy that you can’t get rid of. You can’t deal with the modern times. You can’t keep up to pace with what’s changing. And so the diagnosis could be for a man or a woman, but the therapy for it is very different. Therapy for a man is like, “Go out west. Do pushups. Ride horses.” And for women, it’s, “Stay indoors. Don’t talk to anyone. Have zero intellectual life. You are very, very fragile.” Here’s this thinking woman, this writer and now this mother, who is told do this rest therapy and do nothing. And after awhile, it really starts to hit her that, “Okay. This is making me worse.” So she stops. So she writes this little fictional story about a woman with these symptoms, and her husband takes her to this very secluded area. And she is not to have any social interaction. She’s not to have any interactions with her child. And she’s in this room with this yellow wallpaper that has all these strange patterns on it, and it’s kind of ripped in different places. And that’s where she has to stay. And she eventually starts going crazy. And she starts to see a woman trapped behind all these crazy patterns, and she wants to free this woman. So she continues to rip this wallpaper. But what it is is it’s a metaphor for a woman functioning in a patriarchal society and how it affects her medical diagnosis, her domestic life, and her intellectual life, and her social life. So the yellow wallpaper really stands for something that we still see today. Even though we’re not in such a patriarchal society as she was, there’s still a lot of yellow wallpaper left to peel. So that’s what I kind of used as I carry on that metaphor throughout the book.
Sheila: Yeah. I love that. One of the things we say in She Deserves Better is we draw contrast between two events that Dannah and Bob Gresh used to run for teenagers. And I think they still run them.
Aimee: Oh wow.
Sheila: Dannah’s used to be called Secret Keeper Girl, and now it’s called True Girl. And it’s focused on finding your real modesty. And Bob’s, for boys, is called Born to be Brave.
Aimee: So they get to be brave.
Sheila: Yeah. So boys get to be brave by focusing on how to do big things. And girls get to be girls by focusing on how not to do shameful things.
Aimee: Yeah. That’s—what a framing.
Sheila: Yeah. And that is what we found was so prevalent in youth group settings is that boys are encouraged to be big and girls are encouraged to be very small. Don’t use your voice. Make sure you don’t stick out. Watch what you wear so he doesn’t notice you and doesn’t lust after you, et cetera. But this doesn’t stop in youth group.
Aimee: No. It does not.
Sheila: And what you looked at—I loved the work that you did looking at how different Bibles are framed. Think about this, people. Publishers publish Bibles for me and for women in evangelicalism.
Aimee: It’s a big money maker.
Sheila: Yeah. They are. Those pink Bibles that we get with all these cute little articles at the side of the passages and designs. What is the difference? What are some of the differences that you found?
Aimee: Yeah. So I wrote a couple pages on that in the book because I think that just the way our Bibles are marketed to us are sending a message already. And so these pretty Bibles for women disgust me because—and I have nothing against beauty. I love pretty book covers and things like that. The cover itself would function well on something else. But on the Bible, for women, it’s already sentimentalizing God’s Word to us, right? It’s like saying, “You approach the word in a sentimental way. This is pretty for you.” We’re talking about God’s Word here. I mean there’s a lot of ugly in there. It leads us to beauty, but the Bible does not hold back, right? God does not hold back on the truth of our condition, of what’s happening in the world. And so to sentimentalize it and put this pretty cover on it, it’s a message to women, right? Of what we can handle, of how we’re to even approach God’s Word I feel like. And then I did a little bit of a looking at a more respectable women’s Bible, women’s devotional Bible, and a more respectable men’s devotional Bible that was the ESV put out not too long—I guess it’s been a little while now. But the women’s devotional Bible and the men’s devotional Bible. And there’s some really interesting differences. The articles themselves are different. Here’s some for the women. The articles are The Church and Women at Risk, Eating Disorders and Other Self-Destructive Behaviors, Missional Living, Emotional Health, Forgiveness, Healing, and Shame. So these are for the women. For the men, we see Leadership, A Man’s Inner Life and Why Regard Self Control as the One Essential Ingredient to Biblical Manhood, Life in the Local Church, Calling, Pornography, and A Man’s Work. So it’s interesting because you see these eating disorders on the one side for the women. Everything on the side of the woman is either domesticated or having to do with victimhood. You don’t see the pornography—the one article for the man on pornography, you don’t see that being called destructive behavior like you see eating disorder being called for the woman. But you see all these things about agency on the men’s side that you don’t see on the women’s side. Why isn’t emotional health important for men? It’s like they act like they don’t have that problem, right? Why wouldn’t forgiveness, healing, and shame be important for men as well? Why wouldn’t women want to learn about leadership or life in the local church? Why is there an article called A Man’s Work but not one called A Woman’s Work? Right? But then not only the articles themselves but who’s writing them. Who can contribute to these two Bibles? So the woman’s Bible has both male and female authors, Bible teachers, pastors, and that’s great. You’re hearing from all these different voices. But not so on the men’s devotional Bible. It is only male contributors. So what message do we hear here? That even though when the feminists say that the Bible is a patriarchal construction put together by the most powerful men—when the secular, very extreme, radical feminists say that, we balk. And we say, “This is not true.” But then the message that we send in our pretty Bibles and in who gets to the story is the exact same. That women need our own resources to approach the Bible and better understanding for our sex whereas men do not benefit from the female voice.
Sheila: Yeah. We were actually told that. When I was starting to write about marriage, my publisher told me probably a decade ago that women could write to women about marriage but they couldn’t write to couples. But men could write to couples. And that was true in a lot of the marriage conferences too is that you could have a man speaking in a marriage conference, but you couldn’t have a woman. You could have a couple but not just a woman whereas it’s okay to have a marriage conference with only a man speaking.
Aimee: Well, I was at a marriage conference—I wasn’t attending the conference, but I was—we were doing podcasts there with some of the speakers. And a respectable parachurch organization, and the first thing I notice is that it’s an all male speaker line up. And I’m looking at who it is and thinking, “What in the world? How are there no women here talking about—and they’re talking about things like sex too?” As a woman, I don’t even—that’s so interesting that that’s not even a question of why don’t we have a woman up here talking.
Sheila: Yeah. Okay. Here’s something that I’ve noticed. A young friend of mine runs a Bible study, a woman’s Bible study, at her church. And there’s a lot of senior citizens in it. She’s a millennial—a young millennial. But she was put in charge because she’s very vibrant. And she says she has a really hard time finding materials because she just wants to read the Bible. She just wants to like, “Let’s just read Colossians or something.” But all the women’s Bibles studies that are available, the video Bible studies, tend to be quick fluffy.
Aimee: Yeah. That was where I was.
Sheila: They’re not even always true. Yeah. They’re not even always accurate. Why are women not encouraged just to read the Bible?
Aimee: I don’t know. I feel like there is this overall consensus that women don’t have something to share. It’s really centered—if you really want to look at it, it’s really centered on the white male voice. So many of our Bible commentaries. So I think that the whole idea that we need to listen to more voices and reading Scripture as a community together, which is the way that the church has historically valued the role of the church in reading Scripture is to do it as a community. And now I think we so—not to say that that hasn’t been a problem running through church history as well. It’s become so institutionalized and now, I think, so monetized to have these important voices writing the books and speaking at the conferences and teaching us how to read Scripture. Not to say that there isn’t a lot of valuable stuff in their voices. But we need to hear from a lot more voices because I can only see so much. You can only see so much. And we all see according to what culture we find ourselves in and what experiences we find ourselves in.
Sheila: Yeah. How do you find that the discipleship differs for men and women in the church?
Aimee: Yeah. Well, and this is something I remember my pastor even admitting to me because I just—there definitely was a feeling of how far I felt like I could go in learning. And I just starved—I was starving to be invested in as somebody who had a lot of theological vigor and just yearned to be in conversations about all these things. And my pastor even said to me, in trying to encourage me to write about these things, “Yeah. I can see that when I see a man,”—since I was and I’m not anymore in this denomination. But I was in a denomination that saw male leadership that—ordination. I thought it was more about ordination. But it’s about teaching and a lot of other ways too. That only qualified men could fill those spaces. So he said, “When I see a man that has that kind of vigor, I want to invest in them because I know they can be teachers,” and doesn’t think that way about women. But then I think another layer to this too is a fear. We are in this culture, this Billy Graham culture, that men cannot spend time investing in women like that. There’s a no-no in the relationship as if there’s not ways to use—exercise wisdom in our interactions together and particularly in the way we view one another as brothers and sisters in the Church. Women have just really been sidelined as a ministry. We’re just this separate ministry. And so anybody who has any theological vigor, great. That’s wonderful. You can be the leader for the women. They barely get invested in. I’ve talked to so many leaders, women leaders of women’s ministries, who were not invested in at all, were given bad resources, and it doesn’t even matter. Wink, wink. Isn’t it cute that the women’s ministry is over there studying the word? What are they learning? It just didn’t seem to matter.
Sheila: Yeah. Well, I do want to pick your brain and have you explain this because I talk about the heresy of the eternal subordination of the Son quite a bit. And it comes up in comments a lot. But it’s often in passing, and I’ve never really given a full explanation of why this is so bad and how this got started. So while we have you, do you want to try to explain this thing? Which I know is a mess.
Aimee: Yes. Well, okay. Which I’ll give you the short, condensed version because I’d really have to do a lot of unpacking to get into the theological parts of it, but what is known today as the Trinity debate did start on my blog because I was noticing this teaching. Wayne Grudem has it in his Systematic Theology, which is sold—I don’t know. Hundreds of thousands of copies. And very popular especially among Baptists but among many other people too. I remember when I first started teaching a women’s Bible study my pastor gave me Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which, at the time, I thought, “I didn’t even know something like,”—I was 20 years old. And no one wanted to teach. And I was scared and didn’t want to do it, and he gives me this. And I got introduced into the world of theology. So in some ways, I was thankful for that. But then later on, now I’m starting—I started reading it deeper as I’m learning and finding this teaching that the Son is subordinate to the Father. They have some different ways of explaining it like they can say eternal functional subordination. So they’re saying it’s not in His essence, but functionally speaking, the Son is subordinate to the Father’s authority at all times. And then they use that teaching—and this has just saturated resources in women’s ministries, men’s ministries, children’s ministries. They use that to say, likewise, that women functionally are subordinate to men in our roles. And so they use this word role, which comes from the theater, right? And means to play a part. So that should never be something talking about our nature. But they use it to talk about our nature, who we are, is to always be subordinate to men. I was just—it was everywhere. Rachel Miller really started writing on it first. And then I wanted to write some more on it because it—the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood started doing major conferences about this. They did one on the beauty of complementarity before the T4G conference. It was like the preconference. Full of ESS teaching. The then president was releasing a book that year on ESS and male female submission authority. So I asked a pastor scholar friend, Liam Goligher, to write something on it because he was very worried about this teaching as a pastor. Pastorally, he doesn’t want this in his congregation. And I knew that to get a man to write about it—a respectable man to write about it in the PCA maybe someone will listen. So I was hoping that maybe someone will listen. And sure enough, we put that article on. It was a two-part article. And I’m telling you what. It was like we pulled the rope, and the whole ceiling fell apart. There were rebuttals. More people started chiming in. I think there were a lot of people waiting to see which way the wind is going to go. And so then when the patristic scholars come in and say, “Oh yeah. This is not Nicene orthodoxy. This ESS.” Yeah.
Sheila: Yeah. Because the Nicene orthodoxy, the Trinity—you believe that they are three coequal members of the Trinity.
Sheila: And it was being taught that Jesus was subordinate to the Father.
Aimee: Well, and they would never say that—they would say that He was equal in being, but it’s just subordinate in role. They use that word role again. But it tears apart so many other doctrines about who God is. Important ones. Are there multiple wills of God? Does the Son have a separate will from the Father? No. May it not be. So there were other doctrines that this affects as well. So, first and foremost, the way we think about God is very important. And this is something in the basics of our beginning Christian creeds of what a Christian confesses about who God is. And then they’re using that then for their anthropology. So I mean what a mess. And then were just conferences on it. There were books—now have been many books written about it. Teaching has changed in the seminaries. I’m really thankful for that. To address this. But I did become quite an enemy to quite a lot of people after that. Interestingly, the men who wrote about it did not—Wayne Grudem just updated—I think it was the 20-year anniversary of his Systematic Theology or something. So now he has a revised edition that is selling like hot cakes to where I find out that in that section of his Systematic Theology he names me and says that I misrepresented him. And basically, he accuses me of breaking the ninth commandment.
Sheila: Oh my gosh.
Aimee: So he makes a moral issue. He turns this into a moral issue. Doesn’t name one scholar of the many who have written against this now saying it’s unorthodox teaching or the people he literally debated in conferences at ETS even on this. Doesn’t name any of them. None of the academics. Just this troublesome woman, Aimee Byrd.
Sheila: Who can save me from this troublesome woman?
Aimee: Who is obviously immoral.
Sheila: Yes. Oh, that’s so awful.
Aimee: In print. In his book.
Sheila: Yeah. I have been vilified by many online. I know that Beth Barr has. Beth Moore has, but I have never seen anyone as vilified as you.
Aimee: Oh man. I don’t know.
Sheila: What you have gone through is just atrocious.
Aimee: It’s been pretty bad having to go through the church courts and all that with it and then to see the end result and how reduced everything was. To see that the system itself does not care for women and does not value or permit her voice even to speak into it. The very things that Diane Langberg would say we need to be a person, a voice, an agency. You’re not afforded that. So it was a lot to be revealed for me. And it really proved the need for the title of my book, which, at first, I didn’t really want to call it Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood because I knew that it would light fires. The publishing and the marketing and all that is what it ended up being. But now I’m like whew. That title has proven itself big time.
Sheila: Yes. I’m very grateful for it. I’m very grateful for your work. And yeah. It just shows that we need to keep being faithful. And I think people are seeing it. And what I find is that the big wigs often don’t change, but the grassroots does.
Aimee: That’s right. That’s right.
Sheila: And even if we never change Wayne Grudem’s mind or any of these other people’s minds, I think people are waking up to the fact that—yeah. Women matter.
Aimee: Women matter. And I think that not only is there awakening, but now there is community. And I think that’s something that’s been a real value with social media and why I’m glad books like ours can be published because now all these women before, that I was hearing from, in my traveling and speaking are getting better resources. And they’re also saying, “We’re not alone. What you’re saying I’m going through. And I identify with this. And now I can say it too.” So I think that that’s a—that’s been extremely rewarding to be a part of.
Sheila: Yeah. So there is still more yellow paper to peel off.
Aimee: Lots more.
Sheila: But if you are looking to peel off some yellow paper, go to your shelf. Take a look at your men and women’s Bibles and just for fun see what the differences are. Talk to your husband about that. Talk to your kids about that, and let’s just start those conversations. If you do—again, if you read Josh Butler’s article in early March and were disturbed by it, I highly recommend getting Aimee Byrd’s book, Sexual Reformation, if you want to see a theological way of talking about the allegory of sex and what that means for us and what God meant for that to mean. And I highly recommend as well the book Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.
Aimee: Oh, thanks, Sheila.
Sheila: And yeah. And I’m so grateful for the work that you do and for our partnership and our friendship. So thank you, Aimee, for being here.
Rebecca: Yeah. Likewise. I’ve been handing out your book to friends, recommending it to moms. She Deserves Better, man. That title is the best.
Sheila: Yeah. Well, thank you. And where can people find you?
Aimee: Oh, well, my website is aimeebyrd.com. I do, I think, a lot of my most talking about this on Twitter because that’s where I think—the people who follow me on Twitter, I think, are more interested in these topics. And books are on Amazon. So are Zondervan.
Sheila: Yeah. Yeah. And we will put a link. And Aimee Byrd. Both of those things are spelled weird. So A I M E E and B Y R D. And we’ll put a link in the podcast notes. So thank you, Aimee, for joining us.
Aimee: Yes. It was good talking to you again.
Sheila: Aimee is a trooper. She has undergone more bullying and horrible stuff online than almost any other woman in this space that I know.
Rebecca: Oh yeah. Completely.
Sheila: She has just been the target of so much vitriol. I’ll put a note—a link in the podcast notes so that you can read some of her story. But she was—it was just awful. And she didn’t deserve that. And the only reason she got it was because she was saying, “Hey, maybe women deserve better.”
Rebecca: Yeah. Maybe women should matter.
Sheila: Maybe women were made to be disciples of Christ as well. And she got in trouble for that. So there you go.
Sheila: I think Aimee’s basic problem, though, is that she’s not submissive.
Rebecca: I mean yeah. That’s probably what I would say too. This is heavy sarcasm for anyone who doesn’t get that.
Sheila: Yes. Yes. Exactly. And so today, Becca, I thought that we could do something that is in She Deserves Better, which we—in our book, She Deserves Better, we did talk about the submission quiz that was part of Dannah Gresh’s curriculum for Secret Keeper Girl, for the now rebranded True Girl. It’s been used hundreds of thousands of events.
Rebecca: Apparently. I mean that’s what the website says.
Sheila: Yes. And it is actually in her new book. So it was there—
Rebecca: From 2021. We’re not saying new book like 2013. Like new book like post COVID new book.
Sheila: Yes. So this is a book that moms are supposed to do with their daughters. They’re sort of 8 to 12-year-old daughters. And I just thought, “Becca, I think the burning question that all of our listeners have is, Rebecca Lindenbach, how,”—
Rebecca: Am I a rebellious Roxie or a Submissive Sarah? I don’t remember what the actual answers are.
Sheila: Exactly. “How submissive are you?” And so this is a six-question quiz. And I just thought we could work through it, and we could figure this out.
Rebecca: Yeah. Sounds good. Now we already went through the submission quiz in a Facebook Live in our launch team, so this will not be the same as that just so you know. That was probably a little more unfiltered than what we’ll be doing here today.
Sheila: Yes. It probably was.
Rebecca: But we want to go through this, and I’ll preface this with saying who we want you to think about. Okay. We’ll be talking about three different girls.
Sheila: As you’re listening, picture three girls in your mind.
Rebecca: Picture three girls. So the first one is a very shy, sheltered, 11 year old, who doesn’t know it and their family doesn’t know it, but the assistant soccer coach is a predator on her team that she’s joining this summer. Okay?
Sheila: Okay. Mm-hmm.
Rebecca: The second one is an 11 year old, who has friends who watch shows and listen to music and do a lot of games that she’s really uncomfortable with, and they have very different standards for what they consider appropriate versus what she and her family consider appropriate.
Rebecca: And the third one is someone, who is just really kind of struggling to form her idea of, “Who am I?” Just normal, self conscious, preteen girl, who is very, very naturally demure and very happy to be a people pleaser. And we’re going to talk about those three girls as we go through this quiz. As well as ourselves.
Sheila: As well as ourselves. Okay. So it is a six-question quiz. And what you’re supposed to is there are four possible answers for each question, and you’re supposed to mark which one you would answer most often. And then at the end, I want to read you what the marking score is because that’s important to know before we even start. So they’re asking which letter did you get the most of. “If you got the most Ds, you are a submissive servant. Wow. I wish I could score this high,” says Dannah Gresh. “Keep up the great work. Just don’t let it go to your head.” Or C, “You are a sensitive socialite. Good eye, girlfriend. You recognize your own desires, but you’re trying hard to put others ahead of yourself. And you often succeed.” Okay. So pretty good.
Sheila: “B is a boisterous boss. Try harder. You probably have a lot of leadership potential, but God isn’t likely to use that until you learn some gentleness. Work on controlling your tongue. And then A is a raging rebel. Uh oh. Watch out. You’re wearing the wrong stuff, girl. You need to work on controlling your tongue and your emotions.”
Rebecca: So with those descriptors, what do—think about what you think B is going to be like, if God is not able to use this girl? Okay.
Sheila: So B is a girl that God can’t use.
Rebecca: Yeah. Is unlikely to use.
Sheila: And what you’re aiming for is D.
Rebecca: So D is the best.
Sheila: Everybody wants to be D because that’s a submissive servant. That’s who you’re supposed to be. Okay? Everyone else is kind of like subpar a little bit. Now just to remind our listeners too, Dannah Gresh is the one who wrote in Secret Keeper Girl the thing about the eight-year-old bellies being intoxicating that we talked about on the modesty podcast. I think it was episode—ah, 186. Maybe? 185. A couple weeks ago. So you can listen to that. So this is a rather problematic curriculum. And in She Deserves Better, we looked at two questions from this quiz in particular. We’ll see how many we get through now. But I just want you to get a sense of this. So here is the first question. Ready? Okay.
Sheila: “When the kids I’m hanging out with decide they want to do something I don’t want to do, I (a) yell and grumble and run home stomping all the way, (b) keep talking until I convince everyone to do what I want to do, (c) try to listen to everyone’s feelings and help all of us work it out even though this is hard to do, or (d) do what my friends prefer. After all, everyone deserves a turn to lead.” So the answer you’re supposed to have is?
Sheila: Do what my friends prefer.
Rebecca: Yeah. After all, everyone deserves a turn to lead. Okay. Let’s go back to our three girls. First of all, let’s be very clear. We’re both Bs.
Sheila: Oh yeah. And I guess my thing is like I don’t know what’s wrong with B.
Rebecca: No. Because here is the problem, if it’s something where you only ever—when I was seven years old and only ever wanted to play orphan because everyone plays orphan at age seven. And sometimes my friends wanted to play school. Yeah. Okay. Let’s take turns. But you’re talking to 8 to 12 year olds where you’re starting to get into peer pressure. So let’s talk about those three girls. So what if you’re the 11 year old, who is really kind of shy and insecure? And now you’re being taught you should always do what other people want to do. Right? You should just let them do what they want. Let them do what they want. Okay?
Sheila: And in fact, if you try to convince them, if you try to speak up, that’s actually bad.
Rebecca: Mm-hmm. Even if you help everyone work it out together and do the hard thing, that’s not as good as just shutting up and letting people do what they want.
Sheila: Yeah. Because we’re aiming for D. So C where you try to listen to everyone’s feelings and help all of us work it out, that’s not as good.
Rebecca: Yeah. So you mattering is less good than you not mattering. So that’s one thing. And then think about the girl, who has got the peer pressure friends. What if this isn’t a they want to play school and I want to play orphan? And what if this is, instead, “Hey, we want to watch that new music video and learn the dance and post it on TikTok?” And you’re like, “I am 11. And this feels inappropriate.”
Sheila: Yeah. And you went through that as a kid.
Rebecca: And I went through that. I did. Where it’s like my friends—now I’m glad that we didn’t have the Internet. But I was like, “I don’t really want to watch certain things and act them out because it’s weird as a 12 year old to act these sexy things out.” And what if that’s the situation here? It’s really bizarre to me that Dannah didn’t think that through.
Sheila: Yeah. There’s nothing in here about peer pressure. There’s nothing in here about well, what if they’re trying to play a game that isn’t a good game? It’s just the best—
Rebecca: What if they’re watching a show you don’t want to watch? What if you’re scared of things that you’re—what if you’re someone who is scared of something that you feel is embarrassing for your age to be scared of? What if you just don’t like a certain cartoon because you just find it scary? And your friends want to watch it, and you don’t—and now you’re like, “Well, I’m just going to watch this, and it’s going to cause me to have nightmares because I’m just not supposed to.”
Sheila: But you need to because you need to do what your friends prefer because everyone deserves a turn to lead. Okay. Let’s move on to number two. Ready? Okay. “When the teacher gives me homework, I usually (a) refuse to do it, (b) do it, but the whole time I think it’s dumb because I already know it all, (c) wish I didn’t have to, but I don’t want to disappoint my teacher, or (d) do it without thinking too much. After all, she is the teacher.” This is the one that we used in She Deserves Better. This is one of them.
Rebecca: Without thinking too much.
Sheila: So the only way to get good points is to tell your child that it is wrong to think. So doing it without thinking too much is the correct answer.
Rebecca: We’re literally teaching girls that having thoughts means that you are rebellious.
Rebecca: And there is no nice way to spin this. Because in B through D, the physical result is the same. They’re getting the homework done. The only thing that makes it different is that the B is smart. She already knows this. So being a smart kid—because I’m sorry. If you’re smart and you’re doing homework that you already know, you’re going to feel like this. That’s just what it is.
Sheila: Yeah. This was my life throughout school.
Rebecca: Yeah. Simply being intelligent as a girl means that you are a problem according to this quiz. And, again, was that the intent? Absolutely not. I don’t think so.
Rebecca: But that is what it says here.
Sheila: Yeah. And remember number C, “Wish I didn’t have to, but I don’t want to disappoint my teacher.” Even that isn’t as good as doing it without thinking.
Rebecca: Without thinking too much.
Sheila: So the problem is that you wish you didn’t have to do it. That is the problem. So not wanting to do something is a problem. So we’re penalizing girls for thinking, and we’re penalizing them for not wanting to do something.
Rebecca: For having emotions. So literally, having an experience that is your own is rebellious. That’s according to this. And so, again, let’s go back to those girls. Okay. So now you have now systematically trained a girl through things like Secret Keeper Girl or Eight Great Dates, whatever you want to call it, or you’ve got to a bunch of True Girl conferences. And she’s learned my job is to not think too much and to let other people do what they want.
Sheila: Mm-hmm. Yep. Now—
Rebecca: That’s scary. Okay? That’s scary.
Sheila: Yeah. Because if you think too much, then you’re in trouble.
Rebecca: Or what about the girl even when it’s just about the peer pressure? What if you’ve trained this girl to not think too much and just cheerfully go along with what people want? And then is she going to be able to logic her way through why she shouldn’t listen to her friends? Is she going to have the critical thinking skills to figure out what’s appropriate and what’s not? You literally can’t train girls to not think, and then be surprised when they aren’t able to think.
Sheila: Yeah. Exactly. We’re going to skip the next two because they’re just kind of the same thing.
Rebecca: They’re just the same. We don’t want to go over the same thing over and over and over again.
Sheila: Yeah. It’s just penalizing people for wanting—for having bad attitudes but still getting something done. Okay. What about number five? This one is important. We also did this one in She Deserves Better. “When I think someone has made a mistake, I (a) want to be the first to correct the person and do it as loudly as possible.” That kind of sounds like this entire podcast. But okay. “(b) try to take over because I can to do it better, (c) watch for a good time to bring it up quietly, or (d) wait for adults or others in authority to make things right.”
Rebecca: This one is the most dangerous one.
Sheila: This one is actually quite horrifying, if you think about it. Okay. So they think someone has made a mistake. She does not specify what kind of a mistake this is.
Rebecca: No. This might be an, “Oops. You have toilet paper on the bottom of your shoe.” Right? Or it might be, “Oops. Someone is molesting someone.” She does not say what level of mistake. And this is the problem. Say, “Well, we shouldn’t have to.” Yes. You should have to because 11 and 12 year olds don’t under—we have to understand. When you look at the psychology of adolescents, formal operations thinking only begins in the age that Dannah Gresh is talking to. And for many kids, it doesn’t even start until after—
Sheila: Why don’t you explain what that is?
Rebecca: Sorry. Okay. You’re right. Formal operations is this idea of being able to get into nuance, into the philosophical thinking, into the ideas of thinking about thinking, for example. What is thought? What is existence? I think, therefore, I am. Those kinds of discussions. But also these deep discussions about morality. Like is it moral to steal a loaf of bread to feed your family? These kinds of things that you think about. The kinds of questions that are needed—the kinds of thinking that is needed to understand that a mistake and a crime are actually often two different things. Right?
Rebecca: The kind of nuance that is required to understand that, “Hey, if a 50-year-old man is paying attention to a preteen girl, no, it’s not love. It’s pedophilia.” This is the kind of thing where kids are so black and white thinking, and they’re not able to really grasp a lot of this nuance and think through things the way that an adult would. And so when we give them these blanket statements like, “Don’t say anything. Don’t try to make things right. Don’t speak up. Don’t try to correct someone,” kids are not old enough for us to be able to expect them to make the right decisions in morally gray areas. We need to delineate it. Otherwise, we are betraying them to their own psychological limitations due to their age. And it’s unfair because we put these burdens on kids. And then we don’t equip them for them.
Sheila: Yeah. And let’s also note too that it is super common. I mean what is it? Is it one in four girls and one in nine boys will be sexually abused? I mean it depends which stats you look at. But it’s very high.
Rebecca: But it’s not 1 in 98. It’s a lot.
Sheila: Right. This is really common. It is all too common. And so to not even consider that when you put questions like this together—how will this impact a girl who has been a victim of sexual abuse or assault or even how do we equip girls who might be groomed and meet predators later?
Rebecca: Especially since so often it’s talk about how he just made a mistake in his youth. I mean that’s what they said about Andy Savage. He called it a mistake. Right? And so saying this stuff like when I think someone has made a mistake, the only correct answer is I wait for adults or others in authority to make things right.
Sheila: It doesn’t even say you bring it up to others in authority. It means the only thing that you do is wait.
Rebecca: You shut up.
Sheila: You do nothing.
Rebecca: Yeah. So what if you are a 14-year-old girl now who grew up doing things like Eight Great Dates with your mom, who you went to the True Girl conferences, and there is a boy in your youth group who is sexually harassing you, what do you do? What have you been trained to do? What have you been trained to do? What if you’re in that girl—in that friend group with mean girls and you see that one of them is just super picking on someone else or you see that they are just spreading lies? What do you do? You just sit and wait.
Sheila: Yeah. Let’s remember there was an incident that you went through in high school where you brought it up to a youth leader that there was an individual going to your youth group that you did not feel safe with.
Rebecca: Oh, no. We had good reasons not to feel safe with.
Sheila: That he had sexually assaulted girls in high school and the youth leader did nothing.
Sheila: And so what was Rebecca supposed to do?
Sheila: Well, I already told an adult. They’re not making it right.
Rebecca: I’ve already been rebellious according to Dannah Gresh.
Sheila: Yeah. She’s already been rebellious by telling the adult in the first place because you’re not even supposed to do that. You’re supposed to wait. But now she’s told an adult, now he hasn’t done anything. So what is she supposed to do? Well, I guess she’s just supposed to let herself be taken advantage of then. Now that’s not what you did. You teamed up with other boys and made sure that you were—
Rebecca: No one is surprised that that’s not what I did. But yeah. No.
Sheila: But think about the implications of this. And so to tell a girl that it is not your job—first, this isn’t even biblical either. C, here, “Watch for a good time to bring it up quietly.”
Rebecca: Depending on a situation, it might actually be less loving than to just point it out at the beginning.
Sheila: Right. But also Matthew 18—assuming it is not abuse, assuming this is just a personal thing between two people, that’s actually what you’re supposed to do according to Matthew 18.
Rebecca: Yeah. C.
Sheila: And so she’s saying, “Matthew 18 isn’t good enough. You’re supposed to do nothing.”
Rebecca: Yeah. Jesus really had this one wrong. Jesus really should have taken it further. We can really correct Jesus on this. Yeah. Just ridiculous.
Sheila: Mm-hmm. And so those are three of the questions. There are six. The other themes in the other three, again, are just about your attitude, how you’re supposed to do things and be happy no matter what, and don’t think.
Rebecca: Yeah. And it’s all up on her website, so you can even take the submission quiz yourself.
Sheila: Yeah. You can even go look it up. We will put a link so that you can go look at the entire submission quiz because it is still there. It is in her book. It is in her website. And Dannah Gresh does True Girl pajama party conferences all over the United States still. So this spring there’s—this winter and spring there has been—they have been all over. So this stuff is still being taught. And you have to ask, why is submission being drilled into little girls’ heads so much?
Rebecca: Well, especially, when we think about those three girls I asked you to think about at the beginning of this. This idea of submission being erase yourself so that you do not inconvenience someone else because that’s really what this all is. Is erase yourself and become perfectly obedient which is, first of all, not submission.
Sheila: Yeah. Without having any emotions or thoughts.
Rebecca: Yeah. So your thoughts, your emotions, your experiences, your perspectives, your opinions, everything like that is an inconvenience to other people. And you must erase it if you are to be a good, Christian girl.
Sheila: Which, coincidentally, fits in with her take on modesty which is you’re supposed to erase yourself so you’re not seen either.
Rebecca: Yes. Exactly.
Sheila: So totally cover up.
Rebecca: And I just cannot be clear enough about this. That is an abuser’s dream. This is against every single safety class that you will ever have. If you ever talk to anyone who works in child sex abuse prevention, they are going to give you the opposite advice of this. They’re going to teach you to be a safe place, so your kids know they can speak up. Help your kids have confidence. Help your kids stand up for themselves. Help them not be afraid to go against the grain. This is the opposite advice. This is literally—and the intention was absolutely not there, but I cannot see this as anything other than just pre grooming girls. And it’s by accident. It is by accident. But that is what this is. What else do you call teaching 8 to 12-year-old girls— who are, by the way, peak pedophile age. Let’s be clear here. Okay. It’s disgusting. You are teaching 8 to 12-year-old girls that the best thing you can do is blind obey, not think too much, and not have any real opinions about what’s going on. And by the way, if someone does something bad, definitely don’t say anything.
Sheila: And while you’re doing all that, remember that your belly is intoxicating and makes adult men get out of control.
Rebecca: Yeah. As if you were under anesthesia. That’s in the book.
Sheila: Yes. There is another book that she wrote called And the Bride Wore White, and there was an interesting—which was written to older women. Sort of college age.
Rebecca: No. It was written to teenagers as well.
Sheila: High school and college. Yeah. And there was a part about how to practice telling the guy no if you think he’s going too far. And she had ten funny things that you could possibly say, and you were supposed to think of your own list. And it was stuff like, “You know my dad is going to dust me for finger prints when I get home.” Or, “Isn’t it great that God is watching us all the time?” So if you’re getting hot and heavy in the car and his hands are wandering, you’re supposed to joke about it as a way to defuse the tension and let him down easily. And what I find so interesting is that a simple, “No. Stop it,” is not one of those things.
Rebecca: Yeah. No. You’re not allowed to just say no.
Sheila: Yeah. You have to do it in a cute way so that you don’t offend him because you wouldn’t want to overstep your bounds. You need to stay submissive.
Rebecca: Yeah. So he is already overstepping your bounds by going too far, and you’re supposed to be like, “Uh oh. My daddy brushes me for finger prints,” which is—why not just say, “Oh, I don’t want to do that.”
Sheila: Yeah. Now interestingly, Dannah Gresh and her husband, Bob, they have a companion event for boys called Born to be Brave. So girls get taught how to be submissive, which means not thinking, not feeling, going along with what the authorities say. And guys get to learn how to be brave. And this is the state of the evangelical church.
Rebecca: That’s why we wrote She Deserves Better.
Sheila: That is why we wrote she deserves better. As Aimee Byrd was talking about, you know what? Women deserve to be disciple too. We have the Holy Spirit just as much as guys do. And guys have the Holy Spirit just as much as we do. And when we do these strange things where we try to restrict what women can do, we don’t help the kingdom of God at all.
Rebecca: No. We end up with weird things where you’re teaching 11 year olds to shut up and not tell anyone.
Sheila: Yes. And she deserves better, and you deserve better. So I will put a link to Aimee Byrd’s books. I will put a link to She Deserves Better because she does deserve better. And I think your daughter, if you have any, will love reading about the submission quiz, and you can walk through it with your daughter so that you can make sure that she knows how to speak up. And so that she knows that her opinions and her feelings matter. We’ll see you again next week on the Bare Marriage podcast. Bye-bye.
All About She Deserves Better!
Podcasts about She Deserves Better:
- Do Girls Talk Too Much?
- Should We Kiss Dating Goodbye? What Dating Rules Work Best
- How Did Modesty Messages Affect Teen Girls Long Term?
- Why Are Women Supporting the Modesty Messages? Plus How Youth Groups Handle Date Rape
- Trauma, EMDR, and "Himpathy" (and why we sympathize with abusers)
- "Nice Guy Syndrome" and Boundaries
- What We're Fighting For: A Glimpse 20 Years Down the Road
- Pink and Blue Faith: Plus We Take a Submission Quiz!
Posts about She Deserves Better:
- 10 Defining Features of Purity Culture We Need to Eliminate
- How did we think calling 8-year-old girls' bellies "intoxicating" was okay?
- The data on why we need to stop calling girls "stumbling blocks"
- Feeling responsible for her own Sexual Assault: A Youth Group Case Study
- What do the toxic teachings have in common?
- Are we giving our daughters only half the gospel?
- 32 Things Your Daughter Deserves to Know
- 3 Things That Make it More Likely Your Daughter Will Marry an Abuser
Get She Deserves Better in paperback or ebook, or listen on audio!
That whole Dana Gresh handout is just so mixed up, I can’t believe any parents seriously think it’s a good teaching resource. For starters, she begins by explaining that a Secret Keeper Girl keeps her deepest secrets ‘for her future husband’ and in the NEXT SENTENCE says that there aren’t any secrets she can’t share with her mother…Does Gresh even understand the meaning of the words she is using? You can’t keep a secret for one person while sharing it with another…it’s literally impossible!
And the rest of it…on page 4, we have an evaluation’ that decides if you are a ‘styrofoam’ cup or a piece of priceless china…I get that it’s meaning to encourage kids to improve their behaviour, but our worth to God is not based on our own ‘goodness’, so why are we telling kids that they are only worth ‘keeping’ if they reach a certain standard of behaviour?
Pages 7-10 encourage these little kids to analyse their physical beauty in detail, including thinking about bits of their body that they don’t like. And having encouraged these CHILDREN to obsess over their physical appearance, we then have pages 12-14 telling them that beauty isn’t that important and they should be spending more time reading the Bible than worrying about their looks…so after teaching them to focus on physical appearance, Gresh then criticises them for focussing on physical appearance. How twisted can you get?
And all this is before we even get to the whole ‘submission is everything even if it means ignoring wrong’ and ‘you are to blame if adult men find you intoxicating’ garbage…
(Side note: While we never had ‘Secret Keeper Girl’ when I was growing up, one of our youth leaders did run a similar programme when we were all around 11-13. Even if we were quite happy with our bodies, we HAD to choose a feature of it we ‘disliked’ so that we could remind ourselves that God made us the way we are and that the feature we hated was beautiful in His eyes. We all went into that course as totally unselfconscious kids who didn’t really think about their looks and came out feeling anxious, self-conscious and worried about our appearance. I wonder how many other young girls have been left the same way after being taught poison like this?)
Your anectode about your youth group makes so much sense. When I read the part about how braces and acne actually *are* a big deal, I was horrified. Of course it was just meant to validate people’s feelings about their insecurities, but I can just see so many girls who didn’t even think twice about those features now thinking it’s something they’re supposed to be insecure about.
I read the “submission quiz” first with my daughter in mind and cringed the whole time.
Then I considered it with my son in mind and realized that he would get mostly “A”s and it would be perfectly “acceptable” for him as a male.
I never realized that “right” and “wrong” ways to treat people depends so heavily on gender. (Tongue in cheek there at the end.)
Going through this submission quiz I am somewhere between a B and a C. This quiz is weird. It is as if this lady does not understand that sometimes different situations require different attitudes.
I have had to call ambulances for folks having seizures. If you tell a kid not to intervene someone might die.
Once again, the anti-woman attitude of some is amazing. Now, I suppose you can twist the Bible enough to believe that women should not be pastors or leaders. It’s wrong, but you can interpret it that way if you bend it enough.
But to say that women shouldn’t even read or study the bible is dumbfounding. It’s an attitude of “I’m your husband. I’ll read the bible and tell you what’s in it, if I decide that you need to know”. Wow.
All I can say is that I hope that this attitude is slowly vanishing.
I met a church leader once who said that it was wrong for a woman even to PRAY silently. I asked him what he did with all the many verses in the Bible about prayer, and he said they didn’t apply to women – God knew what his wife wanted to say and would prompt him to pray his wife’s prayers on her behalf – if she dared to approach God personally, it would be a sign of rebellion.
Would have loved to have known how he dealt with Anna, who basically spent her life in the temple worshipping God!
Or Hannah, who prayed for God to give her a son – and God heard HER prayer, not the prayer of someone else praying for her.
Or Mary, Jesus’ mom, who literally spoke to God’s Son in person every day while He was growing up under her care.
And Samson’s mom, the Angel of the Lord only ever addressed her directly, never spoke to the dad at all.
Wow. That quiz deserves to be killed with fire. Way to make girls feel like if they have a voice or leadership skills, that makes them bossy, domineering witches. (As if women haven’t been told this enough over the years.) Those answer choices are so flawed, I don’t even know where to start. Yes, there are women in positions of power who abuse that position, but there are also women who are true leaders and good listeners, who are firm but fair and guide those under their authority. I should know; I work with women like this. And you know what? They also exercise the idea of mutual submission, because they listen to our ideas and feedback and take them very seriously – and even put them into action when they have enough of the same feedback received! That is what a true female leader is, not the “shrew” that evangelicalism would have you believe is the norm. God does not call women to be doormats or silent slaves. If that were the case, Deborah would not have been a judge over Israel. Jael wouldn’t have taken a stand and killed Sisera. Shiphrah and Puah wouldn’t have disobeyed the Pharaoh’s order to murder innocent baby boys. Vashti wouldn’t have refused to be objectified before a bunch of drunken, lecherous men. Esther never would have defied her husband’s edict to save her people from genocide. Abigail wouldn’t have risked her life to stop King David from committing a bloody murder. And Mary Magdalene wouldn’t have been the first to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead. It galls me how these brave women, clearly ordained and blessed by God, are ignored or diminished in favor of a weak, sissified stereotype in the name of control.
Amen! We actually have a line in She Deserves Better–“we’re very glad Esther never took the submission quiz.” Yep.
I read through the handouts and one of the things that really struck me was the emphasis in dress on not looking too masculine. I raise the question, what does this author expect girls or women to do when they are working outside? When I am brush cutting on my rural property in work pants, a grubby shirt, eye protection and a hat I can promise you, I don’t look very feminine. I just imagine a girl who is growing up on a farm or ranch and needs to be dressed for safety in brush or working cattle is looking at this thinking she maybe in sin because her work clothes are not girly.
Also, I had a real problem with the section where it talked about there weren’t any secrets she couldn’t share within the safety of the relationship with her mom. What about girls I who even at this age don’t have a good relationship with their mothers because their mothers drink or do drugs? This whole thing is designed for girls who live in a nuclear household with a mother who is safe, but we know that more often than not this isn’t the case.
The quiz is a whole other issue, what if your friends bring out a bottle of booze or a joint or something else that a child shouldn’t be dealing with? Maybe you need to run all the way home, maybe you need to speak up to an adult and let them know what is going on. What if your parent is already drunk and wants you to bring them another beer? There is no context or understanding of different situations in this quiz.
Yes, in And the Bride Wore White she was telling women to dream about their wedding, and describing such a wedding that would be out of the realm of possibility for the vast majority of young women (string quartet; hors d’ouevres, etc.).
Yeah, because it’s not a real wedding unless you’re filthy rich enough to afford the stereotypical floofy frills. 😒
Keep no secrets from a girl’s mom- yup. Mine’s a narcissist and uses any info she can get from me to try to demand obedience/compliance, use it to gain trust from others (a kernel of truth that the other person already knows about me means she appears to have a good relationship with me yet the rest of her tale is a big “ol lie), if sexually abused themselves they may encourage behaviors in a daughter that are unsafe (e.g. dating a guy throwing red flags), etc.
I’m glad to see how a mom/daughter relationship can look in a healthy state via Sheila and Rebecca. So many moms are NOT safe to share secrets with though, and it’s irresponsible/dangerous to blanket-statement that with no caveats.
And she also advises girls to buy a boy’s vest top to wear underneath any of their tops that reveal too much of their ‘intoxicating’ tummies! So if you wear clothing that LOOKS like boys’ clothing, it’s sinful, but if you wear clothing that IS boy’s clothing, it’s fine…
There is just so much contradictory, misleading, inaccurate and confusing rubbish in this thing!
It’s like these evangelical writers, men and women both, believe that women and girls are too stupid to think for themselves or understand any kind of nuance. And if a woman does think for herself, she’s considered a “rebellious spirit” or a “deceiver.” No, we’re smart enough to see through the line of bull you’re trying to feed us, thank you very much.
It bothered me so much that clothing wasn’t allowed to be “dreary”, either. Is it now sinful to wear black?? When I put on an outfit in the grunge aesthetic, I’m not doing it to reject God’s joy, I’m doing it because I think it looks cool. *sigh*
Talk about a 180 on the Puritan chart. Way back in the first Puritan days, black was the norm. Anything colorful was considered sinful or mocking God.
So, that quiz… Let’s make a bunch of Stepford girls who will grow up into Stepford wives and do bookoo unacknowledged labor as Stepford church women.
Any chance we could do a summer-long strike at Putney, June through August?
“The 2023 North American Church Strike!”
Twill live forever in (not) infamy!
That whole handout is incredibly disturbing. I thought the awful pink was a lot, but I didn’t even notice the color once I started reading. I had so many objections, I don’t even know where to start! The whole thing is just awful! I can’t believe they’re telling these things to EIGHT year olds!! What on earth?? Why do girls that age even need to be thinking about husbands? They make it sound like the husbands already own her.
She Deserves Better, indeed!!
Eight-year-olds? Are you serious? Good night, how many of these misogynistic “curriculums” have actually ended up grooming girls to be abused by pedophiles? Chalk this up as Reason #84,000 why people think Christians are lunatics.
Exactly! I don’t blame people for thinking Christians are crazy. This stuff is nuts!
The first thing I thought of when I read question 1 was what if all of her friends are deciding to have sex, like an orgy? The girl is just supposed to go along with that?!?! In the real world, 12-year-olds are getting pregnant.
The next thought was what if all her friends decided to jump off the bridge? Now, if you’d have asked me when I was 12 what I would do in that scenario, I would have jumped off the bridge too because my friends were all fraidy cats who would never do anything scary. Either the bridge is 1 foot above the water or there’s a vehicle that’s about to hit us…. though in the latter case, it would probably have been me pushing my friends over the edge because they were in freeze mode.
I thought that the Greshes were all about abstinence before marriage. But if you teach girls to never disagree with anyone and to never offend anyone, it’s highly unlikely that they will remain a virgin for very long at all. Dana needs to be offering every girl an anti-rape raccoon. “No, you need to stop because the rabid raccoon will enact Matthew 5:29-30 on you!”
This led to me thinking about the PCA demonization, er, denomination where large groups of men will hold a trial and surround a woman or girl and demand that she provide evidence that a rape occurred. If she doesn’t have photos of massive defensive wounds on the perpetrator and audio recordings of her screaming, it’s not rape, it’s definitely an affair. But they also teach the ESS crap and that all females must submit to all adult males and you aren’t allowed to tell a man no.
And saying that Presbyterians and reformed Baptists believe in 1 unified and equal god/trinity is demonstrably false. They believe in a wimpy powerless Holy Spirit, who is powerless to overcome the “weakness” of females and powerless to enable men to not engage in sexual sin. Jesus is only a tiny bit stronger, but his death on the cross was inadequate to atone for the sins of humans and that’s why women need to be doormats and sacrificial lambs for their husbands’ salvation and why Jesus isn’t the only prophet, priest, and king… Jesus inadequately performed those jobs, so families need men to do that to make up for Jesus’ deficiencies. And the whole reason why churches have pastors and elders is because God the Father doesn’t rule well enough, so they need to do that for the world. It’s The Graspel: Jesus didn’t grasp onto equality with God, so men should go further and grasp for superiority over God. That’s the message of Good News for Men™. There’s a hierarchy of gods: first men who lead churches, then God the Father who kowtows to them, then Jesus, and finally the Holy Spirit. That’s 4 very unequal and very separate gods. Any god who is unable to overcome my lack of male genitalia is impotent, not omnipotent, and unworthy of my worship.
The writing of the quiz is terrible. I don’t know what’s worse, this or Shaunti’s so-called research!
There’s SO MUCH wrong with the whole pamphlet. It’s sickening.
“Future cleavage”. “Have a friend look right at your bottom”. What the what. And asking girls to describe their chest and weight!? And using a verse from Song of Solomon that compares concubines and virgins to the “perfect one”? And don’t even get me started on the complete ignorance of where she chose to place the black girls. One is on a page about spending more time with Jesus than in front of a mirror. Does she have any idea how long it can take black women to take care of their hair properly, or how important hair is to them? And the incredibly invasive and disturbing way the white girls are TOUCHING THE BLACK GIRLS HAIR AND FACE while she looks miserable and totally uncomfortable. And then there’s the lovely black girl posing on the awful submission quiz pages. I want to believe she really was that clueless; unfortunately that means everyone else who approved this book before going to print was also truly that clueless. Unbelievable.
Great podcast as always! Before I ever got Aimee Byrd’s book (Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood), I often thought it was weird that there were gender-specific Bible studies. We all read the same Bible for crying out loud! Before I could put words to it, looking back I felt like many of the women’s Bible studies and retreats I attended were just too much fluff for me. I want to “study” the Bible, not just listen to an uplifting message and the messages I heard in these conferences and retreats became more like reruns to me. There just wasn’t much meat to these teachings, yet when men have Bible studies, they actually focus on the Bible, not an author’s book. Now, at the beginning of my walk with God, these Bible studies and fluffy women’s retreats and conferences suited me well. I just want more now.
That submission quiz either makes me laugh because it’s so stupid, yet at the same time, it makes me sad because what Dannah Gresh teaches is like the pre-Created to be his helpmeet (er, doormat) curriculum. During my late 20s/early 30s I read And the Bride Wore White. At that time, I thought it was kind of a good book and helped me to be more determined to hold onto my “secondary” virginity in hopes of finding a good Christian man who would want me in spite of being divorced. I remember the part in that book where Gresh talked about breaking up with her boyfriend (later husband) because she felt like she wasn’t spending enough time with God. It was books like hers and others that planted the seed in my mind that in order for God to bring a good man into my life, I must love Him so much that I don’t even think about wanting to get married. No wonder my 30s were a screwed-up decade. Once I hit my 40s, I was like, “I’m just going to be open to meeting men and not worry about every man I meet being marriage material.” Once I ditched that mentality, I discovered that I have been able to be friends with men, including my ex-fiance.
Though I do not believe in the banning of books (because I’m a librarian and I don’t believe in censorship), I still think books like And the Bride Wore White and Secret Keepers need to stop existing because they are just grooming girls to expect certain behaviors from men and boys as “normal” and “that’s how God made them.”
Get a few of Bare Marriage’s “Hazardous Materials” to put on any of those books that you have to see. That way you’re not censoring (which I wholeheartedly agree, is a bad thing), but you are making people aware that there is a problem with such materials.
Don’t spend ages in front of the mirror or focus too much on what you look like. Beauty is all on the inside anyway, so you have to keep all your beauty for your future husband and no-one else must see it.
Also, spend absolutely ages going around all the stores to find all the shirts that spring back just right and don’t sit too low (sorry, you busty girls – you’re just a lost case on this one), all the pants that don’t show your curves, all the shorts and skirts that are perfectly tailored to your length of leg, all the jeans that don’t sit too low or too tight or that don’t gap when you bend over. Remember-don’t fuss over your appearance; beauty is all on the inside and you don’t want to be too conscious of how you look but obviously you want to look feminine. If you get stuck, head on over to the boys’ section and buy stuff there, but also remember it’s super wrong to wear guys’ clothes.
Also, don’t question the logic of all the above because questioning the poor logic of others isn’t submissive and you’ll lose points on the quiz.
Okay, got it.
Zed, I especially loved your last paragraph!
The part about not even being able to think about not wanting to do something you’re supposed to do is horrifyingly similar to what is taught in the FLDS cult.
Which is frightening and disgusting. How many girls and women were molested or raped by that demon Warren Jeffs because of that “keep sweet” doctrine of theirs? 🤮
Ya’ll. I cannot type out all of the swears that were bouncing around in my head as I was listening to your podcast. I stumbled on your “Fixed it For You” Insta posts, I think a friend maybe shared it. I then decided to listen to one of your podcasts. I couldn’t decide which one to start with as all the titles were intriguing. This one though. I have 3 little girls and they’ve heard about “secret keeper girls” on the radio and they thought it sounded fun. The name made me feel squicky and I vetoed it.
I grew up in the Josh Harris, purity culture heyday, and married a super conservative man who is very sweet but now would probably raise some red flags with me. Whatever, it’s done and I don’t see a future where I leave so that’s whatever. All of our kids are adopted from foster care. My oldest son molested my three little girls. I was suicidal when I found out.
It was the most horrific situation from the beginning until now. We are 3 years removed from when my then 4-year-old told me what her brother did to her and her sisters. In the months that followed my daughter’s outcry of assault I spent more time weeping than anything else. I had prayed for these children, I had prayed over these children. And this is what happened. I still feel guilt that I didn’t know. Looking back there were little tells that seem obvious now. But I’ve been told repeatedly it isn’t and wasn’t my fault. (This story has a point, I’ll get there in a minute I just want you to have some backstory) Our son was first arrested then sentenced to residential treatment after 6 months in a juvenile detention center. Then covid happened. So we didn’t see him for a year.
During all the sifting through my daughters’ pain and trying to get them the help they needed to be okay, everyone’s questions centered on my son. He was adopted from foster care after years of neglect from his biological parents. So from the outside, I suppose he appears pitiable. I found myself unable to go to church for a long time. I felt physically ill. My anxiety and intrusive thoughts were unmanageable.
I felt so betrayed both by him and the people around me. My son had been hiding the behavior for as long as he was in our home. So 4 years at that point. The church people asked how he was doing. It was all about how the boy was doing. No one cared about my girls whose entire life had been altered. I had severe ptsd, somatic pain that made me almost immobile in my back and neck. It was all very hard.
I’m telling you this to explain that my husband and I have had really heated conversations about “purity culture” as it would have already labeled my sweet babies as impure. Which, just no. Eventually, we both spoke out what we were thinking and feeling to each other and we are okay now. I thought he was defending my son instead of trusting my daughter. It was more complicated than that. He didn’t want our son to be suicidal so he called and chatted with me. I’m posting this anonymously so I’ll just lay it all out: I didn’t care if I never saw that boy again. I thought we had a great relationship and found out he was a serial pedophilic rapist. My son systematically taught my daughters to accept him and used my Jesus as part of that ploy. The church has got to do better. I am so excited for your She Deserves Better book to arrive and I’ve been soaking up all of your podcast and GSR. I’m so thankful for the work you’ve done and continue to do.
My husband and I argued on and on about ever even allowing our girls to have phone contact with my son. They’ve seen him one time in person the past 3 years. He’s doing well in the home he’s been placed in. I wish him well and he’s still my son but I’m not sure I’ll ever trust him again.
So now every time I hear about a “godly man” who was assaulting women my mind wonders how long it went on before someone in charge believed them.
Oh, wow, what a story! I can just imagine your betrayal and heartache. And all the confusion and anger at God that came with it. I’m glad you’re starting to heal, but I imagine it will be a long road.
Yeah. It’s…a whole thing. I’ve actually written an (as yet unpublished) book as a way to process the way the church and church members respond to a “godly” man being accused and convicted of rape, abuse and pedophilia. Well, that and wrestling with the fact I thought I had a good relationship with my boys. I thought he was healing. And now he says things like “God just used this time to bring me healing and I’m where I’m supposed to be now.” Like. My girls are not the currency worth paying for you to be doing well now you ass. And yet, I’m supposed to forgive and move on. And I keep explaining, I’m working on forgiving him but that doesn’t mean I’m okay spending time with him. The girls are actually really angry at me by turns because they want their big brother back. Their trauma makes life difficult on a good day. Their understanding of situations are generally suspect and I think their take on this one is that I took their brother away. They don’t seem to remember the abuse but do remember when he was the “fun big brother”. and I just. It’s so much.
I struggle to reconcile the fact that I thought I was bringing kids into my home to keep them safe, only to let them be molested by their brother systematically over years. I have so much confusion and anger over the whole thing. Where was God when my babies cried out? Where was I when my babies cried out? Why didn’t I know? Now add in the “girls tempt boys with their scandalous bodies” message the church rams down our throats, and I’ve got a crisis on my hands. Because clearly, my girls were not “tempting” my teen to molest them. They were 4 and 5 years old. It wasn’t consensual at all. But he will get to go on and live his adult life without this on his record, and I’m supposed to advocate for him to succeed. Because he’s a boy. I’m supposed to forgive him and cheer him on and I really don’t know how. And I will not let anyone make my girls feel bad because they aren’t “pure” anymore. I will fight them. Physically if I have to. But dress codes are gender and race coded and it is an uphill fight on all sides.
I just wanted to let you know, your words and the words of your co-hosts are a healing balm to my sore heart. You reaffirming the fact that women matter consistently to Jesus helps me tremendously.
I am so sorry you had to endure such a horrible experience. It sounds like you have done a really good job of taking care of your girls, and that makes me really proud of you. They will always know that their mom stood up for them! ❤️
I hope this is true. I hope when they are older they’ll understand the fact I chose them and continue to choose them and their wellbeing over a lot of societal pressure to forgive him and allow him to live with us again, the threat of revictimizing his sisters an everpresent looming threat or not. Right now they are too young to “get it” and the initial trauma has faded from memory. They only know they can’t see their big brother and their other brother hates me because of it. I am the bad guy. Always.
I am so sorry about that too. It is so DANGED frustrating to be the “bad guy!” But you are absolutely doing the right thing by not allowing him near those beautiful girls again. Stand strong! ❤️❤️
Can we get ‘Troublesome Woman’ merch next please? Pins, maybe? 😁
On a serious note though, it’s so concerning how self-erasure has been sold to women and girls under the label of godly womanhood. As someone pointed out on social media, the name ‘Secret Keeper Girl’ is so inherently worrisome as a name to start with!
It is seriously creepy. It almost implies that girls are supposed to keep any sexual abuse a secret, which is disgusting and just plain WRONG.
I don’t have kids, but I took the quiz with myself in mind at that age. Maybe I was a rebel, or at least kind of spoiled. OTOH, that may have been a good thing. Made me question complementarian doctrine later in life. I never could buy into that even when I tried.