Ever feel like the fog of toxic teaching is lifting?
One of the more encouraging things that’s happened to me online lately is my readers’ responses when I posted just one quote from the August 1 Desiring God article, “Your Husband Will Be Perfect; How To Love A Flawed Man”, that we talked about on Wednesday on how you don’t have to gaslight yourself. And we addressed it in yesterday’s podcast too!
We had over 400 comments on that Facebook post–and they keep coming! And they were really insightful, too. So many of you saw the flaws immediately, even with such a short excerpt.
Imagine, if we can all spot the spiritual and logical fallacies this easily now–imagine how we’ll be able to resist such teachings from pastors and from new books! Eventually the church that is stuck in toxicity is going to have to sit up and take notice, if this many people are seeing the problems with what too any segments of the church have been peddling to women. Eventually the church that is clinging to toxicity will have to adopt the healthy, Christ-filled teaching–or risk becoming reactionary and shrinking.
I want to share with you some of the comments that were left on that Facebook post. We’ve condensed them into four main themes:
1. There’s a difference between being imperfect and being destructive
Commenters spotted the error in conflating imperfect human beings with men who are actively abusive and destructive in their marriages:
“The failure of evangelicalism to distinguish between a spouse who is a sinner like us all that loves their spouse yet stumbles and messes up, yet repents and works on following jesus better, versus a perpetual, repetitive, and unrepentant abuser who seeks to actively destroy another human, and not just any other human, their spouse who they promised to love and cherish and protect and who God specifically called them to love like Christ loved the church. They are nowhere near the same thing, but evangelicalism tries so hard to conflate the two.”
“No one is perfect… but heck. How low can we set the bar if we’re not even supposed to expect basic decencies such as not stealing, not giving in to sexual immorality, and not giving in to substance abuse? Holding individuals to a biblical standard is…….. BIBLICAL.”
“We all stumble. Not all of us have patterns of behavior that characterize our lives. They’re describing patterns of behavior, which is a completely different subject. If you have a “tendency,” that implies it’s a repeated offense. And also, as others have already said, this is not the wife’s problem. How he deals with his own sin tells us everything about his character. Much of what is listed here is straight-up abuse when it’s a pattern of behavior that persists. When you make his character issue her problem, you’ve also added spiritual abuse to her already heavy load.”
2. Why are only women supposed to put up with toxicity?
Another theme our readers spotted was the inherent sexism of such thinking that leaves women who are in abusive marriages in a no-win situation:
“Change the genders and watch the patriarchy explode over such Jezebel wives. Okay for me, not for thee!”
“I just don’t understand why sanctification is only for women? Why aren’t these sinning men called to a higher standard of living?”
“Could you imagine reversing it and said what they actually mean?! ‘At times your wife may be convinced she can do no wrong, scream at you, or be short fused. She will choose which deceitful desires to use to afflict you. She will stumble because she doesn’t guard her mind. She’s likely going to lie to you and about you (hello you can’t have a healthy relationship without honesty), take things from others, not hold up her end and just sit around all day, tear you apart with her words, resentful towards you and recounts everything you do wrong, she’ll only think of herself, she will not be satisfied with you and will seek other men for her sexual pleasures, through pictures, videos, texts, or physically if necessary, but you better be satisfied with just her because she is crazy jealous…don’t even look at another women, or speak to her in a way that could be flirtatious! She will be have desires that nothing can satisfy, power, money, anything, she may even turn to drugs to try and quench it. In a word she has no ability to love you…
If you have these expectations you will not be surprised by how awfully wicked she is and things will be as horrible as you predicted.’ Sounds more like the seductress described in the Proverbs…I’d say run hard and raw away!!!”
“Oh Lort, Lort, Lort. Once again, the implication of the message is that women are responsible for men’s unresolved issues and there are bible verses to back this up! Why am I not surprised that Desiring God is behind this poor teaching?”
3. Our identity is not “sinner”.
Others pointed out that it is a serious error, and unbiblical, to perpetuate the idea that sinners can’t help but sin. Scripture makes it clear that, once saved, Christians are no longer slaves to their sin (Romans 6:1-11). We have been called out of sin and are now expected to have our lives reflect the holiness of Christ:
If you’ve actually been born again, we are no longer to continue in sin and therefore are saints not sinners. Read Romans 6-8. God says it, not me.
1) The Bible says a sinner is unregenerate. The Bible never once refers to a Christian as “sinner”. Our name is Saint. As such, we are saints who sometimes sin. But our identity is no longer Sinner.
2) This quote asks me to be content with his sin. The Bible tells me to confront a brother who sins. If he is a saved man, he is also my brother in Christ and I have a responsibility to lovingly point out his sin.
Nobody’s perfect, but as Christians should we still be calling ourselves sinners? Do we still struggle with sin? Yes, we’re still human. But as Christians we should be being transformed by the Holy Spirit. To me, it’s like a butterfly has stages. I’ve heard some pastors refer to Christians as butterflies, but I don’t think we reach that stage until heaven. As Christians alive on this earth, we are in the pupa stage–we are being transformed. Even Paul says, should we continue sin so that grace may abound? No, we’re supposed to put away the “old man.” “The light protects us from surprise over our husband’s failures”–I thought the light was supposed to reveal the sin?
4. It’s okay to have expectations!
Many of our readers pointed out the logical conclusion from this article: women are simply supposed to fall in line and respect their husbands, never questioning them or calling out inappropriate behaviour. Women who live within this theological system are told to live with, and accept, a husband who doesn’t respect her or, worse, is actively abusive towards her.
“It sounds to me like she expects that wives should never be calling out the sins of their husbands, instead just expecting them to live with it. Because if you expect them to fail, you won’t be disappointed? Nah. My husband’s ego isn’t nearly that fragile. He expects me to call him out on things, because if there is no accountability, where is the growth?”
I’m so tired of seeing this trope: “exposing lies that shape their expectations for marriage.”
Ie: If you just didn’t *expect* so much from your husband then you wouldn’t be so disappointed. Yep, that was ONE of the mindsets that kept me in my abusive marriage for 21 years.
It reads that she’s saying women have too high expectations for men. That we should live every day of married life with the bar so low because they’re a sinner and be expecting them to wound us. Forget the fact that we are all to be holy as God is holy. Or that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. Throw all that out because we need to accept the crumbs that a sinner husband can offer us.
Jesus wants us to move towards wholeness and health in our relationships.
And that means speaking the truth about where we’re at!
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s unbiblical to speak truth, and it’s biblical to believe a lie.
I’ve come back from vacation super motivated!
I ran an Instagram post earlier this week with pictures of Keith and me goofing around on the cruise ship when the photographer was away from the photo booth (so we took these ourselves!).
And I said this:
Keith and I had fun fooling around at the photo shoots on the cruise when the photographers weren’t there!
Seriously, I really needed a few weeks off.
It’s been a heavy few years, and in all of it I haven’t really unplugged very much. I just wrote blog posts and social media posts to run when I was away.
But this time? I just took it off.
It was wonderful. I had a lot of time to think, and pray, and just relax and get some perspective.
And you know what? I think we’ve been thinking too small. I’ve been wanting to alert people to toxic teachings in Christian books.
But what would happen if we raised up an army of researchers who did a ton of studies on the effects of patriarchy and hierarchy and unhealthy teachings in evangelicalism–so much that seminaries had to take notice?
What would happen if we so flooded the market that everyone knew the term “evidence-based” and couldn’t get away with giving advice without anything to back it up?
What would happen if we had a whole host of sex ed resources for all ages, so that people didn’t go into marriage with little to no understanding of sex.
What would happen if we made sure all teens in the church knew what consent meant?
I’m thinking about how to make these things into actionable goals. I think the first to come will be funding people doing more research!
I’m excited. Aslan is on the move!
We’re having staff meetings about future plans, and we’re trying to dream bigger. I’d love to know your thoughts too!
But this week really showed me: We’re in this together. You all see the toxicity too. There are so many of us.
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Together, we can make a huge difference. And just imagine the people and couples and families who will be spared the heavy burdens of toxic teachings so many of us grew up with! Keep spreading the word. Keep using your discernment.
And above all, look for Jesus. Because far too many have misprepresented Him, and it needs to stop.
What do you think? Are people seeing through the fog more? Are you noticing a difference?