Dear abusive men in the church,
I so often feel like berating you, but in what follows I actually want to give you a compliment of sorts. You are succeeding in changing hearts and minds about a key issue facing the church of Jesus Christ today. Where theologians and pastors have tried and failed, you are really making a difference. Faced with your contributions to thinking about this issue, I and others often don’t stand a chance.
I wonder if you even realize how successful you’re being at changing the thinking in the church about women in church office. I’ve tried to make the case that God’s Word doesn’t change. I’ve argued that Paul’s teaching on this matter isn’t culturally bound, but instead rooted in creation. Others have tried to argue the opposite. Both sides come up with exegetical arguments from the Bible. But look at you! You don’t even need the Bible. All you have to do is beat down on your wife and children. All you have to do is physically, psychologically, financially, or sexually abuse your loved ones, and you’re doing a far better job than anyone else of arguing for women in office. Man, you seal the deal.
After all, your wife probably doesn’t feel comfortable talking to a male elder or pastor about what you’re doing to her. If your church is like many, they’ll probably take your side. They’ll think your wife is over-reacting. They’ll listen as you gaslight her with some mental illness or other. The church will continue to insist on her need to submit to you as the head of the household. If she contacts the police or a lawyer, they’ll put her under discipline rather than you. And you’ll just keep doing what you’re doing under their “umbrella of protection.”
And all that time, you’re making a great case for women in office. What the Bible says doesn’t matter here anymore. What matters is that you’re driving women to the conclusion that only women can really help other women. I think you’re driving some men to that conclusion too. Your violent racket in the home is making the case that men in positions of power can’t be trusted to help women being abused by other powerful men. The only way forward is for women to be ordained in the church. We need women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons. Only women in leadership can change the toxic patriarchal culture in our churches.
Now I don’t actually believe that. I still believe what the Bible says about men being in positions of leadership in the church. But you’re making it hard for me and others who, on the one hand want to maintain what the Bible says and, on the other hand, condemn domestic violence and abuse and want to find ways to address it both as men and women in the church. With your powerfully convincing abuse and the friendly flying monkeys who protect you, our arguments from the Bible are more and more falling on deaf ears.
Here’s the problem: I’m not going to convince you to change your ways with this letter. You don’t care if you’re driving the church towards apostasy because your whole life hews in that same direction. I wish I could be hopeful about the potential for you to change, but the statistics aren’t very encouraging. I will say two things: 1) You have no friend with me unless you’re sincerely willing to repent and start living as a Christian; 2) When I stand up against domestic violence and abuse, I do it because I care about the vulnerable, but also because I know the consequences it has for the spirituality and faithfulness of the church. You, however, are a destroyer of the church and a troubler in Israel.
So, congratulations with your “success.” Feminism has slain its thousands, but your abusive behaviour slays its ten thousands. Egalitarianism has swayed minds, but your abusive behaviour has convinced hearts. The New Hermeneutics needed myriads upon myriads of words, but all you needed was your fists.
May God have mercy on you and on all who suffer at your hands.