Monday, November 12, 2012

Differing Applications of Home and Church - So why is Mary Kassian upset when you write a book about it?

Posted by Hannah at 4:46 PM

things christians fight aboutMary Kassian wrote a review of Rachel Held Evans new book, and it seems she is taking things a bit too personally.  First I want to point out one GREAT comment she wrote, and show you how she sadly doesn’t apply it there after.
I pointed out that though complementarians agree on the principle of complementarity, we often differ as to its application in the home and the church. I emphasized that even those involved in CBMW have a divergence of opinion as to the specifics of how to apply the principles of manhood and womanhood. – Mary Kassian
So why OH why is she getting so upset about Rachel Evans mentioning  the different groups that call themselves complementarian?

Can she not see that maybe it was not her personally that the book represented entirely, but those that use applications differently?  I mean she already admitted even her and Nancy Leigh DeMoss don’t agree on all fronts.  Note:  there is nothing wrong with disagreement, but the way you disagree?  That is where the trouble begins.

She starts by playing games with quotes from the book itself:
A few sentences later, I had my first and best laugh of the whole book. “Evangelical complementarianism,” claims Rachel, “[is] a movement that began as a reaction to second-wave feminism and found some of its first expressions in the writings of Edith Schaeffer (The Hidden Art of Homemaking, 1971) and Elisabeth Elliot (Let Me Be a Woman, 1976).” Rachel goes on to explain that complementarianism rests on the “uncompromising conviction [that] the virtuous woman serves primarily from the home as a submissive wife, diligent homemaker, and loving mother.” (p. xix).

Seriously? “The Hidden Art of Homemaking???!!” I just about fell off my chair. That book was written seventeen years before the inception of CBMW and about twenty years before we adopted the term “complementarian.” I have never even heard of it. I highly doubt whether John Piper and Wayne Grudem—the founders of CBMW—have read it.
Just for a giggle here…The Feminine Mystique by Betty Freidman (1963).  Notice Mary loves to reference this 50 year old book ALL the TIME in her presentations.  What does that say?  Moving on…….

Now Mary Kassian just as Denny Burk both used sections of whole paragraphs out of context to make their point.  We can all admit they are both educated people, and that is why I assume they know what they are doing.  I don’t think they are counting on others to check the entirety of the quotes they write about.  If they did?  They may have a number of comments and questions.

I think they are counting on people NOT checking the sources…lets be honest here!

I don’t view either of them as dumb, so what else can I possibly assume?  Well people that tend to do this – take things out of context – maybe don’t have such a strong point after all.  That is what most people feel when others take on this tactic.

Mary took parts of the introduction in the Rachel Held Evan’s book.  Now, lets look at the statement in its entirety.
Over the next few years, I found myself drawn into more and more of these conversations, especially as my girlfriends and I began getting married and starting families of our own.  Many were influenced by evangelical complementarianism, a movement that began as a reaction to second-wave feminism and found some of its first expressions in the writings of Edith Schaeffer (The Hidden Art of Homemaking, 1971), and Elisabeth Elliot (Let Me Be A Woman, 1976). Hailed as the model wives and homemakers, these women are highly esteemed in the Reformed tradition, where the oft-repeated saying is, 'As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer's cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer's sermons."  But behind the winsome prose lies an uncompromising conviction:  the virtuous woman serves primarily from the home as a submissive wife, diligent homemaker, and loving mother. 
Now, CBMW may not have been started out of the expressions or writings of the author’s (that Mary never heard about) mentioned, but the ‘winsome prose’?  Ahh.  Yeah – its in THERE! I realize she wants to ignore that point.  Anyway…

If you take a look at John Piper’s video statement about, ‘John Piper - Is it OK for mothers to work full-time outside of the home?he discourages it.
So, I'm calling for ministry full-time when I say "don't work full-time if you have a family." Turn your family into ministry. Turn your family into a global dream for what this family might become, or what this man might be, or what we might be together as we are home.

Those are the kind of dreams I want to offer the younger women that are coming along so that they don't think, "If I don't get a career and make lots of money and be equal with men in pay and time and everything, I've somehow sold out to something small or something that doesn't require intellectual capabilities."

It is a great and glorious calling to be a mother and a homemaker and a wife and a neighborhood make-it-happen kind of person and a church minister. Who knows what God might be pleased to do.
Now, John Piper doesn’t say it is a sin to work because he will admit life is custom.  What Mary tends to do is walk right past the point of confusion that Evans is questioning when others claim you must not work in order to be a ‘biblical woman’.  Do they encourage a women primarily serve in the home as a wife, homemaker and mother?  Yes.  Why is that so hard to admit, and just clarify your position at the same time if you need too?

Now CBMW, Piper, Grudem and even Kassian tend to take 50 year old ‘strawmen’ statements from the second wave feminist’s, and hint that most non – complementarian women feel if they don’t get a career and make lots of money and be equal with men in pay and time and everything, I’ve somehow sold out to something small or something that doesn’t require intellectual capabilities. 

patriarchy-i-dont-remember-it-being-so-dirty-300x219(laughs)  No doubt there are some women that feel this, but they are NOT the majority.  Society has moved on, and yet they seem to be still back in the 1960’s.  If you hear enough sermons, read the books, and articles of complementarian crowd you do realize they use this stereotype A LOT!  You have to wonder when they can’t find a bit more updated source of material.  (or maybe just get out more!)
But sadly, the complementarianism portrayed in A Year of Biblical Womanhood is just another tiresome straw (wo)man argument. I think Rachel’s publicity stunt confuses rather than clarifies the issues. Most complementarians who read the book are bound to feel gravely misrepresented, misunderstood, and even hurt by it. – Mary Kassian
Does Mary Kassian ever think of the people she speaks about when she takes out of stereotypes of 1960 feminism?  No doubt they also can feel misrepresented, misunderstood as well.  I mean most of it is downright silly.  Why is that acceptable?  Is she not doing the same thing she claims Rachel is doing?  Opps can’t say that….moving on….

Okay.  I changed mind on that...

Will Mary Kassian also fall off her chair when she realizes that she uses OLD ‘feminist’ stereotypes and not applicable to most women of faith?  Nahh.  She will never admit it EVER!  That fifty year old book that she uses to coin these ‘feminist’ terms from is NOT going anywhere any time soon.  Its too useful for her presentations.  Hmm.

Then view WHOM the primary CBMW staff members like John Piper or Wayne Grudem endorse, have speak at their events, quote in their writings.  You will find those ‘old’ books that Mary laughs at on their ‘women's reading lists’.   It may not be on the CBMW site, but that is doesn’t mean they are NOT on other’s groups lists.  Yep, they also apply the principals differently.  I think we can see that now!  Can you Mary?

I don’t know if Piper or Grudem have read the books she mentions or not, but they do tend to endorse the sentiment behind them.  Why is that so hard to admit?  We all know it is alive and well, and Rachel’s book basically goes into depth according to the different prospective’s.

Mary may never have heard of the books, but she HAS heard of the ‘the virtuous woman serves primarily from the home as a submissive wife, diligent homemaker, and loving mother.’ sentiment.  Who is she trying to kid here?  Shall we look at examples that NO DOUBT she IS familiar with?

Scripture has been shanghaied to suit the purposes of the age and to conform to the current cultural scene. The virtues and vices of Christianity have been inverted so that self-gratifying personal rights, selfishness, and self-interests are exalted, whereas self-effacing submission, humility, and service to others are degraded. While I am not implying that every career woman is selfish, I am saying that the social atmosphere that causes women to crave professional pursuits over the family is perverted by unbiblical assumptions and an ungodly spirit of assertion and self-gratification. - Dorothy Patterson, The High Calling of Wife and Mother in the Biblical Perspective 
The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. “If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,” Jesus said, “he will find his true self.” A Christian woman’s true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate-humble obedience-but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested.
To gloss over these profundities is to deprive women of the central answer to the cry of their hearts, “Who am I?” No one but the Author of the Story can answer that cry. - Elisabeth Elliot, The Essence of Femininity A Personal Perspective
Proverbs 14:1 says, 'the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.'  In other words, the home is our place to build.  Our culture says it's not a place worthy of our best labors, but we have to be careful not to allow the world to affect our thinking.  The home is our primary place for ministry.  Someone once said of Edith Schaeffer, 'As many people were brought to the Lord through Mrs. Schaeffer's cinnamon buns as through Dr. Schaeffer's sermons.  Our scope of ministry is different than that of men, but it is no less important:  It is God's assignment to us. - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Biblical Womanhood in the Home

It is equally important for a woman to realize her responsibility as the primary one to care for the children and the home, as these verses indicate, and as Proverbs 31(see below) also indicates. This will provide the security and necessary time and energy for the woman to bear children but also to be with the children in their formative years when they are very dependent on their mother and need her presence. It is in this spirit that the Apostle Paul encourages young widows “to get married, bear children, keep house” 1 Timothy 5:14, NASB). Christ’s apostle exalts the home and women’s duties in it and encourages women to be “busy at home” (Titus 2:5).  George W. Knight III, The Family and the Church: How Should Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Work Out in Practice

Most of those quotes came from,  ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’ which of course is a book by Piper and Grudem.  They have free downloads on the CBMW website.  To me?  Those do sound like an ‘uncompromising conviction’ of the beliefs.  Am I wrong?
Homemaking as woman’s highest calling is our critical centerpiece? Hmmm. Maybe I didn’t get the memo. I found myself curious about which “proponent of the modern biblical womanhood movement” used “strong, unequivocal language” about homemaking being woman’s highest calling. And which complementarian in her right mind would even remotely assert that “the only sphere in which a woman can truly bring glory to God is in the home.” I am personally acquainted with virtually everyone at the core of the modern biblical womanhood movement. If anyone in my yard is saying this, I want to know about it. – Mary Kassian, Review of The Year of Biblical Womanhood
Check out the links above Mary!  They may not say it word for word, but the sediments are clear! You know that as well.  Why not just mention you don’t see the principals the same way, instead of attempting to naively saying they do not exist within your circle?  They are NOT that hard to find!

Mary Kassian also mentions quotes from Paige Patterson’s wife.  Mary didn’t like that Rachel Held Evans used 20 year old material, but also didn’t remind her audience that CBMW republished the article in 2006 in the Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Book.  Guess it wasn’t to stale for them to use!
Now I’m not defending Mrs. Patterson or what she wrote twenty years ago. She can do that for herself. My point is that Rachel’s thesis that homemaking as a woman’s “highest calling” is the “critical centerpiece to the modern biblical womanhood movement” is based on extremely slim pickings. I found myself asking, “Where are all the quotes and who are all the complementarian proponents using ‘strong, unequivocal language to argue that the only sphere in which a woman can truly bring glory to God is the home’?” I scoured the pages and footnotes of the book for the supporting evidence. But I couldn’t find it. Rachel doesn’t say.
(Sarcasm warning!) Is that book ‘slim pickings’ now?  Did you mention it to your higher ups? Rachel mentioned Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood for this quote, and YES mentions other author names as well … what else does Mary Kassian need for reference material here?  I found them fairly easy.  Maybe she doesn’t know google? (End of Sarcasm)  Sigh.
I stressed several other key points in my conversations with Rachel: I talked about the difference between principles and application. I pointed out that though complementarians agree on the principle of complementarity, we often differ as to its application in the home and the church. I emphasized that even those involved in CBMW have a divergence of opinion as to the specifics of how to apply the principles of manhood and womanhood. Even Nancy and I don’t land in exactly the same place on every point of application. But that’s common with principles taught in Scripture.
seekermotivatorSo maybe Mary needs to take her ‘strawman’ article she is so fond of to those that ‘differ as to its application in the home and church’ instead of stating Rachel is somehow attacking them.  It may not be ‘Mary’s’ interpretation, but it is for some of her fellow complementarian proponents.  She seems to be taking this MUCH to personally, and forgetting the ‘differing applications’ within her circle.

This is where Mary confuses the issue instead of just admitting some facts. 
  • She freely admits that proponents within complementarians apply home and church differently, but when those different principals are mentioned in Rachel Evan’s book?  Now the differing applications/principals are lost to Mary, and she wants you to point those sources out for her.
  • She mocks books that she said she has never heard of, and mentions they were published 20 years prior to the term ‘complementarian’ coming into existence.  Yet one of the authors (Elisabeth Elliot) wrote a part of the CBMW book on Manhood and Womanhood, and her personal book is still read today in some circles of complementarians today. CBMW is within her ‘yard’ right?  You have one source up close and personal right there!
  • Complementarians may feel they are ‘softer’ in some realms of Patriarchy or Traditionalism because they push a more ‘loving’ authority of husband.  No doubt those from the past (that spoke about Hierarchy, Patriarchy, etc.)  now call themselves Complementarians as well, and it could be WHY Mary sees principals applied differently.  I mean they don’t want to own the negative cogitations of the label either.  I can’t be the only one that sees this right?
  • She complains about a 20 year old article that Mrs. Patterson wrote, and was republished in 2006 at CMBW that Rachel quotes from hinting that is slate material due to age, and yet its okay for Mary Kassian to use a 50 year old book on Feminism to support her views.
  • ‘I think Rachel’s publicity stunt confuses rather than clarifies the issues.’ – Mary Kassian  Hmm.  Not if you realize people differ in application right?  Or is it just NOT okay to differ from your application and write about it?
I pointed out that though complementarians agree on the principle of complementarity, we often differ as to its application in the home and the church. I emphasized that even those involved in CBMW have a divergence of opinion as to the specifics of how to apply the principles of manhood and womanhood.
– Mary Kassian
I think we can agree on that.  The problem I see is you (and others) don’t like author’s that write books on the differing applications, opinions, and principals.  If you speak of them – you seem to take it as ‘speaking of all of us’ in your ‘yard’.  You say you are different, and yet you aren’t??  Or is it you just don’t like the parts you and she differ from personally?
Why can’t you just point out the parts you agree with, and parts that you don’t?  Your readers are able to comprehend the difference between different circles of thought.  We all see it as well after all! You should be able to use that knowledge that people can comprehend that, but instead you got your nose all out of joint.  Is it because she didn’t return your calls? I mean you did make a big deal of that also.
Blog Posts Related Content:
Book Recommendation: A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans

Mary Kassian on Rachel Held Evans’ Year of Biblical Womanhood

A Year of Biblical Womanhood: Evans stirs the pot

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Kristen on 5:38 PM said...

A few questions I would ask Mary Kassian:

1. Does "highest calling" mean the same thing as "only sphere"? Did Rachel ever say "only sphere" or words equivalent-- or did she say "highest calling"? I think they are two different things. I don't think Rachel ever said complementarians believed the home was the "only sphere." I think you switched terms.

2. Does a movement only begin when someone gives it a name? I don't think that is correct. I think complementarianism as we know it really did start with Edith Schaefer and Elizabeth Elliot-- even if that wasn't its name yet.

Donald Johnson on 5:45 PM said...

Excellent points. I hope Mary K. gets to read this.

Hannah on 7:10 PM said...

I don't remember Rachel mentioning in what I have read about the sphere or highest calling. She may have quoted another author of course.

Mary made a point that she is one of the founders or someone that was 'there' when the term was coined. Since Mary didn't know whom they were? I assumed she wanted to take ownership of the term itself. Her point was still silly, IMO.

Hannah on 7:11 PM said...

Thank you Don!

Cynthia Kunsman on 12:03 AM said...

Why is it that reading Mary Kassian always reminds me of Abbot and Costello's "Who's On First"?

The bottom line is that complementartianism is something they just slapped a label on and propped up, and a group of people came up with a bunch of products to sell associated with it. Elements of Christianity are incorporated within it, but it's mostly personal preference and the traditions of men that are advanced by propaganda techniques so a select group of people can milk other people for money and power.

In the end, that's all Mary and her cohorts have -- confusion and a lot of talk, and no one really knows what they're talking about. Sadly, though, at least with Abbot and Costello, they produced some humor. Complementarianism just produces heartache.

Anonymous said...

I find Kassian's review really problematic. I believe SHE is the one putting forth a straw (wo)man.

She basically says that RHE misrepresents how strongly complementarianism tries to keep women in the home. Technically, many complementarian material may give lip service to the idea of women going beyond the sphere of home. But Kassian can't be naive enough not to realize that THE REALITY LIVED OUT IN MOST CONSERVATIVE CHURCHES is that women are encouraged to focus more on home and family than men are, especially during the years when their children are little.

How anyone can be in the evangelical church and not know this is a mystery to me. I am 29 and have been to a lot of churches, and I can tell you that women are groomed from a very young age to believe that they will put their careers "on hold" when children come, that their husband's job is the one they will move across the country for, that men are supposed to be the breadwinners and that a woman's most proud moment is when she realizes all the sacrifice she's made for her toddler. These people may not be forbidding women to participate in spheres outside the home, but women are DEFINITELY praised for reducing those spheres once they get married and have babies, while men are allowed to continue in all their out-of-home pursuits without any repercussions.

RHE has not misrepresented this attitude. It does exist. If Kassian wants to argue about whether complementarianism FORBIDS women from doing things outside the home, fine. But surely she must admit that women in conservative churches don't feel as free as men to arrange their personal lives however they want them, and that the church is only good at reinforcing a picture of the home that looks like traditional gender roles. For Kassian to pretend this is not true is for her to "misrepresent" just as badly as she accuses Evans of doing.

Hannah on 6:58 PM said...

Cindy - Abbott and Costello! I love it!

Anonymous 6 - If Kassian would get off the feminist rant, and rant about some of what she feels is 'fringe' groups? I would have more respect for her, but sadly each time she speaks she shows how out of touch she is. If I were guessing...I assume she feels she might be attacked if she said anything about the fringe groups, and she realizes the feminists pretty much laugh at her. I mean what wave is current now? She is still back at the second one.

Val said...

Hannah, thankyou, this is great.

Anon @ #6
Not only is this taught in all the comp leaning churches, they back this up with material from the CBMW.

The church doesn't just reinforce this nonsense - it enforces it too. Consider Driscoll's popular YouTube clip circulating these days - he takes an audience question: If the woman wants to and the man is OK with it, can the woman be the breadwinner while the man voluntarily stays home? His response: That would be a case for church discipline.

Hannah on 9:35 AM said...

Driscoll's opinions at times need church discipline. He is so totally over the top at times. Someone needs to love him enough to stand up to this stuff, and call him on the mat.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe she's never heard of Edith Schaeffer. that's bizarre.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm squirming now. Edith Schaeffer and Elisabeth Elliot were my favorite authors. Couldn't quite understand why my older women mentors in church didn't share my enthusiasm. I was certainly the flag-bearer for complementarianism in my church, even though I hadn't heard of such a term.

Now, after exiting a 25 year old violent marriage, my view has changed, not because of my experience, but because of the opportunity to research and study the Scriptures with an open mind.

I am certain that my kids would have been more protected and less damaged had I left the marriage earlier, and had I not been committed to the model of being the "virtuous homemaker" who lived to support the "head of the house" in spite of his ungodliness and abusiveness. My daughters? They don't espouse that sort of theology, not after what they have seen it do to their lives.

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