A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Paige Patterson’s been exposed. Now Bruce Ware must be exposed. #ChurchDV

Bruce Ware is another Southern Baptist who teaches dangerous stuff about domestic abuse. He teaches that a wife’s lack of submission threatens her husband’s authority, and he responds to this threat by abusing her.

Now that Paige Patterson’s dangerous ideas have been brought front and center, I suggest Southern Baptists put the spotlight on Bruce Ware.

Bruce Ware is a professor at SBTS and his bio says: “Ware is a highly esteemed theologian and author in the evangelical world.”

It is diabolical that someone should be highly esteemed in the evangelical world and yet teach that when women challenge their husbands one of the ways husbands respond to that ‘threat to their authority’ is by becoming abusive.

Ware explains male-on-female domestic abuse as follows: Wives threaten their husbands’ authority by not submitting to them, and husbands respond to that threat either by becoming abusive, or by acquiescing and sinfully abrogating their authority.

We know this because of what Ware said in his talk A Complementarian Vision of Creation which he gave at Denton Bible Church on June 22, 2008. Ware has never retracted that teaching. Quite a few lesser known bloggers (most of them victim-survivors of domestic abuse) have called Bruce Ware out for this, and Bob Allen from EthicsDaily.com reported it, but we got no traction for many years.

My post Bruce Ware teaches that a wife’s lack of submission threatens her husband’s authority, and he responds to this threat by abusing her sets out the full story. Please I beg you, read this post. I document exactly what Bruce Ware says.

If the Southern Baptists give Paige Patterson a pass now because he has written a so-called apology letter about his sexual objectification of a 16 year old girl, they will not have bitten the bullet. There is a lot more rot in the tree than just Paige Patterson.

And the rot is not just in the Southern Baptist denomination. It’s pretty much everywhere: denominations, para-church organizations, biblical counseling, etc…. with a few exceptions in truly godly pastors leading usually small churches.

To cut the rot out of a very rotten tree takes time. It needs careful attention. And the tree surgeons don’t know how long the job will take when they start. They have to get up in the tree with their harnesses on and start cutting, looking, testing the soundness of each limb, working out how far the rot has progressed, cutting some more, looking some more… The job takes as long as it takes.

This is not a just writing quick blog or facebook post and hitting ‘share’ and thinking you’ve done it (though ever little bit helps). This is not getting Paige Patterson to step down and thinking you’ve done it. This is not having one meeting of the Board of Trustees and passing a resolution.

Who will become tree surgeons? And beware of imposters as you are going about the work!

***

Here are some women bloggers have been trying to be “ezers” (necessary allies) to men. But by and large we’ve been ignored by the male leaders in the church.

Time to listen up guys! Not all of us women are egalitarians, but all of us have seen big problems in the way complementarians have been handling this stuff. And if you don’t let us help you, I don’t think you can do the course correction on your own. You’re too blind to your own privilege.

SBC Professor Bruce Ware Blames Wives for Husbands’ Abuse Danni Moss 2008

What is the woman’s desire? How Susan Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 fed steroids to abusers. Barbara Roberts 2016

Bruce Ware teaches that a wife’s lack of submission threatens her husband’s authority, and he responds to this threat by abusing her Barbara Roberts 2016

Dr. Bruce Ware Defines the Complementarian Position Wendy Alsup 2016

Authority: Is It Really the Biblical Counterpart to Marital Submission? Rachel Shubin 2017

 

17 Comments

  1. rrprewett

    I read the apology letter, and I was reminded of the following verse:

    “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
    ‭‭Luke‬ ‭6:45‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    Wouldn’t it be something to hear a genuinely repentant response to being called out for saying something offensive and egregious? Instead of trying to pretend as if one’s words were merely ill-advised and didn’t reflect what the speaker truly thought and believed, it would be truly remarkable if Christian leaders began behaving as if they actually believed the above verse.

    That’s how I want to live, difficult and painful and humbling as it may be. No more excuses. I need to face the facts: if I say something awful, it’s evidence of the awful condition of my heart. Recently when I was called out for complaining, it would have been a ridiculous lie if I had tried to claim that I was really a grateful person at heart, and it would have been heaping sin upon sin to try to justify or explain away my complaining or to hypocritically claim that I was opposed to complaining. It’s no apology at all to try to act as if our words come from some other place, rather from our hearts.

    May God visit His church with the godly sorrow that leads to repentance. May He have mercy.

    • Anon

      What you have said is so excellent!!! I have met only a few people who actually behave in that manner where accountability, responsibility, humility, genuineness and openness reigned. It’s so, so, SO RARE!

      I, too, tire of the excuses, the justifications, the refusal to ever have been wrong, incorrect, etc. Pharisees seem to be very, very plentiful in the church these days, both in leadership and in the congregations.

      What if the women in Jules Woodson’s church, who heard Jules try to tell them what happened to her with Andy Savage, would go and contact Jules and wholeheartedly confess their wrongness in how they hushed her (I think that is what happened). Not because they were forced to apologize or anything but rather saw the harm, saw the hurt, and went to Jules and offered their sincere apologies. No justifying. No saying, “nobody’s perfect” or anything else like that. Just pure and genuine sorrow for having failed Jules. She was just a kid, 17 is so young.

  2. Anon

    I am entirely unimpressed with Patterson’s apology letter. It’s so vague, so defensive, so meaningless. That’s it?! That’s all the apology Patterson can muster? Nonsense. Patterson is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. His apology letter is a worthless, generalized, mutated version of the ‘sorry if anyone is offended, it happens in today’s world where nobody’s perfect’.

    How about, ‘I was lewd, crude, contemptuous of the mother, sexist, and misogynistic as well as creepy and adulterous in ogling the minor girl, as a married man and all, and I take back all of that and am ashamed at having acted like that and said such things and now I am going to go and get educated on my sexism, misogyny, and so forth so I might purge such things from my heart…..’

    Something of substance, other than the actual Patterson apology letter. But Patterson shows he is again a wolf in sheeps clothing when he refuses to really apologize and truly repent and show himself to be super accountable and God-fearing.

  3. Anon

    “And if you don’t let us help you, I don’t think you can do the course correction on your own. You’re too blind to your own privilege.”

    Exactly,

    “You’re too blind to your own privilege.”

    That’s what privilege is — not having to think about it. Just using an example I read about is guys are asked what they do each day to lessen their chances of being raped. Gals are asked the same. Guys say “nothing” whereas gals will detail out clothing choices, parking in well lit areas, not walking alone, not going out at night, not drinking any alcoholic beverages, walking with their keys between their fingers in parking lots, …… and so on the list goes. And guys are amazed at all the efforts and thinking and stressing that goes into being female in our misogynist, rape culture, woman-abusing society.

    And no, it doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, if the woman was out and about at night, if the woman had been drinking, or anything of the sort. Victim-blaming supports rapists. Refuse to blame and shame victims and put the onus of responsibility back on the predatory rapists to NOT be rapists.

  4. Anon

    This whole enforced ‘submission’ nonsense is disturbing. Abuse is ABUSE. The abuser chooses to abuse his target. The abuser is the active person. For Ware to teach that a wife’s supposed “threat” (what a loaded, ‘choice’ word) to her husband’s authority is in her supposed ‘lack of submission’ is exactly like the ‘provocation’ argument abusers use in blaming their wives for beating them, raping them, and any number of things, including killing them.

    Ware is highly educated. He carefully chooses his words, his usage of “threat” and any number of other loaded, smearing words, is by no accident.

    Wife-beaters are known to beat their wives and then to blame their wives for the beatings because the woman supposedly didn’t ‘submit’ (which means, ‘obey’ for almost these men, and they want enslaved, 100% brainwashed, mindless ‘obedience’).

    A Sudanese woman of just 19 has now been sentenced to death after stabbing her rapist ‘husband’ to death when he tried to rape her again. The ‘husband’ rapist’s family members helped him rape her the first time, holding her down, etc. and when it was just the rapist husband and the young woman the second time around, she defended herself and fought and won the fight. Now the government has sentenced her to be executed.

    [The] lies that come out of Ware’s misogynist doctrine and abuser-apologist nonsense [empower male perpetrators].

    This is why abusers gravitate to the complementarian camp. Abusers are found everywhere, the egalitarian camp too, but the comp camp is rife with them in my opinion.

  5. Clockwork Angel

    I just wanted to leave note: I hadn’t been 100% egalitarian and had dragged my heels from going entirely in that direction. I viewed male pastors as a type of Christ ministering to His bride, the church. But recently I just couldn’t do it anymore, largely because these people, and their warped teachings that have infected churches everywhere, including in my old Continuing Anglican parish. I went back to the women’s ordination ACNA diocese (though my own pastor in my parish is male) and couldn’t be happier. It’s not perfect, but I never have to hear quotes from D.A. Carson commentaries on Sunday, or any of the others that are popular these days and teach everything from ESS to it’s the wife’s fault for everything. My stress levels and anxiety went down 5000%.

    These people pushed me to being egalitarian. I just can’t do anything else anymore. They only have themselves to blame when they push conservative Christian women away. I can only take so much denigration. It was affecting my health. I never want to go back. These people need to look in the mirror instead of denigrating the “liberal Jezebel women”. If they weren’t so nasty, women wouldn’t be fed up in the first place.

    • Hi Clockwork Angel, I bolded a couple of sentences in your comment, trusting your wouldn’t mind.

      And I thank you for speaking just about your own experience. We tend to discourage the comp vv egal debate on this blog as we believe it is neither comp not egal ideology will fix the problem of abuse. Getting a wholly biblical view of gender may contribute to mitigating the problem of abuse (whatever you or I or Mr X or Mrs X may think a ‘wholly biblical view of gender’ IS…. and there are many opinions on that, as we know). But I don’t believe that in itself will fix the problem of abuse in the church. The problem really is that the visible church is by and large wilfully blind about evil and the tactics of evildoers.

      But when someone like you share their personal testimony of how a comp church drove them out, we have no obection to that.

      And if someone were to write about how (say) their experience of Willow Creek church and Bill Hybels drove them away from a supposedly “egal” church, we would have no problems with that either.

  6. Brent Thompson

    To continue your tree-surgeon analogy: Sometimes the rot is so pervasive and so malignant that the tree simply cannot be saved. Assuming the “tree” is the SBC, I wonder if the heavenly Tree Surgeon has already climbed down, delivered the bad news to his Dispatcher, and then took His tools and talents to service a different tree with a more optimistic prognosis.

    • Hi Brent, I just read a tweet from Sam Powell where he said more or less the same thing. He thinks the SBC may be too far gone to save.

      But as you are probably aware, I am convinced the rot is widespread not just in the SBC but in many denominations and Church Associations. We know it is widespread in the PCA and in some or most Reformed Baptist associations. It is certainly widespread in ARBCA which is one of the Reformed Baptist associations. And in CBMW.

      And don’t get me started on the likes of Doug Wilson and Mark Driscoll – I seldom bother commenting on social media about buffoons like them. I take the approach that Driscoll and Doug Wilson don’t deserve any oxygen at all, not even the oxygen of people complaining about them. And I’m almost at that point with John Piper too.

  7. Aimee

    Wow the Bible says the wife is suppose to be submissive but no need to take it out of context. Submission does NOT give the husband justification to be controlling or abusive nor is that what God meant when He talked about submission. He was talking about headship and for the man to be a leader in the home to lead his family to God & for them to serve God together. That being said I listened to his sermon and I don’t hear him implying what you said he basically is saying what I just said. Although I know there are a lot of preachers who makes excuses for abuse in this case I don’t really see that happening. He even states that abuse is ugly and sinful in this sermon. And I went to research this sermon and found this site here http://www.dennyburk.com/bruce-ware%E2%80%99s-complementarian-reading-of-genesis/ where it’s explained and I agreed w it after I listened to the message twice to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

    For preachers who preach against a woman leaving an abusive marriage I 100% disagree with them. And I speak this from seeing my Mom living in an abusive relationship with my Dad who was also abusive with us and my grandfather was also abusive with his wife and children.

    • Hi Aimee,

      You and I may just have to agree to differ somewhat here. I can’t make you see it the way I see it, of course. But I do encourage you to reconsider your view. Bruce Ware gave two reasons why husbands abuse their wives: sin on the part of the husband, and lack of submission on the part of the wife (the wife resisting the husband’s “authority”). That second reason is the problematic part of what Bruce Ware says.

      Fact: many Christian wives are very submissive to their husband and yet the husband is still abusive regardless. The wife’s degree of submission has nothing to do with whether the husband abuses her. Many of our readers have testified this was the case in their own marriages.

      Just because your mother was abused does not mean you understand all the dynamics of domestic abuse. I urge you to keep an open mind and keep reading this blog, especially the stories from the victim-survivors.

      You might like to dig into those stories by going here: https://cryingoutforjustice.com/tag/survivors-stories/

      I’ve been aware for some years of that article by Denny Burke. I linked to it in this post which I wrote on 2016, so you’re not telling me anything new by giving that link.

      I am glad you think it’s okay for the abuse victims can leave the abuser. But please note that allowing the victim to leave is not the same as allowing the victim to divorce.

  8. healinginhim

    “Ware explains male-on-female domestic abuse as follows: Wives threaten their husbands’ authority by not submitting to them, and husbands respond to that threat either by becoming abusive, or by acquiescing and sinfully abrogating their authority.”

    Hmmm, now I get it. My mother was beaten because she didn’t submit to an already abusive, drunkard husband. Oh, and silly me…. I questioned my husband too many times about pornography or other questionable acts. You dare not question men who “attend” church and then go home and ….

  9. Krikit

    Abuse is indeed not a question of comp vs egal, or even a question of the myriad religious sects and denominations. Abuse is a rot at the core of the human heart – male or female. Abuse is filled with the first sin — that of Pride, and pride is at the heart of all mankind’s sins, and specifically those persons not under the authority and influence of God’s Holy Spirit.

    Humility is a Fruit of the Spirit…perhaps the most important fruit, because it is only in humility that we are able to see others and ourselves as God sees us — in complete and dependent need of a Savior. And it is in both humility and boldness of Spirit that Truth is to proclaimed, to be righteously stood up for, and to continually press forward in. It is why I am so thankful for God’s agencies of truth, such as ACFJ and others named here, that have refused to be silenced, to be bullied, to be ignored. They, and others whom God has called, are shining His Light upon the darkness, are spreading His Salt among the abused, and are willing to burn down the rot with His cleansing Fire. May He bless them tenfold in their efforts to minister to the oppressed, and bring justice to the wolves.

  10. Anonymous

    When I have had the pleasure of being in the company of fellow believers, especially those who have not been brainwashed to death with the ‘I am MAN’ ‘You are Woman’ ‘I speak/command/dictate’ ‘You submit/obey/listen’ nonsense, things are easy.

    It’s not that difficult to get along with fellow Christians, assuming they are truly CHRISTIANS and not simply calling themselves such to give them the facade of being ‘good people’. And yet, how many Christian books are endlessly harping on ‘submission’ ‘head-of-the-household’ ‘authority’ and so forth???

    Christ led the church in a servant-based relationship. He laid down His life for the Church. He had all the authority in the world. Men are already raised and indoctrinated in this misogynistic world to think of themselves as mini-gods and expect all others to cater to their tyranny, the LAST thing they need to hear in church is ‘women submit!’ and other similar notions.

    I really think this is wolves in sheep’s clothing, leading another generation of girls/women into bondage, abuse, degradation, violence, victimization, etc.

    How many church-going Christians have heard these few verses preached on again and again? And yet the Bible contains way more verses.

    I think all this attention paid to “submission” and “authority” and “headship” and whatnot else is just abuser indoctrination. Abusers talk about “submitting her” (abusing her, forcing her, raping her, threatening her into ‘compliance’) and I’d think if the pastors wanted to ensure the safety, health, well-being, etc. of the next generation of women and girls, they’d stop harping on these concepts.

    If the man is in authority, then he has that much more responsibility and accountability and yet the attention is paid to what the woman is supposedly doing wrong, who has the lesser amount of accountability, control, and responsibility.

    Abused women are walking away from church, the Christian faith, etc. because of the misogyny, the ‘submission/authority/headship’ harping, and yet, the men don’t care. They keep harping on this stuff.

    • Hello Sunshine

      “If the man is in authority, then he has that much more responsibility and accountability and yet the attention is paid to what the woman is supposedly doing wrong…”

      Yes. How strange that some are adamant about men’s authority and yet so often place the responsibility and accountability for men’s worst behavior on women. Man sexually assaults woman? Well, she wasn’t dressed properly. Man hits woman? Well, she wasn’t submitting properly.

  11. Legally Separated

    The whole basis for this mentality is a completely distorted view and understanding on what authority is. If his and millions of others had a true, Godly view of what authority is then abuse could never be tolerated or excused.

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