1 Thessalonians 4:9 ESV Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another,
Hebrews 10:16 ESV “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds,”
1 John 2:27 ESV But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.
John 10:4 ESV When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
You must be born again. Every Christian, every true child of God, is born again. God’s Law is written on our hearts. His Spirit has made us new creations. We have been taught to love one another. The Spirit leads us and produces His fruit in us, enabling us by the Spirit to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
Kevin Giles’ new book, The Headship of Men and the Abuse of Women [Cascade Books, 2020] presents the thesis that the complementarian teaching of the headship of men and the submission of women to that headship promotes the abuse of women in the church, and really is a root cause of abuse particularly in conservative churches that teach it. Certainly complementarianism does this harm when men (and ironically many women) embrace its patriarchy and use it to justify oppressive, sinful abuse. Giles makes many correct points in this regard throughout his book.
There is an elephant in the room in this book. Or rather, I should say, the elephant is not even present. That “elephant” to which I refer is Jesus’ loud and clear declaration that, you must be born again. Giles seems to think that if we can just jettison the complementarian teaching on marriage and male/female roles, if we can just educate people about abuse and adopt what he says is the biblical egalitarian/equality view, great advances in eradicating abuse would take place. But…
Nowhere in this book does Giles address the new birth
Let me give some examples:
Needy and controlling men in the churches and among the clergy hear this teaching [ie, complementarianism] and put it into practice in their marriages. They insist on making all the major decisions, controlling what happens in the home, and in all things expecting submission by the wife. If she is not submissive the husband gets angry and abusive, often quoting the Bible’s teaching on male headship. When men believe, whether they are Christians or not, we know this is the context where abuse and violence in the home is most likely to occur.
And if that isn’t clear enough to prove my point about this book, look at this:
This ‘biblical’ justification of abuse gives to the Christian abuser power that the non-churchgoer abuser can never have. The Christian abuser believes he has divine approval for the way he acts in his home. This is why headship teaching is so damaging for many churchgoing men and women.
Do you see my it? While many of the things Giles presents in this book are correct, his thinking is flawed at its foundation. Giles speaks of the “Christian abuser.” He leaves us asking, well, Mr. Giles – just who is a Christian? What is salvation in Christ? And his answer to such questions seems to be, a Christian is a person who is a church member, someone who belongs to a visible church, has been baptized, and claims to believe in Jesus. But he or she is a sinner, quite capable of being a domestic abuser and treating their spouse in a very abusive, evil manner.
Just the few verses I have quoted above disprove any possibility that a domestic abuser (Giles defines the abuser in the early part of his book, quoting Lundy Bancroft’s definition of entitlement, power and control, etc)…that a domestic abuser can be a Christian. The thing is impossible.
1 John 3:14-15 ESV We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (15) Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
I could go on and on and on quoting verses of Scripture that teach these things. A Christian is a new creation. A Christian is indwelt and led by the Spirit. A Christian has God’s Law written upon his heart. But Giles would have us believe (and the dangerous thing is that his thinking is woven through the book covertly) that a Christian can walk in sin, can have a defining mentality of entitlement to power and control, can twist God’s Word to justify his evil. This covert denial of the nature and necessity of the new birth is prevalent in a HUGE amount of “Christian” teaching and publicaitons on this subject.
I am seeing that this lie is pervasive in the churches. The very definition of “Christian” is purposely left in the fog. If anyone, particularly a pastor, believes that a domestic abuser can be a Christian, then just imagine what kind of “therapy” that pastor or counselor is going to exercise. Oh, wait. Most all of you don’t have to imagine it. You have lived it already.
Do us all a favor, Pastor Giles, tell us who or what you say a Christian is. What is the new birth? Is it just something that man pulls off by sprinkling some water and saying a few words? Can a person be a Christian and walk habitually in sin and even have an essential mindset of entitlement ot power and control, justified in abusing others? What is your doctrine of the church?
Because these issues, answered wrongly, produce counterfeit Christians, counterfeit pastors, counterfeit churches, and a counterfeit doctrine that always, always, always oppresses the genuine.