Dealing with religious bullies

This past week three young men were shot and killed by a schoolmate.  It was reported that the teen shooter had been bullied by his classmates.  Bullying is on the forefront today.  We have seen devastating results of bullying through facebook, in schools, and elsewhere.   

Wikipedia says “Bullying is a form of agreesive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault, or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability.

You would think adults had better sense, but many don’t. It is not limited to the schoolyard.  It is found in the churches.  It is found on the blogs.  It is found through the likes of pastors, and denominational leaders who continuously seek to keep women in their place.  They are bullies.  They are abusing their power for one purpose. 

This power is being given to them by enablers who will not speak up and call them on it. Their purpose is to show that they are bigger and better and holier than women.  They believe that God made them special.

John Piper is a bully.  He tells us that Christianity has a ‘masculine feel.’ Now, what do you suppose brought that about?  This is old news and has been hashed and rehashed recently from one blog to another, including this one.

But we are overlooking his purpose.  His purpose is to bully women. It follows the description above in that it is “directed repeatedly towards particular victims….gender.” There is no redeeming value in what he is saying.  There is nothing that young pastors or older pastors can get from his message – except to join him in the bullying of women.

These bullies are enabled by the pastors who stand up in their pulpit on Sunday morning and refuse to acknowledge that their church has a problem.  They refuse to change their by-laws to allow women to be deacons.  They refuse to speak up for over one-half of their congregation. They refuse to tell these bullies that the women in their church are scripturally qualified to be whatever the church or God may call them to do.

An overweight teen was bullied each day as he walked down the hallways of the school.  A skinny young teen would run up behind him and push his books out of his arms.  The overweight kid was a gentle giant, quiet and minding his own business.  One day as usual, the skinny teen ran up and pushed the books out of his arms.  Before he knew it, the skinny kid was down on the floor with the gentle giant on top of him. 

One day a young boy left the gym and as usual, another kid pulled down his gym shorts.  One time too many.  Before he knew it, he was sporting a black eye.

I wonder if John Piper and his disciples know that the day for bullying is over. We have had enough.  Find some other subject other than what women can and cannot do in church, because we are preparing for a holy knockout punch.  If we do not prepare for that, then we are enablers.

Will you join me in telling preacher bullies that women have had enough. We’re tired of being bullied by our denomination, by our pastor, and by the Christian doctrines, defined by humans, that demean us?

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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9 Responses to Dealing with religious bullies

  1. smudge says:

    I speak as a Christian feminist but have to ask –
    how do you know “his purpose is to bully women”?
    Do we know his heart?
    I think we have to be very careful with this kind of judgementalism…
    John Piper, and many other men and women genuinely believe that the scriptures mean what they think they do.
    I roundly disagree with their conclusions, but I will not presume to know his/their heart/motive.


    • Welcome! Thank you for joining us.

      I am not pure in heart and I often find that others are not either. Particularly those who put women in a class all by themselves, as if women somehow were not completely human. I believe it was Jesus who said “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”


  2. Mabel says:

    I want to make several points about what’s wrong with Christianized sexism:
    (1) JP believes that wives should submit to husbands “for a season” and then, get this, get help from men in the church, the same men that says women must submit to men. For the Joe Shmoe on the street, that is understandable that they don’t know the Word of God. For John Piper, who is big on mission, to tell wives to submit to abuse is garbage. We have the duty to hold him accountable for his “teaching”. Just because he teaches from the heart is no excuse for this kind of teaching that brings damage to women. The problem he lasted so long is no-one speaks up. He should not go on unchallenged. The word submit does not mean obey, and he should know it. Maybe you think that a bully is someone who throws physical punches, foams at the mouth, etc. But a bully can also be someone who uses his clout to devalue, to subjugate others to boost his own importance. The one that bullies with a smile is the one you watch out for. There are way too many enablers in the Church. It is time to stop the enabling, and call these leaders to be accountable for their false teachings. There is no love outside of truth.
    (2) JP says that God is masculine and Church should be rightly masculine. God is not mother and Jesus is not daughter, etc. etc. It shows me he does not know the most basic truth of Christianity: that God is neither male nor female. To hear him say that women flourish in a masculine atmosphere (no Scriptures to back it up) makes me feel like I have gone into the twilight zone. I offer no apologies for holding such teachers accountable.
    (3)Racism and sexism are 2 peas in a pod: Remember, not too long ago, good men and women in the Church believed it was Godly to own slaves. Glad someone finally stood up and said: No slavery. Plenty of blood were shed to get rid of slavery. Were the abolitionists too judgmental? It is not judgment, it is fighting injustice.
    Why is sexism different from racism? How many people like to hear racist statements? Why should we be so polite in the face of out right sexism?


  3. Kristen says:

    I don’t know if I would say Piper’s purpose is to bully women, or that his purpose is to not bully women– but I do know that the effect of his teachings is, in fact, bullying to women.

    Suppose a man were walking down the street carrying a long piece of board that stuck out 7 feet before and behind him. Suppose he were not paying any particular attention to whether the piece of board was hitting passersby and knocking them down. Suppose someone confronted him: “Why are you carrying that piece of board and knocking down other pedestrians?” And suppose he answered: “I was not carrying this board with the purpose of knocking down other pedestrians. I didn’t mean to knock anyone down. Why are you judging me for knocking down other pedestrians?”
    If I were the one contronting him, I’d say, “Whether or not you intended to knock anyone down is beside the point. You went out on a public street carrying something that had the effect of knocking people down. You knew, or should have known, when you went out there that a piece of board like that could and would knock people down. And yet you carried it out there anyway, making no attempt to guard anyone else’s safety. Whatever your intentions were, you are liable for the harm you did to other pedestrians.”
    Piper and his masculinity teachings are knocking women down. It really doesn’t matter whether his intention is to bully them or not. He is, in fact, bullying them. And he is a responsible adult who should know this.
    The road to evil is paved with good intentions.


  4. Mabel says:

    Well said, Kristen. I like your parable.


    • Anne says:

      Agreed. In fact such a parable can be matched to lots of patriarchal/complementarian pastors out there, although some will give other excuses such as: “I’m doing this for their own good, even if it knocks them down I need to say these things. I’m speaking what the Scriptures say.”

      In which case we not only need to stand up to them but pray that God will transform their minds. I’m currently praying for Mark Driscoll – his piece of board is at least 10 feet either side. Lately he can’t seem to go far without putting his foot in his mouth, showing himself to hold very unhealthy attitudes, and I think the cause of these attitudes is deep insecurities that he hasn’t addressed. Hence my prayers.

      Maybe some other pastors DON’T have insecurities but ego-complexes. It’s possible. But like smudge said, we can’t judge their hearts. Only God can see and judge those things. All we can do is call them out every time they say something demeaning and offensive.


  5. Exactly! If we do nothing, we are complicit in the abuse. It is not enough to know that one day things will change. We are the process/change.

    Without us, nothing will happen. What is it that we can do today to increase awareness today of misogyny within the church?

    The time has come when the issues have to be made as public as possible in order to increase accountability of those who hold positions of power within our churches.


  6. mabel says:

    Ann, I am praying for Piper: that either God sees to it that he stops or God changes him, let him repent.
    Katie, I will cut and paste your comment to facebook.


  7. Michelle says:

    Thank you, thank you–all of you–for helping to ground me.
    I *don’t* know what is in someone else’s heart (heck, I can’t claim to always know what is in my own heart).
    I need to be reminded to pray for others.
    Thank you.


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