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Desiringgod.org Blames Women for “Marriages Made in Hell”

by | Feb 17, 2018 | Articles, Healing from Spiritual Abuse, Learning, Waking Up | 15 comments

I read an article written by Greg Morse, a staff writer for desiringgod.org, called A Marriage Made in Hell.

It’s a spin off of the Screwtape Letters, a satire written by C.S. Lewis from the perspective of Screwtape, a head demon who writes letters to his nephew, Wormwood, explaining ways to tempt and trip up his assigned human project on earth.

In his article, Greg Morse satirizes (mocks) a specific kind of marriage relationship that he disapproves of. Here’s how he identifies the type of marriage (a marriage made in hell) he is satirizing:

Call it teammates, best friends, enlightened, liberated, progressive, egalitarian…

Before I go any further, I want to say that I know lots of men and women in marriages where both partners work together and view one another as equals. I’m in a marriage like that. Call it what you want—I call it a Christian marriage, and I love it. My husband loves it, too. We operate in unity and with mutual love and respect, the way God designed Christian marriage and all Christian relationships to operate. There is no jockeying for power-over. We are both safe with one another, and we utilize one another’s strengths to make the most of everything we do together.

Greg Morse mocks his own false caricature of these marriages, but he fails to actually address a real Christian marriage relationship that would be called “egalitarian” by those of us who actually live it out in real life. I’m guessing it’s because he doesn’t know anyone in a marriage like that in his circles, which is really quite sad. His practical inexperience with what he is satirizing ought to cause him to wisely pause, but pause he does not.

So just to clarify—he’s actually setting up a totally different marriage to satirize, and he’s labeling it egalitarian. This means his satire doesn’t count. It’s like saying “Blue is Red. Red is bad. Therefore Blue is bad.” The only problem is that Blue isn’t Red to begin with.

He’s counting on his readers to just believe his original premise, and since they are brainwashed with religious propaganda to believe it already, they think his satire makes sense.

But to those of us who actually live in the real world of egalitarian relationships, his satire doesn’t make any sense.

Let’s look at his satire.

Marriage, Globdrop, reflects everything we detest. The male dresses up as the Enemy [God], while the wife stands in for his beloved [church]. As he made man in his own image, he made marriage to reflect his terrible story. But while the Enemy means for it to narrate one tale, we can make it tell another. Through it, we can preach one of our gospels. Perhaps the most effective way to do so these days is to instruct him in what I like to call homofunctional marriage.

Right out of the gate Morse labels a marriage of equality (mutuality and unity) a satanic gospel—calling good evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20

Here is his explanation of a “homofunctional” marriage:

...“homofunctional marriage” consists of two different sexes that function identically. The same still marries the same: they both lead and follow. They both must shoulder the same amount of burden, both must offer the same amount of sacrifice, and both be equally responsible for the other before God.

And later on he says:

No marriage can have two masters.

Clearly Greg has no idea how it actually works. Did he do any research on egalitarian marriage before he wrote this? Did he interview anyone who lives in a marriage like this? He is saying “Blue is Red” but it isn’t.

Greg—Blue isn’t Red.

He is coming from a perspective that assumes you have to have a leader and a follower in every marriage relationship. But, good heavens, this is Kindergarten politics, not New Testament Christian living. He assumes some interesting (false) things about how boundaries work as well.

Greg believes that a marriage of mutuality is a marriage where there are two masters. That’s because Greg insists on earthly masters—a worldly kingdom order of things. “WE WANT A KING!” But that’s not how the Kingdom of God works. Jesus ushered in a new way of operating within relationships.

In a Christian (Christ-like) marriage, there are no earthly masters. There is one eternal Master—Jesus Christ—and two human partners who are humbly taking their place as humans instead of grasping for power over (to be like God – the first sin).

In functionally Christian relationships, and certainly in a functionally Christian marriage relationship, there are no permanently assigned leaders and followers according to Genesis before the fall and the New Testament after Christ’s sacrifice.

Hierarchy is the curse that came in between. (Why, oh why do some Christians love the curse so much? So much sin and oppression and crappy relationships under the curse. I don’t get it.)

Because human beings are gloriously different and uniquely created by God with various gifts, abilities, personalities, upbringings, etc., partners will defer to the other one in order to make the best use of their collective gifts, abilities, and so forth. This is sometimes called cooperation. Healthy interpersonal relationships.

It requires humility on the part of both partners. It requires Christ-likeness and maturity on the part of both partners. It requires grace from God, and it brings HIM glory.

WE ARE IN A SPIRITUAL BATTLE, PEOPLE.  As long as either man or woman is standing around quibbling about who gets to be the leader and who gets to follow, they will LOSE. They are the immature LOSERS. Not the Christ-empowered victors.

Now, as you can guess, 50/50 cannot last long. Someone must eventually break the tie.

Here we go again. Greg actually believes this. “What about the tie-breaking vote?! WE’VE GOT TO HAVE A TIE BREAKING VOTE!” And of course, Greg would say it’s the person with the penis that carries the weight of that noble responsibility. I wonder if he has ever seen a Christ-like male partner allow his wife to break the proverbial tie on which rests the destiny of the universe in any given home-life circumstance?

Probably not.

No, in Greg’s world, it’s all about how 50/50 can’t work. And while he is thinking of 50/50 in a different way, he’s actually right. A Christian marriage isn’t 50/50. It’s two individual people (not one) giving 100 each.

When both partners are seeking to be like Christ, they will both look for ways to love, respect, and submit to one another. If one partner (whether it is the male or the female) refuses to participate in the marriage in a Christ-like way because they think marriage is about them and their power and control, you no longer have a marriage operating on the Christian principles of relationships spelled out in the New Testament.

Power-over isn’t Christian no matter what’s between your legs.

Greg goes on to describe a woman name “Monique,” inadvertantly exposing his own demeaning core beliefs about women:

Monique is “reluctant to do anything domestic” (lazy and negligent), “shares her opinions for hours on end” (she has opinions, not valid thoughts, and she never shuts her pie hole), doesn’t want to be a “helpmate” (he’s using the English for this word but obviously has never studied the Hebrew meaning), “chafes at submission” (he believes in submission of only female Christians), “hates the Enemy’s script nearly as much as we do” (she’s on the devil’s side), and she is “a manly woman standing upon a doormat [husband]” (she is an oppressive, power-hungry rebel).

Alex, Monique’s hapless husband, is described as sitting “emotionless,” letting his “wife steer” and living “to defer.” (EGADS, we can’t have a person with a penis defering, now can we? Never mind Ephesians 5:21 or Jesus Christ.)

I agree. This is profoundly dysfunctional behavior on the part of both Monique and Alex. But I wonder if you caught something?

When the person behaving like a selfish moron is Monique, and the person behaving like an apathetic doormat is Alex, we all see how dysfunctional it is. Greg sees this, his friends see this, his readers see this, and we see this, and he is calling it out. It’s kinda gross.

But here’s what Greg and his friends are missing:

When Alex is lazy, shares his opinions for hours on end, refuses to help, refuses to submit, chronically disregards God’s Word or uses it to manipulate and power-over others, and stands upon his wife, treating her like a doormat, Greg would call THAT a “Biblical” marriage. How do I know? Because I work with thousands of women who were told THAT EXACT MESSAGE by their own husbands and elders who read this kind of male chest-banging propaganda on places like desiringgod.org.

I find it absolutely fascinating how people like Greg can see the evil of this behavior when Monique is rocking it, but he thinks the SAME behavior makes Alex look amazeballs.

Now, I know if Greg were face to face with me, he would say that, no, he doesn’t believe Alex should be behaving that way either. Yet, if he is anything like most of the men I’ve encountered who are immersed in his particular flavor of Christianity (and his satire is evidence that he is), he will defend the power-over theology that safeguard’s Alex’s choice to be abusive simply because Alex has a different anatomy.

Greg looks young. I’m going to assume he’s got very little exposure to real life healthy egalitarian marriages (which is sad – he’s only got the caricatured version from the men he learned under) and very little awareness of the massive extent of abusive power-over “Christian” marriages (which is sadder). Hence the satire that actually makes no sense.

I didn’t experience Jesus Christ in his satire. I experienced another Christian man shaming and blaming Christian women for causing “marriages from hell.” I know very few women who are abusive, and I work with thousands of women who have experienced decades of abuse from men. Where’s the satire on that?

I pray one day for a world in which Christian men will lead. They will lead the way in repentance. Lead the way in building up women in their God-given gifts and abilities and experiences and wisdom. Lead the way in taking responsibility. Lead the way in accountability. Lead the way in humility. Lead the way to a safer world for women and children.

This satire was just the same-old, same-old step in the opposite direction.

You might say it was another step toward hell.

15 Comments

  1. Meri

    Wow I know it’s often implied but he comes right out there and says it – the man gets to play the God part! The bible doesn’t have too many good things to say about humans playing God. I don’t need a fictional screw tape letter to see the true evil going on here. He’s written it plain as day. Set up man as God, silence women’s voices by seeing them as the foolish sheepish church who need an earthly authority and guess who’s won? Certainly not the kingdom of Jesus Christ. My maker is my bridegroom (Isaiah 54:5). Jesus is my King. He reversed the curse and places His authority and royal rule of love over both men and women in the new covenant. Anything less can become an idol allowing a covering for evil to flourish.
    I am half way through reading ‘10 Lies the Church tells Women’ by Lee Grady – so far so good! Reverses so many of these badly interpreted Bible passages against women. What I didn’t realise was how many hundreds of years so many prominent church fathers had taught these lies.

    Reply
  2. Barbara Wheelerscott

    Natalie,
    thank you for helping even out the score, because male dominance is allowed to go unchallenged. Power over politics survives and yet Travis in his manual Wellness For Working Professionals written in 1990ies spelt it out then, so it would be resolved. I thought people understood. However, given your article it is clear that hierarchy buys into power and control and in this way lack of accountability rules.
    An incredibly enlightening and no-nonsense article because you have challenged norms which have become so engrained, we are not even aware of them until they are spell out. Demystifying!

    Reply
  3. JR

    And you didn’t even get around to addressing the “both be equally responsible for the other before God” bit. Umm…no. I am not responsible for my husband before God and he isn’t responsible for me. We are each responsible for ourselves–the same as any other person. Even most complementarians acknowledge this, telling women to submit UNLESS her husband is asking her to disobey God–she is still responsible for her own conduct before God, not him.

    Reply
  4. Sheila Gregoire

    Great takedown, Natalie!

    And it’s so true–our marriage doesn’t have two leaders. It has two SERVANTS, and one leader–Christ. We follow Christ, not Keith. It’s really quite simple.

    One thing, though. I don’t just think that “Desiring God” type leaders would say that a marriage where a man was lazy was amazeballs. I think they would say that the reason that he was lazy was because she wasn’t respecting him enough, and she was somehow emasculating him (by having an opinion? By being competent? I’m not sure). And so the only way to get him to step up to the plate is for her to completely lose herself and defer to him and not ever say anything remotely critical. Which is exactly the wrong advice.

    Jesus did not create marriage to enable sin; Jesus created marriage to help refine us and make us more like Him. A wife who disappears so that her husband can be lazy is not a Christian marriage, and I hope Desiring God recognizes this one day.

    Reply
  5. Debby

    Yes, his article was crystal clear mysogyny. I really appreciated your pointing out the hypocrisy, that when Monique is doing ABC, and Alex is doing DEF, it is evil, but you never see him call it evil if Alex does ABC (then he is an admiral true Christian man!) and Monique is the DEF doormat, clearly what God designed her to be (sounds awful even said sarcastically).

    Reply
  6. Susan

    Looking at your blog, Is there a typo here?
    “When you become of (a) member of this community, you’ll recover your sanity by learning to identify and heal from emotional and spiritual abuse.” Maybe I’m wrong.

    Hi Natalie. I enjoyed this article very much but sometimes feel you come across angry. I understand you probably are when you read what some Christian writers promote thus keeping women stuck in abusive marriages.

    I’m thankful there are still a lot of good Christian men out there who don’t force their wives into “submission.” I’m married to one. My daughter is not and is in the process of “flying free.” You have inspired her to do so after staying in an abusive marriage for 7 years. A broken rib at the hands of her “godly” husband woke her up.

    Thank you for your passion for women and uncovering the misinformation on Christian marriages.
    Susan

    Reply
    • Natalie Hoffman

      I only wish I could be as angry as God is. I’m far too apathetic as a human.

      Reply
  7. Lori DeHart

    You write so well Natalie. Thank you for another great article and for caring so much to keep writing.

    Reply
  8. Val Vickery

    For 50 years I have lived in an unhealthy marriage, but only began to feel its intense pain 10 years ago when a huge financial failure led my husband into a downward spiral.. the verbal abuse intensified. T. He quit multiple counselors. All this time he remained an elder in our church.
    About two weeks ago God showed me through His Word that crazy making was real, regardless of how many people thought I wS crazy. Jericho’s walls are down but oh the cities yet to be conquered, this is a lonely walk.

    Reply
  9. Lisa

    Natalie, I think you are mistaken: you probably shouldn’t be calling Greg “a Christian man” when the best that his attitudes and behaviors deserve is “evangelically churchy”. Just saying.

    Reply
  10. Missie

    Yes! I read the desiring god article the other day and started feeling that sinking of hope in my heart. Let down again. Made me question my experiences and that the good stuff. Brought on the guilt. Definitely not fun! And it’s a shame too because some of their other articles have really encouraged me in some dark spots.

    Reply
  11. Darcy Swenson

    WOW. You nailed it beautifully.

    Reply
  12. Michelle

    I loved your response, Natalie. Spot on in regards to all his ridiculous points. So sad that he is misled and thinks it is one way (power-hungry women) or the other (power-over men.) Seriously? I lived with a sarcastic jerk who believed exactly what he describes. We are now divorced and I am FREE.

    Reply
  13. Gina

    YES! THIS! Applause! Applause! Preach it sister!!

    Reply
  14. Ana

    Amen sister! Great counter to an ignorant article. Especially loved your last bolded paragraph. I’ve been in an EA marriage for 30 years. Only now after all kids are grown am I allowing myself to come out of the fog. Please keep up your healing work!

    Reply

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