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There are worse things than dying

January 6, 2014

I have taken the title from Don Carson.  He gives more details here. Yes, I agree, being betrayed is sometimes more painful than being close to death. Who betrayed me? Here is the list, familiar to Carson, I think. At the end of the list, we read this quote,

A feature of our cultural and ecclesial landscape is warped, bastard expressions of male malfeasance garbed as complementarian. These expressions are smug and an accessory to evil. . . . Women must deeply feel that male leaders are on their side, making decisions with their concerns on the table.

And Carson/Yarborough respond,

We must lovingly stress that Scripture repeatedly grounds gender roles not in first-century Palestinian culture but in creation.

How does this help if a woman is a victim of male malfeasance and evil? How? Yes, I felt that male leaders were on the side of the evil I endured. I did feel that, for sure, and I still do.

No matter what, the overwhelming trauma of living 30 years in complementarianism will not fade. The further away I get, the more I experience a normal, loving life, the more I realize that I lived those 30 years in severe physical and psychological pain and trauma. I will never be able to describe the absolute terror of living 30 years in a form of bondage that was supposedly willed on me, not by culture, not by my own stupidity, but by God when he created the world. That is what I believed. I tremble as I write this. It brings on nausea and shaking. It was completely terrible. But that is what Carson teaches, but he has never experienced the trauma himself. He wills it on the other sex.

Not all women experience complementarianism the way I did. However, the reality is that not once, while I was in the situation, did I express my true feelings about this belief. How would anyone know what women caught in this web of suppression really think? In the situation, there was a kind of numbness that keeps one going. There is a way to live and not live, at the same time. That is what it was like. So, no, I didn’t look traumatized at the time. But the first time I spoke of reality with anyone, the shock started to emerge.

So, like Carson, a near death experience was in no way as painful to me as other psychological trauma that I have experienced in life. It is kind of sad, because I was in Quebec at the same time as he experienced a spiritual revival there. I was a part of that. We are of the same age, of the same country, the same languages, but there is no commonality between us, we are two completely different beings in his view.

Anyway, now, I try to evoke these feelings less often, and don’t write or talk about it as much as I used to. But for today, just to explain why facing death does not seem too bad, when you know how bad life can be.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. January 8, 2014 7:41 pm

    Suzanne, I have enjoyed your writings for some time but I want to say that I particularly appreciate the series of posts that you have made recently. I add my voice to those who congratulate you on your marriage and to those who thank God for your continuing life.

    To the point of this post: I read Don Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies a few years ago. I remember thinking as I finished the book that his is a formidable intellect that has been put into the service of a repressive ideology.

    You quote Carson and Yarborough above saying, “We must lovingly stress that Scripture repeatedly grounds gender roles not in first-century Palestinian culture but in creation.” It seems obvious to me that this statement overlooks the fact that the biblical view of creation is rooted in an ancient Hebrew culture with its view of gender roles.

    I followed the link you posted to the precis of Carson’s comments in which he expressed his feelings of betrayal at Roy Clements’ coming out. I don’t travel in Evangelical circles much and particularly not British Evangelical circles. Although we have the same last name, I didn’t know of Roy Clements. What struck me here was Carson’s profound lack of empathy for Clements. That Clements had betrayed himself for decades seems lost on Carson.

    The Gospel Coalition defines “gospel” in a way that I find incomprehensible, almost Orewellian.

    Keep writing, Suzanne. Yours is an important voice.


  2. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    January 8, 2014 9:56 pm

    Yes, I always feel that I would like to belong to a community of people who love exegesis and text criticism. And then I remember that I could never be treated as an equal. Too bad.

    Also its not quite true that I did not appear traumatized in my earlier life. I had a distinct startle reflex, and people who knew me then hardly recognize me now as the same person.


  1. In Tribute: Suzanne McCarthy, 1955-2015 | BLT

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