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I got interested in Mary Kassian’s talk via Dalrock’s post.  Dalrock wrote a followup, too, which I find unpersuasive.  Dalrock accuses Kassian of twisting scripture and preaching Christian Feminism Lite in this talk.  I think that Kassian’s Complementarianism is indeed Feminism Lite and her talk is consonant with Complementarianism, but I don’t think that Complementarianism informs her talk.  Complementarianism isn’t needed at all for her talk.  We need to understand the purpose of her talk in order to understand what she is saying.

First, Kassian is taking aim at other Christian feminists, like Rachel Held Evans.  Her talk is an attack on their views that Christian women need to appropriate strength and power from men to level the playing field.  Kassian’s talk is not primarily exegetical, though Dalrock assumes that it is; after all, Kassian said that she would “unpack” scripture.  However, when you hear her talk or read the transcript, that isn’t what she is doing and we must interpret her talk charitably.  Kassian uses the scripture as a jumping off point to set up a feminist target using her own experience where Kassian as a girl was weak and silly and got trounced by her older brother because Kassian the girl thought that she could take her older brother.  Kassian the girl is a figure for Christian feminists who are aiming for girl power based on leveling the playing field with men, relying on egalitarianism.  Kassian shows how absurd that strategy is in her talk.  Kassian shows a better way–relying on Christ’s power.

Dalrock has an issue with women seeking to be strong, despite the approbation of strength that scripture accords wise, godly women.  Kassian relies heavily on these scriptures and skillfully weaves them into a weapon to destroy egalitarian Christian feminism.  Dalrock totally ignores how Kassian uses those scriptures, because they don’t fit his narrative scheme.

I have issues with Kassian on some major points.  Husbands indeed have a duty to tell the wife if she is being rebellious, just as Christ told the churches in Revelation when they were rebellious.  Kassian thinks that a husband should keep silent about his wife’s rebellion.  Women need accountability, just like men.  God has set up a scheme for accountability in the NT, which Kassian ignores.  Oops.  So, I am not a gung-ho cheerleader for Kassian.  However, as regards Kassian’s talk, Dalrock’s accusations are unfounded.  I believe that Kassian’s talk is quite helpful in attacking egalitarian feminism.  Complementarian feminism is dangerous to the church, but that doesn’t affect the helpfulness of Kassian’s talk.

Kassian’s talk doesn’t deal with the independence of women sought by egalitarian feminists.  This isn’t a weakness, because Kassian accomplished her aim in this talk, which was to undermine the egalitarian idea that women should be equally strong and powerful as men.  Complementarians are comfortable with the idea that women are necessarily dependent on men.  Complementarians don’t support the Strong Independent Woman ™ meme of egalitarian feminists.  Just because Kassian in her talk says that women need to depend on Christ for strength, that does not obviate women’s dependence on men in marriage for Complementarians.  How that plays out, of course, is where Kassian and I separate.

Kassian in her talk comes across as mannish.  This is unsurprising considering what she said at the start of her talk–that she was a tomboy growing up.  This is not meant as an attack on Kassian, but may help my readers understand why they may have felt uncomfortable listening to her and perhaps may have caused them to misread her nonverbal signals.

  • Egalitarianism holds that men and women are or should be equal in outcomes.  They should receive equal pay and have equal numbers of sports available to them at college.  Women should have equal power and authority in a marriage over decision making in all areas, per egalitarian feminists.