I checked out Aimee Byrd’s Twitter account yesterday to see how she was faring in the wake of the furore around her removal from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals podcast (among other things), the no-longer-aptly-named Mortification of Spin.
I was appalled. The gutter level of comments from men (and some women) towards her on a Facebook page and some Twitter feeds, was disgusting. Or more to the point, it was unbiblical and ungodly. And all, supposedly, in the name of defending a position they held to be biblical and godly.
Aimee’s removal from the alliance was sparked after disquiet grew among unnamed members over her new book, Recovering From Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I won’t go into the ins and outs of the book here, but safe to say, there were those within the complementarian camp were unhappy that her conclusions were heading down an egalitarian pathway.
I think that’s a contentious bow, though can see how some draw it. I am not fully convinced. And a few egalitarian friends remained unconvinced either, one even declaring she wouldn’t pass muster for employment in a church that held an egalitarian line. But that’s besides the point surely.
Full disclosure: I hold to a complementarian position and am more than happy to defend it biblically. Now I recognise there are a number of theological colleges in my own nation that would not employ me if I applied to work there on that basis, and a goodly number of churches. But then again, that’s probably the case for egalitarians too! This is a vexed matter. There are complexities.
What there are not complexities around are the following comments about Aimee on a private social media page containing members from her own denomination, which she managed to screenshoot before they were removed (but hey, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth tweets, – and Facebooks).
Here are some (they) prepared earlier:
Ed Stetzer has voiced his displeasure here, at the treatment meted out to her. This kind of language, tone, and attitude simply apes the ungodly attitude and language of the world. Actually it doesn’t ape it, it is the ungodly attitude and language of the world. This is what ungodly manhood looks like without the rude and sweary bits that Christians seem to avoid in the mistaken conviction that it absolves them. Hey it might be toxic, but it’s godly toxic!
But it’s not the language used to denounce Aimee that is most upsetting, it’s the silence from those who should be defending her. It’s the silence, still, from the likes of her former Mortification of Spin cohost, Todd Pruitt, who last tweet was this:
Yep, that’s right, Todd deleted his Twitter account some time in the last 24 hours, even after linking an article on JK Rowling and cancel culture. Irony much?
And that, my friends, is the problem. Not so much what ungodly manhood says about women, but what supposedly godly manhood does not say in the face of ungodly manhood!
If ever there was a time to go hard, and to defend Aimee Byrd in the public square, even if there were deepening theological differences, it’s now. Actually it was yesterday.
That would have been godly manhood. Especially from her former podcast co-hosts Todd and Carl Trueman, who seemed to have no problem publicly with her book when they talked about it on the podcast just a short while ago. They had that “laugh” that I talked about in my previous post.
You see, godly manhood doesn’t think that the right time to defend someone who needs defending, is the next time. The next time never comes. The time is now. The sheer silence from those who have cut her loose, is half of the problem.
Are they scared of getting their complementarianism all grubby if they are seen defending the “other position”? More likely they are scared of what other people think of them. The fear of man, and yes, it often is “man” is most likely what is at play here. That’s how tribal this has become.
Aimee quoted me in a Mortification of Spin podcast just a few months ago, from a blog post I had written about bullying, in light of the Steve Timmis allegations at The Crowded House. Now she finds herself scorched by online bullies, and the silence from those who once sat alongside her is deafening.
That fills me with sorrow. Jordan Petersen said that we are not as brave as we think we are. We think that if we were in Germany in 1942 and the Nazis came to the door we would bravely keep “schtum” and risk our lives for the sake of the Jews hiding under the floorboards.
Petersen says we are kidding ourselves. We are nowhere near as brave as we think. We end up keeping “schtum” at all the wrong times. We wait to see what the fall-out might be, calculating the risk, before speaking up. And we justify our silence because, well, we can justify anything can’t we?
One of the things I have learned over the past year or so in dealing with the whole fall-out from The Crowded House church movement was that the decision to speak up sometimes felt extremely lonely and almost foolhardy before the exposure. And then it felt eminently sensible and right after the exposure.
It was the subsequent private messages and emails from those who had been scorched by that movement in the past, that proved it was the right thing to do. There was a sense that with the truth out in the open, they could breath again without that heavy weight of secrecy on their chests.
Aimee Byrd doesn’t deserve the silence of those who think they might get their theology grubby if they support her vocally. Would they rather give ground to the man-children hiding out in churches who hold some sort of warped belief that growing a beard, smoking a pipe and holding to a patriarchal view of women is what biblical manhood looks like?
Call them out. If they’re godly men they will repent and change their behaviour, seeking to repair the damage they have done. If they’re mere pretenders they will double down. A pastor friend of mine said his biggest struggle in church is ungodly men who are abusive to their wives, and who have come to expect little or no church discipline because of it. When called out, they double down, always. Churches must stand their ground and double down against this double downing!
The only cause worth protecting is the gospel cause, and hard as it is to hear it for some, there are even those on the other side of whatever side you hold on this increasingly vexed issue who are gospel people too.
Don’t comfort yourself that somehow your silence should be taken that you do not share their views and that, naturally, you would never talk about a woman like that. That may comfort you, but it’s a false comfort, and no comfort at all for the likes of Aimee Byrd.