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Broad-Brushing and Yellow Wallpaper

Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: How the Church ...

With all that preface and hopefully setting of the stage, let us turn directly and thoroughly to matters concerning Aimee Byrd and Genevan Commons. The optics are intentionally made bad for those in Genevan Commons. Pictures do paint a thousand words, for good or ill. When they are out of context and distorted, they can paint a thousand lies, half-truths, to put forward and enable a pernicious doctrine. That’s why images are powerful. That’s why memes are so effective. And we use a lot of memes in Genevan Commons to make some serious points, but also to laugh and have a good time, and get this, to further make an important point. This is why the Babylon Bee can do so much with a humorous yet devastatingly accurate headline working in concert with a powerful picture. Politicians, actors, and even atheists will share their satire, while progressives and others who are generally thin-skinned will try to get them canceled or considered hate speech. So even if Genevan Commons was tagged as satire, I suppose all would still NOT be forgiven. You see, you are not allowed to criticize error in a way that stings, in a way that effectively makes the point, and in a way that also points out the (at times) hilarious absurdity of the error and in so doing points toward the truth. This is why Snopes and other groups hate the Babylon Bee. When you run the reductio so effectively against someone that those listening burst out in laughter, these days instead of winning the dispute, you are cited with cruelty and are told you must be ashamed of what you’ve done. You are a jerk. You are too right.  

There are OPC elders and ministers who have quickly jumped to decry the Genevan Commons and put out a statement on how it is full of “locker room talk,” which these days most likely refers to Trump’s words that surfaced back in 2016 when he talked about grabbing a woman by her private parts (I won’t put what word Trump used, even though, as discussed above, that would help make the wickedness, and absurdity, of attributing such to Genevan Commons all the more plain), and further that there is an “overtly misogynistic tone of the critiques leveled at women authors” that is all about deriding and mocking others rather than thoughtful critique. Because if there is anything a leaking, lying, screenshotting-against-the-rules website is likely to do, it is to be fair and balanced, offering equal parts  threads reviling Aimee Byrd and threads containing reasoned argumentation.

Byrd clearly is displeased with the screenshots she sees and is being fed. In the linked post, she claims five different times that she and/or others have been slandered, yet fails to demonstrate this. She has not been slandered. Arguing that her views are unbiblical and attempting to demonstrate such, and even having some laughs while doing it, is not inherently sinful and is certainly not slander. In her post, Byrd has a screenshot from Genevan Commons. Instead of choosing a screenshot that would demonstrate the slander she decries, she has a screenshot of one of her book covers where some in Genevan Commons poked fun at how one of the male cartoon persons looked like Ellen Degeneres. Another comment by Steven Wedgeworth says they are “thinking about it,” which could be anything from engaging in a conversation to knocking boots. Let’s say he was talking about the cartoon persons having sex. You might say that is juvenile, absurd, etc. Fine. So what? It is not slander of Aimee Byrd and is not necessarily sinful. Given the book is titled Why Can’t We Be Friends and it is about men and women having more intimate, one-on-one relationships despite being married to different people, the comments make some sense, and laughing at the idea because it is so dangerous and dumb is what I would consider a pretty sane response.

Listen, there is no locker room talk in Genevan Commons. There is blunt and direct talk and less need to explain your meaning (because of familiarity with one another, like-mindedness, etc.), not unlike one might have at General Assembly over dinner with a group of pastors that you know and trust and agree with, where you will be more free and frank and funny than you would be with a larger gathering with more diverse views and lesser familiarity with one another. Now, just as a thought experiment, what kind of “talk” would Aimee Byrd and those she is complicit with who took screenshots from Genevan Commons be found guilty of if all their private interactions from emails, text messages, etc., were shared? Would Byrd and company be regarded as having behavior that is the “opposite of love” as some OPC officers accuse? Is the existence of the leaking and dishonest screenshot website loving and righteous and above reproach?

But surely there is something unseemly and deeply disturbing in Genevan Commons? Aren’t some of the dark accusations true? Are there any deep dark secrets needing to be renounced and confessed? Not that I have seen. However, I do not think the group, or myself, is utterly sinless in all our interactions in the group. No group is, sadly. The Genevan Commons Admins have deleted plenty of comments that were out of line (most having nothing to do with Byrd), and have urged that wise words and Christian words be said. I am not attempting to cover up any sin or make light of any sin. I examined my own posts and heart, and sent this to Aimee Byrd:


I looked over my tagged posts carefully. I know how frustrated and upset I have been about all this, as I should be, and as I should be about Aimee Byrd’s own actions and erroneous teachings. They are doing damage, serious damage, to the Church. But, just because she is a dangerous teacher of errors, and in that sense truly is a false teacher, doesn’t mean I can justify any unrighteous anger or hateful spirit. I know my heart and I know my interactions at times were born out of venting and mixed with unrighteousness. So I said as much to Byrd and asked forgiveness. But understand, such “flippant” posts in frustration (of which I only consider several of my many posts over a couple years possibly to be) are NOT an admission of any guilt whatsoever in what the doxing website accuses me and many others in Genevan Commons of, namely “reviling, cyberbullying, harassment, sexism, and racism among church officers and laypeople”. This is why admitting any guilt here is kind of like answering the question of whether you have stopped beating your wife yet. It’s a clever trick, and it’s incredibly wicked. I’m sure it looked bad to Potiphar when his wife, with Joseph’s garment in hand, told Potiphar that Joseph tried to take her to bed. After all, she even cried out and told the other men in the house what happened.

Now, I don’t know how Joseph replied to this false accusation, but he was not in much of a position to say anything. The powers that be were convinced, what could he say? No matter what is said in defense, the garment in the woman’s hand is just irrefutable evidence of the most heinous sins to the biased jury. There are parallels here. What if Joseph stood his ground and defended his good name, but slipped in that, yes, in a moment of weakness, with her persistent allurements, he momentarily indulged in lust? Do you think that would have been regarded as a minor thing that all men struggle with each day, or would it be taken as tantamount to the very crime of rape he was accused of? Likewise, nobody in Genevan Commons right now is too comfortable admitting any degree of guilt because it will be painted, as is already occurring, as an admission of all sorts of vile things, of everything the website claims.  

I don’t think anyone in Genevan Commons has committed any of the heinous sins that the screenshot site claims.  But since everyone is forming their own opinion, especially those who have no business of doing so and no knowledge of the context of these posts, let’s discuss the website with all the screenshots a bit. This will help us discern, among other things, whether the webmaster seems like a rational human being, and whether Aimee Byrd is righteous to be comfortable with the website in the first place, much less to link to it with approval. Surely if the website itself seems to be written by someone who is out to lunch with basic definitions of the crimes we are accused of, and is clearly acting in bad faith with malicious purposes by editing and doctoring the screen shots, that should color how you interpret the images on the website, just as Isaac was unsure whether it was really Esau once he heard Jacob’s voice. The arms were hairy, but the voice was off. Yeah, the screenshots look bad, but isn’t the framing off? And what about the voice of the definitions the website gives for the crimes we are supposedly committing?

Here is its definition of racism:

“Racism is a complex system of beliefs and practices that operate when prejudices are imbued with power and function to give power to White people and limit the power of people of color.”

“Racism operates on many levels, including within ourselves, between people, and within institutions and social systems. Because racism is incorporated into U.S. society, it doesn’t require people to have racist intentions or even to be aware of how they are contributing to racism to perpetuate injustice.” (Race & Christian Community Initiative)

It is hard for me to believe that Christianity Today has linked to this website as proof that Genevan Commons is corrupt, but I really shouldn’t be surprised. Clearly, we are dealing with those who believe that the definition of racism ought itself to be racist. These are the ones involved in supposedly “exposing” Genevan Commons. But Genevan Commons is a place where there is much godly discussion and debate, warning about the dangerous doctrines and errors in our Reformed Churches, wise men giving sound counsel, book recommendations, life stories shared and celebrated, tips from older men and women to younger men and women, Prayer requests, praises shared, and an all-round good and fun time. It is one of the few, if not the only, discussion group of Reformed believers that is worth the time.

But back to the leaking website. Its definition given for Cyberbullying is rich, I am not sure how it is innocent of its own definition:

“the willful and repeated use of cell phones, computers and other electronic communication devices to harass and threaten others.”

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites or fake profiles. ( StopBullying.gov , National Conference of State Legislature)

I want to say again that many of us, myself definitely included, do not consider Aimee Byrd or the evangelical machine, with its publishing houses, conferences, many of its seminaries, and cycle of circuit riders, to be fair fighters or advancers of much truth these days. They are all undermining our Reformed and biblical heritage, whether they are fully conscious or entirely intending its demise or not. But then, I suppose in saying all these things, I’m committing a textbook case of DARVO. Deny you are beating your wife and complain that the question is a trap, and boom. DARVO. Clever, but wicked.

In truth, many NAPARC churches do not really want to embrace Reformed Orthodoxy and Confessionalism. I know that anecdotally, but perusing their websites reveals as much. When the confessions are buried or not displayed anywhere at all, you know they are ashamed of their heritage. I don’t think Byrd has deep love for our Confessions either, though she would claim otherwise. Consider her tweet on June 4th, what I called her “full coming out party,” which you can even find on the leaking website:


Charles Hodge and other Reformers’ brand of natural theology is apparently unable to overcome racism, patriarchy, and misogyny. Personally, I’m not interested in overcoming something righteous and biblical like patriarchy (though I certainly am interested in avoiding its abuses, which are real and have occurred in the Church, but keep in mind that abuses occur with all biblical doctrine). But don’t miss that Byrd’s criticism of Hodge would apply to many Reformers. Is Byrd saying that Hodge and other Reformers’ natural theology are inherently misogynistic and racist, and tainted with patriarchy? At any rate, their natural theology has to be eradicated for Byrd’s program to take off and women teachers to have a footing. Patriarchy is not just yellow wallpaper, but an absolute stone wall to her agenda. Yet, given how firm the feminist footing in some NAPARC denominations is, it would appear they have come a long way in vanquishing their theological foe.

Anecdotally, I once quoted Matthew Henry’s commentary to Stephen Moss of Revoice fame on Facebook, and some of his buddies jumped in and laughed their heads off that I would be such a backwater boy to quote that “gay-basher” Matthew Henry. Everyone knows people back then were bigots and you can’t believe a word they say on this stuff. Sheesh, I can only imagine the ire I would face if I scoffed and laughed like that at the Revoicers. Actually, sometimes I do, because it is wicked and disgusting false teaching and practice, and those teaching and codifying it need to be shamed and marked in order to protect others from being lead astray. If there is any hope for these false teachers, they must experience the saving grace of shame leading to true repentance. When one walks proudly and visibly in their sin, it must be rebuked, and even mocked at times. But the way Henry interpreted Romans 1 was likely tainted with this terrible natural theology that Byrd deplores; if nature teaches that you cannot embrace blandishments of speech, cross-dressing, men having long hair or women having short hair, etc., then it certainly also teaches that women cannot stand behind pulpits and play dress-up as a preacher. It is unnatural, and therefore gross. Surely Byrd would never do such a thing though, right? More on that in a future post.

In conclusion, I’d like you all to know that I just read through Bavinck’s The Christian Family, which is excellent, only to hear one of his biographers saying Bavinck changed his views in the last years of his life and modified quite a bit of what he taught. I have my doubts, but even if he did, it does not matter. As I recall, Byrd takes issue with Bavinck as well, which would make sense because he talks about patriarchy mostly as a fact taken for granted rather than something on life support that needs to be put out of its misery. That was only a little over 100 years ago! Almost everything in his book is gold and biblical, and because of that, it makes Big Eva blush (funny that I first heard of this term and concept from Carl Trueman). If you read Baxter or Gouge or other Puritans, or further back, Calvin and Knox, they would be considered 100 times the patriarchal misogynists those in Genevan Commons are by Byrd and the screenshotting website’s definitions.

And yet the verdict has been made, and the line of orthodoxy is toward denouncing that great bully patriarchy, like racism and slavery of yore, as archaic yellow wallpaper that must be torn down. And Aimee Byrd is just the gal to do it, aided and abetted by this leaking screenshot site. Good thing they have such airtight definitions of racism and bullying, otherwise I might be worried they’d be tearing down biblical and wholesome things! And good thing these OPC officers have exercised oversight as godly men in leadership by giving their stamp of disapproval to the “overtly misogynistic” men of Genevan Commons.   


Comments

  1. "This is why admitting any guilt here is kind of like answering the question of whether you have stopped beating your wife yet. It’s a clever trick, and it’s incredibly wicked."

    Yep. The entire framing of the OP ministers' call-out on Aimee Byrd's site looks like it was intended to dominate, not restore from error to the extent that there was actually error, meaning you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. I think Wedgeworth and Barth have proven that there is some deliberate manipulation of posts to smear NAPARC ministers. How much? This should be determined by a trial, not by Twitter mobs and the court of public opinion.
    A trial would have to determine that which means going through the original posts line-by-line.

    The other problem is that the accusation itself is vague. Who, specifically, should repent? Those on the GC Comments site? But if so, we've already seen that some posts were doctored and the judgment of many of the comments is in the eye of the beholder. The NAPARC Overton window has definitely narrowed and shifted left judging by the response.

    Men, do you want to be in churches like this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. A huge chunk of Aimee Byrd's stature is simply explained by "follow the money." Zondervan makes money off her and most of the audience for Christian books is female:
    https://ericconn.com/christian-media-and-the-war-on-men/

    ReplyDelete

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