On Our Knees

Barack Obama evidently thought mega-pastor Rick Warren had words of wisdom for the nation worthy of Obama’s inauguration. But what would Warren say to the Obamas if they came to him for personal counseling? We don’t need to wonder, reports Kathryn Joyce in Mother Jones, because Warren is out about his belief in wifely submission. “So you wives must willingly obey your husbands in everything, just as the Church obeys Christ,” he quotes Ephesians.

Warren, ironically, is following a woman’s lead, that of Martha Peace:

Over the past two decades, the 62-year-old Georgia native and former nurse has written five books on biblical womanhood, conservative Christianity’s answer to the women’s movement. Among them are The Excellent Wife, now a classic in this burgeoning niche, and Damsels in Distress, a set of biblical solutions to female problems ranging from pms to depression to “feminist tendencies.” It’s common for a young Christian wife to rebel against home life as her primary ministry, Peace writes in Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, which lays out the principles of her ministry model. It’s the role of older women to help her understand her priorities….

The radical leap taken by [Peace’s followers] is unconditional surrender—an army of Phyllis Schlaflys, fighting for their own subordination based on the promise that the meek shall inherit the Earth. “It is a revolution that will take place on our knees,” writes author and Peace’s contemporary Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

“On our knees,” argues Joyce, is the Christian patriarchy movement’s — they like the word patriarchy — mirroring response to the feminist battlecry “off our backs.” Joyce, meanwhile, stays sure-footed as she reports from a session with Peace at the First Baptist Church of Jonesboro, outside Atlanta.

We’ll feature an exclusive excerpt from Joyce’s new book, Quiverfull, here on Killing the Buddha next week.

Jeff Sharlet is a founding editor of Killing the Buddha, coauthor with Peter Manseau of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible (2004) and co-editor of Believer, Beware (2009). Sharlet is also the author of Sweet Heaven When I Die, (2011), C Street, (2010), and the New York Times bestseller The Family (2008).