In the 1980s, I used to go to sleep listening to a Steve Camp song.
Steve Camp was a Christian music artist, and I had all of his cassettes. One song in particular always spoke to me–a remake of Larry Norman’s The Great American Novel. The last few lines were these:
You say all men are equal, all men are brothers,
Then why are the rich more equal than others?
Don’t ask me for the answer, I’ve only got one:
That a man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son
That always brought tears to my eyes.
I even went to a Steve Camp concert in Toronto back in those days! I seriously was a big fan.
So it was a huge surprise to me last month when I somehow managed to get in a Twitter fight with him, and he called me emotional, told me I was easily deceived so he should really hear from my husband, and then called me uneducated.
A lot of people insult me on social media (and in the comments section of this blog), and I normally let it go. But this one I want to talk about today, because this is an important week. This week the Southern Baptist Convention is having their annual meeting, and there will be a rally (#forsuchatimeasthisrally) in Dallas outside that meeting to raise awareness about the many, many ways the SBC has covered up sex abuse, counselled women to go back to abusive husbands, allowed those charged with coverups, or even charged with actual abuse, to continue in the pulpit, and attacked those who have come forward with their stories of abuse. I wanted to be at the rally in Dallas, but it just didn’t work out. And so I want to stand in solidarity with them.
If none of this is an issue in your church, then rejoice. It is not an issue in my church, either, and not all churches are like this at all. If all of this just makes you sad, then it’s okay to leave these posts and return on Wednesday.
But when there is major injustice being done, especially in the name of Christ, I have to speak up. And this concerns marriage and sex, and so I feel as if it is right in my purview.
So why talk about Steve Camp today? Because while he was a Christian music artist in the 1980s, today he is an SBC pastor at Cross Church in Palm City, Florida.
And he is the perfect example of the attitudes that are ripe within the SBC, and that have to be addressed.
So let me tell you my story.
(I will try to put in some screen shots and links to the Twitter conversation, so that you can go and see it. I also am including screen shots rather than embedding tweets because I’m afraid he may delete them. He’s already blocked so many people.)
It all started after I arrived back from Australia rather jetlagged, and instead of going to work I went on Twitter.
A woman I follow (Julie Anne, @DefendtheSheep, from Spiritual Sounding Board) had posted an article on submission, and some guy I didn’t know with a weird Twitter handle had replied that it was emotional and didn’t have any clear arguments. I followed the link, and thought it was a good article. So I jumped in with a defense of it, saying that it wasn’t “generalized propaganda” like he had called it. And I was genuinely trying to have a conversation:
As the conversation went on, Julie Anne jumped in, and I looked back over the thread up until then. It turns out that three separate times Steve Camp had called her emotional, when she was simply making an argument. And he had insinuated that we should hear from her husband instead. (You can see all of that on this thread). Julie Anne then told me in a private message who I was talking to, and I was flabbergasted. THIS was Steve Camp? The person I had admired?
I attempted to continue the debate while also asking him to apologize to Julie Anne for insulting her. He said she simply wasn’t up to the task of debate. I kept making the point that he was a pastor, and so he should be reflecting Christ.
Finally, he posted this:
Now, in what context during a debate with a woman is it ever in good faith to say that women are susceptible to being deceived? Whenever women tried to engage him, he would call us emotional, or else ask to talk to our husbands (he did that with Julie Anne, too), or say that we were being deceived. And again–he is a pastor.
After this tweet he received an incredible amount of pushback, because it went quite big on Twitter. So he tried to redeem himself the next morning by posting an “explanation”:
I retweeted his tweet and called him out on it.
At this point, my daughter Rebecca (@lifeasadare) jumped in, asking for a straight answer on one question: Does Steve Camp believe that women are more easily deceived than men, since he used that as an excuse to end a debate? The thread is quite illuminating–she keeps asking, he keeps dodging.
He never did give her a straight answer, but his wife laughed when another Twitter user told Rebecca that she was the perfect example of why women should stay silent. Right after Rebecca reacted to that, saying that was completely inappropriate, Steve Camp said this:
Suffice it to say, at the end of their conversation Rebecca very firmly told him what she thought of how he acted on Twitter.
And now I have invited someone else to tell him what he thinks of Steve Camp–who remember is a pastor in good standing with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Steve kept saying that he wanted to hear from my husband (and from Julie Anne’s husband). And so, Steve, here you go:
“Another ‘Wives submit to your husbands’ debate on the internet….fantastic,” Keith said (meaning the exact opposite).
The two sides have been hammering at each other for years now. The debate has gotten so much more heated and so much louder now that it seems people are just not able to listen to each other anymore. Case in point, a recent debate between Pastor Steve Camp and Julie Anne that Sheila waded in on last month.
I try to avoid these discussions, but my wife has asked me to chime in since at one point in the debate –I am dumbfounded by this – Pastor Camp specifically asked for my husband’s-eye view on things. Now, I have no interest in getting into any discussions with Pastor Camp about this issue. It seems clear to me from the Twitter feed that his mind is made up and he is not really interested in discussion of any kind. However, I did want to say a few things for the record.
First, my wife does not need my permission to have her own opinions.
(By the way, I can’t believe we are at a point in church history that I have to say that.)
Second, she does not need my permission to share her opinions on the internet.
(The fact that I have to explain this is also absolutely “gob-smacking” to me).
Third, I want everyone to know that when I don’t jump in on these debates it is not because I don’t support her, but because I know she can take care of herself.
Fourth, I want to talk a bit about how our relationship actually works.
At one point, Pastor Camp made a comment that he was glad Sheila was going to “allow me to speak”. This strongly suggests to me that the mindset here is that if I, the husband, am not in charge than clearly she must be. It is a sad a terrible thought to me that some people see the world this way. Unfortunately, my life experience – including hateful commentary directed at me on Sheila’s blog – has taught me that there really are people out there who think like that.
For the record, Sheila and I are a team.
We both submit to God as the Bible teaches. We both submit to each other as the Bible teaches (Eph 5:21). We make decisions together and when we disagree we keep talking, praying and seeking God’s will until we figure it out. If we ever got to the point where we were truly at an impasse, my natural reaction would be to seek Godly counsel from friends, mentors, parents or a pastor. The idea that I would make the decision because “I am the man” is just not in our DNA. I see no Biblical problems with holding this view.
And now my thoughts on the discussion…..
In the Twitter thread, the point both Julie Anne & Sheila were trying to make – and that Pastor Camp totally missed – is that regardless of one’s interpretation of Scripture, we ought to treat each other with respect. At one point, Julie Anne demanded an apology as Pastor Camp had strayed from the issue and attacked her personally as being “emotional”. This I find sadly humorous because it seems to me reading through the feed that the person on the emotional side was Pastor Camp. Whether you agree or disagree with the points Julie Anne was making, she was calm throughout. Pastor Camp got progressively more and more revved up and eventually closed up with a “now the feminists are preaching heretical soteriology!” diatribe. Really?!? It seems to me Julie Anne was just trying to start a discussion on what Paul meant when he said “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her”. If she worded it not to his liking it doesn’t give Pastor Camp the right to twist it into her trying to preach heresy. And not a few tweets ago, he was sarcastically jibing someone else that “hyperbole is not a spiritual gift”. For shame!
His cluelessness is further demonstrated by the fact that afterwards, he accused them of turning the debate into emotions as they couldn’t debate the facts. Again, he is missing the whole point. When they started presenting arguments, he started attacking them personally, first calling Julie Anne “emotional” and then Sheila “deceived”. He turned it into emotions, not them. They were simply looking for an apology so they could continue the debate on civil terms. But instead of an apology for his hurtful words, he rammed right past that with further proof texts. But in what universe is it okay for someone to say, “I’d rather hear your husband’s opinion on this as women are prone to be deceived.”? The thought of saying that would never cross my mind, nor any of the men I know. If a man were to speak like this to a female colleague at work, he would certainly be disciplined and perhaps fired – and appropriately so. But a pastor can say this publicly and no one blinks. This baffles me. And it needs to stop.
I simply don’t understand this need to “prove” to everyone that men have some sort of intrinsic authority over women and that somehow we can’t be truly male unless we are leading or truly female unless we are following. The CEO of the hospital I work at is a woman. If I were pulled over by a female police officer for a legitimate offense, I would submit to her and pay the fine. Neither of these situations is in any way an assault on my manhood. In fact, it would never have entered my mind to think that way except for the crazy stuff I hear spouted from the internet as “Biblical truth”. Honestly, it makes me wonder what kind of insecurity motivates someone to make sure another is “in their place”?
I have always tried to hold the charitable view that these people were honestly worried about Biblical truth being diluted and – although we disagreed on interpretation – they were just trying to be true to God’s Word. Tragically, I must confess that years of seeing women being told to shut up because they are women, hearing of women being sent back to abusive husbands by pastors because “they just need to submit more” and seeing my own daughters told they are somehow less than their male peers by ministers and other people in the church have been making it progressively harder for me to keep seeing things that way.
And now a word to my readers:
Steve Camp normally wouldn’t matter. He’s a pastor of a small church with very little influence.
But there are women in his congregation who need to know that they do not need to accept being spoken to like this.
And Steve Camp is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC obviously has no problem with having their pastors go on Twitter like this. To me, this is part of a larger issue within the SBC, which I’ll be talking about tomorrow in solidarity with those who will be holding a rally asking the SBC to take abuse issues seriously.
Finally, please hear me on this:
If anyone ever tries to silence you because you’re a woman, telling you that you’re emotional, that you’re deceived, that only your husband’s opinion counts--you don’t have to take it.
It is okay to speak up. It’s okay to have opinions. You matter dearly to God, and He created you with your intellect, your giftings, your brain. You are not someone that is to be easily dismissed.
And when you do speak up–know that even if your circle thinks of women that way, most in our culture do not. Many, many men would stand up for you. Many, many women would, too. And if you are in a circle where pastors think it’s okay to speak like this about women–then quite frankly, get out.
I just have one final question to ask of Steve Camp, and I’ll use his own lyrics to do it:
Why do you think some Christians are more equal than others?
Because Jesus doesn’t.