What is the relationship between the enforcement of male headship and spousal abuse? This is the question Dr. Ruth Tucker – a well respected author, scholar, and speaker in the area of female equality in the Church – endeavors to answer in her newest book, Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife.*
Through a combination of historical analysis, Scriptural exposition, and personal narrative Dr. Tucker presents a moving argument that in her life – and the lives of so many other survivors – the doctrine of male-headship inherent to complementarian theology played a significant role in her abuse.
Dr. Tucker’s personal story is absolutely heartbreaking. In every chapter she relates shocking stories of vicious beatings, marital rape and sexual dominance, child abuse, and even the sexual assault of a foster child. While many of the abuse stories are quite emotional, what stands out is the profound way in which Dr. Tucker tells her story.
Perhaps the most unique thing about this book is that Dr. Tucker has managed to create a juxtaposition between her personal experiences and the teachings of various well-known public figures and institutions of complementarianism. Her story becomes a vehicle for exposing the harmful rhetoric of gender hierarchy and ecclesial misogyny. And in this way, she offers a careful, intelligent, and highly accessible critique of the systemic ways Evangelical headship culture perpetuates abuse within the Church.
Beyond her story, and her excellent critical skills, the part that spoke to me most was her words of hope and deliverance. Dr. Tucker’s story is not only a story of abuse and devastation, but also of finding true love and healing in the mutuality she shares with her current husband, John Worst. She transforms her story of brokenness, shame, guilt, and violation into a vision of hope, healing, and the faithfulness of God in suffering.
Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife is simultaneously a deeply personal and harrowing story of abuse, a refreshing story of healing and love, and a scathing critique of complementarian doctrine within the Evangelical Church. Dr. Tucker is not only a fellow advocate for abused women, she has lived the type of abuse I strive to expose on this blog. She is truly a brave and inspiring woman; I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
*For those unfamiliar with Dr. Tucker’s work, her full and rather impressive resume can e found here. http://ruthtuckercom.blogspot.com/p/my-resume.html?m=1
by Nate Sparks
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