No, Jimmy Carter, Male Headship Does Not Equal Sex Slavery

No, Jimmy Carter, Male Headship Does NOT Equal Sex Slavery //

First. Why am I talking about this? Don’t I normally talk about mom stuff?

Dear Mom in the throes of raising little ones, here’s the thing:


Our culture is ramming gender-sameness down our throats.

Male and female are exactly the same. You’re not allowed to say boys and girls have anything different about them. Got it? ALL. EXACTLY. THE. SAME.

Except when they’re not.

Male and female are not the same. If I’m a boy, I don’t have to use the male bathroom. I can use the female bathroom if I feel like it. If I feel like a girl, even if I have boy parts, I’m not a boy, I’m a girl. Got it? NOT. EXACTLY. THE. SAME.

Do you see it?

Our culture is CONFUSED, mama.

And you’ve got to sort it out, so that you know what to do right there in your home.

But how did Jimmy Carter get mixed up with all this?

Well, he wrote an awful piece about leaving his Southern Baptist membership behind, because of sex slavery and genital mutilation. Yeah. He seriously wrote a piece connecting those two things. Except no Southern Baptist I know thinks sex slavery and genital mutilation are good things. None. You know what Southern Baptists DID affirm?

Here’s a quote for those who are interested:

Women participate equally with men in the priesthood of all believers. Their role is crucial, their wisdom, grace and commitment exemplary. Women are an integral part of our Southern Baptist boards, faculties, mission teams, writer pools, and professional staffs. We affirm and celebrate their Great Commission impact.

While Scripture teaches that a woman’s role is not identical to that of men in every respect, and that pastoral leadership is assigned to men, it also teaches that women are equal in value to men.”

That equals genital mutilation and sex slavery, how?

Because in Jimmy Carter’s world (and all too often in the culture around us), a man being the head of his home, called to nurture his wife as his own body, and his wife submitting to her husband as the church submits to Christ, is the same as wicked societies that suppress, humiliate, abuse, and degrade women.

The truth we as moms must grapple with is this:

God created them MALE and FEMALE.

From the beginning of human existence, He introduced differentiation between the genders. Different roles. Different responsibilities.

For you, as the mom of little ones, you have a choice:

  • Will you join the confused culture and teach your daughters the battle cry of “I can do anything a boy can do, only better?”
  • Will you join the confused culture and teach your children, “you can be anything you want to be, even the opposite gender?”
  • Will you join the confused culture, and teach your sons and daughters that there are no innate differences between male and female?
  • Will you join the confused culture and teach your children that male headship is the same as female subjugation?

Or will you affirm the rich, nuanced approach of Scripture, that:

  • women aren’t collectively to submit to all men, but that wives are each to submit to their own husbands?
  • male and female are different and unique genders, each with their own roles and responsibilities within marriage
  • males are to look to God the Father and to Christ as they lead their homes
  • men are to love their wives like Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her
  • females are to look to Christ’s submission to the Father, and the church’s submission to Christ, as they help their husbands and serve their families
  • that these same familial guidelines for male leadership apply within our larger “Family”– in the Body of Christ

What are you going to teach your children?

Mama, you’ve gotta get clear about this.

You can’t be wishy-washy on these topics, or else it is very likely that you will go far far far astray from Scripture in this confused culture.

It is not just “gender issues” that at stake here.

This is the very heart of the Gospel– that Christ, the sacrificial groom, left freedom and gave up everything, relinquishing His rights, in order to serve, love, nourish, and lead His chosen Bride… and that we as His church respond by joyful submission, giving up our own identity to become one with Him.


God custom-built marriage so that it would contain this “mystery” of the Gospel and so that each individual marriage would serve as a lesser picture pointing to a greater reality.

  • Your sons need to each hear that when he rises up and chooses a bride, he is to be committed to, and to give himself up for her… to serve, love, and lead her and whatever children God graciously gives, looking to Christ as his example… Remembering that he is called to nurture and nourish her In the way that he cares for his own body.
  • Your daughters need to hear that God wants them to rise up and serve the Lord. If they agree to become a man’s wife, they are agreeing to help him with powerful assistance (as the Holy Spirit is called a helper), submit to him in his leadership of their home, and look to Christ’s joyful submission with His eye on future joy as her example.
  • Your children, growing up in this gender-confused culture, need to hear and understand that God has purposefully designed men and women with different characteristics and different roles, equal in dignity, but distinct in responsibility.

The future of your marriage, your home, and your children depend on your crystal-clear understanding of these principles.




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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast ( I write and wrangle kids.

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10 Responses

  1. Excellent post, well applied! I love the way you worded Truth. God bless you!

  2. Mandi says:

    I agree with the essence of what you’re saying, but what always gets me in these conversations is the “boys and girls have different characteristics” part of the conversation. Because do they? And where does that leave a boy who isn’t “super masculine” or a woman who carries male traits? How many of these different characteristics come from the way we treat boys and girls rather than God’s design? Is a man who is emotional outside of God’s creation? Is a woman who is physical or a business leader not living up to the characteristics God has placed in her? What about men who are natural nurturers or women who have trouble with nurturing? What ARE male and female characteristics? (Sincerely asking because I don’t know the answer, although I do think my girls can do anything boys can do *as well* as the boys and vice versa.)

    • Jess Connell says:

      I think they do have different characteristics, but the things you point to are not the things I mean. The things you point to are culturally-designated masculine/feminine traits rather than biblically-designated masculine/feminine traits. We’re not talking musical/not musical, likes cooking/doesn’t, leads/doesn’t lead, outdoorsy/not. This isn’t a pink-is-for-boys/blue-is-for-girls in Victorian England vs. pink-is-for-girls/blue-is-for-boys in 20th century America thing.

      But… you see natural differences in things like propensity toward ADHD diagnoses and ability to sit still for longer periods of time (on the whole) and women’s tendency to be able to multi-task while most men can’t, etc. The T/F divide on the MBTI test. The fact that females in the military have lessened physical requirements from what the men must meet. I see it in the way my boys have grown up playing *beside* one another (and they still prefer to play that way, into preteen life), building separately, and my daughter prefers to play *facing* and interacting with her playmates. These are all places that show clear differences, taken on the whole, between male and female. Males are more naturally task-oriented, females are more naturally people-oriented.

      When we go back to the garden in Genesis, we see that even before there was Eve, Adam was given a task. He was given responsibility and spiritual instruction, all before Eve was even made. Eve, on the other hand, was created in the context of relationship and her responsibilities were linked to relationship. Even in the spheres of their curses, Adam’s curse is associated with his work/task, while Eve’s are associated with her relationships.

      The way gender plays out in who does the lawn mowing, or who pays the bills, aren’t clear scriptural directives.

      But who bears and nurses the babies is creation-directed. That men are the heads of their homes and spiritual leaders is scripturally directed. That women are to be silent and not take leadership in the church is scripturally directed. There are clear distinctions between the genders that have nothing to do with choosing paint colors or enjoying sports.

      As far as the girls can do anything boys can do thing, I don’t think that girls, for example, CAN fulfill the same combat roles that men can. We have menstrual cycles, and the ability to get pregnant, and PMS, and sanitary requirements that truly DO limit where women can go and for how long. While a one-off woman may be able to out-perform a man here or there, we aren’t physically as strong. Thus the reason we have different gendered Olympics and different gendered college sports. Perhaps when they’re 6, the “girls can do anything…” thing holds true, but we know, physically, that they don’t do as well as boys once they hit puberty-ish. Now can a girl balance the checkbook just as well, sure, if she has those natural skills. But I’m not talking natural skills or cultural indications of gender. I hope what I’m talking about is becoming more clear.

      Physiologically, women have oxytocin explicitly connected to physical life events (primarily: orgasms, labor, and breastfeeding), and men have testosterone connected to their physical goings on. I don’t know all the ins and outs of hormones, but even the timing and places where these things are released seem to give an indication of what God has built us for.

      Past those physical differences, there are differences in what roles we are meant for. That doesn’t mean that every woman will become a mother, but since all of our daughters could *potentially* become a mother, it concerns me that we have a culture that gives girls so little to go on in that area. Girls in our society are generally prepared for a variety of career paths, but virtually none have been counseled or given insight into their future roles as mothers. Sex ed in schools, for example, is way more about condoms and prevention of reckless and risky behavior, and virtually unconcerned about soul-preparation for marriage and family.

      So when you say “women who have trouble with nurturing,” I think that comes from two sources– (1) environment… perhaps a woman is raised in a non-nurturing environment, and thus, has trouble knowing what is/isn’t loving and appropriate, because she wasn’t given a healthy upbringing, and (2) sin nature… that she’s selfish, unconcerned about others, etc. A man who is naturally nurturing isn’t at all out of his element. Men ARE to nurture. Women are too. When we see people who say they’re “not,” that’s concerning, and within the church setting, I believe a call toward selflessness. It may not look like enjoying snuggling every newborn in sight, but I do believe that every man and woman in Christ possesses the ability TO nurture and love others, and to serve and nourish whatever family God gives.

      Our culture wants to say, “eh, some girls just aren’t nurturers, and I think that’s hogwash. That doesn’t mean that I think every girl *HAS TO* become a mother in order to be fulfilled, but the fact that any of us COULD, and that God says that in the end days (amidst a list of undesirable sins), people will lack natural affection (and we see that happening), I do not think it is something we are to encourage. My thought is this: we should be teaching our children (all of them) to be nurturers toward their *likely* roles. Our sons will *likely* become husbands and fathers and need to learn/be prepared to nurture and cherish and serve and honor their wife. Our daughters will *likely* become wives and mothers and need to learn/be prepared to nurture and cherish their children and serve and honor their husband.

      Biblically, there is a flow of authority and a flow of who looks out for who.

      God looks out for all of us. The elders look out for the church. The church looks out for the weak: widows & orphans.
      God looks out for all of us. The husbands look out for their wives and children. The wife looks out for their children and for those around them who are needy.

      These are the general patterns of Scripture, and what I believe we should be preparing our children to step into. The fact that many women in our generation seem to lack nurturing capabilities is less a function (I believe) of design, and more a function of environmental and flesh influences.

      Again, I’m not putting forward that everyone is called to marriage and family. But the likelihood that our children WILL be in those roles makes me keenly interested in what God’s Word says about those roles and what my children need to be prepared to do, as adults. I couldn’t care less who is more naturally emotional or who has greater leadership capabilities (in fact, in our marriage, we are each the “opposite” of our gender’s tendency on those points), but rather, who is called to which roles, and what has God built us for? It’s evident in our physical strengths, it’s evident in our hormones, and it’s evident in our roles.

      I’ve said enough, LOL.

  3. Sara says:

    Well little girls can do everything little boys do. Not better, but very similar. With puberty comes change in our bodies and our minds, but I don’t think children should be thinking in terms of gender at all, just enjoying their god-given bodies, abilities and gifts as much as possible.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Sara, I think you and I may be looking at childhood with fundamentally different views:

      I think childhood is a time of growth, training, and preparation for what you’ll do your whole life long. So God places us in families, so that we see the end destination of relationships and lives laid down for one another. And He gives the Church, so that individuals can see the end destination of our souls and the Life laid down for us. So while we are children, these two God-given institutions are meant to raise, evangelize, guide, and prepare us for the life ahead– not just look on while we pursue everything our hearts desire in any and every direction.

      Little girls can do a lot of things little boys can do, but they can not be little boys, and vice versa. With puberty comes a lot of changes… changes that bear out ramifications for our whole lives. I believe we are parents are foolish to ignore those ramifications and live life toward our children as if they are in a gender-free zone with no God-given spheres and choices ahead of them.

      Rather, I want to wisely and prayerfully guide my children toward the path laid out before them: adulthood. I want to do this in a variety of spheres: in their education, spiritual understanding, physical growth, sexual understanding, and yes– in their understanding of gender.

      One of the places where I feel the culture of the last half of the twentieth century really dropped the ball in the whole “girls can do anything boys can do” message is this: they failed to tell us all that we would have to face the biological realities– many women of my generation have been shocked by the degree to which a desire for marriage and children comes on because they were told these things are optional, or that they could have it all whenever they chose. Many have also seemed to greet even biological limitations with an entitlement mindset. “It doesn’t matter that I’m 42 and am only now thinking about children, dang it. I should be able to have them now if I want!”

      I’ve written more about this elsewhere, but suffice it to say- I think a better route is to, at the very same time we are letting our children grow in their understanding of their bodies and abilities and gifts, to let them know about these things God has built into their very beings– hormones, gender-given desires (for boys: to work & build & tackle achievement: “this was given to you so that you might honor God with your work, and so that you might provide for those God gives you authority over in your home”; for girls: made for relationship: “these desires are given to you so that you can honor God with your work, and so that you can love and serve those He gives you as part of your family”).

      As they mature, we should also be having frank discussions about the (likely) age parameters and limitations for these things “It is generally easier to have children when you are young than the older you get. Children are generally healthier and less likely to have genetic abnormalities when born to younger mothers. Your biological function of reproduction does have an “end” date, and you don’t know exactly when that will be. Career is always an option. More education is always an option. Children are not always an option. And no matter what you choose as a woman, there will be ‘costs’ to those choices. There is no one who ‘has it all, all at once.’ “

      This isn’t culturally popular, and I’m sure it doesn’t fit with the comment you left, but I do believe it’s my role as a mom… to more fully prepare my sons and daughter (s- if God gives us anymore girls) for their future roles, not just to “let kids be kids” and operate in a limitation-free, truth-free, lawless existence which will lead them down an ultimately untrue path.

      It is not true that their bodies, abilities, and skills are all they need to understand or think about. There is more to life. And I want to help them see life through the lens of what God has done and who He is at the earliest possible time, and in every possible way throughout their lives.

  4. Kondwani says:

    I had seen the comments of Jimmy Carter elsewhere, and agree it is tragic.

    I do have an unsettling concern that the correct Biblical pattern that you describe could potentially, by sinful human beings, become distorted to the controlling and overbearing husband of a passive and overly submissive wife who thinks it is her duty to submit, and who is afraid to ask anybody about what is right or normal because she feels it is disloyal to her husband. I do not think that happens often – but do think it could be a risk, and a couple of recent conversations have rang alarm bells for me in this respect.

    Regarding gender differences in children – it is interesting because my husband had been convinced it was all nurture and not nature. However, having two very energetic boys (and a third who is a little more able to sit still and play), and having read some of the research studies using PET scans (positron emission tomography – basically you get the children to do things and see which parts of the brain light up), I am convinced that even in childhood there are very real differences. Yes, some girls are more physical, and some boys are more emotional, but there is a very definite biological, God given difference.

    A few years ago I read ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’ by John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I did not agree with every single thing, but they did point out how we should aim to nurture our children towards being the adults we want them to be (and that we believe God has made them to be). This may involve encouraging some behaviours and activities and discouraging others – perhaps much the same as most Christian parents would actively discourage some secular activities among their children. This is not wrong!

    As regards your question of how we currently teach our children – their main question is about hair. My hair is down to my waist, although I almost always have it plaited or in a chignon of some kind. Whenever they see it down the ask if they can have long hair, or why boys don’t have long hair, and we get onto some discussions regarding how God wishes things to be. (I do actually believe that women shouldn’t have short hair and men shouldn’t have long hair, but I also have friends who do not take this stance)

    Once more, I love the way you face the challenging topical issues head on!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Hey K!
      In regard to this:

      the correct Biblical pattern that you describe could potentially, by sinful human beings, become distorted to the controlling and overbearing husband of a passive and overly submissive wife who thinks it is her duty to submit, and who is afraid to ask anybody about what is right or normal because she feels it is disloyal to her husband.

      I share your concerns. I share that concern for every God-given institution: Family, Church, and Government. Authority is something that can easily be abused, and yet we don’t teach lawlessness for church or government.

      Instead, we train up and choose wise leaders. We seek to ensure that those leaders are under their own umbrellas of authority.

      So, in America, we have “balance of powers”– where the legislative, judicial, and executive branches all keep check over one another in one way or another.

      In the church, we have elders who are under the authority of God, and under the authority of one another, but also under the authority of their local Body.

      In the family, we have husbands who are under the authority of the government and (ideally) the church leaders as well. Thus, a husband who is physically or sexually abusive rightfully ought to be taken into custody by police. A husband who is spiritually/emotionally abusive, lording authority over his wife in unloving and cruel ways, ought to be “taken into custody” so to speak by his local elders who certainly should take him through the process of discipleship, and possibly church discipline, while caring for the souls of his wife and children with careful oversight, until such time that he is able to “walk” on his own two legs as a wise authority.

      There are human authorities God means to be OVER this husband, and we as believers ought to have a better and richer understanding of authority than anyone else. It should inform our choices and give us the ability to freely submit to our husbands, while not submitting wrongfully (just as we would not wrongfully submit to a government that asked us to do things that violate God’s laws), and the ability to submit to our elders (without submitting to things that violate Scripture).

      Sinful human beings OFTEN (nearly always?) get authority wrong, but it doesn’t do away with authority. Instead, we look through those imperfect human authorities to the One who always gets it right. There will be ultimate justice. Ultimate love. Ultimate justice and peace that meet. It just won’t happen (perfectly) here on earth– in any form– until Christ’s second coming.

      * Government will continue to wrongly accuse and condemn. Government will also continue to wrongly acquit and free.

      * Church leadership will sometimes wrongly judge or bind, and church leadership will also sometimes wrongly release or let things go that ought not be.

      * Husbands and fathers will sometimes wrongly discipline/punish/lead, and sometimes wrongly be passive/neglectful/absent.

      * Moms will sometimes wrongly discipline/punish/lead, and sometimes be wrong in their absent neglect or aloofness.

      These things are all sinful human ways of interacting with authority, and yet we don’t undo the authority of government, undo the authority of church leaders, undo the authority of husbands/fathers, or undo the authority of mothers.

      Instead, we look to the One TRUE authority, Christ, and place our hopes and expectations on Him. He’s the One about whom Scripture says: “the government shall be upon His shoulders” and in Him, we find the perfect Judge, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, the Bridegroom/Husband for whom our souls long, the Chief Elder, etc. In every way, He is the authority that will not wrongfully use His authority.

      Until then, we do the very best we can with human varieties of authority, and we place our ultimate hope and trust in Him. This doesn’t eliminate our need for concern and caution, but it should enable us to speak about authority with wisdom and understanding that God has ordained authority.

  5. Carrie says:

    I wasn’t aware of those comments by Jimmy Carter. But I am aware of this whole gender equality issue being strongly presented by many in the world today. It bothers me that these are the issues that my children may hear. I am with you in that I want to train my sons and daughters with the Biblical roles of gender. Thanks for sharing this post!

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