Proponents of biblical manhood and womanhood say they value and cherish women. Yet, what happens when one woman challenges their view?
That’s what Aimee Byrd has done. And she’s reportedly been blacklisted, cyberbullied, and removed from a podcast she co-hosted for seven years.
On this issue of The Roys Report, Aimee Byrd—author of Recovering From Biblical Manhood & Womanhood—joins Julie to discuss what’s happened to her. This includes being regularly targeted by a private Facebook group—including officers in her own denomination—calling her names, denigrating her looks, and mocking her positions.
Byrd also was removed from co-hosting The Mortification of Spin, a podcast sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. The Alliance says it removed Byrd for refusing to answer legitimate questions, but Byrd says “it felt like a trap” and a “trial by this unnamed jury.”
Julie explores all these issues, as well as the history leading up to them. Plus, she discusses whether Byrd is a “closet feminist” and what her views on gender really are.
Note: This transcript has been slightly edited for continuity.
AIMEE BYRD, JULIE ROYS
JULIE ROYS 00:04
Proponents of biblical manhood and womanhood say they value and cherish women. Yet what happens when one woman challenges their view? Well, one woman has and she’s been blacklisted, cyber bullied and kicked out of an organization that once embraced her. Welcome to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And today I’m going to be speaking with Aimee Byrd. Aimee is a blogger, speaker and author of Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, a book that takes aim at the biblical manhood and womanhood movement. So it’s not surprising that Aimee has become a target of criticism. But what’s been leveled at Aimee is not mere criticism. It’s outright harassment and cyberbullying. There are men on Facebook saying things like and I quote, “I wish her husband loved her enough to tell her to shut up.” That came from a pastor of a Reformed Church in Indiana. Another pastor at a Presbyterian Church in Virginia said, “Why can’t these women take their shoes off and make us sandwiches?” Some have even attacked Aimee’s appearance calling her butch and haggard and fostering a quote, “kick ass look.” Of course, nasty things are said on social media every day. But again, these disparaging comments were made by pastors and elders and officers, in Aimee’s own denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. But there have been actions taken against me as well. In the past several weeks, he’s been removed from a popular podcast she co-hosted, called Mortification of Spin. Apparently, the board of the group that supports the podcast, the alliance of confessing evangelicals voted to remove Aimee. So what’s going on? Is this all evidence of some closet misogyny that’s lurking in some conservative evangelical circles? Or does Aimee deserve to be treated this way? And are her views so out of bounds, that these actions are warranted? Well, I’m going to be talking with Aimee about that in just a minute. But first, I want to thank the sponsors of this podcast, Judson University and Marquardt of Barrington. If you’re in the market for a car I do highly recommend my friends at Marquardt of Barrington. To view their entire showroom online just go to BuyACar123.com. Also, I want to let you know that Judson University is planning to resume in person classes this fall for traditional transfer and adult students and it’s not too late to apply. You can choose from more than 60 majors and learn in a Christian environment known for its spiritual values, leadership opportunities and strong financial aid. Judson is located just 36 miles outside Chicago on a beautiful 90-acre campus. To schedule a visit, just go to JudsonU.edu/Visit Well, I am so pleased that Aimee Byrd is with me today to explain what’s happened to her and also to answer some of the accusations that have been leveled against her. Aimee is the author of several books including her first book Housewife, Theologian, How the Gospel Interrupts The Ordinary. But perhaps most importantly, she’s written Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. And for about seven years, Aimee was the co-host of Mortification of Spin, a podcast also featuring theologian Carl Trueman and pastor Todd Pruitt. But as I mentioned, Aimee’s participation in that podcast just recently came to a screeching halt. So Aimee, wow, it’s been a whirlwind, I’m sure for you. So I really appreciate you taking the time and speaking with me today.
AIMEE BYRD 03:29
Thanks for having me, Julie, I appreciate you having me on.
JULIE ROYS 03:31
Absolutely. Well, I’m sure again, that these past couple weeks have been somewhat disorienting. And I want to get into the particulars of what happened with you and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals as well as the cyber bullying against you, which is really, really concerning. As I’ve researched this whole thing. It kind of seems to me that this began in 2016. And that’s when you and Rachel Miller and author and blogger raised some objections about something called the Eternal Subordination of the Son. And this touched off what Christianity Today called a, “civil war among Christian conservatives.” I think Civil War, is that too intense or Is that about right, do you think Aimee?
AIMEE BYRD 04:16
That’s about right I mean, it first became online back and forth with blog posts. And the next thing you know, there’s conferences and journal articles and books written about it. The patristic scholars weighed in saying, no, this is not Nicene Christianity. This is not according to our Creed’s Eternal Subordination of the Son.
JULIE ROYS 04:35
Can you just for those who’ve never heard of Eternal Subordination of the Son, can you explain this doctrine and how it’s related to gender roles?
AIMEE BYRD 04:44
The short version is that Eternal Subordination of the Son teaches that in his very being in his ontology, that God the Son, the person in the Son is subordinate to the Father’s authority. So they’re not talking about as mediator, you know, in His kind of economic role, an incarnation in our place. But in His very being that the Son always submits to the Father’s authority, that is His nature. So that’ll affect other doctrines of God as well. For example, God only has one Divine Will. So that doesn’t even make sense then because you would need two divine wills for this authority and submission. So that’s what they were teaching and then they would use this teaching than to say that the relationship between man and woman is the same and that in our very being in our very makeup, that women are subordinate to male authority. And there are many, many books published, teaching this, a lot of them coming out of the Council for Biblical manhood and womanhood, and I mean women, we’re really finding it Popular level books for women’s ministries. And that’s what I brought to Liam Gallagher to when I asked him to write that post, because, you know, Rachel Miller had been writing about this problem, and not getting much attention for it. And I knew that I probably wouldn’t get a lot of attention for it either. So, you know, when I brought it to Liam Gallagher’s attention, he was pretty upset, you know, because he’s a scholar, but he’s also, you know, he’s an academic, but he’s also a pastor. It really bothered him to see how this was in all these popular level resources that, you know, could be filtered into his own church.
JULIE ROYS 06:35
And as I was reading about this, and again, I’m not a theologian, so part of me is wading into some pretty deep waters with this, and this whole Eternal Subordination of the Son, but the Council of Nicaea that was crafted as I understand it, to confront this heresy of subordination ism and that’s this view that Jesus is subordinate in nature to God the Father while still being in some way divine. Does this Eternal Subordination of the Son kind of get close to this heresy that the Council of Nicaea was addressing?
AIMEE BYRD 07:10
It gets close, and it certainly isn’t orthodox. You know, I think in order to call something a heresy, it needs to go through the church councils, and actually be condemned as a heresy. But I will say that since it is not in line with how our Creed’s define God’s nature, then it’s not orthodox.
JULIE ROYS 07:30
Yeah. So one of the results of this debate is that this Eternal Subordination of the Son, you kind of mentioned this, we’ll find out that this doctrine is really embedded in some of the foundational documents of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). And for those of you listening if you don’t know what that is, this council on biblical manhood and womanhood was organized in 1987. It’s a response to feminism and sort of this flattening of the genders. The CBMW upheld a complementarian view of the genders. And that is that men and women are distinct in their roles–they’re not interchangeable. This would be as opposed to egalitarian or feminists that would argue that men and women are equal in functions so their roles can be interchangeable. A lot of people agree with the complementarian view. And Aimee I’m guessing at now, I noticed in your latest book, you’re saying you don’t like using that term because it has been sort of mixed up with a lot of this thing, but you’re not egalitarian, correct?
AIMEE BYRD 08:31
JULIE ROYS 08:32
Yes. So you would believe that men and women are distinct from one another?
AIMEE BYRD 08:37
I believe that men and women are distinct from one another. And I think that distinction is beautiful and has purpose and tells a story. You know, what most people want to know is do I believe in male headship in the Church and in the home? And I do I believe that men are to lead the way to be the first one to serve the first one to lay down their lives. And I believe that that is a representative thing. They’re representing Christ.
JULIE ROYS 09:02
Yeah. And I think even when we’re looking at this Trinitarian symbol of rooting gender in the Trinity, what we see in the Trinity is this, this unity with distinction. You have distinction in the three persons of the Trinity, but you have this unity, and you have this life and love that is expressed so beautifully. You know, when I think of the Trinity, the first thing I think of is not hierarchy.
AIMEE BYRD 09:27
JULIE ROYS 09:28
It’s just, it’s just odd to me that this would be the primary
AIMEE BYRD 09:32
It’s an order of love, you know, but it’s not a hierarchy.
JULIE ROYS 09:37
AIMEE BYRD 09:37
And even the way that they want to use the word authority, it’s all about this kind of top down, who’s in charge kind of thing?
JULIE ROYS 09:48
So when we look at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood or CBMW, you expose how closely tied the CBMW is to this idea of the Eternal Subordination of the Son or ESS. Would you explain that?
AIMEE BYRD 10:01
They are teaching ESS outright as they’re teaching about the Trinity. And then they connect that to complementarianism.
JULIE ROYS 10:11
So the same way the Son is subordinate to the Father.
AIMEE BYRD 10:14
JULIE ROYS 10:15
the wife is subordinate to the husband.
AIMEE BYRD 10:17
JULIE ROYS 10:18
And also, you talk about Owen Strachan who used to be the president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I’ve talked to Owen, and I’ve interviewed him before I like Owen and I think he stands for a lot of really good things I know he’s stood for inerrancy of Scripture. And he stood very strong on that. We are allies in many ways. And yet, at the same time, in his book, The Grand Design, Male and Female, He Made Them. There’s revealed in there the same thing that he is routing his view of manhood and womanhood in this Eternal Subordination of the Son.
AIMEE BYRD 10:58
Yes, that book was coming out right when the articles were being written on my blog, It was just so blatant. And so concerning. They just had a big CBMW conference. I think it was a pre-conference before T4G, talking about the beauty of complementarity. And they kind of use that to help promote the book. And so there they are teaching ESS at this conference, and talking about how complementarity according to their definition, is the gospel. So this is some dangerous stuff, very concerning to say the least, not only how we’re speaking about men and women, but how we’re speaking about God. None of these teachings were retracted ever. You know, I will say, you know, along with what you were saying, Julie that I joined with them and a whole lot of their concerns about the sexual revolution and the culture and even wanting to have a good response to egalitarianism. I think that this teaching is harming that call.
JULIE ROYS 12:02
You brought all these things to the forefront sort of kicked off the debate in June of 2016. July 13, of 2016.
AIMEE BYRD 12:12
JULIE ROYS 12:13
Owen Strachan resigns as president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He says that the theological debate over the Trinity played no part in his decision, but it’s just a little bit suspect. It’s right on the heels of this. He took a lot of heat, a lot of heat for this. I guess maybe we shouldn’t speculate. But I mean, it’s it’s a very interesting timing of everything.
AIMEE BYRD 12:37
It’s an interesting timing. Yeah. And just disappointing to me because the real problem was not dealt with. So a man you know, leaves his position and they shuffle around the leaders, but the leadership, there was no leadership and saying, “Hey, this teaching that has been going out, and you know, these this book, this book, this book, This statement this conference, we need to retract this. This isn’t correctly representing who God is and how he’s created man and woman.” There needed to be apologies and retractions. So it was extremely disappointing. And here we are four years later, and still no retractions.
JULIE ROYS 13:20
I will say, I have been reporting on the Evangelical Church for quite some time now. And I have noticed that apologies are almost impossible to get. Firings
AIMEE BYRD 13:30
Isn’t that so sad?
JULIE ROYS 13:31
It’s really interesting people will get fired as you say that the furniture will get rearranged, but actually owning wrong or error and repenting of it, you know, not that this was necessarily sin, but, well I guess wrong theology is it’s really very serious and it should be owned, but it wasn’t. In fact, Denny Burk who took over as the new president of CBMW, he kind of came out after you called you a closet, feminist–that was in August, so a month after Owen Strachan resigned. And then he says, and I thought this was interesting. He says, “Eternal subordination of the Son is not necessary for adherence to CBMW.” He says, “I made Danvers complementarian.” Danvers, by the way is a statement that
AIMEE BYRD 14:18
the second statement,
JULIE ROYS 14:19
right, that they came together, I think in like, I don’t know, 1990 or something somewhere right around that time, and wrote this statement affirming their view of complementarity. And he said, “That view of gender is not and never has been reliant upon an analogy to the Trinity. Biblical complementarianism neither stands nor falls on speculative parallels with the Trinity. CBMW exists to promote the Danvers vision, which is silent on this current controversy. For that reason, my view, is that CBMW does not need to be adjudicating the Trinity debate.” How do you respond to that, Aimee?
AIMEE BYRD 14:58
I wrote an article responding to that called, “What Denny Burk Could Do.” Because, you know, I really did want to see a change in CBMW because they have so much influence. They could have led the way and done that there, but they didn’t. And so it’s just not true when they have that statement of the Trinity from the very beginning, even some of the language in the Danvers statement hints at ESS like, because they use those same words about role when they use the word role. They’re using it in an ontological way. So I want that stuff explained.
JULIE ROYS 15:32
AIMEE BYRD 15:32
I want to hear the retractions. The very same teachers are being promoted. A lot of them endorsed Owen and Gavin Peacock’s book. None of that was done in the really horrible thing about it is that it doesn’t cost any of them anything to keep endorsing each other’s books showing up at the conferences. I see who pays the price, and it’s the women and it’s the local church. Because that teaching has been used, and I know that their intentions are not abuse, abusive, but boy has that teaching really given it, you know, and it’s not even a Christian teaching. It’s given all kinds of license for some people to abuse.
JULIE ROYS 16:17
And it’s sad to me the take the Trinity, this beautiful picture of the Father, glorifying the Son and the Son glorifies the Father and the Holy Spirit glorifies both of them that we’ve gone away from that beautiful image that I think does speak to marriage and we see it in the New Testament being referred to this one flesh union is how Christ relates to His church. It’s a beautiful metaphor, and scripture begins with a wedding, it ends with a wedding feast, right? I mean, it’s this grand metaphor, and it’s beautiful. And we’ve made it into an employer-employee kind of situation or a king-subject, relationship, and it’s, you know, I agree with you that it’s a perversion and this Eternal Subordination of the Son that we would even talk about the Trinity not to say there isn’t a hierarchy. Obviously, when Jesus was on earth there was and He followed the Father, but to say that’s eternal.
AIMEE BYRD 17:09
Yeah. As our mediator, He certainly submitted to the Father. You know, that’s not a question.
JULIE ROYS 17:14
Absolutely. Absolutely. So I mean, it is sad that that apology never came. But I think what you did, and Rachel did, and Liam Gallagher did, and so many of the people that weighed in Carl Truman, as well weighed in and exposed this and showed that the foundation of CBMW was flawed. But at the same time, and this is something I was thinking as I was reading this, you’re basically attacking a power structure of men that have come together and maybe for good purposes, but like you said, it’s become a movement, it’s become conferences, everything else and now, you’re beginning to eat away at that. And then you do what I would kind of see as a one-two punch, not just the foundation of it, but then you just publish this book, Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. And now you’re taking on their definitions of manhood and womanhood, which again are rooted in this Eternal Subordination of the Son. And by the way, I want to mention that I’m giving away three copies of Aimee’s new book Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. So if you’d like to enter to win a copy, you can just go to JulieRoys.com/Giveaway. So Aimee, let’s talk about your book. You use this metaphor of Yellow Wallpaper as sort of these patriarchal attitudes. Explain what that Yellow Wallpaper represents for you.
AIMEE BYRD 18:48
Yeah, that is a metaphor I borrowed from a 19th century novella. The Yellow Wallpaper in that story drove this woman crazy. Who was improperly diagnosed at the time. They didn’t have a diagnosis for postpartum depression. And the reader now could tell like that’s obviously what she had. But they did have this kind of nervous order diagnosis called neurasthenia. The cure was a different diagnosis for women than it was for men. Women were told to completely rest from any intellectual activity to stay indoors. No communicating with people, no creativity, do nothing. And then the men on the other hand, their diagnosis was like, go out west do push-ups, manly things. So she’s kind of, you know, she’s a writer, and she’s kind of put into this room that her husband rented, and kind of an abandoned house. It seems like an abandoned estate. And he’s, you know, thinks he’s caring for her, but no one listens to her. And so this Yellow Wallpaper in the room with all its mixed blinds that seem to be strangling each other and everything. She starts fixating on it and she’s secretly writing and she begins to think there’s a woman behind the wallpaper and it gets pretty crazy. She’s trying to peel the Yellow Wallpaper off the wall because she thinks she’s trying to set this woman free. So the wallpaper really represents metaphorically the fact that the female voice just isn’t listened to. And how does that affect then even something like a medical diagnosis or how you can function in your own family and in society. Now, I don’t think that we’re near in the state that they were in the 1800s. However, I do believe the church is reformed and always reforming and therefore we’re always going to have Yellow Wallpaper, as in blind spots that we just don’t see all the time and we need one another–men and women need one another people from different classes and races we need one another–to point these things out to tell the whole story.
JULIE ROYS 21:00
I think when we talk about biblical manhood and womanhood, it was a reaction to feminism, which was just destroying any distinctions whatsoever,
AIMEE BYRD 21:10
JULIE ROYS 21:10
between men and women. It was a reaction like you mentioned, to the sexual revolution. But again, there’s some real problems with it. And you talk about peeling back the first layer of this Yellow Wallpaper and you say and you’re quoting here, the CBMW in some of their documents, “At the heart of mature masculinity is a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to man’s differing relationships. At the heart of mature femininity is a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture, strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” What do you feel is inadequate about that definition?
AIMEE BYRD 21:56
Yeah, so this is how John Piper kind of defines mature masculinity and femininity, first chapter kind of setting up the book. And the woman’s definition is parasitic. You’re just looking to men to lead you. There’s nothing specifically, you know, unique about the feminine contribution that we even give. And so, wow, that’s horrifying to me. Where’s the value in the woman’s contribution? And then when you see how that’s played out, then what it means to nurture male leadership. He gets into some odd examples about whether or not a man can ask for directions from a housewife if he’s lost in a neighborhood because that might be an offense to his masculinity, or, you know how strong you know should women weight train because their feminine needs aren’t going to be met if they’re starting to get too strong. And how, you know if I answer the door for the mailman. I need to assert his masculinity somehow. And it’s just absurd. And none of it is biblical.
JULIE ROYS 23:01
Well, and isn’t there also this idea in that I mean, and when you tie it to something eternal, sort of an ontological difference in the Godhead, and then there’s something ontologically different than men and women in that women always have to submit to every man they see?
AIMEE BYRD 23:18
JULIE ROYS 23:18
It’s not just right submitting to your husband were submitted to your pastor, the word we’re talking now, that every man every lay man becomes someone that every woman needs to submit to. And I don’t see that in Scripture.
AIMEE BYRD 23:31
Of course not. And he says that to the degree that a woman’s influence over a man is personal and directive, it will generally offend a man’s good God-given sense of responsibility and leadership and thus controvert God’s created order. So a woman is never to speak up. She’s never to give her own thoughts directly or guide. She’s never to have input with a man.
JULIE ROYS 23:58
And when you talk about the book, you’re referring to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,
AIMEE BYRD 24:03
JULIE ROYS 24:03
It’s a little over 500 pages. I almost think of it as sort of the CBMW Bible, you know,
AIMEE BYRD 24:09
JULIE ROYS 24:10
These are all the foundational
AIMEE BYRD 24:12
It used to be known as “The Blue Book.”
JULIE ROYS 24:14
Sure. So that book has been extremely influential. So now you’re saying these views of masculine and feminine don’t seem to be quite what match the truth. And so you’re saying we need to peel that back. You also say we need to peel back layer two, which is kind of the concept of complementarianism, completely. You say, “The word complementarian has been hijacked by an outspoken and over published group of evangelicals, who flatten its meaning and rob it of true beauty and complementarity. Complementarity presupposes difference, but also communion through giving of the self in and through these differences.” Can you explain that a little bit more of what you think complementarity needs to be?
AIMEE BYRD 25:00
Right, I think it needs to be a lot more reciprocal and dynamic. Rather than this top-down, take-charge hierarchy between men and women of constant authority and submission. I’m not denying that there’s a need for authority and proper places. But even in those situations that that does not mean dictatorship. It never has. I tried to do at the end of every chapter this kind of peel away the Yellow Wallpaper and then reveal what scripture shows when we peel that back, which is something extremely beautiful. And so I see a synergetic relationship happening between men and women. And yes, we do have some particular calls and our relationships, but there’s contribution that is masculine and feminine. And our aim is the same and our aim is communion with the Triune God and one another eternally. So we need to help each other get there And that’s why it’s so dynamic when we do have this reciprocal, synergetic relationship because it’s fructifying. It produces. It’s one whole plus one whole produces more.
JULIE ROYS 26:12
And that’s a beautiful image, and yet so often lost in the church. There’s one thing that I did notice in your book that I kind of went, wait, what does she mean by that? And I noticed in some of the reviews as well, when we talk about, okay, faulty definitions of masculine and feminine, what do we replace it with? As far as you know, true, accurate views of femininity. At one point you write, “I do not need to do something a certain way to be feminine. I simply am feminine because I’m female.” I have to say the first thing I thought about when I read that is, “Wait, we’ve got biological female women out there that if I look at them, I think it’s a man.” You know?
AIMEE BYRD 26:52
But see they’re trying to be a man.
JULIE ROYS 26:54
AIMEE BYRD 26:55
They’re taking on that language of, “I want to act like a man even though I’m a woman.”
JULIE ROYS 26:59
So I guess what I’m left asking is what is the essence of femininity, then?
AIMEE BYRD 27:05
Yeah. And I do think that pope John Paul II has a lot of great contribution in that area. You know, one thing that I really think that he pinpoints well, is that, you know, masculine represents Christ, and feminine represents His bride, the church. And that is an order of love too. Christ is the lover, and the bride is the beloved. So I think that that’s something that’s masculine and feminine, in a sense. And I also talk in my book about how you know, in going back all the way to creation and to this picture of Christ and His love for the church, that when the first woman is created, she’s not created at the same time as Adam and she’s not created in the same manner. She’s not created from the dirt. Adam has to be put down. He’s a sacrifice for her and she’s taken, you know, a bone from his very side is taken to create woman. And we see this picture of Christ, the church kind of flowing out of Christ’s side there. When Adam sees woman, he sees his Telos, like what he is to become. She’s an eschatological marker. She’s not made of the dirt. She’s kind of beckoning and calling him to what he is to become, which is the collective Bride of Christ. So I think that there’s a great story being told in our masculinity and femininity. And I don’t want to detract from that at all. It’s beautiful. And so when we’re trying to look like men or when men are trying to look like women, that’s what I’m getting at, in that quote, it’s like, “I don’t need to try. I am a woman. That naturally is going to come out of me.” But when you try to force some kind of gender on yourself, then you’re kind of going away from your created, you know, the way that God created you. And that is strange.
JULIE ROYS 28:54
And I do think that’s true. When we’re nurtured and loved, it naturally blossoms out of a woman to be feminine; it naturally blossoms out of a man to be masculine.
AIMEE BYRD 29:05
And if we focus on those stereotypes, and I get this all the time in emails, people who, you know, grew up a tomboy and thought that they didn’t fit into that box. And they did struggle with their sexuality. They were very awkward and uncomfortable and because they didn’t like makeup or whatever those things are, that are supposed to be quote unquote, feminine. But when they understand that our body and our soul, they’re connected–they’re not two separate things–then they can be more comfortable that the definition for a woman is much bigger and much more complex than you know, something like, “trying to look feminine.”
JULIE ROYS 29:43
And that’s where this is. This is personal, because there are men and women involved. And how we view each other, how we view masculine and feminine. But this became especially personal to you. And I want to talk a little bit about this cyber bullying. And what appears to be just a grotesque misogynistic undertone of some of the attacks against you. And it’s part of this group called The Genevan Commons. You’ve known about it for what, since the fall, is that right?
AIMEE BYRD 30:15
Oh, well, I’ve known about Genevan Commons for over two and a half years.
JULIE ROYS 30:19
Right. But as far as the kinds of
AIMEE BYRD 30:21
The screenshots. Yeah, I started I actually over two and a half years ago, I did get some screenshots then, because I was added to that group. They used to like me, until they didn’t.
JULIE ROYS 30:35
What turned? What turned? Because you were saying like with the Eternal Subordination of Son, that whole debate, many of them were on the side of saying, “Yeah, that’s that’s not a correct view.”
AIMEE BYRD 30:46
Mm hmm. What happened was when Valerie Hobbs posted an article that was posted on The Aquilla Report about a church trial where a husband was brought charges, were brought against him for not forcing his chronically ill elderly wife to physically go to church every Sunday. And it went all the way to G.A. And
JULIE ROYS 31:12
What’s G. A.?
AIMEE BYRD 31:13
General Assembly. I’m sorry. It’s like the highest court in the presbytery. And so it was appealed and went there. And she reported on it. And there were some real issues in her report about just how the feminine body is treated, although he did end up winning the case, which you know, is very encouraging. But one of the elders from this church that pressed the charges is the administrator of Genevan Commons. And then, at Mortification of Spin, we interviewed Valerie Hobbs, not on the trial, but on women in the church. And so then that’s when I kind of became public enemy number one for Genevan Commons. And so two and a half years ago, they were talking about me real bad in there, I wasn’t paying attention to the group at all. Like I got added to a lot of groups. Like I was saying, you know, online this week, I understand that. However, I got tagged, and then I could see that oh my goodness, they’re saying some pretty bad things about me in here. And I tried to confront it and I got kicked out. So somebody sent me the full screenshot of what happened after I got kicked out. I was called, “ungodly,” “not catholic,” with a lowercase c, “not biblical,” “feminist outrage machine.” You know, all kinds of stuff. So there was harassment online; I mean, terrible things. Just name calling. There’s going to be people who disagree with my work. But misrepresentation–I wrote a book on friendship between the sexes, called Why Can’t We Be Friends? And I really focus on siblingship of brotherhood and sisterhood in the church. And you know how Timothy is told to treat the men like brothers and the women like sisters. And so I’m talking about promoting holiness. And but you know, they’ll say things like, “Aimee’s telling married men that they can drive women to a hotel room late at night or have candlelight dinners.” It’s not even close to what I’m teaching in the book, but then get anonymous accounts all after me too. And then later, like you’re saying this fall like I saw the interconnection of these anonymous accounts with the Genevan Commons people and how it’s all being orchestrated. And Genevan Commons, this harassment that’s happening online. And they were calling ahead of my speaking engagements, warning whoever booked me or warning the churches that would be attending that, to guard their families, because my teaching has a dangerous agenda, and that I’m infecting the OPC and other denominations. And I’m just seeing all this plotting to sabotage my Amazon page without having to buy many books. And then yeah, like you said that misogynistic language, I mean, it physiologically affects you.
JULIE ROYS 34:06
Oh, I can imagine. I mean, let me let me just read this. I’ve got a thread here. And it’s not a complete thread and we can talk about that. But it’s kind of pulling out some of the most offending things. But you had a YouTube video that you did on Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, your book,
AIMEE BYRD 34:23
Zondervan did it. Yeah.
JULIE ROYS 34:25
Okay. And that was posted up on YouTube. So one woman says, “Where’s her husband? What does he think? I’d love to hear his thoughts about this. Does he support her?” And then one man says, “More housewife, less theologian, please.” Then there’s a picture of a sandwich. Again, I read one of those comments at the very beginning, about how these women just need to make sandwiches for us. Somebody named Shane Anderson talks about, “You continue to circle the drain of unbelief and lawlessness. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. I have zero obligation to listen to Amy’s whining and fussing that masquerades as a biblically oriented position.” Then they attack your looks, “You’re looking Butch.” “Her femininity is withdrawn.” “She looks hardened.” I mean, just nasty. By the way, you look fine. You look lovely. Good grief. And then somebody says, “I honestly thought this was a parody of her because of the photo.” Somebody else’s, “SNL haggard look.” I mean, this is just nasty. The one that gets me the most though, is the one at the end. He says, the Vocal Fry, “Lack of logical reasoning and eisegesis are feminine.” If that isn’t misogyny, I don’t know what is.
AIMEE BYRD 35:36
Well, they talk about how, “women are incapable of the same amount of logic as men,” in there. They’ve actually shared you know, website that said misogynistic quotes by the church fathers and they were talking about, “Oh, why can’t we go back to these days?” Like this is the way it’s meant to be. And like a person who was in the group couldn’t believe how much it escalated to the point where–they’re a total stranger to me–reached out to me and said, “You need to know what’s going on in here.” And so they start sending me screenshots last October. And, Julie, I’m telling you, they were continuously coming in from morning to night. Like what you were just reading, tons of stuff like that. Thread after thread after thread. Anything that I would post as an article, any interview that I would do, like, I’m telling you right now they’re gonna listen to this interview with you, and they’re gonna tear it apart.
JULIE ROYS 36:28
Well, I’ll be in there with you. So at least you’ll have company.
AIMEE BYRD 36:31
You will, because they go after everyone who hosts me. It’s, it’s harassment. And it’s reviling. It’s verbal abuse. It’s spiritual abuse, because a lot of these men are officers in the church. And that is my big thing. Because there’s going to be jerks on the internet.
JULIE ROYS 36:52
AIMEE BYRD 36:53
And so if you’re going to write books, there’s going to be jerks on the internet. But these are church officers. A lot of them who are leading the way in there. And that kills me. It kills the name of Christ. And what are you doing? And the people that he loves? And that tears me apart. And yeah, to see that stuff is just so surreal. You know, my husband is a loving man. To see that stuff said about my husband angers me.
JULIE ROYS 37:26
Well, it’s evil. I mean, it is absolutely evil. There’s nothing godly about this. And if this group is listening, I hope they hear that. Because there is nothing godly about denigrating women who are as much image bears as men. And there’s something beautiful that women uniquely
AIMEE BYRD 37:45
They should be laying themselves down.
JULIE ROYS 37:47
Yeah, that we uniquely bring to the table as do they–as do men. And we should be loving each other and building each other up. I was so heartened, as I know you were too, there was an open letter from leaders in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, that’s your denomination. And they wrote this letter on June 22, expressing concern about The Genevan Commons they wrote, “We are greatly concerned that members of our church, including Aimee Byrd and Rachel Miller, along with others have been subjected to disparaging comments, which are corrupt, foolish talking and coarse jesting. Such words are never acceptable, and certainly not from officers in the church.” They talk about the secrecy of this group–it’s a private Facebook group–and they say, “We are greatly concerned about the overtly misogynistic tone of the critiques leveled at women authors, who many Genevan Commons members have not honored as fellow image bearers.” What is the impact of a letter like this?
AIMEE BYRD 38:43
There’s been criticism that, “Oh, you need to follow the Presbyterian process.” And, “Instead of speaking out against this, charges need to be pressed.” And this is true. Charges do need to be pressed. And so I’m hoping this is happening. And I’m unconfident that that is happening. I don’t want to just raise awareness. I want to transform consciousness here. Ministers need to be trained better in seminary and in presbytery meetings, on and off maybe, about how to spot abuse, how to confront it, how to navigate it. I want these conversations to be had in my denomination. And I know that there’s a lot of church officers in my denomination who agree with this. I mean, yeah, there’s this anger, this hurt this pain. And I have to tell you, it’s such a violation of trust to see officers in my denomination talk about me like this. And I do want there to be consequences. If we’re going to talk about male ordination and if we’re going to get our arms in the air about female ordination. Well, that’s because of qualification of an elder. And so we need to care about the whole qualifications of an elder. And so we need to take action. And it’s not the worst thing in the world to not be an elder. Most of us aren’t. So I don’t think that we should treat having them stepped down as excommunication. I hope that they could work on their souls with the LORD. I would love to see a change of heart and true repentance. I would love to see reconciliation because I don’t like having enemies. And I don’t you know, these other women and even some men that they go after in there, nobody deserves this. So, I would like to see something be done. I would like to not be harassed anymore.
JULIE ROYS 40:28
Well, and speaking of masculinity, to me what these pastors did, and calling this out and saying this is wrong, and protecting the women,
AIMEE BYRD 40:35
JULIE ROYS 40:36
That is masculine. What these men are doing,
AIMEE BYRD 40:38
Absolutely. that’s just brute force. That’s just nasty. That’s not masculine.
JULIE ROYS 40:43
It is not the true masculine.
AIMEE BYRD 40:44
Right and addressing that procedure, so I’m confident that that will go on. But when somebody is publicly reviling and abusing people, that needs to be publicly called out. And for some reason, these people have no problem saying stuff about me and everything that they think that I’m doing wrong without taking it through the courts. But if I confront abusers, that isn’t right. I’m happy that officers in my denomination–and the list keeps growing. They’re just adding their names–I’m so encouraged that they’re speaking out.
JULIE ROYS 41:15
Me too. One of the people, though, that was caught speaking in this group, Steven Wedgeworth, he’s the associate pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, he wrote a post defending himself and his participation. And he said, “I wasn’t really paying attention to the tone of the group. It is possible to be a part of this group, and you don’t even know what’s going on.” Because maybe you’re not on Facebook very much and somebody added you.
AIMEE BYRD 41:42
JULIE ROYS 41:42
That’s understandable. And he said he left when he noticed an unhealthy ethos there. In addition, he says that The Genevan Common’s screenshots don’t present an accurate picture of the group and are posted by malicious people who are deepfaking him. That’s a new term for me.
AIMEE BYRD 41:58
Yeah, me too.
JULIE ROYS 41:59
And then he says, “A deepfake is something like an extension of a doctored photograph to include audio and especially video,” these don’t have audio or video, “which is only really possible using advanced machine learning algorithms.” And he goes on to talk about this, but basically saying, these screenshots, which again, if you go to the website, you can see the screenshots, and the first screenshot on a lot of the threads, it’s a compilation of the thread. So it doesn’t pull out every single one because I mean, these are really long threads that are very long, but you can click below the graphic and see the full thread, right. But he’s saying, you know, I’m just, everybody’s just being completely misrepresented. “It isn’t nearly as bad as it’s being presented.” And, “we’re the victims,” and all this. How do you respond to that?
AIMEE BYRD 42:47
That is outrageous to me. He proposed that these things are doctored. And so obviously, like you said, the compilation is a collage. And so, by definition it is doctored. Everybody knows that it’s made to look that way. You know, some of the highlights from the thread are put together. And then you’re supposed to click to see it in its full context. So there’s nothing misrepresented there. The reader can go for themselves. I think what he’s employing is the typical–and I hate to say it, but it’s used in the context of abuse–is the tactic to Deny, Attack and Reverse the Victim and the Offender (“DARVO”) instead of “sorrow.” He wasn’t somebody who was uninvolved in the group. He’s somebody who participated in a pretty regular basis in inappropriate threads and inappropriate ways, and then left. Coincidentally, at the same time that it was leaking on social media that people were taking screenshots, and, you know, as a church officer, to admit to an unhealthy ethos for, first of all, that’s really minimizing what’s going on in there.
JULIE ROYS 43:57
AIMEE BYRD 43:58
But second of all, it should have been confronted. I mean, is it okay for you to just silently leave a group while your sister in Christ is being demolished? And her reputation is? And they’re plotting against it on a regular basis? Is that okay?
JULIE ROYS 44:17
It’s cowardice. Yeah. That’s not manly.
AIMEE BYRD 44:20
Where is the sorrow? Where is the sorrow? And here you are, again with this inability to apologize. A little bit of humility would go such a long way. And these people, these church leaders, they should be leading the way and showing us repentance. Christian repentance. This is the gospel that we preach. That’s good news. We can repent. I mean, it’s really the essence of Christianity.
JULIE ROYS 44:47
It’s just stunning to me how every single abusive situation that I seem to cover, whenever you call out the abuse, the abuser becomes the victim and the true victims become the abusers. I mean, the switching of roles and the
AIMEE BYRD 45:03
It’s called D.A.R.V.O. Deny, Attack, Reverse the Victim and the Offender.
JULIE ROYS 45:08
There’s a lot of D.A.R.V.O. going on.
AIMEE BYRD 45:09
Lots of, and It’s so painful, you know? It’s so painful because these are our leaders.
JULIE ROYS 45:18
Let’s turn to what happened with the Reformation 21, which is the whole e-zine of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (ACE). Mortification of Spin is the podcast you’ve been a part of for a very long time with Carl Trueman and Todd Pruitt. And Jonathan Master, who’s the editorial director of Reformation 21, incoming president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, three days after your book published–so your book published on May 5, three days afterwards, on May 8–he published nine questions. But he said not all of them were his own. He says, “I didn’t form these entirely on my own. Some are from readers who did not feel comfortable raising these concerns publicly,” which come on, if you’re gonna raise a question, have the guts to put your name on it.
AIMEE BYRD 46:07
JULIE ROYS 46:07
They were leveled at you. And they wanted you to answer these questions. And I know there’s a lot of people saying, “Well, Amy, why didn’t you answer the questions?”
AIMEE BYRD 46:19
So the nature of the post was very strange. And I wrote about that. I mean, here’s an organization that I’ve worked for for seven years. And he doesn’t even mention the title of my book in the post, out of what, fear that somebody will click on it or something? I don’t know. There’s not a picture of my book on it. So it’s just kind of this, you know, “Amy has written this book. There’s this group of concerned people. We’d like to propose these questions.” And I thought, “Wow, there are so many different ways we could have gone about that.” He could have set up an interview with me. I felt like an outsider would have gotten a little more respect. Maybe.
JULIE ROYS 47:00
Did you have any idea it was coming? Did you know he was
AIMEE BYRD 47:03
He gave me a heads up email the night before.
JULIE ROYS 47:05
But other than that you didn’t know he had any problems with what you had written?
AIMEE BYRD 47:09
No. So the night before I got a heads up email saying, you know, “Here’s the post. I’m going to post tomorrow, I thought I’d let you know. I actually saw a review from someone who ended up sharing the same concerns that we do. But then, at the last minute, he backed out. So now I’m just going to ask you these questions.” And I kind of pushed back saying, “Why are you doing it like this?” I found out later that he had actually sought the review from Mark Jones. Mark Jones told me this.
JULIE ROYS 47:40
And who is Mark Jones?
AIMEE BYRD 47:41
He is a pastor at the same church as Steven Wedgeworth. He’s the head pastor, and he is in Genevan Commons as well. And I knew that from the screenshots, so you know, I’m not going to respond to Mark Jones. I’m not responding to any of these guys. Mark ended up posting it on another website. So anyway, I’m left with these nine questions that would take a really long time to answer. Some of the questions don’t have anything to do with what I’m trying to write about in my book, asking me questions about marriage and church office. My book’s about discipleship. It’s about what lay people can do. Some of the questions misrepresented my writing, saying that women led churches in my book. And I don’t say that. I ask the question, “Did Lydia lead this church?” And then I answer it in the negative. Or that Junia was an “apostle.” Well, I do use that word because that’s the word in the Bible to describe her, but I don’t use it in the sense of one of the 12 apostles, but in the sense of the smaller way that it was used as “a missionary.” And then some of them were okay questions. So I answered the first one in my response, which blew my mind because it was talking about male and female ontology and authority and submission. Same language as the ESS! And natural theology. So I couldn’t even believe that question. So I went ahead and like, “Alright, I’ve gotta answer this one.” So I answered that. And I actually answered the rest of the questions. But I’ve been seeking counsel from different officers in my denomination and some other ones, as I’ve been trying to figure out how to navigate through all this. And I was counseled by, I think it was like it was six different people, “Don’t answer the questions. Here it is this unnamed jury behind them. Why would you answer questions from people who aren’t revealing who they are?” The whole nature of the post is very odd. And John Masters told me in the email that you don’t have to answer the questions, but here they are.
JULIE ROYS 49:45
So I mean, it’s interesting that then after this, you got an email from the chairman of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals board, imploring you to answer the questions. Now it’s for the board of directors. Is Jonathan Masters on the board of directors?
AIMEE BYRD 50:01
Not to my knowledge. And I didn’t even know who was on the board of directors. Never been told. It’s not on the website. Couldn’t find it anywhere.
JULIE ROYS 50:08
I was able to find it. But that’s because it’s on the the tax form. The 990. Very few people know that you can look that up. And a lot of Christian organizations
AIMEE BYRD 50:16
People brought that to my attention later.
JULIE ROYS 50:18
Yeah, well, a lot of Christian organizations don’t file 990s because there’s kind of a loophole for religious organizations and they don’t want to report their money. So they don’t. So I, good for them that they file it. And you can see who the board is. But again, it becomes, again asking you a lot of questions. But in their clarifications, which they just posted this week, they denied any speculation–Robert Brady is writing this. He’s the executive director of Reformation 21. Again, this is the e-zine, connected with the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He is executive director. He’s also on the board according to the 990. So he’s both a director and on the board–he denies speculation that Alliance contributor perhaps Carl Trueman or Todd Pruitt or any other contributor or editor is personally responsible. “Decisions of this importance are made solely by the Alliance Board of Directors.” Yet you’re saying Mark Jones, someone who was associated with Genevan Commons, you have good evidence to believe he was behind some of these questions.
AIMEE BYRD 51:18
I don’t know that he was behind the questions. I don’t know if maybe some of that, there was some similar language in his review. But that’s the whole thing–I didn’t know who was behind the questions. Except for John Master. So you know, and I’ve always had a good relationship with John Master. I don’t want to say anything bad about John. You know, I’ve had a good relationship on the Alliance. This was all just so strange to me, with all the violation of trust that I’ve been had having and been under. Because there’s just been a lot. So to then be asked to submit to this unknown group. You know, I already have these unknown men coming after me like crazy. I felt like there was like a gun to my feet saying “Dance, Aimee. Dance.” And, you know, I just felt like, “Here’s my book. If you want to critique it, critique it.” Me and Carl and Todd did a podcast on it just like, that aired just the week before. I think we had a really good conversation. There didn’t seem to me any major problems. You know, even Todd thought that he was going to have some big disagreements with me. And he said that he was pleased and relieved to see that he had nothing in principle to disagree with me and my theology. The only disagreements he had were kind of applicatory. Because we wanted to model good disagreement on the show about the book. And to have Todd say that I felt like, “Wow, I’m really glad I communicated that.” Well, then, you know, and then to get this, it was very strange. And so I just directed them back to my book, and I explained that not all these questions even have to do with my book or represent the writing in it. Well, you know, I tried to give a friendly reply. You know, I’ve heard about that. And the thing is, you know, the Alliance isn’t the same type of people as Genevan Commons or anything like that. And if they don’t think that my work and my writing and my contributions on the podcast or anything is in line with their mission anymore, that’s perfectly fine. They have every right to get, to ask me to leave or to remove me. It was a little weird how it was done.
JULIE ROYS 53:24
And the way it was done, you did get an email saying, we’d like to part as amicably as possible. I’m paraphrasing.
AIMEE BYRD 53:33
They said they strive to be gracious upon my exit.
JULIE ROYS 53:35
There we go. But then you found like, before that you had been told, “Oh, we’re not going to be booking any more interviews with you”
AIMEE BYRD 53:43
Yeah, like the week before that or so, producer told me and Carl and Todd that she was told not to book anymore interviews right now, or recordings–that they’d be running reruns, which has never happened before. And then it had been a little while since I replied to hadn’t heard back. So I just had a feeling. And I tried to log in. And my credentials didn’t work.
JULIE ROYS 54:05
Log into your I mean, your own blog is housed there, correct?
AIMEE BYRD 54:08
Yeah. Yeah, I was just trying to log into that.
JULIE ROYS 54:11
And you told me something about you’ve been trying to move your blog to AimeeByrd.com, which is spelled A-I-M-E-E-B-Y-R-D, and you haven’t been able to just like import it all from your URL. You’ve had to copy and paste it.
AIMEE BYRD 54:28
I thought it’d be something easy, but apparently all my work is embedded in their website, and it needs to be manually done. So I’ve been spending hours trying to cut, paste, reformat, re-link.
JULIE ROYS 54:41
Wow, that’s like hundreds of posts, isn’t it?
AIMEE BYRD 54:43
Oh, it’s like 700. I’m never gonna get it all.
JULIE ROYS 54:48
That’s I mean, that’s tragic. That really, really is.
AIMEE BYRD 54:50
I know, cause it’s my work.
JULIE ROYS 54:52
Well, I mean, the two reasons that were given by Robert Brady, he said one, “Those asked to leave at one thing in common. They have caused our audience to respond in a largely negative way. They have caused other contributors to either speak up, sit out or leave altogether. These situations often and recently have kept other contributors from joining us.” He also said, “We expect contributors to defend their views in a gracious and ready manner. When they can’t or won’t provide clarification. We must part ways.” And that’s got to be just painful to hear.
AIMEE BYRD 55:29
Um, no, that wasn’t painful to hear.
JULIE ROYS 55:32
AIMEE BYRD 55:33
That was like over a month or so after I went through all this with them. So I’d already kind of gone through that and kind of clarified some things that I wished that I would have been told earlier. You know, people, maybe donors, maybe you know, board members are complaining and aren’t thinking your work’s in line with what they want to represent here at Reformation 21. I can handle that. Actually, I don’t really have a problem with hearing that.
JULIE ROYS 56:00
Well, final question. And I know you need to go–our time’s reaching a close. But throughout all of this, obviously, it’s been a very trying situation, a difficult situation. And much of what you’ve received, as far as you know, some of it. I think abuse is not too strong to say. There’s other that’s just been criticism or rejection. But it’s been at the hands of men. And here you are writing on womanhood and manhood. What is your hope for us as a church, as men and women? What’s your vision for the church?
AIMEE BYRD 56:39
Well, I mean, just after going through all this, I just have to say, a big hope I have is that we can start communicating better. It’s really so difficult and frustrating to even be able to communicate. I write within the bounds of my confessions of the OPC, which is a pretty conservative denomination. And one great thing about that denomination Is that these confessions that we uphold, they give us great boundaries then to work within and to explore scripture together as a covenant community. And to have that freedom then to disagree in some areas within that. So I would love to be able to see men and women both being able to contribute well and have conversations in that way. And I wrote the book because I think the church needs this. You know, I’ve spoken in a lot of churches all around the place. And I hear the same thing all the time. The women coming to me saying that they want, they’re dying to be invested in more as a disciple. That they don’t want to be a troublemaker. They don’t want to stir the waters, but they can’t seem to get that communication, get that message across. And they’re kind of left in these women’s ministries that don’t even have the best resources. They’re frustrated with it. And they want to be able to contribute to the whole body as well. Not just in the nursery, not just with the potlucks but theologically and in conversation and growth and sharpening one another. And there’s just a lot of, you know, when we’re talking about lay work and a general office, there’s a lot that we can be doing as brothers and sisters to invest in one another. We are all called to be [unclear] to be passing down what we’re learning, promoting one another’s holiness, communicating the gospel to one another so that we can commune in it together.
JULIE ROYS 58:30
Well, let’s hope that we move towards that. And I do pray that there’s some reconciliation, some repentance, where it needs to be that we can come together as a church and learn from this and grow from this instead of it just being a destructive thing. So, Aimee, thank you so much for being willing to share your story and just share vulnerably about what’s happened to you.
AIMEE BYRD 58:50
Yeah, and I want to say too, I’m overwhelmed with all the encouragement that I’ve received from both church officers and laypeople. And I know that Genevan Commons’ view is not the dominant view. They’re just the loudest right now. So I’m just so thankful for all the encouragement that I’ve gotten. And I know that Jesus Christ loves his church and I really hold fast to that.
JULIE ROYS 59:13
Amen. Well, thank you, Aimee. And thanks so much for all of you who are listening to The Roys Report, a podcast dedicated to reporting the truth and restoring the church. I’m Julie Roys. And if you’d like to find me online, just go to JulieRoys.com. Hope you have a great day and God bless.