FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Role of Women

with Mary Kassian | February 24, 2011
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Have women gone wild or have men gone mild? Renowned speaker and author Mary Kassian explores the changing role of women in our culture, especially when men don’t step up and lead. Hear her suggestions for encouraging a passive husband to take charge.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Have women gone wild or have men gone mild? Renowned speaker and author Mary Kassian explores the changing role of women in our culture, especially when men don’t step up and lead. Hear her suggestions for encouraging a passive husband to take charge.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Mary Kassian explores the changing role of women in our culture.

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The Role of Women

With Mary Kassian
February 24, 2011
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Bob:  Does gender really make a difference?  In today’s culture, does it really matter?  Mary Kassian says, “It sure does.”

Mary:  If there is no difference between men and women, then it doesn’t matter if a man is with a man, or a woman is with a woman, and gender doesn’t matter.  If it doesn’t matter who we are as male and female, then what is marriage?  Marriage is just a deal between two individuals—whoever wants to get together can get together.  It is not about us.  It is not about humans.  It is ultimately about living according to God’s design and bringing Him glory.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, February 24th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine.  We can rebel against God-ordained gender differences; or we can call them, “Good.”  We will talk about that today.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  I just keep coming back to the Troggs because we have been talking this week about...

Dennis:  I knew you would get back to the music thing of the 60’s. 

Bob:  I’m thinking—we have been talking about girls gone wise.  I’m thinking, “I wonder if we could re-cut it:  Wiiise thing—[Dennis joins in] you make my heart sing.”  I am just wondering if there is a market for that.  Do you think?

Dennis:  Not for you and me singing it. 


Maybe you, but not for both of us! 

Mary Kassian joins us again on FamilyLife Today.  Mary, welcome back. 

Mary:  Thanks.  It is good to be with you. 

Dennis:  She has written a book called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild.  I want to ask you this question, and I have a disclaimer as I ask this question because I think men get the blame for almost everything that goes wrong.  Let’s face it—we are responsible for a lot of it.  Okay, I own that.  But here is the question I want to ask you because you talk about, as Bob said, “Girls gone wild.”  How much of that is to blame on men who have gone mild?

Mary:  I think the two go hand in hand.  “When men go mild, girls go wild; and when girls go wild, men go mild.”  It is a two-sided thing.  One contributes to the other. 

When you have men who are not living in a godly fashion—they are not being men of the Word, and not loving in the way they ought to love, and not living in the way they ought to live, then women tend to say, “You know what, I am going to take things into my own hands.  I am going to try and control him and make things go the way that I want them to go.” 

Young girls nowadays see nothing wrong—they have been taught that there is nothing wrong in the girl asking the guys out for dates, and the girls initiating the relationship, and the girls taking the lead in the relationship.  You see this happening in relationships.  I see this tendency in the young girls nowadays. 

The trouble is—I also see them five, ten years down the road when they are sitting there crying because they have gotten married to these guys and, “Oh, my husband is passive.  He won’t take any leadership.  He just sits on the couch.  He doesn’t take initiative in our family and in our home.” 

I look at them and, “What did you expect?  You are the one who pursued him.  You are the one who set the rules for the relationship.  You are the one who initiated, pursued, and pursued.  You really made him into what you wanted him to be.” 

So, yes, guys going mild contributes to girls going wild; and girls going wild also in a very large way, I think, contributes to guys going mild, especially in this culture because we are told, “It is appropriate for women to be in control because guys have been in control for so long.”

Dennis:  Yes.

Mary:  So women need to take a hold of the reigns.  It is appropriate for women to be the initiators in male-female relationships and for women to just get out there and grab hold of power and go get want they want.”

Dennis:  I want to ask those women how that is working for them because if they take over and they dominate a man, and a man doesn’t lead, and a man doesn’t protect, and a man doesn’t do the noble things that a man is, I believe, given responsibility by God to do—whether in a marriage or outside of a marriage.  I mean as men, we are really the protectors of the culture.  We are given responsibility to do that.  When we don’t step up and do that, women have to step up on their own; or they think, at least, that they have to step up.

Bob:  I want to test my thesis on you because I was interested to hear your answer to Dennis’ question.  Here is my thesis:  Men, post-war in the United States at least, come home from World War II.  They have done the noble thing.  They have been the protectors.  They are back in the culture.  They are given a lot of grace because they have come home as heroes.  Right? 

In that, in the 50’s and 60’s, men got a lot of latitude for selfishness; and they expressed their selfishness and they built the world around them.  The culture kind of allowed that to happen because, after all, “These men went off to war and we should give them some space.”

Mary:  And there weren’t that many of them. The ones that came back—we lost a lot of them.

Dennis:  That is right.

Mary:  So the ones that came back are really going to be treated well and with kid-gloves. 

Bob:  So after a season of men kind of indulging in their selfishness, I think, in the late 60’s, I think a lot of women said, “Now wait a sec.  If guys can be selfish....”   I think the feminist movement was, “We want the right to be as selfish as men have been allowed to be.” 

I really do think the rise of feminism was not about, “We want,”—at some level—“We want power, we want this, and we want that,” but at some levels, “I want the right to indulge selfishly the same way that men have been allowed to indulge selfishly in the culture.”

Mary:  It was like, “What about me?  What about me?  It is my turn.  I want to do it now.” 

Bob:  If you have women who are saying, “We need the right to be just as selfish.”  Here are the men who have gone wild in terms of indulging their own passions.  Now women say, “We are going to go wild and indulge our own passions.” 

When they step in and say, “We want some of the power you have had, and we will be our own providers, and we will be this.”  That is the point, I think, when the men go, “Okay.  Alright.  We will kick back.”  I think the going mild comes when women step in and say, “We are going to take responsibility for some of this.”  The guys go, “Fine.”

Dennis:  Yes.  The easiest thing for a man to do is nothing.

Bob:  Yes. 

Dennis:  And let her do it almost like his mom did when he was a boy. 

Bob:  Just hand me the video game controller and Cheetos, and have at it, Sweetheart!”

Dennis:  It is a safe way because he doesn’t have to risk failing.  It is all on her.  Barbara and I were talking about this the other day.  We were talking about what should a woman who is strong think about her husband who may not be strong like her in the same areas?

I told her, “You know, Sweetheart, I think God made us different.  You are going to have strengths that I don’t have.  Your strengths shouldn’t be a threat to me.  They should be something that I try to find a way to help you exploit and use your strengths to the best of your ability for God’s purposes on the planet.” 

That is what I am responsible for as her husband—to make sure that she ends up utilizing her life, and her gifts, and all that God has wrapped up in her.  A lot of men don’t do that.  So the wife is left wondering, “Do I need to do that for myself?”

Mary:  Yes.  “And do I need to take control, and do I need to self-direct, and do I need to do all the things that my husband isn’t doing?”  I think you bring up a good point.  If the women are going, “Yes.  You know, he is not stepping up.”  They are just right in there real quick, “I’m going to do it.  I am going to provide all this direction.” 

There is no vacuum.  There is no perceived need on his part to do anything.  I think that women who decide to just throw themselves in there, “Well, I am not happy with the way he is doing it and the way in which he is doing it,” and, “He is not doing what I think he ought to be doing so I am just going to take control here.”  I think that you do yourself a disservice by doing that. 

You do much better to pause and intercede with him—take your marriage issue or the way that it is working out in your marriage—take it to the Lord and start praying to Him about it.  Really, just leave a little bit of a vacuum there.  So that, “Nobody is filling the vacuum there quite yet,” and asking the Lord to convict him about being a man.

Bob:  I think there are two areas where that issue becomes very real for women in a marriage today.  One is around raising the kids, and the other is around money.  The vacuum that you are talking about—here are the kids, and they are acting up.  The wife says, “Somebody has got to step in and tell these kids what to do.  He’s not doing it; I must.”  You are saying, “Back off a little bit and let the tension grow, and see if he won’t engage with it at some point.” 

Mary:  I think you need to make him aware of the situation, and then wait for his answer.  Wait for him to come up with some sort of, “How do we deal with this?”

Dennis:  Or invite him in.

Mary:  Invite him in.

Dennis:  That is what I think—some men don’t feel the permission because perhaps the wife has already taken over.  It is the wise woman who finds a way to invite her husband into the problem.

Bob:  And you don’t do that by saying, “Are you going to do something about these kids?!”  That is not how you invite him in.

Dennis:  You don’t condemn him for his past passivity or his failure in the past.  He may not know what to do.

Bob:  He may feel completely inadequate; so when you say, “What should we do?” and he says, “I don’t know what we should do.”  Then the wife says, “I know what we should do.  We should do this and this and this.”  She is just taking over rather than saying, “Let’s talk together.  Let’s try to figure...”

Mary:  “What are some of our options?  Let’s talk this over, and let’s come up with a plan.”

Dennis:  Yes.

Mary:  Yes.

Dennis:  What we are talking about here is—in marriage—what is commonly called an egalitarian marriage where you have two heads—you have two people who are in charge.  There is no ultimate authority other than Jesus Christ.  It is two people who are thought to be equal in all ways, including in authority, as compared to what is called a complementarian marriage which we believe is what the Bible teaches in terms of the husband being the sacrificial servant-leader and the one who is ultimately responsible for loving, and for caring, and leading his wife and his family.

Bob:  The one who bears the weight.  That is the expression that I like to use because it is not so much about who is in charge.  It is more about who bears the weight of what happens here.  A man’s shoulders were made to bear that weight.  I am not sure a woman’s shoulders were made for that. 

Dennis:  Yes.  I want to ask you this question, “As we see the church today, which way are women falling out on this issue of egalitarian marriage or complementarian marriage?” 

Mary:  It is interesting because I believe the default setting has changed.  I believe that 20, 30 years ago you just had a basic understanding—Christians as a whole had a basic understanding that the husband is the head of the home and the weight of the responsibility for what happens in his household rests on his shoulders.  That was the basic understanding. 

It is his responsibility to make sure that the family is cared for, provided for, protected, that everything that goes on in these walls is as it ought to be.  Ultimately, he is going to be held to account for that. 

It has shifted.  Culture has caused that to shift.  I believe that in the last five, ten years that you have seen a dramatic shift just in the default setting.  It used to be that people were complementarian by default.  They understood that there were role differences and that there were differences between men and women in the functioning of the home.  That has shifted now. 

Culture has caused a shift so that even Christians believe, “You know what, it really doesn’t matter who does what.  As long as it is taken care of it doesn’t matter.  Men and women can function in the same way in the home.  A guy can stay home and look after the kids as well as a woman can.  If she has the capacity to earn a bigger income, then it doesn’t matter if he stays home and stays with the kids and she goes out.  Their roles are interchangeable.” 

The default setting has changed.  Biblical womanhood and manhood must now be taught.  It will not be caught.  It has to be intentionally taught to the next generation because their default setting is one that role differences don’t matter. 

Dennis:  You mentioned before we came into the studio that a lot of leaders in the Christian community are not teaching what the Scripture says.  They are avoiding passages of Scripture like this passage in my Bible here.  It is like we rip it out of the Bible and ignore that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.  When we get to the passage where he is the head of his wife—he is the authority—he is responsible—he bears the weight, like Bob was talking about earlier—we don’t want to teach that. 

In the process, how is that working for people who have these egalitarian marriages?  What are you observing happening within the Christian community?

Mary:  Within the Christian community, I take a look at these egalitarian marriages.  A lot of them are struggling.  They really are struggling.  This give and take—50-50—“I’ll do my part; you do your part,”—“I will only give in response to what you give.  It seems to work for a little while; but then when the pressures of life come and life goes on, it just doesn’t end up working. 

Let me tell you this, for a woman, eventually that weight becomes tiresome.  She can bear some of that weight; but as you go along in your life, I think what you said, Bob, is just so perceptive—that a man’s shoulders were built by God to bear that weight.  He rises to the occasion to provide that for his family. 

Whereas a woman—that weight wears on her.  As years go by and she is carrying that weight, it becomes heavier and heavier and she gets tired.  She realizes that that is not working so well.  It is not very fulfilling.  To have to work at changing the way the relationship works, and then desiring to see her husband change, and then to take her hands off that control—that is a very difficult path to walk.  I believe that is what happens over time if you are not honoring God’s way of doing things in your marriage.

Bob:  There are some couples who would hear us talking about this and they say, “Well look, we have worked it out for us.  I mean, this is just who we are.  He does this, and I do that.” 

We are not talking about who oversees the checkbook, or who takes care of the cars, or who cuts the grass.  All of that stuff is up for grabs.  That is not what the Bible is talking about when it talks about headship or when it talks about respect or submission.  It is the couple who says, “I’ll bear the weight here, and you’ll bear the weight here.  We’ll just figure that out on our own.”  You may say, “Pragmatically, that works for us.” 

What we would say back to you is, “No. 1:  We don’t think that will work for you long-term.  We think that long-term that weight is ultimately going to be oppressive and crushing.  Secondly, even if it works for you, there is a bigger issue at stake here.  That is the picture your egalitarian relationship is painting of the relationship between Christ and the church.”

Mary:  That is true, Bob.  There is a much bigger picture here.  There is something much bigger at risk.  We are taught in Scripture that we are created male and female for a very specific purpose—to bring glory to God and to bear witness.  It is like we are this storybook to display who God is and to display the relationship of Jesus Christ to His church. 

When we do marriage right, we put God on display.  We put the gospel on display.  It is bigger than us.  It is bigger than me and my husband and figuring out who does what and who wears the pants.  It is not about us.  It is about God, and it is about displaying truths about His character and the nature of the relationship between Christ and the church.  So there is a lot at risk. 

Yes, maybe you can make it work; but in making it work, and in just deciding for yourself, you are not bringing honor to God and glory to God in the way He would have you in your marriage. 

Dennis:  I think about our discussions this week and all that we have talked about—Girls Gone Wild—and why there is this giant identity crisis among females.  As I have mentioned, I have just finished a book for men, where I think there is an identity crisis with men. 

You don’t homogenize the sexes without bearing the consequences of erasing the distinctives that God put within them.  There is a reason why a man is different than a woman.  They are not two interchangeable units.  We are made in the image of God to complement God in marriage—a male and female together.  As single people, a single person in the church is meant to reflect God’s glory as well. 

When we erase those distinctives, that becomes extremely dangerous, not only for the individuals, but importantly for the next generation.  Where are the boys and girls going to get the picture of what a real man is, and what a real man does, and what is the responsibility of a man?  What is the responsibility and what does a godly woman look like?  Who is she, and how does she relate to her man?

Mary:  And if lose that picture, we lose ourselves.  We lose who God made us to be.  We don’t bear witness to it.  We don’t display the beauty of that.  We also really lose ourselves.  We lose who God created us to be in our relationships, and we fail to pass the baton to the next generation. 

You are right.  How are they going to know?  If there is no difference between men and women, then it doesn’t matter if a man is with a man, or a woman is with a woman, and gender doesn’t matter.  If it doesn’t matter who we are as male and female, then what is marriage?  Marriage is just a deal between two individuals—whoever wants to get together can get together.  It is not about us.  It is not about humans.  It is ultimately about living according to God’s design and bringing Him glory. 

Dennis:  I think of all the institutions today that are poisoning the next generation.  It is the educational institutions of North America.  You are from Canada; we are from the U.S.  America’s universities have been teaching to this drumbeat of feminist ideology for now the better part of three decades. 

I think the only two institutions that can withstand the onslaught are the combination of the church and the family.  The church courageously teaching what the Bible teaches, and secondly, families—even in their imperfect state—living it out—hammering out life—when they fail, confessing their sins to one another and training their sons and daughters in what it looks like. 

Bob, I think what we need to encourage parents to do here is—a lot of them have sons and daughters who are in college today.  This book right here would be a great gift for the next birthday for your daughter, who is either going to college or in college today, or perhaps, a single woman who is not married.  This would really be a great book to help, perhaps, stem some of the current that the culture is throwing at us and bring some biblical teaching to bear against it.

Bob:  I have actually wondered about giving the book to my sons.  Have your boys read this? 

Mary:  My boys have read it.  My son was handing it out to a bunch of his hockey-player friends.  They all wanted to read it because they wanted to know what to look for to find a girl who has gone wise.

Dennis:  I am kind of picturing a hockey player


Bob:  With a lipstick book.

Dennis:  With a lipstick book.  I am not sure about that, Mary; but it sure has been fun having you on the broadcast.  I hope it won’t be eight years before you come back and visit with us again.  Thanks for being on our broadcast.

Mary:  Thank you so much.

Bob:  If you have any hockey players you want to order a copy of the book for, go to  Once again, the website  The book is called Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild by Mary Kassian.  You can order online, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY (1-800-358-6329).  Ask for the book by Mary Kassian, and we will make arrangements to get a copy of it sent out to you. 

If you can help us this week with a donation of any amount, we would love to send you the CD’s of our conversations with Mary this week:  two CD’s; four programs.  You can listen to them with your teenaged son or daughter—your young adult son or daughter—or pass them on to someone who might benefit from hearing these programs. 

Again, these CD’s are our thank-you gift to you this week when you help with a donation of any amount to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  We are listener-supported.  The donations you make to help us are what help keep us on this station and on our network of stations all around the country.  We appreciate your financial support. 

In fact, we are going to add an additional CD when you contact us.  We talked not long ago with, Mary, your friend, Carolyn McCulley, who wrote the book Radical Womanhood.   We talked about that book, and we are going to add that CD as our way of saying, “Thank you for your financial support this week.” 

Again, go online at and make a donation.  Type the word “WISE” in the key code box on the donation form if you want to receive the CD’s, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make your donation over the phone and ask for the CD’s, and we will get them out to you. 

Now tomorrow—Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you are having a conversation about the culture and about homosexuality and somebody says, “It doesn’t bother you.  We should just let people do what they want to do.”?  You think, “How do I respond to that?” 

We are going to hear a portion of a message from Pastor Matt Chandler tomorrow that addresses that cultural argument for homosexuality and helps us understand how to respond to it.  I hope you can tune in for that. 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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