The former TV star’s latest regressive thoughts on partnership
Actual image from the Saving Christmas movie poster.
We all know by now that former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron is a devout Evangelical Christian. There are the books he’s co-authored, like The Way of The Master and Conquer Your Fear, Share Your Faith: Evangelism Made Easy. And then there was the movie Saving Christmas about the new yuletide tradition of culture warring.
So since we know all of that, hearing about some occasional proselytizing from Cameron is par for the course, but a recent article he did with the Christian Post really takes the whole servant of God thing a bit too far. The hot quote that’s floating around right now starts with, “Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband's lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband.” But it’s really the second half of this remark that bears further scrutiny, as Cameron adds, “When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”
Everyone catch that? Let’s read it again:
“When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”
So, wait. Just… hold up, Kirk. Both partners in a marriage (no, we will not specify genders, surely to Cameron’s dismay) should fulfill their designated duties regardless of how their spouse is treating them? As in, even if they are being emotionally neglected or possibly even physically abused? Because that is very much what Cameron is endorsing with this point of view.
There are many (and we do mean many) people who define themselves as Christian in this country and around the world, and if that massive community wants to structure their partnerships around tenants of subservience then okay, sure. Respectfully disagree, but fine. We have the right to assemble and to free speech and to practice whatever faith we choose.
But to characterize the Bible as an instruction book for marriage and then say a person should always fulfill their marital duties regardless of how their spouse is treating them is effectively saying the Bible instructs its followers to endure dangerous or even life threatening treatment, lest they be at fault for a crumbling partnership.
That’s just a scary and irresponsible thing to say, especially for someone who’s currently on a national tour called “Love Worth Fighting For” about how to protect and better your marriage. According to the Christian Post, Cameron has stopped in more than 200 cities over the course of the years-long tour (seven and counting), which means that he tells hundreds of people every year to keep a stiff upper lip—no matter what. Cameron goes on to discourage couples from getting into heated arguments so as not to cut the other person down or set a poor example for their children, but given the fervency of his beliefs it’s difficult to imagine Cameron counseling anyone to leave their partner if an environment grows hostile.
Cameron’s also famous and more relevant sister, Candace Cameron Bure, said that she prefers to take a submissive role in her own marriage in her book Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose. Naturally the word “submissive” made many observers bristle, and Bure later elaborated on her position by saying, “My husband is not a dictator. We work together but I don't want to dig my heels in and I have no aspirations to be the ruler of my family. We are two equal people but I love my husband and I want him to lead,” adding that, “Ultimately, I trust that my husband has our family's best interests at heart, so I wouldn't fight him on that. And when I feel strongly about something, he agrees with me. It goes both ways.”
And regardless of whether or not you agree with Bure, hers is a position that at least sounds like it operates within respectful limits, and Bure is making the choice to submit to her partner. But if her brother is going to keep pounding the pavement as a champion of healthy marriages he needs to find a way to dial in his message of “take responsibility” and turn it into something that doesn’t perpetuate a culture of abuse.
And now, please enjoy the trailer for Saving Christmas.