Christianity,  Culture

Complementarian conviction under the microscope

Candace Cameron Bure is perhaps best known for her role as a child star on the 80’s sitcom “Full House.” Like her brother Kirk Cameron, she has grown up to be an outspoken Christian. She has been in the news lately promoting her new book Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose. In the book, she promotes what looks to be a complementarian view of gender roles in her marriage. I have not read the book, but I have read the passage that is raising eyebrows in her media appearances. She writes,

My husband is a natural-born leader. I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work. I had watched my parents’ relationship over the years and had seen their example of doing what needed to be done to make the marriage work. I knew I needed to do whatever it took to stay in sync with Val and not build any bitterness because of our equally strong personalities.

Before the hair on your neck stands up straight, don’t think for a second that I get walked all over. I don’t. I have always firmly voiced my opinion, but when it comes down to us ultimately not agreeing on something, I submit to his leadership. That decision to submit originally had nothing to do with my Christian faith, because it wasn’t strong at the time. But once I started understanding marriage from a biblical perspective it all made sense. I now recognize that I do all things in my marriage for the Lord. He is my ultimate priority, and I honor God when I honor my husband, whether or not Val deserves my honor or respect at the time.

The Bible is very clear about what husbands and wives should strive toward in their relationship. Ephesians 5:33 says, “Let each [husband] love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Is that always an easy thing to do? No, it’s not easy from either person’s perspective. But it is vastly important. When a man feels like his wife doesn’t respect him, it basically makes him feel like he’s a failure or less of a man. A man desires his wife’s respect as much as a woman desires her husband’s love. The I think about it is this: When I don’t show respect to my husband, he feels the same way I do when he doesn’t show love to me. On the other hand, when I do show him respect, his emotional reaction is the same as mine is when he shows me I’m the love of his life. That is the great motivation for me to respect my husband.

Balancing It All, pp. 97-99

As you can imagine, these remarks about “submission” have been quite controversial in her media appearances. In particular, an interview with The Huffington Post has been making the rounds.

I don’t know much about Candace Cameron Bure, but I really do appreciate her speaking so plainly and biblically in hostile contexts. Let’s be honest. Her message is counter-cultural in the extreme. It is downright offensive to modern sensibilities. And yet she has the courage of her convictions, is willing to state her views, and to let the chips fall where they may. That is commendable.

You can watch her interview with The Huffington Post below. Her remarks about submission in marriage begin at about 4:44. ABC News’ coverage of the interview is below that.


  • Ian Shaw

    Message may be counter-cultural, but many people forget while they’re screaming about wives being submissive to their husbands, husbands are also responsible for how they treat their wives. That should strike some fear into husnabnds. They will be held to an account before God on how they treated their wives as well.

  • Emily Kelly

    Loved this interview, love Candace! So thankful that she is a wonderful example of a Christian wife! I agree fully with her perspective on submission!

  • Jim Giordano

    Here’s an excerpt from an interview (link below).

    SheKnows: What do you believe is the secret to a healthy marriage?

    Bure: The bible. I couldn’t have made it this far without my faith in Jesus Christ and the blueprint the bible gives us for marriage. Marriage is difficult. It’s always evolving and changing as we grow as people, have children and circumstances change. I’d probably have waved the white flag a few times by now if it weren’t for the strong convictions both my husband and I have to live our lives for the Lord. I’m thankful for all the growth experiences life’s challenges have given me, no matter how bleak they seem at times. Life is like a roller coaster. There will always be ups and downs. You just gotta hang on for the ride… cause it’s worth it!

  • Chris Ryan

    Ain’t my cup of tea, but, hey, whatever gets her through her marriage…She makes it sound like he always gets his way whenever they disagree; and that he considers any time she doesn’t acquiesce to be “disrespectful” (her word not mine). That doesn’t sound very Christian of him.

  • buddyglass

    “his desire to have the final decision on just about everything”

    That sounds like someone who’s controlling to an unhealthy degree. Even within the complementarian paradigm.

  • Bob Wilson

    Complementarity, like monarchy, assumes that by default, all authority should reside in an individual regardless of his lack of merit.

    Anyone remember Alice and Ralph Kramden from the Honeymooners? They are fictional, of course, but represent a reality. Ralph is a good man but lacks his wife’s common sense. Yet complementarity requires that when Ralph decides to blow their savings on his latest get-rich-quick scheme, she must comply because he’s the boss.

    Denny is right–in 2014 this is offensive. And also foolish.

    • Randall Seale

      @Bob Wilson – are you saying that Candace is foolish, or that she is unbiblical in her approach and therefore foolish, or that she is acting biblically and that is foolish?

      In my view, there is one Lord who has redeemed His bride with His blood. Our earthly marriage affords us an opportunity to reflect that relationship and honor Him in so doing even though if it appears foolish to man.

      • Chris Ryan

        You’re exactly right. There is one Lord. And we shouldn’t confuse Him w/ anybody’s husband. The Bride imagery in the Bible is just a metaphor & it doesn’t mean that husbands are “mini-Lords” anymore than Matt 18:9 means we should cut out our eyes.

  • Bob Wilson

    Well, religious belief cannot simply be asserted in the face of reality. The idea that given any random pairing of a man and a woman, the man is always best equipped to make all decisions is simply false. It’s a form of monarchy and very few people today defend the “divine right of kings.”

    Feminist? Really? The obvious flaw with male supremacy has been highlighted by some of the notable men of western civilization long before modern feminism.

    How about Charles Dickens writing about 1850? In his novel, Little Dorrit, if I remember correctly, one of his characters confides to a friend that his wife is wiser than him. Of course, in Victorian England, the man can’t openly acknowledge this. Dickens has fun having this man find roundabout ways of sounding his wife out about various problems and then, in all the splendor of his male supremacy, pronounce “his” solution. Dickens was a sharp observer and I suspect many complementarian unions operate this way.

    Shakespeare? The greatest patriarch in English Literature, King Lear, begins by making several rash choices over the objections of one of his three daughters. Lear has all the credentials of patriarchal supremacy–he is the king, the elder, and the male. His daughter, a mere woman, and his child, must submit. In the end, Lear, having brought doom upon himself and his daughter by his disastrous decisions, confesses to her that she was the wiser and he is merely “a foolish old man.”

    I’m not religious so I am not obligated to believe Paul spoke with any divine inspiration. His pronouncements made in the Greco-Roman era don’t hold up to objective reality.

  • Lauren Bertrand

    I feel sorry for Ms. Cameron Bure that she married what appears to be a deeply insecure man, whose worth as an individual depends on his wife showing respect for him, by her (in Candace’s words) “showing submission to him” during a disagreement, so that her acquiescence and respect may not always be altogether honest. But he values respect over honesty, so that he “feels like a man”. Too bad for both of them, but I suppose it’s fine if Candace is still happy with a marriage defined under these strictures.

    I hope he doesn’t do anything stupid or destructive to their marriage, where she proves him wrong since she initially disagreed with his decision. But I guess this will never happen, since ultimately his way is the right way because it is the voice of authority.

  • Ian Shaw


    Foillowing the roles the Lord set for both men and women does not make either person insecure. Mrs. Bure submitting herself to Biblical authority and to the roles that God gave women makes her husband insecure how? While most can see that this way of growing a relationship is very counter to the feminist movement, one can’t help but notice how strong their marriage is (at least appears to be).

    Submitting to your husband’s opinion in a disagreement is not done in a way to make the husband “feel like a man”, but to understand the roles that the Lord gave to both man and woman and the wife is truly submitting to the Lord (not the husband). It’s also having faith that her husband as a follower of Christ will have put the Lord first for himself, his wife and his family.

    To assume that she will gloriously put her husbands mistakes right back in his face when he does fail, is probably not something she would do, nor should it be something assumed. As husbands we all fail, but with our hearts asking the Lord for guidance,He will continue to help us grow with our wife and family.

    Many people forget that when a husband fails, he doesn’t fail his spouse/family first. He fails God first and foremost with the role/responsibility that has been given to him. So I hope you don’t think that husbands have no responsiblity/accountability to their wives or families because we do. It’s a very large responsiblity not to be taken lightly, especially by any man that wants to get married or is about to.

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