Category Archives: Christianity

The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 6

What is Submission by Christina Fox

Mrs. Fox admits that her childhood was full of verbal abuse (put downs, anger, threats, rejection, and fear) and that this left her with a very negative reaction to marital submission. The only way I can think of to connect marital submission to this abuse is if her parents were actively linking the two. Few secular couples ever connect the idea of submission with marriage unless they’re into BDSM, which is a very different kettle of fish.

When a parent is abusing their spouse or child, the words that are usually used (based on what I’ve heard friends describing in their household) are “you should do what I say, because I’m in charge”. Or, “You owe me.” The abuse doesn’t get linked to submission directly unless you happen to look in a dictionary. And at that point, it’s still viewed as an expectation of an abuser, not as an expectation of a spouse.

So, I can completely understand where Mrs. Fox would be skittish about a potential husband turning abusive, but I think that the only way for her to mentally connect biblical submission in marriage to marital abuse is if her parents were using the Bible to threaten her into submitting to the abuse. In this way, a bastardization of the Bible’s view of submission is used to control the child, which seems to me to be the place that Mrs. Fox is coming from.

I took a quick peek at her website and scanned her writing to see if any posts jumped out at me as being specifically about her upbringing. None caught my attention, so until further notice, I will assume that I’m correct that her parents directly linked Biblical submission to the abuse she suffered.

The definition she’s using for submission, which I’m very comfortable agreeing with since it doesn’t change my opinion on submission comes from John Piper:

“the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It’s the disposition to follow a husband’s authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership.”

Apparently by using the above definition whenever submission is used by Paul in Ephesians 5:22-33 is supposed to show that submission isn’t the equivalent of abuse. It apparently shows that a woman submitting to her husband is no different from a church submitting to God/Jesus.

This is supposedly beautiful.

There is a section on what submission isn’t. Essentially, Biblical submission is neither a conduit for abuse nor is a wife supposed to blindly submit to her husband because Christ is ultimately her guiding force.

But the last section on “Marriage and the Gospel” seals the fate of submission:

“When we struggle in our God-given roles in marriage, it is the result of sin.”

Sigh. Let me once again explain how an egalitarian marriage works, in terms maybe a woman like Mrs. Fox can understand:

I submit to my husband. And he submits to me. Just like you try to say that the bible encourages.

The difference is that our “submission” isn’t a mandate, while, however much you try to spin it otherwise, submission is a mandate in the Bible. How do I know that submission is mandated in the Bible? That quote about how all troubles in a marriage are caused by sin. Plus, Piper says that submission is a “divine calling of a wife” so if a woman doesn’t submit, she risks not fulfilling her divine calling.

When me and my husband “submit” to each other, all it is is us doing each other favors without any obligation. He operates on a different schedule than me, so there are many nights when I’m eating dinner and he’s not hungry. Later, he may ask me to make him mac-n-cheese or something else quick because he’s useless in the kitchen. I really don’t mind doing these things for him because I care about him and want to make sure that he eats something with a semblance of nutrition rather than just a bag of Frito’s. However, we have an agreement that the kitchen closes at 9 pm unless I’m unusually awake.

A husband who expects his wife to submit would want a fully home-cooked meal on his schedule, without any regard to whatever else she’s doing.

Remember: “When we struggle in our God-given roles in marriage, it is the result of sin.” Sins by whom?

What happens when a husband expects his wife to always submit and she has to say “sorry, dear, I’m too tired to cook you a 3 course meal at 2 am”? To what extent is her refusal to cook for him a sin? That is her “God-given role” in the marriage, isn’t it? Obviously, the question is whether a Biblical husband  would even think about asking for a 3 course meal at 2 am. But if he’s working on some huge project that is supposed to revolutionize the world, it’s quite possible that he might.

Of course, a wife may be very happy to complete this task for her husband and that is her choice. But the real debate over submission isn’t about wives “serving” their husbands or husbands “serving” their wives: it’s about what happens when one or the other decides that they’re not in the mood for whatever reason to comply with a specific request.

To ever say NO to a spouse seems to be a direct refusal to be submissive. Biblical submission is always described as beautiful because a spouse would NEVER request something of their spouse that they know the spouse doesn’t want to do. But that is not how reality works:

I have a higher sex drive than my husband. I enjoy having sex. However, I work 40 hours a week and most nights I’m half asleep by 9 pm. When he is interested in sex, it’s usually not until 11 pm. So yes, there are plenty of nights when I’m already asleep when he comes to bed wanting to have sex and yes, I reject him.  Does he get all upset about this? No. Does he make an effort to join me in bed earlier? Not usually, hahaha. His loss.

Every article I’ve ever read a Christian woman write about any kind of marital submission has never included any description of what to do when a wife doesn’t want to submit. This book says that abuse isn’t Christlike, but doesn’t tell a woman what rights she has to say NO.

….

My husband just got home from a trip to the store and bringing me a sub for dinner. We ended up having a bit of an argument/debate because he said in passing to his buddy on the phone while getting the sub that a woman who was out there should put some more clothes on. This happens to be one of my soapboxes (obviously) so I tried to explain to him that while I agree with the statement at face value (no one really wants to see all that), the reason it offends me is that despite my not wanting to see a woman or man’s body all hanging out, it is her right to wear whatever she damn well pleases and it hurts society to sum up such an interaction with “she should put more clothes on” as though it’s her fault should anything happen to her. My point is entirely that the party line is “blame the girl” and that we as a society would do better to leave the comments about the girl alone and instead focus on statements about boys and how they should respect women. Changing the party line would do more to change society than continuing to have toss away statements that ultimately do nothing.

Of course, my husband, as well meaning as he is, feels that conversations of this nature are an attack on him as an individual instead of learning that he can be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. He has had too many experiences with women getting him in trouble for their lies, so his gut reaction to my arguments is that I’m automatically taking women’s side rather than seeing “both sides of the issue”. Truthfully, it all comes down to him arguing about Oranges (that there are 3 sides to every story: yours, mine, and the truth and that no one deserves to have blind acceptance of their story) and I’m arguing about Apples (that it hurts women (and men) to always make the conversation about what a women is wearing or doing and that we as a society can do better if we make the automatic statements into “look at that woman and how she has the absolute right to wear whatever she wants without being touched” instead of “if she goes walking around like that in the wrong neighborhood she’ll get raped”–one statement teaches boys to respect women, the other tells boys that women only deserve respect when they’re wearing respectable clothes).

I still haven’t figured out how to explain to him that I’m not the only one who has a visceral reaction to certain triggers. He seems oblivious to the fact that he automatically reacts negatively to these discussions, though he seems well aware of my triggers. But that’s a discussion for another day :-).

Anyway, in my attempt to explain to him that I’m not anti-men, but anti-party line about this issue (and that it’s not his fault that he’s been well trained by society to spew the usual lines about women being the problem) I pulled this paragraph from Lori Anderson’s “The Transformed Wife” to show him that it’s not just men who spew the party lines:

Young women are encouraged to have “free sex” and pursue higher education and careers instead of getting married, bearing children, and guiding their homes. They are told to send their children to daycare and public schooling instead of raising them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord and yes, having boundaries for them, disciplining, and training them. They are encouraged to divorce their husbands when they aren’t happy instead of being covenant keepers until death do they part. They are sold a bill of goods in buying provocative clothing to cause men to lust instead of dressing modestly and respecting themselves and the men around them enough to cover up.

I added the emphasis for the sentence that sounded most like what he’d been trying to say in his defense. About how it’s women and how they dress that causes men to lust and if women respected men, they would cover themselves up. I don’t know what he thought of it because he didn’t respond, but I’m hoping it’s something he’ll think about.

Anyway, while scrolling through Lori’s blog posts on feminism to find an example to use for my husband (it, unfortunately, wasn’t hard to locate), I found this gem which seems very appropriate for use on this post about submission:

“When you heard many sermons on how women submit to husbands but zero on how husbands lay down their life for wife.” I have never heard a sermon from the pulpit of any church I have attended in my 58 years that teach women to submit to their husbands. In fact, there are few women preachers/teachers/writers/bloggers who even teach it. Instead of searching out Scripture for how they are to live their lives, they prefer to hear how their husbands should treat them instead. These women are either unbelievers or baby Christians because those who are mature in the faith examine themselves to see how they can become more like Christ. They understand that they will only have to answer for themselves one day instead of constantly pointing their finger at their husband. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith(2 Corinthians 13:5).

This is from Lori’s blog post about Misogyny in the Church, which apparently she thinks is a feminist delusion. According to her, telling a young girl that she can’t be president is simply sharing that God’s plan for women is for women to be wives and mothers and to be content to stay at home.

Anyway, I can totally believe that women like Lori aren’t hearing their pastors specifically teaching women to submit, but then, Lori makes it clear that she’s not a preacher because she’s a woman and therefore isn’t Biblically allowed to preach. What she refuses to believe is that she is one of the people who is teaching women that they should submit to their husbands. I don’t know whether she’d be proud of the fact that she has so much power over women or shamed because women aren’t supposed to overshadow men. In any case, here’s Lori’s very blatant post on the submission that she’s never heard preached anywhere in any church she’s ever attended. I think me and Lori have very different definitions of preaching.

Urgh. I was scrolling through other recent posts by Lori and apparently she has a big problem with young women not being taught to submit to their husbands:

“God is clear in His Word what older women are to teach younger women. They desperately need to be learning to submit to their husbands, how to properly discipline their children, to be sober, discreet, modest, chaste, good, and keepers at home since many younger women who claim to be Christians don’t look or act any differently than worldly women.”

Maybe Lori should get ordained so that she can have a real pulpit to preach from instead of a blog that only masochists read. Then she could teach even more women…

Before my husband got home and caused me to look at Lori’s blog, I’d already found this post where Michelle Duggar offers advice to newlywed women about always being sexually available to their husbands because that’s the one thing that sets a wife apart form any other woman in the world, supposedly. If you remember where I was before my husband got home and distracted me, I’d just explained how being in an egalitarian marriage doesn’t mean that my husband and I don’t “submit” to each other in an appropriate manner (though we’d use a better term like loving each other and showing that affection through our actions), but that because we’re in an egalitarian marriage, there’s no obligation to never say NO.

————————————————————————————–

By the way, I’ve loaded up Lori’s post on Misogyny in Church on my tablet because I’d like my husband to read it. Or I may just read out the parts that he most needs to hear because the vertigo makes his eyes jump around, which makes reading difficult and the stroke that affected his left side has caused him to be slower at comprehending what he reads/hears–he get’s stuck on certain ideas easily, which is why we so often are arguing Oranges and Apples :-). It’s not because he’s a closet misogynist, no matter how much it sounds that way; he’s just had the party line ingrained in him for a long time because he’s of a certain generation, plus his own experiences, and then the stroke makes it harder for him to switch gears quickly. I think that offering him more female anti-feminist voices will help him understand that I’m not attacking men specifically, but society as a whole. Women are just as much to blame for rape culture as men, since I fully blame mothers and fathers for not teaching their sons to respect women rather than blaming mothers and fathers for not teaching their daughters to dress modestly.


Argh! I just checked Glow, my fertility tracker for our natural family planning (because I don’t want the hormones from birth control) to see where I am in my cycle because arguments don’t stop our sex-life, haha. Anyway, Glow has a daily community poll and today’s question is “Is your relationship an equal partnership?” and I generally expected the spread of answers that I’m looking at: 70.9% of women (I assume that most users of Glow are women) are in an equal relationship and happy about it and 17.8% of women aren’t in an equal relationship, but want to be (they really should find a better significant other). I think it’s sad that 10.3% of women aren’t in an equal relationship and think that that’s okay (they also deserve better), but the fact that 1.1% of women ARE in an equal relationship and don’t like it, is the worst statistic! What have these poor women been taught that they want their significant other to quit treating them like an equal?

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The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 5

The Nature of a Woman’s Nurture by Gloria Furman

I guess I need to go back and identify the authors of previous chapters. Not that most people even know or care who these people are.

There’s a lot of hinting at what it means for women to be made “in the image of God”, but no concrete explanation. I’m still left with the conclusion that God is a VEHICLE, men are pickup trucks and women are sedans. This doesn’t explain why God is always referred to in masculine terms, though. When me and my husband are saying “Truck” he pictures “a vehicle with more than 4 wheels” (i.e. a tractor for a tractor trailer), whereas when I think of a truck, it’s a pickup truck. Both are equally correct and yet, when it comes to Christianity, the masculine definition always takes precedence.

“‘The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living'” (Genesis 3:20)

Which came first: the definition or the word. Since Adam was supposedly in charge of creating words and their definitions, I would assume that the definition came first and the word second, so it’s more accurate to say that Adam thought of his new wife as the “mother of all living” and decided that Eve was a good term to use for this definition. This is the opposite of what the sentence above actually says. That sentence implies that prior to Eve, Eve was the word used for “the mother of all living”, which of course makes no sense.

Hmm…

“When we hear the promise–or chastisement–that women ought to ‘have it all,’ we can experience particular pleasure in the fact that in Christ we already have infinitely more than anything this world can offer.”

Well, isn’t that just fine and dandy. And ignores the fact that women can have desires outside of the hearth and home! But, for mothers who want to shame their daughters into staying home and not pursuing a career, isn’t it great how they can smugly proclaim that they have more in Christ than anyone could ever dream of!

It isn’t that one way of life is better or worse than another. I’m perfectly comfortable with women deciding that staying home and raising their children is what is right for their family. But this whole book is about convincing women that what they think (patriarchal emphasis) they want in life isn’t what they should actual pursue.

I think that a woman’s ambitions are a direct message from God. God, as creator, has every ability to tell women (and men) what they’re meant to do with their lives. And if there’s a God who puts ambition into a woman’s heart, why they Hell would he then expect her to throw that ambition away so that she can stay at home and raise children? I mean this quite literally.

The Duggar Family has a blog which includes a “scrapbook” section. Johannah wants to be a doctor. Jennifer wants to be a veterinarian. Jordyn-Grace wants to be an artist. Josie wants to be a cook. I wish I could pull up the same scrapbook from when the older girls were younger, but that was on the website the Duggars used before 19 Kids and Counting was cancelled.

Obviously, these little girls, in their lives right now, feel that they’re being called to have these occupations. They probably spend a lot of their play time engaged in activities that show their ambitions. Johannah probably is the first to volunteer to bandage up a sibling. Jennifer is always bringing home a stray animal. Jordyn-Grace probably always has art supplies nearby and Josie loves helping out in the kitchen. In a secular household, these girls would be encouraged to pursue these careers.

In the Duggar household, only Josie would be actively encouraged to learn more about cooking, but wouldn’t be encouraged to get a job in the kitchen in a restaurant. Jordyn’s artistic skills would only be developed so much as they help her plan parties and decorate a home. She might be encouraged to spend her free time creating art, but she wouldn’t be allowed the freedom to truly study other artists and techniques in an art program. I haven’t heard that any of the girls have been allowed to attend a residential college, even a conservative Christian one. She could learn art history through online courses, but I imagine it’d be difficult to submit actual pieces for critique online, unless she likes designing pieces with a computer instead of physical supplies.

As for Johannah and Jennifer, both a doctor and a veterinarian require degrees in the physical sciences, which would be difficult given what I know of the curriculum that the Duggars use. So, besides needing to be able to go to a physical university (as opposed to a purely online one), they’d also need to get a real high school then college education in the sciences.

I don’t know how these poor girls will have their dreams squashed, whether overtly with lectures on how a woman’s place is in the home or by simple neglect of that dream (giving Johannah baby dolls instead of anatomy books), but I’m comfortable saying that neither girl will become a doctor or a veterinarian, Jordyn-Grace will not become a world famous artist, and Josie will not become a Michelin star chef.

And when I say that I’m “comfortable” saying that, what I mean is I don’t think my prediction will be wrong. But, truly that statement makes me extremely UNCOMFORTABLE because these girls have every right to pursue whatever career that they want. I realize that ambitions change as children become adults and learn more about themselves and their interests, but that would be one girl deciding that she’s more interested in history than science, not every girl deciding that instead of seeking higher education, she’ll stay home and learn only as much of her interests as will help her future family.

I’ll digress a moment here. I’ve always been concerned about Jana Duggar because it seemed like everything she did outside of the home, was as a tag-along to one sister or another. Actually, the two things that come immediately to mind is when she and Jill became EMTs and it seemed like Jana was only there to be Jill’s chaperone/buddy and later when Jill became a midwife, Jana went to classes to become a Doula, which seems to a somewhat skilled birthing coach (a role usually played by the father). In the case of Jana, it’s like Jill wanted to become a midwife and their parents said that she couldn’t go through the program alone, so Jana had to go with her and since she didn’t want to actually get involved with the medical side of births, she went the Doula route. I don’t think Jana has any real interest in either being an EMT or Doula and she just did these things because she was interested enough to want to get out of the house (unless she felt she could not refuse to help her sister out).

Gosh…I just checked the scrapbook page again because I hadn’t bothered to look at Jana’s profile since I was only interested in the ambitions of the little girls before and her future plans section is blank. I guess the gardening and home improvements that have been billed as how she’s been spending her time aren’t enough to warrant being considered actual “plans”. I really wonder how long this has been blank. Josh is still listed as the Executive Director of the FRC with a ? for future plans and John-David has a very vague “Get Married…” for his Future Plans. So it’s curious that Jana doesn’t even look forward to getting married (anymore?). I went ahead and sent them a message asking about this, so we’ll see what kind of reply I get, if any. Hmm…Jim Bob only has 2 grandkids mentioned on his profile, so that’s obviously been awhile since it was updated!

Anyway, back to the book.

Wow:

Because of Jesus, “We are free from laying claim to any fruit of our mothering labors as if they came from us, and we are free from the fear-mongering, workaholic mothering that thinks everything is up to us.”

Mothering is more than just raising your own offspring; mothering is what women are supposed to do for everyone through fellowship/discipleship. But apparently, it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad at mothering, because any failure on your part can be passed onto Jesus, the ultimate holder of the buck.

Ooh…And when we’re exhausted from all the mothering that we have to do, we don’t have to ask our husband’s for help. Nope: call Jesus. Apparently he changes diapers and cleans up puke.

I think I’d rather be comfortable dumping a screaming child in my husband’s arms when I need a break, rather than “letting Jesus take the wheel” and leave the kid on the kitchen floor while I sit on the front porch crying (assuming the husband is happily oblivious in his mancave).

The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 4

The Feminine Focus is the name of this chapter.

There’s not much in this chapter except to reiterate that being female is more than physical appearance. Apparently women are also created in the image of God…but since God is always portrayed as masculine in Christianity, I’m not sure what this image is supposed to be and why God is suddenly a hermaphrodite. I mean, I can understand that “in his image” can lead to different designs of men (like they come with a different options package or paint scheme), but I’m not sure how “in his image”leads to differences between men and women that is meaningful (like the difference between a Ford and a Toyota? or is it like the difference between a pickup truck and a sedan?).

Mmkay…I’m a woman who doesn’t really like to cook fancy things. I’d much rather use my money to have someone else cook for me. But, I do enjoy watching cooking shows for tips to make cooking what I don’t mind cooking easier.

I know, vaguely, how to make Beef Wellington. While reading this description of how making Beef Wellington went so wrong, I wondered why on Earth they were willing to buy an expensive beef tenderloin, but didn’t want to purchase pre-made puff pastry?!?! Erm…There are two cooking shows that I very much enjoy: Hell’s Kitchen and The Great British Baking Show. I’m 99% sure that Gordon Ramsey makes his famous Beef Wellington with store bought puff pastry and I know that Mary Berry never bothers to make puff pastry (and she’s a famous baker!). I have watched the home cooks struggle with making puff pastry (GBBS) and seen Paul Hollywood demonstrate how it’s not really that hard. In truth, I’m relatively confident that I could make puff pastry if I really wanted to. It’s just a matter of making sure that the pastry gets plenty of time to chill between turns. Two hours is how long it’d take an experienced baker to make puff pastry. If I were making it for the first time, I’d give myself at least 4 hours.

And this particular wording really concerned me about this anecdote: “The ingredients included some pricey tenderloin and other specialities that were supposed to form into a beautiful dough that wrapped around the meat” (my emphasis). Erm. The “other specialties” are brown mustard and the ingredients that go into the mushroom “filling” (for lack of a better term). The puff pastry is just flour, water, and a bit of salt to form the dough and I believe enough (nearly frozen) butter to cover a third of the dough (it could be more butter) that gets laminated into the dough through the process of turning. The wording here makes me think that they put the mustard and/or the ingredients for the mushroom filling into the puff pastry dough. That would lead to a mess!

Apparently this anecdote about a couple of women not really doing enough research into the dish that they were making is supposed to convince me that God didn’t make any mistakes while creating humans. I feel that there are enough differences in people to illustrate that there isn’t one kind of perfect human and while, yes, I can agree that we shouldn’t try to change who we are, I think that the writers of this book have misunderstood that when women like me want more power in our relationships and in life, we’re not rebelling against God, but are merely trying to be the people that God has meant us to be. To tell a woman that she doesn’t belong in a corporate boardroom (or as President of the United States) because she was born with a vagina, only goes to say that when God gave her the ambition and the ability to take these jobs, he made a mistake.

“Something about our femininity is saying something about God.”

I wish that this author had actually explained what this means.

I guess it’s supposed to be that women are and equal and opposite reaction to men. But that doesn’t explain why women have so far been described as the inferior sex that is dependent on the protection and provision of men and incapable of providing enough of anything to reduce their husband’s stress.

Oh my goodness. This author just punched men on the nose and I’m sure she doesn’t even realize it:

“The heart is the focus of our femininity–and that’s good news because that’s where God works.”

If what sets women apart from men is our heart and God primarily works through the heart, then it would seem that God works primarily through women rather than men. This, I would think, would mean that a woman’s opinion is more valuable than a mans because a man is more than likely making decisions with his head rather than his heart (whereas a woman makes decisions more with her heart than her head) and therefore the woman is making a decision with the organ that God works through primarily.

Personally, I think both men and women are more than capable of making decisions utilizing all parts of their brains (since the heart isn’t really involved in the decision making process), which includes having compassion for others. If men claim to be making rational decisions that don’t involve any compassion and sympathy for others, I’d run for the hills!

Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood–Chapter 3

A ha. This is the chapter that I knew would piss me off. The title of this chapter is The Happy Call to Holistic Provision.

First of all, I am the primary “breadwinner” in our family. I have a full time job at a print shop and am now in school to become an elementary teacher. My husband is on disability and works part time as a tow truck driver. He would love to work more, but is physically unable to return to his preferred profession (OTR truck driving; he cannot pass the DOT physical with a defibrillator in his chest) and is physically unable to drive a tow truck full time (he gets easily overheated especially in summer months and between the vertigo and nerve damage on his left side, standing upright for long periods of time is nearly impossible). When we crunch the numbers for him pushing himself beyond his limits in order to work more, he’d have the choice between paying bills or paying for his health insurance. At least with disability, the health insurance is paid for, even if the bills are usually more than he can afford.

He fully supports me working because it is something that I enjoy. He fully supports me being considered the breadwinner because I am the one with the 8-5 job even though between the disability check and his part time work, we make about the same amount. Being the one with the regular work hours means that he has to take my schedule into consideration and he understands that he needs to pick up more of the slack around the house just because he’s home and I’m not.

We have an egalitarian marriage. He is not the head of me and I’m not the head of him. We make decisions together. Why these Christian men (and unfortunately women) cannot seem to understand that partners can work together without someone having to be in charge is beyond me, especially when I’ve read numerous blog posts by Christian women who seem perfectly willing to explain that their husbands are more or less clueless about the duties that are in the wife’s domain!

I guess that’s what gets to me. In our egalitarian marriage, we do have different roles and duties. I work all day and am in charge of most meals. He works when he gets called and is in charge of dishes, trash disposal, lawn mowing, and he’s supposed to wash clothes. I fold clothes, put dishes away, and run the weed wacker, because of the nerve damage in his left hand that makes these tasks uncomfortable. He’s also in charge of most of the major house cleaning because a) he’s great at it when he gets the ambition and b) because it’s mostly his mess.

All egalitarian marriages have some version of this compromise. But it depends on what the individuals in the couple enjoy doing chores-wise and what they’re good at.

In a Christian complementary marriage, it’s not so about what an individual is good at, but what they were born with between their legs that determines what their chores are. I’ve read at least one woman’s blog posts about how amazed she is by her husbands ability and willingness to cook! Like, it took a few years of marriage for her to feel comfortable with him doing such “women’s work” especially after he’s been at work all day. I can only assume that she had kept her boy children out of the kitchen because it’s pointless for them to be there since boys aren’t capable of cooking or would even enjoy cooking, but once her husband finally got into the kitchen, maybe she’ll realize that boys can be interested in cooking without damaging their masculinity.

What truly baffles me is how willingly these complementary wives are to give their husbands all the credit for the work that they are obviously expert at. I mean, since he’s the head of the household, obviously he must have been the ringleader that got all the kid’s schoolwork done (because more often than not the kids are homeschooled), got the housework done, and all the errands completed. While I realize that this “headship” isn’t supposed to take credit and is supposed to graciously praise his wife for all the work that she does, in a “marriage” where the head is an asshole, he can all to easily come home and disrupt every aspect of the wife’s hard work (send the kids outside when they’re supposed to be doing their school work; decide to go out for dinner even as supper is on the table; tell her that he’s spent the grocery money on a new boat) and she’s supposed to smile and say “Thank You, Dear”.

If my husband did any of these things, I’d be a single woman so fast he’d get whiplash. Especially the last one since I take our finances very seriously.

The United States was founded on the principles of “checks and balances”; that’s why we have 3 branches of government. This complementary marriage has no checks or balances. A wife is supposed to just accept whatever her husband does as law and can’t voice any opinions which question his authority.

This chapter talks a big game about how a husband is supposed to “serve and give his life for another” (i.e. his wife), but with a wife who isn’t supposed to question his judgement, how can he know that he’s really serving her when she feels like he’s undermining everything that she’s trying to do. To go back to those three examples from earlier:

  • He comes home and sends the kids outside and feels so proud of himself for giving her some free time with her husband. She’s upset because she had finally gotten them all to work after fighting all day.
  • He decides to take everyone out for dinner so she doesn’t have to cook. Except, she’s already cooked the meal and suddenly has 4 kids who are begging for pizza instead of being happy to eat the rice and beans she made. To keep the peace, she consents to save the meal she cooked for the next night. She can’t lecture him on the importance of calling when there’s a change of plans.
  • He thinks he’s buying a memory creating object when he buys a boat. Depending on the family’s finances and who controls the checkbook (I think these women are more often than not in charge of paying bills to save their husband’s the headache), that money might have been earmarked for any number of things. Because he made a unilateral decision without consulting her, there’s no telling what sacrifices she may have to make in order to make up the difference. She’s forbidden from questioning his judgment and lecturing him on frivolous spending.

Having a well functioning marriage depends on both partners being free to not only express opinions, but to put their foot down when someone wants to do something that is not in the best interest of the family unit. For the most part, I let my husband do what he wants with his money, but he’s not good at keeping money in his savings account and as it dwindles, I get more and more say about what he buys, since he’ll become more and more dependent on money that is in my account.

What is troubling about the section of “Taking Cues from Christ’s Self-Sacrifice”, is this emphasis on how a husband must sacrifice his life for that of his wife and children. Looking back at our three examples from earlier, it is way too easy for a husband to believe that he’s making personal sacrifices when he decides to send out the children (he could have gone into his mancave and ignored everyone instead of saving his wife from their constant presence), it’s his money that’s going towards paying for dinner (he could have used that to buy a new…book? probably not a video game), he feels like it’s his personal finances that is taking a hit when he buys a boat (since he’s the one slaving away for “the man” to make the money that pays for it).

Making the male headship’s life all about personal sacrifice gives him the perfect way to guilt trip his wife about anything and everything. He’s the one sacrificing his life in order to give her everything that she wants. He doesn’t want to work at his lame, boring, dead end, whatever job, but he can’t quit and pursue his dreams because he’s supposed to sacrifice his life’s ambitions to taking care of his wife and children. If he’s not sacrificing something, he’s not a very Christlike husband.

This chapter breaks a mans different types of “providing” into 4 types: physical (food, shelter, clothing, etc), emotional (….?), intellectual (education…), and spiritual (church).

Mmm kay….wow. So, apparently husbands and wives are similar in that they both want to ensure that all 4 of these types of provision happen. BUT, it’s specifically a husband who worries more about these things, especially for providing those physical aspects.

Yeah, I know that my husband is depressed because he feels like he can’t provide the physical things that I may want that he once was able to do (with his first wife, she stayed home while he made all the money that she did a great job spending (sarcasm)). However, as a working woman, I am more than capable of paying the bills that we have. In fact, because of our age and health difference, it is imperative that I be capable of keeping a roof over my head and food on the table in the event of his suddenly passing away. Knock on wood! The reason I worry less than he does about our finances is because I have the savings that I need in case of an emergency (he’s really bad at saving money). If I didn’t have these savings, I would be as worried and depressed as he is. The idea that a husband is supposed to worry more about finances that “the little woman” puts undue stress on men while disenfranchising women. Men don’t have more stress because they are born with a penis. They have more stress because society tells us that men are supposed to provide financially for their families.

Both my husband and the rest of the world need to lighten up and relax. We’ve got this!

As for the emotional provision…ummm…wow. This guy admits that his wife is much better at judging the emotions of the household. That she “better monitors and cultivates the emotional wellbeing” of the household. Apparently, he’s supposed to make himself pay more attention to what’s going on in the household, being more “emotionally present” after being “drained from a long day of breadwinning”, and that he’s supposed to resist the urge to come home to a house full of screaming children and a crying wife and want to tell everyone to sit down, shut up, and solve the problem (or as he words it: “resist the urge to manage behavior”).

Well, first of all, if a man needs to pray in order to realize that he shouldn’t give his wife and children the cold shoulder just because his job is “intellectually and emotionally draining”, he’s an asshole with very little (no) empathy.  I usually want to talk about my day at work, whereas my husband usually wants to brood about whatever is bothering him. There are plenty of women who prefer to brood and men who like to talk through their issues. My husband doesn’t have to pray in order to listen to me talk: he just knows what kind of person I am and listens with earnest when he can. And when the vertigo is kicking his ass and his left side is driving him insane and he’s feeling drained and all around miserable, he simply says “Cathy, I don’t feel like talking right now.” And do you know what happens then? I say “okay,” and I do my own thing. I wait for him to be in a chatty mood and talk then. That’s called respecting others. When he’s extra broody, I let it go as long as is normal, and then I try to get him to talk about what’s bothering him because he always feels better once it’s out on the table. He realizes that he’s being unfair when he doesn’t communicate with me and has been working on it.

Intellectual provision. Ooh. I love all the digs about people putting too much (or too little) faith in intelligence. Sarcasm.

Personally, I don’t think anyone can be too intelligent. Of course, people can be condescending when they think they know everything and hurtful when people admit ignorance, but I’ve found that most people who think that their intelligence makes them better than someone else are usually not very intelligent at all. They’re faking it to make themselves seem smarter than they really are (Trump). Intelligent people don’t have to brag about how intelligent they are; intelligent people usually just want to share their knowledge so that everyone else can benefit.

Wow: way to make husband’s seem extremely self-sacrificing dude! “Outside the home, for the wife (my emphasis), there is continuing education and community education and book clubs and friendships with thoughtful individuals–none of which will happen without the provision of the husband to have the kids and cover the home while mom is out engaging and sharpening her mind (again my emphasis). See, ladies! Your husband is completely incapable of pursuing his own intellectual ambitions because he’s too busy taking care of the children and the home so that you can pursue your interests. Sarcasm.

Believe it or not, husbands and wives can pursue whatever interests they want so long as they work together to plan a schedule. Only a husband would make himself seem like such a huge sacrifice to take command of the kids one evening a week so that mom can see her friends or join a book club.

Mmm… also love the dig about field trips for the kids and how “a curious dad with energy enough to ask and engage [the content of the trip]–or better, lead or join the trip himself.” Why oh why is it way too easy for me to picture the dad who comes on the public school field trip (with a female teacher) and spends most of the trip trying to lead it. How comes there’s no encouragement for mom to join field trips and maybe even try to butt in and lead them.

Oh wait. Most of these kids are homeschooled, so most field trips are mom-led, with a half-dozen kids in tow. This writer is mostly saying that dad’s should take the day off work to join the kids’ field trip and show mom how she could do it better his way!

Oh yay! There’s going to be a chapter on discipline in this book. I’m not sure how that relates to manhood and womanhood, but I guess we’ll see.

As for spiritual provision…make sure the kids and wife go to church, learn the bible, and don’t be too pushy because only God can change people. Mmkay. Well, at least it says that men shouldn’t try to push their wives into a certain belief system, but without knowing how a woman is supposed to react to this kind of disagreement, who knows what actually happens.

Oh shit.

“Though holistic provision for women and children is a greater burden than a man can fully bear, he is not alone. Precisely in the most desperate moments, when having the masculine role feels most unfair, when we’re our most tired, running on fumes, and need to keep providing in all these aspects, this is when the provision of God (my emphasis) tastes the sweetest.”

As a wife, I feel like chopped liver! Apparently, women are such a huge part of the burden of men that they cannot help alleviate that burden. Only God can give that kind of comfort.

Well, I’ll be honest with you folks. If my husband told me that the stress of providing for our household was so much that he had to ask God for help, I’d tell him that then God can be the one who sucks his dick. I am a woman, but that does not make me an incapable mooch. If I’m taking up too much of my husband’s ability to provide financially, emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually to our relationship, and he’s not asking for MY help, he can leave.

The first thing a woman can do when her husband is feeling too much pressure to provide is get a job. This will bring in some income so that he doesn’t have to work so much. This will give him more time to pursue his personal interests, which will in turn relieve the stress that is keeping him from connecting emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually with the rest of the household. If money or the job isn’t the cause of his stress, then he’s an asshole who doesn’t have any ambition to connect emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually. In other words, him working less and playing more wouldn’t change his stress levels.

Now, I realize that my husband seems to be the poster-child for the case of when a working wife doesn’t solve a man’s stresses. This is both true and false. It’s true because there’s nothing I can do as a wife that will make him feel like he’s providing as much as he once did. I can only reassure him that we’re fine financially. He knows this and is fine with this but it doesn’t ease his own feelings on inadequacy. Except, that in some small way it does ease them.

We’ve come a long way from when we first started getting to know each other (as partners during a summer league) when we used to fight over who was going to pay for our bowling. I didn’t even know he liked me at the time, but I didn’t (and still don’t) like the idea of anyone paying my way. At that time, I’d just started working part time after 2 years of unemployment where I’d run through all my savings, so I was extremely emphatic that I was going to pay my way and the fact that I had enough left over that I could pay for him made me feel even better. It got to be a fierce competition between us over who would get there first to pay for bowling and I think by the end of it, I had been one week up. Sigh. I miss those days when he made a real effort to get to the bowling alley before me, haha.

When we first started dating, our argument over who would pay continued. To keep things simple for our waitresses, we’d go “double dutch” (a term I’m inventing here and now). We all know that “going dutch” is when the two parties pay for themselves; well, with us and “double dutch”, we would alternate who paid. If I paid last time, he could pay this time and vice versa. I highly recommend this system if you’re dating exclusively. If it’s a one-off date, go ahead and just pay for yourself.

As we continued dating, I realized just how tight his money was and started insisting on paying more often. He was slow to accept this, but eventually he didn’t see it as a weakness. Since then, he’s actually started asking me to pay for stuff. He just gave me the water bill to pay on a permanent basis! I’m trying to get him to split the bills evenly so that he can rely less on me for bailing him out at the end of the month.

His stress level has definitely decreased with every bill he gives to me to pay. Even as he feels bad about needing to rely on me, at least he doesn’t have to worry about how he’s going to pay back money he has borrowed. They are two different kinds of stress. And no, God isn’t going to miraculously put money into his bank account, but I, as his wife, can.

I can also support him emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually (which doesn’t really apply to us) in a way that God (which is to say, himself) cannot. God rarely (ever?) offers up new ideas to an individual. I’ve often heard men and women say how God works through people. Like, if one person can’t figure something out, they ask God, who apparently in turn, has someone come up and volunteer the answer that the first person needs. As a wife with a husband, I’d much rather cut out the middle man and have my husband directly ask me for help, a shoulder to cry on, an opinion, or for advice instead of him talking to God and hoping that I’m paying enough attention to give him what he needs (in secular circles, we call this kind of behavior passive aggressiveness; where one person has to infer what the other person wants based on the other person’s actions because the person doesn’t want to admit that there’s a problem).

 

God’s Calling

I’m not a Christian. In fact, I’m a deist who dabbles in atheism. But I’m morbidly fascinated by all the Christian ladies who blog about their life and their faith.

One of the blogs I’ve been following for a couple months is Take Heart Daughters which is a daily devotional authored by ~12 women of various ages, backgrounds, and denominations. For the most part they write decent advice for when life is trying to drag you down, which highly I’d recommend if you need a faith-based pick-me-up. It’s been rare that I’ve felt the need to correct advice that comes across as anti-feminist.

Feminism has always been the driving force behind my morbid curiosity. One of the first websites that alerted me to this sub-culture of woman against feminism was shared with me by a pen pal who listed it as one of her favorite websites. I wish I could remember the name of that specific website, but the only hint I have when I think about it is that it was a forum-type website with mom’s asking for advice about their daughters (not very much in terms of articles) and I want to say that the web address seemed benign (like I wasn’t expecting to find an anti-feminism website when I checked it out). Of course, it could be Ladies Against Feminism and they’ve just had a major makeover since I first learned about it.

Anyway, whatever the website that first grabbed my attention was, one of the things that struck me was the numerous questions by moms (usually) about how to convince their daughters that what God was actually calling them to do wasn’t what the daughters thought that God was calling them to do. Usually it had something to do with the daughter going away for college and/or work. It understandably pissed me off that these parents were seeking ways to invalidate what may actually have been a calling from God!

Remember, I’m a deist who dabbles in atheism. I am incredibly open minded about the possibility that a God may be playing some role in the direction of individual lives. I respect this 1,000,000 times more than the idea that parents can tell their daughter that instead of the idea that might possibly have been planted by God isn’t a valid life-dream. Only the woman (or man) can decide if something is or isn’t a calling by God and parents need to butt out of their adult children’s lives!

Anywho.

So while I was defending these daughters’ right to do whatever they damn well please and that it’s disgusting for parents to use religion to pressure their children into a specific path in life, I was wondering about this thing: “A Calling from God”.

Like, what does this feeling feel like? Is it some pipe-dream like the parent’s claim–no more than a whim of a teenager looking to be too “worldly”? Or is it a substantial, metaphysical calling? The parents’ weren’t of any use to discover a description for this phenomenon and the daughters were most likely to do one of two things with their calling: either ignore it because they were bullied by their parents or rebel completely against the restrictive household and most likely end up off that path just because of the financial and mental hardship that comes with suddenly being dumped into the real world.

The only time these daughters (and sons, though I’m sure there’s less pressuring down a very specific path for sons) would be able to investigate their calling is when it aligns with that of the parents (being a stay-at-home wife and mother, namely). Sure, she can have some life ambitions, but only those that keep her close to home and under her parent’s supervision. Not like, say, going across the country to attend a secular university. If she gets to go to university, it’d either be one close to home (including online) or a Christian university with lots of regulations, just like home.

So, for the most part, I’ve figured that I’d never fully understand what this “Calling from God” feels like to these poor girls. I just can’t relate to feeling something so strongly that I’d need to rebel against my parents to do it (because my parents have never told me I couldn’t do anything since everything I’ve ever wanted to do is relatively normal; dating my now husband was the sole exception and I was 25 at the time so my dad just bit his tongue since he’s just old, not dangerous).

However, since I decided to go back to school, I’ve been persisted by this feeling that “this is what God’s calling me to do”. Not that I’m suddenly a Christian or anything like that demographic. Not even like I really think God is involved in so many coincidences (I don’t have delusions that I’m so special that God rearranges the entire world to suite my needs). But, there have been a lot of things that have happened that make me feel like this is right. And I imagine that if I were one of these Christian women, I could easily call this my “calling from God”.

Which, you know what, makes me EVEN MORE PISSED FOR THOSE GIRLS I FIRST DEFENDED! Grrrr. Do you know how much it would hurt if I had someone in my life telling me that this isn’t what God wants for me! As each block has laid itself on this path before me, making the path easier (like suddenly not needing to take the GRE or MAT the very same semester that I wanted to start), to be told that this isn’t what I’m called to do, that this isn’t God, that this is in some way a sin because I’m being selfish or self-centered…it’d be bullshit!

Ladies, if you feel that you are being called to do anything, you are more than entitled to pursue that desire. There is no more reason to believe that it isn’t God that to believe that it is. If your parents are trying to make you stay home and under their control, that isn’t fair to you! You deserve to get the most out of life and yeah, that may mean making a few mistakes along the way. I would hope that your parents would accept that that raised you right, but that they can’t raise you forever. Independence is about proving that you are the person that you want to be, whomever that person is.

If your parents are afraid of you being independent, then they are afraid that you will become someone that they don’t like–that means that they don’t think that they raised you right. If is up to you to decide if you want to be the person that your parents want you to be or if you want to be the person that you want to be. But keep in mind that it is you who will be living the life and dealing with the consequences, not your parents. It is your happiness that matters, not your parents.

“Bible Study on Wisdom”

I love snail mail and as well as writing to pen pals all over the world, I participate in my swaps via Swap-Bot. Generally most of these swaps are to move around Friendship Books, swap out my craft stash, and write the occasional themed letter, but every once in awhile there’s a swap that gives me a chance to be a bit of an activist. This is one of those.

The swap coordinator gave us 10 questions to use to delve into the Bible on the topic of Wisdom. Here’s my answers that will go to my partner:

Bible Study on Wisdom

  1. What is the wisdom from above like? (James 3:17)

Since I prefer to study the Bible using 2 versions, I have the KJV and NIV open in Bible Gateway. As usual, the words used differ in each translation. The KJV describes wisdom from above as: “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” while the NIV says it is: “first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

I’m not an English major, so for me the differences are slightly nit-picky, but they are still noticeable. I react differently to the idea that wisdom from God should be without hypocrisy than I do to the idea that wisdom from God is sincere. In humanity, there are plenty of very sincere people who are complete hypocrites and don’t make for very good advisors.

As a definition of what wisdom is, this does a poor job. It’s much too open-ended and non-specific.

2. What is the wise of heart called? (Prov. 16:21)

Huh. KJV: Prudent. NIV: Discerning. Merriam-Webster has similar definitions for these words, however, I read prudent as being cautious about decisions, whereas discerning is being very discriminating about understanding. I find the second half of this passage, in both translations, to be the more interesting. The KJV says “and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” while NIV: “and gracious words promote instruction”.

For me, “increaseth learning” feels like an internal discussion (it’s the wise person who keeps learning) while “promote instruction” is an external action (it’s the wise person who teaches others). This, of course, makes the use of “prudent” and “discerning” important because I feel that the prudent person is very introspective about what they know whereas the discerning person is comfortable enough in their wisdom that they feel that they can teach others what they know.

3. Who is it that gives wisdom? (Prov. 2:6)

God. There is no disagreement here in translations (except for some -eths)! But, to whom does God give wisdom? Solomon below implies that it’s only those who directly ask for it, but this doesn’t happen often in reality. Most people only get called wise once they’ve garnered a lot of experience and learning, though there are many young people who are “wise beyond their years”, though I’d argue that this is because they spent their childhood learning about the world while their peers played.

4. Why did King Solomon ask for wisdom from God? (1 Kings 3:5-9)

Because he felt young and unprepared to be king…

5. What is the wisdom of this world from God’s perspective? (1 Corinthians 3:19-20)

Foolish…

But, this is an overly simplistic description! And one that is increasingly used by some religious people to dismiss realities of the known world! I mean, there are some people who honestly believe that the Earth is only about 6000 years old because that’s the number calculated from the Bible and these people think that scientists have pretty much made up the idea that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old! In 2017, these “Young Earth Creationists” are the ones who look  incredibly foolish for their willfull ignorance of science!

6. What does Prov. 11:30 tell us about evangelism?

Well, these translations are completely different. KJV says that the evangelist who is saving souls gets to call themselves wise whereas the NIV says that the evangelist is wise and will saves lives. This ends up being functionally opposites, though in both cases the label of “wise” is handed out a bit like candy.

7. What does Prov. 13:20 say about our companions?

Having wise companions leads to being wise whereas foolish companions harms the individual. However, without a definition of wisdom, the overall effect is the obscure idea that you should hang out with the “right” sort of Christian and everyone else is going to Hell.

8. What is the virtuous woman’s speech like in Prov. 31:26?

She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” (KJV) vs. “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (NIV) “Faithful instruction” is of course very different from “the law of kindness”.

9. Why should we listen to advice? (Prov. 19:20)

Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.” (KJV) vs. “Listen to advice and accept discipline,  and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (NIV) It’s interesting that Merriam-Webster has “obsolete” next to the definition of discipline where it means “instruction” (I was under the impression that the NIV was supposed to modernize the language of the Bible).

Of course, for me, it is more important to be able to identify good advice than to understand that one should get advice.

10. Why is it foolish to boast about tomorrow? (Prov. 27:1 & James 3:13-17)

Do not boast about tomorrow,  for you do not know what a day may bring.” (NIV) Of course, this is actually a good example of sound advice :-).

I’m glad that We’ve gone back to James 3 because I’d skimmed it before answering Question #1 and feel like this Bible Study would have gone better had we started here:

“13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” (NIV)

This finally seems to answer the very practical question of what wisdom is and how the average person can recognize a wise person…sort of. It does involve “using the word within the definition” (“you can recognize the wise because they act with wisdom”), which means that everyone can define wisdom by their own standards.

But, I do like that it specifically calls out anyone claiming to be wise who secretly harbor envious and selfish ambition! For me, this gives me Biblical based reasoning for why a Clergy member should be scorned when they live in a mansion and otherwise live a life of wealth. I feel that a vow of poverty is the most important thing a Clergyperson does because it shows that they aren’t in it for the money. The Clergy make their living as a salary derived from collections from the faithful who would obviously prefer that their donations go towards the needy and not a Lexus for the Clergy!

Of course, “wise” people (illustrated by  this passage) can earn such vast wealth, but clearly, what matters most is what they do with it and profit sharing plays a large part in illustrating their humbleness (sharing wealth rather than hoarding it for themselves).

———————————————–END—————————————–

Obviously, I’m not a Christian. I’m a Deist. This is also my first Bible Study and I’m more curious about how this ranks as such a thing.

I feel like the specific questions asked are supposed to guide a person to a specific conclusion. Is this normal? I just found it annoying! I mean, I was expecting an in depth discovery of what the Bible means by having wisdom (meaning that there would be a lot of questions dealing specifically with definitions) and instead the questions led me down a trail of the obvious (of course God is the source of wisdom! This is a Christian Bible Study!). I could have answered half of these questions without opening a Bible!

As for analysis, you can see from my short answers, there didn’t seem to be much room for analysis outside of an overarching question of “what is the point of this question?”.

I’ve heard many Christians complain that non-Christians will all too often attack the Bible using choice picked verses that are “taken out of context”, but this entire Bible Study feel like nothing but verse mining. It felt like the author had searched for the word wisdom in a searchable Bible and picked the passages that sounded most relevant without thought about the overarching idea. If nothing else, I wish that there had been bigger sections called out for analysis!

On a related note, this felt a lot like the assignments I most hated in school. “Fill in the blank with the missing word taken directly out of the passage highlighted.” Honestly, I don’t think that the people of this Bible Study are actually supposed to think about anything but the simple answers to simple questions. If otherwise were true, the questions would have been better.

I think that a proper Bible Study should deal with only one section (as big or as small as necessary) while drawing upon any other relevant passages as necessary. They should not, for any reason, require lots of jumps around to look at single solitary verses.

By the way, you’ll notice that I happily utilized two different versions of the Bible for this study (to give me something to analyse). I’m curious as to what will potentially happen if people involved in this swap receive a Study that uses a Bible that isn’t their own version (since version seems to be very important to many people). Will it force some people out of their comfort zone?

Our “Christian” Wedding

So, you already know that we consider our wedding to have been non-conformist. My husband and I are Deists, not Christian. But while writing a review of The Pilgrim’s Progress, I realized that there are a lot of Idols and Symbols associated with a modern wedding that aren’t what I consider Christian.

I really feel like my husband and I had nearly the most “Christian” version of a wedding–there were no frills, no Idols, nothing but us in front of the very few people who matter most to us. We actually planned it, rather than a quick elopement, so it was done with purpose in a place that felt special, but wasn’t ornamented to make us seem any more special than anyone else.

The only thing we “splurged” on was our clothes, because I wanted to be pretty on my wedding day and I wanted him to be drop dead gorgeous (because we’re not the type of people who dress up, ever). However, the actual amount of time and money spent on our clothes was relatively little. My dress took about an hour to order online. Three quarters of that was debating if I really wanted the dress that immediately caught my eye in comparison to the rest that were available. It is black and white hounds-tooth patterned and doesn’t conform with any Idolized Ideal of a wedding dress (a tradition started by Queen Victoria and isn’t in the Bible, so far as I know). The rest of that hour was getting my husband to measure me.*

My husband’s clothes took a bit longer because we had to go to multiple stores, but the overall look was relatively cheap: Jeans and a gray button-down. New boots, which he needed anyway (and we did this trick again for his son’s wedding: they looked fine under his tuxedo). The most expensive item was his suit-coat, which we got new, but could have come from a thrift store if we really wanted to search it out, though he’s a big guy, so our choices were limited. But time is money and getting his suit coat new also got us a great relationship with that particular Philip Michael’s store in Chesapeake Square Mall, who helped us out when we needed to measure my husband for that tuxedo.

If being a good Christian means being austere (and really, I don’t think you can be both filthy rich and a good Christian), I think a big, audacious wedding ends up being more a status symbol than a sacrament. A few choice items, picked for their importance to the couple are wonderful, but more for the sake of filling up the space, well, maybe you shouldn’t be getting married in such an empty room!

We didn’t have a registry for gifts. Honestly, I find this entire idea a bit nauseating. I’ve seen the movie My Fake Fiancé where two broke people pretend to get married for the gifts, but really, as a person, I hate any time someone wants me to tell them what to give me as a gift! My least favorite part of Christmas is the gift exchange because I hate the idea of gifts being an expectation instead of a surprise. Ideally, I’d only give gifts when I feel inspired to give gifts and it seems stupid to literally hold onto items that you know someone will love because of the unspoken obligation to have something for them to open at Christmas. Seriously, I’ve started working on my Christmas presents for this year and I will have to store them for the next 8 months. Is there any wonder why people wait until the last minute to buy and wrap their gifts–that’s where all the incentive is.

When we invited everyone to our reception in May, I specifically told everyone not to bring a gift, but to bring a dish to share (it was potluck). Honestly, I loved packing up all the leftovers to fill our fridge! That was the best gift we could have asked for because I won’t be tripping over random stuff for the next 20 years. Okay, I will be, but it’s all stuff my husband had from before we married.

We didn’t have a cake either on our wedding night or at our reception. Wedding cake is yet another unnecessary Idol/Symbol/Tradition. While I’m amazed by the amount of work that can go into a gorgeous wedding cake, at the end of the day it will either be eaten or thrown away. It is food. I think everyone should take a moment when they buy their cake (and their flowers) and decide if they are getting it because it’s something that means a lot to their relationship or because it will make a good statement piece.

I guess there’s a fine line between a bride getting her vision and the audaciousness of a $50,000 wedding. And I guess that if you can afford it, you should get what you want. But, I think it’s important to keep your priorities in check with everything you do. I actually do have a really big problem with the divorce rate being 50% and while I’m libertarian enough to say that folks are more than allowed to do whatever the hell they want, I think society would be better off with better marriages, not more of them!

Oh. One final note is necessary. It’s actually really easy to identify when you’ve crossed the line from getting the wedding of your dreams and the wedding meant to please everyone–you’ve felt even the smallest twinge of regret over at least one choice. If you feel overwhelmed, you’ve definitely crossed this line! Yes, things can (and do) go wrong, but if you feel unable to run with whatever life throws at you, STOP. You need to reevaluate the situation. There is no need to rush into anything and I can tell you from personal experience working in a print shop, RUSH means that someone, somewhere screwed up (and because of that, more things will go wrong). There is no such thing as a job marked RUSH where everything was done right from the beginning.

*By the way, while my husband is a good sport about measuring me, keep in mind that husbands will shrink you an inch around the waist, where it’s easy for you to inadvertently suck in your stomach when he pulls the tape too tight.

Lives Worth Saving

 “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K. Rowling –

“I’d like to appeal to all our listeners to emulate their example, perhaps by casting a protective charm over any Muggle dwellings in your street. Many lives could be saved if such simple measures are taken.” 

“And what would you say, Royal, to those who reply that in these dangerous times, it should be ‘Wizards first’?” asked Lee. 

“I’d say that it’s one short step from ‘Wizards first’ to ‘Purebloods first,’ and then to ‘Death Eaters,’” replied Kingsley. “We’re all human, aren’t we? Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.””

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$1,000,000 Bible Tract

As I opened a letter today to reply to one of my pen pals, a Bible Tract fell out. It wasn’t a surprise given who this pen pal is, but as I browsed the Tract, I couldn’t help but giggle.

The Tract in question is one of those “$1,000,000 Question” ones; it looks like a $1,000,000 bill (U.S. Currency), with the pitch on the back. This one has Thomas Jefferson on the face, which immediately struck me as odd because when he was running for president of the US, his opponents people (because it was the “people” who did the campaigning, not the candidate back then) labeled him an atheist.

Thomas Jefferson wasn’t an atheist, but he’s certainly not the first president (or other founding father) I’d associate with an Evangelical Bible Tract! I mean, this is the man who literally cut apart a Bible (possibly 2 or 3 because I think he included the Greek and Latin (and Wikipedia hints at the French as well) translations) to create the “Jefferson Bible” which reorders the story of Jesus into chronological order (combining Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John into one continuous story) while removing all the supernatural events. This was his way of making sense of Christianity.

So, reading the back of this tract made my head explode because it includes “Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death”, but Jefferson ended his Bible with the tomb stone being rolled closed, which means that he rejected the resurrection of Jesus, a key tenant of traditional Christianity!

But, I think that LivingWaters.com has received complaints about this particular Tract because it’s not amongst the 65 Tracts that are currently up for sale (this post was written on 11/6/2016). I found this out when I went to find a link to the Tract and see what it’s “billed” as. It looks like they’ve replaced Jefferson with Benjamin Franklin (who apparently wrote a letter now titled: Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress).

I’m starting to think that maybe I’ve missed the point of these particular Tracts. Maybe we’re supposed to reject the front part ($1,000,000 and the “stately Statesman”) and instead focus on the message on the back…I guess I need to ask this pen pal for clarification.

Amish guy speaking:

 “Murder, Plainly Read: An Amish Quilt Shop Mystery” by Isabella Alan –

““Everyone in my old district disliked the old bishop in some way or another. He was a hard man. To him, life was meant to be about work and suffering. There was no joy in his heart. He believed the more you worked and the more miserable you were, the closer you were to Gott. It was something I could never believe. If Gott loves us so much, how could he want us to suffer?”

 I blew on a spoonful of stew. “Even still, it must have been hard to leave.” 

He was quiet for a moment. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” He smiled at his wife. “But I have never regretted my decision. I know this is the path that Gott wanted for me.””

Yes, this is fiction, but the idea is true for most conservative religions: one person trying to pick the path of another by proclaiming that “it’s what God wants”. A prominent example that routinely pisses me off is the idea that women belong in the home while men are the sole income earner. The abuse that tends to come out of this “ideal” is appalling.

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