Link & Some Thoughts About Fundie-land, Romantic Ideas, & Quiverfull

And this, my friend, is what the world of fundie/Baptist/uber-conservative/homeschooling looks like, as told in Jane Austen speak.

Seriously.

In a small Baptist church like the one I grew up in, the matchmaking that goes on is insane. I can’t tell you how many times a lady from church (or one of my girlfriends) came over to squeal about a young man who had started attending or was visiting, especially if he was the child of someone in ministry. The important credentials were always his education, how he was serving in ministry, what his plans were, how he was dressed (better be a suit or something nice!) etc.; if he could sing or play an instrument he got bonus points. Guys weren’t viewed as potential friends, they were viewed as potential mates. It was all very silly and unhealthy, and I can see that now, but at the time it was both thrilling and embarrassing to be involved in this world. At the time it seemed romantic, probably because of stories like Pride and Prejudice. Indeed these views of male/female interaction, courtship, love, whatever lives on through literature and films that depict patriarchal views/society as romantic, beautiful, classy, proper… you get the idea.

As a young girl I read extensively and came to love the world I found painted in stories like The Secret Garden, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little House on the Prairie, and many other stories that were set in the 1700-1800’s. I came away with a very romantic picture of life during those time periods – beautiful women, smiling children, lovely gowns, daily tea, flower gardens, walks through countryside…. This picture stuck in my head as some sort of ideal to look back to as “better” and to try to recreate in my own life. The fundie views on homemaking as the supreme calling of all women fit right into my romantic views and personal desires. So, when I read books like Stay in the Castle and Created to Be His Helpmeet in high school and college, I was easily drawn into the mindset of the Quiverfull movement. Be a lady? Look, sound, and act beautiful? Keep a perfect house for my husband to come home to every day? Bear my husband lots of smiling, perfect little angels? Take up ‘lady-like’ arts such as sewing and needlework to ensure my family is well-clothed? Do all this in an effort to further the Kingdom of God? Count me in! Or at least that’s how I felt at the time.

Apparently the images/ideas of this romantic world also appealed to my dad (not sure about my mom), because when I was probably 16 or 17 he loaded my brother and I down with books from Vision Forum‘s catalog for Christmas. Another family in our IFB circle had fell in love with many of the Vision Forum products and had introduced us to the catalog at some point. Eventually we began getting our own catalog (as well as the No Greater Joy Ministries catalog, which enforced the same principles), which we pored through eagerly, thinking of Christmas to come. When Christmas came it brought the book about etiquette I’d always wanted, this recording about courtship and what to look for in a future husband, and some other books from Vision Forum. My brother received some manly books that were also from Vision Forum (I don’t think he ever read any of them). He seemed to like the concept of the father being responsible for the daughter’s spiritual well-being until that responsibility was passed on to a husband. He also seemed to like the concept of courtship and seemed very disappointed when I nixed that and other ‘noble’ notions of patriarchy he tried to implement. My father is not a patriarchal man at heart, though; he’s far too kind and loving to be that sort of person. For this I am thankful.

I personally am very content to live a domestic, stay-at-home-mom kind of life. Honestly, that’s all I’ve ever wanted in life. Very little in this world is more beautiful to me than a mother loving and caring for her children; I doubt that will ever change. In the past year I have become a stay-at-home mom/homemaker, and it is the most fulfilling (and challenging!) things I’ve ever done.  But… I see no reason to decree that lifestyle as the only valid, fulfilling option for girls to choose. It’s not right to do that to anyone, regardless of their gender. This conviction was one of the things that drove me away from the Quiverfull movement. Because I read a variety of books – a variety which included some modern, feminist ideas and stories – and saw through the examples of my parents and others that patriarchal notions weren’t the only way to find happiness in life, I was able to escape a very scary ideology.

Be careful what you teach your children – it will quite likely damn or save them.

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Article: Equality of Women in Early Christianity

An interesting perspective on women and the early church. Read the article here. A few years ago I learned how the current canon of the Bible came into being (see below), and was quite shocked. With this knowledge in mind, it would not surprise me to discover that pro-equality letters/books were cast aside and burnt by early church fathers.

http://freethought.mbdojo.com/canon.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_of_the_Christian_biblical_canon

http://foundationsforourfaith.com/Foundationsforourfaith/HolyBible.htm From a Christian perspective. Love how this caveat is added:

Before we discuss how the books in the Bible were chosen, we must first take a step back and realize that the decision was a divine decision.   Though it was men who made the decision on which books to include, ultimately it was God, working through the Holy Spirit in those men’s hearts, who selected these books.   For the Bible is the one and only foundational book to which all true Christians look for guidance in their lives.   God, who created the heavens and earth, as well as all of us, would not allow any corrupted document(s) to make their way into His Word, that is, the Holy Bible.

A Disturbing Picture of Love

A friend posted a link to this family’s blog post. I do not know the family, but I’m a sucker for pregnancy stories so I decided to check it out. It was very sweet and exciting to read until I got to this part:

Dear Itty,
The pregnancy test confirmed that I am pregnant…but probably with only one baby. We’ll never know if it is #6 or #7 who lives on within me, so we have decided to call you Itty. And today, although we are so delighted to be housing and mothering Bitty, we want to say goodbye to you.
Itty, I never had the chance to tell you in person, but there is a holy God who made you—at a level much higher than the scientists who joined sperm and egg in the lab. This God loves you very much, and He put His stamp of affection on you by creating you in His own image! His ultimate desire for every person is to be with Him, enjoying Him and worshiping around His throne (which is like a huge and fancy high chair). But we are all born into a disobedient family, even you, Itty, who will never properly be born at all. So God sent His Son Jesus to live a perfect life and be killed as a punishment for the sins of those who believe in Him by faith—making it possible for us, though we are not holy ourselves, to be together with our holy Creator God. That delightful, sunshiny presence that you now bask in—whether as an embryo or as a full-grown person I do not know—is this loving God, who has brought you near to Him by forgiveness through Jesus.
We love you because He first loved us. We wish that we could have had the chance to meet you and see you grow… Goodbye for now, Itty. We love you and miss you already.
love,
Mom and Dad

I’ll get back to this letter in moment. First, let me say this:

I’m all too familiar with the ways Christians often speak of God. People plan things and then add the statement, “if it’s the Lord’s will.” People say they are incapable of doing anything good apart from God. Literally every part of their life is dominated by their God. I myself used to think and live like that. Being able to pass off responsibility onto cosmic forces of good or evil is very easy and more comfortable than taking personal responsibility. If you do something wrong, you can blame it on your old sin nature and the Devil. If you do something right you say God helped you and praise him for it. Why? Because you know that we are all incapable of doing the right thing apart from God because we are evil and sinful and he alone is good and holy.

I now take issue with this mentality. Individuals are left powerless – incapable of doing anything themselves – and that is bad. Powerless individuals can’t take responsibility for themselves and their actions. These individuals may have trouble making decisions in the first place, because they have told they are incapable of doing anything correctly by themselves. Children raised in this atmosphere will probably have a harder time adjusting to the so-called real world, because it takes confidence in your own abilities to be able to succeed. I personally have struggled with this mentality. Women in particular are put into powerless positions in many Christian teachings/circles, so we women are hit even harder.
_____________________________________________________

Now, back to the letter I quoted above. Does anyone else find it highly disturbing that most of this letter is dedicated to informing Itty that he/she would have been born into sin and gone to Hell if not for this amazing God who had his own son die instead? This letter is like a mini-sermon to a dead fetus, whom they believe to already be with God. They want to say goodbye, but they do it by talking about God rather than all the things they would have done together as a family or how much they would have loved Itty. In regards to love, they state, “We love you because He first loved us.” That particular phrase disturbs me more than anything else they say. Why? Because the Christian concept of love being totally dependent on being saved by Jesus is so… wrong. Most of the world is unsaved. Guess what? Most parents across the world love their children.

As an IFB Christian, I was confused by the concept that we Christians had a monopoly on love. Teachers and preachers told me it was so, but all I had to do was look around me to see it wasn’t true. In fact, many people of the world seemed to have a much better grasp on love then the saved people I knew. This observation has held true, as I am now one of those people of the world. Christians tell their kids they will go to Hell if they don’t accept Jesus into their hearts; they see this as the most loving thing they could do for their children. I (and most other people) see that act as horrendous and far from loving. Tell a small child they are inherently evil and incapable of doing good? Tell a small child they will burn in a lake of fire for all of eternity if they don’t say the magic words? Sure… that’s gonna be wonderful for their little developing minds and hearts. I’m sure they’ll have wonderful self-images when they are older and faced with the stresses of life. No!

I’ve always struggled with feelings of worthlessness, insignificance, being unable to do anything right, etc. I still struggle with those feelings today, but, since leaving Christianity I have seen great progress in this area. I’m not the only ex-fundie with this experience – the web is full of their stories. There are plenty of other people with the same story that may or may not have a religious background. If a child grows up constantly hearing that he is evil, bad, or unable to do things right, it will impact how he views himself and his own worth as a human. That’s just common sense. I personally came out of IFB Christianity with a damaged perception of children. I was taught at church and school (not so much at home) that even little babies were sinning because they cried when they didn’t need anything, because we are all inherently bad from day one. I realize now that this teaching is horrible and total bull… but it is ingrained in me nonetheless. I am actively seeking to unlearn these harmful teachings and replace them with positive things.

The image of love portrayed in Christianity is disturbing and I’m glad I’m no longer a part of that world.

Previous posts that are relevant:
Article: I Love You and You Are an Abomination
Love… Or Is It?

Again… Really? (5-22-2012)

Here we go again! North Carolina has yet again made it into the public eye through the actions of a Baptist pastor. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC spoke out rather forcefully about the Biblical wrongness of homosexuality and has warranted the attention of national media. Here are two links to the story: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/pastors-anti-gay-anti-obama-sermon/?hpt=ac_bn2 and http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/256113/81/Pastor-wants-to-isolate-gays-until-they-die-out 

After reading the lengthy quotes from this pastor’s sermon, I am appalled at his ideology.
I am also appalled because I used to be a part of churches who took similar stands on issues like homosexuality. Not all Christians or even Baptists would endorse putting homosexuals into concentration camp settings just to prove that homosexuals cannot reproduce, or if you take it to the logical end, to watch the so-called blot of homosexuality die out. Sadly, I know several people who would probably be fine with that scenario playing out. The Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, does refer to homosexuality as a gross sin, and labels it as a stoning offence (Leviticus 20:13). The Bible also says that Christians are to love their neighbors and be peaceful people (mostly in the New Testament). Christians have a hard time balancing out those two ideas, often being on one extreme side or the other. It’s issues like this that have led me to make the observation that the God of the OT is not the same God of the NT, despite Biblical claims to that end. The OT is full of harsh, brutal, intolerant and unloving acts that were commanded or committed because of what God supposedly said. The NT, particularly the teachings of Jesus, speak of love, equality (or close to it compared to the OT) and peaceful living. When I was a Christian, I read my Bible and became confused at the apparent contradictions I saw. I understood that it was the NT I was supposed to follow, since Jesus had essentially nullified the former requirement of following the law, but I also read that Jesus and God were the same person and did not “change.” Looking at the change in the message of the OT and NT from a historic perspective, it certainly shows that ideologies can progress towards tolerance and love over time, as humanity becomes more “civilized.” Modern Christianity seems to be proof of that, as it tends to focus on the message of love and peace that Christ did preach, while often ignoring other messages in the Bible that disagree. Those who try to embrace the ENTIRE Bible all at once, and not only follow it to the letter but also force their beliefs on everyone else – they are the ones who end up making the news. 

The pastor may have been trying to prove something when he mentioned that homosexuals don’t reproduce, but his logic is faulty. There are many heterosexual couples who cannot or do not reproduce either. Sex is pleasurable, for both the heterosexual and the homosexual. It seems that the Bible’s biggest beef with homosexuality is the inability to reproduce, and of course the idea that one of the men has to take “the role of the woman.” Oh wait, then how does this apply to lesbians too? Why is it not such a big issue if it’s women with women? I can only recall one passage in the Bible that specifically references lesbians, whereas several come to mind that specifically refer to gay men. The root issue here is not the pleasure of sex without reproduction so much as it is an issue with women and men being equal. It’s no secret that inequality was the norm during Biblical times, particularly the OT. “Leaving the natural use of the woman” is a phrase used in reference to men choosing to sexually love other men rather than women (Romans 1:27). I am a woman, and I do not see my womanhood as being a “natural use” for a man to please himself sexually. That phrasing seems to take the female side of things rather lightly, placing the importance on the male. If this is a translation issue, great, but most people who still hold to this view of sex and women are stuck on the KJV translation as being “God-breathed.” 

Patriarchy: Saving the World or Destroying It?

Definition of PATRIARCHY (Merriam-Webster)
1: social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power.



Current tenets of Christian patriarchy (Vision Forum): http://www.visionforumministries.org/home/about/biblical_patriarchy.aspx

Much of my recent reading has somehow involved patriarchy and, more specifically, how harmful it has been and still is to society. Many cultures around the world have traditionally held to patriarchy, but certainly not all of them. Both of the Abrahamic faiths – Christianity and Islam – have been promoting patriarchy for thousands of years, all while backing their misogyny with claims of divine endorsement. Burkas, virginity tests for women, giving and receiving women as if they were property, using them to breed massive families, requiring complete submission to men, barring women from offices of spiritual leadership, etc. are some of the obvious examples of the discrimination against women. The Bible, at least in the English translations I’ve read, mentions the concept of female equality VERY rarely, while throughout the many books, women are almost always in submission to men, raped, stoned, told not to speak in church, and not allowed to teach men. The Bible never comes right out and says women are inferior to men, but that is the message being conveyed by every aspect of patriarchy. Are men and women different in many ways? Yes. Do those differences make one gender superior to the other? No. 


I am so thankful that my father
never made me feel that, because I was a girl, I was lesser in any way. I tagged along with him to the public dump to unload leaves and other junk; I watched him fix the vehicles and wanted to learn what he was doing; when he was working on a project, I wanted to know all about it; he never told me to go inside the house and do “women things.” I was never told I couldn’t do something because it wasn’t girly enough. I climbed trees, I played cops and robbers with my brother and his friends, I built forts out of legos, I played our game systems, and so many other things not labelled as “girly,” and it was okay. Sure, I played with my dolls, had tea parties, liked fancy dresses, etc. The point is, my childhood was balanced. I was not pressured to only play with dolls and wear pink, and I was not chastised for my “masculine” interests either. So many things that are labelled for one gender or the other seem to be culturally imposed rather than inherent by nature. Patriarchy is a cultural, man-made way of thinking that imposes certain things as acceptable only for men and then women, respectively, rather than upholding the unique traits and talents of each individual. Little boys are groomed for positions of leadership and taught to guide women and children while women are taught to submit to men and stay home. But in reality, not all men are leadership material and not all women are followers. Conversely, some women are great leaders and some men are happier to follow. It all depends on the individual, not the gender identity. 


No one-gender is superior to the other. We are equal and all have the right to pursue happiness and fulfillment as we see fit instead of being boxed in by social mores. “One size fits all” rarely fits many, and certainly not all – gender specific roles are no exception. A lot more will be said about patriarchy in the future, because it is a very destructive tenet of religions like Christianity and Islam.


Here are a few of the articles/sites I’ve read lately, please take the time to read them yourself:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nolongerquivering/2009/06/nlq-faq-what-is-quiverfull/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2012/06/on-modesty-and-moving-the-bar.html?utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=twitterfeed

http://www.hephzibah-girls.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2012-02-01T07:28:00-08:00&max-results=3

http://www.politicususa.com/born-breed-quiverfull-walkaway.html

http://brokendaughters.wordpress.com/

http://chucklestravels.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/created-to-be-his-help-meet-by-debi-pearl/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/

http://rachelheldevans.com/patriarchy

Again… Really?

Here we go again! North Carolina has yet again made it into the public eye through the actions of a Baptist pastor. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC spoke out rather forcefully about the Biblical wrongness of homosexuality and has warranted the attention of national media. Here are two links to the story: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/21/pastors-anti-gay-anti-obama-sermon/?hpt=ac_bn2 and http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/256113/81/Pastor-wants-to-isolate-gays-until-they-die-out 
After reading the lengthy quotes from this pastor’s sermon, I am appalled at his ideology. I am also appalled because I used to be a part of churches who took similar stands on issues like homosexuality. Not all Christians or even Baptists would endorse putting homosexuals into concentration camp settings just to prove that homosexuals cannot reproduce, or if you take it to the logical end, to watch the so-called blot of homosexuality die out. Sadly, I know several people who would probably be fine with that scenario playing out. The Bible, mostly in the Old Testament, does refer to homosexuality as a gross sin, and labels it as a stoning offence (Leviticus 20:13). The Bible also says that Christians are to love their neighbors and be peaceful people (mostly in the New Testament). Christians have a hard time balancing out those two ideas, often being on one extreme side or the other. It’s issues like this that have led me to make the observation that the God of the OT is not the same God of the NT, despite Biblical claims to that end. The OT is full of harsh, brutal, intolerant and unloving acts that were commanded or committed because of what God supposedly said. The NT, particularly the teachings of Jesus, speak of love, equality (or close to it compared to the OT) and peaceful living. When I was a Christian, I read my Bible and became confused at the apparent contradictions I saw.
I understood that it was the NT I was supposed to follow, since Jesus had essentially nullified the former requirement of following the law, but I also read that Jesus and God were the same person and did not “change.” Looking at the change in the message of the OT and NT from a historic perspective, it certainly shows that ideologies can progress towards tolerance and love over time, as humanity becomes more “civilized.” Modern Christianity seems to be proof of that, as it tends to focus on the message of love and peace that Christ did preach, while often ignoring other messages in the Bible that disagree. Those who try to embrace the ENTIRE Bible all at once, and not only follow it to the letter but also force their beliefs on everyone else – they are the ones who end up making the news. 
The pastor may have been trying to prove something when he mentioned that homosexuals don’t reproduce, but his logic is faulty. There are many heterosexual couples who cannot or do not reproduce either. Sex is pleasurable, for both the heterosexual and the homosexual. It seems that the Bible’s biggest beef with homosexuality is the inability to reproduce, and of course the idea that one of the men has to take “the role of the woman.” Oh wait, then how does this apply to lesbians too? Why is it not such a big issue if it’s women with women? I can only recall one passage in the Bible that specifically references lesbians, whereas several come to mind that specifically refer to gay men. The root issue here is not the pleasure of sex without reproduction so much as it is an issue with women and men being equal. It’s no secret that inequality was the norm during Biblical times, particularly the OT. “Leaving the natural use of the woman” is a phrase used in reference to men choosing to sexually love other men rather than women (Romans 1:27). I am a woman, and I do not see my womanhood as being a “natural use” for a man to please himself sexually. That phrasing seems to take the female side of things rather lightly, placing the importance on the male. If this is a translation issue, great, but most people who still hold to this view of sex and women are stuck on the KJV translation as being “God-breathed.” 
That’s all I have time for now.