CTBHHM: Sheer Terror Is a Good Motivator

Created To Be His Help Meet, pp. 144—46

Guess what? We’re halfway through the book! We’ve finished the entirety of Part 1! And guess what? I’ve only been at this for 11 months! Another 11 months to go! Woot!

Part 1 was called “The Help Meet.” It included 14 chapters with titles ranging from “A Merry Heart” and “The Gift of Wisdom” to “The Nature of Man and Woman” and “King and Kingdoms.” I went through it page by page rather than chapter by chapter. Part 2 is called “Titus 2.” It includes 10 chapters. The first 8 focus on the specific recommendations laid out in Titus 2 while the last 2 focus on when not to obey (you can look forward to sections with names like “Sodomite Predator” and “Cross-dressing” and “My Husband Doesn’t Want Me to Go to Church”) and the coming reward to be reaped.

This week we’ll cover the introduction to Part 2.

Eight Practical Game Rules

This latching onto some number of specific rules, generally based in some individual Bible passage, is actually quite common in fundamentalist and evangelical circles. It reminds me of all those magazine and internet articles detailing the five things you need to do to win your man or the seven things you just have to understand about women. It’s very formulaic and more than a little simplistic.

When I was a child, the word blaspheme struck terror in my heart. My parents were new Christians and did not know much about the Bible, but somewhere along the way, one of our preachers was able to stuff into my little brain the verse on blaspheming the Holy Ghost. As far as I knew at the time, there was only one verse with the dreaded word in it, and it reads like this, “but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger in eternal damnation” (Mark 3:29).

Today, now at a much riper age, the word blaspheme still causes me to shudder—-as it should.

I’ve written before about the unpardonable sin and the terror it inspired in me as a child. I’m not surprised that Debi, too, grew up with that same fear. It makes me sad, though, for child Debi.

This is a woman’s book about wives and mothers, so you must be wondering what blasphemy has to do with the subject. A lot! As I began to write this book in earnest, my mind was constantly filled with Scripture. I woke up one night with the passage of Titus 2: 3—5 running through my head. As I lay in my bed, I tried to recall the list of eight things that aged women were told to teach the younger women. It occurred to me right then that God had given me the perfect outline in those eight simple instructions.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women [1] to be sober, [2] to love their husbands, [3] to love their children, [4] To be discreet, [5] chaste, [6] keepers at home, [7] good, [8] obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2: 3—5).

The word blasphemed jumped out at me, “. . . that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Aged women (that’s me) are commanded to teach the young women so they will not blaspheme the word of God! Are young mothers in danger of blasphemy? This passage says they are—not of blaspheming the Holy Ghost, which is the unpardonable sin—rather, of blaspheming the word of God. Even though it is not the unpardonable sin, it sure is a scary thing for Paul to say about young wives.

Enter the fear tactics! Do what (Debi says) Titus 2 says you have to do or you are blaspheming! While Debi does say that this isn’t the same thing as committing the unpardonable sin, she led with the unpardonable sin and makes it amply clear that blaspheming is something that is very very very bad—even scary. 

The word blaspheme in this passage had always seemed to be an overstatement—an emphatic exaggeration. How can a woman be causing the Word of God to be blasphemed if she is not discreet? Does a woman really cause the Word of God to be blasphemed if she doesn’t obey her husband? What if he is wrong? What if she dresses a little sexy and is not as chaste as she should be? Should that be judged as blaspheming? What does it mean to be keepers at home? Why are these eight things so critical to young wives that refusal to do them would be termed blasphemy? 

These are rhetorical questions. Debi’s not actually questioning what the Bible says—i.e., whether it’s true or not—but rather trying to find a way to make sense of it. Still, what Debi’s doing here is a good step—she feels this passage is too harsh and is grappling with that. Unfortunately, rather than forming an understanding that allows her to tone down the immediate harshness of the passage, she concludes instead that she’s not properly appreciating how serious women’s crimes are.

As I lay in my bed that night pondering these things, I asked God to give me a glimpse of his mind and heart concerning this passage, so that I might know how to teach the young women to keep his Word from being blasphemed. He did. And, his answer broke my heart. I could never have dreamed the sad horror that would teach me just why the word blaspheme is the right word. But first, we will examine the eight characteristics, one by one, that God commands aged women to teach young women.

O_o

Sad horror? Really?

[Edited to add]

A commenter just reminded me of an earlier section of Debi’s book  in which Debi railed against women claiming that they’d heard directly from God. Here is what she said in that passage, which I addressed in an earlier installment of this series:

You rarely hear a man say, “God told me to do this,” or, “God led me to go down there.” The few men I have known who talked that way did not demonstrate that they were any more led by the Spirit than other Christian men. I know that when God does speak to my husband and leads him in a supernatural way, he will not speak of it in public. He doesn’t feel the need to promote himself in that manner, and furthermore, he believes that if he has truly heard from heaven, God doesn’t need his publicity. God will vindicate himself. But many Christian women habitually attribute nearly every event to divine guidance. Experience proves that women are prone to claim God as their authority, when God had nothing at all to do with their “leading.” It really is quite appalling to see this shameful behavior still in action today.

Huh. Pot calling kettle black anyone? Why does Debi get a pass here when others don’t? Why does Debi expect her readers to believe and accept her word when she claims to have heard directly from God when she herself earlier stated that “experience proves that women are prone to claim God as their authority, when God has nothing at all to do with their ‘leading’”? Does she see herself as immune from this? Does she expect her readers to question every woman who claims divine guidance . . . except for her? And I should point out, Debi has a history of arguing that women shouldn’t be spiritual or attempt to hear from God on their own. Except for her, apparently.

[End edit]

Debi is doing her best to strike terror into her readers’ hearts. She’s been doing that throughout, though her general method of operation has been to tell women that if they’re not properly submissive their husbands will leave them and they will find themselves confined to dumpy duplexes (her term) and perhaps even slipping into lesbianism—and that if they’re not properly reverent toward their husbands, their husbands will never amount to anything, hog-tied by the lack of reverence. Here Debi is shifting her angle and telling women that if they’re not properly submissive (et al.) they are blaspheming the Word of God—and of course, she is simultaneously emphasizing just how serious and horrifying and scary blasphemy is.

Debi is laying the groundwork for what is to come. She is making sure that readers are prepared to listen to what she has to say in the rest of this section—and by that I mean that she is ensuring they will be motivated by the sheer terror of what will happen to them if they don’t do what God says Debi says. 

This is how Debi’s words make the former evangelical/fundamentalist in me feel:

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Jolie

    Woooot? I’m getting really keenly intterested about the cross-dressing part- could you share this chapter via email in any way?

    Explanation/Story time: I am the former girlfriend of a crossdresser; throughout the the relationship, which ended amiably for completely unrelated reasons, I have been fully supportive; up to this day, three years after the relationship ended, I identify as someone with a kink for MTF crossdressing.

    My experience with it is what motivated to pursue a master’s degree in Gender Studies – now working on my dissertation- and after I graduate I’m planning on doing a PhD in either Gender Studies or social psychology about the heterosexual partners of MtF crossdressers: primarily looking at how they conceptualise and make sense of their partners’ crossdressing, in relation to their comprehensive worldview (things like: do they think being ‘normal’ is a good and necessary thing? Do they think of gender as binary, a continuum or in another way? Do they believe in gender roles? etc.). So that would give me very valuable insight into a certain kind of demographic/mindset.

    While, of course, in a more personal perspective I’m like: Woooot? So if your husband is an emotionally abusive tyrant it’s all fine and dandy and you need to obey him/bow to his every wish/never challenge him, whereas if just likes to wear frilly nighties you need to deeply dissaprove and deny it to him?

    • Mira

      I’d only have a problem with it if he looks better in certain outfits than I do. C’mon, man, lemme have at least THAT much, right? xD

      • Jolie

        Hey, it’s not a competition :) A nice compliment from your spouse about how cute you look in pink lace goes a long way… for both genders :D

      • Mira

        I am totally okay with fabulousness.

    • Lunch Meat

      The “Sodomite Predator” section would seem to imply that although there’s no such thing as spousal rape because you’re always supposed to submit no matter how much it hurts, consensual anal sex is just evil and wrong. That’s horrific.

      • Cathy W

        Either that or “It’s okay to stop reverencing your husband on the one specific issue of molesting small boys.”

      • Jolie

        Because engaging in kinky sex is alwaaaaays the man’s idea ;)

      • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

        Well yeah. I mean, didn’t Libby Anne cover the whole “women are not sexual beings” thing a while back? ;)

    • Ibis3

      It’s intriguing how MtF crossdressing is a thing, but women wearing their [timewarp] boyfriend’s sweater [/timewarp] (or pyjama bottoms, or dress shirt, or jeans) is commonplace sexy and unremarkable.

      • Alix

        …It is really damn frustrating for me, actually.

        See also: how androgynous clothing is figured as “unisex” (i.e. traditionally male).

        As someone who IDs as genderqueer, but likes to wear skirts and appears female unless I do some serious work, this is personally extremely vexing.

    • Random_Lurker

      So, who wants to take a guess at what hideous, totally-not-Freudian occurrence made Debi even notice that cross dressing was a thing? Or is it one of those things that fundamentalists love to squick over?

    • Leigha7

      Not having read it, I would guess that by “crossdressing,” they mean women wearing pants. We are talking about the sort of Christians who believe women should always wear long skirts, after all. Men crossdressing would likely just be deemed gay. Women wearing pants have been misled by the evil feminists and their worldliness.

  • Sally

    ” I asked God to give me a glimpse of his mind and heart concerning this passage…He did.”
    So now Debi doesn’t just interpret the Bible for us under her authority as an “aged woman.” Now she gets direct messages from God so whatever she says has Divine Authority.
    She has latched onto this “aged woman” thing as some kind of automatic position of authority for doing nothing more than getting older. She has no education to back up her perspective, just that she’s older now than she used to be (aren’t we all)? But this idea that she’s gotten her instruction directly from God is what’s scary. To me that’s blasphemying the Holy Spirit. It’s one thing to teach the 8 things, it’s another to teach them as if you’re being guided by God himself, right now as you do it. That’s being other people’s Holy Spirit for them. If that’s not blasphemy, what is?

    • MyOwnPerson

      We should be very wary of spiritual insights from Debi. After all, she explicitly told us that spiritual women are letting their emotions run wild, that it isn’t God speaking to them but their wild emotions. We’d better ask Michael for his message from God.

      • Highlander

        When I read this post this was exactly what I was thinking of. I even went back through the previous posts to find the one where she said women couldn’t reliably hear a message from god:
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/05/ctbhhm-you-only-think-youre-spiritual.html

      • Composer 99

        Further to the link someone shared of Altemeyer’s book The Authoritarians, one of the hallmarks of a strongly authoritarian-submissive personality is highly compartmentalized thinking.

        Debi insisting on the one hand that women can’t reliably hear a message from God, and on the other hand asserting that she not only can, but has – almost certainly without awareness of the contradiction – seems of a piece with this sort of behaviour.

        Of course a reader might reasonably be expected to notice this contradiction, but many of Debi’s fans probably don’t, for much the same reason.

      • Alix

        …this is a completely random tangent, but you’ve just helped me find the word I was groping for in a discussion with someone else: Machiavelli skillfully banked on that very authoritarian tendency toward compartmentalization to basically get away with advocating that the Medicis fund their own overthrow.

        (I can’t help it! The random connections just happen!)

      • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

        Ack! How could I have overlooked this! I’ve edited the post to add this point, thank you!

      • Highlander

        To be fair, MyOwnPerson mentioned this before me, I just added my two cents and a link.

      • Sally

        Excellent point! How could Debi even admit she asked God for insight and then got some!? Why didn’t she ask Michael for the insight?

      • badgerchild

        Maybe she did. The voice of God = Michael, right?

      • NeaDods

        That’s what I’m thinking. Michael loaded on the guilt and horror; she’s just passing it on.

      • NeaDods

        He may well have issued it to her. (Michael, not god.)

  • badgerchild

    Oy, what a dumbass that Debi is. Failure of the young woman to adhere to the criteria in Titus 2 is not even the blasphemy in question. My mother and I talked about this at length when she was alive and I was a Christian. The obvious, plain-English reading is correct, and that the aged women are responsible for behaving as becomes respected elders, and for teaching younger women to behave properly as well, so that their actions and speech don’t reflect badly on God and cause people to say bad things about God. A full-context reading of the Titus chapter shows this very clearly. It’s related, in a way, to those verses elsewhere that caution against causing others to stumble.

    I’m continuing to be appalled at the shallow, knee-jerk, anti-intellectual manner in which Debi deliberately misunderstands and misinterprets her own Bible. I wonder what she would say if she realized she was committing the very act cautioned against by the passage she quotes.

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      I don’t think she’d ever admit it. She’s built her fortune on scare tactics and telling women they’re wrong unless they do it like her.

      • Niemand

        If she admits that she’s wrong then she has to admit that she’s spent much of her life making herself and others (including her children) miserable for no good reason. That revelation may be too much to bear. I don’t think she can repent and admit her wrongdoing any more.

      • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

        Plus, by this point, Michael would have to admit that he was wrong before she’d ever admit that she’s wrong. Head of the house and all that; she was just following her man, like the Bible says!

  • Niemand

    Excuse the dumb question, but exactly how does one go about blaspheming the holy ghost? And why is it a worse sin than eating babies or dropping atomic weapons on cities?

    • badgerchild

      I’ve become fully convinced over the years that “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” means no more and no less than declaring that the divinely inspired declarations of a prophet or elder (that is, the guidance of the Holy Spirit) are bogus. The “sin” is “unforgivable” because you’re directly contradicting “authority”. It’s an attempt to forestall people saying, “Hey, wait a minute, what did you just say, you old fraud?” and causing people to *think* about what they just heard instead of simply mindlessly obeying.

      • badgerchild

        Come to think of it, it’s also “unforgivable” in another way because if you are at the point where you are rejecting the teaching of authorities in the faith, you are considered to be calling into question the whole edifice. How could you be forgiven if you don’t even accept the authority that says you are a sinner? (I suspect I have C.S. Lewis to thank for that line of thinking.)

      • Niemand

        Makes sense, in a twisted sort of way. If you’re going to go around making dubious and mutually contradictory rules it’s probably best to make sure no one questions you about them too closely. It’s a good rule to have from the point of view of propagating the system. From the point of view of making the people in the system happy and giving them long and productive lives…not so much.

      • phantomreader42

        I think the fact that it’s deliberately left poorly-defined is a part of it too. Keep the sheep cowering in mortal terror that they might break a rule they have no hope of understanding.

    • Jolie

      For the same reason why crossdressing is much worse than being emotionally abusive :))) tee hee hee

      • Liz

        Mention crossdressing and see how quickly we get to child molesters…. And my head explodes.

    • Jayn

      Well, the Bible never says to not drop atomic bombs on cities, so obviously it isn’t as bad as blasphemy or there’d be Scripture against it ;)

      • Niemand

        I’m pretty sure this one’s covered under the prohibition against committing murder.

      • Makoto

        But it does condone genocide, which apparently is separate from individual murder. In that case, atomic weapons might be more keeping to the bible…

      • Niemand

        Yeah, murder is wrong, but genocide is ok (if the target is appropriate.) Huh?

    • Lyssa D

      The way I have always interpreted that ‘blaspheming the Spirit’ is to hear the leading of the Spirit within you and deny it, either by ignoring Its message or by doing something opposing what It is telling you to do. For an atheist, it would be similar to going against what your conscience tells you to do in a situation, doing something you know to be wrong. The person who eats babies knowing it was wrong would be guilty of greater sin than the brain damaged person who somehow didn’t realize that eating babies is wrong.

      Of course, the fear blaspheming was never driven into me, so I was free to be pretty open-minded with it. Fundamentalists apparently have a different interpretation.

      • badgerchild

        Of course, first you have to “hear the leading of the Spirit within you”. The exception of Quakers aside, the only fully accepted Christian way of doing that is by checking it to see if it matches the “leading of the Spirit” as previously expressed by respected authorities in the faith.

      • Lyssa D

        It depends on your denomination. Mine taught me that personal experience (i.e. ‘Spirit-leading,’ observations of the world, reason) and authority (i.e. scripture, scholars, pastors) have equal weight, and if there is a contradiction between the two, it should be explored.

        This is similiar to the point the author made about Debi’s rhetorical questions – her experience of life contradicted her understanding of Titus. Unfortunately, Debi doesn’t believe in adjusting her understanding of scripture.

        But this is examining the Pearl’s beliefs and not mine. I was just trying to answer a question.

      • Sally

        As Lyssa says, depends on the denomination. I know a lot of evangelicals who think the Spirit is leading them to do something and the way they find out if that’s right is to do it and see what happens. If it works out well, then they’re “in God’s will.” If it turns out poorly, then that’s a message that they misread the first message and need to change course. There’s actually no shame in this, and many freely admit they had to change course “because I thought I was being led to do X, but it looks like I’m supposed to do Y now.”
        I have often thought that the Pearls likely think this way and the fact that their books sell means to them that the content of the books is correct. The success is God’s way of confirming that. If God didn’t approve of the content, he wouldn’t let them sell well. I don’t know that they think that way, but I do know a lot of people who do.

    • Alix

      The blaspheming the holy ghost thing is one of the parts of the NT that makes the least sense to me. Others have covered different bits, but one interesting interpretation someone shared with me once was that the holy spirit is essentially the deified conscience, and so blaspheming it would be, essentially, being uncompassionate, lacking empathy, trampling on others, and so on. He backed this up by pointing to the strong social-justice emphasis in the Gospels.

      Not sure that’s very widespread – he’s the only person I ever met who had that view. But it’s interesting.

  • BobaFuct

    The blaspheming the holy ghost thing becomes laughably facepalm-worthy when discussed by strict trinitarians…”so you could blaspheme god, but not the holy spirit and be okay…but the holy spirit is god, so we can’t blaspheme god…but god is three distinct parts and the bible is literal truth, so when it says holy spirit is must specifically mean the holy spirit…but by blaspheming the holy spirit, we’re by definition blaspheming god…”

    • badgerchild

      “How to keep a Trinitarian busy.”

      (I refer here to the old joke about the card with two sides.)

  • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

    This latching onto some number of specific rules, generally based in
    some individual Bible passage, is actually quite common in
    fundamentalist and evangelical circles. It reminds me of all those
    magazine and internet articles detailing the five things you need to do
    to win your man or the seven things you just have to understand about
    women. It’s very formulaic and more than a little simplistic.

    Well, it’s also good marketing. I mean, if I were to ever write a relationship guide (something I have no business doing, by the way), it would never sell. Mainly because I’d choose a way-too-honest title like “Some Things I’ve Found Helpful in Building and Maintaining Healthy Relationships, Which You May or May Not Find Helpful Because There are Always Situations in Which My Suggestions May Be Counterproductive and There Are No Guarantees Anyway and You Could Do Everything ‘Right’ and Still End Up Breaking Up.”

    • dj_pomegranate

      I would read that book.

      • badgerchild

        I would read its sequel, “8 Reasons Why You’re Not a Failure Even If Your Relationship Fails”.

      • TLC

        And I would get together with Lunch Meat for rum! :-D

      • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

        Personally, I suspect that would be the better choice. ;)

    • Lunch Meat

      If I wrote that, the content of the book would just be “Silly, how can I give you advice without knowing anything about you? Call this number to exchange this book for a chat over coffee (or tea, or juice, or rum) with me.”

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      I would write one called “Give Me Your Money and I’ll Tell You Generic Things to Do.”
      It could be a series: money matters, relationships, child raising, cleaning, etc.

    • TLC

      One of the things I’ve learned since I left the church is how many rules I was wrapped up in, and how “holy” that made me feel. It’s very easy to think you’re living a “Godly” lifestyle because you have all these criteria, and you meet them. Or you’re striving to meet them, which keeps you busy. But you’re so busy looking at yourself and your rules that you forget to look for God — much like the Pharisees did. They were so caught up in following their rules that they didn’t see God when he stood right before them.

      What I’ve learned is that you don’t find God in the rules. I had to strip them all away, close my Bible, stay out of the Christian bookstore, shut off the Christian music, get rid of my “prayer time.” Then I just had to listen, and BE. I found God again — and in a much better way than I had before!

      But tell a “good Christian” to strip away the trappings and the rules, and they’ll FREAK OUT. Most don’t know how to do it without the props.

    • Mel

      Mine would be “Here’s a list of all the things I’ve worried about in the past that don’t actually matter at all.”

      • Jackie

        I got that list from a friend with grown children when mine were teenagers. Wish she’d shared it sooner!

  • Niemand

    Oddly enough, I actually do a lot of what Debi says that a Christian woman should, despite being a decadent atheist. Love my children and partner? Definitely! Be sober? Sure. I don’t actually like alcohol anyway and honestly hate the way people act when drunk (sorry for the judginess but I’ve never been able to rid myself of the feeling, even when I know that it’s rather silly.) Good? Well, that’s not really for me to judge. Chaste? Well, I had a health scare recently and wanted an HIV test done. The person counseling me called me an essentially zero risk. But perhaps that revelation suggests that I could do better with the discretion command.

    Obedient? Actually, yes. I trust my partner and if he says I should do X, I will very likely do X because I know from experience that he wouldn’t tell me to do that without a good reason. In short, I obey him because he’s earned my trust. He obeys me for the same reason. We don’t order each other around for any reason but absolute necessity, of course, because that’s not how you keep someone’s love and respect, but if he says, “duck”, I’ll do so without bothering to verify whether a weeping angel has thrown a vase at me or not first.

    The thing is, these behaviors come naturally to me. I don’t love my children because someone told me to, but because it’s natural for me to do so. How could it not be when I had them willingly and with a person I loved and trusted and in reasonable physical and financial security? Why should people need to be taught or commanded to be sober, chaste, etc? Shouldn’t they learn from the example of their elders and from the elders’ encouragement to know themselves well before committing to a relationship so that they will have a better chance of having a partner that they love and respect (and so are willing to obey when necessary)?

    • badgerchild

      I was going to say rather a lot about this, but I’ll content myself with pointing out that they have to be taught or commanded to be sober and chaste and honest because earlier in their development they were taught (by example no doubt) to be indulgent, selfish, and manipulative.

      • MyOwnPerson

        I have two theories on this:
        1. It makes people feel better to be constantly reminded that they’re following the rules. You make a rule that is fairly easy to follow for most people and then they can check off that box. Warm fuzzies and reasons to judge others all around!
        2. They’ve been so sheltered from the real world they’ve been denied the object lessons that most people get. One way to ensure that bad behavior won’t be repeated is to do it and then receive unpleasant natural consequences. If you never experience that you’re left with, “But what if I, just once…”

      • badgerchild

        That’s a good point. “Don’t eat rocks” becomes a mandate when you want to set yourself apart from and above those sinful people who succumb to the temptation to eat rocks, despite the fact that it would occur naturally to practically nobody to eat rocks. And when a believer tries eating a rock just to see what all the fuss is about, they can be controlled through their guilt.

    • Sally

      This is one of the many issues I have with Christianity. Why do adults have to hear the same messages over and over and over again in church? Isn’t the Holy Spirit guiding them? Weren’t they made new when they accepted Jesus into their hearts?

    • Christine

      I actually really dislike obedience being touted as a virtue for anyone. I have a “Book of Manners” for young children that came in a box from a friend. (I have no idea why she’d have such an Evangelical book in the first place.) It says that one of the rules for when you go to school was to obey the teacher. It really rubbed me the wrong way.

      Yes, I expect my daughter to do what I tell her to. But obedience, to me, implies that she should just do whatever I tell her, because I told her. (I expect her to clean up her Duplo because it makes a mess, not because Mommy said to clean them up, etc.)

      • Alix

        There are very specific situations where obedience as you define it is necessary. Being a military historian, for me the go-to example is the heat of battle, but it’s not the only such situation, and what they all have in common is that they’re high-stress, lives-on-the-line situations where people stopping to question things can wreck everything.

        That is, needless to say, entirely different from ordinary life.

    • Monika Jankun-Kelly

      No reason to apologize for not drinking, nor for being disgusted by drunken behavior. I’m the same way. There’s NOTHING silly nor judgy about objecting to drunkenness. I won’t bother someone who chooses to impair themselves at home, without making it someone else’s problem in any way. However, drunkenness is self-harm at best and gets others killed in the worst case. If we generalized about all drinkers, or objected to people drinking responsibly, that’d be a problem. Objecting to drunkenness isn’t.

    • Karen

      In a perfect world, Nieman. In a perfect world….

    • http://abasketcase.blogspot.com/ Basketcase

      Oddly, having left the church, I’m similar. Its in my nature I think.

  • skyblue

    Aren’t fear and threats the primary motivators in fundamentalist life in general?

    Is there anything more terrifying than the threat of eternal, unending torture after death?

    And the fears keeping people in line throughout their lives:
    “Don’t leave your (abusive) husband – nobody respects a divorced woman”
    “Don’t question our interpretation of the Bible, you’ll lose your faith”

    “Don’t teach your kids science, they’ll question the Bible”
    and so on.

    I wonder how many young women are pressured into marriages with Michael Pearl-types because they’re afraid of the stigma of being an unmarried woman in fundamentalist culture.

    • Sally

      “I wonder how many young women are pressured into marriages with Michael Pearl-types because they’re afraid of the stigma of being an unmarried woman in fundamentalist culture.”
      Unless they’re really in deep and expected to become “stay-at-home-daughters” who are help meets to their fathers like the Botkin sisters.

      • skyblue

        Oh, good point!

        I don’t know a lot about that situation, but wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t at least somewhat fear-based as well, they were likely never given options other than “women staying home”.

        But a big factor is probably also the father’s selfishness/narcissism.

  • Mel

    Piggybacking on badgerchild – there is a long history of biblical studies on Titus 2 in mainline Protestant and Catholic churches. Titus was writing to deal with a specific problem in a specific community at a specific time. The community he was writing to had many young widows whose behavior was too similar to the local pagan community. The young widows were not necessarily sinning – the early church was simply trying to make clear distinctions between cultural behaviors that were acceptable for converts and behaviors that were too tightly related to other local religions. By having the older women teach the younger women behaviors that were less like the local religious rituals, Titus and other church members were making it easier for everyone to see the difference between the two groups and avoid leading a new convert into participating in a local pagan celebration and thereby blaspheme.

    Long story short: The young women’s behavior was not blasphemy; the potential confusion caused by their behavior compared to other local religions may lead to accidental worship of a pagan god which is blasphemy. It’s not as catchy, but much more accurate.

    • Sally

      “It’s not as catchy, but much more accurate.”
      And makes a heck-of-a-lot more sense.

    • Alix

      And of course, that very culture-bound context means that it may not be exactly applicable to modern cultures.

      • Mel

        I can’t say I’ve ever had to think about if new converts can understand the difference between eating meat sacrificed to a pagan god and participating in a ritual glorifying the aforementioned god.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        Some people believe that halal meat has been sacrificed to Mohammed. Not saying they are correct tho…

  • Mira

    While I still dislike religion in general (no hate, just don’t like it much) and have some serious issues because of the schools I went to that were religious based, I’m incredibly grateful that I had parents who while promoting the Christian lifestyle made sure we never felt like we had to lose our agency to a man. My wonky family is the reason I’ve stood up for myself time and time again–and the reason that they never pressured me into marriage or a specific lifestyle. It helps that they’re very understanding people, too.
    Why the focus on the doom and gloom, the terror, and the hate? That’s a poor series of traits to sell your religion. Christianity has evolved quite a bit past that in the non-fundamentalist circles, and it’s definitely for the better.

    • Cathy W

      Some people like carrots, some people like sticks. Taken to an extreme, I’ve heard a case made that Christianity is actually two separate religions, worshipping two different gods: the God of Love (who mostly wants us to be nice to each other), and the God of Law (a big-time smiter).
      I suspect the Authoritarian Follower personality type digs the God of Law: “Here are the rules, plain and simple; follow them. If you don’t follow them, there will be Dire Consequences. You really don’t want that.” So their whole life becomes about the avoidance of Dire Consequences, even as “living in fear; missing out on joy as a result” becomes a dire consequence all its own. And this seems to be Debi’s god and Debi’s audience.

      • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

        I’ve always been confused by that! As a Mormon, I was taught that Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament. I never understood how the Smiting God of the OT was the “Love everyone” hippie of the NT.

      • Alix

        …I will say, though, that it’s not as simple as OT-God being authoritarian and NT-God being a liberal love-fest. There are ample examples of authoritarian/legalistic religion in the NT (a lot of Paul’s interpretations strike me as this, and Revelation is very OT in style) and divine love in the OT (Song of Songs, if you read it as religious metaphor; Jonah). And obviously the examples aren’t exhaustive.

      • Mira

        Speaking from experience, I think that the Authoritarian mindset is symptomatic of deepseated insecurity. Having rules–lots of them–prevents you from having to think about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. When questioned, you just say “I was following orders.” On the home front I have to deal with people acting like that. My boyfriend’s mom has recently reconverted to Islam, and I think it’s a way of her trying to “make up for” living normally and not really following Islam at all for 20+ years. Now she’s afraid of “hell” and wants those rules because it provides a degree of mental and emotional security, as well as a veneer for flagrant hypocrisy that the uber religious are so often guilty of perpetuating.

      • Cathy W

        I can see there being a certain amount of comfort in “Here is the list of rules; follow them all, and you won’t go to hell.” It’s a little weird that this crops up in Christianity when Jesus basically told off the guy who asked him for a list of rules.

      • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

        For much of my life I liked rules alot. I was the child of a bipolar alcoholic and a Vietnam vet with a bad case of PTSD. When you grow up like that, you have don’t have the sense of normal that most people have. Hense, to get some order in life, I decided to figure out the rules. Mainly I was interested in rules for myself, to get some grip on life.
        My point in mentioning this is to say that there is more than one reason to be a rules person. I wasn’t nasty about it to others, at least i don’t think so. I do think that some people from unstable backgrounds latch onto rules the way i did, to bring some order to the chaos. Then, they go to the dark side, and get all crazy on everyone around them about terrible things that will happen if the rules are violated.
        But my further point is that wounded and vulnerable people are very susceptible to falling into this approach to life. Debi is giving out alot of hell, but she suffers her own share of it too.

      • Highlander

        There is actually quite a lot of scholarly work done on the documentary hypothesis which proposes that the pentatuch was derived from separate complete narratives that were later combined by a series of editors. Some of the narratives have the scary smiter god and some have the fuzzy lover god. This combination explains the two different creation stories, the two different ten commandments stories and so on.

      • Lyssa D

        My grandfather actually had a Bible that used a different font for each of the four major writers. The Old Testament made so much more sense when I read it like that.

      • Highlander

        I don’t think I could make it all the way through the Pentatuch again, otherwise I would be interested in reading that version of the bible.

      • Alix

        …out of curiosity, do you remember the version name?

      • Lyssa D

        It was by James Moffatt in 1935. I don’t know if the font thing has been done in all the publications, but he also rearranged the verses to try to put the streams of thought in order. That pissed some people off, but it made the whole thing much more readable.

      • Alix

        Thank you very much!

      • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

        That sounds really really interesting.

      • trinity91

        the way the difference between the OT and NT was taught to me growing up* is that God never changed. He’s still just as mean, jealous, and spiteful as ever. Jesus, on the other hand, is not because while he understands everything of the divinity because he IS the divinity, he is also fully human. He has human emotion and understands us much better than God alone does. That is the reason why God needed to send his son, not just so that we had a path to salvation, but because after the fall our ways were not his ways and he couldn’t understand why we did what we did. Jesus’s job above all else was to bring understanding of his creation.

        *I feel like I should tell everyone here that I’m an atheist so I don’t actually believe in any of this wonky stuff

      • Composer 99

        So much for omniscience in that case, eh?

      • AnonaMiss

        To quote a pretty decent flautist,

        And you wise men don’t know how it feels
        To be thick as a brick.

      • “Rebecca”

        This was pretty close to what I believed shortly before giving up on religion altogether. The cognitive dissonance between genocide-God and loves-everyone God was too great to deal with any other way.

      • katiehippie

        I never thought that worked very well as an argument though. Jesus IS God and was always there even before he was born as a man. So Jesus was mean and spiteful as well. Now it really makes no sense to me.

      • phantomreader42

        I’ve considered how to represent something close to the christian god in a D&D-style setting (where the gods are actual entities that have clearly-defined alignments and grant real power to their followers, but are also empowered and shaped by those followers), and one thought I had would be that said god had been driven insane by the conflicting demands of believers. It’s hard to pin down an overall alignment that takes into account all the various aspects, because they just don’t work together. You have Ground of All Being (N), Worship Me Or I’ll Burn You Forever (LE), Do Justly And Love Mercy (LG), Screw The Rules Just Love Your Neighbor (CG), Let’s Murder That Dude’s Family To Win A Bet (CE), and so many others. If a god actually existed whose survival and power depended on being all those things to his followers, then I’d expect it to suffer some kind of mental breakdown if not a literal fragmenting of its personality.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        I’d think a pantheon of Father (NE), Son (NG), and Holy Spirit (TN) would probably satisfy it. Father has two sects, priests/church hierarchy are LE and cultists are CE. Son has two sects; paladin orders LG and random wandering priests CG. Druids, rangers, and other nature-y types as well as non-pious folks worship/acknowledge/are claimed by Spirit.

      • phantomreader42

        A campaign idea that just came to me is an out-of-touch LE smiter god sending an avatar to be born among humans, and said avatar growing up and being less of a horrible bastard, then being murdered by his father’s own priests (who, being evil cultists of an LE god find human sacrifice perfectly normal) and merging with the god, creating a split personality, which in turn causes cosmic-level problems because this god is now splitting into shards or going nuts and the balance of divine power is out of whack.

      • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

        Hehe, I like it!

        Also, who would downvote such a post? Boo to whoever that was.

      • Alix

        …or it just has to be a particularly clever trickster. XD

        (That’s actually often the view that makes the most sense to me, reading the Bible.)

      • B.E. Miller

        It’s all Loki’s fault!
        (and why am I now seeing this as some comic book plot?)

      • B.E. Miller

        OMG, god is suffering from MPD.
        Sorry, I just had to be silly there…

    • http://musings.northerngrove.com/ JarredH

      I think Bob Altemeyer’s book, The Authoritarians offers some insights.

      • Cathy W

        Wish I could upvote this a lot. Highly recommended if you haven’t read it.

      • TLC

        Oh, THANK YOU for posting this link. I found this book on my iPad last night, and could not remember why I downloaded it. Now I know!

        And so far, it’s a great book!

  • wanderer

    So, let me be sure I get this…. according to Debi’s religion, once you get saved, you’re going to heaven.
    Unless you blaspheme the holy spirit.
    Here Debi is saying if you don’t follow her words you are not blaspheming the holy spirit, but you are blaspheming god’s word…
    Which means exactly WHAT in the light of her understanding of eternal punishment? They’re going to let you into the “blasphemer’s heaven” instead of the real one?
    She doesn’t really say what’s going to happen if you blaspheme god’s word. I’m guessing it’s because she doesn’t actually know what will happen and doesn’t want us to realize it’s an empty threat.

    • http://yllommormon.blogspot.com/ aletha

      Thaaaaaat’s Debi! Empty threats and duplex fears.

  • TLC

    Wow. This has to be one of the worst examples of twisting and torturing Scripture I have ever seen. To use the term “blasphemy” in this context is cruel and manipulative. And unfortunately, most of the readers of this book have been so conditioned to be obedient and unquestioning that they won’t do the research and check out the meaning of the words and these verses.

  • Frimp

    But…but…how could Debi possibly have been answered by God? She’s a woman, and she herself has said that women can’t talk to Him! Silly Debi; those “messages” are just the misfirings of your unreliable lady-brain of wretched sin, remember?

    (Internal consistency: not the Pearls’ strong point)

  • Kellen Connor

    I used to get angry at Debi, but reading that CTNAHM review alongside this one just makes me want to weep for her. (Okay, I still get a little angry.)

  • jhlee

    Debi is showing classic right-wing authoritarian behavior and cognitive traits, controlling through fear and unaware of her own contradictions. I’m not sure if she’s an authoritarian follower or Social Dominator (authoritarian leader); my guess is she’s both, a Double High/dominating authoritarian personality.

    Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, a free online book, should be required reading for anyone interested in extremism of all kinds. I read it on an overseas flight, and by the time the plane touched down fundie insanity made a whoooole lot more sense to me.

    • Alix

      Bob Altemeyer’s The Authoritarians, a free online book, should be required reading.

      FTFY. XD

      But seriously, that book is quite possibly the only one I really do think should be required reading for everyone.

      • jhlee

        LOL. I didn’t want to make too sweeping a claim, but I agree with you. :D

  • Kate Monster

    I feel like “Sodomite Predator” is going to be my favorite chapter of this section. Like, it’s going to be the worst/best.

    Also, it’s definitely somebody’s really amazing roller derby name.

  • http://tellmewhytheworldisweird.blogspot.com/ perfectnumber628

    Huh. I kind of interpret the “that the word of God be not blasphemed” from Titus 2 to mean, women should follow these guidelines in order to be respected in society so others will think well of Christianity.

    So, nowadays, if Christians teach that women have to be submissive and all that, people think we’re stuck in the dark ages and we don’t value women. Which doesn’t really lend itself well to “that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Soooooooooooooooooooo if the goal is to have the word of God respected by others, then teaching women to be doormats isn’t really the way to go about it.

    But of course Debi has other ideas……….


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