Patriarchy IS in the Bible … I think it's even in the Godhead which is part of the reason I've tossed Him out of my life ;-)

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Okay ~ I’ve noticed that over on my “We’ve been thinking” post about the Birth Control/Abortion Connection ~ you all are already posting comments about just how “Biblical” the whole patriarchy/women’s submission/male headship-thing is …

Since I’m such an organized person, I’d really like to have that discussion under a separate post. Only I don’t have time this morning to write my thoughts down on the subject. So ~ I’ve put the summary of my thoughts in the subject title ~ and I’ll be back after a while to write the rest of it.

For now ~ don’t wait on me … go ahead and bring your thoughts and comments over here to this post. I’d love to hear from you ~ I truly appreciate the respectful tone as well as the thoughtfulness which goes into the majority of the comments which you have been contributing to this blog. You all are wonderful!

  • Jadehawk

    well, here’s my take on it: the bible was written 3000-2000 years ago. the old testament was written for and by a very patriarchal, nomadic culture, maybe a bit like the bedouins of today. having many children was important. obeying the head of the group/family was essential to survival. other tribes often got wives by simply kidnapping them from their families. so maybe all those weird rules made some sense in such a tough environment, but certainly not now. and the new testament? well, that was also trying to protect women, but women of Ancient Judea, not modern women. The no divorce rule? that was because Jews of that time could just dump their women, who then didn’t have a way of supporting themselves. similarly for the “if you touch her, you’re her husband” rule, which protected women from being seduced/raped/otherwise de-virginized and making it impossible for them to ever find husbands.but here’s the rub. for one, those originally useful rules have become distorted by those in power to have more power. the bible was written long after those rules have become part of the oral tradition, and it was rewritten several times to strenghten the bits that suited the writers. and women were always the ones who were worse off with every re-writing! two, those were rules for ancient societies. women don’t need to be protected from the outside world, and women don’t NEED a husband to avoid misery. the game has changed, so why play by the old rules? that’s just silly.and as for finding the “new rules” in the bible… well, the bible is kind of a rohrschach test, so you can justify just about everything with it. still, the text was never meant to convey an egalitarian culture. not between man and wife; not even between master and servant. (look it up. the NT doesn’t condemn slavery, it only condemns bad treatment of slaves)

  • adventuresinmercy

    Patriarchy is in the Bible…just like it’s in pretty much every time of history. But I think that seeing patriarchy as “God’s Way,” which is what Vision Forum and crew do, I think it was promised in Genesis 3:16 as part of a *fallen* (warped) world, not as a good thing, not as the ideal. In other words, they’re peddling the Curse. And we’re buying it (that’s the really sick part). I would posit that we were taught that patriarchy was a good thing, along with a great many other literalist interpretations (often *selective* literalist/fundamentalist interpretations, heh)—-that the Godhead itself was hierarchichal, no less—ad nauseum infinitum. *groaning grin* Like the verses about wives submitting. It shocked me to learn that wives, like slaves, were commanded by law to be subject. Uh, why didn’t anyone tell me that before? That possibly changes the whole meaning of those verses! But no, they keep that (important!) cultural stuff out and make the book seem like it wasn’t written to real people in real time. Lame. I discovered, as I stumbled my way out of that camp, that there are a good many other folks who follow Christ and yet don’t subscribe to any of those literalist type of things. (The literalist method of interpreting the Bible leaves MUCH to be desired…especially considering that it’s only literalist where it WANTS to be…like, say, every single verse about WOMEN, for example)… In the beginning of my journey out, even though I realized that there were other ways to read the Bible, it still took me a few months to see outside of the lit/fundamentalist lens. It was crazy! I would try and try, but it was like these glasses were stuck over my eyeballs, allowing only the fundie view through. For example, I kept reading Gen. 1-2 and seeing patriarchy, because, well, the “correct interpretation” of those chapters had been drilled into my brain by the fundamentalists, you know? But eventually, I got it… Took a few months, no joke, but eventually I saw a different story there than the one I’d been trained to see. And from there on out, it was like the whole Bible exploded and became a different book. Once I got free of those horrible glasses, it was like I was seeing a different story altogether. I’m trying to find words to explain this, and I’m guessing there just really aren’t any. I will say that, yeah, I have rejected that “God” too, the “God” that wanted me in subjection and would only speak through my husband to me, etc. But for me, in the process of coming out of that camp I discovered that it wasn’t God doing that to me at all. And even more strange, I began to remember many different times where I think He was trying to get my attention, trying to help me see the mess I was in… But I wouldn’t listen to Him (so sure I was that He was the devil *sad laugh*). Probably the single most mind blowing book to me (after my fundamentalist lens was off) was Galatians, the tale of Christ-followers who turn back to the Law. Woah. That was me, that was exactly what I was doing. And Paul promised them that when they were busy performing law in exchange for righteousness, that “Christ was of no effect to them.” No wonder God had seemed so distant all that time, even though I used His name on a regular basis… I don’t know. It’s hard to talk about and hard to explain, because it’s so experiential, you know? It’s my experience with God, making it impossible for me to deny, and yet equally impossible to communicate in a nice neat clean fashion. Heh! Long story short, I totally “get” how someone would leave off a belief in God. Oh man, I wanted to. I really really wanted to. I was so angry and sick about what had been done to me in His name, about what *I* let happen to me because of my desire to be His. But I couldn’t, because He was there the whole time, helping me take each painful step to get out. I just had to re-learn (and still am) who He is. It’s kind of like my old Bible school Greek teacher after reading The Shack… He said, “Do you think it’s real? Do you think that’s what God is really like?” Both of our thoughts were, like, “It’s the kind of God you WISH existed, the kind of God you WANT to follow, but…well, it’s almost too good to be true. It’s everything that we were taught NOT to believe about Him…” But yet it *is* the kind of God that would go hang out with tax-collectors and prostitutes and that would really tick off Pharisees… which I distinctly remember Jesus doing. So, yeah, God probably is more like the Shack God than the version of Him taught by the fundamentalists. Rambling my way out… Just wanting to say that I see how someone could see all of this differently and respect wherever and whatever place you end up in. This incoherant ramble is where I’ve ended up thus far. Not with a lot of systematic theology answers anymore, no, but with a very definite sense of God. Warmly,Molly

  • Charis

    Patriarchy did not begin until after “the Fall”. Before the Fall, male and female were equal and were given co-regency over creation (Gen 1:26-28). They were vegetarians (Gen 1:29), and animals were not afraid of humans (until Gen 9:1ff when animals were given them as food). The serpent (identified as Satan by Rev 12:9, Satan= “the devil”) deceived the woman and she ate of the forbidden fruit. Adam was not deceived (1 Tim 2:14) but chose rebellion against God (Job 31:33, Hosea 6:7) and is held responsible for “the Fall” (link).“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8I take that to mean undoing “the Fall” and giving us the opportunity to return to the Garden of Eden condition: where man and woman were equal co-regents, naked and unashamed, walking with God in the cool of the day. I must admit that I see more reflection of the victory of the cross over the devil’s work in a marriage of equal partners, respecting each other, enjoying unity of spirit and a bond of peace even if they aren’t “christians”, they are fulfilling Romans 2:14 “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves” I was thinking about this blog and how the whole awful patriarchal lifestyle and the pain it inflicts on the wives and children is a fulfillment of this scripture “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you” Rom 2:24 The lifestyle character assassinates God and defies what Jesus came to do which is to set us FREE.

  • aimai

    I come from a different tradition vis a vis the bible and hell, I’m an atheist. But I’ve read a lot of both bibles–both ours and yours, as it were, and a hell of a lot of theology and sociology on the subject. And every year around this time we perform our own Passover Seder based on a Haggadah I wrote drawing on classic Haggadahs, Kabbalistic approaches to interpreting the Seder, and a Seder I “gave” to my sister in law’s bible study group.The notion that “the bible” is a single thing–a seamless web of connected stories dictated by a single divine being and spanning genesis through the “New Testament” is historically nonsense. We simply know its not true. Once you accept that fact you have to ask yourself what it means to ascribe to, say, the council of Nicea, some kind of super-historical and super-cultural knowledge of god’s will that enabled them to take disparate man written texts and unify them into a whole that needs to be treated *as though* it is god’s word. And then again with all later translations and emendations. Me, I find it impossible to believe that any person is closer to god, and knows what god wants, than myself. I’ve yet to meet such a person in real life. So when I look back into history I don’t think, as many christian believers do, that there was any time when my pastor, or my pastor’s pastor, or my rabbi, or anyone else’s rabbi, knew what god wanted and could stand in for me and let me know. Reading theology–both christian and jewish–makes my position the sane one since at no time in the history of any religion have all known authorities agreed on anything. In the Christian tradition they couldn’t even agree on whether Jesus was literally the physical son of god, adopted by god but human, transformed from human to godlike on the cross, or transformed from human to god after death. If they can’t figure that out, what else is up for grabs?Its very easy to get hung up on these literalist discussions of the words in various bible translations–we’ve already seen that on this web site with people offering various interpretations of “headship” and “followership” and did Paul mean “just the church” or did he, by extension, really mean “husband and wife?” But of course its interpretation all the way down (sorry, old anthropology joke)even a “literal” interpretation becomes a study in metaphoric extension when you start talking about whether the church is a family, or like a family, and whether the family is like the church, or is a church. And you can see strands of all those extensions in the christianist and patriarchal (and especially mormon patriarchal polygamous families) families.I, personally, love to study Torah and read the NT and study theology, to talk about it, and to think about it. But I really sympathize with and approve of Vyckie’s choosing to throw the whole thing overboard. There is simply no way to accept most of judaism or christianity as helpful for women, or healthy for them, without throwing most of it out the window. The sexism and the authoritarianism is built right in. I think you can make a good argument that Jesus, of all Rabbis and first Christians, tried to throw out the family orientation, the fixation on sex and sexuality, the obsession with this worldly wealth and authority. But Paul and the others and everyone who had to live in this world or rule the Roman empire brought it right back in.aimai

  • Jadehawk

    “The literalist method of interpreting the Bible leaves MUCH to be desired…especially considering that it’s only literalist where it WANTS to be…”well… even the most liberal christians do that. they just WANT it to be literalist in much fewer places. at least i’ve never met a devout christian who didn’t believe in the resurrection. but if you really want to read it non-literarily and sort of objectively, you have to take everything that’s supernatural or even just unproven historically with a LARGE grain of salt. and in that case, the resurrection might well be a metaphor for “you can kill the man, but you can’t kill the idea”. and then you’re in agnostic territory already, because a purely human philosopher named Jesus isn’t what Christianity teaches. (and I’m not even going to get into the debates over the historicity of Jesus right now).What I’m trying to say is, as long as you’re ANY flavor of Christian, no matter how liberal, you’re still choosing to take some parts literally, and some parts figuratively. it’s all a matter of degree. Most liberal (and actually even most conservative) Christians don’t take their morals from the bible, they take their morals to the bible to have them confirmed.and I have to say that the literalists have it right when they believe that an all-powerful god would be able to protect his Word from human tampering. I just come to a different conclusion than them, namely that the bible IS severely tampered with, and that god didn’t prevent that makes me think there isn’t one, or he doesn’t much care about what people think and do.

  • Susanne

    The Bible starts with Eve eating the apple and then sharing with Adam. When God comes to ask Adam what he’s done, Adam peevishly replies, “It was that woman you made for me”. God’s fault, woman’s fault, Adam blames literally everyone in the world but himself. The rotton core of patriarchy begins right there.

  • Anonymous

    KineslawFirst off I want to thank you Vyckie for the questions you ask. Reading this blog has made me really examine how I view God. I grew up Episcopalian in Dallas, which gives one a view of both sides of the biblical literalism debate. I understand why taking the bible literally would be attractive. Moral judgments are just hard. If you had to walk across a minefield would you rather someone say “put your foot on each of the cut-outs and you’ll be safe” or “ We’re 95% sure you will be safe if you stay on this path, but use your best judgment when you see piles of leaves or tripwires.” Like Molly said, the more literally you take the bible, the more patriarchal it becomes. Taken literally you can also find verses supporting anything you want to do. Was the sin of Sodom one of homosexual sex or hospitality? Is slavery ok? What about shrimp? I grew up in one of the most conservative Episcopal diocese in the country (Ft. Worth). The diocese didn’t allow women priests and the reasoning was that Jesus didn’t have any female Apostles. Thee broader Church had female priests because Jesus chose to first reveal his risen self to women and gave them the mission of sharing that he yet lived. The larger Episcopal Church supports gay priests because God created homosexual humans and commanded Christians to love their neighbors as their self. The conservative dioceses quote Paul (quite possibly a repressed gay man himself) and Leviticus. This has come to a head lately because I left the Church I grew up in when I realized I was gay. I didn’t feel comfortable staying in a Church that was not willing to accept me in all my God-created humanness. My Mom stayed, and while it hurt me a little bit I was okay with it. Then the diocese began the two-year process of breaking away and I told my Mom I would not appreciate her staying in a Church that broke away because they couldn’t stand to treat gay people equally, especially on such flimsy evidence that God did not approve of us. My opinion is that any church that used to Bible to uphold slavery in the Sounth should be very careful about using the Bible to uphold other social injustices. This tension between love for me and love for the Church she has attended for almost 30 years has caused my Mom to have a spiritual crisis. She is having a hard time balancing love for me with the love she has for the parish and the wrongness of the diocese. I’m not putting any pressure on her and am trying to help her work through it, but a few Bible verses have created a mess of a situation in more families than mine, I am sure. This has been rambling, but I will close with this thought. Religion is the most constructive force in the universe. And religion is the most destructive force in the universe. Kinelsaw

  • Anonymous

    I would like to re-post here a comment I posted in another blogpost, because it’s also germane to this blog:I think the problem is that there is a fundamentalist way of reading the Bible, that starts from certain presuppositions. Starting from those presuppositions, you get a certain way of reading ALL of the Bible. But there are other ways of understanding the Bible that change the whole way it is read.Fundamentalists (and atheists, too) usually read the Bible like a “memo from the Boss” which is supposed to read the same way to us (“plain-sense”) as it did to the original audience. Read this way, it is not just the truths of the Bible, but the whole cultural context in which the Bible was transmitted, that are supposed to be preserved. If we take our own understandings of what a text means, and without reference to what it meant to the original audience (such as whether it was challenging them to slowly but surely move away from the strict patriarchy or bloody tribalism they had always known), we will, beyond doubt, find the Bible primitive, tribal, patriarchal and bloody.But the Bible is not a “memo from the Boss,” and the cultures in which the Bible was written are not being given divine sanction. We are not supposed to perpetuate the cultures in which the Bible was received, as if they were part of the truths conveyed by the Bible!With this understanding, research is necessary to ascertain how the Bible would have been understood in the original cultures. God’s gradual, redemptive work in each culture thus becomes apparent. God is working in and through human culture, not giving it some sort of blanket approval just because He spoke to people within the assumptions they were making at the time. Understand the assumptions, and you understand where God was trying to lead the people. And it was always, slowly but surely, AWAY from patriarchy and prejudice, and TOWARDS equality, freedom, and compassion.KR Wordgazer

  • aimai

    Love the idea of a “memo from the boss!” KR Wordgazer, you’ve got a gift.aimai

  • EK

    EK says:I find many of the textual arguments raised by egalitarian and liberal Christians to be well-researched, tenable, and, ultimately, quite convincing. But then, I have to be honest and state that the only reason I am pre-disposed to finding these arguments convincing is because I have a vested interest in finding to be “true, after all” the religion in which I was raised and which I feel most personally attracted to.I am originally from a country in which Muslims are the single largest religious group. The truth is, if I’m being honest, that whenever self-described “moderate Muslims” and “egalitarian Muslims” make similar contextual, “whole-picture” arguments about tricky verses in the Quran, my first instinct is skepticism. As a non-Muslim (or non-Hindu or non-religion X), I am inclined to be more skeptical of the claims of its liberal members suggesting that suras/verses like “[you should] tie up [non-Muslims] and cut their throats” must be viewed in the original context in which 7th century non-Muslim tribes were attacking the Muslim ones, and Muslims needed to survive. As an outsider, I think to myself, “Gee, that’s a pretty interpretation and I’d like to believe it, but aren’t these moderate and liberal Muslims just going through hoops trying to defend the religion with which they culturally and spiritually identify?”I have animist African and Plains Indian friends who make similar apologias for their traditional religions’ exclusions of women from certain spheres. Wanting to be invested in their own cultural religion, they argue that there were historical reasons that made sense *at the time* for why women’s genitals should be cut (African) or why menstruating women should be excluded from social life (Plains Indian). So, if that’s my reaction to the liberal interpretions of Muslims, Hindus, animists, etc, then what is my excuse for accepting the textual interpretations of liberal Christians?Everyone is perosnally invested in making their own religion be more tenable than it appears, so who should be believed? –EK

  • EK

    I do add, though, that, after studying in undergrad and graduate school several world religions and religious systems, I still find myself returning to the person of Jesus. He intrigues and inspires me. Both his words and his actions guide the way I live my life, and I believe that, out of all the religious leaders I’ve studied, he is the one I can believe is God (I have big issues certain aspects of the other leaders’ lives, even the Buddha). I understand that fundamentalist Christians (the interpretation system I grew up with) disparage the idea of “red letter Christians” who focus on Jesus to the exclusion of the other parts of the Bible. I understand where their criticms are coming from, believe me, and think they are not entirely without merit. (And I also understand that what has been revealed to us abaout Jesus is likely only that was allowed in by the ancient church fathers; other stuff was never allowed in). I would like to learn more about the pros and cons of the “red letter Christian” (Jesus-centric) beliefs, so please share them if you care to.–EK

  • aimai

    As for me, if I could choose a religion I’d choose to be Buddhist. Since I had a religion thrust upon me I choose to be a secular, atheistical, cultural Jew. I prize the parts of my culture and heritage that created a thirst for justice and equality–my great grandparents were anarchists, for instance–and I play intellectually with the rest. Jesus was an intriguing Rabbi, and in the context of the judaism of that time was an interesting and inspiring person. When I read the New Testament I feel an immense welling up of pity because it seems clear–to the extent that any of those accounts can be taken as factual–that towards the end of his life Jesus was decompensating, becoming increasingly despondent and angry. The powerful Jesus of the beatitudes, the hopeful and loving Jesus, disappears under the struggle with his own fears. I think its pretty clear from reading the gnostic texts that were kept out of the NT prior to or at the Council of Nicea that there were other, less easily comprehensible Jesuses. Jesuses who were more mystical, less worldly, less easily applied to everyday concerns. That Jesus, like many another charismatic leader, didn’t have the necessity or the luck to survive long enough for his followers to decide that it was too tough to follow his line. Its pretty clear that an early focus, for instance, on leaving family behind for love of the new religion was abandoned in favor of a much more routinized, authoritarian model of the family with god re-inserted into the patriarchy instead of luring women and young men out of the patriarchal family. The end result of this two track history is found in Laura’s own story when Dale simultaneously requires her to focus on getting to god through him and through her submission to the patriarchal family but insists that the biblical injunction to “hate” your family enables him to abandon her spiritually (and, at times, physically) and still be doing god’s will.Many voices speaking at once is schizophrenia when its one person and one mind. Why would we think it would be any different when its one religion? Trying to make a singular sense out of a multi-stranded, centuries long dialogue about what god is and what he wants is bound and determined to lead to some serious moral breakdowns.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Aimai, I can’t take credit for “memo from the Boss.” I put it in quotes because it’s not mine. It’s from the Doxa.ws website and related blog by Metacrock, who is one of the best Christian thinkers and apologists I know of. He gives a whole other way of looking at religion, God, the Bible, everything– but still within the perspective of the living faith in the resurrected Christ that has sustained me now for 30 years. KR Wordgazer

  • adventuresinmercy

    “But the Bible is not a “memo from the Boss,” and the cultures in which the Bible was written are not being given divine sanction. We are not supposed to perpetuate the cultures in which the Bible was received, as if they were part of the truths conveyed by the Bible!” _KRWordgazer YES. Yes, that is what I was trying to say, only not nearly as well. Yes, yes, yes. I will say that IF the only option to me was to continue in the “memo from the Boss” way of seeing/reading, I would, just like many here, HAVE to throw it out. There’s just no way I could keep it. There’s no way I could worship a God like that. He would be exactly what I hate instead of the opposite. But I discovered that the “memo from the Boss” reading code is only one way to read the Bible, only one way to understand God. There are other ways. (This reminds me of the Muslims, in that we are taught that the fundamentalist Muslims are the “true” Muslims, whereas a great many other types of Muslims would say differently. Their way of practicing their faith is no less real, no less studied out…they just bring culture and background and history and sociology, etc, into play when they read their sacred text)…When I found the way that required 1.) the least amount of mental gymnastics on my part, and 2.) the greatest amount of honoring things that ring true to me (like love, joy, peace)…? Well, I went with that way. But I will admit, for the sake of intellectual honesty, that even if I hadn’t found that way of reading the Bible, I think I’d still believe in God. I can’t help it. I just love Him and I have ever since I was little, even while (heh) trying hard to hate/reject Him every now and then. So once I understood that all the garbage I’d been wading through wasn’t Him, that He wasn’t about that kind of stuff… I don’t know. So I can’t exactly explain that sense of Him being there, but it’s just the way it is for me. I suppose some might label it a type of mental illness. I don’t know. It’s just there. Again, this is so experiential. There’s just no way to explain it. But I do, I really do, get why some would decide to chuck it altogether. I was very close to that place myself.

  • Vyckie

    Ooops! I didn’t mean to delete this post. Actually, I was working on it and the next thing I knew it disappeared ~ ugh! Fortunately, I didn’t delete it permanently ~ so, please carry on with the discussion and I’ll try to be more careful about which buttons I click ;-)

  • Charis

    I think I was too judgmental above.I have to add an edit to what I posted earlier (here) Change THIS: “I was thinking about this blog and how the whole awful patriarchal lifestyle and the pain it inflicts on the wives and children is a fulfillment of this scripture…” Edit to Add: “lifestyle at its worst” because I have met some large (QF?) christian families (online) where the husband does not appear to abuse his power, and the marriage seems happy, stable, equal, and maybe even a little reflection of “the Garden of Eden”/”heaven on earth” as I think marriage- at its best- can be.

  • Nan

    Thank you for changing the template. This one is much, much easier on the eyes.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad you brought this post back, Vyckie. When I first checked in I couldn’t find it and wrongly assumed that it was because it got too hot to handle.Now that I’ve read through most of the posts I’m glad to see the respectful tone maintained by the commenters.Thanks for bringing it back.Mara Reid

  • Anonymous

    HI Vyckie, I am almost afraid to post here, but I wanted to say that I appreciate Charis’ rewording of her post. I am afraid that I may be labeled as absolutely dillusional and unable to see my life as it truly is, BUT that said, my dh and I are QF and patriarchal, and we LOVE it. My dh treats me like a princess, he downright spoils me, he is a wonderful husband who regularly thinks of ways to LOVE on me and serve me just as Jesus did. He is a wonderful example of how Christ loved the church by sacrificing for me. And in return, I respect him more and more, and our LOVE GROWS.We have eight children and occasionally foster children. My children are all well behaved and balanced, they are well respected in the community where they present themselves in an urban funk, artsy kind of way. They are well loved in our church and LOVE the Lord, serving in very contemporary music, dance and dramatic arts. Our married son and his wife of 6 years, already have 5 dc and LOVE their children as blessings not burdens. Another adult son whom we adopted at age 7yrs, has chosen to live a homosexual lifestyle and we still love him dearly and he is still the same respectful, loving son.You mentioned the heirarchy in the Godhead. The Godhead – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are all equal and part of the whole. The Holy Spirit and the Son submit to the Father even though they are in all aspects equal. It is by choice, and because of this equalness. They must choose to submit to the authority of the one. Can You imagine an insurpassable disagreement between the three, with each being equal, how could the any group function except with submission on the part of the equals? If they were subordinate, then the other two parts would simply know their place and surrender in servitude but that is not what happens, this is willing submission to an equal.And so it is in marriage, the two are one and EQUAL, but the wife chooses to submit, to lay down her right when there is an insurpassable disagreement because God has given the final authority to the man who will also be judged for that. Many, many times my dh lays down his desires for mine because he is such a loving and caring man, just like Jesus. He is still the final word, even when he is choosing to give up his desires for me because in the end, He will be held accountable.TO Vyckie and Laura, I did grow up in the dysfunctional patriarchal family that the two of you have lived. I was overjoyed when my mom finally had my dad removed from our home by law when I was 19yo, but just because I had a bad experience with a father who had control issues, does not mean that I threw out the baby with the bath water. There are some men who take a good thing and twist it and make it an ugly contorted image of what it should be, but that does not mean that it is all bad.God’s plans are still GOOD, even when men screw them up in their own self righteousness. The Pharisees loved the Law, but they messed up a good thing by their own actions, and Jesus hated them for it. Your dh’s WILL be judged for their actions, butI wish that you would not be painting ALL QF and ALL patriarchal families with the same brush.My dh is a wonderful quiverfull, patriarchal man. He is my head in our marriage to protect and care for me, he values my intellect, my opinion, and encourages me in my interests but also protects me from becoming overwhelmed. He is my teammate in raising our children, we hold each other up when the going gets tiring and tough.To give you a practical example of a scene in our home EVERY Sunday morning. My dh gets up early while he lets me sleep while he showers and gets the kids up. Then he runs a bath for me and goes to the kitchen to make a hot breakfast for the whole family. While I bathe and get ready for church, he feeds the children. When I am dressed and ready, he serves me a hot breakfast and we chat while we eat together while the children play. Then we switch roles, and he goes to dress and shave, while I help the children dress, do the little girl’s hair, etc. Then he prepares the vehicle and comes back in to help load up the van. I arrive at church fresh and ready to worship. This is QF and patriarchy in action, what you have experienced is a dysfunctional copycat, and I know because I have lived both lives.Vyckie, we have corresponded on Above Rubies, and your Berea and my Bethany corresponded as well for a time as they were born one day apart. I have also been the moderator of the Above Rubies Power of Motherhood group and have always encouraged the mothers there that we do not all have to fit into the same mold, and how we all have our failures and short comings but that we also have a capacity to grow and learn from each other. AND contrary to popular opinion, Nancy does say in her book, that there is a place for birth control, if you are totally overwhelmed, but that we don’t want the type of birth control we use to be abortiative, as in the IUD, etc, but that NFP and barrier methods are acceptable for a time.I may not be the most eloquent writer to try to explain what I am trying to say, but I have seen what God intended in a marriage and it is GOOD. I am so sorry that you have not had the same experience. It does seem to me in your writings that God has shown Himself Good to you many times and has used His people to bless you. I hope one day that You can see that GOD is GOOD in ALL His ways.Love Adelynn

  • Vyckie

    Hello Adelynn! I do remember you from Above Rubies and also from our letters. We’ve been doing this blog for a few weeks now, and I’ve been wondering how long it would be before the QF ladies from the email groups I used to belong to found No Longer Quivering and started to comment. I can appreciate your hesitancy to post here ~ it’s kind of become a gathering place for QF/patriarchy refugees ~ and seeing that we’ve found a lot of support here, it must take an awful lot of bravery and conviction to speak up in defense of God and the way of life which He has called you to.I’m actually glad to hear from you, Adelynn. Thank you for your post. I wrote similar testimonies myself not all that long ago ~ you know, because you read them and we corresponded about some of my writings. I believed every word I wrote at the time I wrote it ~ so I don’t doubt your sincerity and I am not questioning whether the QF/patriarchal family structure is actually biblical (I believe that it is) and that it’s working in your home. It’s a beautiful picture you paint ~ a lovely vision of a godly home.FOR ME ~ the vision turned out to be a nightmare. I know that you prayed for our family when Angel was in the hospital ~ and I could not even bring myself to admit in my prayer requests that the hospital she was in was the psych ward at Vanderbuilt ~ because I just couldn’t believe that it wouldn’t all work out and somehow turn around to be a wonderful testimony to God’s faithfulness …Thank you for posting here, Adelynn ~ I just wish I had something more to tell you than … “I don’t know what to say.”

  • Laura

    Dear Adelynn, When I read your post I must admit to being a bit jealous. I thought to myself, “Wow! If my ex had been like this man, my poor kids would have been spared from the pain of their family falling to pieces.” My best to you and your family. May you NEVER find yourself in the controlling ,oppressive, dominating environment that Vyckie and I used to live in.My best to you and your family,Laura

  • Arietty

    So many points, I must number mine, LOL.1. Adelyn you say “but I have seen what God intended in a marriage and it is GOOD.” I am happy your marriage is good! But I do not believe there is one God intended model for marriage. Your model you are following makes you and your husband happy and, by your testimony at this point, is not an abusive experience for your children. Will you feel your children are veering out of God’s will or plan if they choose another model for their marriages? If one of your daughters ends up as a bank manager, chooses to have only 2 children and her husband is a stay at home dad? See I would consider it a negative thing for children to grow up knowing that their parents think ONE model is God’s plan and to know their parents will be disappointed in them if they choose another model.2. E.K. I would also be interested in the exploration of being “red letter christian”. I wonder what it would look like to be totally focused on the teachings of Jesus and not have to knead Paul’s words into something palatable. Of course you are still stuck with Jesus’s words about not a jot or tiddle of the OT passing away until it is all accomplished.3. Molly your post (second post of thread) was very interesting to me. My experience has been that when I was a fundamentalist and reading the bible all the time and seeing everything through the most literalist lenses I could manage, THAT is when I felt close to God. That is where my varying testimonies of hearing God’s voice powerfully come from. Since coming out of that I find the bible, which I once was enthralled with, to be really very boring. Whatever new way you have of looking at it has escaped me entirely. I am no longer interested in hearing from God in that inspiring way I once did because many of those events were just total nonsense! How could I have heard so clearly from God about submitting to my abusive husband? If I had a hearing from God experience now I would find it just about impossible to swallow because I was so flamingly wrong in the past. If what I heard was a good idea and not harmful in any way I would take it as that–a good idea. But I would have a great deal of trouble seeing it as God voice.I still believe in God. I’m still interested in Jesus. I think there is a way forward for me spiritually that I have yet to discover, or perhaps I’m dipping my toes in it but don’t know it yet.

  • Vyckie

    Arietty ~ “If I had a hearing from God experience now I would find it just about impossible to swallow because I was so flamingly wrong in the past.” ~ Wow! That’s me too!! I have no idea how I could ever really believe anything again because I can’t get away from the thought that “I was SO convinced ~ and I was SO wrong.”Sometime (maybe soon) I want to write about some of the “religious” lines of thought which do still interest me. My uncle went to the University of Chicago’s School of Divinity for a while and he introduced me to Process Theology ~ which I’m pretty sure Brian McClaren and other “Emergents” are catching on to ~ it’s interesting and sometimes scary stuff.I’d love to share so much of what my uncle and I discussed ~ but I haven’t talked to him in almost two years now ~ and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t appreciate me posting his letters. Too bad. BUT ~ I will be posting a lot of what *I wrote* to Ron ~ it’s almost like having a journal of my thought process as I went through that major upheaval in my belief system ~ so that’ll be interesting, don’t you think? I know ~ I said I’m going to bed ~ and I’m gonna do it. ‘Night all!

  • Anonymous

    A couple of thoughts to Adelynn,I am happy for you, that your husband is such a model of Christlike service. I have found, though, that it’s generally the case that a couple is happiest when, even though they believe in male authority, the husband in the relationship exercises that authority very little and concentrates on serving and laying down his life for his wife. When she is also putting his needs first, they are both practicing the model found in Philippians 2– both being Christlike in their attitudes towards one another, and neither of them grasping for power over the other.And I have to ask myself, if the way to a happy marriage comes from not exercising authority– is the authority structure, then, actually necessary, and is that actually what the Bible is teaching? And my answer is no. . .As for the example of the relations of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with all respect I must submit that there is a reason why the Bible never actually compares any human relationship to the Trinity– it certainly never compares the husband-wife relationship to the Trinity! The reason is because God’s ways are above our ways, and God’s thoughts above our thoughts. God’s relationship within the Godhead are simply not comparable to human relationships. The Son and Spirit actually do not “submit” to the Father’s Will, because (except while the Son was operating out of His human nature on earth) there is no difference between the Father’s Will, and the Son’s, and the Spirit’s. They are One and have one Will, and plan, and purpose. To need to submit to the Father’s Will would imply that they are not of one Will and purpose– and thus are not one God, but three different gods– which is not what orthodox Trinitarian doctrine teaches. The idea of the eternal subordination and submission of the Son to the Father is a new idea which appears to have been made up in order to render more palatable the idea that women were intended from the beginning to be subordinate to men. I do not believe the Bible teaches either one. KR Wordgazer

  • Anonymous

    I would like to drop a thank you to both of you for sharing your painful stories. I was raised in a country were fundamentalist are not very common, though the Roman Catholic can also be quite narrow minded at times. Therefore, this kind of story looks almost sureal to me. It’s really hard to accept that this things still happen nowadays.I was raise as a Roman Catholic, and even though I am still a Christian, I separated myself from their views because of certain discrepancies towards certain “hot topics”.In case of Pathiarchy movement, I have to agree with what a lot of people already posted: the Bible was writen by human beings inside a human comunity that has very little to do with nowdays. It was effective in giving some protection to women, and to order human civilization a bit.I cannot, under any point, agree with ANY literal interpretation of the book. It is a wonderful inspiring book, but some of its laws, when aplied literaly in our society nowadays, will only lead to degradation of human freedom (especially women). The same way you cannot go killing your neighbour for stepping on your territory without permission, or owing a slave for all that matters, you cannot force a woman against her will.Just as a side note: my country freed itself from a strong Catholic Dictatorship in the 70′s. Women only got the right to vote and join Universities in the end 70′s. Before the revolution, an un-married woman was not allowed to leave the country, and a married one only with writen permission of her husband. They were to be kept at home, submissively, and raising their children.It is shocking for me to see that what I find inhumane in women treatment from 3000 years ago, was still happening when my mother was a teenager. It is therefore even more shocking to keep seeing it when I am a grown up woman…HelmP.S.: I am sorry for my English. It’s not my mother tongue :)

  • Charis

    Hi Adalynn,I felt convicted not to dismiss the entire people group because of my own experience. And seeing you post here, I know why God laid that on my heart. Your marriage sounds lovely and your husband sounds Christ-like. Sadly, I wonder if he is a rare exception? I hope not, but I can’t help but wonder? I think my husband liked the power and control of the lifestyle, and he is a man with empathic failure. So what we need, how we feel about deprivations did not register with him. I had to completely throw out that “husband has final decision making authority” doctrine because we lived deprived and abused under that. He “decided” we did not need adequate medical care. He “decided” we did not need adequate heat. He “decided” we did not need a vehicle which fit all our children legally and safely. He “decided” I was not allowed to use the drier and had to hang up the laundry for the family of 10 on the clothesline (because he didn’t feel like addressing the electrical issues which prevented running the hot water heater and the drier concurrently)You said: QUOTE“God has given the final authority to the man who will also be judged for that. Many, many times my dh lays down his desires for mine because he is such a loving and caring man, just like Jesus. He is still the final word, even when he is choosing to give up his desires for me because in the end, He will be held accountable…. Your dh’s WILL be judged for their actions, butI wish that you would not be painting ALL QF and ALL patriarchal families with the same brush.ENDQUOTE God showed me from Scripture that it was false to think my husband would be “be judged” alone for the abuses. God would hold me responsible for allowing my children to be abused and neglected, that He would hold *ME* accountable for my failure to stand up to my husband and make sure that my children were safe and warm. Legally, I will be charged as an accessory if I stand by “helplessly” while my children are neglected and abused. (Read Acts 5 about a wife’s individual accountability to God for her choice to “follow” her husband’s so-called “final decision making authority”) I’m sure you recall the little passage in Titus 2 which speaks of a wife being KEEPER of the home? Well, it isn’t about domestic servitude. A Greek word study revealed to me that it is a commission from GOD upon me to PROTECT my children (and my husband insofar as he will submit to my protection). (see KEEPER)BTW, I am still married to my husband, and he has experienced a degree of healing and is now able to demonstrate concern and empathy for our needs. Our marriage is not quite as heavenly as your marriage sounds, but I know to look for “Progress Not Perfection”

  • Vyckie

    Charis ~ is “empathic failure” an actual diagnosis? I’m just curious because Warren definitely had a total lack of empathy. I often reminded him that the children and I are people too ~ but he never seemed to get it.Also ~ I’m pretty sure that Warren has some sort of psychological disorder ~ what is it called when a person is ALWAYS manic? He had endless energy ~ and was never really experienced the down side of bipolar ~ it was the rest of us who were depressed.

  • Vyckie

    Adelynn ~ I went to bed last night after responding to your post ~ and couldn't quit thinking.Your children sound wonderful, Adelynn ~ I remember reading Bethany's letters to Berea and being envious that she seems so well-rounded and intelligent. The truth is that the reason Berea quit corresponding with your daughter is because SHE COULD BARELY WRITE. I did not have time or energy to keep up with homeschooling my children because every last bit of my strength was taken up just trying to deal with their father. Our home revolved solely around, not serving the Lord, but serving Warren and trying to keep him satisfied so that he would give us a bit of peace.I had hoped that having a penpal would be a way to encourage Berea to do some writing on her own so she could get better at it ~ but it really only made her feel embarrassed and inadequate to see that other girls her age were so much farther advanced in their education and maturity. It was another seed of discontent which I just didn't have the energy to allow to grow in our home, so ~ as with all other outside relationships in our lives ~ Berea & Bethany's correspondence was scrapped because it we couldn't deal with the added pressure.I know that Berea reads everything on this blog ~ so I want to add that now that Warren is out of our lives and we have the freedom to focus on the KIDS education and development ~ we have discovered that Berea is actually quite intelligent ~ she was able to quickly catch up in her studies and now is a capable writer. Her grades are excellent ~ we call her "Brilliant Berea." ;-)It is true, as you say, that God was often good to me ~ and we were also the recipients of many blessings ~ I do not deny that at all. In fact, I still give God credit for giving me the strength to get through for all those years. It's actually a little weird because I don't believe in God right now. He used to be obvious to me ~ and now I just don't see it at all.

  • Charis

    Vyckie,Empathic failure is a symptom. I don’t think its a diagnosis by itself. The counselor who worked with us for about a year suggested a diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (its on the autism spectrum- they are very intelligent but lack empathy and social skills) From my reading, I learned that children develop empathy around age 6 and if they experience grave trauma/abuse earlier sometimes they fail to develop empathy. Based on pre-school sexual acting out, the counselor said he had been abused early (though he did not remember the abuse). (BTW, I have to add that it took a miracle for him to agree to counseling. He doesn’t believe “secular psychology” has anything to offer. But it was a *requirement* for a ministry he really wanted to do)I’m not sure what the “always manic” would be? Maybe someone else will have some ideas?

  • jemand

    Hi Adelynn,I’m glad you’re marriage is working for you and that you, your husband and your children are happy and fulfilled. I’m also encouraged by your positive treatment of your gay son. However, I must say that you’re solution to disagreements would never work for me. This is because in all the times of agreements, vastly more common than a severe disagreement, the knowledge that I would never, ever be able to have the final say would eat away at me and drive a wedge between me and my significant other/husband. I prefer to solve disagreements WHEN they come without having the threat of disagreements cast a pall over the entire relationship. If ever we don’t agree, the one who believes the decision is less crucial should defer to the one that cares more, and if both think it’s incredibly important and NO compromise is possible than I think it would be better to at that time deal with the disagreement, maybe by flipping a coin, maybe by counseling, maybe by asking someone advice, etc. But such violent disagreements are astoundingly rare in my relationships, probably because we both always feel secure and valued members of the relationship, and that we DON’T have some “final submission” agreement hanging over my head that was imposed by an outside authority (particular interpretation of the Bible.) Even if it turns out that I would in fact, actually be the one submitting in every single case of disagreement, I still see that as a very different situation than if at all times in the relationship I had hanging over my head the threat of veto.So, I’m glad it works for you, but I hope you can see that it may not work for all personalities.

  • aimai

    Adelynn’s family sounds idyllic. Minus the extra kids, its sounds a lot like mine. I married my wonderful husband late–at 35, we have two kids, and he adores me and waits on my hand and foot. And I do the same for him. And we are both atheists! And Jews! and have already talked to our two daughters about sex and contraception! We’re pro both–in their right time and place of course. So, if the proof of the pudding is in the eating does that mean g-d wants us to be exactly who we are, because we are so happy? Is our happy, balanced, loving family proof that all families should be atheist jews who believe in abortion as a civil right?I notice a strong component among my calvinist blog companions–and calvinism is a word we haven’t seen yet on this blog–of both a utilitarian approach to g-d and also a passive, fatalistic, approach to g-d. On the one hand lots of the Above Rubies and Quiverful women, at least while they are in the movement and keeping up a good face, insist that not only are their families supremely happy but all other families outside the fold are seriously unhappy. Every testament story that I’ve read has looked like this. Either the mother or the father has come to jesus after a lifetime, or at least a childhood, of chaos and abuse and the proof that this is g-d’s plan for them is that now their family is happy and fulfilled. And the proof that this is g-d’s plan for them is, conversely, that all other families are secretly or obviously unhappy and unfulfilled.And yet, when (for whatever reason) individual men and women in the movement aren’t perfectly happy and fulfilled–they have “pornography addiction” or they are “broke” or their children come out as gay or they themselves wrestle with homosexual feelings, with grief, with depression, with a desire not to have more children or whatever at that point it turns out that perfect daily happiness isn’t proof that you are following g-d’s plan. In fact, perfect unhappiness becomes proof that you are following g-d’s plan unsucessfully. And all those happy gay people and feminists who are always aborting to have smaller families or having wild extra marital sex or sending their children to public school so they have time to be happy and fulfilled in their work lives? Their very happiness *now* is seen as evidence that they are violating g-d’s will that they be unhappy and unfulfilled now in order to achieve salvation and happiness eternally later.How else do you understand the right wing obsession with gay sex as so tempting that everyone would be gay if it were legalized? I’m thinking here of Rod Dreher over at Beliefnet.com but of course there are literally thousands of examples. My point is that individual members of the quiverful/patriarchal movement can move fairly seemlessly between the notion that the proof that they are doing g-d’s will is that they are happy to the proof that they are doing g-d’s will (like the early martyrs) is that they are unhappy. The main thing seems to be to keep the women and children inside a movement that is only tangentially interested in their worldly happiness and mental health.As for the whole submission to the husband thing that strikes me as even odder and more illogical. Lots of these new christians are on their second family, if not merely their second lover. So which one was it g-d’s will that you submit to? If you had the choice, which Vyckie had, between being “led” by a drug addicted, violent, non christian male and divorcing him and marrying a non violent but abusive christian male what would jesus advise you to do and on what grounds? Are you condemned to remaining attached to the first husband because of Jesus’s comandment to “let no man put them asunder” or are you ordered to choose the second guy because of the other verses commanding you to leave your family and follow g-d? I’m not saying that a good christian woman won’t sweat it out and worry about which is the right thing to do. But I am saying that a literal interpretation of the bible and its ancillary texts won’t give you any guidance at all. And you can see from the way people actually live their lives that they do, or don’t do, whatever they want to and legitimize it afterwards with reference to the most socially acceptable strategy in their immiediate social circle.As for Above Rubies, I can’t say about the various circles and writings there but the essay I read today about the poor woman whose husband had a “pornography addiction”–by which she means he was screwing prostitutes and giving her STD’s while she was laboring with their poor finances and sick children–there is no excuse for any woman, under any religious system, for putting up with a shifting of the burden of guilt and responsiblity from the shoulders of the man who is acting to the woman who is suffering. None. Charis said it very well when she pointed out that legally, as mothers and as individuals, we are responsible for our own actions and we will be called to account for our failure to protect our children. The man made me do it because he was my priest and my g-d is simply not a moral stance and its not a legally acceptable one. More importantly how can we believe that a woman’s salvation and her hope of heaven are attached to her willingness to blindly follow the lead of another imperfect human being, her husband? What of widows? If they are left with no instructions are they barred from heaven? If your husband commits a murder is that sin on your head? Of course not. Early Christianity as well as Judaism doesn’t allow another individual to stand between you and your duty, religiously speaking, and nor does it allow you to slough off your duty as an adult and as a thinking, moral, human being on someone else.aimai

  • madame

    Vyckie,I’m sitting on the fence between the Complementarian understanding of the creation of humanity, the fall and gender roles, and the Egalitarian interpretation.A very good place to go to explore both sides and discuss them (or just read discussions) is a blog called “complegalitarian.wordpress.com”I was raised in a very fundamentalist home. My dad was the home-church main responsible person (he doesn’t like to be called pastor), and very keen on Francis Shaeffer’s writings. Schaeffer is a fundamentalist, I believe. (I haven’t read his books.)I used to believe patriarchy and QF were the only biblical way to live in a family. The husband has to be the final authority (and I vowed not to fight for leadership!!!!!), the wife is to follow, even when she disagrees and knows she is right, they shouldn’t use birth control (using it is fooling around). I used to believe we should emulate 1st century church, shunning western society, and I went a step further believing we should homeschool. Guess where we live now? In Germany! Homeschooling is illegal…Is patriarchy biblical? Yes.Should we do everything that is biblical? if so, we should pluck our eyes out if they cause us to sin, and we should cut our limbs off too. We should stone rebellious children.Wives should get weeks upon weeks off sexual duty after giving birth, and their husbands shouldn’t sleep with them or even touch them while they are having their periods.We should not wear clothing of mixed fibres.We should keep the sabbath (saturday) holy.Do I need to go on?It’s extremely frustrating how literalists hang on to those doctrines that suit them while finding good reasons not to adhere to the rest. For example, find me a literalist who tries to have the most grueling job to provide for his family. But he will insist upon hiw wife living under her part of the curse! There are a few things that have helped me not ditch God as a good god all the way. Though I’m struggling, I’ll admit._ God didn’t tell Adam to rule over Eve.- Paul didn’t tell husbands to “lead” or “exercise authority” over their wives.- the husband is called the head of the WIFE (not the household) as Christ is head of the church, His BODY, of which he is SAVIOR (not lord). – Paul told slaves and children to obey, but not wives. – We are all told to submit to one-another, esteem each other as above ourselves, not to seek our own interests, not to lord it over each other, etc… It’s helped me not to discard what has not been written, but rather, to think about why it was not written and why other words were chosen. Clearly, if God had wanted men to rule over women, if this had been his wonderful plan for humanity, he would have told Adam to rule.If God had wanted the husband to be lord of his wife as Christ is Lord of the Church, he would have said so. He didn’t. Furthermore, Paul and Peter make a point in husbands laying their life down for their wives, loving, honoring, understanding, lest their prayers be hindered. I still struggle with the idea that God is just a misogynist, an insatiable slave driver who doesn’t care about anything but His glory. But, like Molly, when I would like to ditch it all, it’s like He’s there, holding my hand, not condemning me. So I’m not feeding on second hand gospel. I am teaching my children about Jesus, and trying to believe what I teach them. Like a child. (I only go to church to teach Sunday School to my children…)

  • Anonymous

    Dear Vyckie and Laura, just wanted you to know that I don’t have any “problem” with either of you leaving your abusive relationships. I’ve helped more than one woman out of an abusive relationship. Reading your stories reminds me a lot of living with my dad as a teen so I DO understand where you are.Vyckie, I never thought anything out of the ordinary with Berea’s writing at the time, and just wanted to add that Bethany has been pretty much “unschooled” for a long time, gasp, her writing ability is her gift from God and has very little to do with my input, but thank you for your kind remarks and don’t feel too badly. Berea, YOU GO GIRL, you go and be that brilliant young lady you were meant to be.I’ve been thinking and wondering if the biggest difference here is that some see “quiverfull” as a religion, and I see it as a choice/a preference. I don’t think that having lots of children does a thing for my relationship with God, my children do not give me any special standing with Him, I simply adore Him for who He is, and He LOVES me as Adelynn, his daughter, not his baby making machine.The Bible says “Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them”. And that is how I see each of my children, as wonderful blessings, and I don’t mean that in some religiously iconic way, I mean that my children bring me great joy and happiness, so why would I not want more??? We are presently planning to adopt, not as a sympathy rescue mission but because we LOVE having children around, and hate seeing our foster children leave, so we want more children in our lives to watch grow and become amazing people. We are constantly reminding our children that they are blessings, and that they were created with a plan and purpose to be a blessing in the world. I have never been into the warrior scenario but I would love to see my children go out and make the world a better place simply by their presence in it.I have no time nor desire to respond to each person’s comments, thank you for the kind ones. I am not here to defend myself or debate anyone, its just not in my personality, but I did want to say that I did not come up with the relationship between the Trinity and the husband/wife relationship comparison on my own. It was mentioned that this was not a Biblical comparision but it is in the sense of “echad”, the Hebrew word for “one”, meaning a oneness on a parallel type plane, equal yet in a circular type of relationship, and in that sense they can be compared. You can probably google “echad” and “marriage” and find something if you want to study it further.Anyway, enough from me, I probably won’t be commenting again. I guess my biggest reason for commenting in the first place, is that I always tell my children not to stereotype people, or label them, that there is good and bad in every “group”. I don’t like seeing a whole “group” labeled as bad because there are some that make it look that way, any more than I like to see someone say that all Mennonites are cheap or all Indians are drunks, or all atheists are angry. I think it is pretty unbalanced to look at life like that.And Laura, I wish your dh had been more like mine as well, I often keep my mouth shut about how good he is, because I don’t like to make other wives’s feel jealous, but I am thankful for what I have. (((((Hugs)))))) to both of you. Love Adelynn

  • Anonymous

    I remember sending Bethany an email like once a year on my birthday cuz I could not type or spell and that was as often as mom could find time to do it for me. Berea

  • Arietty

    Hey Adelynn you may not read this but I just wanted to comment on the Above Rubies group you and Vyckie knew each other from. I have read that in the past (part of my re-visiting my old life). There are just so many painful posts there from women struggling deeply with the issue of headship in what are clearly abusive marriages. And I mean actual abuse, not just being the the gender specified person who does all the cooking. It seems to my reading that there is more openness in that group to taking abuse seriously, some years back women were encouraged to prayerfully put up with truly appalling situations (adultery etc..) I’ve been wondering if there is less fear to actually face the issues of abuse.

  • kisekileia

    Charis, I just want to note that the ‘lack of empathy’ in Asperger’s syndrome is a bit of a misnomer. Generally, people with Asperger’s are actually concerned about others’ welfare and feel compassion for people–they just can’t read people very well, so they often don’t understand what other people’s needs and feelings actually are. Asperger’s syndrome is not what I would suspect in someone who actually has no regard for others’ needs–something like narcissistic personality disorder would be more likely.

  • a.b.e.

    Vickie,Some of Paul’s statements on women have been either mistranslated or misunderstood. For example, when it says in Eph. 5:23 that the husband is the head of the wife, people think that means he’s the boss. But in the original Greek the term “head” did not have a figurative meaning of leader or authority. In 1 Timothy 2 some of the verses have been translated with bias (some would say incorrectly translatled) in such a manner as to put women underneath men.In addition to that, oftentimes if the verses in the Bible are taken in context, they are not nearly as sexist as them seem when taken out of context. Please check out:www.cbeinternational.org and read some of their free materials. It is possible to believe in the Bible and yet believe fully in equality for women. I know I do.

  • Anonymous

    Vickie,It’s not God that is sexist. It’s some of the Bible who interpret the Bible who are sexist.

  • Anonymous

    Patriarchy is in the Bible.So is murder, rape, betrayal, suicide, infant sacrifice,…Anyway.Part of the reason I don’t believe God ‘promotes’ patriarchy is because of the “core” or “foundational” things He says. (Let me clarify. He doesn’t promote it. He wored around it like He worked around polygamy.)Foundational things would fall under that catagory of the Ten Commandments, the words of Jesus Himself, the names of God etc.For example, in the Ten Commandments it says, “Honor your father and your mother.”Simple. It doesn’t just say, honor your father. It doesn’t say honor your father more than your mother. It doesn’t even say, wives honor your husbands.Now some might say that since fathers are mentioned first they are to be honored more. But if they were to say such a thing they would be reading more into the text than what is there.Another example would be in His names.He is referred to as Jehoveh Rapha, the LORD your Healer and Jehoveh Jireh, the LORD your Provider.Nowhere is He referred to as the god who places men over women. That would be the god of Patriarchy. And he is not to be confused with the God of the Bible.Now as far as the words of Jesus, I could come up with a lot of examples. But instead let me leave you with a quote from a smarter, more educated woman than me. Dorothy L. Sayer wrote an essay in 1938 that contained these words.”Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man–there had never been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, who never flattered or coaxed or patronized; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as ‘The women, God help us!’ or ‘The ladies, God bless them!’ who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious-conscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words of Jesus that there was anything ‘funny’ about woman’s nature. But we might easily deduce it from His contemporaries, and from His prophets before Him, and from His Church to this day.”

  • Arietty

    The bible was written by men (ONLY MEN! geez!) from and to a variety of cultures all of which were utterly patriarchal in structure.There is no way that the result can not be sexist. Patriarchy is sexist. Now I don’t think God is sexist, but that means the bible can not be held to the lofty literalism many would have it be, if it is to have anything to say about God.

  • Vyckie

    “HOUSEKEEPING” NOTE: I’m moving several comments which were posted under “Vyckie’s Story: I Am Not Trapped!” over here because I’d really like to keep this discussion in one place. I know that all of these topics are really inter-related ~ but I do think it helps the flow of conversation (I really am enjoying the comment section) if we try to stay somewhat focused. So ~ here are your posts:Anonymous said… Hi Ladies, Your stories are heartbreaking. As a Christian, I can only shake my head at the abundance of misinformation out there. It is scary and profoundly sad. There are no commandments in the Bible that tell a couple how many children to have. Psalm 127 talks about among other things, children being blessings and a reward. It also goes on to talk about sons. A good commentary I read indicated during that time in history sons could be a protection for the family and a help when there were civil disagreements. When you really read Psalm 31′s Virtuous Women, it is hard not to admire her. She bought land, made products and sold them in the marketplace and looked after the good of her family as well as being kind to and helping the poor. This does not sound like a woman who was under the thumb of her husband or relegated to a menial existence.The Christian men that I know have respect for women, do not view them as second class or helpless and do not discount or devalue their opinions. I believe that God is inherently good and loves us without condition. I think about this more and more as Good Friday and Easter Sunday approaches. As you know, Jesus dined with sinners and told the religious hypocrites of His day that he came to seek and save the lost and then went on to give his life. Our faith is to be in Him and His goodness, because we can’t be good enough. There is no such thing as the “perfect Christian Wife or, Husband or Child” Any group that tells you that you must do this or must do that to get or keep God’s love is flat out wrong. The cross proves this. Many times we get it wrong. Your stories are examples of when the Bible is taken out of it proper context and people are sucked in and start concentrating on someone’s or some groups misinterpretation of select verses.I hope you and your families find healing and peace. I say this as gently as I can; you have lived at one extreme and though it can be very easy to swing to total unbelief, give yourselves a chance to process all you been through and find balance before making a decision. While you may have very sincere and serious doubts, my faith tells me that God has not abandoned you and His love for you is very very real. Take care of yourselves!!!Elizabeth C.Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Anonymous said… I agree, it hacks me off that you have gone through so much crap, and that you were told all these years that it was “Christianity”. Seriously, it has been at the forefront of my mind all day. How dare someone take something beautiful and feed you some crap like that. My heart breaks for you and others who are taught these very erroneous things. The Christ I know does not teach that women are “substandard” and not able to speak, lead, or learn. It’s quite the contrary. Doubting and questioning have never been a bad thing, in fact one never really learns unless they start asking the hard questions. -Jesnicole-Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Anonymous said… Amen! That is not the Christianity that I know. I do know some families who might be considered very patriarchal but even then the wife is very obviously very much appreciated by the husband. They hold to the very strict purity line, the unmarried daughter lives at home but she travels and does horse training for evangelism, she works doing construction work with her brother, she plays football and sports, I think comes back to abuser. They will be abusers wherever they end up, whether it be a religion, Christian or not, whether they live down the street, in the ritzy part of town or on a farm in the middle of nowhere…Wednesday, April 01, 2009 Susanne said… I’m not so sure about a “God” but I have observed in my life that teachers come along when I am ready to receive them. God bless your Uncle Ron for being there at a critical time in your life, for being your Moses, leading you out of bondage.Thursday, April 02, 2009 Anonymous said… I have to say something here about Christianity being about “not trusting your gut.” That is not my understanding of what Christianity teaches at all.The verse in Proverbs, “Do not lean on your own understanding,” is talking about realizing that our human knowledge is limited. It’s NOT about not trusting our gut! It’s about not worrying, not overthinking. It actually means the opposite of “don’t trust your gut.” It means, “Don’t think your REASONING is sufficient.” REASONING instead of trusting our gut– reasoning that all-powerful Christian leaders knew more than we did about what was right for us– was what was wrong in the first place!The “gut” is about something deeper than reasoning or understanding; it’s about that spiritual peace deep within when you’re doing what you know is right for you.In 1 John it says “You have the anointing within yourselves and do not need anyone to teach you.” THIS is talking about “the gut.” As a Christian, it has always been my understanding that “trusting my gut” was exactly what I SHOULD be doing– because the Holy Spirit is deep within my spirit.As for that whole bit about women being more easily deceived and meant for male authority and all that– patent nonsense. The Bible no more says that, than it says not to trust your gut. It’s just male supremacy reading into the text what it wants to see; an excuse for fallible (male) humans to make little demi-gods of themselves. With that said, I can understand perfectly why all of you would want to leave Christianity; I would leave that version of Christianity too. But what if that version of Christianity isn’t the real thing? What if it actually is about love, peace and joy? Which is how I have experienced it, ever since I left hyper-literalistic fundamentalism and starting thinking, researching and studying the faith for myself.KR WordgazerThursday, April 02, 2009 jemand said… Elizabeth and Jesnicole, be careful, I know you only mean the best but when language such as “one extreme” and the “other extreme” is used I, as a pragmatic atheist, feel rather slighted. Do you really put me in the very same category as heartless abusers? I know in my head you do not mean it that way, but when I feel, I feel the language in the harsher way it appears on the page. Please be more careful to say what you mean ;)Thursday, April 02, 2009 aimai said… I don’t like to disagree with another poster’s experience but I’m heartily sick of the “one true christianity” fable, whether it is from the depths of the quiverful movement or from a more cuddly, egalitarian, branch of the movement. Mysteriously, the “gut check” version of christianity can lead people just as far wrong as any other kind. That its bolstered up with proof texts, isolation, and shunning to keep the individual in line doesn’t mean that it doesn’t, in fact, rely on some individual’s “gut” to “tell them they are right.” Its just that some people are allowed to trust their judgement, within limits, and some aren’t.There is simply no saying who is right in this squabble over interpretation. Each side bases its arguments on the following unprovable assertion “god loves me and the way I do things…he’s not so sure about you.” I am firmly opposed to patriarchal domination of women and children, whether expressed through a hard OT biblical literalism or legitimized by some other dogma–The Reverend Moon’s Unification Church comes to mind. I’m opposed to them because I think they put the human mind and soul in chains and bec
    aus
    e they take so darned much work to work out. You can see from the Quiverful movement just how much work it takes to keep women and children obsessing about obedience, gratitude, clothing, hair, cooking, medicine and how much work it takes to isolate women and children from other support. We don’t have to work at liking ice cream–we just like it. We don’t have to work at loving sex, or our babies, we just love them. The idea that g-d takes so much work to corral our evil impulses and hates us for our simple pleasures is just bizarre to me. But, frankly, there’s very little difference between the two stands of Christian thought (we’re all damned/most of us are saved) form the point of logic.Slightly OT:Someone on a comment thread pointed to The Shakers as a crazy little community. Well, the Shakers arose out of a radical notion of equality and recognized that any then current form of sexual connection and nuclear family organization was going to be oppressive to women who wanted to live in the spirit. They rejected sex entirely and lived as “brother and sister” in true equality because they were led by a woman. They survived as long as they did because of a huge oversupply of orphans and abandoned children–detritus of the failed patriarchal family and the strict sexual mores of the rest of society. Other than the Shakers and the Christian Scientists the only other female led religious community was the brief lived and tiny community led by Anne Hutchison who was exiled (to Rhode Island) for having the temerity to lead men and women in prayer and exegesis at the start of this country.All of our other native christian sects have been modeled after pro-masculinist interpretations of the OT/NT or the Mormon Bible and they generally come down to a father as priest/healer/law giver for the family. And its a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the texts as given. You can’t brush it away by insisting that your version of god told you differently.aimaiThursday, April 02, 2009 jemand said… Aimai, Seventh Day Adventists began much from the work of a female they believe was a prophet. Of course, now that it is spreading mostly in Africa and other very patriarchal countries, discrimination against women is growing in the church policies. I’m saddened every time I hear that domestic calls are made by families with men in the local Adventist Seminary, they are from countries where beating wives is taken as a matter of course and are shocked when the police get involved. Just shows that religion can be soo bent towards patriarchy that even if it is virtually begun by a woman, discrimination STILL can pop up.

  • Anonymous

    Jemand-I don’t know you, nor what you believe. I am terribly sorry if it made you feel badly, though. Vyckie, I just hope you get things ironed out. Regardless of what anybody tells you about anything, be it Christianity, Agnosticism, Atheism, or whatever, you have to find out the truth for yourself and for your children. Just remember that these ideas you followed, this controlling, abusive man, and the ideas those people taught you for so long are not what the Jesus I know teaches. I am confident in Him, and I know He both lived and was raised for us. Without that hope for myself, the future is indefinitely hopeless. -Jesnicole-

  • Anonymous

    Aimai, I don’t know if you were responding to me in particular, but if you think I was talking about some version of “one true christianity,” you were misunderstanding me completely.I think many, many versions, denominations, and experiences of Christianity are valid. I don’t trust the ones that are about “let me oppress you in the name of the Lord.” I don’t think those are about God at all. But– believe it or not– I also think it’s possible to come to God through other religions. I’m not an exclusivist. Nor was I advocating “trust your gut” in the sense of “throw out all reasoning or understanding.” I strongly believe we have minds and were meant to use them. Obviously there have to be checks and balances on “gut feelings.” All I meant with regards to reason/understanding was that if one is going to believe in God, it makes sense to believe that God is wiser than we are and that it’s ok to trust God and not worry. If you don’t want to believe that, I have no problem with that. But there are other versions of faith than the isolationist, I’ve-got-the-corner-on-truth kind. And they really can bring help and comfort to people. In any case, “Don’t trust your gut, trust your all-powerful leader’s” is certainly not the kind of faith that’s going to bring help or comfort.KR WordgazerKR Wordgazer

  • Anonymous

    Aimai said:And its a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the texts as given. You can’t brush it away by insisting that your version of god told you differently.With all respect– are you insisting that your “perfectly reasonable interpretation” is the only one I’m allowed, and that therefore I have to throw God out too? In what way is that different from what you say I’m doing? My interpretation comes from study and research into the ancient texts and cultures. I am thinking for myself; no one is telling me what to think.KR Wordgazer

  • aimai

    KR Wordgazer,Hm. No, I’m not suggesting that any interpretation is unreasonable or that anyone has to “throw god out.” I was not responding to any individual commenter, really, but to a slew of commenters who have asserted that Quiverful interpretations are simply “wrong” or “not really christian” or “just a misunderstanding”–and I’d include in that category the very nice Pastor Jon who explained to us all that he and his wife felt free to pick and choose which texts they followed or which ones they felt reflected the true/correct version of god.Epistemologically there’s not all that much difference between reading and studying the texts and cultures and getting some help with your interpretation from any teacher or set of teachers. We all come to every text with a set of ideas, and leave with a set of arguments, even though we come from different places and we go different places. The category “thinking for myself” and “letting other people tell me what to think” is, to my mind, pretty meaningless. The very selection of the texts to be considered as meaningful is a cultural act in that some texts are pre-selected to be meaningful and some are ruled out. And that goes not just for specific bible texts–ones approved by the council of nicea and ones thrown out among the gnostic gospels–but the very category sacred texts itself. In other words except for traditions which include midrash, storytelling, fiction, poetry, new and old texts as equally potentially sacred and illuminating by studying “ancient texts and cultures” you are already engaging in a very particular kind of study which limits the conclusions you can come to. Nothing wrong with that. But your kind of independent thinking doesn’t exist in opposition to what is going on among hard core christianist women. I know for a fact that the various quiverful women who I have read who are deep in the movement are quite deep into their scholarship as well. I disagree with their conclusions and their premises but I don’t disagree with their scholarship or their interpretation on the level of interpretation.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for clarifying, Aimai– sorry for my defensiveness there. But I think I’m still going to rely on certain basic premises, like “love shouldn’t hurt,” and “control/abuse isn’t love,” and “Faith is about loving and trusting a loving God, and therefore shouldn’t hurt and shouldn’t be abusive/controlling.” Also, “if something doesn’t work (doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do), it’s probably incorrect.”I think at some point we (or at least, I) have to have some criteria for deciding what to think about things, or just flounder around– and these basic, almost instinctive premises have proven reliable in my life time and time again. So I’m not going to back down from my stance that abusive, controlling versions of Christianity are wrong. Doesn’t mean I don’t respect others’ rights to hold those beliefs, but it also doesn’t mean I have to treat all beliefs as if they were all of equal validity. I think white supremacism’s just plain wrong, too. (grin)KR Wordgazer

  • aimai

    KR Wordgazer,You *are* a nice person. My response to you read like academic gobblydygook. I, too, think lots of things are wrong. I think I’m the most judgemental person I know! And certainly there are jesuses and gods I like better than others. I’m reminded of the hysterically funny scene in Talledega Nights (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0415306/) when the two heroes fall to arguing about whether they like “baby jesus” or “santa jesus” or which jesus the best. And I wouldn’t even go so far as you and say that I “respect others rights to hold” views on god and motherhood or whatever that I don’t agree with. I’m just frustrated with the good christians who show up here to explain that the quiverful lifestyle is “wrong” or “a misinterpretation” of the bible as though Vyckie and Laura and all the women currently enmeshed in it could have known better. Based on the social circle they were living in, the local authorities, and the scriptures they were reading they simply *couldn’t* have known it. Inside the cage you can’t get outside to see another way.Of course there are multiple interpretations of the same texts, and of course there are better and worse translations and interpretations. I think you, like me, are an admirer of Bart Ehrmann’s work (Misquoting Jesus and the other book on the gnostic gospels). The central point of his own history is that he loved the idea of the inerrant bible so much that he put himself out to learn the original languages and eventually found what he was being taught by american biblical literalists so false to the actual texts that he had to step out of the religion entirely. That’s why the quiverful movement within christianity is radically anti education and anti engagement with the larger world, with science and with history and travel. Because they know for a fact that the more contact young people and women have with the outer world the more people will start to criticize and examine what they are being taught as true and texturally accurate.But its a total social institution in which texts and interpretations depend on local authorities (mommy, daddy, pastor) and its hard to sucessfully break the chain of authority without dropping the whole thing. As I think Vyckie and Laura found.aimai

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Aimai. I haven’t read “Misquoting Jesus.” I’m probably a little more conservative than you are with regards to these things– but it’s probably a book I should have a look at. I do tend to stick pretty strongly to the Nicene Creed– but it doesn’t even address male-female issues, let alone make them the focal point the way so many Christian sects seem to be doing nowadays. I’m a big fan of Phillip Yancey, actually– I don’t know if you’ve read any of his things. He asks the hard questions without feeling like he always needs to find the answers. That’s refreshing to me.I agree that it is intensely difficult for those caught up in movements like Quiverful to “break the chain of authority” as you said– and start looking at other ways to live. But I do believe the Quiverful’s ways of looking at Christianity are fundamental misunderstandings of what Christianity is meant to be– and yes, I do think they misinterpret the Bible. I’m not sure what frustrates you so much about saying so? KR Wordgazer

  • Anonymous

    Aimai, excuse me if you will for commenting, as I wasn’t even in this conversation. :) I do think you hit the nail on the head, you guys who were part of that movement couldn’t have known, you didn’t know of anything else. It’s an issue of oppression. My faith isn’t oppressive, it’s freeing. It’s freedom that nobody else, nor anything else can offer. That’s why I have been so upset by all this, that you and others in this were deceived. What’s sad is that many who teach this don’t know it’s not true, what’s even sadder is that many do teach it, all the while knowing it’s not true. I have been in many circles of American Christianity….know where I’ve learned the most? The academy. For me, staying true to the text (i.e. textual criticism) has opened my eyes to see that the Bible isn’t “inerrant”…..it never claims that for itself!! That’s a word people have put on it, just like some try to make the Bible say many things, and like people try to create this Jesus who is not the true one. For me, I had to unlearn much of what I was taught. I have, and still will ask all the hard questions, because that’s how my faith has and will continue to be strengthened. Like you said, we all come to the Bible with our predispositions. (American, Mexican, man, woman, child, grandmother, poor, rich…) But, textual criticism opened my eyes to many things that were false. That’s why I commented on this site to begin with, because so many of the topics are about getting out of oppression….and I truly, truly rejoice for you who have. My point is that the Historical Jesus, the Living One, is not a God of oppression. He’s the God of freedom. I’m not out at all to “sway” anyone, or to argue. But I have seen many people on this blog talk about walking away from the “quiverfull” movement…..so I think it’s an injustice to say you walked away from Christianity…because the “quiverfull” movement is not Christianity. It is a set of ideas set up by a particular people, and usually, it serves as a means to an end. I hope this makes sense. I have had to type quickly. Thanks for reading, though, if you have. :)-Jesnicole-

  • Anonymous

    jemand said… Elizabeth and Jesnicole, be careful, I know you only mean the best but when language such as "one extreme" and the "other extreme" is used I, as a pragmatic atheist, feel rather slighted. Do you really put me in the very same category as heartless abusers? I know in my head you do not mean it that way, but when I feel, I feel the language in the harsher way it appears on the page. Please be more careful to say what you mean ;)Hi Jemand, I'm sorry you felt slighted and you are right it was not meant to make anyone feel bad. My point was that to a Christian going to total unbelief is extreme for them. Many times when people are hurt and or betrayed their anger is intense and broadly focused.Not all members of any particular groups: Christians, Atheists, Priests, Mormons, etc are abusers. So please don't feel that I was calling atheists abusers.Vyckie & Laura: I, in no way feel that either of you were not truly Christians and I believe that both of you were sincerly trying to follow Him. Take care all!Elizabeth C.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t read this entire thread yet, but certainly there is patriarchy in the Bible (just as there is patriarchy throughout the history of most major world religions). I certainly think that there are critical ways of reading most historical religious texts without being patriarchal; this would require a comfort with non-literal interpretation as well as with understanding certain injunctions (like the head-covering) in cultural context. Since those rules were used to hurt you personally, it makes complete sense to me that you may not be comfortable with that. As for your religious and faith commitments. I say… Those are entirely up to you. Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Certainly, my experiences ruined all evangelical Christianity for me–and maybe ruined Christianity altogether. I still resonate with various strands of Christian liberation theology–whether rooted in anti-capitalist, anti-racist, feminist, queer, and/or disability-related liberation struggles. As a woman who is both physically disabled and queer, those continue to have meaning for me. I still consider myself a “nominal Christian” because I still “do” spiritual practice in the ritual of political struggle. And, to be honest, I still find the images of Jesus as both servant to and champion of the suffering to be really powerful. I don’t know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I mean… The most damaging thing for me in evangelicalism was the emphasis on Personal Relationship. I never felt anything. I heard a local singer-songwriter in my hometown once perform a song called “Love Never Came to Me.” And that’s how I felt. This deep and profound love that we were supposed to feel? I never felt anything at all. I never understood what people meant about “having Jesus in their hearts.” And it always made me feel that there must be something wrong with me. So, I stopped putting pressure on myself about the personal lord and savior business. And I’ve decided… For myself… Nothing that is even remotely similar to what I grew up in is likely to feel very safe to me. I don’t go to church now, but *if* one day I do, I’ve decided that I’ll stick with something High Church–say, Episcopalian. A denomination that, in the form of liturgical prayer and other ritualistic discipline, practices spiritual reverence instead of “personal relationship.” Where I can sit back and relax without being forced to demonstrate my love for Jesus through a show of personal emotion. The jury’s out for me on whether or not I’m a Christian. Some days, I say yes, and some days… I’m not entirely sure. I know for one thing that I’m much more enamored with the person of Jesus than I am with, say, Paul’s misogyny or the Wrathful God of the Old Testament. I’m on board with “proclaiming liberty to the captives” and the Beattitudes, but beyond that…? Meh. Kristin


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