Okay ~ I’ve got my thinking cap on again 😉 You all are sure to really wonder about the apparent randomness of my posts ~ seems like the topics I bring up are all over the place, huh?
I should be writing more of my story (I actually am working on that) ~ but recently I’ve been thinking that a BIG part of the reason I was able to throw out the BABY and subsequently get out of the “bath water” ~ i.e., escape the QF/patriarchal worldview in which I had invested so much of my life, my very SELF ~ is simply this:
Even as a Christian, I never believed in Hell. I avoided talking about it much because I couldn’t quite fit my universalism into the rest of what I believed about the Bible and Christianity. But I could talk about anything with my uncle, so I wrote the following for him ~ keep in mind that at the time I wrote this, I was still at least a half-convinced Christian.
Also ~ please read all the way through to the bottom because I’m going to tell you about how this idea of mine was used against me in the custody hearing by the home church pastor who believed that I deserved to lose custody of my children after I filed for divorce from my abusive husband.
(This’ll sound really weird to you, Uncle Ron ~ you must wonder why I tell you this stuff.)
When Angel was about three years old (which would have put me around 23 ~ this was after I left Nevada and before I married Warren), I babysat another three-year-old whose name was Lacey. I became close friends with her mother, Leann ~ she was a single mother in an abusive relationship. Lacey was a little terror for her mother ~ she’d hit her and bite her and scream at her and throw the most awful tantrums. …
A few months after I met her, Leann told me that she was pregnant again and she wanted an abortion. She’d already had one abortion before she had Lacey. Since I’d been indoctrinated by that awful video, The Silent Scream, I couldn’t imagine how she could even consider an abortion ~ though I did understand how she wouldn’t want another terrorist like Lacey. We talked for hours and I shared the experience of my own “unwanted pregnancy” and I encouraged her to reconsider. When she wasn’t persuaded by all my talking, I asked if she’d be willing to talk with the pastor of the church I was attending and she agreed.
I went with her to the meeting. The pastor was saying all the usual stuff when Leann interrupted to ask where he thought the baby she had aborted was. He tried real hard to squirm out of answering that question and I understood his dilemma ~ he couldn’t say (as the Calvinists do) that the unbaptized baby went to Hell, or limbo (as Catholics taught), but if he assured her (as Baptists believe) that the baby, who had not yet reached the “age of accountability,” was in Heaven ~ what would prevent her from thinking she was doing her baby a favor to send it straight to Heaven to be with its sibling and Jesus? After a good deal of hedging, he finally told Leann that, yes ~ he believed her aborted baby was in Heaven. A few days later, Leann had the abortion and I really could not argue with the logic of her decision.
I thought about that quite a lot. As a fairly new Believer raising my own little girl in a creepy world, I was very concerned that Angel should share my faith and I could only imagine how horrified I would feel if she were to eventually reject Christ and be damned to Hell forever. I couldn’t stand the thought of it ~ and I knew that I’d be willing to do whatever was necessary to ensure her a place in Heaven. So ~ after the Leann incident, I couldn’t help thinking that it made perfectly good sense that if I murdered Angel before she reached the “age of accountability,” I could guarantee that she would never go to Hell. (That’s what Andrea Yates did when she drowned her five children ~ so was she crazy, or just a very devoted and extremely logical mother?) It could be argued that Leann loved her baby so much that she was willing to risk her own damnation in order to secure its salvation…
So ~ according to what I knew about salvation and Heaven and Hell, the most loving thing I could do as a mother would be to kill my child before she was old enough to be held responsible for her sins rather than let her live and take the risk that she might be one of the many who chose the broad path that leads to destruction and spend Eternity in flames. Even if it meant that I’d suffer personally, whether in prison or, ultimately in Hell ~ that would be well worth my trouble if I were assured that Angel (whom I loved more than my own life) would never have to suffer. There was nothing wrong with my logic ~ so, obviously there had to be a major flaw in my Christian beliefs. I couldn’t figure out what exactly ~ but I was very confident that it couldn’t be the better choice to kill Angel.
I just had to believe that God is good and as such, there’s no way He’d create a system in which it’d be more loving and merciful for mothers to kill their children than to raise them up to adulthood. So, I trusted that if I let her live, she’d be okay for Eternity. I know this sounds like really radical thinking, Uncle Ron ~ but if a person takes that stuff about Hell seriously, radical thought and action would be justified in order to save my child from such an abominable place. I wouldn’t hesitate to risk my life to save her from a temporal fire ~ how much more ought I risk my very soul to save hers from eternal flames? I’m really surprised that more Christian mothers don’t think about these things ~ somehow, they seem willing to risk their children’s eternal well-being, which to me is infinitely more awful than what I was thinking.
Eventually, I found reasons to reject the idea of a literal Hell and plenty of support for the belief that ultimately, everyone will be saved. I won’t tell you about all that since it’s really beside the point here. I don’t want to belabor my point, but I also don’t want you to miss it, so I’ll say clearly that when Angel was very young, I found myself in the position of considering either killing her to secure her eternal salvation, or else trusting that God loves her more than I do and is more merciful than me, and therefore, He would never condemn her soul to endless torture in a lake of fire.
God’s goodness was something I had to take on faith ~ but since the alternative was so terrible, I had to believe that I was justified in trusting Him ~ I couldn’t just hope I was right about God. The consequence (me allowing for the possibility that Angel might end up in Hell when I had it within my means to prevent that tragedy) of misjudging Him in that matter was absolutely unacceptable and there’s no way I would have let her live if I wasn’t positive that I was right about His goodness. (If that seems truly bizarre to you, please re-read what I’ve written because, even if you disagree, I think you can at least understand the reasonableness of my thinking about this given the fact that I do believe in the immortality of the soul.)
Of course, all of this is irrelevant to your way of thinking since if there’s no afterlife, none of this matters.
I do think about very bizarre stuff, don’t I? If you weren’t already convinced that I’m quite strange, after reading this, you’re likely to think me truly crazy ~ which maybe I am so it doesn’t actually bother me if you think so 😉 Just keep in mind … there was never any real danger that I might kill Angel. I only wanted to think about why I shouldn’t kill her given what I’d been told about Heaven and how to get there.
My posts are way too long, huh? I do try to be succinct ~ it’s just that a topic like this can’t really be addressed in post-it notes.
I know there’s a lot here to discuss ~ and I’m looking forward to hearing all the various thoughts this post is sure to provoke (inspire?) ~ but I just want to make a couple comments here at the end to hopefully provide some focus for the conversation:
Part of my reason for sharing this (I realize it’s some pretty radical thinking) ~ is because I want to show that I’ve had a life-long pattern of critically thinking ideas through to their logical conclusion coupled with a determination to follow through with action to match my beliefs. THAT IS EXACTLY how I ended up in the QF/patriarchal lifestyle ~ I know I’m repeating myself ~ but logically, it just really fit with what I knew of the Godhead, Jesus’ example, biblical teaching, and the Christian message of laying down / giving up your life for the sake of following Christ.
Because I never really believed in Hell ~ I did not come to Christ out of fear that if I didn’t follow Him I would be toasted. (Laura says she was looking for “fire insurance.”) For me, it was about desiring a relationship ~ about “being right” with my Creator. AND ~ it also meant I wasn’t worried that my atheist uncle was going to burn in Hell forever if I didn’t convert him during our correspondence ~ so I was able to really engage him in honest conversation and that’s how I was able to “objectively” (if there is such a thing) think about all the ideas we discussed. PLUS ~ I didn’t have that “fear factor” when it was time to walk away.
Another thing: After having an intelligent conversation on the subject with my uncle, I kind of lost my head and forgot my place as a woman in a patriarchal world ~ I attempted to explain all my “to heck with Hell” thoughts to the pastor at a home church who was a close friend of Warren’s. It took quite a lot of talking before Don understood my line of reasoning ~ but as soon as he “got it” ~ boy, was he ever “concerned” about me! Warren told me that Don was extremely concerned that I was being deceived by Satan. After Warren took the children to his mother’s house (supposedly to give me a break so that I could concentrate on recovering my health), this pastor persuaded Warren to use my children as a bargaining tool to force me into counseling. When I tried to visit my kids ~ Don helped Warren keep them away from me by loading them all up in his van and driving off with them. He was so upset over my disbelief in Hell that he actually submitted the following in an affidavit to the court during our custody hearing:
Comes now Don … being first duly sworn upon his oath and state as follows:
… That in approximately May, 2007, Warren called me and told me that he was very concerned about some ideas that Vyckie had learned about from a website that had some very radical theological ideas. Warren shared with me that Vyckie had told him that Vyckie was researching a school of thought she had learned about whereby aborted babies and other dead children would go to heaven. Warren explained that Vyckie had spoken of an incident where a woman in Texas had killed her children, and Vyckie had informed Warren that she understood the motivation of this woman. Warren was apparently disturbed by Vyckie’s expression of these ideas that he felt the need to share his feelings with me.
…That in June or July of 2007, I was at our home with my wife when Vyckie Bennett stopped at our house. In a conversation my wife and I had with Vyckie, she (Vyckie) brought up many of these same ideas that Warren had described to me previously. I was very bothered by Vyckie’s thoughts, as they were the same subject matter ~ the death of children ~ that had caused Warren concerns during our earlier conversation. In the process of this conversation, I asked Vyckie whether she had any problems with this type of thinking, and asked if she saw any “red flags” with this type of thinking. Vyckie looked at me with little emotion, and said “no.” I talked with Vyckie about the Ten Commandments stating “Thou shall not kill.” Vyckie said to me “Wouldn’t that be the ultimate sacrifice.”
…That the conversation I had with Vyckie was extremely troubling to me. I spent several sleepless nights due to my concern over Vyckie’s mental state.
…That a few weeks later, I called Warren on the phone to talk to him about Vyckie bringing up the issue of killing children during her time at our house. I expressed to Warren my extreme concern for his children, and I also told him that I felt that he should “do something about it,” although I did not know specifically what he should do. Warren indicated that he would talk to Vyckie again, as he at that time, believed that there had been a misunderstanding of some sort.
…That later that evening, Warren called me back and informed me that he had discussed these concerns with Vyckie, and that Vyckie had dismissed the conversation as merely theological discussion. I again told Warren that I had concerns that if something bad were to happen, we would have a hard time living with ourselves.
…That I have been long aware of Vyckie’s health issues. I know that Vyckie was often having health problems, and that her response was to leave the family home for days at a time. I informed Warren that she was having mental health issues, and that these issues, along with the thoughts she had expressed to me and my wife, were a dangerous combination.
…That if I were asked to make a recommendation to the Court as to the placement of these children, I would recommend that they be placed with Warren Bennett. I feel Warren is a more competent parent than Vyckie, and I believe that Vyckie is mentally unstable.
THAT was presented as the “trump card” at the custody hearing. Seriously.
Actually, I don’t think Don ever did comprehend the point I was making. It cracks me up that he was so concerned that I might kill my children to keep them from going to Hell ~ when I’d already made it quite clear that I don’t believe in Hell. I only stated to Don that the reasoning behind this line of thought was logical ~ not that I believed it. That I have several living children beyond the “age of accountability” is evidence that I don’t believe in all this B.S. In fact, according to the logic of my argument, it is Don who would need to drown his kids in a tub ~ since he thoroughly agreed that 1) children who die before the age of accountability go directly to heaven and, 2) Hell is a literal place of eternal torment.