No Fear In Being ‘Ready’

 

by Calulu cross posted from her blog True Love Doesn’t Rape

Vaughn Ohlman of True Love Doesn’t Wait has answered NLQ readers comments with claiming again that we don’t understand and we’re all a bunch of Anti Quiverfull Liberal Feminists with an agenda.

Dood, many of us have lived this or other things you refer to. Many of us escaped. We understand all too well where you are coming from in your ideas. The stuff we don’t understand we’ve tried to wrap our minds around it. At least more than any fundamentalist has ever tried to understand our struggles and our journeys.

It is a funny difference between conservatives and liberals that conservatives seem to always question liberals ideas, and liberals question conservatives motives. Indeed, when a liberal makes a movie about an evil conservative the conservative is almost never doing what the conservative says he wants to do (ie he is a hypocrite[1]) whereas a conservative movie will often show liberals living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong, immoral, and lead to a deranged and deprived society).

 

A similar issue has cropped up, repeatedly, in the discussions on betrothal. There are, basically, two sets of opponents to the idea. The first is conservatives: the kind of people who are big on ‘courtship’. They have built themselves an entire edifice of extra-Biblical (and anti-Biblical) ideas and do not appreciate what we have to say.

 

 Those conservatives who choose to enter into the discussion do so primarily over the meaning and usefulness of the Scriptures on the issues. Or they point to general principles of hermeneutics to argue against any kind of mandate for the principles of betrothal.

By questioning the entire idea of betrothal are we not at NLQ in essence questioning the idea of betrothal and courtship, questioning ideas instead of pure motives.

Now some of our number has developed motives for those ideas. I know I have. But people look at motives as a way to understand the way those ideas are developed and how the mindset and world view of the originator reached her/his hypothesis.

Contrast that with the pure courtship crowd you’re mentioning in the second paragraph of your post. Those conservative Christians that oppose your type of betrothal aren’t even going to attempt to understand your ideas or the motives behind them, they will continue to lockstep forward like lemmings until they reach their goal. They aren’t know for deep thinking or questioning the rules.

You don’t have the only correct understanding of the Bible any more than they do. All of you have your own views on the meanings of scripture without any room for the possibility that scripture might be something that is multi-faceted with more than one meaning. Can’t you at least admit there might be different paths for different Christians?

However the liberals (the anti-quiverfull radical feminists so popular on some sites) take a different tack. While they occasionally mention (briefly) some Scripture or hermeneutic; they often, and enthusiastically, speak to my motives; claiming for me pretty much every nasty motive the modern mind can invent.

The readers and authors at NLQ aren’t any one label and to label us all as one treats us all as if we aren’t actually people, we’re things that can be treated with disdain, dismissed and not part of the conversation. We are all different and all on a sliding scale of what it is we actually belief. The one thing that we all can agree on there is that most Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull groups are a slippery slope leading many times to spiritual abuse, the kind of dishonoring and destruction of self that leads people into all sorts of misery, pain, turning from God, losing themselves and sometimes losing their lives.

Vyckie Garrison nearly lost her life to Quiverfull. I nearly lost my life to Quiverfull, attempting to have a large brood while I had medical issues that made it very unlikely. Neither of us are unique in our experience,and we’re not alone in this. Just read with an open mind many of the life stories at NLQ and you’ll see that Quiverfull can lead into some very dark destructive hell for many woman. The entire purpose of NLQ is to help those that are struggling with the more harmful ideas this lifestyle can falsely teach women. Support. Healing.

How is warning others of the dangers of a man-made religion that doesn’t much follow the red letter words of Jesus but mostly the control issues of men the stuff of dangerously liberal feminism?

Well, I’m a big boy, and can handle the flack. I’ve suffered worse. They don’t even bother to come over and make the comments on my site or my FaceBook page. But I do think that the motives they give are interesting ones and ones that could use some discussion. I won’t comment on their truth, which only God can judge, but I can comment on their logic and theological soundness… a more human endeavor.

Yes, you can comment on our logic and theological soundness, just as we can yours. But most of us will never be commenting on your Facebook or website because we’re not interested in a flame war that would surely break out. Plus the list of things someone has to agree to in order to comment on your site is very controlling and almost farcical in their scope.

Which brings me to my next point. I have been contacted many times by people asking me if you’re real, that surely you must be a parody of fundamentalists or a performance artist making fun of hyper religious people. I always tell them that you’re the real deal, no comedian mining comic gold in the Bible.

The first thing they accuse me of is ‘fear’.  They think I am worried that my son will pick the ‘wrong’ wife; and are convinced that this is at least one of the reasons I want to pick for him.
Ironically this is true, although perhaps not in the way they intend. It is true that I ‘fear’ (at least as broadly defined) but the actual fear they propose is wrong.

I know, I know, you’re referring to the fear of the Lord, which all followers of God are supposed to develop. But… you know… exerting that much control over a grown man (your son) does seem to posit that you are trying to control so much not because you don’t trust your son to have good sense but because you fear the world and all the horrible things that could happen.

I think you mean well, you genuinely think you’re doing what is best for your son, I get that. But when you try to control another human that intimately what you’re doing could seriously impact their ability to grow as a person, develop in their lives, limit their potential and I know you are so passionate about the best for your son that you would never want to harm him in any way.

 I think my son is perfectly capable of ‘picking’ a good wife… at least, as compared to me. Indeed, if the common expression of ‘choosing’ one’s wife were literally true instead of being merely a figure of speech [2] I would consider my son fully capable of picking a very good wife, thank you very much. Perhaps not as good as I might pick but, as the picking is purely hypothetical… tis a moot point.

Your son, from what little I know of him in his interview on your site, seems to be a perfectly nice young man so I have no doubt he could pick. I worry about people that don’t have a say in who they marry because they are the very ones that will have to live out those vows they took, that life long commitment that isn’t all moonlight and roses. Why should someone else pick for them? Guide them might be a better strategy. I see nothing set in stone in the Bible that says a father picks without any input from the adult child.

This particular argument falls particularly flat. I think my son was readier to pick himself a wife at fifteen than the overwhelming majority, indeed probably the totality, of these anti-quiverful women are able to pick a husband.[3] Indeed they declare their rebellion to the Biblical qualifications for husbands and the role of the wife quite overtly. The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.[4]

Fifteen is too young for anyone to make such a serious decision with a long term impact no matter how wise that fifteen year old is. It’s also very illegal in most states.

Believe it or not many at NLQ are married, happily married for many years. But that verse about a woman submitting to a man has most men skipping the back part which says that the man should also submit to his wife, that they should submit graciously to one another. Many of the times when Jesus was around women or talking to women in the New Testiment it’s very clear that He treated women as equal to men, equal in such a way that was outrageously liberal and open minded for a society that treated women as chattel.

So why, then, do I propose betrothal as the ‘right’ way for my son to get married? Why did I think it better for me to ‘pick’ a wife for him than for he to pick one for himself?
Well, first of all, we don’t really have a marriage mart– we have dating and courting. We have two processes which force our young people into relationships which go beyond ‘brother and sister’, and yet are not yet husband and wife. I’m not opposed to, worried about, or fearful any of my sons picking out their own wife. I am opposed to the process proposed for doing it.
My actual ‘fear’ is something that my opponents are well aware of, since they have written articles about it. The term they use is ‘giving away pieces of their hearts’. Many of them were raised on the idea that dating involved ‘giving pieces of your heart away’ and that the end result would be a man or woman coming to their marriage with insufficient ‘heart’ (ie ability to love) left for their spouse.

Dating and courting? Whatever happened to friendship? Mixed outings that have nothing to do with dating? Your son is out in the world, it wouldn’t be too hard I would think for him to pray and seek God’s wisdom on someone to marry whatever your thoughts of betrothal/courtship/dating. That way doesn’t work for everyone. Plus I’ve seen what happens in parent-picked arranged marriages, Christian ones at that, and it’s not an ideal recipe. It doesn’t seem to have any greater chance at success than anything else.

One of the things that has always bothered me about the idea of giving away pieces of your heart is that it divides people into “worthy” and “damaged” categories. It goes right back to those thoughts that being judgmental about the possible emotional life of others is awesome.

I think (as they do) the analogy is a bad one. Ironically I would use their very arguments against them when they condemn the Duggars.[5] I am not worried that my children will run out of love during the dating process. Love is not divided, it is multiplied.

Love is limitless and no one has ever accused your children of running out of love. The concern is more that they had bounded choice or no choice in their futures. The same complaint we’ve had of the Duggars, everything is decided for them and those children have no way to practice any agency or ability to take any steps towards maturity, only to be a mirror for their parents beliefs instead of developing their own.

But I do worry that they will violate the image of Christ and the church.[6] We are not given the impression that Christ ‘checked out’ a variety of brides before he finally settled on the church. Instead we are told He came to ‘choose’ only and all of those His Father had given Him. It is that image we are trying to portray in our human marriages and that is the image that, I am sorely afraid, is being destroyed by our current systems.

I would agree that human marriage is being destroyed and not taken seriously in this world. Which leads to divorce. There must be a return to reverence for marriage. If you’re not sure, please don’t get married. There are worse things than living a life without a marital partner.

On a purely factual basis, as well, I must say that our current system does not work. My opponents wax eloquent about the consequences of the betrothal system, but have they seen the consequences of dating? The child-murder rate, the divorce rate, the number of children living in single families or, worse, with foster families? Compare that to Scripture… where no Godly man was divorced. Or even the Christians in India, where those that don’t practice dating have an almost zero percent divorce rate.

Marriage is screwed up in this world but as I said earlier it is more due to the lack of reverence to the commitment and our disposable society than anything else. A world that treats people as objects tends to devalue any commitment by those objects. Patriarchy reduces women to objects as much as pornography or the world does. Attitudes towards marriage need to change but you cannot legislate the human heart.

The bottom line, of course, is that my opponents reject Scriptural pattern and precept in building their ideas for how marriages should happen. Scripture does not show the young man, fully ‘ready’ for such a decision, going out into the dating world and ‘picking’ a spouse. It does not show God encouraging or requiring such a thing.

Nor does it show God requiring the father to always pick a mate for the child either.

People have value and should be allowed the freedom to make the most important decision of their lives without interference of family if that’s what they desire. There is no one right or wrong way to pick a spouse.

Comments open below

NLQ Recommended Reading …

Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich

Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland

Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce

 

About Suzanne Calulu
  • Baby_Raptor

    Scripture has no “meaningfulness” or “use” to anything but an individual’s personal life.

    “I would agree that human marriage is being destroyed and not taken seriously in this world. Which leads to divorce.”

    Slow down there, OP. There are a myriad of reasons that people get divorced, and none of them are any less valid than any other. A romanticized ideal of “forever” is all well and good if you want it for your own relationship, but it shouldn’t be pushed on everyone else. Nor should anyone be called a failure if they don’t adhere to it.

    And marriage isn’t “desecrated” simply because some people decide that the person they married isn’t the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    “The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.” – V.O.

     
    I assume the site he talks about is No Longer Quivering. I assume the verse he talks of is: “Psa_127:5 Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.”

    I have, ironically, never seen any rebellion here to the literal meaning of the text. Literal rebellion against the text will be to say the man (not woman) with a quiver full of children is unhappy and will be ashamed and they won’t speak to enemies.

    I am pretty sure that I never heard this here. I have read a few things that suggest the last part – “speaking to enemies” – is not something isolated home schoolers do well, but even that is not rebellion against the words of the verse. The verse say nothing about isolating or home schooling.

    (Besides, I think having your quiver full of children may mean something very different from what QF thinks. http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/perhaps-a-full-quiver-is-the-exact-opposite-of-what-the-quiverfull-movement-think-it-is/ )

  • Nightshade

    ‘They don’t even bother to come over and make the comments on my site or my FaceBook page’ I assume by his site he means his True Love Doesn’t Wait site, if he has another I’m not aware of it. Have you folks read the Forum Rules? http://truelovedoesntwait.com/forum/index.php/topic,2.msg6.html#new Those rules seriously discourage discussion of any perspective that deviates significantly from Mr. Ohlman’s point of view. I’m not saying those rules should be changed, it’s his forum, he can do as he likes, but suggesting that people make comments, while simultaneously severely discouraging those comments, seems insincere at best. He has the freedom to speak here, has done so, and as far as I know still has that option, so if the choice is here or there the discussion has to take place here. His FB page? I wonder if he would accept a friend request from one of us…?

  • http://www.nightphoenix.com Amaranth

    I think the problem is that Ohlman has approached this issue with the same overarching flawed premise as most betrothal/courtship apologists, but unlike most, has simply taken that premise all the way to its logical conclusion.

    The premise is this: sexual/romantic attraction in any context other than an established marriage…any attraction at *all*…is the exact moral equivalent of adultery. Attraction = lust = adultery. There is no difference among any of these for the unmarried person in Ohlman’s world. The moment you feel that little stirring in your heart for someone, you are cheating on your hypothetical spouse…even if that person ends up *being* your spouse in the future.

    Problem is, most people want to get married *because* they have romantic feelings about each other, so setting up a scenario that demonizes having romantic feelings about someone before you’ve married them is going to make things awkward for everyone. Ohlman is correct in that the only logical way to alleviate this problem is to make sure people form lifelong commitments to each other before they have the opportunity to develop any romantic feelings towards each other.

    Yet most betrothal/courtship enthusiasts reach this point and say, “Now wait a minute, we’re talking about marriage here.” Most bow to reality and conclude that romantic feelings are inevitable. Some might even go so far as to say these feelings are not in of themselves sinful, but acting on them would be. Thus the supervision, the no-touching, no-hugging, no-kissing, no alone time, etc…these rules attempt to keep the couple from acting on their (grudgingly admitted) inevitable developing attraction to each other during the courtship process.

    Ohlman basically says to this, “Oh no, those feelings are definitely sinful. You really shouldn’t have those before you’re married. Those belong to properly married spouses and spouses alone. Why wait around and let those feelings develop, and THEN try to curtail them? Just go ahead and unite the couple in marriage before it has a chance to happen!” All that pesky potentially sinful romance and sexual desire can always develop later, because all men are naturally sexually compatible with all woman because plumbing, doncha know…better to make sure it happens inside the Godly box of approval, after the point of no return, because it’s not like people change or discover that the person they thought they knew was only a mask…

    And yet, nowhere in Scripture is natural romantic attraction deemed the same thing as lust. He’s using the common marriage metaphor in the Bible backwards: where the authors say, “Here, I’m going to describe Christ’s relationship to us in a way that most people will understand: a human marriage…”, Ohlman turns it around and says, “The Church is described as a bride, which may sound like a metaphor but actually means human marriages are literally supposed to proceed in exactly the same way Christ ‘married’ the Church.”

    What seems to escape people like this is that a descriptive metaphor is not the same thing as a literal set of instructions on how to set up human relationships. Trying to claim a metaphor as an instruction manual is going to make people scratch their heads at you, in the same way they’d scratch their heads at a person claiming the color red attracts wolves and that’s what Little Red Riding Hood was *really* about. It’s called missing the point.

  • Baby_Raptor

    He’s not discouraging comments; he’s discouraging comments that disagree with him. Because he’s a penis owner, and therefore god loves him a whole huggy-muggy bunch and he’s right.

  • MyOwnPerson

    It’s a major error to think that following a particular interpretation of the Bible equals maturity. His son and future daughter in law may end up being a fine match, but they’re in for a rough ride no matter what.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    I am sorry that I clicked the dislike button. I happen to strongly disagree with “none of [the reasons people divorce] are any less valid than any other.”

    For example, divorcing a guy because he abuses you, and divorcing him because he was rich when you met and has a lesser job now, is not equal in my value system.

    I have mixed feelings on: “marriage isn’t “desecrated” simply because some people decide that the person they married isn’t the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.”
    It is true in the sense that a marriage can be broken already (and a marriage cannot be repaired by only one person willing to work on it) and there is no desecration in getting rid of something that cannot be repaired, but there is desecration in taking your vows lightly, and thus leaving for a minor reason.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Vaughn wrote:

    “But I do worry that they will violate the image of Christ and the church.[6] We are not given the impression that Christ ‘checked out’ a variety of brides before he finally settled on the church. Instead we are told He came to ‘choose’ only and all of those His Father had given Him. It is that image we are trying to portray in our human marriages and that is the image that, I am sorely afraid, is being destroyed by our current systems.”

    I fundamentally disagree that the passage in Ephesians 5 is supposed to mean that human marriages are meant to “image” or show a picture to the world of Christ and the church. This is getting the text backwards– it is Christ and the church, and a particular, specific picture of Christ and the church, that marriages are to look to, and not the other way around. This teaching as Vaughn has expressed it has a way of turning husbands into little gods in the home, with wives as their worshipers. I’ve been planning for a while to turn my work on this subject into a FAQ for NLQ; this makes me want to get moving on that!

  • Madame

    I find the use of the analogy troubling, no matter which direction it takes.
    I heard a series of sermons by a pastor and his wife where he kept saying “look at Christ and the church” for every aspect of marriage. I don’t think we are meant to line marriages up to the relationship of Christ and the church because we are dealing with divine+ human vs. human + human.

  • Joy

    But if divine = male and human = woman, then it works, doesn’t it?

    The way some of this patriarchy stuff is written, it comes across as male = divine.

  • Kristen Rosser

    Agreed. It is not every aspect of marriage, but only the one shown in the text that marriages are to look to– and specifically, the image shown in the text is of Christ laying down his power and position in order to raise his wife up, and to nourish and cherish her.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    The very name “patriarchy” means “male rule.” In religion, we have God rule. So when people make patriarchy a religion, they quickly regard men as gods…

  • SAO

    Frankly, I think Ohlman’s system of marriage is immoral. The heart of marriage is to promise to love one’s spouse. Yet how can anyone love someone they don’t know? The most Ohlman’s son and his fiancee could do was to promise to try to love each other. And make a commitment to pretend if love doesn’t grow between the two strangers.

    Sometimes love dies. There’s no virtue in pretending to oneself or others that it hasn’t and being willfully blind isn’t much better.

  • http://www.ericpazdziora.com/ Eric

    At face value, couldn’t we say that “No Longer Quivering” is obedience to a specific verse from God– namely, 1 John 4:18?

    “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

    If Von would prefer you to be “quivering” in fear, then he is asking you to rebel against God’s plain commandment. :P

  • Madame

    Love dies in marriages that couples went into in love. Love dies for many reasons.
    I also believe that continuing to love is an act of the will, and we often have to “will ourselves” to keep loving our spouse through difficult times if we want to stay married.

    The problem I have with Von’s whole idea of marriage (well, one problem!), is that it completely strips away the romance, the feelings, the sexual attraction, which you can feel for one person and will be absent with someone else. I felt physically, emotionally and sexually attracted to my husband. There were many other young men I could have chosen, and someone else may have chosen from them for me, but I was attracted to him and chose to have a relationship with him. And it was reciprocal. That doesn’t mean we are always “in love”, but it was a good place to start.
    Von reduces sex to a duty that one can’t deny.

  • gimpi1

    The site is dedicated to an open rebellion to a specific verse from God, after all.”

    And what’s the matter with that? We don’t live in a theocracy. I can “rebel” against any scripture I choose to. I can live my life as I see fit, not according to Mr. Ohlman’s decrees. And he has the same right. So does his son, weather or not he chooses to exercise it. Freedom, it’s a beautiful thing.

  • gimpi1

    “It is a funny difference between conservatives and liberals that conservatives seem to always question liberals ideas, and liberals question conservatives motives. Indeed, when a liberal makes a movie about an evil conservative the conservative is almost never doing what the conservative says he wants to do (ie he is a hypocrite[1]) whereas a conservative movie will often show liberals living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong, immoral, and lead to a deranged and deprived society).”

    What the heck is he talking about here? Anyone know?

  • persephone

    I don’t bother because even if I met the requirements I don’t want to raise the traffic to his site. And I don’t Facebook.

  • persephone

    It’s Von, therefore without basis and nonsensical

  • persephone

    Von has come over here to comment a few times, but he hasn’t got.the chops to take on those who actually have cohesive scriptural and historical knowledge.

  • http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/ Retha Faurie

    I don’t know what he is talking about, but this site is about what happens to many women when they follow Quiverful/ patriarchy ideas. It shows QF/P “living up to their stated ideals (which just happen to be wrong … and lead to a deranged and deprived society).”
    (I think he wanted to use the word depraved, not deprived.) But deprived fits very well in describing what was experienced by the women telling their stories here.)

  • Baby_Raptor

    Apologies, Disqus didn’t see fit to give me a heads-up on this comment.

    Note: If you accidentally up/downvote, just click it again and it’ll take the vote back. One of the few smart things Disqus did.

    It really all comes down to the fact that society sees marriage as this all-important relationship, and we place more weight on it than it should have. Marriage is a highly personal thing, and deciding exactly what this relationship means should be between the two people getting married. Instead we have society pushing fancy notions of “forever” or “until death do us part,” while also pushing the idea that marriage solves a lot of life’s big problems. It sets up unrealistic expectations.

    Now, I’m not saying that you (general you) shouldn’t decide to try for forever if that’s what you decide you want. I’m just saying that we shouldn’t be setting it as the “everyone shoot for this” bar and making people feel like failures or broken messes if they don’t attain it. There are just too many out of control factors for such a thing to be realistic.

    Note 2: All of the above is personal opinion.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Ugh. This was supposed to be in response to the comment above this one. Apologies for the misclick.

    Dear Disqus, WTB comment erasing capabilities!

  • Baby_Raptor

    That would require possibly admitting that he was wrong. Could you just imagine the brain asplode having to do that would cause him?

  • Baby_Raptor

    He wishes we lived in a theocracy. And he may well be a Dominionist. I don’t know much about the man, so I can’t say for certain.

  • gimpi1

    “It’s called missing the point.”
    Perfectly said, Amaranth. Missing the point by a mile.
    And the whole idea of taking a metaphor and trying to use it as an instruction-manual for relationships is dangerous. Metaphor is often used to describe complex things in simple ways. That sets one up to fail, because the metaphor, by definition, can’t embrace the complexity of life.


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