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

 

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About Suzanne Calulu

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