The Piano: Adventures in Recovery

by Calulu Reading through the many different stories at NLQ of how we were enmeshed in the unhealthy lifestyle that is patriarchy, fundamentalism, quiverful, dominionism, evangelism, name your ism, has led me to wonder why we all so readily embraced that which was so clearly illogical and dangerous. There must be something in us that went off in that direction that’s significantly different than the average person that likes regular movies and beer plus other forbidden things in our old religious lives. This isn’t about those that were raised in the life. Growing up to emulate your parents is perfectly understandable, be your parent Charlie Manson or Billy Graham. I’m talking about those of us that willingly signed on as adults, who should have known better in the first place. I did notice during my own frustrating years toiling in fundigelical land that the truest bluest believers seem to have some quirk or oddness. It usually didn’t show at first but once you delved deeper you could discern some brokenness inside. Significant brokenness. Like they were using their extreme flavor of God to plug some holes filled with deep neediness. Like a drug.

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The 14 Basic Needs of Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar

 

by Hopewell

Recently  on “19 Kids and Counting,” Michelle Duggar was seen giving women a handout on the “7 Basic Needs of a Husband,” a document produced and distributed by the Advanced Training Institute –the Duggar’s “homeschool group.” She also gave out the group’s “Character Qualities” chart, which I discussed in an earlier post, The 49 Character Qualities of the Duggars.

The 14 Basic Needs of Jim-Bob and Michelle Duggar: How they meet each other’s 7 Basic Needs:

7 Basic Needs of a Husband:

  • A man needs a wife who is loyal and supportive: Obviously, Jim-Bob picked the right wife! Michelle has been there with him, supportive to the max, thru years of small businesses, scrimping and buying used and saving the difference to achieve his (well, their) dream for their family. She’s put up with a two bedroom house on a car lot keeping 4 or 5 small children quiet while Daddy made a car sale. She’s sold cars herself with babies underfoot, gone out to tow cars on her own and kept all the family fed, clothed and healthy throughout it all. That was the early years.

Today Michelle is beside Jim-Bob at every possible moment—even on the Santorum Campaign trail when possible. While she has Grandma Duggar and the big girls to take up much of the day-to-day running of the family, caring for Jim-Bob is her responsibility and she obviously takes it seriously. Her rapt attention when he is speaking shows her love for him.

  • A man needs a wife who honors his leadership: Michelle honors her husband by taking any opportunity to praise him as a father, speaking lovingly of love of family fun, of making a careful response to problems and of modeling the behavior he wants to see in his children. She openly admires his vision for the family and his business acumen. When he is speaking she is completely focused on him.
  • A man needs a wife who develops inward and outward beauty Michelle has kept herself in very good shape considering all the years of pregnancy she’s endured. She honors her husband’s preference for long hair at an age when most wives have long since cut theirs for convenience. She maintains her composure in difficult situations and tries always to speak in a loving voice. She laughs easily and her smile at that time is lovely. She is a very outgoing lady.
  • A man needs a wife who will make appeals, not demands.  While we cannot know what goes on when the cameras are off, it does not appear that Michelle is a very demanding of her husband.  She does not complain about him dragging home an antique harp or buying a new bus—she’s used to his whims and trusts his business sense. She knows him well and lives easily and happily with him.

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NLQ FAQ: Does Someone Always Have To Be In Charge? Part 2

NO LONGER QUIVERING FAQ: DOES SOMEONE ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN CHARGE? PART 2: HIERARCHY – ORIGINS, THE TRINITY AND MARRIAGE

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka KRwordgazer

God has ordained authority structures in every area of life.  In every enterprise someone has to be in charge– otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. Even within the Godhead there is authority: God the Son submitted to the will of the Father. Doesn’t a solidly biblical worldview require a chain of command within the Christian family?  A family is not a democracy, after all.  In saying husbands should not be in charge of the home, aren’t you just attacking one aspect of God’s divine plan for authority?

In Part 1 we examined what the Bible actually teaches about authority, which we defined as “the power or right to command.” God in the Old Testament simply does not appear to be interested in setting up God-ordained human authority structures, but rather prefers to raise up individual, Spirit-led leaders who act in God’s authority, not as part of a top-down chain of command. And though the New Testament teaches submission to earthly institutions of human authority, its focus is on the new creation kingdom of God, in which hierarchies of human authority are eliminated in favor of equal brother-sister relationships.  In fact, though it can’t be denied that some areas of human life here on earth need some form of authority structure, there is simply no biblical justification for the concept that authority structures are ordained of God to cover every area of life, or that God has determined that there will be chaos if there isn’t “someone in charge” of every sphere of human relationship.

So where did the idea come from, that God has ordained top-down chains of command, both in earthly and in spiritual relationships, with human authority structures in every area of life?

Plato (429-347 BC) was possibly the greatest of the Greek philosophers. He conceived of the nature of reality to consist first of ideal “Forms,” and then objects/beings which were types of each ideal. Plato conceived of the Form of Absolute Good as the ultimate, universal object of human desire, and this Idea of the Good became synonymous with God in the writings of his student, Aristotle. In order to be the ultimate Good, God would, in Absolute generosity, also give existence to every other possible good thing. Aristotle then arranged all creatures into a graded scale according to how closely they approached “perfection.” The Neo-Platonists, a group of Greek philosophers in the 3rd-5th centuries AD, who expanded Plato and Aristotle’s ideas, particularly in terms of religion and spirituality, developed this notion further. Macrobius, a Neo-Platonist writing in the early fifth century AD, wrote:

“[T]he attentive observer will discover a connection of parts, from the Supreme God down to the last dregs of things, mutually linked together and without a break. And this is Homer’s golden chain, which God, he says, bade hang down from heaven to earth.” Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, Harper & Brothers (1936) p. 63.

This idea of a graded, hierarchical creation came to be known as the “Great Chain of Being.” Alan Myatt, in his paper “On the Compatibility of Ontological Equality, Hierarchy and Functional Distinctions,” writes:

“As Greek philosophical notions were appropriated by early Christian apologists in their defense of the faith, it [the idea of the Great Chain of Being] eventually became entwined with the theology of the church and set the agenda for its theory of society. . . In the Middle Ages, this concept translated into the division of society into ‘Three Estates,’ each stratified according to the Chain of Being. The first estate consisted of church officials beginning with the pope. . . The second estate included the ruling classes of kings, nobility and knights, while the peasants and merchants made up the third estate. Any violation of the established authority within each estate was seen as a threat to the creation order, and subversive to the state and to the stability of Christian culture. Any attempt to leave one’s place in the chain was therefore an act of rebellion. It is critical to note that in the family, there was a hierarchical ordering of husband, wife, children and servants. Each was subordinate to the previous due to their immutable places in the Chain of Being.”

By Elizabethan times (1500s), the Chain of Being had become “one of those accepted commonplaces, more often hinted at or taken for granted than set forth.” (Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture, Vintage Books, page 26.) The Elizabethan philosophers and theologians envisioned not just a hierarchical gradation of beings, but a “primacy” within each specific class of beings, such as “the dolphin among fishes, the eagle among birds, the lion among beasts, the emperor among men.” Ibid, p. 29-30. This conception of hierarchy among the animals is never hinted at in the biblical creation story— but it became part of Christian/Western thought through the infusion of pagan philosophy. Even now we still think of the lion as “the king of beasts.”

Another “commonplace” assumption of Elizabethan times was that “the order in the state duplicates the order of the macrocosm.” Ibid, p. 88. The Homily of Obedience written in 1547 stated,

“In the earth God has assigned kings, princes with other governors under them, all in good and necessary order. The water above is kept and raineth down in due time and season. The sun, moon, stars, rainbow, thunder, lightening, clouds, and all birds of the air do keep their order.” Ibid, p. 88.

Thus, building upon Greek pagan thought, the idea of a hierarchical order of authority in every strata of human relations, based upon the order of creation, became infused with Christianity to the point where no one even thought to question it. This legacy became part of our Western conception of the universe, which still exists today. Alan Myatt notes that a hierarchical understanding of the universe is the tendency in eastern systems of thought as well, “so universal in human society that it could be said to be the default mode of human existence.” He adds that in our churches today, “Traditional hierarchical biblical interpretation has been filtered through the lens of a cultural vision of human relations compromised by a pagan worldview [which] effectively blinded it to the egalitarian implications of the biblical text.” In other words, hierarchical thinking is so natural for humans, and so much a part of our Western mentality, that we have been reading it back into the biblical texts ever since the end of the Age of the Apostles.

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NLQ FAQ: Does Someone Always Have To Be In Charge? Part 1

NO LONGER QUIVERING FAQ: DOES SOMEONE ALWAYS HAVE TO BE IN CHARGE? PART 1: HUMAN AUTHORITY IN THE BIBLE

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka KRwordgazer

God has ordained authority structures in every area of life.  In every enterprise someone has to be in charge– otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. Even within the Godhead there is authority: God the Son submitted to the will of the Father. Doesn’t a solidly biblical worldview require a chain of command within the Christian family?  A family is not a democracy, after all.  In saying husbands should not be in charge of the home, aren’t you just attacking one aspect of God’s divine plan for authority?

It cannot be denied that human societies need some form of law, to protect people from being harmed by one another, among other things– and that laws need someone with the power to enforce them, or they are useless. But is this idea that “someone always has to be in charge,” that there is a chain of command in every area of human life, actually taught in the Bible?

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The Myth of the Weaker Vessel

by Eric Pazdziora

In response to a popular pastor’s perplexing pronouncement that “God has given Christianity a masculine feel,” Rachel Held Evans asked Christian men to write a blog post “that celebrates the importance of women in the Church.” Here’s mine.

Lately, both from online creepers and respectable preachers, I’ve seen several comments that come back to one idea: Of course we give lip service to the idea that women are equal to men, but actually they’re inferior, because the Bible says that a woman is a “weaker vessel.” Here’s a composite portrait, based very closely on wording I’ve seen in various places:

There is a difference between men and women, regardless of what you would like to believe. The Bible makes this clear: 1 Peter 3:7– “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the weaker vessel.” Either this passage is true and women are “weaker vessels,” or it’s not. If it’s not, why believe any of the Bible? God says that because women are weaker, they are more vulnerable to deception and temptation. There are lots of things they don’t know or can’t deal with. That’s why God has raised up men to be the godly authorities they need to guard their hearts and spirits…..

I find that rather unsettling. Continually dwelling on how someone is weak and vulnerable and in need of help is disturbingly similar to what’s called “learned helplessness” (or sometimes “gaslighting” after the Ingrid Bergman film). In its worst forms, it’s a technique of psychological abuse. It works with a chilling simplicity: the more a feeling of helplessness is reinforced on you, the more likely you are to believe it. If every time you go to pick up a bag I say, “Let me get that for you; you’re too weak,” eventually you’ll start to say, “You’ll have to get that for me; I’m too weak.” Even if you’re not.

So it’s no surprise that this Bible verse about the “weaker vessel” is a favorite weapon in the arsenal of religious people who want to dominate and control women (see The Bondage of Betrothal.) Even when people don’t intend to put women down, though, it can have much the same effect. If you say “Women are inferior” with the very best of intentions and disclaimers, you’re still saying it. Learned helplessness works in either case. Some of the most belittling statements in the example above were taken straight from a blog post written by a young woman. It’s bad enough when misogynists belittle women; it’s distressing when women do it for them.

Belittling someone is not a good way to celebrate them. The way it’s presented there, though, it looks like we have to embrace some form of sexism or else throw out the entire Bible. As a Christian, I don’t especially like either option. So here’s the question: Does the Bible really say that all women are “weaker vessels”?

Well… it does use the phrase “weaker vessels.” But to quote the philosopher Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

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