It's Not About the Clothes!

[Note: For NLQ readers who have not yet joined the forum, here's a small taste of what you're missing ~ :) ]
by Whisperthroughtherain

When I was little, before we moved to the Bible belt, getting dressed was simple. I liked wild colors and animal prints. I felt so pretty when I got my ears pierced. In the summer when it was hot, nobody thought twice about running around in a bikini… Most of us did. Even chubby grandmas! We had pool parties and ordered pizza and my cousin taught me to swim. I thought he was great. Sometimes little boys tried to kiss me, but I just ran away.

When I was a little older, we got involved with a southern, backwoods Baptist church. In Sunday school they taught us Bible stories, and then they taught us to kneel down and make sure our skirt was long enough to reach the floor. We had to get some skirts to wear to church out of respect, cause it was really important to be different than boys. It was really hard to go to the bathroom at church because the ladies room was full of girls fixing their hairdos and putting on perfume and posing in front of the long mirror… I didn’t do that much though, because I didn’t feel pretty at church. I liked to wear jeans at home. And wild t shirts. And camoflage. My best friend was a boy and he would come over and climb trees and ride bikes with me, but we didn’t hang out together at church much. Because boys and girls were different.

After we left that church, I got angry. I didn’t like being told what to do. I didn’t like having to wear whatever other people decided was appropriate. I didn’t like that it mattered. I knew who I wanted to be, and she didn’t look like they wanted her to… so when we visited friends from that church, I had to dress up and play the part for them. Once we met them in the grocery store while I was wearing jeans, and i stood behind the cart, because I felt guilty… but I didn’t know why. I was angry inside. Very angry. I took it out on my parents, and my brothers and sisters. I wasn’t nice.

Then I had an experience… in the middle of the night one night, I realized that God wasn’t an angry old man up in the sky, waiting for me to screw up so he could send me to hell… he loved me. He wanted to be real to me. And I loved him back. All of a sudden my anger was gone… little things didn’t matter to me anymore! God was so much bigger!

We found a new church to go to… and I was so excited! Other people who loved God! I was so open, so happy to be taught about him! I trusted these new people immediately- I loved them too! They were looking out for me!

Yes… I had to take out my earrings to go to church, because these people didn’t wear earrings. Ever. They thought earrings were bad… but it wouldn’t hurt to take them out, out of respect, right? People were happy when I took them out. They all dressed alike… I came to find out that apparently dressing funny was a big deal to God. His people were supposed to stand out in a crowd and be a witness for him. They preached about it, and I thought, well, if God said to do it, I don’t care! I’ll do it! It didn’t seem fair that it was mostly the girls that had to stand out though. They said that if we didn’t wear a head covering we were rebellious against God in our hearts. Even if we didn’t feel rebellious, we definitely were down deep! Wow, I didn’t want to be rebellious! And I liked my Dad, I really respected him, he was awesome! So I’d hate to be rebellious against him too… So yeah, I guess I’ll wear a head covering. I looked in the mirror and shuddered… but then I remembered that all this outward stuff was NOT a big deal in the grand scheme of things!

… Then I started hearing about how, if I wasn’t super careful about the details of how I dressed, other people might look at me and think bad thoughts and it would be all my fault… That seemed a bit off. I kept changing and changing, trying to get this clothes thing right, and at the end I wasn’t only living on the edge of sin… I was in constant danger of being responsible for other people’s sin! And it had been a really long time since I felt pretty…
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Spoofing the Visionary Daughters Quiz

[Note: After NLQ featured the Visionary Daughters Quiz back in November, "Jadeswan" posted her own version of the quiz on the forum. For NLQ readers who have not yet joined the forum, here's a small taste of what you're missing ~ :) ]
by Jadeswan
I decided to try my hand at spoofing the quiz. I’m sorry it’s so long but once I got started it was just too fun to stop. I guess I “just couldn’t help myself.” How foolish! Big Grin

(Just a note in case any of what I wrote steps on anyone’s toes: please keep in mind I grew up under this mentality. Yes, it is snarky but only towards the bonds that kept me chained to fear for so long.)

1—How do you respond when criticized /corrected?
A: I begin throwing things at the criticizer and screaming obscenities.
B: I laugh hysterically and start in on a litany of the criticizer’s faults.
C: In all circumstances I love to be criticized. I show a joyful countenance when my father chastises me (with a Biblical rod, of course) for leaving a book on the table. When my mother tells me that wearing my hair in a ponytail could cause men to lust, I am grateful for her sound advice. If no one is criticizing/correcting me at the moment, I go around asking everyone in my family what each one thinks I do wrong. It is so wonderful that I even self-criticize constantly.

2—I like to talk…
A: Nonstop—during funeral services, during my best friend’s graduation ceremony, at the bedsides of relatives who are deathly ill.
B: Only if everyone will shut up and listen to my awesomeness.
C: I don’t really talk at all. I only whisper—mostly Bible verses and quotes of things my father and pastor say.

3—When I talk I tend:
A: To tell racist jokes and ribald stories.
B: Let out the skeletons in EVERYONE’s closest.
C: See above. (Question 2, answer C.)

4—In the heat of the moment, I often:
A: Get into fist fights
B: Call my family names.
C: I don’t really have a “heat of the moment” because heat is akin to passion and passion is evil. I don’t really disagree with anyone ever—except for wicked people, of course—but when people do disagree I try to help them all agree with the truth. If they won’t I go to my room and read my Bible.
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Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull: Perfectionism & Elitism

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. I John 4:1

Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30

Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

The above passages warn us that not every movement that says it is following Christ’s teachings, actually is. How can we know the difference?

Jesus said “Ye shall know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16).” Galatians 5:22-23 says that out of the “liberty” spoken of in verse 1 of that chapter (quoted above), we should see the fruit of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” If the way you and your family are being encouraged to live is a life of liberty, causing a growth of these qualities, then it is bearing good fruit.

This series asks a set of questions designed to help you determine whether following the Quiverfull movement is keeping you and your family in the liberty of Christ and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.

Do you feel guilt that you and your family could be doing better in living out the principles of godly living that are being presented to you as God’s best? Is it implied that in following these principles, you are part of a special group, called to higher things than other Christians? Do you ever feel dread or hesitation about what new biblical standards the Lord might reveal to you next, because the way you live now is already such a challenge? Do you ever find yourself putting up a “front” of family blessing and harmony for others to see? Have you seen individuals or families who fail to meet the standards, rejected and ostracized?

Here are some teachings or statements you may have heard in the Quiverfull movement:

“God has revealed to us the true, biblical model for godly homes and families. We dare to be different from ‘lukewarm’ Christians, rejecting worldly ways that are steeped in humanism.”

“So many other Christian couples are ‘planning’ their family size for the sake of their convenience, but God has not given us that option. He has called us to a life of faith and trust.”

“Your own home can become an outstanding example of how following biblical principles for godly family living will result in children who are wholeheartedly dedicated to serving the Lord in their own lives.”

“When we fulfill with excellence our high calling as wives, mothers and homemakers, we raise the standard of God’s truth to the nation.”

And here are some of the Scriptures that are emphasized:

“And Jesus said unto him, ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62

“He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much, and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Phil. 4:13 (implying that if you are truly letting Christ strengthen you, you should be able to meet all these standards)

But is this the whole counsel of the Scriptures?
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Adventures in Recovery ~ Hi Ho Trigger!

by Calulu

I’m not talking about Roy Roger’s stuffed horse that rests in the Smithsonian either. I’m talking about those emotional triggers that stun us, slap us upside of the head when we least expect it, pulling us right back into the powerlessness of the moment. Unfortunately for most of us that moment is usually negative, bordering on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

For at least four years after I left the toxic environment of my old church it wouldn’t take much to trigger me, a snub by a former friend in the dressing room of the local gym or at the grocery store, certain hymns or songs, or places. One minute I’d be pulled together, moving and grooving and the next I’d be shaking, trying not to vomit or a weepy mess.

It got so bad about a year after I left that church it’s a miracle I didn’t take my life. I remember a ride home in the dark from work the night before Thanksgiving listening to the local Christian radio station. I started crying hard, that type of crying that you feel like you cannot catch your breath and you just know you have huge unattractive snot bubbles forming around your nose. Crazy crying.

Turns out that many of the same people that had tried their hardest to torment me because I dared leave were calling in to say what they were thankful for. Sure, others did too, but it seemed like the overwhelming majority were people I knew all too well from my old church and the other like-minded local churches. Hearing those sanctimonious people with pompous piety spouting out how grateful they were for some pretty self serving things. Lies upon lies tumbling out. I wanted to die but restrained myself to beating on the dashboard and shrieking. Thankfully there was little traffic that night because I’m sure I was driving like a maniac.

I shook, stewed and fumed for days. This radio broadcast triggered me so severely it was sort of like being victimized all over again. It robbed me of the joy you usually have gathering friends and family together for the holidays. Thanksgiving was glum and the Christmas season was headed that way before I did two things that finally broke the spell of the trigger.

First I went into therapy with a very empathetic caring psychologist who helped me own my feelings, who told me they were wrong to treat me that way. She helped me start to heal and move past some of what I was experiencing. We talked a great deal about triggers. I would recommend treatment to anyone having troubles dealing with the triggers of walking away from toxic religion of any type. It does make a difference.

The second thing I did was kind of nutty. But it helped me. During December this particular radio station had a special evening drive time listener thing where you could request three songs to be played during the evening commute. For weeks I heard people write in with some of the same sanctimonious language that triggered me so badly at Thanksgiving. But the rancid cherry on the ice cream sundae of fakery was that they all started signing it cutesy, like Mary Christmas or Jenny Jingle Belle. Gag.

I wrote in as if I were the Grinch, pointing out a few things that were making my heart grow three sizes too small and if they didn’t want me to arrive in my sleigh with my little dog Max they should heed me. I signed it Barb Humbug.
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NLQ FAQ: Why Do You Call Quiverfull Legalistic?

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

People keep saying Quiverfull is “legalistic.” But it’s not! We don’t live the Quiverfull lifestyle as a way to win God’s favor or to earn our salvation. We do it because we love Jesus, and Jesus said that if we love Him we will keep His commandments. So long as your reason for doing what you are doing is not to earn God’s love but rather as a grateful response to His love for you ~ then it’s not legalism. Aren’t people who call us “legalistic” just being negative?

It’s true that legalism is often defined by Christians strictly in terms of whether a person is doing “works” to attain salvation or win God’s favor. As Paul said in Galatians 2:21, “I do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” But Paul, and Jesus Himself, had more to say about legalism than this. Legalism means more than seeking to be justified by works of the law. You can love Jesus with all your heart, and you can believe that you are doing everything you do out of love for Jesus, and still be walking in legalism. In fact, a person’s very zeal to go the extra mile for God can make them especially vulnerable to legalistic practice. It’s very easy, when you want to serve God with your whole life, to listen to the myriad of voices in Christianity that say, “If you really love God with all your heart, you will do A, and B, and C. Those who don’t do these things aren’t really on fire for God.”

I know this from personal experience. When I was in college I was in a campus ministry group that became well-known for its coercive religious teachings. Our hearts were right, but many of our practices amounted to what Jesus called “binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laying them on men’s shoulders.” (Matthew 23:5.)

For example, this group forbid all music, television, movies or books that did not meet its high standards of spirituality, based largely upon verses like Psalms 101:3 – “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes.” Many of us went even further and threw our television sets away or burned our books and recordings. But does “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes” actually mean, “throw out your TV”? Or was the Psalmist describing how he expressed his devotion to God, in terms of where he put his focus? In fact, the Bible itself is full of all kinds of things that, if you applied the Psalm as we did, we shouldn’t have been reading about at all! Murders and rapes and warfare and adultery are all things that come “before our eyes” when we read the Scriptures. So is just reading about these things, or watching The Ten Commandments on TV, “setting” wickedness before our eyes?

In fact, my group was going way beyond what the Bible texts actually said, to impose on ourselves all kinds of restrictions and “oughts” and “shoulds” that weren’t really there. And then patting ourselves on the back and looking down on others for not measuring up to our standards.
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