By now, I'm pretty sure the Romeike family is on the mind of every homeschooling family and most conservative Christians. Their trial to find out if they will be deported or granted citizenship is on Tuesday.
Libby Anne has posted a guest post that helped explain the legalities, and someone from HSLDA has offered a rebuttal. I'm not a lawyer and I don't pretend to understand everything that's happening. I know something smells fishy and I feel sorry for this family. But I'm not here to comment on the debate. Because something else is bothering me a whole lot more than this whole legal mess.
In Germany, it is illegal to homeschool. Refusal to put your child in a private or public school can cause parents to be fined, be thrown in prison, and/or have their children taken from them. The Romeike's pulled their kids out of school in 2006, 2 years before seeking refuge in America. They were threatened by fines and legal action and could have lost their children if they had not fled.
Did you catch that? They could've lost their children. They still could if sent back and they refuse to obey the law. It's happened before.
So these parents were willing to lose their children and their family for their religious beliefs. Not because their children were threatened by harm. But because of their religious convictions to homeschool and their belief it is their right.
And that is what makes me more angry than anything else in this entire situation.
They were willing to risk their children being taken from them, willing to have their entire family torn apart forever and passed around to who knows who, for their belief that homeschooling is their right. They were willing to stand on their perceived "rights" and risk terrible emotional damage to their children. They were willing to put their children on the alter of their religion and rights and sacrifice them. And then what would've happened? Their kids would've been put in school anyways! Only then, those kids would eventually have to face the fact that their parents' religion was more important to them then their own children.
They and the HSLDA and others I've seen writing their opinions on the matter say it is God's plan for parents to homeschool. Is it then God's plan that they lose their children? Is it's God's plan that someone else raise their kids while they sit in prison and congratulate themselves for standing for "what was right"?
Am I the only one that sees the messed up priorities here?!
Since when is sheltering your kids from evolution and sex education worth losing them entirely?
I'm no lawyer, but I am a mother. And I'll be damned if any of my religious beliefs or political rights are worth the lives and well-being of my children, worth fighting for more than my children. I hope the Romeike's can realize that before it's too late for them.
And if they don't....well....maybe those kids are better off with parents who care more about them than about their religion.
And don't come on here and tell me how heartless I am for saying that. I hurt for this family, the parents AND the children. I am mad at the way they've become pawns to the HSLDA. I am concerned about what will happen if they get sent back. But I am not afraid to stand up and say "wake up, and get your priorities straight". I hope it all works out for the best for them. But most importantly, I hope they realize what they have, their family, is worth protecting, even more than their own rights and religion.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Sunday, April 7, 2013
I say that word and so many emotions come flooding in that I don't know what to say next.
You see, I am a church misfit. I'm one of those people that is ever wandering, trying to find a home, a community of Christ-followers that actually follow Christ when it comes to treating fellow believers with grace and their own imperfect humanity with humility.
There's so much talk of grace these days. Grace for sinners, for unbelievers, for the hurting and the weak. But there's not much grace going around for fellow believers. No grace for those who have beliefs that are considered unorthodox. No grace for those desire to worship in their churches but dare to question their beliefs. No grace for misfits.
I'm told there are churches out there that are accepting of differences. I wonder if the people that say such things know what it's like to have differences that are outside the realm of acceptable diversity in Evangelical Land. Because it's been my experience that "acceptance" only goes so far.
Try walking into one of these "accepting" Evangelical churches and saying the word "Egalitarian". Or "Preterist". Or "Theistic evolution". Or *GASP* "Marriage equality". Just try it and see how far "acceptance" really goes.
I think you'll find that acceptance only covers sinners, not saints. Grace only tolerates the unbelievers until they become believers, then a whole new standard is placed on their shoulders. A standard called "Correct Doctrine", defined, of course, by those who think they've got it right.
Conformity or rejection. That was the choice we were offered at our last church. We chose rejection because no matter how painful that is, it's not nearly as soul-crushing as pretending to be something you're not, as stifling your beliefs, your very personhood, just to be accepted. Not as life-killing as acquienscence to a system that goes against everything you believe in.
So we joined the band of church misfits, pilgrims in the kingdom but on the outskirts. Told we are not christian enough for the Christians. We love but are not really loved in return. We are looked at with suspicion and a little fear by those in the pews. We are called names like "unsubmissive", "insubordinate", "liberal", and "backslidden". Our desire for fellowship with other believers is constantly turned away once they find out who we really are. The whispers are hard to ignore:
"They're the ones that don't believe in Young Earth Creationism!"
"They actually think gay people should have rights!"
"They don't agree with the institutionalized church!"
"I heard they refused to submit to the pastor of X Church."
"They think women can actually teach men!!!"
"They ask questions that should never be asked! I've even heard them say they've *gasp* questioned whether God even exists!"
And the pilgrims are turned away, told there is no room in the church for them.
How many times can a heart give everything only to be told it isn't good enough? People say we should just keep looking, that there are churches out there that will accept us. But how many times must we suffer rejection before we find that? I'm only human. I can only hurt so much. I can only take the broken pieces of my heart that have been flung out the church door, gather them up, and put them slowly back together so many times.
There is no grace for the misfits. For the dissenters. The non-conformists. The outsiders. The questioners. The seekers.
The Church is freaking out these days. Decrying the fact they are losing their youth, losing an entire generation. Their numbers are dwindling and they keep trying to come up with better ways to hang onto their members, to be "relevant", to be attractive. But they are overlooking the only way that that will ever happen: grace for the misfits. Tolerance for those who don't fit in their little boxes. Humility in admitting they don't have all the answers and are only human too. Courage to let go of their fear that if they quit trying to control God, He will become something uncontrollable and that that will be a bad thing. Daring to embrace the questions they cannot answer, the doubt they cannot push away with cliches, and the paradigm shift that will take everything they thought they knew and turn it upside down.
We are unacceptable because we threaten the little world they have created for themselves. We threaten the boxes they've made and labeled "God" and "Christianity" and "Doctrine". Our very existence is baffling and unnerving and the questions we ask threaten to upheave everything they believe in. We've jumped out of the boxes are refusing to get back in. So we are rejected and labeled "Not Really Christians", and turned out of the churches, and the places that are supposed to be havens of peace and rest and encouragement become nothing more than men's kingdoms of complacency and safety for those who can't bear the ugliness and harshness and uncontrollability of the real world.
We aren't going anywhere. We are doing our best to bring the Kingdom of God to earth in tangible ways. We are out here in the dark places, loving people, feeding the poor, shedding light and peace, hurting and healing, searching, hoping someday to find others like us so we can stop being so very alone. We will still be here to open our doors to the ones that bravely come to find us when their questions get them booted out of the churches. Even if they were the ones to boot us. Because that's what grace does. That's what misfits do. We are free to love unconditionally in ways that the church folk aren't. And when the "church" in America finally realizes it's built on sand and comes crashing down, we will be the ones to pick up the pieces left strewn by an institution that tears down, and by grace and faith will put them back together. As we have been doing all along.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
One of my favorite people is trying to get scholarships to finally fulfill her dream of going to college. Sharon is an ex-ATIer and you can read her words on the link.
It will only take you 2 seconds and you don't have to offer any personal info. Just click on the "vote" button. Let's help get this beautiful woman to college!
VOTE AND READ HER STORY HERE
Thank you so much!
It will only take you 2 seconds and you don't have to offer any personal info. Just click on the "vote" button. Let's help get this beautiful woman to college!
VOTE AND READ HER STORY HERE
Thank you so much!
Thursday, January 3, 2013
It was a popular teaching by Bill Gothard that clothes on women could "defraud" their brothers. He used a verse in 1 Thess. 4 to prove this:
"3 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: 4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; 5 Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God: 6 That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified." (A better interpretation of verse 6 says: "and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister.")
He took this verse to mean that all women should be careful how they dress so as not to "defraud" their brothers in Christ with their clothing, which he defined as causing them to stumble or lust. Besides the obvious stretching of the context and content of this verse, there are a few problems with this definition of "defraud."
verb (used with object)
to deprive of a right, money, or property by fraud
Some synonyms of "defraud" are: "bamboozle, beguile, burn, chouse, circumvent, clip, con, deceive, delude, do number on, dupe, embezzle, fleece, foil, hoax, jive, outwit, pilfer, pull fast one, rip off, rob, shaft, sucker into, swindle, take to the cleaner's, take, trick, victimize"
In order to say that a woman's clothing can "defraud" a man, you would have to prove that
1. A woman's body is the right or property of another person
2. A woman is wrongfully offering her body to any man who gazes on her
3. A woman is lying by offering her body to another without intent to follow through with the deal
4. A woman is taking something from any man who looks at her, just by the piece of clothing she is wearing.
5. A woman is responsible for a man being deprived his rights any time he thinks something immoral about her
I really hope I wouldn't have to detail why all of the above is wrong, but in case I do, here goes:
I am not anyone's property or right. No one owns me except myself. I am not offering anything by the clothes I wear. If you think I am offering you something by my clothing, I am not responsible for your wrong thoughts. I cannot steal anything from you by the clothes I wear, especially not something that is owed to you, since I owe you nothing. I cannot control the thoughts of everyone who sees me, as I do not expect everyone else to control my own thoughts. I am not responsible for your thoughts or actions, as you are not responsible for mine. You are not a victim of my clothing if you desire me sexually. I have not bamboozled you out of your property by wearing a short skirt. I cannot dupe, hoax, trick, or rob you of anything by the jeans I wear. It doesn't even make logical sense.
Quite simply put, one cannot "defraud" anyone else by one's clothing. Or, as another wise person once said "I do not think that word means what you think it means".
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
There is a parenting paradigm I'd like to talk about. It begins with the idea of "parental authority", which begins with the idea that there is a hierarchical authority structure in life that everyone must fit into and children are at the bottom. I'm the parent, you're the child. I'm the boss, you have to obey. Everything in this paradigm is based on the idea that some of us have positions of authority and submission to authority is good, right, orderly, and "God's plan" for all of us.
But what if it isn't? What if it's just a model of how we've set up our relationships, a pattern to follow, that may or may not work out the best for everyone involved? What if there's a better model to follow? I mean, in a hierarchical model, with people on top and people on the bottom, it seems that the ones on the bottom get the short end of the stick. And all too often, when applied to parenting in an authoritarian manner, children are the ones that have the most to lose.
It is often taught in conservative circles that parents have to right to require what they want of their children, and children must obey no matter what. It is even encouraged to set up arbitrary "training sessions" to "test" a child's submission and obedience to authority, for no other reason then to condition them to follow your every command. Children are set up, and if they do well, they pass, but if they succumb to temptation, they get thwacked and punished, thus enforcing the idea that Mom and Dad are the boss and need no other reason to be obeyed other than their perceived authority over the child. If I say jump, I don't owe you an explanation nor do I need a reason because *I'm the Mom* , you are the child, I have the power over you, you must learn to submit. And all of this is justified by invoking "God's will for your life".
n this paradigm or parenting model, children are expected to obey, to suppress their emotions, to never voice their own opinion because all that matters is their obedience to authority. They have no autonomy, their feelings don't matter, they have no freedom to choose for themselves, and they are at the wim of their parents, their authorities.
But what if children are people too?
What if parenting is less about obedience and more about instilling The Golden Rule?
What if good parenting is about producing adults that know how to make wise choices and respect other people?
What if, instead of seeking ways to prove "I'm the Boss and you will obey me", I'm instead seeking out ways to teach them how to choose for themselves? To let them learn how to express themselves in a healthy manner? Teaching them that their choices have consequences in life? What if I include them in decisions that will affect them? Teach them their thoughts and feelings matter to me?
What if I even *gasp!* teach them to question authority? To think for themselves? Even if that means questioning me?
I guess the question we need to ask ourselves is this: What is my parenting goal?
Because, for a long time, my goal was incongruent with my parenting methods. My parenting philosophy was contrary to my goals for my children. I just didn't realize it. I was so focused on the here and now, I forgot to see the big picture...the one where my kids end up as adults and are a product of my parenting.
"Parental authority", the idea that we are the boss and they must learn to obey without question purely because of our position over them, goes against everything I believe in and desire to instill in my kids. I don't want to raise little robots! I want to produce smart, thinking people, that can recognize bullshit from a mile away. That stand up to evil and fight for justice, even against "authorities". Teaching a child to obey "authority" without question is dangerous. Because "authorities" are human and can be evil. Matter of fact, power corrupts and it seems to me that those who are in authority over other people are often the very ones from whom we must protect our children. I *want* my kids to question everything and everyone. What better place to model and teach this than with me, where they are safe and loved and their hearts treasured?
So I give them options. I do what I can to let them make their own choices about their lives. There are going to be times when I have to set boundaries that they can't have a say in and don't understand because they are young and immature in many ways. So how much more should I be celebrating the times when they CAN have a say? Seeking them out, even. And those times are much more numerous than I previously thought. For instance, I don't believe that it is my choice to needlessly and permanently alter my sons' (or daughters') bodies by cosmetic circumcision. It's their body, their choice; not mine. I don't believe I should be the only one to choose what church we go to and not give heavy consideration to my children's thoughts and desires; they are part of this family too, after all, and the decision affects them. It's my job to make sure my kids are dressed appropriately for the occasion and the weather, but the details are always up to them. I think that by letting my children know that they have a voice that will be heard, that I value their input, that I respect their autonomy, that I celebrate their individuality, that they won't be ignored or brushed off or their ideas considered less important than mine, I will be forming a relationship of mutual trust and respect that will last a lifetime. It helps them to listen better on those times when I need to put my foot down if those times are few and far between. I need to model respect if I want respectful children. I need to honor their personhood and their autonomy.
I think the biggest step is to be able to see our children as people. It's a simple as that. "A person's a person, no matter how small." Children aren't our possessions. They aren't property to do what we want with. They're people. Little, unfinished people, but still people, with all the thoughts and feelings and desires and conflicts that you and I have.
I have nothing to prove to my children. I don't need to "show them who's boss". That's not the kind of relationship I desire with them. I desire for them to be wise, independent, compassionate, passionate, lovers of justice and mercy, capable, respectful, and strong. If I want them to value others, I must value them. If I want them to be kind to others, I must be kind to them. If I desire respect, I must show respect. I do not see respect as something I am entitled to because "I'm the mom", but something I've earned because I have shown respect to my children. This seems very simple to me. As simple as "do unto others as you want others to do unto you".
See your children as people, change the way you look at them and change the way you see yourself in relation to them, and I guarantee you will change the way you parent them. Look at the end goal and think about whether your parenting philosophy is going to get you there or if it needs some major overhauling.
Monday, July 23, 2012
I look back and see......
.....a girl, barely a woman, who knew nothing about this thing we call "life", yet so sure she didn't want to know if he couldn't be part of it.
....a boy, though mostly a man, also knowing nothing about life though thinking he did, just knowing for sure she made it better.
....two people, broken, young, with wounds they didn't yet know existed, with ideals and plans and dreams and rose-colored glasses.
....two people promising til death do them part....promising so many things they didn't understand and if they did, they probably would've hesitated to make such rash promises they didn't know would be so difficult to keep.
I see them...us... standing there, looking at each other, so much love filling and overflowing and pouring out onto everyone who watched. We were stepping out in faith as much as in blessed ignorance. For us, love was enough for whatever came.
But we were wrong. Love wasn't enough. Oh, it was a huge help, probably the strongest link in the chain that has held our lives together. But also needed was strength, courage, anger, hope, faith, determination, commitment, honesty, humor, and devotion. Sometimes I think sheer stubbornness has gotten us through more tough spots than love has. And yet, without the love, what is the point of being stubborn? What is the point of fighting and hanging on when everything seems hopeless unless there is love worth fighting for?
Sometimes I think we've aged a lifetime in the last 8 years. Sometimes I think we're still broken, lost kids, reaching out for each other and the acceptance we received each from the other. We've saved each other, in a way. We helped heal each other's brokenness as much as we've helped create new wounds and slash open old ones. We've walked together, we've walked apart and lonely; we've helped and hindered, built up and torn down; we've clung to each other and pushed each other away; we've loved deeply and passionately and we've hurt and forgiven so many times. Can two people really live a lifetime in 8 years? I think so. But ask me 8 more years from now. Ask me when I grow up just a little bit more.
Marriage was not what I expected. It's been so much more. More joy, more pain, more love, and more sorrow than I ever imagined. You don't enter into someone's heart and life and deepest soul and come away untouched. You don't give everything you have to one person and not be changed forever. I think we have a pretty good understanding of "for better or for worse".
So here's to the next eight years....and the eight after that....and the ten after that.....and the fifteen after that......
And here's to the man who won a young girl's heart a lifetime ago and gave his own in return. Perhaps we were naiive then and now we are wise. But wisdom hasn't changed the fact that we would make the same decision now as we did then. To each be a witness to the life of the other.....to walk together.....to dream together.....and to love together.
"I do", we said.
And we did.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Because it's not insulting to be told that you cannot speak in a gathering of believers because your voice is shameful. (1. Cor. 14:35)
It's not demeaning to be told you are too emotional to make good decisions for your life because God made you this way.
It's not insulting to be told you need another human to complete your life's calling and your design. Without him, you fail for the very purpose for which you were created.
It's not demeaning to be told you were created only to help men, a second-class person.
It's not demeaning to be taught that men were created in the image of God, but you, a woman, only reflect that image through men.
It's not demeaning to be given a list of all the things that you cannot do because you are female, then told that this is honoring and respectful and you should be thankful to be surrounded by godly men that "value" you enough to put limits on you.
It's not hurtful to be told you cannot have your own vision or calling for your life, you must take on the vision and calling of whatever man you are given to.
It's not insulting to be told that your natural gifts, talents, dreams, and desires are never to be fulfilled because you have a vagina and must spend your life fulfilling someone else's. That these dreams and talents are from Satan, a distraction from what you really should be doing.
It's not insulting to be told that men cannot learn anything from you because you are a woman.
It's not hurtful to be taught to "stay in your place" and told this makes you valuable and acceptable as a woman of God...that stepping out of the "role" this place gives you makes you unworthy of the title "godly woman".
It's not insulting to be treated as inferior in God's eyes and the eyes of His people, while they proclaim hypnotically "you're not inferior....just different!" And this statement is used to keep you from doing whatever they deem you're too feminine, too "different" from them to do.
As if changing the definitions of words and actions, and saying these over and over again, changes the words and actions themselves and causes us to believe that up is down and right is wrong. That disrespect is actually honor and being put down is actually being lifted up. That being limited and bound is actually being freed and valued.
It's not inferior if it's "God's way". It's not insulting if it's "Biblical". It's not demeaning if you just "have the right attitude". It's not insulting, inferior, or demeaning if you put on a smile and pretend it's beautiful, fulfilling, and satisfying. And then call everyone who isn't very good at pretending, a "feminist", "selfish", "worldly" and "an enemy of God" and "hater of God's design".
Well......it worked, didn't it???
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isa. 5:20