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Friday, July 29, 2011

On Women and "Protection"

There’s something troubling me about a teaching going around. I’ll probably be preaching to the choir here but on the chance that someone reads this who has swallowed said teaching, I need to give them a dose of reality.

The teaching goes something like this: Girls need protection, physical and spiritual. That’s why they need to stay home under their father’s protection until they can be safely entrusted to their husband’s protection. The extent to which this is fleshed out is different from family to family, but that’s the jist of the teaching.

So what about it? This idea of women needing “protection” is being used to keep them from going to college, getting jobs, and going on missionary trips, among other things. They are told that they are gullible, weak-minded, easily led, and not to be trusted on their own because they are easily deceived and taken advantage of. They need a strong man to come between them and the world.

Besides the fact that I see absolutely no scriptural backing for this idea, I can’t help but think that whoever came up with it doesn’t live in the real world.

I've heard so many use this as an excuse for why a woman shouldn't go off to college. Because then she'll be "alone" and without protection. What if her car breaks down? What if she has to go shopping in a bad part of town? What if something goes wrong and Daddy isn't there to rescue her? Or a shady mechanic tries to rip her off?

My husband's a trucker. I'm "alone" from about Sunday afternoon to Friday afternoon every week during the summer. I have to fend for myself and three kids. I sleep alone, a gun nearby, knowing there may come a night I'll have to use it (and trust me, I can use it better than most men I know). I have to make all the decisions on how to run my house alone. I have to be mature and interact with the world around me (including men and atheists *gasp*) alone. I have to be discerning all by myself, able to judge right and wrong, wise and foolish. If I break down on the side of the road, my husband isn't there to "protect" or rescue me. I have to deal with it as if I were single. I have to be strong and capable and mature and independent every single day. My husband leaves every week depending on me to be all these things and more. If I had an emergency, it could be 12+ hours before my husband could get to me. He didn't need a girl who needed to be coddled, needed someone to make decisions for her, needed to be "led" and guided in daily interactions like a child. He needed a mature woman who could handle an imperfect life. And it's a darn good thing that I didn't spend my growing up years thinking I needed a man to handle my life or come between me and the big bad world. I had to learn how to be a functioning part of society and take care of myself and others. My family's well-being depends on this.

I know girls who weren’t allowed to go grocery shopping, in a safe small town, without their dad or big brother for “protection”. They weren’t allowed to go anywhere without a man, for that matter. Their view of the Big Bad Men in the world they needed to be protected from has grown into a paranoia. They’re scared of their own shadows. They think all men are out to rape them or take advantage of them. And they truly believe they are gullible, weak, and cannot handle life on their own, because that's the line they've been fed all their lives. It's become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As my friend, Christi, said in comment to this idea:

"This is exactly what patriarchy wants us to believe, that women are weak-minded things incapable of avoiding dangerous situation. I lived alone ...and I never found myself in a compromising position. And how would a predator know whether a woman lived at home with her parents, or with her husband, or lived "alone" (with roommates)?

And while we're talking about this, why don't people realize that homemakers are some of the most "alone" and vulnerable women out there? You seem to not realize that married young women have to do the exact same things that young women who are away at college have to do, and more. I have to go out and do my shopping alone, just like a college girl would (though I imagine that college girls get to carpool together). What's more, I'm even at home alone. I'm pretty sure that I'd really be better protected on a college campus since I'm alone during the day (and night, since my husband works until 11 PM) and have often had to interact with strange men, sometimes even inside my house, while my husband is at work. Apartment maintenance men, internet guy, phone guy, UPS man, door-to-door salesmen, etc. Oh, and it's usually my job to take our car in for repairs and oil changes. Car repairmen are actually pretty nice, or maybe it depends on where you go (which again, is simply a matter of making an intelligence choice).

I mean no disrespect to my husband when I say this but, he's really not here a lot to protect me because he's busy working a full-time job in addition to being a full-time student. My marriage license doesn't really afford me any more physical protection than I had when I was single."

You see, it is complete folly to train up a person to be completely dependent on another person. You have no idea what their life is going to be like. No idea what skills they’re going to need to provide for themselves or the people they love. No idea if they will get married, then widowed. Or even if they will marry at all. To raise a girl with the belief that she is weak and needs a man to be her mediator in life is to cripple her for life. To render her ineffective to do anything for herself or for the God that she's supposed to be "glorifying".

I know girls my age who are single and still at home with their parents, being told that they need to be "protected" and watched over until they get married and all that jazz. But guess what? I'm married and I'm still on my own. Age and marital status aren't the magic keys to a perfect life. They are just used as excuses for controlling the lives of these girls. Real life doesn't look anything like what the Patriarchy crowd are trying to say it does. Their view is way too narrow. Ask a soldier's wife. Or a trucker's wife. Or any woman who is married or single and has to be a mature adult and deal with the world on her own. Whose husband and children and lives depend on it.

I love it when my husband is home and able to take care of things so I don't have to. I love being cared for and knowing that I don't have to do everything by myself. I love feeling loved and protected by my man, just as much as he loves me caring for him. I love sleeping peacefully at night, knowing he's right there and I don't have to be so alert. But I also love knowing that should he not be there, I can still take care of myself and my children.

One last thought. You know that popular verse in Proverbs 31 that says "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her worth is far above rubies."??? Go look up the Hebrew word translated "virtuous". It's most often used in the OT to describe might, strength, fighting men of valor, army men, efficiency, wealth, strength and force. It is translated all these ways: army 56 times, man of valour 37 times, host 29 times, forces 14 times, valiant 13 times, strength 12 times, power 9 times, substance 8 times, might 6 times, strong 5 times, and a few miscellaneous words. Gives you a rather different picture of what a "Proverbs 31 woman" looks like, doesn't it?

Monday, July 25, 2011

On Being "Gracious"

It seems that some people don't like my personal writing method. Apparently I'm not "gracious" enough. I'm too raw, too blunt, not "diplomatic" enough for the delicate eyes of some of my readers. I need to balance truth with a bit more grace. I have to wonder...what, exactly, is their definition of "gracious"? Because as far as I can see, I haven't maliciously attacked anyone. I haven't called names or imputed nasty motives. Mostly I just rip apart pet teachings and ideas. I take white-washed lies and expose them for the filth they are. (Oh, am I allowed to say "filth"? Or is that not gracious enough?) To these folks, "ungracious" actually means "saying anything against accepted religious leaders" and "finding fault with someone's teachings" and perhaps "rocking the boat".

I suppose Jesus could've been more gracious when He drove the money-changers out of the temple with a whip He made with his own hands. I suppose He should've use more diplomacy when calling out the Pharisees and using such ungracious name as "brood of vipers" and "blind guides, fools", "serpents", "murderers", and "white-washed tombs". I think that Paul could've been a bit more understanding and nice when writing the book of 1 Corinthians. He did use some harsh language in that one. Now that I think about it, telling the Galations he wished the religious leaders would mutilate themselves was a bit much. Stephen probably should've used some other words toward the Pharisees than "stiff-necked and uncircumcised" to get his point across. But I suppose he realized that a little too late. And can I just mention that John the Baptist wouldn't know diplomacy if it smacked him in the face?

You see, sometimes exposing ugliness is ugly. You cannot make it pretty or smooth it over with flowery words. You can't polish crap. In the end, it's still crap. Stating that a teaching or a book or an entire seminar is twisting the gospel of Jesus and causing all sorts of damage to the hearts and souls of people is not being ungracious. It's just exposing lies and darkness, which isn't a pretty sight and not for the faint-hearted. It's doing exactly what Jesus, his apostles, the prophets, and all the people of God in the Bible were called to do. If you can't take that, then go find some fluffy bunnies and rainbows and butterflies website to read.

Some of us have more important things to do than make ourselves and others feel good all the time. There's too much at stake here to stick our heads in the sand and ignore the pain, the darkness, and the ugliness. To try to brush it over with pretty pastels and nice pictures. People's lives and souls are at stake here, and I will not try to make that pretty just to keep from offending the sensibilities of people who can't take the reality of the dark side of life and religious addiction. If that makes me ungracious, then so be it. Just count me in with the many people throughout history who weren't afraid to tell it like it is. (Though thankfully I'm not in danger of being stoned, beheaded, or torn apart by lions like most of them were.)

People are being spiritually slaughtered, the Name of Jesus is being dragged through the mud and used to enslave souls, "christians" are pretending none of this happening and attacking others who say it is, and I'm beyond caring whether people think I'm being "gracious" enough. I don't have time for that. I'm too busy pulling people out of the ugliness to spend time making the ugliness sound better than it is so people aren't offended.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Announcing "Recovering Grace"

There's a new website on the block, folks. Launched by adult graduates of ATI, and people who were followers of Bill Gothard and his teachings, I am so happy to introduce Recovering Grace ~ A Gothard Generation Shines Light On The Teachings of IBLP and ATI.

If you've been hurt, angered, or confused by the teachings of Gothard, please give this site a look. Even if you love Gothard and don't know what the hullaballoo is all about, come give us try. It's written by former Gothard students, to anyone in or out of ATI/IBLP. There will be new articles often, so bookmark this site.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stand Up

All the lonely people cryin'
It could change if we just get started
Lift the darkness, light a fire
For the silent and the broken-hearted.....

For all of you that have helped to light a fire....to shine a light in a dark place of bondage and pain and brokenness: thank you. You are a voice for those who have no voice. So many tears, yet we've begun to see so much healing and freedom.

Won't you stand up, stand up, stand up,
Won't you stand up, you girls and boys;
Won't you stand up, stand up, stand up,
Won't you stand up and use your voice.

You have stood and said "No more!" You have been so brave, telling your stories, speaking of things ugly and unspeakable. Standing, speaking out, using your voice.

There's a comfort, there's a healing,
High above the pain and sorrow
Change is comin', can you feel it?
Calling us into a new tomorrow.

And you whose voices have been shut up, listen and let us speak for you. What is happening to you is wrong. You don't have to suffer at the hands of others. We will speak up for you, stand up for you, fight for you, until your voice is silenced no longer and you can freely add yours to ours.

When the walls fall all around you
When your hope has turned to dust
Let the sound of love surround you
Beat like a heart in each of us.

We were you once. Our walls fell down, our hope vanished. But someone was brave enough to reach down and pull us out of the rubble. Someone was strong enough to speak the truth about our worth. Someone was fierce enough to condemn the oppressors. Someone loved enough to rescue us, tell us we were worth it, tell us we were beautiful and loved.

Won't you stand up, stand up, stand up,
Won't you stand up, you girls and boys?
Won't you stand up, stand up, stand up,
Won't you stand up and use your voice.

And now we stand with them. We stand for spiritual and physical freedom. We stand against those who would take that from us and the ones we love. We stand together and we will not shut up our voices. As long as there are people who think it is their right to take away the rights of others, we will not be silent. We will continue to reach down and remember the One, and the ones, who pulled us out of the rubble of our lives. Who cared enough about people they maybe didn't even know, to speak up and stand up.

Won't you stand up, stand up, stand up,
Won't you stand up and use your voice?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Friday Link Love

I've been reading some great stuff this week and wanted to share. Maybe I'll do this every Friday, maybe not. I'm non-committal. ;) So here ya go, folks. A little bit of this, that, and something else. These links are speaking to me where I'm at right now.

~*~ Blogger Incongruous Circumspection writes a great commentary on an article by Ladies Against Feminism on women in the workforce.

~*~ Here's a good, thought-provoking article by iMonk, entitled "Why I'm Not a Young Earth Creationist".

~*~ Blogger Jeromy Johnson writes about Christianity and Patriotism, in "Jesus Wore Red, White, and Blue".

~*~ A blog on Grace-Based Parenting was shared with me this week, called "Dare to Disciple". Especially encouraging to me was this article on What Do Other's Think?

~*~ A really good perspective on the decline of "American Christianity", by one of my favorite authors, Gregory Boyd. Here's another great one on The Heresy Of Failing To Love.

~*~ This article, What Is A Cult?, has been going around and is certainly worth considering.

~*~ And Brenda King offers a really good review of the Pearls book, To Train Up A Child.

Enjoy your weekend, folks! I think we're going to head out into the gorgeous Montana wilderness and go camping. I sure love where we live. :)