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Quiverfull: Birthing New ‘Helpers’ Into the World 

The three oldest Gerencser children with their Down Syndrome sister, 1990

The three oldest Gerencser children with their Down Syndrome sister, 1990

Quiverfull advocate Nancy Campbell recently encouraged young Christian women to obey God and continue having babies until God closes their womb. Evidently, some Quiverfull mothers are giving up and not letting God have his way with their womb. Can’t have that, so Campbell reminds mothers that the more children they have the easier it becomes:

…However, there is another fact that many young mothers don’t yet realize because they haven’t yet experienced it. And that is that it gets easier to have another child when you have older children. It’s not the mothers of six, seven, or more children who feel so overwhelmed.

What happens is your little children grow, and as you train them, they become such wonderful helpers. When a new baby comes into the home, instead of this little one adding a burden to the home, they bring more joy and blessing, not only to you, but the whole family. When you have children who are growing older, you have so many hands on deck to help–to hold the baby, to goo and gah at the baby and keep your baby smiling and laughing, to bring this and that to you while you are nursing, to help with the dishes and housework, to cook a meal, and to keep the home running smoothly. You are getting to the reward time of mothering…

Campbell reveals the dirty little secret of the Quiverfull movement, that having a large family requires older children to become surrogate mothers to younger siblings. Non-Quiverfull parents look at the Duggar family or the Bates family and ask, how does the mother properly care for all those children? She doesn’t. The real mothers are the older siblings who are tasked with everything from feeding their younger siblings and changing their diapers to educating their younger siblings and making sure they are dressed. While learning to care for younger children is not inherently bad, Quiverfull families often require older children to be full-time caregivers, robbing these children of the opportunity of enjoying childhood. Instead, their workload is viewed as preparing them for their future adult life as a Quiverfull family. From elementary age forward, these children are forced to take on roles meant for adults. Is it any surprise that some of them, as soon as they are old enough to do so, flee the Quiverfull cult?

Polly and I have six children, ages 36, 34, 31, 26, 24, and 22.  We have two distinct families, the three older boys and the two younger girls and boy. There is a five-year space between the two groups, at the end of which we adopted the Quiverfull belief concerning children. Devout Calvinists who believed God was sovereign over the womb, we determined to have as many children as God gave us. In rapid succession, the ever-fertile Polly popped out new little Gerencsers every 18-24 months. After the birth of our sixth child, the obstetrician told us that Polly should not have any more children. His words? She’s too pooped to pop. He warned that having another child could kill her.

When confronted with the reality of our theological beliefs, we decided to listen to the doctor and not have any more children. Polly had a tubal ligation and the Gerencser rabbit was killed. Did we betray our beliefs? Yes. Were we hypocritical? Yes. I had preached sermons that asked women who could no longer have children to pray that God would reverse their tubal ligation. I even implored them to come to the altar and cry out to God, asking him to open their womb so they could once again have the blessing of God on their life. I can only imagine the deep pain such sermons caused, a fact that haunts me to this day. Fortunately, God didn’t answer their prayers. Every closed womb stayed closed, all praise be to Jesus!

Our three oldest sons had to grow up in a hurry. While they have wonderful stories about childhood, about playing in the woods, riding bikes, and sword fights, they also have stories about being required to live in an adult world by the time they were ten. While they have accepted and come to terms with the why’s of their childhood, it doesn’t change the fact that they didn’t get to enjoy manying of the things non-Fundamentalist children get to enjoy. Not only were we part of the Quiverfull movement, we also home schooled and I was a pastor. All of our children, but especially our older children, were forced to live in an adult world much too soon. While it has made them mature and wise beyond their years and given them a strong work ethic, I can’t help but feel sorry for what they were deprived of growing up. No, they are not scarred for life, and all of them have grown up to be wonderful, productive adults, but nothing can change the fact that they missed out on a lot of normal childhood experiences because of their father’s job and their parent’s beliefs. I hope someday that several of them will put pen to paper or keyboard to screen and share how they view growing up in the home of Rev. Bruce and Polly Gerencser’s home.

If there is a silver lining for our family it is that Polly and I, along with our six children have escaped the cult and are now free to live our lives as we see fit. None of our children are Evangelical; most of them claim no religion, and those who do are live and let live Catholics. It’s refreshing to know that our ten grandchildren will not be raised under the curse of Evangelical Christianity and the various other beliefs that once enslaved our family. We’re pleased to watch our adult children allow their children to enjoy childhood, while at the same time teaching them the value of work and service to others. There’s nothing wrong with a teenager doing housework, cooking, or learning to change a diaper. After all, part of parenting is preparing children for adult life; and cleaning house, cooking dinner, and cleaning up a baby are all part of the “wonderful” adult experience. The difference now is that our adult children don’t expect their children to be stand-ins for them. Their is a balance that was not part of their life when Mom and Dad were lovers of Jesus, ardent home schoolers, and disciples of John Calvin.

Notes

If you are not familiar with the Quiverfull Movement, please read Vyckie Garrison’s article, What is Quiverfull?

 

Focusing on Who Matters and not Wasting Time on Who Doesn’t 

cant change christian mind

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:13:

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

As a Christian, I tried to live by this verse, listening and investigating before I came to a conclusion or made a judgment about a person or a belief. I felt then, and I still do, that it is important to hear people out. Unfortunately, Evangelical Christians rarely grant me the same courtesy.

When an Evangelical leaves a comment meant to set me straight or pass some sort of God-enlightened judgment on my character or past/present life, I always take a look at the server logs to see what they have read. Without fail, they’ve read a post or three, formed an opinion, and are now ready to pronounce their God-directed judgment. In most instances they don’t even bother to read the ABOUT page or DEAR EVANGELICAL page or COMMENT RULES page. No need, they have a direct line to God and know all they need to know.

When I call them out on their lack of due diligence, they often lie, saying that they have read everything on this blog and are sufficiently educated in all things Bruce Gerencser. The logs don’t lie, but Christians sure do. If a person isn’t willing to invest the time and effort necessary to understand my story, I see no reason to indulge their ignorance. I give them one comment to say whatever they want. I know my writing constipates Evangelicals so I view their comment as an enema of sorts. By letting them say their piece, it clears out their constipation and they can them move on to some other blog or person they think is in need of hearing a good word from God.

I hope regular readers will understand if I don’t waste what limited time I have each day attempting to pour water through solid, cured cement. When Evangelicals use the contact form to email their missive from God, I try to be polite and let them know I have no interest in corresponding with them. In some cases I have to be blunt, as was the case recently when I told a repeated emailer, “let me be blunt, fuck off.”

Being accessible is important to me and this is why I have a contact page. Many atheist writers don’t have such a page because they don’t want to deal with reams of preachy or caustic emails from Evangelicals. I choose to endure the preachy or caustic emails because of the OTHER emails; those from people savaged and hurt by Evangelical Christianity; those from people trying to break free from the Christian cult.  They have been and will remain to be my focus.

While Evangelical commenters do provide, at times, entertainment and amusement, I’m not interested in spending time trying to disabuse them of their ignorance. As I have said many times before, until they are willing to consider that they could be wrong there is no hope for them. Their certainty and unwavering faith blinds them to anything other than what they perceive is THE way, THE truth, THE life. I’m content to let them read, if they dare to do so, what I have already written. If something I have written puts a chink in their armor then perhaps we can have a meaningful discussion. Until then, I have no intentions of wasting my time on argumentative, judgmental, holier than thou, sanctimonious, arrogant, self-righteous, pompous, smug, pontificating Evangelicals.

Twitter Discussion with a Christian: Accusations, Threats, and Silence

lisa elise on twitter

What follows is a brief discussion I had on Twitter with a Christian by the name of Lisa Elise. Lisa objected what I wrote in the post Jesus is the Only One That Matters.  Like all such discussions, this one ended with a threat and silence. Usually, I don’t respond to tweets from Christians. Discussions with Christians are 100% of the time, each and every time, an exercise in futility. In Lisa Elise’s case, I thought I’d twitter a bit and see what came of it. (slight editing for readability)

Lisa:Wow, bitter much?

Bruce:Ah bitterness, the first word used by zealots to marginalize a person and dismiss their argument out of hand…. what’s next? Anger,jaded, hurt? Anything but engaging the person’s argument.

Lisa:Or…You just seem bitter. Btw, liberals are the EXPERTS at marginalizing those who disagree with them.

Bruce:I just spent the day with my wife of 37 years, six kids, ten grandkids. Such a bitter experience I have without your Jesus.

Lisa:Then go to bed and relax. You seem quite angry and bitter, attacking a dead person and a person u don’t know on Twitter.

Bruce:Public writers, public critique, that’s the way it works. Want a private life? Don’t put stuff on the Internet.

Bruce:Evangelicals seem to get butt hurt anytime someone pushes back at their beliefs and ideas. Don’t like it? turn of the Internet

Bruce:I believe you tweeted me, yes? I didn’t attack you. I challenged your faulty judgment. Doesn’t the Bible say you should…refrain from judgment until you know a matter?

Lisa:U should know.U preached the Bible most of ur life,things didn’t go the way u wanted.Now u mock those who believe what u did.

Bruce:Critique, not mock. A fair number of Christians read my writing and find it helpful.

Bruce:I don’t have a prob with critique. Plenty of it on the Internet, including sermons that have been preached about me.

Lisa:You’ll meet Jesus 1 day. What a tragedy, to have preached him all your life & denied him in the end.

Bruce:Ah yes, the parting threat of judgment and hell. Sorry, I do not fear. 8 years of people like you have made me immune to threats.

Lisa:When u preached the gospel all ur life did u see it as threatening people with hell?

Bruce:Of course it is a meaningless threat. No God, no hell. The only person I fear is my wife.

Lisa:Why would u preach a false threat for 25+ yrs, yet now mock those who believe same thing? Seems strange.

Bruce:At the time I believed it to be true. New evidence, new conclusions.

Lisa:Evidence? Constantly criticizing those who don’t yet have your new found “evidence”. Hmmm.

Bruce:Evidence meaning investigating the claims Christians make for the Bible…evidence meaning taking a fresh look at Christian…belief and practice. Held up to the light of skepticism and reason, Christian belief comes up short.

Bruce:Constantly? A few hours a day is constantly?

Bruce:The Bible is not what Christians claim it is. Once free of its bondage and authority, I was free to see life in a new light.

Lisa:Bible can be hard to understand. Yet makes more sense than ANYTHING the world offers as answers to my existence.

Bruce:I don’t find it hard to understand. Spent thousands of hours reading and studying it, preaching over 4,000 sermons…but, by all means, show me that my reasoned conclusions are incorrect. (And show me doesn’t mean quoting the Bible)

Bruce:8,000,000 people think Mormonism make sense, yet Evangelicals consider them a cult. Hundreds of millions of people say Islam makes sense, yet Evangelicals say it is a false religion. When it comes to our existence, all we can know is what we see.

Bruce:Anything else requires faith, a faith I do not have. The central claim of Christianity is that a dead Jesus came back to life.

Bruce:Everything I see and know tells me that is not true. Feel free to believe this by faith, but I shall not do so without proof.

Silence

Rapture?

Silence

Jack Hyles Gives Advice on How to Raise a Girl

jack hyles

Jack Hyles, First Baptist Church, Hammond, Indiana

In chapter 20 of How to Rear Children, Jack Hyles, former of pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, gives his advice on making a lady out of girl:

The women’s liberation notwithstanding most men still want someone ladylike and feminine for a wife. To be sure, all good Christian men want submissive, feminine, ladylike, and godly wives. Yet, we live in a society which wants to homogenize the sexes. The boys wear make-up and the girls wear blue jeans. The boys wear flowered shirts while the girls wear work shirts. The fad is for the boys to be feminine and the girls to be masculine. Consequently, if parents rear a girl to be ladylike, they will be swimming upstream, going against the grain, and climbing uphill, but it can be done. If it is done, however, it will be on purpose and some of the following suggestions must be used in order to make a lady out of a girl.

1. Dress her like a girl. Let her have long hair. Let her wear lace and ribbons. Do not let her wear that which pertaineth to a man. Deuteronomy 22:5 says, “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.” The parent who wants to make a young lady of a daughter should see to it that she does not wear revealing clothes, but that she dresses modestly. I Timothy 2:9 and 10 says, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety: not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

This must be started early in the life of a girl. If she never wears pants for the first time, she will always wear skirts. If she never wears mini-skirts for the first time, she will always wear skirts of a modest length. In these days of hot pants, mini-skirts, and pant suits, may God give us some old-fashioned mothers and dads who well rear some sweet, feminine ladies for our boys and dress them accordingly.

2. Teach her strict obedience. Other chapters stress the fact that obedience is the most necessary ingredient to be required from the child. This is especially true in the life of a girl, for she must be obedient all of her life. The boy who is obedient to his mother and father will someday become the head of the home; not so for the girl. Whereas the boy is being trained to be a leader, the girl is being trained to be a follower. Hence, obedience is far more important to her, for she must someday transfer it from her parents to her husband.

This means that she should never be allowed to argue at all. She should become submissive and obedient. She must obey immediately, without question, and without argument. The parents who require this have done a big favor for their future son-in-law.

3. She should not be allowed to play alone with boys. The parents should see to it that she plays with other girls. This is important for many reasons. She should play only with toys that are uniquely for girls. This, by all means, should include dolls, doll clothes, housecleaning equipment, dishes, pots and pans, etc. She should participate in sports enough to become coordinated but she should not excel in sports. If later she marries a man who is very athletic, she could become more proficient in some particular sport that he enjoys, but if she becomes an expert in a sport that is usually associated with men and boys, it could prove embarrassing to her future husband, and for that matter, it could entice her to become more masculine than she ought to be…

…5. Teach her to be an intelligent listener and an articulate conversationalist. She should read a variety of good books and magazines and have a wide variety of knowledge. It should be obvious to any male with whom she is conversing that she is an intelligent listener and that she can understand and respond to his conversation. She should never seem to know as much as he does (even though she may actually know more) but enough to talk intelligently about his interests and to make him feel that his conversation is falling on receptive ears and an understanding mind. This means that she should learn all she can about everything, especially things that interest men. For example, she should know football, but she should not play it. There is nothing a man wants any more than to be understood by an intelligent listener.

The wise lady will never “take over” the conversation. She will add just enough to make a valuable contribution and to show her intelligence on the subject, but she will always make her man feel that he is the more knowledgeable…Though she should not be a football fanatic she should know enough about football to enjoy watching the game with her boyfriend, fiancée, or husband, if he so chooses. It should be obvious to him that she is enjoying the game and that she is knowledgeable about it, but that he can teach her even more.

6. Teach her to make her dad feel like a hero. A young lady that can treat her dad properly is more likely to treat her husband properly. If she makes her dad feel like a man when he is in her presence, she will not doubt make her husband feel like a man when he is in her presence. If the daughter is careful to refill Dad’s glass at the table, see to it that he gets the best chair, listen to him intelligently when he talks, participate intelligently, yet meekly in the conversion, she will someday transfer this to her husband and her husband will rise up and call her “blessed.”…

…8. Teach her not to be too forward to boys. A young lady should not initiate a correspondence. If she cars for a boy she may respond to him with courtesy and feminine reserve so as to let him know she like him, but she should not be the aggressor, neither should her respond except within the bounds of propriety and right. It certainly is not proper for a young lady to call a young man on the telephone for a social talk, If there is obvious business, it may be done with reluctance, but it should never be done when the call is strictly for social purposes.

9. Do not show off her talent to others. As is mentioned elsewhere in this book it is far better for a parent to compliment character than talent. Many children have been ruined because their parents were too proud of them and their performances. This not only hurts the child but it disgusts other adults. In such cases the child receives far too much attention and then wants it for the rest of her life. Hence, she becomes maladjusted. Let her gain her own attention by her performance. Let her attract her own audience by her own ability and opportunities, not by the insistence of a mother or father who is overly proud of a daughter.

10. Let her do things that enable her to be a necessary help to another who is in the limelight. This is very important for a young lady. That is why learning to accompany a soloist is good training for a girl. Learning to take dictation is also good training. Both of these things train her to be a necessary helper to someone who is in the limelight. The Bible teaches that a woman is made not for the limelight but to complement and supplement. Proverbs 32:23 says, “Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.”

The girl should be taught that her lot in life is to be obedient and helpful to her husband…

…11. Teach her to pull for her dad. The wise mother will teach the girl to make a hero of her father and always pull for him. She should pull for him in business and do all she can to help. She should pull for him in any athletic contest and do all she can to cheer him to victory. In everything he does she should stand on the sidelines and root for her dad. She is being taught to root for the biggest man in her life and to cheer and spur him on to bigger heights. When she is married she will transfer this to her husband and will be a great encouragement to him.

The mother must teach the daughter that when the father is a success the daughter is also a success. She is a very vital part in his success, and as a member of the team she can share the victory and the spoils. When this attitude is properly developed she will feel the same way when she is married. When the husband wins a victory it will be a team victory rather than a victory just for him.

12. Teach her to plan for a profession but to hope that it will not be needed. Mothers and fathers should teach their daughters to train for some kind of profession that is always in demand. There is always the possibility that the daughter will never marry or that she will become a widow with children to rear and will not remarry. Because of this she should plan to pursue some profession that will enable her to support herself and her children in any eventuality. She should be taught that if possible, she should not follow this profession when married. This gives her a dependence, if the opportunity arises to be dependent, but an independence if needed. There are many professions that a young lady could pursue such as that of a school teacher, beautician, secretary, nurse, etc.

13. Teach her the sanctity of the body. Teach her that boys should keep their hands off and that her body should be clean in every way. She should care for her body. She should be well groomed and physically clean. Then she should also be moral and virtuous. Talk with her about situations which arise in the lives of most young ladies. Teach her how to handle each situation. Explain to her that that is the reason she should not be in a car alone with a boy. Teach her what to do if improper advances are made. Let her be conscious of the fact that her body is a very sacred thing and should always be treated as the temple of the Holy Spirit.

14. Teach her to do feminine chores. As is mentioned elsewhere it is better for a girl to do the dishes than the yard, to wash the pots and pans than the car, to clean the bedroom rather than the garage. She should do the duties that she will do when she is married and a successful mother and wife…

…The most noble goal that parents can set for their daughters is to help them become Christians. The second most noble goal is to lead them to be ladies, for one of the great needs of our generation is Christian ladies…

 

Sacrilegious Humor: Words, Words, Words by Bo Burnham

This is the nineteenth installment in the Sacrilegious Humor series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a comedy bit that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please email me the name of the bit or a link to it.

Today’s bit is Words, Words, Words by Bo Burnham.

Warning, many of the comedy bits in this series will contain profanity. You have been warned.

Video Link

Women, Don’t You Feel Special?

woman on a pedestal

In the early 1980′s, I heard Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist Baptist pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia say, We don’t believe in equal rights for women. We believe in superior rights for women.  Falwell went on to say that the Bible actually elevates women on a pedestal and that equal rights for women would actually be a step down for them.  Evidently, Falwell’s Bible didn’t have the verses that gave approval to men treating women as property or the verses that countless Evangelical preachers have used to justify their “women should be ignorant, barefoot, pregnant, keepers of the home” preaching.

Yesterday, in a post titled Why Would Any Woman Want to Be and Evangelical Christian, I wrote:

Why would any woman want to be an Evangelical Christian? If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?

Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety. The right to vote. Equal pay for equal work. The right to use birth control. The right to have an abortion. The right to divorce.  While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made to that end.

Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only. The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is that Christian patriarchal thinking still permeates our society.

Evangelical Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches that women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband. (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Simply put, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.

If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children and as women age  they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be a good wife.

You can read the entire post here.

Derick Dickens, in an article for the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website, takes the same approach Falwell did thirty years ago. (Dickens is a graduate of Liberty University)  Dickens thinks that women, the weaker vessel, should receive high honor rather than equal rights. He goes on to blame many of the woes women have on feminism and their demand for equality. Dickens writes:

…It demands us to ask some serious questions.  Has the last century of women’s rights not touched the home?  Has women’s equality not turned the tide of divorce?  Has it not lifted women out of poverty instead of sinking them further into poverty?  Women’s equality has failed precisely because it is misplaced from the Biblical understanding of women.  It has failed precisely because it misunderstands the honor God has given to women.

In short, if you think women are equal to men, then you have too low of a view of women.  Women are not merely equal, they are to be honored and esteemed unlike that of a man.

Honoring women is not merely my opinion, but this is the Christian ethic.  It is why men traditionally bent on one knee to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, men would open the door for her, and men willingly sacrificed their life to save a woman.

Granted, abuses have often taken place in our culture and previous cultures.  However, this should not be looked at with the ever critical eye that fails to realize all the facts of the situation.  There were abuses of the past because of mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality.

Rather than see these abuses subside, they have escalated in modern times.  For instance, women account for 75% of all people trapped in the slave trade.  For every three childhood victims of human trafficking, two are girls (Source: UNODC).  The heinous injustice brought upon girls and women should make our blood boil in anger and every decent human being cry out for the eradication of this evil.

The abuses that are easier to “live with” are those couched in the language of modernity.  Women, for profit and sale, are treated as sex objects on magazines and television.  Being remade to look nothing like they appear, women are donned in scant bikinis to sell products like beer, cars, football, and even tools.  Parts of our society have made women utilitarian.  This may be better than the sex slave trade but only by degree (Matthew 5:28)

What may be an attempt by some overreacting to abuses towards women has been an effort to make women completely the same as men.  In some cases, this has forced women to be a clone of their male counterparts, or in other cases forced men to be exactly like women.  In both cases, this is a travesty to women.

Women do not find their greatest worth in being like men but in being a woman.  It is her uniqueness that should be cherished, but not to the extremes either side tends to push her.  One celebrates the woman as having a utilitarian purpose in satisfying the sinful lusts of man, the other celebrates her distinct from her sexuality.

Both are wrong.  Both seek to diminish women from being what they were created to be–a woman.

In turning to the Scripture, we extinguish the often cited critique that women are not as smart or capable as men.  Proverbs 31, for instance, shows the virtuous woman as possessing gifts that would make most men jealous.  She is intelligent, resourceful, hard working, and respectful–a tremendous force of dignity and wisdom.

These qualities, though, should not make us treat women like men.  Women are to be treated distinctly like a woman.  Husbands are called to reflect towards these women a demonstration of the greatest love ever shown, a love that willingly died in her place (Ephesians 5:25).  For a man, he should represent her as a person worthy enough for us to die for, to present as pure, to uplift as glorious, and acknowledged as magnificent…

…In the Biblical Worldview, women have a dignity all their own that allows us, men, to selflessly serve until our dying days.  They are bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, but they are much more.  They are women and for that reason we should give them a greater honor.

You can read entire article here.

Dickens speaks in glowing terms about how women are treated when the Biblical pattern for the sexes is followed. According to Professor Dickens, our culture’s unwillingness to follow this pattern has resulted in women being far worse off today than they were before equal rights for women and modern feminism convinced women that they had equal status in our culture. (As with equality for people of color, equality for women is still an unrealized goal. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go before we can say, women are equal.)

Dickens seems deliberately ignorant of history, both ancient history and American history. Rather than seeing the Bible and Christianity as the source of many of abuses and ill-treatment women have received, Dickens thinks “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the problem. Evidently, he can not see that perhaps Christianity and Bible wedded to “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the real explanation for the deplorable treatment of women throughout much of the history of the United States.

Dickens article is a poignant reminder that little has changed for Evangelical women. Their overlords continue to use the Bible to subjugate and control them. Sadly, for many Evangelical women, including my wife for many years, they know of no other world but one where the Derick Dickens of the world are their lords. These lords convince them, through words supposedly mouthed by God, that their highest calling in life is to be a weaker vessel; a wife, a mother, and a keeper of the home. Wanting any other kind of life is a step away from God’s wonderful, super-duper plan for their life.

So what do you think readers? I am especially interested in hearing from female readers. Do you desire to return to days before equality and feminism? Now that you are free from the strictures of the Bible, how has your life changed? For the better, for the worse? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Genesis 1-3: Who Was God Talking To?

creationism

The night before October 23, 4004 BC, God, you know, THE God, the one and only God, decided to create the universe. For the next six literal 24 hour days, God created the sun, moon, stars, planets, earth, animals, insects, fish,and plant life. Oh, and don’t forget God’s super-duper,special creation on day six:

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Wait a minute…what’s this US thing all about? Do I detect polytheism? Whoever US is, they created a human man and woman in their image. (Genesis 2 says it was the LORD God that created Adam and Eve) After creating Adam and Eve, the God’s closed up their creation shop and went on vacation. This October 23rd we will celebrate the 6,019th anniversary of the first day of creation. Time for a new Hallmark card, yes?

Now I am being a bit silly here, but let me point out something very important. It is clear, based on Genesis 1:27, that there is more than one God involved in creating humans. Once we get to Genesis 3 we see that there is one God called LORD God. It is this LORD God that comes to the Garden of Eden to talk to Adam and Eve. It is this LORD God that tells Adam and Eve their punishment for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. An interesting point here is that Adam and Eve can see God and talk to him, yet the Bible says that no man has seen God at any time.

After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit their eyes were opened and both knew, for the first time, that the other was naked. While we don’t know how long the time span was between the creation of Adam and Eve and their act of disobedience, it’s hard to imagine that neither Adam or Eve paid any attention to their partners nakedness. Surely they were created with a sex drive. Sooooo, I don’t know about you, but I think I would notice that the only other living person, the person who snuggled up to me around the Camp Eden campfire, was naked.

The LORD God, being the prude that countless fundamentalist preachers have said he is, was quite disturbed over Adam and Eve’s nakedness. The LORD God took it upon himself to get some clothing for Adam and Eve. He spotted a bear or maybe a buffalo or mountain lion, and in the first act of violence on earth, the LORD God killed the animals so he could make Adam and Eve clothes to wear. Using a process that humans to this day have not discovered, the LORD God killed the animal (s), dried and tanned the skin, and sewed the skins into clothing quicker than a Chinese sweatshop worker sewing a shirt for Walmart.

The LORD God then had a conference call with the other Gods. He said, look, remember those two humans we created? Remember the one rule we gave them? Yeah…those dumb asses picked fruit off the tree and ate it. Now they are like us, knowing good and evil. We need to do something immediately lest they eat from the Tree of Life. We don’t want them to do that, right? If they do, they will live forever, just like us. Can’t have humans living forever.

So the LORD God, acting on behalf of the other Gods, evicted Adam and Even from the Garden of Eden. Of course, they didn’t want to go. After all, they only had one set of clothes. But, the LORD God was insistent and he drove them out of the Garden of Eden. To make sure that Adam and Eve could not eat from the Tree of Life, the LORD God put a flaming sword that turned every which way near the tree.

Reading Genesis 1-3 without importing Trinitarian theology into it presents a very different creation story than what countless Evangelicals have been told. Go back to the text and read it for yourself. Is what I have written here plausible? On what basis do we say there was just one God? Is it not just as plausible to say that there were more than one God, a LORD God and other Gods that were perhaps subservient to him/her?

But Bruce, in the first five days of creation the Bible say God (singular) created. True, but since humans weren’t created until day 6, who was God talking to on the first five days when the Bible says, and God said? Was he talking to himself? Perhaps he was talking to the other Gods, just like he did in Genesis 1:26 and 3:22?

And I am just getting started. Go back to the text, take off your Trinitarian, orthodox Christian glasses, and read it again. Is my story any less plausible than the one Evangelical children are taught in Sunday school?

Notes

There is textual evidence for God creating Eve AFTER the six days of creation in the second creation story found in Genesis 2. This conflicts with the first creation story in Genesis 1.

What Should We Do When Religious Freedom Leads to Child Abuse?

pastor gerald harris

Gerald Harris, pastor Crossroads Baptist Church, Sellersburg, Indiana

The fracas in Kentucky over Kim Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples has brought to the forefront the debate over religious freedom. Does a Christian and a church have the absolute right to practice their religion as they wish? While all of us would agree that religious freedom is one of the pillars of American democracy, is there ever a time when a church should be regulated? Should churches be free to practice their religion without ANY interference from federal, state or local government?

Consider the recent report of child abuse and neglect in Indiana. Authorities arrested Gerald Harris, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church, Sellerburg, Indiana and church member Christopher Williams after it was reported that they were physically abusing students at Well of Grace Boarding Academy.

The Courier Journal reports:

A Sellersburg, Ind., pastor and fellow church workers are accused of beating multiple children in their care with a wooden paddle.

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull said the abuse occurred at Crossroads Baptist Church, led by Pastor Gerald Harris. It operates a boarding academy complete with dormitories and classrooms for mostly out of state students, he said.

While parents, teachers and caretakers are allowed to discipline children “in a legal way,” Mull said, the bruising allegedly seen on the children constituted criminal abuse.

“That’s the point where, in my opinion as a prosecutor, it crosses the line from appropriate discipline to a criminal battery,” he said.

Harris, 47, and Christopher Williams, 21, were both arrested earlier this week and face preliminary charges of battery and neglect of a dependent, said Clarksville Chief of Police Mark Palmer in a news release. Clark County Jail records indicate both live at the church.

Clarksville police and Child Protective Services did a welfare check at the church, 6109 Appleleaf Lane, Tuesday and interviewed children ranging in age from 8 to 19. They told investigators of “various forms of punishment,” Palmer said.

Five children told police they were “whipped with a wooden paddle,” according to a probable cause affidavit released Thursday.

An 8-year-old boy said Williams tied a rope around his waist and jerked him around “for not behaving.”

An 11-year-old boy with “very serious bruising” on his buttocks and legs told investigators he was also hit with the paddle by both Williams and Harris when he wet his bed.

The pastor allegedly made one 16-year-old stand before the other boys to be whipped with the paddle after Harris told him to keep reading his Bible and believed the teen gave him a smirk, the boy told police.

Students at the academy were also told they could not use the bathroom once the lights were turned off at night, according to the affidavit.

Kentucky law enforcement tipped off Clarksville Police after they learned of children from the boarding academy who were selling candy bars in Owensboro, Ky., Mull said. One of the children allegedly told a customer he feared he would be whipped if he didn’t sell enough candy.

All children have since been removed from the church and returned to their parents or Child Protective Custody, Mull said.

Williams appeared Thursday afternoon in Clark County Circuit Court in Jeffersonville, Ind., where he was advised of his rights by Judge Andrew Adams. Supporters of Williams who appeared in court declined comment. He is next due to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

Harris bonded out of jail, Mull said, but will likely appear early next week in court when formal charges are filed against both. A probable cause affidavit represents only one side of the case.

Further charges could be filed as the investigation continues, Mull said, though he said he does not believe more adults harmed the children.

Mull said he currently knows little about the school, such as when it began operations, how out-of-state parents found out about the school or how many total students attended. “We’re looking at exactly what the arrangements were for keeping the kids, what the philosophy was, what the reasonings were for kids being here,” Mull said.

Clarksville Building Commissioner Ilpo Majuri also visited the property Tuesday and ordered the owners to cease 24/7, residential operations, he said. Owners of the church had come before the city at a board meeting a few years ago stating they were thinking of opening a school on the premises, but no rezoning ever occurred, Majuri said.

“I think they are trying to comply,” he noted…

…Katherine Taul said two boys from the school stopped by her Versailles, Ind. office in January selling candies and giving out cards with the church’s name and number.

“I wish I had asked the boys more questions,” she wrote to The Courier-Journal. “I remember trying to research the place, but wasn’t able to find much, which I also thought strange.”

According to the school’s Facebook page, the Well of Grace Boarding Academy “is a boys home under the authority of Crossroads Baptist Church.”

Its stated goals include “reaching school age boys heading down the paths of destruction” and “watching the transformation of unwanted, and seemingly ruined lives into Godly young men.”

Indiana government officials are outraged over the abuse charges and are vowing to investigate. However, since churches are free to do whatever they want under the umbrella of religious freedom, it should not surprise anyone that there are churches, following the teachings of the Bible about discipline, that promote, advocate, and demand using violence to correct wayward children.

In hollers and out-of-the-way places, Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches and pastors, channeling the spirits of child abusers Lester Roloff and Mack Ford, continue to use child abuse, deprivation, and violence to educate and discipline wayward, rebellious teenagers. And it will continue to go on until the government does something about it.

As long as religious freedom trumps child welfare these kind of things will continue to happen. As long as pastors, churches, and parents are not held criminally liable for ritual child abuse, we will continue to hear of stories like the one mentioned above.

In many states, Ohio included, churches are free to operate schools and boarding homes without any government oversight. In Indiana, Hephzibah House, known for ritual child abuse, has been repeatedly investigated, yet its doors are still open. Until federal and state government put child welfare FIRST, Baptist preachers, thinking they have a direct pipeline to God, will continue to teach parents that God commands them to abuse their children; they will continue to operate “ministries” that beat the devil out of rebellious children.

Note

Gerald Harris started Crossroads Baptist Church in 2006, taking over the building that had belonged to Bible Independent Baptist Church.

From the Well of Grace Boarding Academy Facebook page:(link no longer active)

Here is our goals at Well of Grace Boarding Academy:

  • Reaching school age boys heading down the paths of destruction.
  • Telling them of Christ and teaching them the Word of God.
  • Helping them to have victory over addictions and their reckless living.
  • Training them to be involved in the local church ministries.
  • Teaching discipline, character, respect, and good work ethics.
  • Restoring their home relationships.
  • Watching the transformation of unwanted, and seemingly ruined lives into Godly young men.

Simply drawing and giving Water From the Well. John 4: 1-14

“It is easier to BUILD Boys and Girls than to REPAIR Men and Women!” -Dr. Clarence Doyle

Songs of Sacrilege: Poke at the Pope by Donovan

This is the fifty-fifth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Poke at the Pope by Donovan.

 Video Link

Lyrics

Have you ever seen a picture of Pope Paul?
Have you ever asked yourself this question,
Would you trust this man with your soul now?
Would you trust this man? ask yourself now

His eyes are sunken and his cheeks are hollow
While you dig the poor of the world they follow
He hoarding up their gold in the Vatican
Would you trust this man? ask yourself now

A poke at the Pope, that’s what we’re havin’

Ave Maria, Ave Maria…

Do you remember when the floods hit Italy?
How the things they treasured most were destroyed
All the paintings and the worshipped images
‘Cos they lost their faith in the real God

He’s goin’ down and he’s goin’ down fast
You really didn’t think the ignorance could last
All the little children are learning
And the constellation is turning.

A poke at the Pope, that’s what we’re havin’

Mumbling by the tumbling tide
The kind of America humbly cried
Save my soul, save it soon!
The king of America fell in swoon

Oh yea, my honey, Oh yea my honey…

 

PayPal and Patreon Account for Covering Monthly Expenses

thank youIf you have not read I Need Your Help, Please do so.

As numerous people have suggested, I have set up a Patreon account for those who would like to support what I do here on a monthly basis. My goal is to raise $100 a month to cover managed WordPress service with Flywheel and software plugin costs. Patreon is for readers who want to commit to a monthly donation.

For readers who would like to make a one time donation or make a monthly donation through PayPal, please click here. There is also a donation link on the sidebar.

I also plan to work on an Amazon Bookstore that will feature books I have reviewed and other books I think readers might be interested. Amazon will pay me 2-6% for the purchases made through the bookstore.

The goal is to cover expenses. Any help you  can provide is greatly appreciated. Thanks to my Evangelical past, I am hesitant to ask for financial help, but I know I must if I intend to keep writing. Readership numbers are at the level where I can no longer cover the costs. The $100 a month I mentioned above will cover service up to 100,000 visitors per month. According to Flywheel, I am currently averaging 50,000 visitors per month.

As always, thank you for reading and supporting my writing. I am humbled by your kindness and friendship.

Bruce

Evangelical Hypocrisy When it Comes to Science

guest-post

Guest post by Sarah.

Disclaimer: I can only speak of MY life experiences.

The fact that many Christians (& many other theists) are hypocrites is a well-known topic to people who have the left the faith. Maybe some still engrossed in the church feel twinges of hypocrisy mixed with guilt from time to time, but these are swept aside & buried to be dealt with another time (if at all; maybe I’m giving too much credit).

I was raised Baptist. Any of you who have read Bruce’s blog for any length of time can pretty much guess what the household was like: church services twice on Sunday & Wednesday night, revival/missionary meetings, vacation bible school <shudder>.  On top of God’s commandments: no cussing, premarital sex, drinking, drugs, no non-Christian friends, dresses only. Hellfire & brimstone. Oh…and no biology degree for you young lady!

On Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the following shows would be playing on TV: Law & Order SVU, Forensic Files, The First 48, DateLine Mystery. Any crime show was binge-watched until bed time. As long as there were no F words flying, it seemed to be perfectly suitable viewing. People being murdered isn’t entertainment in my book, but I lived there so I couldn’t say anything.

While many of these shows are interesting, I started noticing a pattern. My parents would say they liked seeing how they caught the bad guys. Guess how they did it? Three magic letters: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

OK, I had and have a huge problem with this because of the underlying attitude of what I presume to be a largely Christian audience (according to ABC News, 83% of Americans are Christian).  Here’s what the underlying attitude is: science is only useful when it catches criminals or something else worthwhile. Generations of hard work by many different scientists have gone into the study of genetics. Entire textbooks have been written by biologists holding PhD’s in their respective fields. Researchers have found specific genes that cause certain diseases. Hell, there’s even a procedure called an amniocentesis that can help a pregnant woman find out if her baby will have Down Syndrome.

Great stuff right? Well, not really, as long as these wonderful geneticists/biologists keep their mouths shut about HOW MUCH they know. If they try to give a basic lesson on genetics & how entire genomes have been mapped, showing all life on Earth is connected….NO, STOP!! That’s not what God’s word says! MAYBE YOUR GREAT GRANDDADDY WAS AN APE BUT I WAS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GAWD

This has to be the biggest case of  hypocrisy/cognitive dissonance I know of. Remember that episode of the Simpsons where a supposed angel skeleton was found  and Lisa was the only skeptic? I haven’t watched that episode in a long time, but the bartender Moe was rioting with everyone else about how science sucks or whatever and a mammoth tusk falls on his back. He says “Oh! I’m paralyzed! I just hope medical science can cure me!”  Yes, that’s exactly what they think and feel but won’t admit it.

Here’s a thought experiment: Go to your refrigerator, open it and look for anything in the fridge that religion has given you. Nothing there right? Now look again in the fridge at what science has given you; for one, the fridge itself. Running water to the freezer for ice cubes, milk that has been pasteurized. Fruit & vegetables found in any grocery store when it’s not their growing season. Are you diabetic? Your insulin is there too.

Science has given humankind many thing,thinks like:

  • Air conditioning
  • Indoor plumbing
  •  Electricity
  • Cell phones/Computers
  • The internet
  • TV/Movies
  • Radio
  • Medicine of all kinds
  • Pain-free childbirth
  • Anesthesia/Surgery
  • Dentistry/Orthodontics
  • Cameras/Photography/Videography
  • Contact lenses/glasses/Laser Vision correction
  • Flea/Tick treatments for your dogs/cats.

Yes, it’s even benefited our pets. I could go on, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Now to be fair, it has been said that science has given us some bad things, like gas in both World Wars, the atomic bomb, etc. But was it science itself, or was its “use by humans” that was bad?

Where would we be without science? Still in the Dark Ages as peasants trying to scratch the lice off our heads while being told by the clergy we’re suffering and hungry because we’re sinners & God is angry with us

Do You Tremble Before God and Fear Him?

fear of God

Christians talk a lot about love. Indeed, throughout the entire Bible, especially the New Testament, we find a lot of verses that talk about God’s love us and our love for God and our fellow-man.  The most oft-quoted verse in the Bible is John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Christians are convinced that God loves everyone. Well, most Christians anyway. Calvinists don’t believe that God loves everyone, According to them, God’s love is reserved for the elect, those chosen by God before the foundation of the world. But everyone else believes in the indiscriminate, unconditional love of God. Most people, at some time or the other, will be told that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives.

Certainly a God of love is a great idea, but unfortunately when we take time to carefully read the Bible we find that the God of love pales considerably when compared to God’s wrath, judgment, hate, and fury.

While a case can be made from the New Testament for the God of love, when it comes to the Old Testament, the God of love is largely absent. I’ve often wondered if some Christians secretly wish that the Old Testament had never been written. Their case for God being a God of love is much easier to make without the Old Testament.

When I read the Old Testament I see a God that any sane human being should fear. From the very first pages of the Bible we see a God that hates sin and has little tolerance for the foibles and faults of humans. According to the Bible, God created Adam and Eve and gave them one command to obey: don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. So what did Adam and Eve do? They ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. How did God respond to their transgression? He cursed them and condemned them to death. Not only that, but every human being after Adam and Eve was also cursed and condemned to death.

Someday all of us will die, and, according to the Bible, we will die because Adam and Eve ate a piece of fruit. A piece of fruit? Yes, a piece of fruit. God so hated their transgression that he cursed every human being that would ever live on the face of the earth. This God is one not to be trifled with and one that we should fear.

Adam and Eve had two sons named Cain and Abel. I’m sure you know the story well, a story of two wonderful boys frolicking in the woods until one day, in the midst of an argument, one kills the other, After Cain killed Abel, God cursed Cain and put a mark on him. As a boy I was taught that the mark God put on Cain was that he made him black. Again, a God to be feared.

Six chapters into the book of Genesis we find that God is already sick and tired of the human race. God is so upset that he wishes he hadn’t created humans. How did God deal with the sin and rebellion of the human race? He killed everyone, save eight people. Think about this for a moment. God killed men, women, children, and unborn babies. Kind of hard to make a pro-life case for this God. Again, a God to be feared.

Throughout the Bible, God commands his chosen people to slaughter others. Anyone who got in the way of the Israelites or refused to worship the one true God, God commanded that they be killed. Even among God’s chosen people, God had no tolerance for disobedience. When God had Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt, he got upset over their lack of faith and obedience. So what did God do? He made them wander in the wilderness for forty years and he killed everyone over the age of twenty. Again, a God to be feared.

From Genesis to Malachi the message is clear, mess with God and you die. The Old Testament God is a God to be feared.

It should come as no surprise that some people decide that there are two Gods in the Bible, the Old Testament God and  the New Testament God. (Personally, I think there are multiple gods in the Bible.) These people rightly understand that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are incompatible. Christians have spent two thousand years trying to make the Old Testament God and the New Testament God compatible with each other. Perhaps God has a split personality and that explains the difference between the Old Testament God and the New Testament God. Regardless of the reason, OT God and NT God are dissimilar.

Even in the New Testament there are events that tell us that the God of love has a real mean streak. What are we to make of the death of Jesus on the cross? According to the substitutionary atonement theory, Jesus died on the cross for sinners. The Arminian says Jesus died for everyone and the Calvinist says Jesus died for some people, but regardless of the breadth of the atonement, Jesus suffered a painful, awful death on the cross because of the sins of others.

Who punished Jesus on the cross? None other than his father, the wrathful God of the Old Testament. God the father poured out his wrath on his son, ultimately killing him. Think about this for a moment. Think about a father brutally killing his son because of what someone else did. Would we think such a man to be worthy of our admiration or our love? I think not.

The death of Jesus on the cross at the hands of his father is a poignant reminder that God hates sin and those who do it. In fact, if it wasn’t for the atoning work of Jesus, God would pour out his wrath on us right this moment. This is a God to be feared.

In the book of Acts we are told a story about two people who told a lie. Ananias and Sapphira lied about selling some property and God killed them on the spot. The Bible says that great fear came upon the people. I too would fear a God willing to kill over the price paid for a piece of property.

And then there’s the book of Revelation. From start to finish the book of Revelation is all about God killing and destroying. God uses the most deplorable methods possible to prove that he is the meanest, baddest son of a bitch in the universe. I’m surprised that a movie has not been made about the book of Revelation. This movie would make Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ look like a G-rated kids flick.

While many Christians want to focus on the good stuff found in the Bible, things like love and forgiveness, we must not forget that far bigger than God being a God of love is the fact that God is a God of wrath and he should be feared. Hundreds of times in the Bible we are told to fear God. In the churches I grew up in, the college I went to, and in my own ministry, the wrathful God, the sin-hating God, the violent God, played a prominent part. It should come as no surprise then that I had a healthy fear of God. In my mind, God always seemed to be lurking in the shadows waiting for me to stumble and fall so he could chastise me or kill me.

I am sure that some readers of this blog will suggest that I have a warped view of the Christian God. I contend however, that those who preach up the love of God at the expense of the wrathful God are giving people a truncated view of the God of the Bible. Most of what we read in the Bible reveals a God of wrath not a God of love.

The conclusion I have come to is this: I find little about the God of the Bible that is worthy of emulation. Why would anyone want to be like the God of the Bible?

Many Christians have learned to compartmentalize the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. Yes, they are aware of the Old Testament God of wrath, but they prefer the New Testament God of love. The Old Testament God is kept in reserve, only to be trotted out for raining judgment upon homosexuals, abortionists, atheists, Barack Obama, Democrats, and St Louis Cardinals fans.

fear of god clarence Darrow

Fortunately, the God of the Bible does not exist. Imagine what the world would be like if the God of the Old Testament existed? I can only imagine that few of us would escape the death penalty. Even Christians would likely be killed by the God who hates sin and those who do it. If the God of love really existed, one would think that the world would be in much better shape and that peace and goodwill would fill the land.

If you’re Christian, I ask you, how do you reconcile the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament? If you used to be a Christian, did the Bible picture of God play a part in your deconversion? If you are a liberal Christian who focuses on the love of God, how do you square your belief with the fact that most of the Bible talks about a God of wrath and not a God of love?

For me personally, one of the reasons I left the Christian faith was because I could no longer square my view of what God should be with what the Bible said he was. When I stopped believing the fear went away.

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