Tag Archive: Marriage

“Normal” is a Just a Setting on a Washing Machine

normal

I have always had a contentious relationship with my wife’s mother. She never wanted me to marry her daughter, and she went to great lengths to frustrate our dating relationship. It was not until Polly told her mother we were getting married with or without her blessing that she grudgingly gave in and helped Polly plan our wedding. We’ve been married for forty years. Polly’s mom was certain that marrying someone from a divorced family led to divorce. I assume, by now, we have put that bit of nonsense to rest. Over the years, Polly and I butted heads with her mom over how many children we planned to have, how we raised our children, ministerial moves, choices of secular employment, how we celebrated Christmas, and a host of other things.

Polly’s mom is now on the last leg of life. She’s has congestive heart failure and has been give six or so months to live. In 2005, Polly’s younger sister was tragically killed in a motorcycle crash (If One Soul Gets Saved It’s Worth It All) leaving Polly alone responsible for her aged parents. In 2004-2005, we lived in Newark, Ohio, not far from Polly’s parents. Our plan was to live there and care for Polly’s parents as they got older. Unfortunately, they made it clear that our help wasn’t needed. Message received. We returned to northwest Ohio so we could be close to our children and grandchildren. Two years ago, Polly’s dad had botched hip replacement surgery that left him crippled. We offered to move them up here so we could help care for them. Our offer was rebuffed. Polly’s mom told her that they couldn’t move because their church — the Newark Baptist Temple — was very important to them. This sentiment is strange considering that their church has pretty much ignored them since Dad’s hip surgery. Out of sight, out of mind.

It will be left to Polly to take care of everything after her mom dies. Common sense says that Polly’s parents should have a will, but, unfortunately, common sense seems hard to find these days. Polly’s mom refuses to have a will drawn up, leaving Polly a colossal mess to deal with after her mom dies. Polly calls her mom every Sunday at 10:00 PM. They talk for one hour. In recent weeks, I have listened to Polly gently try to explain to her mom why having a will is important. Finally, I had enough and asked to Polly to put the phone on speaker. Bruce, the son-in-law she wishes she never had, is more blunt and direct than his wife. I let my mother-in-law know exactly what she was leaving behind for her daughter if she died intestate. In no uncertain terms I let her know that her view of the family was naïve. (She believes everyone will just get along after her death and there will be no problems settling the estate without a will.) She said nothing, thinking, I’m sure, “here’s another one of Bruce’s lectures.” Polly told me later that her mom let her know that she was putting her dad in a nursing home in Newark BEFORE she dies! I suspect she heard from one of her local grandsons that Polly and I had been talking about what to do with/for her dad after Mom died. One idea was to put him in a nursing home near us so we and children could provide for his needs. It seems that, even to the end, Mom intends to maintain the wall between us and her church and “godly” grandchildren in central Ohio. Her behavior has broken Polly’s heart, but there’s nothing she can do about it. Polly has always been the dutiful daughter, yet it seems her mom has chosen the rebellious daughter’s family over hers — much like in the Bible story about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). In the end, it’s Mom’s loss. She has an awesome daughter, and we have wonderful children and grandchildren; people with great empathy and compassion; people who value family. She doesn’t know this, of course, because she has chosen her dead daughter’s family over Polly’s. Such is life . . .

I realize that if Polly had married a “normal” Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) preacher boy things might be different. Instead, Polly married a “bad boy,” a man who has always marched to the beat of his own drum, a man who has rarely been afraid to make hard, controversial decisions. In Mom’s eyes, I am an “odd duck”; I’m “different.” Why couldn’t I have been like other IFB preachers? Why couldn’t I have kept the faith? You see, the underlying issue is my unwillingness to hew to IFB belief. We left the IFB church movement years before we deconverted. Polly’s mom was upset with me numerous times during my years in the ministry; upset over decisions such as: me not wearing the IFB preacher uniform (white shirt, tie and suit), letting Polly wear pants, allowing my children to listen to Christian rock, not preaching from behind a pulpit, not sending my children to a Christian college, removing the name “Baptist” from our church name, using praise and worship music during church services, and not using the KJV when I preached, to name a few. Nothing was as bad, though, as me leaving the ministry and the two of us walking away from Christianity. I suspect that Mom believes that if I were out of the picture, Polly would come running back to Jesus and the family faith. Little does she know how independent her daughter really is and how anti-religion she has become. She may not be as vocal as her husband, but Polly has no use for anything associated with organized religion. She is, in every way, her own woman. The days when Bruce, the IFB Patriarch, ruled the home are long gone. Most of all, Mom blames me for what our children have become. According to her, I have RUINED them! Actually, what I really did was set them free. Each of them is free to be whoever and whatever he or she wants to be. Yes, to a person each has abandoned IFB/Evangelical Christianity, and some don’t believe in gods at all. Yes, they have abandoned the social strictures of their Fundamentalist youth. OMG! They drink beer and cuss. They are so “worldly,” and it is all MY fault. I am, after all, in her IFB worldview, the head of the home, even though all my children are out on their own with families, well-paying jobs, and own their homes. Mom might lament their worldliness, but I am quite proud of who and what ALL my children have become.

It’s Thanksgiving 2005. We are living in Bryan, Ohio, five miles from where we now live. Polly’s parents came to our home to join us for the day. Mom, as she often did, blew into our home like a tornado, moving furniture and changing meal preparations. It was noticeable to me that Polly was quit stressed by her mom’s behavior. She, however, said nothing. As the day wore on, I became increasingly agitated by Mom’s behavior, so much so that I reminded her that she was a guest in our home and asked her to please STOP micromanaging everything. Well, that went over well. Mom and Dad didn’t stay long that day. A day or so later, Mom called to apologize. During our conversation she said, “Bruce, we have always accepted you. We knew you were ‘different.'”

Different? Sure, but does that make a bad husband, father, grandfather, or person? Since when is being different a bad thing? My mother had many faults, but she taught me to think for myself and be my own person. I carried her teachings into my life and they continue with me to this day. I refuse to follow the well-trodden path. I refuse to do something just because everyone is doing it. I choose, instead, to walk my own path, even if that means I am walking alone. I realize that Mom will go to the grave saddened by what has become of her daughter and her son-in-law. Instead of seeing that we are happy and blessed, all she can see is our ungodly disobedience and lack of faith. Instead of seeing what awesome children and grandchildren we have, all she can see is their faithlessness and worldliness. Her religion keeps her from truly embracing and enjoying our family. In mom’s world, the wash can only be cleaned if the washing machine is set to “normal” and Tide is used for detergent.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: What Satan Wants by Lori Alexander

lori alexander

Satan wants abortion to murder those babies.

Satan wants those babies in daycares being given bottles by strangers.

Satan wants mothers to have careers and the children to be raised in public schools where God is not allowed to be mentioned.

Satan wants children to be brought up in the ways of the world.

Satan wants to destroy the home by having it sit empty all day long and where strife reigns between the couples at night.

Satan hates marriage and wants perpetually singleness for young adults.

Satan wants the wife to rule her husband.

Satan wants foolish women who tear their homes down.

Satan celebrates divorce.

Satan hates the family and wants to destroy it.

….

Satan wants children to be raised without a father.

Satan convinces couples that children are a burden and an inconvenience, and they need to use birth control to prevent having many, if any, children.

Satan wants a mother’s career to take top priority.

Satan wants mothers’ hearts to be turned toward what society has to offer.

God’s will is good, and acceptable, and perfect. Satan’s goal is to kill, steal, and destroy.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Satan is Doing Everything to Destroy the Home, January 5, 2019

Simply put, in Lori Alexander’s world, any belief different from hers is Satanic; and lifestyle different from hers is Satanic; and family structure different from hers is Satanic.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Have Lots of Children So You Can Work Yourself to Death

lori alexander

God commands women to be keepers at home. We are to work hard in our homes. Work is good for us and what God intended for us. He tells us that “whatever [we] do, do it heartily as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). This includes working hard in the home. It’s not doing our “chores” quickly so we can get back to scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or watching TV or shopping just to go shopping and spending more money. No, it’s doing our work in the home as best to the best of our ability. [Funny how Alexander doesn’t mention writing blog posts and replying to comments . . .]

I knew a woman years ago who was married and had no children. She did everything she could to make sure she had as little housework as possible. She bought her husband polyester shirts so she wouldn’t have to iron them. [These shirts are awesome, by the way. I own a number of them.] I remember thinking how odd this was since she had no children and she didn’t have a job. Why did she try so hard to make so little work at home?

Many women do this, however. They cook food from packages or get fast food, dry clean their clothes, use housekeepers often even though they don’t need them, and other things like these so they don’t have to work much at home. I understand why career women would do these things since they are home so little but why would full-time keepers at home do this unless they were ill or injured and couldn’t do these things? We already have so many things to make our work easier at home from dishwashers, to washing machines, dryers, ovens, running water, refrigerators, stores to buy our food, and so many other conveniences. I think this is why women get easily bored at home. [Thar she blows, a Luddite Patriarchal Complementarian Christian Fundamentalist.]

No, we aren’t to be “busy” by getting our hair and nails done frequently, going to appointments, shopping to shop, and running here and there. We are to be busy at home but how can we do this when there’s not much to do because of all of the modern conveniences? If a mother has many children, then she will automatically be busy taking care of them but what about those who don’t have many children and are easily bored at home? [Does Alexander have electricity? Why is she on the Internet? Does she own a computer? I smell a hypocrite.]

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Truly Enjoying Being Homemakers, November 27, 2018

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Equality Makes Women Unhappy Says Lori Alexander

lori alexander

Before feminism and birth control, children were valued in America. The woman’s place in the home was valued and so was the man’s place as protector and provider. America was founded upon biblical principles and this is what made it great for many years because God’s ways are good, and acceptable, and perfect. Most today, even Christians, don’t value children and think that having only a few children is all couples should have.

This mindset is from feminism and birth control (Margaret Sanger – an agent of Satan) which influenced women to believe that it was their right to be liberated from the “tyranny” of reproduction and domesticity. Is this belief from God and is it biblical or is it from something sinister and evil; women being convinced they should have full control over their childbearing as the feminist’s leaders who hated marriage and children proudly proclaimed?

….

University of Oklahoma historian, Robert Griswold, cited an article published in the San Mateo Gazette in the mid-19th century that states, ‘Woman is set in the household and man is sent out into the world.’ Even a woman of modest means could ‘be happy in the love of her husband, her home, and its beautiful duties without asking the world for its smiles and favors,’ the article argued.’”

Women weren’t dissatisfied in their homes up until and through the 19th century, because this was all they knew. They knew their God-ordained role. Divorce was low. Children were plentiful and were being raised by their mothers from intact homes. Children were valued and most grew up to be emotionally stable and secure. Many families weren’t considered “wealthy” in terms of finances but they were considered wealthy in terms of what matters in life. (I am not trying to romanticize this time in history since I know full well that sin existed and was alive and well but simply pointing out a time in American history when roles were clearly defined and culture at large was better and safer since families were much stronger than they are today.)

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, When Women Were Happy in the Home Without the World’s Smiles and Favors, November 23, 2018

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Lori Alexander Rails Against Feminists

lori alexander

Has feminism made women better or happier? “The feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy…Self-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness” (Phyllis Schlafly). Feminists have made men the enemy and see men as the oppressors who are keeping them from their full potential and ultimate happiness. After all, men used to be the ones who had most of the jobs, made the money and were in positions of authority. This looked so much better to women: to leave their family each day to seek the happiness that was eluding them. “Oppressive patriarchy” became the battle cry to convince women of their self-imposed victimhood and a search to settle the score, even if it meant walking into a harder, stress-filled life that most husbands were trying to protect their wives from.

In a recent article written by a female retired college professor, Victoria Brown tells of a time when she was screaming at her husband over all of the evils men bring into this world: “In the centuries of feminist movements that have washed up and away, good men have not once organized their own mass movement to change themselves and their sons or to attack the mean-spirited, teasing, punching thing that passes for male culture. Not once. B****. Don’t listen to me. Listen to each other. Talk to each other. Earn your power for once.”

So “good men have not once organized their own mass movement to change themselves…”? Judaism, Christianity, and many of the world’s religions were started by men and carried forward by men to help civilize the world. The Magna Carta, Democracy, and Bill of Rights are just a few of the most recent accomplishments of men making men and women better. Many wars were fought by organized men wanting righteousness: the Civil War to free the slaves and two World Wars to save the world from evil, tyrannical men. Modern day management has been organized by men to improve leaders and employees as team players. Christian colleges, as the seat of learning almost all developed by men for the benefit of men and women but now turned into costly, liberal bastions. Police forces, regulators, FBI – all organized by men to help men and women be fair and civilized towards one another.

One really has to ask, “Dr. Brown, is there really anything that women have organized to make women better as we see what an utter failure feminism is as it streaks towards greater extremes? Are women more gentle, more civil, more committed to faithfulness, and family? Has the free sex of feminism really achieved anything good for women but for a few moments of pleasure and massive heartaches and STD’s?” I have never seen women as mean-spirited as they are today, especially with those with whom they disagree.

No, Dr. Brown, feminism isn’t a women’s mass movement that has changed women for good or made them better and certainly no happier. Yes, women can now vote, have any job they want, get equal pay, and the insanity to abort their child at almost any stage of their unborn baby’s life. But take a look at the women’s marches, mean-spirited speeches, screaming, and dressing up in vagina costumes,then tell me if feminism has not set women back thousands of years in civilization. Feminism has made women far worse as it pushes selfishness while devaluing women’s bodies with immodesty, promiscuity, easy sex, and murdering or neglecting the lives of their own children. Mothers of old would be flabbergasted to see the modern feminist woman.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Has Feminism Made Women Better or Happier? October 19, 2018

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Lori Alexander Chastises Millennials for Not Having Children

lori alexander

Is it sinful for married Christian couples to decide they are not going to have children if there are no medical or health problems? Yes, I believe that it definitely is sinful since God commands young women to “marry, bear children, and guide the home” (1 Timothy 5:14). Therefore, if they intentionally decide not to have children, they are disobeying this command. God also commanded His children to be fruitful and multiply and tells us that a man who has a quiverful is blessed. Before birth control, all Christian couples who were able to have children had children and the Church taught against birth control for many years after it became available in America. The Church clearly knew that children were a blessing and to be treasured as such.

Some don’t believe it’s a sin if Christian couples don’t have children. My question to them would be: Is it okay for all Christian couples to not have children then? (No one has answered me with a yes or no on this one when I’ve asked.) Of course it’s not okay for all Christian couples to not have children when one of the main reasons God gives for getting married is to be one flesh and out of becoming one flesh, children are conceived. God is the One who created sex and it is good when saved only for the marriage bed to bring pleasure and to bear children.

The only way that married couples can decide to permanently not have children is to use birth control or abstain completely (which is not biblical according to 1 Corinthians 7:5). Please study the roots of birth control and the desire to eliminate the black population. (Study specifically Margaret Sanger) Hint: birth control has evil roots and is not from God. Birth control has eventually led to the slaughtering of millions of unborn babies and the devaluing of children’s lives. Many mothers don’t even want to raise their own children anymore. They prefer their careers instead.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Married Christian Couples Deciding Not to Have Children, October 13, 2018

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Wives Commanded to Submit to Abusive Husbands

lori-alexander

If a husband physically abuses his wife, he is either a very troubled man or an evil man. Not one woman that I have mentored who has been physically abused by her husband has told me that their husband is evil. They all say their husband is very troubled and needs help. I encourage them to call the authorities if they are being physically abused and even separate for a time until he gets help. BUT this doesn’t make void God’s commands for wives to submit to their husband’s leadership and that women who are married to disobedient husbands are to win their husbands without the word by their godly behavior (1 Peter 3:1). God’s ways are “good, and acceptable, and perfect” (Romans 12:2) so we must trust and obey Him! There are TWELVE verses that clearly states a wife’s position under her husband. There’s no guessing game here.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Why Women Are More Easily Deceived, October 1, 2018

The “What If” Game

what if

Cartoon by Tom Fishburne

Thanks to modern medicine and clean water, most of us will live into our seventies and even our eighties. Compare our lifespan to that of the rabbits that hop through our yards or the cats sleeping their lives away on our couches, and we live relatively long lives. The difference between us and other animals is that we measure life by hours, days, and years. Rabbits and cats exist, until they don’t, with nary a thought about the brevity of their lives. They live, and then they die. We humans also live and die, but we tend to think a lot about our lives and their ultimate ends. We wonder, is there life after death? We strive to extend our lives as long as possible, fearing that despite what Christians tell us, there might not be anything waiting for us after we die; that death is the equivalent of shutting off our computers. As an atheist, I believe that the only thing that awaits me after death is endless darkness and silence. I have often pondered, in the still of night, being alive and then dead; that moment when all that went into making me who I am ceases to exist.

I don’t fear dying. It’s a waste of time to fear that which you cannot control. That said, I do ponder how best to live what life I have left. Age and health problems have done that to me. If I live to be seventy, I have less than eight years left before I am no more. It seems like yesterday that I was a young buck running free, thinking that I was immortal. It seems like yesterday that I enrolled at Midwestern Baptist College, married the love of my life, and fathered six children. It seems like yesterday that I was pastoring churches, winning souls, and investing my life in the work of the ministry. Now I am sixty-one years old, grandfather to twelve wonderful children, and come June I will draw my first social security check. Compared to my life when I was young, time is moving at breakneck speed. Come May, my oldest granddaughter will graduate from high school. Why, it seems like yesterday she was a toddler clumsily running through our home. Now she is a grown woman with plans to go to college. As I look at my grandchildren, I see how quickly they are growing, both in stature and intellect. Even my youngest grandchild, Ezra, has doubled in size from a few months ago. Born six weeks premature, Ezra is now growing faster than a feeder hog on corn. I suspect he’ll be an NFL linebacker by age two.

In two months, it will be Thanksgiving, and in three months we will celebrate Christmas. Didn’t we just celebrate these holidays a couple of months ago? On and on, with or without us, time moves along, never stopping for us to catch our breath or reset our navigation. I often find that I am in bondage to my to-do list. As my health declines and I feel the need to join the cat at the end of couch, the list gets longer and longer. I feel oppressed when I think about it. Damn, so much to do. I’m never going to get these things done. Silly, I know, because the fact of the matter is that most of what is on my list doesn’t really matter. If I get to the things on my list, fine, but if I don’t, will it make one bit of difference? I doubt it.  As I get closer and closer to the end of life, I find myself — on most days — focusing on the people that matter to me: my family and friends, especially Polly, Jason, Nathan, Jaime, Bethany, Laura, Josiah, Aaliyah, Victoria, Karah, Levi, Emma, Guin, Gabby, Morgan, Alayna, Lily, Charlee, and Ezra. They are the sum of my life, or most it anyway.

One of the games older people play is the “What If” Game.  Have you played this game? I know I have. What if my dad didn’t move his family all over the place and I got to go to the same school instead of attending ten schools in twelve years? What if my mom and dad stayed married, instead of divorcing when I was fourteen? What if my dad was still alive instead of dying at age forty-nine and my mom was still alive instead of killing herself at age fifty-four? What if I married the first girl I loved instead of the last one? What if I went to Briercrest Bible College instead of Midwestern Baptist College? What if my parents stayed members of the Episcopal church instead of joining up with Fundamentalist Baptists? What if I stayed on as pastor of Somerset Baptist Church instead of moving 1,600 miles away to Texas to co-pastor Community Baptist Church? What if I never moved away from Southeast Ohio? Or Northwest Ohio? Or Central Michigan? Or Southwest Arizona? What if? What if? What if?

Life is made up of countless decisions. Each decision we make alters our lives, sometimes in insignificant ways, other times in ways that forever change us. Every decision moves us further down the path of life. While we would like to think that, if we had done differently at a certain point in life, things would have turned out better for us, how can we know for sure that that would be the case? Alter your timeline at one point and everything changes. And isn’t that the sum of what we call life?  Ever-moving, ever-changing. The most that any of us can do is use the information at hand to make the best possible decisions. I have made countless bad decisions, choices that altered my life and that of my family in profound ways. Shit, I tell myself, I would sure like a do-over. Well, there are no do-overs, no second chances. All any of us can do is learn from the past and try to do better the next time.

I have also made innumerable good decisions. I could play the “What If” Game and wonder if the good decisions I’ve made could have been better, but that’s a game for fools to play. I don’t believe in soulmates. I suspect had I gone to a different college or lived in a different place, I would have met a woman, fallen in love, gotten married, and lived happily ever after — or not. That said, that’s not what happened, and when I met a beautiful, dark-haired seventeen-year-old girl named Polly at Midwestern Baptist College, I knew she was the one for me. This one choice altered my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. We were naïve youths when we said I do, but here we are five decades later, still in love, and most of all, best friends (even after I boiled her fairly new enamel cast iron pot dry last night while I was forgetfully busy writing a blog post). Both of us could play the “What If” Game, but why would we? Is not what we have good enough? Is it not in fact more than we could ever have imagined? Instead of what wondering about what might have been, I choose to live in the present, grateful for all the blessings that have come my way. As life winds down for me, I choose to think about what I have instead of what might have been.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Stop Shacking Up! Says Lori Alexander

lori-alexander

Many young, unmarried couples today live (have sex) together before marriage, including many Christian ones, and think nothing is wrong with it since it is so common. We live by the commands of God, not what is acceptable in our wicked generation. God wants you free from all sexual activity before marriage for very good reasons, so don’t move in with your boyfriend no matter how much he persuades you to do so!

Once you move in with your boyfriend, he has little reason to ask you to marry him. You are already there to provide all that he needs: cook, cleaner, maybe financial benefit, and someone to have sex with him at night. Why should he have to take on all the responsibilities of marriage (commitment, provider, protector) when he can easily get the benefits of marriage (sex and a woman who helps him) for free?

The longer you two cohabitate, the more things you will share: rent/mortgage, utilities, furniture, pets, and sadly, illegitimate children. It always leads to one of two paths: marriage or separation. When your highly inevitable break up occurs, you will need to decide who keeps what and who moves out. It is hard to decide who keeps what when you have been splitting everything 50/50 for years. You can’t exactly cut your table that you both paid materials and labor into in half, or make larger decisions like how much and when to sell the home you bought.

Hopefully, you haven’t already gone as far as having sex, making children together, and moving in with your boyfriend. Even though society, family, and friends may think you two should live together while dating, DON’T DO IT! All of this is foolish behavior and will reap unhappy results. Find a godly, older person who will keep you accountable with your boyfriend. Seek purity in everything! Don’t spend too much time alone together. It’s not wise to do so.

But women say, “It’s cheaper,” or “We want to see if we want to marry each other,” or “We need to ‘try’ each other out.” Living together while dating each other is very different than married couples living together. You aren’t wondering if you paid for the movie tickets last time, or if it’s your turn to drive and buy groceries. You’ll always have in your mind that you can leave at any time since there’s no commitment which is what true love is. Plus, if you have been unfaithful before marriage, it is much easier to be unfaithful once married. There are many good reasons God commands young women to be chaste!

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, STOP Living With Your Boyfriend!, September 18, 2018

Bruce and Polly Gerencser, Forty Years Later

I recently wrote a post about Polly and I celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary. You can read it here.  I used the following picture:

bruce and polly gerencser 1978

Bruce and Polly Gerencser, May 1978

This photograph was shot in May 1978 (two months before our wedding) at Cranbrook House and Gardens in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan by Mike Veitch, a fellow ministerial student at Midwestern Baptist College. There are several striking things about this photo. First, we are breaking Midwestern’s no-physical-contact, six-inch rule. (See Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six Inch Rule.) If I remember correctly, Mike thought it was okay to break the rule when posing for photographs. Midwestern itself waved the rules for Sweetheart banquet photographs. Here’s an example:

polly shope bruce gerencser 1977

Polly Shope and Bruce Gerencser, February 1977

Little did Mike know we had been breaking the six-inch rule for eighteen months. We were at the place physically that if we didn’t get married SOON, we weren’t going to be virgins when we walked down the aisle. The sexual pressure and tension was palpable, never far below the surface.

Second, I am taken with how young and fit we look. Polly was eighteen and I was twenty. Polly weighed around one hundred sixty pounds. She had two years previously lost a good deal of weight. I weighed one hundred eighty pounds. Age-wise we were adults, but I can’t help but see us as naïve children, unprepared for the real world that awaited us come our wedding day.

Third, I am still stricken by Polly’s beauty. She was (and is) one good-looking gal. There’s not much more that I can say here. She was and remains a beautiful woman.  I definitely got the better end of the deal in our marriage.

Youthfulness is fleeting, and that’s okay. Neither Polly nor I try to be any other age that what we are. While we hate the pains and physical debility aging had brought us, we are grateful for the forty years we’ve had together, and we intend to age honestly and gracefully. You’ll never see us in public acting like we are twenty-somethings. We have embraced life as it is. The world values youthfulness and beauty, but what it really needs is aged wisdom and dignity. Last weekend, I attended a dirt track race with my oldest son and his children. Between races we talked about the importance of living each day to its fullest. Don’t put off until tomorrow the things you want to do today. Life is precious, and all of us have just one bite of the proverbial apple. My son and I have attended hundreds of dirt track races together. He remarked, man, summer is almost over. Only a couple of more weekends for racing. I replied, Yep. If I live another ten years (and that’s being optimistic) you and I have fifteen or so opportunities to attend races together!  Why, years ago, we attended thirty or more races a year. To use a dirt track analogy, I’m powering out of turn four, headed for the final straight away and the end of the race.

This year was the first time since 1983 that we didn’t put in a garden. When the children were all at home, we had a huge garden. The Troy-built rear-tine tiller I bought in 1991 still works. This tiller has tilled up ground in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. All sorts of dirt, from sand in Central Michigan to dense clay in the hills of Southeastern Ohio. Our children have oh-so-fond memories of working the gardens; fond as in thinking they were unpaid migrant workers. Want to go to the races tonight? I would say to my oldest three sons. Yes! they would say. Well, get those weeds hoed/pulled and produce picked and then we’ll go. Happy memories, right? Over time, as our children got jobs and started paying rent, we reduced the size of our garden. In the past decade, our garden plot size was around four hundred square feet. Once the last two children moved out, it became increasingly hard for us to keep up with the garden. My inability to get around meant that much of the care fell on Polly. She did what she could, but weeds always seemed to win. It became abundantly clear that the financial, physical, and emotional costs of caring for a garden were such that we would be better off to stop and buy our veggies at the store.

We found it difficult to throw in the towel. Polly wanted to keep up the garden fencing, thinking maybe things would be better next year. I knew that “better” wasn’t coming, so I said, no, it’s time to admit that we can no longer do this. With a wistful, tearful sense of deep loss, my sons and I pulled the fence posts and removed the fencing. All that’s left is our twenty-foot asparagus patch and a bit of dill.

Aging brings loss, but it also brings razor-sharp clarity as to what is important. The Bible is right when it says, Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Solomon summed up life this way in Ecclesiastes: Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.

On Sunday, Polly and I spent the evening together celebrating our wedding anniversary. We had a delightful time sitting at Findlay’s Riverside Park watching squirrels and humans alike scurry about with nary a thought about tomorrow. We spent most of our time talking about our shared experiences over the past forty-two years. We have spent two-thirds of our lives with each other. Lots of water has coursed under bridge of our shared life. Once a fast-moving river, the water moves slowly now, following the path carved out by years of ebb and flow. So much of life has come and gone, yet there’s still life to be lived, be it a moment, a day, a year, or a decade.

I no longer plan for the future, choosing instead to take each day as it comes. I am content to enjoy the love and company of my family, knowing that, compared to many, I am blessed. Luck indeed smiled upon me forty years ago when I said yes, to the question, will you have this woman to be your wedded wife? I am confident that luck will continue to smile upon me until the end.

Let me conclude this post with two photographs from Sunday.

polly gerencser 2018

bruce gerencser 2018

 

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Men Want Debt-Free, Tattoo-Free Virgins

lori alexander

Do you know how much more attractive debt-free virgins (without tattoos) are to young men? Unfortunately, there are so few of these types of young women anymore because of the high costs of college (debt) and sexual promiscuity even within those in the church. As believers in Jesus Christ, we need to live in a way that is pleasing to Him because His ways are the best. He calls debt a burden and urges us to live lives of sexual purity.

There are many more reasons why Christian young women should carefully consider whether or not they go to college, especially if they want to be wives and mothers someday. Secular universities teach against the God of the Bible and His ways. It’s far from what God calls women to be and do: it teaches them to be independent, loud, and immodest instead of having meek and quiet spirits.

— lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Men Prefer Debt-Free Virgins Without Tattoos, July 16, 2018

A supporter of Alexander’s had this to say:

“Men don’t want to marry a women with debt. Most of this debt comes from college. They would also prefer a woman who still lives at her parent’s house that has not had other relationships. Do those two things and you will be highly sought after.”

“If they go to college, they are unlikely to stay home raising their children to pay off the debt and use the degree they spent years on.”

“The husband will need to take years teaching his wife the correct way to act, think, and live since college taught them every possible way that is wrong.”

“They will start having babies later in life. That is if they can still conceive naturally.”

“They lost a handful of years of experience learning to cook large meals and learning how to work in the garden. College kids don’t cook. If they do, it’s typically for themselves.”

“The list goes on. Churches don’t talk about it. They support the college kids (really adults) and the ‘working’ mothers.”

“It’s very rare to find an 18 year old woman that continues to work and live at her parent’s house until she meets her husband. It’s pretty much a joke to all who do that.”

40 Years Later: A Kiss for Luck and We’re on Our Way

bruce and polly gerencser 1978

Bruce and Polly Gerencser, May 1978

It was a hot July day in 1978 when Polly and I stood before family and friends at the Newark Baptist Temple and pledged our troth one to one another. We were two naive — in every way — Baptist youths, nineteen and twenty-one. We believed that God had divinely brought us together. We met for the first time in late August 1976, days before our first classes at Midwestern Baptist College in Pontiac, Michigan. I planned to be a pastor and Polly set her sights on finding herself a preacher-boy to marry.

We were a mismatched couple; Polly was quiet, reserved, and backward, whereas I was talkative, outgoing, and precocious. Our early dates were a whole lot of me talking and Polly listening. After dating for six months — dating meaning double-dates to college-approved restaurants and no physical contact  (See Thou Shalt Not Touch: The Six Inch Rule) — I asked Polly to marry me. She said yes, and I gave her a 1/4 carat diamond ring I had purchased at Sears for $225. Little did we know what life would bring our way. Our plans were simple: get married, have two children, move to a town where I would pastor a church the rest of our lives, and live in quaint home with a white picket fence. What could go wrong, right?

Our first reality check came when Polly’s mom informed us that we couldn’t get married; that she and her Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor-husband would not give us their blessing. My parents divorced in the early 1970s, and Polly’s mom believed divorce was hereditary. After several months of stewing over their disapproval, Polly called her mom and told her that we were going to get married anyway, with or without their approval. This was the first time Polly stood up to her parents. Realizing that they had no power to stop us from marrying, Polly’s parent’s relented and set their minds on preparing for their daughter’s soon-to-come July wedding.

Our wedding was typical of the day, but there were several things that stand out even today. My best man and groomsmen were friends of mine from college. We had rented our tuxedos in Pontiac, bringing them with us to Newark, Ohio for the wedding. Thinking the rental company had properly sized our tuxes, we didn’t try them on before the day of the wedding, Imagine our surprise, then, to find out one of the groomsmen’s pants were too small. Panic set in, but Polly’s mom quickly took care of things by letting out the seat of the pants. All is well, we thought. Come time for the wedding, the preacher (the late James Dennis, Polly’s uncle), my groomsmen, and I walked up basement stairs to the front on the church auditorium. As we were walking up the stairs, the emergency-tailored pants ripped from stem to stern. All any of us could to was laugh, and laugh we did. My friend would stand the whole time with legs and butt cheeks clenched together during the ceremony, hoping that no one would see his airy pants. Fortunately, no one saw the tear, though I do wonder if some people wondered why he was walking through the church with his legs to tightly closed together.

Polly’s uncle volunteered to photograph our wedding. We said, sure. Art purchased new lighting equipment for our wedding. As the wedding processional began, I saw this panicked look on Art’s face. His new equipment was not working! Unfortunately, as a result, we have no live photographs of our wedding. We do have posed photos that were taken after the wedding.

The soloist for our wedding was a college friend of ours. He sang two songs, The Wedding Song by Peter, Paul and Mary:

He is now to be among you at the calling of your hearts
Rest assured this troubadour is acting on His part.
The union of your spirits, here, has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love. There is Love.

A man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
And they shall travel on to where the two shall be as one.
As it was in the beginning is now and ‘til the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again.
And there is Love. There is Love.

Well then what’s to be the reason for becoming man and wife?
Is it Love that brings you here or Love that brings you life?
And if loving is the answer, then who’s the giving for?
Do you believe in something that you’ve never seen before?
Oh there’s Love, there is Love.

Oh the marriage of your spirits here has caused Him to remain
For whenever two or more of you are gathered in His name
There is Love. There is Love.

and We’ve Only Just Begun by the Carpenters:

We’ve only just begun to live
White lace and promises
A kiss for luck and we’re on our way
We’ve only begun

Before the rising sun, we fly
So many roads to choose
We’ll start out walking and learn to run
And yes, we’ve just begun

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day, together

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Sharing horizons that are new to us
Watching the signs along the way
Talkin’ it over, just the two of us
Workin’ together day to day, together

And when the evening comes, we smile
So much of life ahead
We’ll find a place where there’s room to grow
And yes, we’ve just begun

Little did we know, that “secular” music was not permitted for weddings at the Baptist Temple. Afterward, we learned that, thanks to us, all wedding music had to be pre-approved. Forty years later, our “sin” still affects couples wanting to be married at the Baptist Temple. Sorry ’bout that!

After our wedding, we headed to Springfield, Ohio where we would spend our first night together as husband and wife. Neither of us had any experience sexually. Our entire sex education came from things I overheard in high school locker rooms, Polly’s mom giving her a two-minute PSA, and both of us reading The Act of Marriage, by Fundamentalist Baptist Tim LaHaye. Somehow, we figured out.

bruce polly gerencser wedding 1978

Bruce and Polly Gerencser, July 1978, with Bruce’s mom and dad

We spent two nights at the French Lick Hotel in French Lick, Indiana. Afterward, we drove to Rochester, Indiana to visit my mom and then over to Bryan, Ohio to visit my sister and her family. We spent the night at the Exit Two Motel. The room was hot, infested with mosquitoes, and we spent the night listening to clanking pipes. Come morning, we returned to Pontiac, Michigan to begin our junior year of college.

We rented a four-room upstairs apartment in Waterford Township, a short drive from Midwestern. I returned to my job at Felice’s Market and Polly continued to clean the homes of several people, including the condo of a Jewish rabbi and his family. Six weeks after our wedding, Polly informed me that she was pregnant. Pregnant? How can that be? I thought. We are using birth control. Children should never play with fireworks, and so it is with naïve Baptist youths with sex. We knew we wanted to wait to have children, but our inexperience with birth control charted a different course for us. In late May 1979, our son was born, six weeks before our first wedding anniversary. By then, I had been laid off from work, we dropped out of college, and returned to Northwest Ohio — the last place I ever wanted to come back to.

Yesterday, Polly and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. We spent the afternoon and evening in Findlay, Ohio, sitting along the banks of the Blanchard River, photographing squirrels, and talking about life. So much water has coursed under proverbial bridge of our married life. At times, slow-moving streams, at other times floods threatening to overrun the banks, destroying all that stood in their way. Yet, we survived. Six children in ten years. Always living life on the edge of financial ruin. Bankruptcy. Twenty-five years of pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Countless houses and automobiles. A near-death health crisis. Surgeries. Heart problems. Chronic illness, unrelenting pain, and disability. The birth of a daughter with Down Syndrome. The loss of faith and starting over. Any of these things could have brought ruin, yet we endured.

We are not special or gifted in any way. There’s no formula or magic. We know that that we are lucky to have made it this far. Yet, made it we have. As we drove home from Findlay in a car that cost more than our first twenty cars combined, I opened Spotify on my iPhone and started streaming The Carpenters to our car’s entertainment system. My how things have changed. We are a long ways away from when we first listened to these songs on WJR and CKLW, yet their lyrics touch a deep place in our hearts, bringing tears and longing. We started out forty years ago with We’ve Only Just Begun, and in many ways that’s still the case. While most of our life together is in the rear-view mirror, there are still new horizons ahead. Who knows, maybe, just maybe, with a kiss for luck, we’ll make it to the end.

I love you, Polly.