Tag Archive: Marriage

Polly’s 57th Birthday

polly gerencser 2015

Polly Gerencser 2015

Tomorrow, Polly and I plan to eat at Mancy’s Steakhouse in Toledo, Ohio in celebration of her 57th birthday. Mancy’s is quite expensive, so we only go there once a year on Polly’s birthday. We hope to have a wonderful time. As I sit here contemplating the wonderful life I’ve shared with Polly, the song Wasn’t Expecting That by Jamie Lawson began to play on Rdio. I’ve never heard this song or artist before, and as I listen I find myself weeping. The song speaks to the bond and love Polly and I have for each other.  I thought I’d share it with you.

Video Link

Lyrics

It was only a smile
But my heart it went wild
I wasn’t expecting that
Just a delicate kiss
Anyone could’ve missed
I wasn’t expecting that

Did I misread the sign?
Your hand slipped into mine
I wasn’t expecting that
You spent the night in my bed
You woke up and you said
“Well, I wasn’t expecting that!”

I thought love wasn’t meant to last
I thought you were just passing through
If I ever get the nerve to ask
What did I get right to deserve somebody like you?
I wasn’t expecting that

It was only a word
It was almost misheard
I wasn’t expecting that
But it came without fear
A month turned into a year
I wasn’t expecting that

I thought love wasn’t meant to last
Honey, I thought you were just passing through
If I ever get the nerve to ask
What did I get right to deserve somebody like you?
I wasn’t expecting that

Oh and isn’t it strange
How a life can be changed
In the flicker of the sweetest smile
We were married in spring
You know I wouldn’t change a thing
Without that innocent kiss
What a life I’d have missed

If you’d not took a chance
On a little romance
When I wasn’t expecting that
Time doesn’t take long
Three kids up and gone
I wasn’t expecting that

When the nurses they came
Said, “It’s come back again”
I wasn’t expecting that
Then you closed your eyes
You took my heart by surprise
I wasn’t expecting that

Domestic Violence in the IFB Church

god domestic abuse

Domestic Violence in the IFB Church

Let me open by giving readers the definition for domestic violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines domestic violence as follows:

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Does the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church movement have a domestic abuse problem? The short answer is Yes!

The IFB church movement is built on a foundation of emotional and mental manipulation and abuse. This is seen in how parents discipline their children and how husbands lord over and control their wives. These behaviors are often modeled by IFB pastors, deacons, and church leaders as they manipulate, control, and dominate church members.

I know IFB readers of this blog are howling over what I have written here. How dare I suggest that the IFB church movement has an abuse problem. How dare I suggest IFB pastors and church leaders emotionally and mentally manipulate and control people. Child abuse? Domestic violence? Where do such things happen? says the IFB church member. I have never seen it.

And therein lies the problem. The abuse and violence are institutionalized to such a degree that it is considered normal. People are so used to seeing it that they never consider whether such behavior is appropriate. IFB church members are familiar with having their “toes stepped on.” They are accustomed to fire and brimstone, naming names, calling sin “sin,” sermons. They are used to aggressive behavior from their pastors. It seems quite normal to them. Those of us who were raised in the IFB church movement understand this. It took us getting away from it to see how manipulative and abusive it  is. The waiting rooms of mental health professionals are crowded with people whose mental wellness and self-esteem were ruined by Fundamentalist religion.

For those of us who spent decades in the IFB church, we know that the deep mental and emotional scars left by our time in the IFB church never go away. We learn to come to terms with our past and try to do the best we can going forward. We are marred, even broken, yet somehow, we find a way to pick up and move forward.

This is why some of us speak so openly about the IFB church movement and its manipulative and abusive tendencies. We don’t want ANYONE to experience what we experienced. When we see someone gravitating towards Fundamentalism we try to warn them as we would warn a person who is driving towards a cliff. Stop! Turn around!  Sadly, many people ignore these warnings and often pay a heavy price, emotionally, mentally, and sometimes physically, as a result.

Domestic violence in the IFB church movement is widespread. Unfortunately, it is often not seen as domestic violence by those who are devoted IFB church members. Instead, the use of domestic violence is often seen as being “true to the Bible” or being “a faithful follower of Jesus.” To understand this domestic violence,  we must first understand the theological underpinnings of such violence. Domestic violence often happens because husbands (it is almost always husbands who perpetrate the domestic violence in the IFB church) want to be obedient to the Bible, Jesus, and the pastors’ dictates. Remember, in the IFB church, the voice of God sounds an awful lot like the voice of the Pastor.

Here is what many IFB pastors preach to their church members:

  • Christ is the head of the church and the pastor is God’s man in the church.
  • The Bible is an inerrant, inspired text that should be literally interpreted and explicitly obeyed.
  • The husband is the head of home.
  • The wife is to submit to her husband.
  • The highest calling for a woman is to bear children and to be a keeper of the home. Many IFB pastors discourage women from working outside the home and from getting a college education (unless they go to college to get an MRS degree).
  • The husband is the authority, the disciplinarian, and the king of the home. God holds him, like he did Adam, responsible for everything that goes on in the home.
  • The Bible sanctions using violence when children disobey. If a parent does not spank or whip children, it  means the parent is not willing to obey the teachings of the Pastor and the Bible. The rod of correction is meant to be used to drive wickedness out of a child’s heart.

Now, none of these things, in and of  itself, necessarily lead to domestic abuse. However, add to this the IFB church preoccupation with sin and the portrayal of God as a violent deity who will whip them if they disobey, and you have a recipe for not only domestic abuse but also child abuse. I have watched more than a few IFB church members and pastors beat the hell out their children with a belt, switch, or paddle. I remember hearing of one parent who picked up a 2×4 and beat his two teenage girls with it. Why? The teen deliberately disobeyed him by riding the church bus home instead of going home with him.

I have admitted my own violent, abusive methods of correcting my three oldest children. Fortunately, I abandoned these practices with my three youngest children. My oldest sons routinely got thrashed for disobeying their parents. I corrected them this way because I thought that is what God wanted me to do. The books I read said this was the proper way to discipline children, and every big-name preacher I heard preach said I was doing right by my kids when I whipped them. Is it any surprise then, with Bible-sanctioned brutality against children and a violent God who uses violence to chastise disobedient IFB church members, that violent behavior spills over into the relationship between the husband and his submissive wife?

I can’t say that I know of many instances where a husband physically beat his wife. It happened, but not very often, to my knowledge. I know of a few pastors’ wives who were physically abused by their pastor husbands. The pastors were men of God in the pulpit, but at home they  were violent disciplinarians who ruled over their wives and children with a rod of iron. Most of the abuse I saw was more of the mental and emotional type. If the woman wasn’t submissive enough or didn’t put out sexually, she would pay for it. If she dared to have ambition, want to work outside the home, or go to college, she would be put in her place and reminded of God’s divine order for the home.

I have often said, I don’t know how ANY woman stays in the IFB church. Well, I do know. Women are afraid. They fear disobeying God, their husbands, and their pastors. They fear God will chastise them if they dare step outside the role God has ordained for them.  And so they stay and suffer the abuse.

Again, theology plays a big part in this. Many IFB pastors think that there are no grounds for divorce or that the only ground for divorce is adultery. Having a husband who is abusive, especially if it is emotional or mental abuse, is not grounds for divorce.

Let me give an illustration of how this is perpetuated from the pulpit:

Years ago the church I was pastoring joined together with other IFB churches to hold a joint revival meeting. The speaker was Bill Rice III. (I am almost certain it was Bill Rice but it could have been Pete Rice, both were associated with the Bill Rice Ranch.) One night, Bill Rice preached on the subject of marriage and divorce. Rice did not believe there were any grounds for divorce. He said that even if a husband was beating on his wife, the wife should stay in the marriage. Perhaps she would win her husband to Jesus by her willingness to stay in the marriage. Rice intimated that saved husbands don’t beat their wives.

By the time of this meeting my views had already begun to change and I pulled our church out of the meetings. I was incensed that Rice was advocating a woman endure beatings by her husband , the implication being that God wanted her to do so.

As my wife and I traveled beyond the IFB church movement, we had to relearn what it meant to have a healthy marital and family relationship. Ultimately, it took getting away from Christianity altogether for us to find wholeness.

I am not suggesting that every husband in the IFB church movement is abusive or that every father abuses his children when he disciplines them. I am suggesting that IFB theology encourages manipulation, violence and abuse, especially of the mental and emotional variety. Personally, I don’t think the IFB church movement is good for anyone. The extreme Fundamentalism found in the movement is emotionally and mentally harmful and people are better off finding other Christians sects to be a part of; sects that don’t view women as being inferior and don’t see children as chattel. I am of the opinion that the best thing that can happen to the IFB church movement is that it dies a quick death. It is dying, but it is dying slowly. I am all for smothering the movement in its bed.

Over the years, I have watched a number of women break free from domestic violence. They decided their own personal self-worth and happiness was more important than supposed obedience to God, the Bible, the pastor, and their husbands. Most often, gaining their freedom required them to divorce their husbands.

Let me head off  those who might suggest that the reason there is domestic abuse and child abuse in the IFB church movement is because they misinterpret the Bible. I don’t think this is the case at all. I think abusers are being consistent with their beliefs and they accept the Bible as written. After all, the Bible does command a father to beat his children with a rod. The Bible does command the wife to be submissive to her husband and to be a keeper of the home. And let’s face it, the Bible is a written record of the violence God pours out and will yet pour out on all those who do not worship or obey him. The good news is that many Christians ignore or explain away vast parts of the Bible. They know beating children is wrong. They know demanding a wife submit to her husband is demeaning. They wisely reject such things.

Do you have a story to tell about domestic violence? What did you experience growing up in the IFB church? What went on in your IFB home when the doors were closed? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 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.

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And Just Like That

bruce polly gerencser midwestern baptist college 1977

Bruce Gerencser, Polly Shope 1977

It’s late August in 1976 and I have just walked through the doors of the Midwestern Baptist College dormitory.

A few days later, a young seventeen year old girl from Bay City, Michigan walked through the same doors.

A few weeks later, we went out on our first date.

It wasn’t long before we were in love, well we thought it was love any way.

I knew she was the one.

I proposed, she said yes, her parents said no, we said we are going to get married anyway, and so we did on a hot July day in 1978.

Pontiac, Michigan, Bryan, Ohio, Montpelier, Ohio, Newark, Ohio, Buckeye Lake, Ohio, New Lexington, Ohio, Glenford, Ohio, New Lexington, Ohio, Somerset, Ohio, Junction City, Ohio, Mt. Perry, Ohio, Elmendorf, Texas, Frazeysburg, Ohio, Alvordton, Ohio, Clare, Michigan, Stryker, Ohio, Yuma, Arizona, Newark, Ohio, Bryan, Ohio, Alvordton, Ohio, and Ney, Ohio…all the communities Polly and I have lived in over the past thirty-seven years.

Jason was born in Bryan, Nathan was born in Newark, Jaime was born in Zanesville, Bethany was born in Newark, and Laura and Josiah were born in Zanesville. Just yesterday, they were newborns and now they are 36, 34, 31, 26, 24, and 22.

Where did the time go, Polly and I ask ourselves?

Now we have ten grandchildren.

My Mom and Dad are long gone and Polly’s parents are 80.

I am no longer in the ministry and Polly and I have left the faith.

Never would we have considered such a thing possible.

Yet, here we are.

For decades, Polly was a stay-at-home Mom, but now the roles are reversed.

We started married life full of life, strong in body. Now my body is broken and Polly is reminded every day that she is no longer young.

Our two youngest moved out, joining their older brothers in the world, and…just like that…there is the two of us…and Bethany. Dear, dear Bethany.

Our life has had one constant, change.

Time marches on and stops for no one.

More of life is now in the rear view mirror.

Death lurks in the shadows.

If I died today, I will die happy.

Happy that I have seen my children grow up into fine adults.

Happy that I have seen my sons marry wonderful women.

Happy that I have spent time with ten wonderful grandchildren.

Happy that I own my home and that I have lived a gratifying life of love with Polly.

If I had to sum up my life I would say, it has been good.

I am often asked, if I had to do it all over again would I _____________________?

I can’t answer this question.

Life is what it is and playing the what if game holds no value for me.

I know this one thing…

If I could marry one girl in the world…

it would be Polly.

The Secret to a Successful Marriage-Not Really

bruce and polly gerencser 2015

Bruce and Polly Gerencser, Summer 2015

Those of us raised in the Evangelical church have seen countless books titled similarly to this post. Authors think that they have figured out a part of life and are qualified to dispense advice about it.  Every book takes the same approach: follow these steps, follow this formula, do what I did,  and you will have success.  After all, isn’t it the American dream to be considered s-u-c-c-e-s-s-f-u-l?

Looks can be deceiving. One woman who attended a church I pastored had been married for 40 years. That’s a long time. Surely this woman and her husband had a successful marriage, right? One day, I decided to pay a visit to this couple’s home. When I got there the husband was nowhere to be found. I said, your husband isn’t home? The woman replied, oh no, he’s here, and she hollered up the stairs for her husband. Come to find out, he had been living in the upstairs for 25 years and they RARELY spoke to each other. Their marriage was anything BUT happy and successful. But, then again, maybe it was. How do we even define what a happy or successful marriage is?  What is the objective standard for happiness or success? Should we even try to judge whether a person or a couple is happy or a success?

When we look at a marriage from the outside it is almost impossible to judge whether the couple is happy and the marriage is successful. Several years ago, my counselor told me that almost everything he learned in college 37 years ago about marriage was wrong. For example, he was taught that couples who fight a lot are unhappy and have  troubled/bad marriages. He said, this is completely untrue. Now researchers are finding out that the level of arguing plays very little part in the happiness of the couple or the success of the marriage. He told me that some of the most happy and successful marriages are ones where the couple frequently argue.

As Evangelicals, Polly and I were taught to NEVER argue. After all, the Bible says, never let the sun go down on your wrath. Anger is a sin and a person who is a devoted follower of Jesus never gets angry, right? Evangelicals often excuse their anger by saying their anger is RIGHTEOUS ANGER. You know the kind, the anger displayed by the preacher when he is shouting in his sermon about this or that sin. The truth is, Christian or not, we all get angry and we all argue. Some couples argue more than others and the style, length, and level of arguing is different from couple to couple, but every couple argues (and anyone who says they NEVER argue or get angry is taking way too much Prozac or lying).

Polly and I have been married for 37 years, 2 months, and 11 days.  During this time, we have had a fair number of fights and arguments. I am hotheaded and bullheaded and Polly is quite passive, yet inwardly defiant. Every so often, almost always over nothing, we will have an argument. For a few moments, our marriage becomes similar to  heating a cup of water with a blowtorch. It heats up quickly but with a quick turn of the blow torch knob, off goes the flame and the heat quickly dies down. Our arguments tend to last a few moments, maybe for a few hours, but NEVER for a day. Neither of us holds a grudge and we usually quickly realize that what we are fighting over is stupid.

We both recognize that arguments are about two people wanting to be right. Sometimes, Polly and I argue because we have a difference of opinion. Other times, one of us is right and the other is wrong. If someone who didn’t know us stumbled upon us having an argument, they would “think” that we had a troubled marriage or that we needed marriage counseling. Their judgment of the quality of our marriage would be dead wrong. We argue, then just like that, it is over. We may be arguing at 5:00 p.m. and sitting in a restaurant three hours later having a wonderful time. The arguments mean little to us and there seems to be no cumulative effect.

Here are some observations I have made about my marriage to Polly. These observations are not a road map to marital success or a blueprint for a long, happy marriage. I recognize our being married for all these years took a lot of work AND luck. We know more than a few apparently happy and successful couples who are now divorced and married to someone else. In the first few years of marriage, Polly and I could have easily become a statistic, thus proving Polly’s mom’s right, that divorce is hereditary (a commonly held belief among their generation).

Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Wedding July 1978

Polly and Bruce Gerencser, Wedding July 1978

Polly and I did not marry for love. In fact, we had no idea what real love was. Oh, we told ourselves we were in love, but what we really were was mutually infatuated with each other. We had romantic feelings for each other, but LOVE? Love came over time. As we grew and matured, so did love.

Americans have many foolish notions about love. They think the proof of love is expensive gifts, jewelry, flowers, special nights out at fancy restaurants, and/or hot sex. Yes, all of these things are nice, but they have little to do with love.  Love is all about commitment and endurance. True lasting love takes time to plant and grow. I think the writer of 1 Corinthians 13 got it right when he wrote about the lasting qualities of love; things like patience, kindness, and being long-suffering.

Polly and I deeply love one another, yet we know that we still have the capacity to love each other more. We know that every marriage has its exciting moments and it also has long dry, monotonous spells (and dry takes on a life of its own after menopause). Married life can become boring or predictable and this is not necessarily bad. No marriage can survive every day if every night is like the first night of their honeymoon. Understanding this has kept Polly and  me from having unreasonable expectations and making demands that the other person cannot fulfill.

In the midst of normalcy, we try to have some unpredictability. Sometimes it is small things like Polly buying me a king size candy bar and leaving it in the desk. Other times, it is me tying a dildo to the front door knob so it will smack Polly when she comes home from work at 1:30 A.M. Since we have left Christianity, our banter has become more sexual and Polly is mastering the art of the double entendre. We have fun this way…and o-t-h-e-r ways (and all my kids are saying TMI!).

Every year, we try to do a couple of big things like take a weekend trip or go on vacation. Now that our children are grown and 5 of them are out of the house, we are free to travel and do a lot more things as a couple. And here is the key for us: we LIKE each other. We like being together and doing things together. We like each other’s company. We have, over the years, become best friends. This was not the case when we first married.

Both of us have annoying character traits that drive the other nuts. And guess what, 37 years later those traits are still there. When we first married we ignored these traits or thought they would go away in time. Now we recognize that these irritating character traits are part of who we are. We STILL fight about them and we STILL irritate the hell out of each other, but we recognize that both of us are flawed and we are not going to change. I will still want perfect order and Polly still won’t be able to figure out where we are going even with a map, a Google map print-out and a GPS. We fuss, fume, and then laugh.  We are who we are.

We now know that we are not completely compatible. We each like things the other dislikes. And that’s  okay. While in many ways we are very different from one another, we do share many of the same likes, wants, and desires.  We  each have our own space and we are free to do our own thing. We don’t need the approval of the other. Polly reads fiction and I don’t. There are certain shows on TV that I love and Polly rolls her eyes every time I watch them. We still care about what the other thinks, but we have learned that each other’s approval is not needed. So much of life is made up of things that don’t matter, so why spend a lot of time fussing and fighting over inconsequential things? Partners need to accept each other as they are and learn to keep their distance when the spouse is  driving them  nuts.

We are becoming more and more comfortable in our skin. We no longer let others, including our family, define for us, what a “good” marriage is. We stay married because we love each other and like each other. I may not be the most demonstrative of husbands, and this irritates the hell out of some of my children, but I more than make up for it when and where it matters. All those noises in the night are Polly singing out her approval. (Our daughter Laura now knows that there is NOT an owl living outside our house, an explanation I gave her when she was a child for the noises she heard.)

Here’s the bottom line. It works for us and that is all that matters. We are not our parents and we don’t want our children to emulate our marriage. Each couple must find its own way.  Maybe their marriage will last a lifetime, maybe it won’t.

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Kurt Vonnegut’s Contract with His Pregnant Wife

kurt and jane vonnegut

Kurt and Jane Vonnegut

In the September 2012 issue of Harper’s Magazine, the magazine published a January 26, 1947 contract between Kurt Vonnegut and his pregnant wife, Jane, to whom he had been married for sixteen months. I found it hilarious and I suspect Polly wishes we had subscribed to Harper’s years ago so she could have cut this out, highlighted it, and taped it to the fridge, bathroom mirror, and computer screen.

Enjoy!

I, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., that is, do hereby swear that I will be faithful to the commitments hereunder listed:

I. With the agreement that my wife will not nag, heckle, or otherwise disturb me on the subject, I promise to scrub the bathroom and kitchen floors once a week, on a day and hour of my own choosing. Not only that, but I will do a good and thorough job, and by that she means that I will get under the bathtub, behind the toilet, under the sink, under the icebox, into the corners; and I will pick up and put in some other location whatever movable objects happen to be on said floors at the time so as to get under them too, and not just around them. Furthermore, while I am undertaking these tasks I will refrain from indulging in such remarks as “Shit,” “Goddamn sonofabitch,” and similar vulgarities, as such language is nerve-wracking to have around the house when nothing more drastic is taking place than the facing of Necessity. If I do not live up to this agreement, my wife is to feel free to nag, heckle, and otherwise disturb me until I am driven to scrub the floors anyway—no matter how busy I am.

II. I furthermore swear that I will observe the following minor amenities:

a. I will hang up my clothes and put my shoes in the closet when I am not wearing them;

b. I will not track dirt into the house needlessly, by such means as not wiping my feet on the mat outside and wearing my bedroom slippers to take out the garbage;

c. I will throw such things as used-up match folders, empty cigarette packages, the piece of cardboard that comes in shirt collars, etc., into a wastebasket instead of leaving them around on chairs or the floor;

d. After shaving I will put my shaving equipment back in the medicine closet;

e. In case I should be the direct cause of a ring around the bathtub after taking a bath, I will, with the aid of Swift’s Cleanser and a brush, not my washcloth, remove said ring;

f. With the agreement that my wife collects the laundry, places it in a laundry bag, and leaves the laundry bag in plain sight in the hall, I will take said laundry to the Laundry not more than three days after said laundry has made its appearance in the hall; I will furthermore bring the laundry back from the Laundry within two weeks after I have taken it;

g. When smoking I will make every effort to keep the ashtray I am using at the time upon a surface that does not slant, sag, slope, dip, wrinkle, or give way upon the slightest provocation; such surfaces may be understood to include stacks of books precariously mounted on the edge of a chair, the arms of the chair that has arms, and my own knees;

h. I will not put out cigarettes upon the sides of, or throw ashes into, either the red leather wastebasket or the stamp wastebasket that my loving wife made me for Christmas, 1945, as such practice noticeably impairs the beauty and ultimate practicability of said wastebaskets;

i. In the event that my wife makes a request of me, and that request cannot be regarded as other than reasonable and wholly within the province of a man’s work (when his wife is pregnant, that is), I will comply with said request within three days after my wife has presented it. It is understood that my wife will make no reference to the subject, other than saying thank you, of course, within these three days; if, however, I fail to comply with said request after a more substantial length of time has elapsed, my wife shall be completely justified in nagging, heckling, or otherwise disturbing me until I am driven to do that which I should have done;

j. An exception to the above three-day time limit is the taking out of the garbage, which, as any fool knows, had better not wait that long; I will take out the garbage within three hours after the need for disposal has been pointed out to me by my wife. It would be nice, however, if, upon observing the need for disposal with my own two eyes, I should perform this particular task upon my own initiative, and thus not make it necessary for my wife to bring up a subject that is moderately distasteful to her;

k. It is understood that, should I find these commitments in any way unreasonable or too binding upon my freedom, I will take steps to amend them by counterproposals, constitutionally presented and politely discussed, instead of unlawfully terminating my obligations with a simple burst of obscenity, or something like that, and the subsequent persistent neglect of said obligations;

l. The terms of this contract are understood to be binding up until that time after the arrival of our child (to be specified by the doctor) when my wife will once again be in full possession of all her faculties, and able to undertake more arduous pursuits than are now advisable.

Questions for Polly

polly 2015-002

Polly 2015

Two years ago, I asked readers to submit questions they would like Polly to answer. What follows are her answers. If you would like to ask new questions or follow-up questions, please leave them in the comment section.

Becky asked, What was the biggest influence on you leaving the church?

The biggest influence for me personally was the church people themselves. After Bruce left the ministry, we started looking for a church to attend.  Always so happy to see someone new come in the doors, but that is where it ended. At one church, Thornhill Baptist Church in Hudson, Michigan,  we were once referred to as “fresh meat”!  Seriously! We were rarely visited after we attended a new church and no one seemed to care if we showed back up. Eventually, all the churches seemed the same, different names, but not really different. We reached a point where we said, why bother?

Annie asked, What do you feel has been the BIGGEST change in your life since you two left the prison?

I think sleeping in on Sundays would be number one. Then, maybe, my wardrobe! Bruce forgets how many times on our 35th wedding anniversary trip I wore a dress…everyday. So, I do have a few dresses. You never know when someone dies and you have to attend their funeral. Definitely no shorts though, I inherited my grandmother’s varicose veins…ugh!

April asked, Did you ever have questions or doubts of your own as to the veracity of the religion you were being raised in and living BEFORE your husband Bruce did?

I always was told that doubting was of the devil so I never was much of a doubting person.  I was raised in church and believed everything that was taught. I was a sincere follower of Jesus.  In college, someone once brought up Calvinism. I wanted to know more about that because it made sense to me, and this challenged my beliefs a bit, but I quickly dispensed with the question and never thought about it again.  Much later, when Bruce started down his path and loss of faith, I desperately held on to my preacher’s wife identity. I couldn’t be anything else, could I? But, when the picture is clear in front of you, you can’t deny it any longer! I am now all those lovely things Bruce has told you all before!

NeverAgainV asked, Do you have a specific moment of event that happened (an epiphany) that was defining for you with realizing that maybe your religion could be wrong? If so, how did you deal with it?

I had no “aha” moment. It just was. It was truly a journey of discovery over time. I am a little slow and deliberate, unlike Bruce who is decisive and spur of the moment, so when I finally decided I was done, I was done. It was like being lied to all your life and deciding (finally) that I was DONE!

Paula asked, did you harbor secret ambitions as a young girl/woman that you felt the adults around you would not support?

There were no secret ambitions, I wanted to be a mommy when I grew up. I was the ultimate good girl. Doing as I was told and believing what I was told to believe.

Paula asked,  Did you wish you could dress and groom yourself differently than what was allowed?

I remember wearing pants until I was about 12. We were allowed to wear them to play out in the snow, but nowhere else. In the 12th grade (1975) , I had to buy a pair so I could go horseback riding with some classmates (all girls). Then, there were no more pants until we were back in Ohio and I was working at Sauder Woodworking once again (2005). I remember Bruce buying me some capri’s when we were in Arizona in 2004. I felt so sinful putting them on. The rest is history!

Paula asked, Did you secretly believe in birth control?

Birth control? What was that? I had the obligatory sex-education in school (I attended a Christian school) , but it was no big deal. It wasn’t until Bruce and I were engaged that we read “The Act of Marriage” by Tim LaHaye. That was truly scary and embarrassing!

My mother, a fundamentalist Baptist pastor’s wife,  on the night before Bruce and I got married, took me to her room and told me about what her aunts told her on the night before she got married. It wasn’t enjoyable, it could be painful, and to just endure it. We could make the most of it if we wanted. My sister, who was 3 years younger than me, had it all figured out by then. (I was 19 and she was 16)

polly 2014

Polly 2014

Lydia asked, What has Bruce written that you disagree with?

Hmm, I don’t know if there has ever been anything that he has written that I have disagreed with him. We usually disagree (fight?) about stupid stuff that doesn’t matter. When it comes to cultural issues and social issues like abortion and homosexuality, I am liberal/progressive.

IFBfree asked, Since you have left the IFB church…How has that affected your relationships with family members that are still involved in the IFB? Are you an atheist also?

Since we have left the church and Bruce sent  a letter to the family about us longer believing, my relationship with believing family members has been stiff, to say the least. It is like the elephant in the room, a very large elephant in a very small room. My relationship with my believing parents is good, but we never talk about “it”. Since my sister died in a motorcycle accident in 2005, I am the “only” daughter now. They don’t want to “lose” me, therefore we don’t even come close to discussing “it”. To the rest of the family, I am just a sad by-product of Bruce’s influence. They have felt from the beginning of our marriage that I have been brainwashed by Bruce and only do what he tells me to do.

No, I am not an atheist. I consider myself a humanist. It fits my personality!

Tammy asked, What do you love to do when its all and only about you?

After reading your paragraph, before the question, I would say we are kindred spirits! I am a pleaser. I am always waiting on other people. My three daughters-in-law think their husbands are spoiled. Maybe they are! When Bruce writes about trying to get me to make my own decision, that is totally true! I am either indecisive or double think myself. What is best for everyone, not just myself! Anyways, when I am rarely alone, I have a book in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other. And other times, you can find me in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake (for others). I would also like to make a living  doing what I love the best, but I wouldn’t make enough money to support us.

Monica asked, Hi Polly, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences of no longer having to live in the shadows of a preacher husband in the way of having your own identity and your freedom to think for yourself.

I believe it took about a year for me to finally come to terms with losing my preacher’s wife status and identity. I truly didn’t know anything else. Now that I am “just” Bruce’s wife, there occasionally is still a small shadow of my former identity.  The freedom to think for myself is the hardest part. I can do it at work because I have employees under me, and the decisions are all company based. But at home I am still taking baby steps, sometimes two steps forward and one step back. For instance, if I know, in advance, what restaurant we are going to, I try to make my menu choice before I get there. That way, the waiter/waitress doesn’t have to return half a dozen times. Or if we are in line at McDonald’s, the cars aren’t lined up ten deep.

Carmen asked, What was going on in your head and your heart when Bruce started voicing his misgivings? Were you shocked? relieved? worried about your relationship?

I remember the first time that Bruce actually said out loud that he didn’t think there was a God. I was shocked! Surely, he didn’t mean it! What will become of us? We talked about it a lot back in those days. At first, I thought he would come back around. Then, I came to see that what he was saying made a lot of sense and I thought “where IS god”? If there was a god, wouldn’t he send us a sign that he was real? Helloooooo? Our relationship is so much better because we now have a lot in common and are both free to be different from the other.

Sgl asked, in a post on Halloween…were there other areas that you thought Bruce was crazy? in particular, things that directly affected your life or the kid’s life? Were there any issues that you would have put your foot down on? Did I think Bruce was a crazy?

No, back then I thought everyone else was crazy for not believing the same as we did. Did I ever question his decisions? Sure, I mentally questioned , but never verbally! Bruce was the head of the home and he was also my pastor.  I was a good passive and submissive wife who didn’t question his decisions! That passivity never helped my “bad habit” of rolling my eyes! I tried not to roll them, it was a sign of disrespect, seriously! So, no, I would never have put down my foot on decisions that Bruce made. Even now, I tend to defer to him. Old habits die-hard!

Sgl asked, did you ever try to influence Bruce’s opinions subtly? (eg: drop hints, cook his favorite meals when he did what you suggested, not tell him something, etc.)

I suppose that not speaking up would be one way to tell him I disapproved of something. As to the rest? NEVER! Now he says I use sex and food to influence him!

polly 2013

Polly 2013

Kerry asked, what do you regret most about how you raised your children? And do you have any advice for those of us that have deconverted who still have adult children in the church?

I think what I regret the most would have to be dragging my children through all of the muck of Christianity and fundamentalism. They never had a choice while growing up. I never had a choice while growing up. We were told how to act and what to believe. The children are all grown adults now. We get the occasional comment from one of their supervisors that they have a great work ethic, so there is one plus! Whatever they want to believe  is okay, as long as they know why they believe what they do. I am totally a live and let live. We love them no matter what decisions they make!

Silver asked, I was wondering what the best and worst things are for you in particular in leaving the faith. I can think of many good aspects of it, but what has been the best of them? What do you miss (if anything)?

The best thing about leaving the faith is finally being able to see that everyone is human and that Christianity does not make a person any better than anyone else. The worst thing would have to be the judgementalism and harsh criticism from family and friends (now former friends).  If I miss anything, it would have to be the fellowship we had with the church members. Bruce liked to plan potlucks, of which he ate very little of unless it was mine, and outings for the adults, usually at some nice restaurant,

Lynn asked, Did you have any rules for Bruce, as far as how he could use you or the children in his sermons? And did you ever have any “words” about such things?

I would never have given Bruce rules to preach by. Bruce and I discussed this question before I answered it.  I don’t think Bruce ever used us as “bad” illustrations. Sure, he would mention us, but I don’t remember anything negatively. Sometimes his personal illustrations embarrassed me because I don’t like being pointed out, for good or bad. We never had “words” about his sermons. They were given to him by “God”, so who was I to say otherwise? It is certainly strange-looking back and wondering how we ever came away from all of our religious training, and not be totally insane.

Zoe asked, What is your favorite color? (Something easy…)

Thank you, thank you! My favorite color is blue! Ask anybody. When it comes time to paint a room, Bruce will say, “as long as it’s not blue”! We have one blue room, our bedroom; a dark blue, not quite navy. It will be navy the next time I paint. The trim is a very pale blue. I love waking up in that room! Bruce’s favorite color is blue too.

Texas Born & Bred asked, Why do women convert to super-conservative faiths that are obviously degrading to women?

Hmmm! I know Bruce has written about this not too long ago, but my excuse is, I was born and raised this way. (did that sound a little Lady Gaga-ish?)  I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know I had a choice. I was never exposed to any other way or religion! I knew ours was the right religion and the others were wrong because my parents, pastors, college professors, and husband said they were.  I was taught that the woman’s place was in the home, barefoot and pregnant, constantly cooking. (that was mostly tongue in cheek) I honestly don’t know why any women would willingly choose such degradation.

Guest asked, Are you a closet Christian?

How to put this nicely…??? Hell No! Although, my parents probably wish it were so!

35th anniversary trip July 2013

Polly 2013

Guest asked, What specifically drove you from Christianity?

I know I have answered something like this before, but one reason was the insincerity of people in the church. Another reason was that churches, no matter the name above the door, were the same. I have met a few people (I can count on one hand, maybe two if I think hard about it) that I would consider true Christians. Then, there was the things I read and the discussions that Bruce and I had. It wasn’t one specific thing but an accumulation of things or reasons that eventually led me out of Christianity.

Bruce Gerencser Poses for His Lover: Five Shocking Photographs

I always wanted to write a headline like that. On Wednesday, Polly and I celebrated our thirty-seventh wedding anniversary. We drove up to Lake Erie and the Marblehead Lighthouse to spend the day. Over the years, I have shot thousands of photographs and I am generally the photographer for most family gatherings.  As a result, there are not many extant photographs of me. Polly has “encouraged” me to sit still and allow her to “shoot” me. Here’s the finished product from Wednesday. Enjoy or use them to practice your dart throwing skills.

bruce gerencser 2015

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bruce gerencser 2015-002

It’s in the Bible: Anonymous Evangelical Blogger Says Marital Rape is not a Sin

submit to your husband

“Trapped” Sophia drawing by nakedpastor David Hayward

The Evangelical church is built around one inviolable belief; that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. This belief is irrational and intellectually bankrupt, but it is the one belief that binds every corner of Evangelicalism into a cohesive whole. Throw in a healthy dose of literalism and what you have is a recipe for emotional, mental and, at times, physical abuse.

Evangelicalism, for the most part, is patriarchal. God is a man (father), Jesus is a man (son), and the church is led by a man or men. In the home, the man is the head and his wife and children are to submit to him as unto the Lord.  While egalitarianism has made some inroads in the Evangelical church, complementarianism is still the dominant family structure said to be approved by God. Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Evangelicals are outraged over this decision. Why? Because it legalizes “sin” and goes against God’s divine order for the sexes. Evangelicals, thanks to their commitment to inerrancy and literalism, see same-sex marriage the same say they see egalitarianism; a rejection of God’s divine order for the sexes.

I think it is important to keep encouraging Evangelicals to talk out loud so the public can hear them. I hope they write lots of blog posts and opinion pieces and preach lots of sermons about same-sex marriage and the destruction of Christian America. The more they talk and write, the easier it is to show that Evangelicalism is, for the most part, a dangerous religious ideology. Let me give you an example of how dangerous Evangelicalism can be.

The man behind  the blog Biblical Gender Roles, an anonymous writer who refuses to identify himself and who will now be called Coward Behind the Screen, recently wrote a post titled Is My Husband Raping Me?  In a previous post titled Is a Husband Selfish for Having Sex with His Wife When She is not in the Mood, a married woman left the following comment:

“My husband and I have been married for 9 years. When I was pregnant with our first child we sat down and had a discussion about sex. I told him while I was pregnant there would be times when I probably would not want to have sex and if he did I understood and I would be willing to fulfill my duty and his desires………well it all went downhill from there.

I understand what the Bible states. I am a Christian however he is not. That being said when sex began to be painful because of pregnancy he did not care. I would receive the comment “It will only take a few minutes, and I’ll be quick.” Whatever, I took it. Did not hold a grudge. Got past it. The problem is, it has never stopped.

My husband has sex with me whether I want it or not, all of the time. It has tainted our marriage and our sex life to the point of disgust. Even when I would cry, he would still have sex with me. I can read a book and he will still have sex with me. I have tried to tell him how this makes me feel, I have begged and pleaded with him, not to do this to our marriage, that I feel like his whore, or his piece of trash, he does not care.

I have told him this is not love, this is not biblical love, I do not feel loved and he does not care. I hate when he touches me. It literally makes me sick to my stomach. I became so deep in depression because of it. I will be so sad and heartbroken after we have sex sometimes and he actually will ask, “What is your problem?”

I even went as far as to get drunk so I could have sex with him. Guess what….he thought that was the best idea ever, so he would make sure I would have enough alcohol in me to have sex. Even when I said I wanted to stop drinking, he would always make sure the fridge is full.

When I would beg to see a counselor, I would get a guilt trip of 100 reasons why I shouldn’t or cannot. Now I am so numb to it all, I put a pillow over my face, and say just get it over with. And still I am trying to be a Godly wife.

So please tell me how this is not sin. How this is not rape, or abuse of some sort. Because in my mind I feel like I am living with my molester every day. Yes he says he is sorry, he does try to get me in the mood. You can definitely tell when he want wants it, it is the only time he comes up behind me and holds me, and the nonstop sexual comments like “Why don’t you come sit on my lap?” Gross. And If I don’t have sex with him the sighing and whining is sooo overwhelming. It becomes a punishment.

When I’m upset after we have had sex, I get “You told me to do it, I don’t know why you are so upset”. I can go on and on. So as a Christian women do I just keep taking it and keep the smile on my face pretending everything is ok when it is killing me inside? And just a side note, I am not a feminist, I am very biblical when it comes to God’s way, and not being in this world but of this world. So I do get what you are saying about not denying your husband of sex.

But what do you do when it has turned into what yes I would call rape?

Coward Behind the Screen responded:

…Aside from his physically harming her by forcing himself upon her no he is NOT abusing his wife from a Biblical perspective. Even if he did physically force himself upon her – it is IMPOSSIBLE Biblically speaking for a man to rape his wife. Abuse? Yes. Rape? No.  For a larger discussion of the Biblical impossibility of marital rape I refer you again to my post “Is a husband selfish for having sex with his wife when she is not in the mood”.

If he convinces her to yield her body to him, then no sin has been committed on his part. But it is very possible that even if she yields to him – there is still sin on her part. If she acts disgusted by him and acts like he has no right to have sex with her – then the sin lies squarely in her court. She needs to eliminate the terms “rape” and “molester” from her vocabulary regarding her husband’s sexual advances toward her…

…Perhaps if Christian wives in the situation described in this story would go to God and ask him to remove all bitterness in their hearts, submit themselves spiritually, mentally and sexually to their husband’s with a right heart they may have a chance of bringing their husband’s to Christ and as a result of that God can do wonderful things with their marriage…

…I have shown here that Biblically speaking this woman’s husband was not raping her. Did he sin in other ways? Yes. Is it possible for a husband to abuse his wife? Yes. Is it possible for him to rape and molest his wife? From a Biblical perspective the answer is NO. Christian wives must eliminate the terms “rape” and “molester” from their vocabulary were it references their relationship with their husband.

Anyone with a modicum of reason, decency, and respect for women should be outraged ove this man’s defense of marital rape. How can anyone defend such a belief? Simple, it’s in the Bible. Our 21st century view of sexuality, marriage, women, and family is very different from what is taught in the inspired, inerrant Evangelical Bible. Evangelicals like Coward Behind the Screen think the Bible is a timeless, perfect book, words from the very mouth of God. If the Bible says a wife is to submit to her husband, then she must have sex whenever he wants it. To not do so is a sin, a violation of the teachings of the Bible.

obeying the bible

I wish I could say Coward Behind the Screen is an outlier and  his beliefs are his alone. Unfortunately, they are not. Within the patriarchal movement, such beliefs are common. After all, it is in the B-i-b-l-e:

Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)

According to the Evangelical interpretation of this passage:

  • A single man should not touch a woman. There is debate within Evangelicalism over what “not touch” actually means. Some, like those in the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist  (IFB) church movement take it to mean that a single man should have NO physical contact with a woman before marriage. Others, allow some physical contact like hand holding or a brief good night kiss. Both think any physical contact that arouse sexual passion is a sin.
  • If a man and a woman find themselves tempted to commit fornication, then they should get married. In verse nine of the same chapter, Paul writes “But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” Again, there is some debate over the word “burn.” Does it mean burn with unrequited lust or does it mean burn in hell?
  • Once married, the woman is to have sex with her husband when he asks for it. The only time when it is OK for her to say NO is when, with the consent of her husband, she withholds sex so she can devote herself to fasting and prayer. Once the woman is done fasting and praying, she must return to putting out when her husbands demands it.

wives submit

Remember, this passage must be read with a patriarchal filter. The man is the head of the home. He is commanded by God to lead his family and wife in the way of the Lord, and that includes reminding his wife that she is to submit to him as unto the Lord. Never mind that, supposedly, Jesus was single, never married, and never even had a wet dream. Even Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 argues that it is better for people not to marry, that marriage is not the preferred way of living. Why? Because when a couple marries:

But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.  There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.  And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.(1 Corinthians 7:32-38)

Paul seems to say that marriage is a concession to the sexual weakness of Christian men. Since the horn dogs can’t contain themselves, they need to marry so they can have sex whenever they want to. And since the Old Testament law is no longer in force, the prohibition of sex during menstruation no longer applies. The wife is expected to have sex whenever her husband wants it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As long as the Bible is considered the inerrant, inspired Word of God, there are going to men like Coward Behind the Screen. Some of them will be pastors and evangelists who will use the power of the pulpit to shame women into conformity and submission. No matter how some within Evangelicalism try to dress up their abhorrent patriarchal beliefs, the fact is they believe woman are the weaker vessel, inferior to men and in need of their care and protection. What’s a little inconvenient, painful sex compared to the awesome spiritual guidance and protection given to you by your spirit-filled, Bible believing horn dog of a husband.

Note

I am sure an offended Evangelical will whine and complain that I am lumping all Evangelicals together. I am. Don’t like it? Change churches. I have no time or use for people who continue to belong to churches and organizations that promote demeaning and subjugating women, all in the name of God and his inspired, inerrant B-i-b-l-e.

NW Ohio: Secular, Non-Religious, Same-Sex Wedding Ceremonies

bruce gerencser 2015

Are you having a hard time finding someone to perform your wedding ceremony? Are you non-religious, secular, humanist, atheist, agnostic, or pagan and want to get married but can’t find anyone to perform the service? Are you religious but not affiliated with a church and are looking for someone to perform your wedding? I can help!

Are you a same-sex couple looking for someone to officiate your wedding? Now that the Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage in Ohio, same-sex couples can now be legally married. Now is the time to book a date for your special day.

My name is Bruce Gerencser and I am duly licensed by the state of Ohio to perform wedding ceremonies. If you are interested in having me perform your ceremony, please contact me at defiancecounty@gmail.com

Service area: Bryan, Montpelier, West Unity, Alvordton, Pioneer, Wauseon, Napoleon, Archbold, Paulding, Hicksville, Defiance, Ayersville, Antwerp, Sherwood, Farmer, Ney, Holgate, Deshler, McClure, Malinta, Evansport, Ridgeville Corners, Pettisville, Fayette, Liberty Center, Stryker, Edon, Edgerton, Blakeslee,  and all points in between.

The Bruce and Polly Fantasy Game

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House we rented in White Birch, a wooded community north of Farwell, Michigan. At the time, I was pastoring Victory Baptist Church, Clare Michigan 2003


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House we rented in White Birch, a wooded community north of Farwell, Michigan. At the time, I was pastoring Victory Baptist Church, Clare Michigan 2003

Depression Sea is roiling today, my mind is twisting, turning, and dying.

She knows, she always knows. My face and body language tell a story she’s read time and again.

She worries that this time the story might have a different ending.

I’m at the doctor’s office.

Wasn’t I here last month? I already know the answer, having made the trip eight times and the year isn’t even half over.

As we wait for the nurse to call my name, we play the Bruce and Polly Fantasy Game®.

Playing the game allows me to change the monotonous, deadly channel that keeps playing over and over in mind.

We look at one another, smile, and begin the game.

The game always has the same answers, but we like to play anyway.

In the Bruce and Polly Fantasy Game®, we take shared places and experiences and meld them into one. A fantasy, to be sure, but who knows, maybe we’ll strike it rich, rob a bank, or write a book detailing where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

Spring in Ohio, with its promise of new life and flowers.

Fall in Ohio, with its crisp air and changing colors.

Winter in Arizona, no snow for us, we survived the Blizzard of 78.

Summer in the Upper Peninsula , nestled as close to our Canadian friends as possible.

Our rented  house from White Birch, Michigan, with a 1970 green Nova SS sitting in the drive.

bruce 1970 nova ss

Bruce putting water in 1970 Nova SS, March 1976, somewhere in Kentucky

Package these things together and magically move them to the eastern seaboard, to a small, out-of-the-way fishing community on the shore of the Atlantic.

Turn the house so it fronts the Ocean, allowing us to sit on our deck and watch the sunrise and the fishing boats making their way to the secret spots known only to those whose hands and face bear the weathered look of a lifetime spent fishing.

Nearby live our children and grandchildren. Not too close, yet not so far as to be beyond an invite to a Saturday night BBQ.

This is Bruce and Polly’s fantasy.

She remains worried, wondering if the slough of despondency will bury the man she loves.

All I want is for the pain to stop.

Is that too much to ask?

I already knows the answer. I always knows the answer.

The nurse calls my name and I  haltingly walk to the exam room.

No weight gain, medications the same, pulse 78, and blood pressure just a little high. Refills ordered, sure is hot, hate the humidity, how’s Bethany, he’ll be in to see you soon.

The doctor walks through the door and sits near me.  Eighteen years we’ve danced to this tune, both of us now dance much slower than we once did.

The doctor thinks I am chipper today, better than last month.  Little does he know what I’m really thinking. We talk about the Reds, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, and the All Star game. I promised the nurse that we wouldn’t do our thing, our thing being shooting the breeze while other patients wait. I lied. He’s behind and I’m to blame.

We shake hands and afterward I put my hand gently on his shoulder.  I tell him, see you in two months. This sounds like a lie, a hollow promise with no hope of fulfillment.

I want to live.

I want to die.

We stop at St. John’s produce tent and buy some local strawberries. $3.50 a quart. We buy some Georgia peaches too, which will turn into pies for Sunday. The strawberries will top the angel food cake she will make in the morning; just like every other June 19th for the past thirty-seven years.

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Bruce and his mom, July 1957

June 19, 1957, in a building years ago torn down and replaced with a new one, at 9:01 AM I drew air into my lungs for the first time. A new life born into poverty in a nondescript rural Ohio community, delivered by a doctor who also worked as a veterinarian.

The path is now long and how much path remains is unknown.

Will the game be called today or will we get to play, for the nth time the Bruce and Polly Fantasy Game®?

I’m still betting on playing the game.

Note

For those who struggle with chronic pain and illness, a birthday can often lead to deep depression, a reminder of all that has been lost. While the healthy focus on all they have, those in pain and who suffer from years of chronic debility can, and often do, focus on how much they have lost. Yes, it is wonderful to have a sliver of life to hold on to, to have a spouse, children, and grandchildren who love you, but nothing can ameliorate the sense of loss.

This is not a cry for help. I am just talking out loud with friends.

Woman Wants Man Who Loves Jesus More Than He Does Women

jesus loving man

Dating Profile Sent to Me by an Atheist Friend of Mine

Snark, Snark, Snark Ahead!

I’m confused. Why does this heterosexual woman want to date gay men? If a man, any man, loves Jesus, who is a man, more than he does a woman, doesn’t that make him gay? And since there is no such thing as a gay Christian, this woman might as well give up now. Cuz, if she is looking for a man who desires, wants, needs Jesus more than a woman…

I’m sure there are a few  I love Jesus more than I will ever love you girl  men out there, but do you really want to marry a Jesus-loving man and start life as number 2 on his love list? Cuz, number 2 on his love list will turn into number 2 pretty quick.

Any man who says that he loves a man whom he has never seen more than a real, live, anatomically blessed, sexy woman is either lying so he can score or he is delusional. Again, not sure that this guy would be marriage material.  Any woman wanting and getting a man who will love Jesus more than he loves her is going to be sorely disappointed.

Honey, let’s have hot missionary sex tonight, the Christian newlywed wife says. Her Jesus loving husband responds, how dare you ask me to have sex with you. I am saving myself for Jesus!

Evidently, this woman has not read 1 Corinthians 7. Paul says a lot of crazy shit about marriage in 1 Corinthian 7, but since it is in the holy, unadulterated, inerrant, inspired word of God, let’s allow God to speak:

…He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: but he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

This woman needs to understand that if a man really does love Jesus more than he love women, then he should never ever marry. According to the aforementioned passage of Scripture, when a man marries a woman, his first priority is to the things of the world and how he may please his wife. It’s right there in the Good Book. So, this means that his wife comes before Jesus. God said it, I didn’t.

Pastor James Melton on Safe Sex and Wicked Fornicators

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James Melton is the pastor of Bible Baptist Church, an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Sharon, Tennessee. The Christian Nightmares website made me aware of a tract written by Melton titled Safe Sex. Melton, because he can read and understand the King James version of the Bible, considers himself a “sexpert.” According to Melton, “No one is more qualified to speak on the subject of safe sex than God Himself.”

Really? What does God really know about sex or “safe” sex? Only the second person in the Trinity, Jesus, was human, so only he could have had sex. Did Jesus, an unmarried man, have sex? I am sure that Melton would say, ABSOLUTELY NOT! We do have the curious case of the Holy Spirit, a Ghost, an incorporeal entity, impregnating a virgin by the name of Mary. According to the Bible, this is the only reference to any part of the Godhead having sex. And even here, did not the Holy Spirit commit fornication, having sex with a woman he was not married to?

Melton likens having sex to buying a gun:

Picture, if you will, a man who purchases a gun. By law, this man has done nothing wrong in purchasing a gun. He is allowed to have a gun, and he is allowed to shoot the gun as long as he does so in a safe manner. However, he is not allowed to harm anyone with the gun or even threaten to do so. If he does, then he has abused his free privilege, and he will be punished. Rather than use the gun for legal purposes, he chooses to use it illegally, so he must pay for his crime. Even if the judicial system fails to punish him, people with common sense still know that he is a criminal and he deserves to be punished.

Sex works the same way. There is nothing wrong with a person enjoying sexual activity. God made us to desire sexual gratification, and He doesn’t frown upon us when we fulfill this desire His way, according to His word. However, when we ignore God’s laws and practice our own sexual preferences, we become criminals in God’s sight, and punishment will surely follow. Even when the sexperts say, “Use protection and you’ll be okay,” God never said it, and you will not be protected from His wrath. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7)

Let’s see, why am I permitted to purchase and own a gun? State and Federal law determine whether I am permitted to buy and own a gun. If I do not meet the criteria, then it is not legal for me to purchase and own a gun. Now imagine if I went to the gun store and the dealer, as he was explaining to me what the law said about gun purchase and ownership, opened up a King James Bible and said, right here in God’s Holy Word it says __________________. Does the Bible have any authority when it comes to purchasing and owning a gun? As Pastor Melton, hypothetically said earlier, ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Melton does the equivalent when he interjects the Bible into a discussion about sex. State and Federal law determine who may legally have sex. We rightly protect children from having sex and we punish adults who manipulate teenagers so they will have sex with them. We have ages of consent and sexual assault and rape laws. At one time, we had laws criminalizing adultery, fornication, and sodomy. While some states still have these laws on their books, thanks to the Courts, such laws are not enforceable. While Melton is free to believe and practice the moral strictures of the Bible, and through strong-arm preaching get others to also do so, the Bible is no authority when it comes to sex. No one can be criminally punished or imprisoned for disobeying what the Bible says about sex.

Melton has harsh words for those who cohabit without being married:

…This is just a sinful grown-up way of “playing house.”   A couple who lives together without marriage is a couple who has become habitual and irresponsible fornicators. She thinks he’s a wonderful man, yet he’s such a coward he can’t even ask her to be his wife. He thinks she’s a fine lady, yet she’s nothing more than a cheap prostitute who allows herself to be used for his sexual gratification in exchange for what seems to be a stable and secure home life. This make-believe game may fool people, but it doesn’t fool God. This is a sin, and it will be punished! God didn’t change His law just because someone started acting like married people. Either you are married or you are not married. If you are not married, yet you have sexual relations, then you are a wicked fornicator…

I am shocked by Melton’s liberal, Bible denying view. While he calls a sexually active, cohabiting, unmarried woman a cheap prostitute and the couple, wicked fornicators, he doesn’t use the word whoremonger one time. So disappointed. I love hearing a Baptist preacher using the word WHOREMONGER. Here’s my favorite Baptist preacher (25 second clip) :

IFB preachers like Melton are fighting a losing battle when it comes to sex. Far stronger than the Holy Spirit or the outrage of the preacher is the human desire for sexual intimacy. While there are certainly many good reasons for waiting to have sex, the fact is,  most people don’t. Rather than shaming people for indulging their desire, Melton’s church would be better served if he taught them how to responsibly handle their sexuality. Instead of threatening punishment from God for any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, wouldn’t it be better to educate teenagers and young adults about birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, and when it is “right” to have sex? Instead, Melton preaches the Puritanical gospel of NO!

I get it, it IS in the Bible, but we are 2,000 or more years removed from the writing of the Bible. It is NOT a timeless book of absolute moral instruction. Take, for example, masturbation. Many IFB preachers still preach against masturbation. It’s considered fornication with self. How boring, eh? We now know that masturbation is a good way to release sexual tension. It won’t make you blind nor will it make you sterile. Imagine how relieved the purity ring wearing teens in the Baptist youth group will be if they hear their pastor compassionately and honestly tell them that it is OK to masturbate. No shame, no guilt; just a wonderful THANK YOU JESUS release of sexual tension.

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