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Tag: Patriarchy

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Feminists are Unhappy, Unmarried, Childless Servants of Satan

lori and ken alexander

God’s will for women is to marry, bear children, and guide the home (1 Timothy 5:14). This is God’s perfect path for us, yet feminism has steered women in the opposite direction so that they end up unhappy, unmarried, and childless. This is Satan’s goal, not God’s. God created us for the home and for children. He didn’t created us for the workforce and the stress that comes from this. He created men for this since they have ten times the testosterone as women, but women in their fight for “liberation” lost what was most valuable in their lives.

….

The sexual liberation movement wasn’t liberation at all. It was bondage for women. They give sex away for free without the commitment of marriage. They cohabitate without commitment for life. Their children, if they have any, have no father so they’re single mothers in the workforce. This isn’t liberation at all. It’s bondage and exactly what Satan gives. He loves people’s lives to be miserable and unhappy. Christ came to set us free and give us life abundant. Choose you this day whom you will serve, women. God or Satan?

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Feminism Has Left Women Unhappy, Unmarried, and Childless, October 25, 2022

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Epically Bad Advice for Evangelical Women Looking for a Man to Marry

lori and ken alexander

When you meet a man you may be interested in and he wants to go out with you, go out for a few coffee dates to see if he may be marriage material. Find out if he is even interested in marriage and having children. If not, he’s not for you! Find out his beliefs and if they’re compatible with God’s Word. Keep it on this level for the first date.

If he wants to keep dating you and you feel the same way, let him know soon that you want to be sexually pure. If he does too, then this is a good sign. If not, you probably want to stop dating him.

You both need to be honest about your pasts. This should all be out in the open but details do not need to be provided IF either of you have a promiscuous past. But each of you have a right to know of any addictions, porn usage, fornication, etc. A solid marriage must be built upon trust.

If a man is still struggling with an addiction, I would encourage you to stop dating him. If he hasn’t struggled with an addiction for several years and still is being held accountable, then this is a good sign.

Does he attend a solid, Bible believing church? Does he want children? Is he a hard-worker and willing to provide for you to be home with the children? Discuss vaccinations, family bed, circumcision, education for children, and all of the other topics that can cause division. Once married, you are going to need to submit to his decisions, so it’s good to know what he believes about everything.

Meet his family and have him meet yours. Ask for your father’s blessing if you continue to move forward. Men are usually better judges of the character of another man than women are. Trust your father’s judgements. Get to know his family. How does he treat his mother? Does he have a good relationship with his father? Know that those who come from divorced families often have deep-seated problems with anger. Watch for signs of this. You don’t want to marry an angry man.

The most important things to know about a man you are considering marrying is that he is a strong believer in Jesus and is willing to work hard. Everything else will fall in place if he has these two important qualities

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Dating Intentionally for Marriage, July 25, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Evangelical Man Looking for a Wife

modest women

My name is Daniel.  I reside in North Carolina.  And I am a virgin man.  Yes, I am.  My mom taught me to not have sex until I was married and by the grace of God, I kept to this commitment.  I was saved 16 years ago and believe that all Christians should uphold Hebrews 13:4 highly and live it out in their lives as faithfully as possible.  The marriage bed should remain undefiled before and even after marriage.  Sexually purity is crucial for a happy marriage.

I am in the process of becoming a homeowner and desire a godly wife who wants to be a submissive homemaker and who desires a large family (like at least 10 children).  When God said to be fruitful and multiply, he meant it.  This woman should already be involved in church activities and be held accountable or be discipled by a more seasoned Christian woman who interacts with her on a weekly & monthly basis.

I work with my hands as a handyman, landscaper and mechanical repair man. (Auto and home appliances to be exact).  I also have skills in electrical and plumbing work.  I am physically fit and hope the woman I marry would at least value her health enough to stay active in some productive way too.  I don’t want a lazy woman.

I am pro-marriage, pro-gun (self-defense), pro-biblical gender roles.  And I am also for Biblical Patriarchy, I just believe it should be practiced the way the Church and Christ practice it in their relationship.

Lastly, I love to cook, dance, sing, read books, host people over for meals, evangelize my neighbors and community and even have a online Christian ministry.  I currently serve as the ‘precinct chair’ in my community and I am politically conservative and desire the same in my bride. 

I am reformed [Calvinist] in theology and presbyterian in church government.  I am anti-abortion, anti-feminism, anti-LGBTQ alphabet monster and anti-socialism/communism. There’s more, but this is a good start.”

— Biblical Gender Roles, 41 y/o Masculine Christian Man Seeking a Young Feminine Christian Virgin Sister, July 12, 2022

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

How Evangelical Preachers Demean and Harass Female Congregants

god is a woman
Cartoon by David Hayward

Many (most) Evangelical churches are hierarchical in nature: male God, male pastor, male church leaders, married men, and then women and children. God, of course, comes first. God, of course — because it says so in the Bible — is a HE, not a she. God, of course, determines the order of all things, including the church and home.

God created man first, and then woman. He commanded that men are to be the head of their homes, and women are to submit to their husbands in all things, as unto the Lord. God commanded that women were to be keepers of the home, submitting cheerfully and without complaint to their husbands. Children are commanded by God to joyfully obey their parents in all things.

God commanded that men, as pastors, elders, and deacons, are to rule the church. Only men are permitted to preach and teach during public worship services. Women are permitted to teach other women and children, but they must never, ever usurp authority over men. In some Evangelical churches, women are expected to be quiet during worship services. I knew of one church (Mennonite) where women were not permitted to sing the first note or two of any song lest they are guilty of “leading” men. I attended a number of their services, and the men would start the singing and then the women would join them a note or two later. I knew of another church (Sovereign Grace Baptist) where women were not permitted to speak during the services. If a woman had a prayer request, she was expected to whisper the request to her husband or another man, and he would make the request known. This same church would not allow women to ask questions during business meetings. If a woman had a question, she was to, again, whisper the question to her husband or another man, and he could then ask the question.

In many Evangelical churches, women working outside of the home is frowned upon, if not outright prohibited. In such churches, married women are expected to bear children, cook meals, do laundry, clean the house, teach children, and submit to their husband’s sexual advances — all without complaint or question. Unmarried girls and women are expected to learn domestic duties from their mothers, preparing them for marriage. In some churches, girls are discouraged from having college or career ambitions. Their future was sealed the moment they were born — a life devoted to husband, children, and domestic duties. Some churches do permit young women to attend church-approved Bible colleges, but only for the express purpose of getting an MRS degree.

I can safely say that Evangelicalism, in general, is anti-woman. While it is encouraging to see some churches abandoning complementarianism for egalitarianism, millions of Evangelical women and girls are members of churches that treat them as subservient, inferior, second-class people. Their lives are dominated by the male species, first as daughters, and then as wives. Attempts by women to break free from male dominance are viewed as rebellion against God and the men he has set as rulers over them. In some instances, rebellious women are brought under church discipline, which leads to shunning until they confess their sin and bow in submission to male authority.

People not raised in Evangelical churches will likely read this post and say, Bruce, surely this is satire. It’s 2022 and women are free to be whatever they want to be. It may be 2022 where you live, but for many Evangelical women and girls, it is the 1950s, or the 1850s for that matter. The driving belief behind the anti-abortion, anti-birth control movement is that God has commanded women to marry, spread their legs when asked by their husbands, and bear lots of children. Women who chase dreams of higher education, athletics, or careers are living lives contrary to God’s plan and his divine order for families and societies. According to more than a few Evangelical preachers, much of what is wrong with the world can be traced back to women not accepting their God-given role as mothers and keepers of the home.

Imagine, for a moment, being raised in churches where women are treated as I mentioned above. Week after week, month after month, year after year, you are reminded of your second-class status before God and man. Sunday after Sunday, your preacher reminds you of your place in the home and church, and your duty to submit to your husband and male church authority. Imagine being a bright, inquisitive girl who has great ambition, only to have these things stomped into the ground by men who say they know God’s plan for your life, and that plan does not include college, athletics, or a career. Even worse, imagine when one of these “godly men” sexually harasses, molests, or rapes you, and if you dare report it, you are blamed for the man’s perverse behavior.

biblical submission

Outsiders rightly ask, why would any woman willingly submit herself to such psychological abuse? Why don’t they stand up against patriarchal thinking and demand equality? Surely, these women want more for their lives than babies, casseroles, and watching the church nursery? Unfortunately, for many women, they were raised in churches that devalued women and it is the only thing they know. Imagine being repeatedly threatened with judgment and chastisement from God if you dare to demand the same opportunities in life as men. Being told over and over that God wants you to live a certain way and living otherwise could lead to pain, loss, and even death, is sure to result in obedience and conformity. Such conditioning and indoctrination lead to tragic outcomes.

According to Evangelicals, preachers are God-ordained keepers of divine order. Through their preaching and modeling, women are shown how God wants them to live. Using a plethora of Biblical proof texts, women and girls are frequently reminded of their place, and that not accepting that place means they are being sinful, rebellious, and disobedient to God. These preachers literally demean and harass female congregants with their sermons and Bible quotations. Girls come into this world rebellious against God’s constituted order, and it is up to preachers to use the Bible to beat the rebellion out of them. Countless effervescent girls have been turned into dowdy, rarely-smiling, obedient women who no longer have dreams of life beyond the bed, cradle, or kitchen. Such preaching can and does suck the life out of women, turning them into servants of the male God, their husbands, and male-controlled churches.

The good news is that many Evangelical women are tired of being treated as doormats. They are tired of having their ambitions drowned out by their husbands’ wants, needs, and desires. Evangelical teen girls are increasingly rebelling against their fathers and pastors, demanding that they be treated with decency and respect and afforded the same opportunities as boys. I know of a number of women who demanded the right to take college classes. Many of these women, once they graduated from college and figured out they could live on their own, left their churches and divorced their husbands — proving to Evangelical troglodytes that women must be tethered to the home lest they overthrow God’s order.

My wife and I grew up in churches where complementarianism was frequently preached from the pulpit; churches where women were expected to be married, barefoot, and pregnant; churches where women were expected to do menial labor while the men sat in the gates and did the “real” work of ruling nations, churches, and homes. It should come as no surprise, then, that when Polly and I married, we had what was commonly called a “traditional” marriage, with me being the patriarchal head of the home, and Polly devoting herself to domestic chores and children. Fortunately, both of us saw the light, resulting in fundamental changes to our marriage and home. Some of this change was driven by my health problems. I worked for much of our marriage and Polly quietly and happily maintained the home. When fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, degenerative spinal disease, and gastroparesis forced a change of roles, our marriage changed too — for the better, I might add.

The girl I married in 1978 was quiet, soft-spoken, and content to let me be the boss. The bad-ass woman I am now married to is still quiet and soft-spoken, but that boss thing? That ain’t happening. Both of us will admit that we have struggled with our changing marital dynamic. It wasn’t easy at first. It has taken years for the bad thinking from our patriarchal past to be transformed into egalitarian thinking that values and respects people regardless of their sex. Even now, both of us can, on occasion, fall back into our former way of life. I still, at times, want to be the boss, and Polly is content to let me make decisions, especially those that could have negative outcomes. Our new, ever-evolving relationship has taken a lot of conversation, arguing, and forgiving. I can honestly say that our marriage today is better than it ever has been. I love and respect Polly more than ever, even when she still refuses to know what she wants to order when we pull up at a fast-food order window. 🙂 Each of us recognizes the other’s strengths and weaknesses and our divisions of labor are determined by expertise and not some verses from an outdated, ancient religious text. It’s unlikely that we will ever have the “perfect” marriage, but I can safely say that what was begun almost forty-four years ago continues to blossom and grow.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Family Driven Faith — Part Two

bruce and polly gerencser 2008
Bruce and Polly Gerencser 2008

This article was first published in 2011 on the blog No Longer Quivering. Corrected, revised, and updated.

As an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, I taught parishioners that the Bible clearly defined the roles (a hierarchy) of men (husbands), women (wives), and children. The Bible, from an IFB perspective, is clear: the husband is the head of the home and the wife is commanded to submit to his authority and rule. Much like the pastor in the church, the husband is the final authority in the home. It matters not if he is worthy of such responsibility. A husband is disobedient to God if he refuses to be the head of the home. The wife, if she refuses to submit to her husband’s authority, is a Jezebel and risks the judgment of God.

I taught women that God’s highest calling for them was marriage, having children, and keeping the home. I discouraged women from going to college. After all, why waste money going to college if you are going to be busy having children and keeping the home.

I taught men that God’s highest calling is for them to be a leader. Men are called by God to lead the church, the home, and the government. The strength or weakness of any nation, culture, church, or home depends on whether men are fulfilling their divine calling to lead.

Children are at the bottom of this hierarchical system. They are under the authority of God, the Bible, the pastor, their father, and their mother. Children have one divine calling in life: obedience!

This kind of hierarchical family structure has been a part of American society since the day the Pilgrims stepped ashore on the eastern coast of America. Over time, due to social, political, and economic pressure, the hierarchical family structure has weakened. As women gained the right to vote, began working outside of the home, and began using birth control, they realized they could live without being under the control and authority of a man. Modern American women are free to pursue their own life path, free to live lives independent of men. When women marry, they are no longer considered the helpmeets of their husbands. They are equal partners in marriage. Their values, beliefs, and opinions matter.

However, in the IFB church movement, women still live in the eighteenth century. Bound by commands and teachings from an antiquated book — the Bible — they live lives strangely and sadly out of touch with the modern world. Every aspect of family life is controlled by what the Bible teaches. Better put, their lives are controlled by what authoritarian pastors and authoritarian husbands/fathers say the Bible teaches.

I have no objection to a woman willingly choosing to live and participate in a hierarchical family structure. If an Amish woman wants to live as the Amish do, then I have no reason or right to object. It is, however, difficult to determine if they willingly choose. Is it a free choice when there are no other options? So it is with women in the IFB church movement and other Fundamentalist sects.

For my family and me, moving away from a hierarchical family structure was and is difficult. We had to relearn what mattered in life. We had to examine sincerely held beliefs and determine if they still were applicable to the new way we wanted to live our lives. I realized that I had lorded over my family. I had dominated and controlled their lives, all in the name of Jesus. By doing so, I had robbed them of the ability to live their lives independent of my control. Every decision had to have my stamp of approval. Nothing escaped my purview. After all, God had commanded me to be the head of the home. Someday, I would give an account to God for how I managed the affairs of my family. I took the threat of judgment seriously. This motivated me to be a “Biblical” husband, father, and pastor.

The biggest problem we faced was that since I was the one who always made the final decision, my children and wife lacked the skills necessary to make good decisions. My children quickly adapted to their newfound freedom, shouting a Martin Luther King Jr-like FREE, FREE AT LAST. However, my wife, Polly, did not fare so well.

Raised in a Fundamentalist home, her father an IFB pastor, Polly had spent her entire life under the thumb of someone else. She rarely had to make a decision because there was always someone else making decisions for her. To say our newfound freedom was difficult for Polly would be a gross underestimation. Suddenly, she was forced to make decisions on her own. For a time, she panicked when faced with making a decision on her own. Simple decisions, like what to order at the fast-food drive-thru or whether or not to put gas in the car, were monumental decisions for her.

Over time, Polly’s decision-making skills improved. Years ago, she was promoted to a management position at a local manufacturing concern, Sauder Woodworking. One night, she came home from work all upset. She told me that she had made a decision about something and several people were now upset with her. I laughed and told her, rule number one about making decisions: you will likely piss someone off.

polly gerencser graduation 2012
Polly Gerencser, Graduating from Northwest State Community College, Archbold, Ohio

In 2010, Polly returned to college. She struggled at first, and it took quite a bit of willpower for me not to bail her out. Over time, she adapted to using the computer (she was computer illiterate) and doing the various things necessary to be a good college student. In 2012, Polly graduated with an Associate of Arts degree from Northwest State Community College. I wept as I saw her walk down the aisle on graduation day. Her graduation was a reminder of how far both of us have come (Polly actually has five years of college credit. Unfortunately, three of those years were spent at an unaccredited Bible college).

Polly was forty-six years old before she wore her first pair of pants. Same goes for going to the movie theater, drinking alcohol, cutting her hair short, reading a non-Christian romance novel, etc., etc., etc. As many people know, the IFB movement is all about what a Christian CAN’T do. Some of these choices were fearful choices, God lurking in the shadows of the mind, ready to punish her for making“sinful” choices.”

With change comes new life. In many ways, we have been “born again.” In 2005, I left the pastorate and we began a slow, painful process of reexamining our Christian beliefs. For many years, my family believed what I believed, went to church when I went to church, and obeyed any and every command I gave, complete with proof texts from the Bible. Now it is different.

We left Christianity in 2008. I told Polly and our six children that I was setting them free. I am no longer the spiritual head of the home or the patriarch of the family.  They are free to be whatever they want to be. I sincerely mean this. If they want to be Wiccan, Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, or atheist, I am fine with it. The bottom line is this: I want them to be happy. If they are happy, I am happy.

This last decision has caused quite a bit of controversy and conflict. Freed from my control, my entire family quickly abandoned the Evangelical church. I am now an atheist, Polly is an agnostic, and our children, for the most part, do not attend church. Religion is still a big topic of discussion in our family and I still like a rousing debate or discussion about religion, politics, or sports. The difference now is that there is no test of fidelity. No, “did you guys go to church today?” No, “what was the sermon about?” 

Our family remains a work in progress. Polly continues to work on her decision-making skills, and I’m learning that the world doesn’t revolve around me. I am learning to shut up and allow my family to make decisions for themselves, even when I think their choices are ill-advised. I have a new rule I live by: if I think someone is making a bad decision on an important issue, I will voice my opinion, but that is the end of it. I stay out of my children’s business, even when they want me to meddle. They are responsible adults and I support whatever decisions they make, even if I disagree with them.

We are far from a finished product. Polly still freezes at the drive-thru and I still know what I want before we pull into the restaurant. We still have the same peculiar character traits we’ve always had. You know, those things that annoy and bug the hell out of each other. The difference now is that we have learned to embrace each other’s peculiarities, knowing that these are what make us unique individuals.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and Polly is happy with clutter. Ours is a match made in hell. For many years, my OCPD dominated everything. I have had to learn that while I have every right to want things perfectly ordered, everything in its place, Polly also has the right not to want things perfectly ordered, everything in its place. We each have personal spaces where we are free to practice our peculiar habits and traits. We know to stay out of each other’s “stuff”. In the common spaces, we try to find a happy medium, though I must admit I have a hard time doing this. MY declining health has helped me with my obsession with order. I simply can no longer keep everything perfectly ordered. At times, this frustrates me, but I am learning to embrace my new reality.

It is good to be free.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Family Driven Faith — Part One

bruce-and-polly-gerencser-1981
Bruce and Polly Gerencser with son #2, 1981, at Bruce’s mother’s home. Gotta love that porn stache. 🙂

This article was first published in 2011 on the blog No Longer Quivering. Corrected, revised, and updated.

For seven months in 2004, our family attended Faith Bible Church in Jersey, Ohio, a vibrant, growing, family-oriented church in central Ohio. We thought we had finally found a church to call home. One Sunday, after the morning service, Polly, my wife, was talking with a group of women who were trying to get to know her a bit better. One of the women asked Polly what she did during the day, and she, without a moment’s hesitation, said “I work.”

In a split second, everything changed.  You see, in this church, none of the women worked outside the home. The pastor taught that it was a violation of God’s divine order for women to work outside the home. They could have home-based money-making enterprises, but they were not to work outside the home. From that day forward, the women of the church were stand-offish towards Polly. Never mind that Polly had to work due to her husband’s disability. Never mind her job was the only thing that stood between us and living on the street. All that mattered was that our family was not ordered according to God’s divine plan. We stopped attending this church a short while later.

In the 1990s, I co-pastored Community Baptist Church, a growing Sovereign Grace Baptist church in Elmendorf, Texas (please see I am a Publican and a Heathen — Part One). A young woman in the church professed faith in Christ and desired to be baptized. Customarily, candidates for baptism were asked to give a public testimony of salvation before being baptized. This posed a problem for this particular woman because her husband not only believed that the Bible taught a divine order for the sexes and the home, he also believed women should be silent in church. (His wife also wore a head covering.) She wanted to give a public testimony, but she didn’t want to disobey her husband. This standoff went on for weeks until, one day, the woman came to my office in tears, lamenting that her husband was keeping her from following Christ. I agreed with her and counseled her to disobey her husband. She was baptized a short time later.

This church also believed that “church business” was the domain of men. When the church held business meetings, women were not allowed to speak. If they had a question, they had to whisper their question to a man, and then the man could ask the question on their behalf. Women were allowed to verbally ask for prayer and sing, but everything else was the domain of men. Very few of the women worked outside the home.

While I found both of these positions to be somewhat excessive and quite demeaning to women, I also believed that such positions could be proved from the Bible. While I didn’t take things as far as the aforementioned churches, I certainly believed that God had a divine order for the family and the church. I believed that God had ordained men to rule and women were to submit to male rule and authority. The highest calling for a woman was to marry, bear children, and be a keeper of the home. Children were to submit to their parents and obey every command given to them.

I believed the Bible taught a hierarchical system that must be kept to enjoy the favor and blessing of God. God, through his son Jesus, was the head over all things. Of course, what this really meant was that the Bible was the head over all things. Christianity is, above all else, a text-based religion. Without the Bible, there is no Christianity (in any meaningful sense of the word). As an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, I believed the Bible was the inspired, inerrant, infallible word of God. The Bible was the final rule and authority for everything, the blueprint for life.

IFB pastors say that the Bible is the rule for everything, but what they really mean is that their interpretation of the Bible is the rule for everything. I cannot emphasize this point enough. At the heart of the IFB church movement, the Patriarchal movement, and the Quiverfull movement, is a literalist interpretation of the Bible by pastors. Pastors, the under-shepherds of their churches, under direct authority from God, have the singular responsibility of teaching their churches what the Bible says (or better put, what his interpretations are). These pastors, divinely called by God, empowered by the Holy Spirit, are the mouthpiece of God.

Practically speaking, the pastor is the final authority in the church. He is the law-giver, and he alone has the final say on virtually everything. The Bible is clear, the pastor is to rule the church, and church members are to submit to his rule. Pastors spend significant time reminding the church that God says he, the pastor, is the boss. The common phrase used to define this is pastoral authority.

Pastoral authority, IFB style, leads to dictatorial autocrats ruling over and controlling virtually every aspect of church members’ lives. Some churches recognize the problem with one man having so much power, so they have a plurality of elders or a board of elders or deacons. Sadly, all this does is make a group of men dictatorial autocrats ruling over and controlling virtually every aspect of church members’ lives

In a hierarchical system, God and the Bible come first. Underneath God and the Bible is the pastor. Church members are taught that submitting to the pastor’s teaching and authority is pleasing to God, and, if practiced, will bring the blessing of God.

As an IFB pastor, I taught church members that God and the Bible clearly defined the roles of men (husbands), women (wives), and children. In my mind, the Bible was clear: the husband is the head of the home and the wife is commanded to submit to the authority and rule of her husband. Much like the pastor in the church, the husband is the final authority in the home. It matters not if he is worthy of such responsibility. A husband is disobedient to God if he refuses to be the head of the home. The wife, if she refuses to submit to her husband’s authority, is a Jezebel and risks the judgment of God.

I taught women that God’s highest calling for them is marriage, having children, and keeping the home. I discouraged women from going to college. After all, why waste money going to college if you are going to be busy having children and keeping the home? I taught men that God’s highest calling for them is to be a leader. Men are called to lead the church, home, and government. In my mind, the strength or weakness of any culture, church, or home depended on whether men were fulfilling their divine calling to lead. Children, of course, are at the bottom of this hierarchical system. They are under the authority of God, the Bible, the pastor, their father, and their mother (and according to my three younger sons, their oldest brother). 🙂 Children have one divine calling in life, obedience!

Polly and I have been married for almost forty-four years. We have grown six children, ages forty-two to twenty-eight. Our older children went to a public or Christian school for a few years, but for the next seventeen years, we homeschooled our children. For the first twenty years of marriage, we followed the hierarchical system detailed above. For the most part, Polly didn’t work and I was the breadwinner. I pastored churches full-time, but, due to the notoriously low pay in IFB churches, I also worked a number of secular jobs. For years on end, I worked sixty to eighty hours a week, and in doing so, neglected my wife and children. Regardless of the neglect, I was still the authority in the home. I was the final answer to every question. I ruled our home with a rod of iron and my family feared me. Of course, I never called their fear fear. I called it a healthy respect for authority. I gave the orders and they obeyed.

For many years, my wife (I don’t like using phrases like my wife and my children. While most people see these phrases as harmless, they are a reminder of the past, a past where Polly and the children were treated like slaves and property. I try to avoid using these phrases, but in some instances, they cannot be avoided) and I followed the general tenets of the Quiverfull movement. In the early 90s, we embraced Calvinism and became persuaded that using birth control was a sin. We believed that God was sovereign and He opened and closed the womb. Who were we to stand in the way of God blessing us with more children?

Our first child born under the “let God have his way” form of birth control was a beautiful redheaded girl with Down syndrome. Two years later, almost to the day,  we were blessed with another beautiful redheaded girl. Twenty months later, our youngest child, a son (should I call him beautiful too? Momma says yes!) was born.

Before we could blink, we had three more children, all in diapers. Polly was known in the family as Fertile Myrtle. I was persuaded that if I looked at her, she would get pregnant. I have no doubt that we would have had twenty children if we had continued to abstain from using birth control.

Fortunately, Polly’s doctor intervened and told us in no uncertain terms that Polly’s last pregnancy had taken a huge physical toll on her and any future pregnancies could kill her. We decided, God’s will be damned, that we were not going to have any more children. I was considered a hypocrite for not trusting God in this matter, but I had no desire to be wifeless with six children. Several years later, Polly had a tubal ligation and no more rabbits died.

In part two of this series, I plan to write about how the thinking mentioned in this post affected the churches I pastored and how it affected my family. I want to detail how this kind of thinking almost destroyed my marriage and how abandoning such thinking transformed my relationship with Polly and our children.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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Christians Say the Darnedest Things: “Godly” Husbands Have the Right to Violate the Consciences of Their Wives

conscience israel wayne
Facebook quote by Israel Wayne

I’m not sure I agree with this. There are times that someone’s conscience is so misguided that it would be wrong to follow it. For example, suppose the wife is pregnant with a disabled child and believes it is mercy to abort. Her conscience is telling her it is wrong to let the child have a difficult life. Yet her conscience is wrong. Very wrong. The husband would be right to tell her not to kill their child.

I think the husband is given authority to lead the family precisely to avoid the tyranny of the wife’s conscience. We can all get various ideas in our heads about what we should do, and we might even have a strong belief that this is the right thing. But if the wife goes by what she thinks is right all the time, how is her husband to lead her when they disagree? Essentially, any time they disagree, she can invoke conscience and, magically, she gets her way. God gave the husband authority over her conscience on purpose to avoid this problem.

Of course, I fully agree that in the vast majority of cases, when the wife has a conscientious objection, the husband should listen and take this into consideration. That’s wise leadership. If the husband commands his wife against her conscience, he will bear the blame if there is any sin. God will hold him responsible. So it’s a very serious matter. But I would definitely not say he should never require the wife to go against her conscience. God made the husband, not the wife’s conscience, the leader of the home.

— Lindsay Harold, Via Lori Alexander on The Transformed Wife, Does a Wife’s Conscience Trump Her Husband’s Conscience? February 1, 2022

When I told Polly about Alexander’s post, she became angry, said nothing, and flipped me off. Message received. 🙂 Harold speaks of the ” tyranny of the wife’s conscience,” yet fails to mention the tyranny of the husband’s conscience.” Why is that?

Jodi Heckert Pledged to Protect His Daughter’s Virginity, Now in Prison For Child Molestation

jodi heckert and daughter
Photo by David Magnusson

Jodi Heckert and his daughter appeared in a June 14, 2014, Slate Magazine article titled “Striking Portraits of Fathers and the Daughters Whose Virginity They’ve Pledged to Protect.” (While Heckert’s daughter is now an adult, I have decided to not publish her name.) The story features the photography of David Magnusson. As a photographer, I found Magnusson’s work to be stunning (and creepily disturbing), but I do wonder, based on several of his quotes in the article, if Magnusson really understands the American purity culture. For those of us who were once a part of the patriarchy movement, David Magnusson’s photographs are reminders of the many girls who are smothered by their God-fearing, hymen-worshiping “protective” fathers. Heckert, pictured above with his 13-year-old daughter, is one such father. In August of 2015, Heckert was found guilty of attempted child molestation and sentenced to ten years in prison.

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jodi heckert prison record
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Arizona Department of Corrections Inmate Search

Here’s what Ayperi Karabuda Ecer had to say about Magnusson’s photographs:

David Magnusson’s focus is not on the individuals, it is on the relationship. The strength, the tenderness, the domination, and all the contradictions springing from adult men seeking promises which will guide young girls’ intimate lives and their infinite need for love and protection.

Each shoot takes up to an hour. That is no longer a “moment”; it is a long time to maintain intensity. Yet some of the fathers and daughters spend the hour physically clinging to each other.

The light is what makes this project visually coherent. All photographs are organized to be shot an hour and a half before dawn. Yes, it is beautiful. Many of the fathers refer to light in their interviews. One of them quotes Psalm 40: “I was plucked from a miry pit and sat into a marvellous light”, another thinks that “as Christians we’re supposed to be the light in the world.”

David Magnusson’s lighting appeals to those who pose but its airy subtlety also adds a surreal tone which contrasts with the solid convictions of the photographed. The setting seems to be from a fairy tale but we are confused by the cast.

David Magnusson knows that what is missing in a frame is as important as what is present. As fathers and daughters intensely try to embody the presence of God, one wonders what fears and hopes lie behind their mutual determination? Who are the men that inspire such fright and such need for protection? What past scars do the fathers want to redeem? Will these girls ever be able to love anyone more than their own progenitor? How much do our own demons suggest interpretations?

Purity is a personal visual project that offers a stage for intense emotions and questions.

As with all images, these carry different meanings depending on where and by whom they will be viewed. Ideally they need to be accompanied by the interviews and a balanced introduction.

But as with so many other images they will also be encountered divorced from initial purpose and control in an unpredictable journey.

Purity is a project about contradictions, love and domination, beauty and fear, relying on the very singular complexities of the photographic process.

Please take the time to view Magnusson’s photographs, and when finished please let me know what you think in the comment section.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

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You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Duty Bound to Give Their Mothers Grandchildren

lori and ken alexander

We have too many friends our age (in their 60s) who have children that are either not married or are not having children. These friends WANT grandchildren desperately, but their children aren’t interested. Why is this?

….

God wants us to pass down biblical wisdom to our children and grandchildren. They aren’t going to get it from our culture. They will be told to be independent, travel, and make money instead of marry, bear children, and guide the home (1 Timothy 5:14). It seems that most young women are on birth control these days which is highly dangerous. It is even causing infertility. Women are most fertile in their late teens and twenties, then fertility goes dramatically down.

….

Women, you must teach your daughters the beauty of God’s ways. The greatest way you do this is by showing them. Show them that you love your husband, their father. Be an example to them of a joyful, godly mother. Sure, you are going to go through trials and sufferings. We all do. And sure, there will be many difficult days of mothering, but difficult isn’t bad. God’s path for us isn’t the easy, broad path. It’s the narrow path that leads to life!

Train your daughters to be homemakers from a young age. Teach them how to keep a home clean and tidy, to cook, bake, garden, can, iron, sew, and all that it takes to run a home. Let your husband work with your sons on becoming masculine men who will want to grow up to have families of their own. As your daughters grow older, go through my study guide with them so they can see clearly God’s will for them from His Word. Read the Bible to them from a young age. Have them memorize many verses. Pray with them daily. Take them church faithfully. Homeschool them. You be the one to raise and teach your own children so when they grow up, they will want a family of their own.

— Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife, Many Never Will Become Grandparents, June 16, 2021

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen 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.

Connect with me on social media:

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

Bruce Gerencser