Many women don’t like this phrase [keepers at home]. Even Christian mothers. And yet it’s in the Bible! Isn’t that amazing? However, I think it comes down to the fact that we either believe the Bible or we don’t. If we believe the Bible we must receive every word as the living, breathing Word of God. It is an eternal Word. It is as up-to-date as tomorrow’s newspaper!
Therefore, if you believe the Bible, would you like to come with me on a little word study? Let’s look into this phrase and see what it really means, shall we?
The phrase “keepers at home” in Titus 2:5 is translated from two different earlier manuscripts.
The first Greek word is oikourogo, coming from two words: “oikos” meaning “home” and “ergon” meaning “to work.” The word literally means HOME-WORKERS!
I am a great believer in working mothers. However, we must know the place where God wants us to work. It’s in the home. It says “home-workers,” not “career workers.”
The home is not a prison to lock us away from all the wonderful things we could do in this life. The home is where we CAN DO all the wonderful things that will bless our own lives, the lives of our family, and many others.
The home is a place of function and action. It’s a place of nurturing where we have the privilege of nurturing and teaching the children God gives to us. It is also a place of creativity where we can accomplish all the creative ideas God brings to our minds. It’s the most exciting place in the world. We make our own hours and are free to create. We are not bound to an employer (submitted to another man rather than our husband).
That’s why we are workers in the home. We are not lazing around, but working. As we work, ideas come to us to do things in a better way. God gives us anointed ways to teach and minister to our children. Solutions come to us to solve problems in our family life. Inspiration comes to our hearts about hospitality and how we can reach out to the lonely, hurting, and those who need encouragement.
Of course, careers for women came from a godless, heathen world! There is nothing in the Bible that encourages or instructs women to leave their homes for hours every day, their children with strangers to raise, and go to a job. [neither is there anything in the Bible that says women should wear bras and shoes.] If there is one, I have never read it.
Are older women, as written in the Bible, to be known for their careers? No! They should be known for bringing up children, lodging strangers, washing the saints’ feet, relieving the afflicted, diligently following every good work (1 Timothy 5:10) and teaching the younger women (Titus 2:4). There’s nothing about them having careers.
Widows are not commanded to go out and pursue careers. Their families are the ones who should care for them and if the widow doesn’t have family, then the churches are to care for the widows. (Notice 1 Timothy 5:4 states who in the family should care for widows; “children or nephews” not “children or nieces” – the female children would most likely be married and have husbands who would provide whereas the nephews should help provide, not the nieces.) This is how God set it all up for the provision of women.
Men are the ones in the Bible that God commands to be the providers. This is God’s perfect will from the beginning of time and He reminds us that His commands are not burdensome. Nothing is impossible with Him and if He wants women home with their families, He will provide a way. He instructs us to ask for wisdom and He will give it freely! [In other words, if you are a woman and find yourself destitute, don’t get job. Just wait on Jesus to come through with a pile of cash to meet your every need.]
There are several problems I see with women having careers, even when they are single. After spending all the time and money in pursuing their career, it’s difficult to give it up once the children come along, if and when they do. Also, many husbands like the money their wives make and don’t want them to stop so they insist on their wives keeping the job even when it becomes a strain on the wife. Married women who don’t have children still come home exhausted after working all day. They don’t have the energy to care for their homes or husbands like they would like to do, unless they are high energy women.
I believe one of the main causes of divorce today is due to women having careers. Women put all of their time and energy into their careers and neglect their husbands. [Pity those poor men who are being neglected by their wives.] They were created to be their husband’s help meet but they fail to do what God has called them to do because they can’t do everything and are too tired and exhausted to be helpers to their husbands. This is a recipe for failure and marriage is important to the Lord so it should be a priority for us; for marriage is an example to a lost world of Christ and His Church! Plus, when women have careers, they know that they have the freedom to divorce their husbands since they aren’t dependent upon their husbands for provision but God created wives to be dependent upon their husbands. [ Damn straight, Skippy. Women working means that they no longer are slaves to their husbands; that if their husbands don’t treat them well they can tell them to take a hike.] This is a good thing, contrary to popular opinion.
Women who have careers typically have to work for a boss and the boss is usually a man, therefore, she is living in submission to a man who isn’t her husband which is not God’s plan. Plus, women don’t have the physical makeup that a man has and God created women with a more sensitive and emotional nature in order to be home with their children and/or caring for others, not out in the workforce. [All I can do here is *sigh*.]
But what about the women who do remain single their entire lives and don’t get married? What if careers are causing many more women to not get married since they don’t “need” a man to take care of them? What if this pursuit by women for careers makes them unattractive to men since they become forceful and independent? God’s plan from the beginning is for men and women to marry. He created men to need a help meet.
Colleges and universities don’t help women acquire meek and gentle spirits. Quite the contrary! They teach them to be strong (apart from the Lord), independent (they don’t need a husband), speak their minds, and stand up for themselves which is completely opposite of what the Lord wants for women. They don’t teach them to be gentle, submissive help meets to their husbands or how to raise godly offspring. Neither do they teach them anything about godly womanhood; no, not even the Christian colleges and universities since they push careers on the women. [Can’t have women who are strong, independent, speak their minds, and stand up for themselves, right? Why, such women might think they are equal to men, capable of doing almost anything the penis crowd can do.]
There are many things women can do who aren’t married without getting a job. Culture tell us that there’s only option for young women today but it’s not. The young, unmarried Duggar and Bates women [ Ah yes, Duggar and Bates women. “Perfect” examples for the young women of today.] take courses on-line, serve their families, go on mission’s trips, assist midwives, serve their communities, find ways to make money from home, and many other things that help others instead of pursuing careers which take them away from their homes. This seems the way it should be, in my opinion [How dare Alexander speak when God has not spoken!].
Women working have taken many jobs away from men. Men NEED to work. God created them to have jobs and this usually defines them, whereas women define themselves by their relationships. Men don’t have to take off time when they bear children, their children get sick (if they have a wife at home), and they don’t feel guilt leaving their children all day long like women do because women know deep down that they are the ones who are supposed to be home with their own children.
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.
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.
John Rice [a Fundamentalist Evangelist, editor of the Sword of the Lord, and author of such titles as The Home and Bobbed Hair, Bossy Wives, and Women Preachers] wrote this about this topic. “A man is like God in a sense that a woman is not like God…God is always in the Bible, called He, never Her. He is called Father, not Mother, Christ is called the man Christ Jesus, not the woman…I do not mean that Christ is not the Saviour every woman needs, not that He does not know her every longing, feel her every sorrow, meet her every need. But God would not have had the Bible so full of it if He did not want us to notice that Christ was a Man, not a woman, and that man is therefore made in the image of God in a sense that cannot be true of women. So, in the home, man is deputy of God, and should lead the home for God.”
I love the fact that Christ was a man since men are our protectors. They are bigger and stronger. They are not led by their emotions and feelings as easily. They are more steady. I am happy that I am not the protector and provider of my family. Men have a much bigger responsibility than women have been given and a man’s nature is created for this and woman’s is not. Most men wouldn’t want to worship a female god. They want a strong and masculine God like the One we have been blessed with. He is perfect in every way!
The only reason women have so much “power” today is because men have given it to them. They could have never gotten it if men didn’t allow it because men are mightier in strength than women. God originally created man to have power and dominion over the earth. He never has given this responsibility to women. He made men the Kings, Prophets, Priests, Disciples, Apostles, and Elders for a good reason and His purpose. This is His plan.
Most women today would despise this teaching. It doesn’t bother me in the least because I love being a woman and I love God’s ways. God created men to be the leaders and women the followers, just our body makeup proves this point. We are the weaker and softer sex so we should be the more gentler one. Women are the more lovely of the sexes, especially when we wear some make up, fix our hair, and wear prettier and more colorful clothing. Men are highly attracted to women. Godly, good women bring a lot of beauty to this earth. We make our homes places of loveliness. We bear and raise godly offspring. As we do all of this, we bring honor and dignity to our husbands and to the Lord.
Life isn’t about “following our dreams/achieving our career aspirations” if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. His Lordship over our lives demands that we do what He has asked us to do and give Him the glory, not ourselves. If we are doing anything for our own glory, we are doing the wrong thing. Unfortunately, I fear that most women who pursue the dream of a career are doing so for the things they find are important while ignoring what God asks of them. The Lord God wants women to marry, bear children, and guide the home (1 Timothy 5:14). This is not only His will, but His best for Christian women. Being able to bear children and raise them for the Lord gives glory to the God and insures that another generation of godly offspring is born into the Kingdom of God. There is no higher calling upon a woman’s life, but that is not to say that God cannot or does not have other callings designed for women who never marry.
Getting an education and achieving career aspirations is far too often about giving glory to oneself. “What college are you going to, and what career path will you take?” are the common questions posed to most young Christian women, instead of asking the important question, “Have you given any consideration to what God clearly desires for Christian women?” Certainly if a woman is young and unmarried, she is free to pursue an education but as with everything in life she must count the cost. How many are in bondage to school debt and or feel trapped in careers and can’t quit when they have children? Don’t be at all fooled by the glitz and glamour and pleasures of this world. There is no free lunch, so now is the time to count the cost of a career.
“It seems that, and tell me if I’m wrong, that you’re placing a woman’s sole worth on bearing children and creating a happy marriage for her husband.” Her worth comes from the Lord and not from anything she does. He is the one who wants women to bear children and raise godly offspring. What can be more important than raising the next generation? If she can’t have children or she doesn’t get married, the Lord can still use her in powerful ways in the lives of others since we should spend our lives serving others and giving our lives away. Concerning marriage, the Word says, “She that is married cares for the things of the world, how she may please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34). The Bible says the greatest of all is the servant of all. All Christian women should find a way to serve others and use their gifts to bring the Lord glory. …. “What is wrong with a woman having those same things even if there is a man or child in the picture?” If she is married, her priority should be to her husband and being the best help meet to him she can. If she comes home every day after working full time and is too exhausted to fix him a good meal, unable to keep the home clean and tidy, and not available sexually, she should either work less or not at all. God calls women to be keepers at home, not men. He also created wives to be their husband’s help meet, not vice versa. This is God’s will for us and when roles are clearly defined, marriage works easier. If there is a child in the picture, she should be with that child full time since he/she needs and wants their mother. …. Most women who just randomly find my blog have no idea why I teach what I teach. They mistakenly believe I am just thinking this all up on my own and sending women back 100 years. No, I am just teaching them to be a woman after God’s heart and not their own.
Evangelicalism is dominated by Bible literalism. God said it, and that settles it. There can be no debate or argument on the matter. An infallible God has spoken and his infallible words are recorded in an infallible book — the Protestant Christian Bible. Whatever the Bible teaches, Evangelicals are duty bound to believe and obey. While Evangelicals may argue about the finer points of this or that doctrine, calling oneself an Evangelical requires fidelity to certain, established doctrinal truths. Christianity is, after all, the faith once delivered to the saints. Jesus is, after all, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Psychological manipulation is a common tool used by Evangelical preachers to force congregants to do their bidding. I hear the outrage of offended Evangelicals now, screaming for all to hear, that THEIR church is not like that; that their pastor is different. Maybe, perhaps, but I doubt it.
If their church or pastor really is different, it is likely because they are not really Evangelical. There are a lot of churches and pastors who are really liberals or progressives who fear making their true theological and social identities known. Fearing the mob, these thoughtful Evangelicals hide their true allegiances. I don’t fault them for doing so, but such churches and pastors are not representative of Evangelical belief and practice.
In particular, women face the brunt of Evangelical preaching against sin and disobedience. What do Evangelicals believe the Bible teaches about women?
Women are weaker than men.
Women are intellectually inferior, requiring men to teach and guide them.
Women are to submit to her husbands in the home and to male leadership in the church.
Women must never be permitted to have authority over men.
Women must dress modestly so that they don’t cause weak, pathetic men to lust after them.
The highest calling of women is to marry, bear children, and keep the home.
Feminism is a Satanic attack on God’s order for the church and home.
Think about this list for a moment. Are Evangelical women equal to men? No! Women are, at best, second class citizens. They must never be put in positions where they have control or power. Such places are reserved for men. We dare not question this. After all, it is God’s way
Is it any wonder that many Evangelical women lack self-esteem and think poorly of themselves? How could it be otherwise? Everywhere they look women are progressing, free to live their lives on their own terms. Yet, here they sit, chained to a ancient religious text and a religion that demeans women and views them as little more than slaves or chattel.
I am sure there are many Evangelical women who will vehemently object to my characterization of how they are treated by their churches, pastors, and husbands. In THEIR churches women are quite happy! They LOVE being submissive to their husbands as unto the Lord. They LOVE being relegated to cooking duty, janitorial work, and nursery work. They LOVE having no higher goals than having children, cooking meals, cleaning house, and never having a headache.
The bigger question is, WHY is it that many Evangelical women think living this way is normal and psychologically affirming — exactly what God ordered for their lives? Evangelical women don’t want to disobey God or displease their husbands or churches. Whatever God, pastors, male church leaders, and husbands want, Evangelical women give. This is their fate, and until the light of reason and freedom creeps in, Evangelical women will continue to bow at the feet of their Lords and do their bidding.
Once women break free from Evangelicalism, a thousand horses and one hundred arrogant, know it all preachers, couldn’t drag them back into the fold. Once free, they realize a whole new world awaits them. With freedom comes responsibility. No more defaulting to their husbands or pastors to make decisions for them. These women are free to make their own decisions. They quickly learns that life in the non-Evangelical world has its own problems and that women are not, in many cases, treated equally there either.
Over the years, I have watched numerous women break free from domineering, controlling Evangelical husbands. I have also watched women flee domineering churches and pastors. Some of these women went back to college to get an education. No longer content to be baby breeders, maids, cooks, and sex-on-demand machines, they turn to education to improve their place in life. Often, secular education provides a fuller view of the world and opens up all kinds of new opportunities for the women.
Sadly, this new life often leads to family problems. Husbands who have worn the pants for decades don’t like having their God-ordained authority challenged. This is especially true if the husbands remain active Evangelical church members. Many times, unable to weather dramatic changes, these mixed marriages end in divorce. Evangelicalism was the glue that held their marriages together, and once it was removed their marriage fell apart.
Some husbands and wives find ways to keep their marriages intact, although this is hard to do. Imagine living in a home where mothers and wives are considered rebellious, sinful, and wicked by their Evangelical husbands, pastors, friends. Imagine being considered a Jezebel. Evangelicals are not kind to those who rebel against their God and their interpretation of the Bible. The Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. Biblical literalism demands that these rebellious women be labelled as practitioners of witchcraft. Once considered devotees to God, the church, and their families, these women are now considered to be pariahs — servants of Satan who walk in darkness.
I want to end this post with a bit of personal commentary.
For a good part of my marriage to Polly, our marriage was pretty much as I described above. I was the head of the home. I made all the decisions. I was in charge, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Polly bore six children, cooked, and kept the home. On and off, when finances demanded it, she worked outside the home. and in her spare time, she homeschooled all six of our children, including one child with Down Syndrome.
Polly is a pastor’s daughter. Her goal in life was to be a pastor’s wife. She went to college to get an MRS degree. Polly is quiet and reserved, and thanks to forty plus years of Evangelical indoctrination, she is also quite passive. During the twenty-five years I spent pastoring churches in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan, Polly heartily embraced her preacher’s-wife responsibilities. She was a dutiful wife who always exemplified what it meant to being in be submission to God and her husband. Never saying a cross word or demanding her own way, Polly submitted to those who had the authority over her.
A decade ago, things began to change in our marriage. I finally realized how abusive and controlling I had been. Granted, I was just being the kind of Evangelical husband and pastor I thought I should be. I tried my best to follow the teachings of the Bible and the example of pastors I respected. Regardless of the whys of the matter, I must own my culpability in behaviors I now consider psychologically harmful
In November 2008. Polly and Bruce Gerencser — hand in hand — walked away from Christianity. For the first time in our lives we were free from the constraints of God, the Bible, and the ministry. We were free to choose how we wanted to live our lives; free to decide what kind of marriage we wanted to have.
In many ways, very little has changed. Polly still cooks, but now she whips up gourmet meals because she LOVES to do so. I still manage household finances, not because I am the head of the home, but because I am better with numbers than Polly is. Both of us take care of household chores. I still do most of the shopping, but I no longer make the list. I am the numbers guy, someone who can figure out price per ounce in my head. By the time Polly finds her calculator in that bottomless purse of hers, I already have the equation figured out. Each of us tries to do the things we are good at.
The biggest difference in our marriage is this: I now ask Polly, What do you think? What do you think we should do? Where do you want to go? On top or bottom? We have learned that it is okay to have lives outside of each other; to have desires, wants and hobbies that the other person may not have. The Vulcan mind meld has been broken.
Polly recently celebrated 18 years of employment for a local manufacturing concern. Out from the shadow of her pastor husband she has excelled at work. Her yearly reviews are always excellent and she is considered an exemplary worker by everyone who works with her. Over the past two years Polly has received two promotions. She now supervises auxiliary department employees on second and third shift. Polly even has an office with her name on the door. None of these things would have been possible had we remained within the smothering confines of Evangelical beliefs and practices.
In 2013, Polly bought a new car in her own name. Yes, I helped picked out the car and took care of the financing details, but it is her car. A first for her, and believe me, this was a BIG deal. In 2012, Polly graduated from Northwest State Community College with an associates of arts. This was a huge undertaking on her part. Why did Polly go back to school, you ask? Because she could. And that’s the beauty of our current life. Freedom allows us to live openly and authentically. We no longer have to parse our lives according to the Bible. Both of us are free to do whatever we want to do. Having this freedom of spirit has allowed us to experience things that never would have been possible had we remained Pastor and Mrs. Bruce Gerencser.
Polly continues to break out of her shell and I continue to learn what it means to be a good man and husband. We still have our moments. There are those times when both Polly and I find it quite easy to fall back into our former Evangelical ways, As those who have walked similar paths know, it is not easy to change attitudes and lifestyles which were decades in the making. I suspect, until death do us part, we will remain a work in progress.
According to the Above Rubies website, Nancy Campbell is an “internationally known author, speaker, and authority on Biblical Motherhood and Family.” Campbell preaches the old-time Fundamentalist gospel of patriarchy — a world in which women marry, obey their husbands, bear lots of children, and keep the home. Recently, in a post titled A Higher Vision, Campbell detailed her vision for her children and grandchildren. Here’s what Campbell had to say:
I want children who love God above all else. I want children who are growing into the likeness of Christ. I want children who love righteousness and abhor evil. I want children who have a biblical mindset and stand for God’s truth. I want children who will not compromise godly standards. I want children who will not be tainted by the spirit of this world. I want children who will not give in to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, but who will pursue the will of God. I want children who love God’s Word and love to pray. I want children who will blaze across this world with the gospel and message of truth.
As you can see, Campbell’s vision for her progeny focuses on the Evangelical God and the Bible. Like many Evangelicals, her vision is singular and blinkered, making Campbell blind to the wonders of the world outside the narrow confines of the Christian box. All that matters to Campbell is that her children and grandchildren turn out to be good little Christians who follow the approved way of life.
I too have children and grandchildren, and like Campbell I have a vision for them. However, my vision is far different from that of Campbell’s:
I want children who think for themselves. I want children who enjoy life. I want children who treat others with respect. I want children who love their families. I want children who value hard work and enjoy the fruits of their labors. I want children who aren’t afraid to stand against bigotry and racism. I want children who will live every moment to its fullest, realizing that life is short. I want children who value fun, pleasure, and relaxation. I want children who will travel far and wide, enjoying the wonders of earth. And most of all, I want children who are happy.
Campbell’s vision is one of exclusion, whereas my vision is one of inclusion. Campbell’s vision focuses on right beliefs and obedience, whereas my vision focuses on embracing and enjoying life. Campbell’s vision sees the goal as a room in God’s celestial kingdom, where my vision sees the goal as a life well lived. Campbell envisions life as that of Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Trudge on dear Pilgrim, remembering that Heaven awaits you IF you make it to the end. What a sad way to live life, squandering the too-short time we have on earth.
I have more of a Dixie Chicks way of looking at life. In 1998, the Chicks released the single Wide Open Places. I think the song aptly describes how those of us who are rooted in there here and now view life:
Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out To find a dream and a life of their own A place in the clouds, a foundation of stone
Many precede and many will follow A young girl’s dream no longer hollow It takes the shape of a place out west But what it holds for her, she hasn’t yet guessed
[Chorus] She needs wide open spaces Room to make her big mistakes She needs new faces She knows the high stakes
She traveled this road as a child Wide eyed and grinning, she never tired But now she won’t be coming back with the rest If these are life’s lessons, she’ll take this test
[Repeat Chorus] She knows the high stakes
As her folks drive away, her dad yells, “Check the oil!” Mom stares out the window and says, “I’m leaving my girl” She said, “It didn’t seem like that long ago” When she stood there and let her own folks know
[Repeat Chorus] She knows the highest stakes She knows the highest stakes She knows the highest stakes She knows the highest stakes
Wide open spaces, that’s what I hope my children and grandchildren find as the meander their ways through this life. Who knows what might lie ahead. Campbell wants to keep her children and grandchildren safe within the confines of the Evangelical box. (Please see The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it and What I Found When I Left the Box) While there is great comfort and security that comes from knowing everyone is safely in the box, this is no way to live and enjoy life. That’s what Evangelicalism does. It confines people for life in Bible Prison, safe from the evil, sinful world. Humanism, however, opens wide the gate and says, You are FREE! Enjoy life. Embrace all that it has to offer, knowing that we don’t know what tomorrow might bring. Life is like the steam rising from a radiator on a cold winter’s day. It quickly dissipates into the air and then it is gone (James 4:14). Solomon was surely right when he said:
There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour …. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him? …. Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun. …. For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun. Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works. Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Let me conclude this post with the advice I give on the ABOUTpage of this blog:
You have one life. There is no heaven or hell. There is no afterlife. You have one life, it’s yours, and what you do with it is what matters most. Love and forgive those who matter to you and ignore those who add nothing to your life. Life is too short to spend time trying to make nice with those who will never make nice with you. Determine who are the people in your life that matter and give your time and devotion to them. Live each and every day to its fullest. You never know when death might come calling. Don’t waste time trying to be a jack of all trades, master of none. Find one or two things you like to do and do them well. Too many people spend way too much time doing things they will never be good at.
Here’s the conclusion of the matter. It’s your life and you best get to living it. Some day, sooner than you think, it will be over. Don’t let your dying days be ones of regret over what might have been.
As Bible-believing Baptists who hold to reformed theology, X and I believe that God is sovereign in choosing who will or will not believe in him, having chosen his people before the foundation of the world (see Ephesians 1), and that his selection is unbreakable and irresistible. If marriage is to mirror this principle, we believe that a woman has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man and marriage is to be an unbreakable arrangement between the man and her father. Based on this reasoning, we have shunned a standard proposal and wedding ceremony, because if I had asked her to marry me (which I did not) then I would have given her the decision to marry me rather than selecting her and taking her myself. Furthermore, if we had exchanged conventional marriage vows, our union would have been based on X’s will and consent, which are not Biblical factors for marriage or salvation. Instead, I asked X’s father for his blessing in taking her hand in marriage. When he gave his blessing, X and I considered ourselves to be unbreakably betrothed in the sight of God. While we had initially intended to consummate our marriage after today’s symbolic ceremony, we instead did so secretly after private scripture reading, prayer, and mutual foot-washing.
As Quiverfull Believers dig ever-deeper into their Bibles in search of the truly “biblical model” for godly marriage, ideas about courtship and “betrothal” are becoming increasingly savage and brutish. It would seem unlikely that Courtship standards could get even more oppressive considering that Christian notions of “biblical match-making” have already been taken to outrageous extremes.
Joshua Harris started a back-to-bible-living revolution among Christian young people when he advocated the courtship model in his book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. What – no dating for teens? Now that’s a radical concept! As “bible believers” jumped on the bandwagon of father-led pairing of qualified young men and women in serious pursuit of marriage, popular Quiverfull patriarchs took biblical courtship to a new level of paternal domination as they pointed to Old Testament examples of “betrothal” as the very best way to ensure the future success of Christian marriage.
Jonathan Lindvall, teaching “God’s Design for Youthful Romance,” cited the betrothal of Matthew and Maranatha Chapman (link no longer active) as an ideal example of a “true romantic betrothal.” Lindvall describes the crazy-making process by which Maranatha’s father, Stan Owen, orchestrated a year-long betrothal which was to be a “demonstration of Christ’s coming for His bride” based on the parable of the Ten Virgins.
Mr. Owen still faithfully directed both Matthew and Maranatha to avoid physical affection until their wedding. He particularly cautioned them to guard against impatience. Especially since Maranatha was rather young, their wedding might be quite a long way off yet. Though they hoped that the time would be soon, they nevertheless resigned themselves to the real possibility that the wedding could be a matter of years down the road, much like Jacob’s seven year betrothal to Rachel (Gen. 29:18-20). Yet they were both naturally quite motivated and energetically prepared in every way they could, as quickly as they could, just in case the wedding should suddenly be announced.
None of my daughters or their husbands asked the state of Tennessee for permission to marry. They did not yoke themselves to government. It was a personal, private covenant, binding them together forever—until death. So when the sodomites have come to share in the state marriage licenses, which will eventually be the law, James and Shoshanna will not be in league with those perverts. And, while I am on the subject, there will come a time when faithful Christians will either revoke their state marriage licenses and establish an exclusively one man-one woman covenant of marriage, or, they will forfeit the sanctity of their covenant by being unequally yoked together with perverts. The sooner there is such a movement, the sooner we will have a voice in government. Some of you attorneys and statesmen reading this should get together and come up with an approach that will have credibility and help to impact the political process.
Yeah … that’s “bible-believing” extremism for you – and it’s not enough to practice these ideals for themselves and their children, “biblical family values” must become the law of the land.
As a former Quiverfull believer, I used to get excited at the prospect of searching the Word and discovering greater “truths” and biblical principles – the implementation of which would bring my family increasingly closer to a truly God-honoring model of marriage and Christian home life. At the same time, I secretly dreaded what the Lord might reveal to me next through Lindvall’s Bold Christian Living, Pearl’s No Greater Joy, and other “biblical family living” ministries. Already I was obediently and faithfully having baby after baby to the obvious detriment of my health, submitting to my abusive husband, homeschooling, home birthing, home churching, foregoing all government assistance including potentially life-saving health insurance and food stamps, cutting off all outside relationships with family and friends who were not like-minded Quiverfull Believers …. honestly, the regimentation and isolation made for a harsh and demanding life.
“What’s next?” I frequently wondered to myself … ‘cuz my practice of Quiverfull was not “peculiar” enough already, I guess.
I am so grateful that I got out before I had a chance to discover the biblical principle of a man selecting and taking a wife for himself. I am afraid, since the idea comes straight from scripture, I very well may have gone along with my daughters’ father coming to an “unbreakable arrangement” for a “godly” young man to “take them” in marriage.
Ugh. It is a trap – a life-sucking quagmire – to attempt to order one’s family life according to a worldview which teaches that whatever is in the bible is necessarily “biblical” and normative for all times and all cultures. I dread the thought that today’s Quiverfull daughters are now being taught that a young Christian woman “has no right to select a husband for herself, but that she is to be chosen by a man” and given no decision in the covenant agreement between her father and the man who will be taking her.
In the early 1980′s, I heard Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist Baptist pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia say, We don’t believe in equal rights for women. We believe in superior rights for women. Falwell went on to say that the Bible actually elevates women on a pedestal and that equal rights for women would actually be a step down for them. Evidently, Falwell’s Bible didn’t have the verses that gave approval to men treating women as property or the verses that countless Evangelical preachers have used to justify their “women should be ignorant, barefoot, pregnant, keepers of the home” preaching.
Why would any woman want to be an Evangelical Christian? If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?
Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety. The right to vote. Equal pay for equal work. The right to use birth control. The right to have an abortion. The right to divorce. While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made to that end.
Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only. The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is that Christian patriarchal thinking still permeates our society.
Evangelical Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches that women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband. (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Simply put, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.
If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children and as women age they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be a good wife.
Derick Dickens, in an article for the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood website, takes the same approach Falwell did thirty years ago. (Dickens is a graduate of Liberty University) Dickens thinks that women, the weaker vessel, should receive high honor rather than equal rights. He goes on to blame many of the woes women have on feminism and their demand for equality. Dickens writes:
…It demands us to ask some serious questions. Has the last century of women’s rights not touched the home? Has women’s equality not turned the tide of divorce? Has it not lifted women out of poverty instead of sinking them further into poverty? Women’s equality has failed precisely because it is misplaced from the Biblical understanding of women. It has failed precisely because it misunderstands the honor God has given to women.
In short, if you think women are equal to men, then you have too low of a view of women. Women are not merely equal, they are to be honored and esteemed unlike that of a man.
Honoring women is not merely my opinion, but this is the Christian ethic. It is why men traditionally bent on one knee to ask for a woman’s hand in marriage, men would open the door for her, and men willingly sacrificed their life to save a woman.
Granted, abuses have often taken place in our culture and previous cultures. However, this should not be looked at with the ever critical eye that fails to realize all the facts of the situation. There were abuses of the past because of mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality.
Rather than see these abuses subside, they have escalated in modern times. For instance, women account for 75% of all people trapped in the slave trade. For every three childhood victims of human trafficking, two are girls (Source: UNODC). The heinous injustice brought upon girls and women should make our blood boil in anger and every decent human being cry out for the eradication of this evil.
The abuses that are easier to “live with” are those couched in the language of modernity. Women, for profit and sale, are treated as sex objects on magazines and television. Being remade to look nothing like they appear, women are donned in scant bikinis to sell products like beer, cars, football, and even tools. Parts of our society have made women utilitarian. This may be better than the sex slave trade but only by degree (Matthew 5:28)
What may be an attempt by some overreacting to abuses towards women has been an effort to make women completely the same as men. In some cases, this has forced women to be a clone of their male counterparts, or in other cases forced men to be exactly like women. In both cases, this is a travesty to women.
Women do not find their greatest worth in being like men but in being a woman. It is her uniqueness that should be cherished, but not to the extremes either side tends to push her. One celebrates the woman as having a utilitarian purpose in satisfying the sinful lusts of man, the other celebrates her distinct from her sexuality.
Both are wrong. Both seek to diminish women from being what they were created to be–a woman.
In turning to the Scripture, we extinguish the often cited critique that women are not as smart or capable as men. Proverbs 31, for instance, shows the virtuous woman as possessing gifts that would make most men jealous. She is intelligent, resourceful, hard working, and respectful–a tremendous force of dignity and wisdom.
These qualities, though, should not make us treat women like men. Women are to be treated distinctly like a woman. Husbands are called to reflect towards these women a demonstration of the greatest love ever shown, a love that willingly died in her place (Ephesians 5:25). For a man, he should represent her as a person worthy enough for us to die for, to present as pure, to uplift as glorious, and acknowledged as magnificent…
…In the Biblical Worldview, women have a dignity all their own that allows us, men, to selflessly serve until our dying days. They are bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, but they are much more. They are women and for that reason we should give them a greater honor.
Dickens speaks in glowing terms about how women are treated when the Biblical pattern for the sexes is followed. According to Professor Dickens, our culture’s unwillingness to follow this pattern has resulted in women being far worse off today than they were before equal rights for women and modern feminism convinced women that they had equal status in our culture. (As with equality for people of color, equality for women is still an unrealized goal. We’ve come a long way, but we have a long way to go before we can say, women are equal.)
Dickens seems deliberately ignorant of history, both ancient history and American history. Rather than seeing the Bible and Christianity as the source of many of abuses and ill-treatment women have received, Dickens thinks “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the problem. Evidently, he can not see that perhaps Christianity and Bible wedded to “mankind’s inherent selfishness, pride, arrogance, and destructive personality” is the real explanation for the deplorable treatment of women throughout much of the history of the United States.
Dickens article is a poignant reminder that little has changed for Evangelical women. Their overlords continue to use the Bible to subjugate and control them. Sadly, for many Evangelical women, including my wife for many years, they know of no other world but one where the Derick Dickens of the world are their lords. These lords convince them, through words supposedly mouthed by God, that their highest calling in life is to be a weaker vessel; a wife, a mother, and a keeper of the home. Wanting any other kind of life is a step away from God’s wonderful, super-duper plan for their life.
So what do you think readers? I am especially interested in hearing from female readers. Do you desire to return to days before equality and feminism? Now that you are free from the strictures of the Bible, how has your life changed? For the better, for the worse? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Why would any woman want to be an Evangelical Christian? If the Bible is the inspired Word of God and every word is true, why would any modern, thinking woman ever darken the door of an Evangelical church?
Over the past hundred years women have continued to gain rights and privileges kept from them by men, law, and social propriety: the right to vote, equal pay for equal work, the right to use birth control, the right to have an abortion, the right to divorce. While women do not yet have equal rights and privileges in this country, huge progress has been made toward that end.
Why don’t women have true equal rights and privileges in America? Don’t deceive yourself into thinking they do. There are still places in our society where the signs say Men Only. The primary reason women are denied basic civil rights and social privileges is that Christian patriarchal thinking still permeates our society.
Evangelical Christianity teaches that women are inferior to men. The Bible calls women a weaker vessel. The Bible teaches that women are to be married, keepers of the home, bearers of children, and sex partners for their husband (unless the husband goes Old Testament and has multiple wives and concubines). Simply put, the Bible teaches that the world of women revolves around husband, food, children, and sex.
If the Bible is meant to be taken as written, women have no part in the governance of society or the church. Women are relegated to teaching children, and as women age, they are given the task of teaching younger women how to be good wives.
1 Timothy 5:14 says:
I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
Titus 2:2-4 says:
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
The Bible teaches women are to keep silent in the church:
For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 1 Timothy 2:11,12
The Bible also regulates how women are to dress and wear their hair:
In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. I Timothy 2:9,10
But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 1 Corinthians 11:5,6
Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:13-15
The Bible teaches that women are to be in subjection to their husband:
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. 1 Peter 4:5,6
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:22-24
The Bible teaches that having a wife is a sure way to avoid fornication:
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. 1 Corinthians 7:1-3
And finally, the Bible says women were created for men:
Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 1 Corinthians 11:9
And this is just the New Testament. The Old Testament portrays women as chattel, not much different from livestock. Women should be thrilled to have all the liberties the New Testament gives them (this is sarcasm, by the way).
Liberal and progressive Christians try to make all these verses go away by saying they are no longer applicable or that they must be interpreted in their historical context. Fine, let’s do the same with Jesus. A case can be made for Jesus being no longer applicable, and surely we must interpret the teachings of Christ in their historical context. Of course, this would result in Jesus being more irrelevant than he already is.
Millions of women attend Evangelical churches that believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. The churches they attend proudly claim themselves to be bible-believing churches. Some churches follow the above-mentioned verses to the letter while other churches pretend the verses are not in the Bible. The latter are bible-believers lite. If they taught these verses as written, there would be empty houses and beds by nightfall.
Many Christian women, those not indoctrinated by Bible-thumper pastors and husbands, ignore the verses mentioned above. They tend to love Jesus and say screw the rest. Many women are not into theology. Theology is what men do, their male overlords tell them. Best to let men do the hard thinking. Cook the meals, clean the house, do the laundry, and spread your legs whenever your husband asks. That’s your calling, Pastor Blowhard says.
I am of the opinion that many women embrace Evangelical Christianity and continue in the church because of the social and family connections they have with others in the church. They are willing to put up with being considered second class citizens as long as they can maintain those connections. I suspect this is due to the maternal instinct that most women have. Others have been so indoctrinated by the men in their lives that they actually think they are inferior to men and meant to be their husbands’ slaves. I’ve had more than a few conversations with women who cannot or will not see that they deserve far better lives than they now have.
Some Evangelical women realize they’ve been taken captive by the Bible, a book men use to dominate and control them. Remember the “hell hath no fury” line that talks about a woman scorned? Once a woman realizes she can be free from the control and domination of men…watch out! Many women, once free, leave Christianity altogether. Others make their peace with God and the church, often seeking out expressions of faith that are not demeaning to women. If their marriages survive, they adopt an egalitarian way of life. Marriage becomes a shared relationship. Gone are the religious and social strictures meant to keep women in their place.
For those of you who have left Christianity, how did your marriage and the relationship with your husband change?
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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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.
“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?
…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.
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.
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.
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.
As an Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) pastor, I taught parishioners that the the Bible clearly defined the roles of men (husbands), women (wives), and children. (a hierarchy) The Bible is clear: the husband is the head of the home and the wife is commanded to submit to the authority and rule of her husband. 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 the 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, obey!
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 help meet. They are equal partners in the marriage. Their values, beliefs, and opinions matter.
However, in the IFB church movement women still live in the 18th century. Bound by commands and teachings from an antiquated book, 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 life is controlled by what an authoritarian pastor and authoritarian husband/father 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?
For my family and I, moving away from a hierarchical family structure was difficult. We had to relearn how to live. 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 independently 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.
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 new-found freedom, shouting a Martin Luther King Jr-like FREE, FREE AT LAST. However, my wife 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 new-found 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.(1)
Over time, Polly’s decision making skills improved. Several years ago, she was promoted to a supervisory position at local manufacturing concern. (2) 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 at her. I laughed and told her, rule number one about making decisions. You will likely piss someone off. (3)
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 Associates 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 5 years of college credit. Unfortunately, 3 of those years were spent at an unaccredited Bible college)
Polly was over 40 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 examining 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.
I told my wife and 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. (4) 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. As my wife continues to learn to make decisions, I have to learn not to make decisions. I am learning to shut up and allow them to make choices 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. They are responsible adults and I support whatever decision they make, even if I disagree with it.
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 you. The difference now is that we have learned to embrace each other’s peculiarities, knowing that these are what make us unique individuals. (5)
It is good to be free.
(1) Even today she freezes at the drive-thru. We joke about it now, but her freezing hails from a day when I ordered everything.
(2) One of the first steps of freedom for Polly was getting a job, a job that she has held since 1997.
(3) I was well suited for the hierarchical family system and the pastorate. I am not afraid to make decisions. Snap decisions come easy for me. It felt very natural to me to make all the decisions. However, in the home, like at work, one person making all the decisions stunts the growth of others and when they are put into a position where they must make a decision they are often unable to.
(4) I am hesitant to label my children’s current beliefs. Two of my children attend the Catholic church with their wives. The rest of them, for the most part, do not attend church. I would not classify them as atheists or even agnostics. They are indifferent and still figuring out what they believe. It is exciting to watch, even if the IFB part of our extended family thinks we are committing spiritual suicide.
(5) 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 it place. We each have personal spaces where we are free to practice our peculiar habits and traits. We know to stay out of each others “stuff”. In the common spaces, we try to find a happy medium, though I must admit I have a hard time doing this. The clutter has decreased significantly since our last two children moved out 15 months ago.