Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Baby Hungry

I've never wanted kids. I don't like neediness, and kids require a lot of handholding-both physically and metaphorically. I'm not very patient, I'm crazy as hell, and I have a lot of bad genetic traits. I know this logically and yet...
    I saw a new doctor about my PCOS. For starters, he knows a lot about the issues. Apparently there are different kinds of PCOS that have different treatments; the more you know, huh? Anyway, he's been the first doctor to say "There's a good chance, once we get things figured out, you could get pregnant."
    Ever since that day, about 2 weeks ago, I've thought about babies.  It's one thing to declare how happy I am childless, having been told I'm incapable of having children. I brag about my free time and loose budget. I post Cracked articles on my Facebook about not having kids. I stay up until 3 and wake up at noon. (I'm, once again, jobless. But that's a story for another day)
   Long story short, outwardly, I'm pleased as punch to be childfree.  But thinking that I can't have kids, and learning to accept that is really different than having those same conversations with myself knowing there might be a chance to conceive. I think about the arguments I use. Honestly, my sleep schedule changes with a new job. My mother-in-law or my own mom would be super OK with watching the kid, pretty much whenever. Money would be tight, but I spend as much as I have. When we first got married and were super poor, I splurged $20 at Goodwill. Now I blow $75 at Sephora without blinking an eye.
   To make things more complicated, my husband doesn't really want babies.  Which I'm having a hard time accepting, because he was very much "BABIES AS MANY AS WE CAN HAVE" when we first got married. Part of me thinks it's because he's gotten quite used to coming home from work, and playing computer games until he's ready for bed and playing Magic:The Gathering every weekend.  
   But another part of me is afraid he's anti bio-child because he thinks I'd be a horrible mother. And I'll admit, I was miserable with the foster kids. But my uterus is saying it's because they weren't mine, that I never bonded with them, and and and...Not to mention my myriad of psychological issues and how badly I reacted to my 11 weeks of pregnancy when we first got married.
    It's a war. My brain is saying "No. You don't want this. You had a horrid childhood and don't know how to parent. You have a hard time connecting, you're impatient, and often not nice. Why would you put a poor, defenseless kid through your nonsense?"
    Yet, even with all that, my uterus is telling me that maybe why I can't seem to stick with a job is because I'm really meant to be a SAHM. Which brings up the financial aspect...

   I almost wish after my uterine biopsy, the doc would say "Yeah. It's totally broken. We're going to have to pull it out." And then take the choice out of things.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 7 (4 Different Types of Submission)

p 182

Hello! It's been quite a long time since I've even looked at this book, let alone review it. Honestly, I'd been having marital issues of my own, and reading that everything would be better if I would just submit more was too triggering. Not that my husband is forceful or demanding in any way of my obedience, but was too much.

So, quick recap of where we left off a year ago. If you're wanting the original source materials, and have a strong stomach, here is the list of my reviews from the beginning. To sum it up, men are natural leaders and need-nay, deserve-a woman who is a good servant help meet. This chapter has been talking about how God never tells women to obey men in the Bible. That teaching is alternated with lovely reminders and anecdotes about how much better life is when women obey.
   Confused yet? Anywho, the last section I covered was Michael explaining the difference between obey and submit. Obeying is an action; he uses the example of horses obeying. Submission is obedience with a full heart. Basically being happy about obeying.  Today is more on that subject, in case there are any questions.

Text is in purple

Though God commends Sarah for her extraordinary obedience, (I must say it again) the Bible never commands a wife to obey. It commands much more than obedience-it commands her to submit. Submission is a voluntary attitude of cooperating.  Strong is correct in saying that the Greek word behind "wives submit" was a "Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.'" (emphasis his)
   There we have it. God never tells wives to obey; He tells them to submit! Though I'm not certain how the Greek term has come to mean "women do what your husband says, and cheerfully". Maybe it's something that got lost in translation?
When Hagar fled from her jealous and oppressive mistress, the "angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)" Not just grudgingly obey. She had never stopped obeying; she just treated Sarah with disrespect. She was told to return and submit, that is to willingly and with all her heart place herself under the authority of her mistress.
   I see a couple of problems with this comparison. First, Hagar was a slave. It was literally her job description to do what Sarah said. Is Michael saying that the dynamic between a mistress and servant is the same as a husband and wife?
    Second, some context for this verse. I'm paraphrasing because it's easier for me to understand this way. Sarah had been married to Abraham for awhile, and hadn't gotten pregnant. So she said "Here, take my slave and maybe she'll give you a child." It worked, and Hagar conceived. After she found out she was pregnant, she was rude with Sarah. And Sarah went to Abraham and said "This is your fault! I tried to make you happy, and now that she's pregnant, she's treating me like crap!" Abraham pretty much shrugged and said "She's your slave. Do what you want to her." Sarah did.  She treated Hagar badly, and Hagar up and left.  While she was running away, an angel came and said "You're Sarah's servant, what are you doing here?" Hagar answered "She was a jerk, and I'm done with that nonsense." Then the angel said "Go back and submit to her, and I'll give you so many descendants that there will be too many to count." So she went back and had Ishmael.
   Oddly enough, there is no mention of the Sarah/Hagar dynamic when Hagar went back. And still nowhere in this chapter of Genesis is it talking about wives submitting to husbands. If anything, it's telling a second wife to submit to the first wife. Which is a bit too Mormon for my tastes, so let's move on.
Paul employs the same Greek word in the book of Romans, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)" The word obey would not be an appropriate synonym to replace submitted in this passage-"have not [obeyed] themselves unto the righteousness of God." To submit to the gift of righteousness is the opposite of obeying unto righteousness.
   Is it just me, or is Michael harping over a minuscule point? And, really, how is a husband to know whether his wife is obeying or submitting? Would it even matter, in this culture, to him? As long as what he wants is getting done, would he really think about the "state of his wife's heart"? I'm honestly not sure. I am, however, getting really sick of both of those words.
Those striving to obtain righteousness through human means were not submitting to God's offer of righteousness through  Jesus Christ.  I know many misguided souls who are obeying God but not submitting to the gift of righteousness. A wife could obey her husband without an ounce of submission.
   What the heck is the "gift of righteousness" he keeps talking about? Being a diligent student, I went to Michael's website to find out. Apparently it is "God 'imputed' our sin to the perfect God/Man Jesus Christ. He died as if he were the sinner and was raised from the dead because he was indeed righteous. God now imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who will believe on him." How I understand it is that because Christ died for people's sins, God makes people righteous? I'm confused. Especially since there is no connection to "gift of righteousness" and submission! I mean, if God hands out imputed righteousness to everyone who believes in Jesus the God/Man, where would submission even play a part?
   Urgh. I remember now how infuriating Michael's logic is. It really seems like he thinks if he throws enough big Biblical words at people, they will agree.
Look at 1 Corinthians 16: 15-16 and 1 Peter 5:5. They carry the meaning of voluntarily conforming to and assisting."
   Ok. Let's look at those verses.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16New International Version (NIV)

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia,and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.

1 Peter 5:5New International Version (NIV)

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud  but shows favor to the humble.
I kind of see what Michael is getting at. It does kind of show that when God says submit, he wants you to serve others and listen to your elders. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how Michael conflates this type of submission with wifely obedience.  Unless he is pointing out examples of other people's submission to non-husband entities (elders, mistresses, first converts) as a guideline for wifely submission?  Interesting, because of all the women in the Bible, how many of them actually submitted to their husbands? Ruth's husband was dead. Esther defied her husband, the king. Mary didn't have a husband at the time...Sarah did, but we've already covered how that turned out. (Spoiler: Abraham made bad decisions and God had to save the day)
   Which brings me to my final point. Who is there to protect the wife from an abusive or tyrannical husband? If submission is a gift to one's husband, is there a way to ensure the safety of the submissive? I don't know much about BDSM, but I do know that the submissive sets the limits and can always say NO. (Or a codeword) Honestly, despite the societal taboo associated with it, from my cursory research, it really seems that a BDSM relationship is far more healthy then anything Michael or Debi Pearl has to offer. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Almost A Year

Holy cow. It's been almost a year since my last post. Where has the time gone?? And what a crazy year it's been.
   Let me catch you up on things with me.
   This past summer, I asked Justin for a separation. I was working 50-60 hour weeks, he was working crazy overtime, too, for a work project. He wouldn't text me or talk to me during the day. Literal weeks would go by with no communication unless I imitated, and even then would be limited answers.  On my days off (which weren't many), he would play computer games or Magic the Gathering until he was ready for bed. Or we would watch an episode or two of TV together before he'd play his games.
   The therapy during this time was intense, let me tell you. Not only that, but Justin was completely blind-sighted by my separation request. He had no idea that I was so miserable, nor did he realise I was feeling completely ignored.  So we would go in for couple's therapy (once a week, along with my individual therapy, plus medication appointments), and he'd say "I don't know what's wrong...I'm totally happy." And I would tell him how I felt ignored unless he wanted sex or food, and he would get this hurt look on his face and say something like "We hang out together all the time."
   That's when I realised something. Our ideas of time together were way different. For him, proximity was enough. And, having used up his daily allotment of words at work, he was content to sit in silence next to me on the couch. (Side note-that's his dad's MO as well).
   I told my therapist that sometimes, it's like he has little check boxes in his head of things he has to do to get what he wants. She said something that blew my mind. "Have you thought about looking into Asperger's syndrome?"  Well, that something you ask all your patients?
   But we did. He read the Wikipedia article on Aspies, and took a quiz-albiet a very unscientific one. Out of like 38 or 40 questions, he scored a 32. I, on the other hand, scored an 8. He read a book written by a man who has Asperger's, and really related to how this guy thought about things.
   Herein lies the problem. I'm bipolar, which means I over emote. He's an Aspie, which means he under emotes. We are literally 2 polar opposites of the emotional/reactionary scale. Not only that, but I am hyper aware of my surroundings (thank you, abusive childhood).  He is clueless on social cues, inflections, and the world around himself, in general. I wanted to bash my head against a wall; it seemed like everything was pulling us apart-including ourselves.
   I wasn't ready for a divorce, because he's such a nice guy. He doesn't hit me, doesn't yell at me, doesn't hurt me on purpose...a literal paradise from my earlier experiences. I felt guilty for complaining. Other people have it so much worse; hell, I've had it so much worse. It took me quite awhile to get to the point where I was willing to say that being miserable wasn't OK. Something had to change.
   I looked into Asperger's. More specifically, how spouses of Aspies dealt with the realities of living with someone with such an internal world. I found a few things that I would try. I gave Justin 2 months to work some things out with me; otherwise, I'd be gone. Here's what we tried.
   If I wanted/needed something, instead of waiting for him to pick up on my cues, say very clearly "These are my needs." If I was having a bad day at work, and wanted him to tell me he was on my side, then I would say "I want you to listen, and when I'm done, tell me that you love me, that I'm good, and that we can get through this." Or even if I wanted to go out to eat, let him know it was important to me.
   This was difficult for me. I am so hyper-aware of my surroundings, I had gotten a reputation at work of being psychic, because I knew what people were thinking, and going to do. I was, frankly, offended that a grown man would need me to tell him "I need attention now." I mean, I can tell within 5 seconds (not bragging or lying) of him coming home how his day at work was, and what he needed. Yet the only way he understood I was upset was if I was yelling or crying.
   This has actually worked out pretty well. He's  a good guy who genuinely wanted to work on our marriage, so when I say what my needs are, he's usually pretty good about meeting them. On the understanding that I won't take advantage of that and say I HAVE to go out to eat every day for a week.
   The second thing was to help him understand his feelings. Because of the aforementioned psychic issue, I could anticipate his needs before he was aware that he had them. So he's never really learned what he's feeling or how to articulate it. So I've been taking a backseat and letting him figure out what he wants or needs before I jump in with the solution.  This has been incredibly hard, because I'm a fix-it person.

  During this time, I celebrated my birthday, my dead sister's birthday, and her deathiversary. All of these were really hard, for reasons that should be obvious.
 I also met my other sister. I have a full biological sister who was adopted out when she was born. I'd known about her since I was 18, and been in contact with her since 2007. She, however, just recently found out she was adopted-via a post on her Facebook wall (by her "grandmother" telling her to find her real family). She emailed and said "Hey, I know that we're actually sisters, not cousins like my mom said."  We corresponded for awhile, and agreed to meet up.
   I still feel conflicted for a few different reasons. I feel like I have to like her. In my head, she's my sister-and we have a lot in common. We think similarly, enjoy makeup, and have similar mannerisms, as well as looking pretty similarly.
See what I mean?
But I'm not sure I like her. I am sympathetic towards her and her messed up life. I feel bad that she is continually in crappy situations. But there's just something...weird. I don't know if I'm trying for too much. I think part of me was hoping to get something akin to the relationship my dead sister and I had, as rocky as that one was. Or maybe it's because she looks like me, and has the voice of Stef. I don't know. It's just a difficult thing.  How are feelings supposed to be when there's a genetic connection, but a world of difference in our upbringings?
   She met our mom. That didn't go well. Everytime she talked about something, my mom would say "Oh, Stef liked this." or "Stef did that." to the point that I wanted to kick her, so I can't imagine how bad my other sister felt.  Not only that, but when asked "Did you ever think about me?" (A common question), my mom replied "Even when I was carrying you, I thought of you as [adopted mom]'s child." Not a great meeting...

    Cripes. This post has gone on long enough. Part 2 coming...eventually. :)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life As a Working Woman

Awhile ago, I mentioned that I had gotten a job. I'm currently Assistant Night Manager of an ice cream/burger place.
   Let me start out by saying how much I love my job. It's amazing. Yes, sometimes customers (or co-workers) are pains, but that's the price one pays to work in customer service.
   I was job hunting and browsing Craigslist. I came across an ad for a shift supervisor for the company I currently work for. I sent in an app, and got a call 2 days later. I went to the interview. I rocked the interview so hard, they offered me a position 2 above that which I applied for. I was told that I was guaranteed 45 hours a week, and would be making more than I've ever made in my working life. Of course, I took the job.
   I had been Assistant Manager of a pizza place prior to this (and prior to foster kids), so I've had managerial experience. But being in charge of 7 other people whose only job is to make pizza is a lot different than being responsible for 15, doing jobs that range from grocery to fryer/grill to sundaes and drive-thru. 
   My manager and regional manager (who sat in on the interview) are really impressed with me. As in, are actively planning to have me move up the ladder very quickly. This is a lot of pressure! Not only did I have to learn how to do things like spinning milkshakes without making a mess (still in progress on that one), making burgers, and dealing with a drive-thru headset; but I have to manage things like speed of service, shrink, and customer service. I average 50 hours a week-48 of those are on my feet. For a 360lb girl, that's a lot!
   It's interesting, because all of the things that I felt made me a horrible foster mom, are an asset in the working world. I'm very honest, I'm very focused, I am good at finding work for people to do, and I can multitask. As much as being a stay-at-home mom made me feel like a failure, my job has given me confidence.
   I've wondered why the Mormon church (and other conservative religions) preach that stay-at-home wives/mothers is the highest ideal. I really think that if women got a taste of recognition outside of their homes, few would want to deal with laundry, spills, cleaning, and cooking. 

   I am lucky that I have gotten to experience both sides. As frustrating as being a SAHM was, it has opened my eyes to what makes me happy. And that's managing people, and assisting customers. I'm grateful that I've had the chance to deal with foster kids, because that's made it easier for me to relate to some of my co-workers. (Because this is fast food, and they are teenagers at their first job) I'm thankful that my husband supports me in whatever I've chosen.
   Am I perfect? Not by a long shot. When I'm stressed, I sometimes get waspish and snarky. My bipolar sneaks up on me sometimes and sends me from exuberant highs to crashing lows, all in the course of an hour. I sometimes ask 3 different things of one person, and then get cranky because they don't get done.
   But you know what? At the end of the day, I know that even if I started less than 2 months ago and have moments of snappishness, I have the respect of my co-workers.  When I suggest things to my manager, he considers my advice seriously. 16 year olds tell me about their problems at home and 22 year olds ask my advice in their love lives. 5 days a week, I am enmeshed in a community that not only needs me as a manager, but wants me as a person. That's something that I never felt as a trophy wife or foster mom.

   Am I saying every woman should work? Of course not. I think every person should find what works for them. I also don't think that people should be pigeonholed into small boxes simply because they were born with certain sex characteristics. If staying at home with your 6 kids is how you find fulfillment, then I'm happy for you. But if you're like me, and would rather conquer the glass ceiling than clean the glass windows, then I hope you have the support from those you care about. I hope that you can find the confidence to do what speaks to you, and not listen to people telling you how to live your life.
   And to those of you who aren't sure what makes you happy, I hope you have the freedom and support to try things out. Make some mistakes, learn some lessons- but do what is best for you. Don't let anyone tell you what to dream.

Whatever your dreams are, I'm rooting for you! I wish everyone reading this the support and love that I am currently feeling. :)

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 6 (Obey vs. Submit)

pp 180-182

This chapter is called Obey, Indeed?, and there's been some confusion-mostly due to Michael's writing-about the difference between obeying and submitting. However, say what you will about Michael, he is decent at solving problems that he creates. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the stirring difference between obeying and submitting.
Text is in purple

Your Helper, Not Your Slave
The people at No Greater Joy work for me. I am their boss. Many of my employees are smarter than I, and most of them have talents and abilities I do not posses. I trust them to fill their respective jobs, and I seek their advice in their area of expertise, often deferring to their judgement in a matter. Sometimes they even question a decision I make. I counter-challenge them and expect them to argue their point. I would be foolish to treat their opinions lightly. I would be cutting off my own success if I didn't treat them with respect.
   I'm wondering how many of these respected employees are women. Because I really can't see him allowing questioning from a woman-regardless of her "expertise". Although I don't disagree with what he's saying. I'm a manager at a fast food place, and sometimes I trust the expertise of my employees. I know, for example, when somebody orders 15 burgers to go, it is best to get out of the way and let the grill people handle it-because anything I do will throw off their groove.
   This sort of sounds like what Michael is advocating, but I really don't' like the comparison that's about to happen. One's spouse should be an equal partner, not an employee. And as delightful as it is that Michael claims to have such a great relationship with some of his trusted colleagues, I just don't see there being much respect for Debi, or her having much opportunity to question Michael's decisions.
You are not her master; you are her partner in sanctification. As head of the family, you are responsible to be an example and to patiently encourage your wife to grow as a person and to help her understand and perform her duties as your chief helper. Your role in marriage is not that of enforcer; it is that of encourager.
   What worries me is how often Michael has had to tell men in this book that they aren't their wive's master. Isn't that telling of where the actual problem is? Unfortunately, Michael undoes all of this "you're not their master" by reminding them that women are their employees, helpers, and servants.
   Another thing I'm curious about is how the man is supposed to grow as a person. I mean, if the only way wives grow and change is at their husband's insistence, are we to assume that men are just such natural leaders that they will lead themselves in the right direction? And if women aren't supposed to question, how is a man to know that he's in the wrong? Especially if his wife is "properly submitting"-which I interpret to mean "Yes dear"-ing. Or is that the part where God steps in and helps the man with his "head of the household" part?

Submit, not Obey
Several passages in the Bible instruct wives to submit to their own husbands, but obedience is only mentioned twice, and each has its own unique context. Following is one of the many commands that a wife should be in subjection, but it provides an example of Sarah going even further in an act of obedience.
1 Peter 3:1, 5-6
Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the world, they also may without the word be won by the conversion of the wives; 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. (emphasis his)
   OK. So women are supposed to be in subjection to their husbands, but their husbands aren't their masters? Does this make sense to anyone else? Because no matter how much Michael talks, I'm really getting the feeling that the difference is all in semantics. "No, she's not supposed to OBEY you, she's supposed to joyfully submit to serving you. See the difference?", not really. Thanks for trying, though.
The Bible records just two occasions in which Sarah obeyed Abraham, so one of them will of necessity be the even to which Peter is referring. The second episode is not significant; he commanded her to prepare a meal and she did. Of course, if your wife doesn't prepare meals that verse will be more relevant to you.
   I imagine him chuckling at that last line.  "Heh heh heh...glad I got me a woman who will cook for me!"
The first event recorded in Genesis 12 is no doubt the experience in question. When visiting Egypt, Abraham feared that Pharaoh would see his beautiful wife Sarah and have him killed so as to make of her an eligible widow, so Abraham commanded her to lie, saying she was only his sister. Sarah obeyed Abraham, lying as he commanded, calling him "lord". And though she was in jeopardy of being taken to Pharaoh's bed, she was not "afraid with any amazement" at the position her lying husband had put her in. Her faith was justified when God intervened and struck the Egyptians with diseases. Pharaoh divined that it was God's judgment on his nation and discovered the ploy. He so feared God that he released Abraham and Sarah and after a stern rebuke sent them away unharmed with their goods.
   This story has always irritated me. When we would go over this in Sunday School, my Mormon teachers would hold this up as an example how sometimes following the prophet doesn't make sense, but look how well it worked out for them! I, personally, have always thought this is why you shouldn't trust authority-I mean look at how much work God had to do to fix Abraham's mess! Instead of coming up with an elaborate ruse, why didn't Abraham just cover her with blankets or something and say that she has a pestillence or something? Or have her stick blankets under her robe and say she's pregnant? Surely there were a thousand or so other options Abraham had than forcing his wife to lie. Heck, they could have just avoided the city Pharaoh was at. Problem solved!
Why make an issue between the very similar words "obey" and "submit"? Because though they can be used interchangeably in many contexts, they are different in connotation, not only in English but also in Hebrew and Greek. (I make reference to Hebrew and Greek for those of you who are foolish enamored with two of the original languages.)
   Ooooh, oooh, ooh, pick me! I know someone who is enamored with Greek and Hebrew. Want to guess who? Nah. Just watch this video.
A quick review of every use of these two words readily reveals a wonderful distinction. We get the same results in any language. Webster's accurately represents the differences, as does Strong in his Greek word definitions, not that we can fully trust either of them. Get a concordance or look them up in a Bible program and read every use, noting the differences. That way you won't have to take my word for it or A. W. Strong's or Webster's, or any one of your favorite mothballed Greek scholars.
   So we shouldn't take his word about translations of various words, but we should read his book and apply EVERYTHING he says because he's right? That is some magical thinking, there, Mike. Heh. Magic Mike.
Or not. Ewww.
I won't go through all the proofs. It would be too long. You can research it as you will. Obey has a much lower threshold than does submit. It can be impersonal and devoid of heart motive. In Scripture, the winds and the sea obey him. Devils obey him. A slave obeys his master. A child, through constraint, obeys his parents. The church is to obey them that have the spiritual rule over them. We put bits in horse's mouths and they obey us. Sarah obeyed Abraham in a very difficult situation. You could call that blind obedience, much like a slave renders to his master, or a child renders to his parents. No questions asked, no answers given.
   I see. So the real difference between submission and obedience is the heart motive. Apparently Michael has no idea that people can put on a fake face and pretend to be submissive when they are really just being obedient. But what I find most interesting is in Debi's book. She freely uses the term "obey" as something wives should routinely do for their husbands. She doesn't talk much about submission, funnily enough.
   The discord between the two books is staggering. Debi's book says to obey the husband. Michael's book says that obedience isn't as good as submission. Does anyone else see how this could be a problem? And, once again, there is no oversight in these relationships. Unless one takes the Sarah/Abraham story at face value, and I'm sure many do, that God will step up and patch things up when the man gets them wrong.

Holy cow. I just turned the page and realised that this section goes on for another 2 pages. I think this is enough bananas for one day. So, until the next post, ladies, think of how you can turn your obedience into joyful submission. And men, think of ways to "encourage" your wife into being a more submissive helper.

Nah, just kidding. Everyone should just think of ways to show and give respect to their partner, regardless of gender. (And you didn't even have to buy a $12 book for that advice; you're welcome).

Monday, June 9, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 5 (Let's Talk in Circles!)

pp 179-180

In case you were thinking that men in the Christian Patriarchial culture sure have it easy, Michael is here today to tell you that you're wrong. Being a man brings with it the great, great burden of responsibilty. Poor things, it almost makes me want to serve my husband more...

Text is in purple.

Not Created to Serve
My wife is telling your wives to serve their husbands. I am thankful she serves me, but we need to keep in mind that being born a man is not a license to be served. I have worked on construction sites off and on since I was ten years old. There are times when you must leave one of the regular hands in charge of the construction while you get materials or bid on another job. Some employees are so immature that they see their leadership role as a chance to tell other people what to do rather than as a responsibility to get the job done correctly. They get heady with power and act the fool to the detriment of the project, making it very difficult for the other men to obey them. The job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers.
   As usual, I am struck by how little introspection Michael has. Debi is a great servant, telling other women to be servants to their husbands (and if you think I'm overexaggerating, read her book), yet Michael claims being a man isn't license to be served.  I'm confused as to how he came to that conclusion. Literally 5 or 6 times so far IN THIS VERY BOOK, he talks about what a great servant Debi is. Yet the only time he discusses what he's done in his marriage to deserve being served is when he talks about "cleansing his wife's spots", or encouraging her to write and publish a book. So I'm trying to figure out why he thinks he deserves to be served, if it's not because he's a man. Anyone have any ideas on this?
   As for the construction analogy, it makes sense. I've worked at a few places, and there are always people that think leadership=bossiness. I'm currently assistant manager of an ice cream/hamburger restaurant, and let me tell you, leadership is far more than being bossy. Effective leadership is about helping; pitching in everywhere for the good of the team. It's about noticing what needs to be done, and finding the best person for the job to do it. It's about balancing constructive criticism, praise, and professionalism.
   But this idealistic view of leadership isn't even covered in this book. No, Michael thinks being a leader is changing one's wife to suit his needs. Or "encouraging" one's wife to find a hobby that he approves of. In short, despite his pretty analogy, Michael thinks being a leader is being the boss. I've spent more time with this book than is probably healthy for me, and not once has Michael talked about constructive criticism, or even praise. He never encourages men to build up their wives, or support them in their choices. He's all for support, as long as HE is the one choosing, but he rarely advocates giving the woman the choice.
   Oh, and the line "the job suffers and the designated foreman blames the workers"? Read Debi's book. If a man is unsaved, mean, abusive, manipulative, or a jerk, it's because the wife wasn't submissive enough. And even in Michael's book, if the marriage is suffering, it's because the wife is spotted, blemished, or wrinkled, and the man needs to fix that. So who, really, is being blamed here? Oh, that's right. The woman (or the worker, to hold to the analogy). Way to prove your own point, Michael.
Likewise the leadership role God gives a man in marriage is not a privileged position; it is a great responsibility requiring sacrifice and service. I am embarrassed by the attitude of actions of many preachers and laymen alike. Some misguided men see the world as divided into the served and the serving-male and female. Women are not created to serve men any more than men are created to serve women. There is nothing in the Scripture that suggest the female gender is to be subjugated by the male.
   I agree that there are sacrifices that happen with leadership, but, to be honest, I don't see Michael making them. Especially in marriage, sacrifice usually means compromise, and that word has not appeared once in this book. I'm not even joking here. Compromise isn't an option, according to Michael.  I'm amused that he's embarrassed by the attitudes of other men, because it sounds like he shares those views. Why else would he continually call women servants and weaker vessels?
   Then he truly loses me. Women are not created to serve men, and yet the title of Debi's book is "Created to Be His Help Meet." Which almost literally means "created to serve", doesn't it? And of course men aren't created to serve women; if this book is any indication, men are created to need a servant (help meet).  Here's some marriage advice, Michael. Why doesn't each party try to serve/help/support/love/accept the other? If you're going to make such a fuss about not seeing the world as male/female, then why not hold each partner to the same standard?
   And shall we talk about the scriptures that Michael has named that suggest females are to be subjugated by the males? I don't think I have the stomach for it today, actually. So here's a link to a few sections back where Michael makes this point.
Both are created to meet the needs of the other, which means that each voluntarily serves the other, but to reduce either to the role of servant is a perversion of nature.
   Head/desk. Read the first two sentences of this section. In the text, those sentences are literally 2 paragraphs up, and yet he doesn't seem to recall reducing his wife to the role of a servant. I'm actually getting upset at how little Michael seems to recall his own text.
Your wife is not your assistant. She assists, but not as a business assistant or domestic servant would. Her assistance is first on the level of soul and spirit, which may then result in gracious, voluntary serving. If not, you have no right to intimidate her and certainly no power to constrain.
   Alright. How can a wife assist the husband on the level of soul and spirit? Is that mentioned in Debi's book? Because from what I remember, she assists by cleaning, cooking, sexing, and obeying.  Is that how to assist the soul? Because if I could describe what my soul needs from my husband, I would say it's validation, acceptance, love, and honesty. Which, frankly, seem a lot less tangible than Debi's list. And isn't that the point? The soul, an intangible (and debatable) thing, has intangible needs. Except, I guess, chicken soup. But that might be just good marketing...
   I think it's amusing how gracious, voluntary serving is not optional per Debi, but "may" happen says Michael.  You would think that a husband and wife team writing books about marriage would...I don't know...agree more about marriage. I'm not even going to touch on the subject of intimidation or constraint. Because it should be obvious.

   I hope you're ready to throw up a little in your mouth. Because what comes next is only for those with strong constitutions.
Upon marriage, my wife immediately commenced serving me, but it was years before I would learn that it was a gift from someone who wanted to bless me, not a woman doing what women are supposed to do. For years I thought it was all about me. I was the head and sh was...well, she was there to make me happy and successful, to help me do whatever I wanted to do. It was her role to be happy serving. Somebody has to be boss, and, imperfect as I was, God appointed me to be the head of the home and her know, cheerfully do her duty. I knew that when a woman gets right with God she stops complaining and nagging and starts serving her husband without question. But then, I acquired my views from my culture, not from God.
   Yes, you read that right. If this isn't a humblebrag, I will eat this book. The worst part about this last paragraph is how true it is! And still, Michael never comes out and says "I was wrong! That's not what women are for!" Oh sure, he may call it a gift, but dollars to donuts, if Debi suddenly took that gift away, there would be (probably literal for her) hell to pay.
   And I swear, the "cheerfully do her duty" part means sex. Did anyone else get that vibe? When a woman gets right with god, she stops complaining and nagging? He truly believes this stuff? Because Debi's book pretty much says "TO BE RIGHT WITH GOD, DO THIS". I am just so confused and disgusted right now. Because it seems, though Michael approved "every word" of Debi's book, that he didn't read it. I'm just so taken aback by how differently Michael and Debi view their marriage, and marriage in general.
  All I can say is, thank goodness that my marriage is nothing like this. Who's with me?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 4 (Love never enslaves!)

p 177-178

Today we're distinguishing between women being subservient to their husbands, and women being subservient to all men everywhere. Oh, and the fact that Michael thinks women and children deserve dignity. Cuz that was news to me.

Text is in purple.

Domestic Subjection Only
In the Christian world there exists a general concept that women are privates walking among an equal number of generals, all of whom must be saluted and obeyed. The curse did not place women into the position of surrendering to the rule of men in general-only their own husbands. Peter addresses wives, telling them to be in subjection to their "own husbands"-not to every husband and not to every man, just their husband. Just in case we missed it, he repeats the phrase in verse 5, "their own husbands". (Emphasis his)
   I must be in a snarky mood, because I giggled when I first read that the Christian concept of women seems to be privates walking about. Because that sure seems like what Michael and his ilk advocate. But then I get confused. Is Michael saying women and men are of equal rank? Because his book would indicate otherwise. Is he saying that women are privates, but the only general they salute to is their husband? This seems more likely.
   Speaking of privates and generals, did you know that private is the lowest ranked soldier? People just entering the military, or graduating basic training are usually privates. And check out this snazzy page on military ranks (see the ARMY section) to see how far above private a general really is.
   Here's where I get disturbed. Either Michael didn't bother Googling military ranks, and just subconsciously put women so far beneath men, or he knew what he was talking about and honestly does think women rate that low.
1 Peter 3:1,5 "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 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"
Paul also emphasizes the fact that wives should be subject to "their own husbands" and not to men in general.
Ephesisans 5:24 "therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
   Ugh. I despise these verses. Especially the undertone of "convert/change your sinning husband by your joyful submission". Not only is that unhealthy, but it's probably not accurate, either. In my experience, people stop being trodden upon when they stop insisting that they are a doormat. Providing no incentive to change is a good indicator that change is likely not going to happen.
It is quite clear. The Holy Spirit did not want any misunderstanding on the issue. Knowing the propensity of men to rule over everything, and the vulnerability of women-the "weaker vessel"-he inserted the world own after their in every text where he commands a wife to submit. I know of many churches that assume a general policy of women being in subjection to men in general. It reminds me of the old European class system where the lower class should "know their place." Likewise, in the Old South, blacks were told to "know their place." Old social customs also dictated that children "know their place." In each case it is an attempt to protect elitists in their privileged positions. It is fear that creates and perpetuates layered social order. The top of the food chain fears loss of prestige and control, and the subjugated fear the hands that feed them. The system loses its cultish powers when all believe in individual dignity and equal worth before God.
   Holy cow. He really doesn't get it, does he? The very act of repeating "weaker vessel" when talking about women is an attempt to put them in their place (under man). And anyone who has even a passing knowledge of his child-rearing book knows that the point is to put the children in their places, and not control the adult by screaming, crying, arguing, or rebelling. I'm trying to figure out how Michael's teachings (that women are spotted, wrinkled, blemished, full of lady hormones that make them gullible and sensitive) is NOT putting women in their places. How is saying "find your wife a productive hobby, but one that doesn't make her leave the home" not telling men that their wive's place is in the home? Or insisting that women put out on demand, and encouraging men to keep their wives pregnant to avoid that PMS stuff?
  Though he hit the nail on the head with his fear sermon. It really does seem like men in this culture are afraid of what a woman could do if she were given the chance. Why else would they preach "Women are nurturers in the home"? What if a woman found a job that she was good at and felt validated at work? Would she want to come home and cook, clean, and raise kids-because those jobs offer little to no validation or support. How would a man in Michael's culture react if his wife made more than he did? I'm guessing not well.
   The point of this tangent is to show that Michael, while sitting on top of the food chain, is claiming that he's not really on top, because everyone hs dignity through Christ. I wonder if he realises that he himself is stripping away the dignity of women and children through his teachings.
   Yeah. Probably not.
Love never enslaves; rather it seeks liberty and free expression for all. If God gives worth and dignity to men, women, and children, by what right does another human being take that dignity away? Again I say, marriage is a corporation requiring a hierarchy of authority, and God has designated the man as the head, but his headship is limited to his family alone.
   Love might not enslave, but apparently it can: guilt, manipulate, punish, threaten, force, and control. All under the "hierarchy of God". I'm once again struck by the thought that Michael doesn't think words mean what everyone else thinks they mean. I'd be curious to learn how Michael defines "dignity". Because, while he says everyone deserves it, why does he spend half this book telling men that their wives are flawed and need to be changed? Or his other book where he insists that all children want to be beaten. News flash: that's not dignity, or benevolent hierarchy. That's abuse.
A woman may chose to obey God and therefore her husband, as did Abraham's wife Sarah, but there is no connection between the political structure of a marriage and the population in general.
   Oh sure. Women aren't subservient to EVERY man. Want to know why? Because they aren't allowed to talk to men. Women can't speak in church, can't venture out on their own, need "accountability" buddies when shopping, and umbrellas of protection/authority from the moment they are born. Women in this culture aren't interacting with very many other men. It's easy to say "See? My system works!" whenever that system suppresses an entire demographic. Of course it works! Because women aren't given many other options.

Urgh. I was going to keep going, but I've forgotten how ticked off Michael makes me. Next installment is over the section called "Not Created to Serve". I'm sure it will be full of the fabulous logic Michael is famous for.