Last section we were enlightened as to how stains form on wives. The answer is, of course, sexual sins. Apparently sexual stains can be picked up from everything-public school, music, sexual abuse, even close friendships. Today we are discussing the deep stains that make a wife unclean.
Text is in purple.
Washing Away Deep Stains
I know many of you want to tell me that your wife is, in fact, a believing Christian but still has latent guilt and insecurity hanging around from her past. I understand that some people have a difficult time letting go of deep scars even after God has forgiven them. I know it is our nature to form opinions about ourselves from past experiences and to interpret our present in terms of a dead past.
Perhaps part of the reason for latent guilt is the continual insistence that people are sinners. I know one of the issues I had before I left the church was guilt. I would walk into church feeling guilty about things that I did that week. I would leaven feeling EVEN MORE guilty because it seemed everything about church was telling me how much I lacked. Didn't read enough, didn't pray, didn't serve, didn't clean my house enough so I was a failure.
I'm guessing it's the same with sexual sins. If chastity and purity are preached every Sunday, people with those issues in their past will be reminded of those issues every week. It's hard to let go of something that is constantly being brought up. Like trying not to think of elephants while listening to the soundtrack to Dumbo.
Though he does have a good point about how easy it is to judge our present selves by our past selves.
But the solution is the same. To the degree that we believe in the forgiveness and cleansing of the Lord Jesus Christ, our consciences are purged from dead works. Unregenerate sinners and saved, soiled souls alike need the same washing. Keep coming to the living well and the spots will disappear from the conscience.
So the solution to dwelling on past mistakes is to dwell on Jesus cleansing said past mistakes. One question I always struggled with was: how do I know when I'm forgiven? Is it instantly? Do I have to suffer in sackcloth and ashes for awhile? Is it case dependent? State dependent? Is there leeway for mental or physical or spiritual impairment? How long does one have to keep coming to the well before spots disappear, Michael? What does that look or feel like? And, most importantly, can a wife decide for herself that she's clean, or is that up to her husband?
Here, Sir, is where you come in as her sanctifier and cleanser. God cleanses with his words and so must you. Your spotted wife needs to hear words of forgiveness and assurance.
Well. That answered that, didn't it? Clearly, the husband decides the wife is spotted, how spotted, how long she is spotted, and when she is clean. I guess there's no room for the woman's opinion or feelings. I guess her lady hormonez would get in the way of clean, manly logic.
I am not saying you need to forgive her. I assume you have already done that. If not, stop reading right now and go apologize for any part you had in her guilt and for failing to make it clear that you treasure her greatly.
Finally! The man accepting some part of his wife's staining. It's telling that the wife has to be cleansed from the sexual sin that has held her in Guiltland by both God and her husband, but the man that sinned with her gets by on an apology to his wife. Are the standards higher for women? Are men less guilty because of their natures? Why such a difference?
One other thing Michael didn't cover is the husband forgiving the wife that was "stained' before she met her husband. Something I noticed in Mormon culture is a woman with sexual experience is more likely to settle for someone lower than her standards, because the "good" guys are rarely interested in someone with a past. Does that make sense? Men in conservative cultures are more likely to believe they DESERVE a virigin, and can be cruel if they find out someone they are interested in is less than pure. I'm guessing PearlWorld culture is similar, considering all the emphasis on female modesty.
But if the air is clear between the two of you and her conscience is spotted in a very personal way, you should become a channel of assurance that she is forgiven by God and is indeed a worthy human being.
Can't women talk to God on their own? Oh wait....nope, that's what the husband is for. I have been clear that there are plenty of things I dislike about Mormonism, but at least they allow for EVERYONE to have their own relationship with God. A woman (or child, or teenager, or anyone) can pray to God for forgiveness, and have it be between themselves and Deity. But I guess the right way to do it is the woman talks to the man who talks to God, who gives an answer to the man, who tells it to the woman. Yay, efficiency! Then again, monitoring a woman's access to God is a great way to keep in control. Because if it's secondhand revelation, it's a lot harder for the hearer to discern between "God's will" and "Husband's will".
Oh, and in case you're curious. It's possible to enter a marriage less than snow white and still be a worthy human being. It's rhetoric like that, Michael, that causes people to continually dwell on their past sins. Thank you for causing the problem you sort of try to fix.
We tend to form opinions about ourselves from the depths of other people's eyes. Just one rejection about or criticism from you can set her back six months. You must maintain an atmosphere of acceptance through the words you speak. your tongue can be a world of iniquity or a fountain of peace. The power to remove your wife's spots is in your hands and it is your responsibility to do so. She will need more than your grace and opinion; you must also instruct her in the word of God so she knows God forgives her as well.
While it's true that other's opinions shape how we view ourselves, if one rejection or criticism from your spouse sets you back six months, there is a problem somewhere. Because that kind of response is neither normal or healthy.
Does anyone else get the feeling that in Michael's eyes, women are children? "Teach her the word of God and let her know God forgives her! It's your job to fix your wife!" Because clearly women can't read or understand the scriptures themselves. I would be irritated, but I think I'm becoming jaded towards the crap Michael slings. I almost feel like saying "Yeah, wives are less than human. Move on, nothing to see."
Which is sad on a few levels.
Don't feel cheated for having a spotted wife. It is your opportunity to glorify God by emulating his role as sanctifier and savior. It is your calling as a husband. God has entrusted you with this task. She is his child and he wants her cleansed even more than you do. He died to make it possible and expects you to live to make it practical.
"Hey, old boy. Don't feel bad about your trampy wife. God wants you to fix her by being like GOD. How freakin' awesome is that?" This kind of thinking makes me scared, because the potential for abuse is overwhelming. First, viewing one's wife as spotted or unclean makes the dynamic different. Second, going into the marriage expecting to fix the other is a recipe for unhappiness. Third, Michael insists that God wants men to cleanse their wives, without giving any instruction or limitation. Compound this with little to no authoritative oversight and the dogma of wifely submission, and it's a powder keg.
And if God wants the woman cleansed even more than the man does, couldn't he just do it himself and call it a day?