Today we are continuing Michael's extended-and extended-sermon on what he dubs "washing of the word". I interpret this to mean "Telling your wife what to fix to make her what you want", but I'm a cynic. Let's see what Michael has for us today!
Text is in purple
Washing of the Word
Most men are ignorant of the grand program of which they are a vital part. They drag around complaining and blaming, wishing for something better, thinking they got the short end of it. They speak and act as if it is not right that they should have conflict and trial. Life was hard enough, and they got married for their pleasure, only to discover that it too is a battleground where character is tested and a man is stretched to his limit and then beyond. Over half of the men bail out of their marriages because they are not men enough to rise to the challenge, to win in the game God placed them in, to grow as a human being, to become a fit member for the kingdom of God.
Quick show of hands. How many people got married for "their pleasure", and then were surprised that marriage was difficult? I grew up in a culture that is very marriage-centric. Girls are encouraged to marry a returned Mormon missionary, and start a family as early as possible. Marriage was the ultimate ideal, but there was very little advice on how to navigate the daily grind. There were lessons on temple marriage, but no lessons on communication. There were classes on chastity, but not about sex after marriage. For this reason, a lot of Mormon marriages either end in divorce, or married dysfunction. I'm getting the feeling that the target demographic for this book is kind of in the same boat.
Marriage is the prize, but what to do with the prize afterwards is a pickle. And I'm sure there are plenty of people that are surprised that living with another person is challenging at times. But to belittle those who do divorce as "not man enough", and insinuate that they bailed because they didn't want to "grow" is really harsh. There is no room in this dogma for people to admit they may have rushed into marriage before getting to know the person. There's no place for those who are abused, mistreated, scared, overworked, overwhelmed, unheard, to seek recourse. Like Mormon culture, the conservative Christianity places more value on "face happy" more than actual marital bliss. But that is a post for another day.
Also, why does Michael insist on EVERYTHING being a battle? Marriage, raising kids, sex...I'm worn out just thinking about it! I can't imagine living with one eye open all the time for danger and power struggles. Oh wait. Yes I can. I grew up in an abusive home. To this day, I am always on the lookout for someone to hurt me. I am hyper-aware of my surroundings to the point where my foster kids think I'm psychic because I can read them so well. Let me assure you, it is a hard way to live.
Mister, life is bigger than your happiness, or should I say gratification.
Really? This coming from the man who "approved" his wife writing that any disrespect, questioning, or critique on a man injures his ego and blasphemes God. This is the man who wrote the child-training handbook that literally teaches "You are bigger, beat your child until he accepts your will." Does he mean everyone else needs to know that life is bigger than their gratification? Because he seems to take it as gospel that his will be done.
If you just want to squeeze the lemon once, expecting sweet lemonade to come out and fill your glass, you will throw away a lot of lemons and never get a satisfying drink. God doesn't give us a perfect anything. Not a perfect body, not a perfect mind, not a perfect wife. We inherit life in a broken state, and we are broken to match.
For all the emphasis Michael has put on the wife not being perfect, and needing to "mold" her, he is very short on reminding men that they aren't perfect. Oh sure, a man might have character flaws-it's his TYPE, after all-but real, abiding problems or issues? Pfft. Only women seem to have them. I guess the Y-chromosome comes with a magic gene that entitles it's bearer to be pure enough to sanctify the flaws in others.
God is looking for overcomers, and a true overcomer is more than a survivor who takes care of self. To truly overcome one must not live unto himself; he must live to bless others. He must be a savior and a sanctifier, just as is God's prototype son Jesus. Your ministry, your calling, the job you are here to do, begins with sanctifying your wife. You are called to make her all that God wants her to be, to die for her if need be, and much, more difficult, to live for her in the everyday humdrum of life. That is why God said "For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God? (1 Timothy 3:5)."
I was taught that the reason Christ could sanctify others was because of his perfection and hotline to God. He might have been the "prototype", but there hasn't been another model since. What I'm saying is that (if you believe this type of thing anyway) Jesus was able to sanctify others because he was PERFECT. Nobody else has come close. So why does Michael think that it is a man's calling to do something frankly impossible? Didn't Jesus himself say "He who has no sin cast the first stone."? Wouldn't seeing one's wife as clay to be molded be gathering stones, unaware of their own sins? How toxic is this teaching?? First, expecting men to be able to sanctify their wives. Then, expecting women to be OK with their husbands changing them. Finally, thinking this is not only expected in marriage, but encouraged. Ugh.
Plus I have issues with the phrase "ruling the house". When I think of a ruler, I think of a queen. Someone stately, dignified, and aloof. Someone who doesn't have to swim in the mud all day, so has no problem talking about clean sheets. That's not what I want out of my partner! I want someone to swim in the mud with me, and then we can laugh about how dirty everything is! Not some general who orders his men to die while sitting back drinking lemonade!
Ministry begins at home and advances no further until you have mastered the high calling of husband and father. The person you are at home is the real you. The public you is an edited version designed to deceive. Your worst moments with your wife are the truest expressions of who you are. Knowing that causes me to be aware that I am in need of repentance and forgiveness.
Who decides when a man has mastered his high callings? Will God make it known unto the church? Will the man just know? Will his wife tell him? What does mastering high callings look like? Once again, Michael talks about ideas, but doesn't explain what they look like, how to get there, or where to go once you've reached them.
It's an interesting idea, that the real you is the person you are at home. However, I'm much the same at home as I am at school, or at work, or at the grocery store. I don't hide my faults, I don't pretend to be something I'm not, and I don't fake a smile when I'm sad. I'm thinking about the people I know who are different people, depending on where they are and who they are with. And that's not something I would ever aspire towards! What Michael seems to be saying is "Do whatever you need to make people outside your home think you're great." Which brings us back to the "face happy" I mentioned before.
And how can Michael say, on one hand, "the worst moments with your wife are your true self"-and then on the other insist that "men are called to make their wives what God wants them to be." It sounds to me that Michael is telling a sinner that he's a sinner,but if he tries hard, he can make someone else a saint. Does that sound backwards to anyone else?
If you fail to perfect your wife, you not only fail her, you fail God; you fail the entire human process. You fail the kingdom of God. Since God chose marriage to illustrate his ministry to the church, to fail in marriage is to defame the ministry of Christ. To fail to sanctify your wife is an opportunity lost for eternity.
Oh, scare tactics, I wondered where you were. And how frightening these must be to devout men! If you don't do what Michael says, you are defaming your God and are screwed for eternity! Cynical me thinks that if all it takes for God to feel defamed is for someone to do something other than exactly what HE says, then he's not that powerful. It's always the little, insecure people that require everyone to submit to their authority.
But I guess fear sells books. Telling couples that they need to talk more and compromise more, but that they're probably doing alright won't make millions, after all!
STOP! Don't commit depressicide. God has a solution, and I am going to tell you what it is.
Depressicide. Would that be suicide because you're depressed? So just suicide, then? Oh, Michael, making up words!
And I don't know about you, but I am super-excited to find out what Michael-I mean God's-solution is!