Friday, February 28, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 3 (Is She Serving You With Joy or A Sense of Duty?)

p 154-156

I realised something just now. I skipped 2 pages of my review last post. The last couple paragraphs of that post actually take place after today's section. Apologies. Hopefully this post will get everything sorted out.
Text is in purple

Cleanse Your Wife
These three verses are the most important in the entire Bible regarding marriage. I will print them again and again. You should have them memorized by the time you finish this book.
EPHESIANS 5:25-27
25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27-That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
   Just FYI-he's not kidding about printing these verses over and over again.
A husband's ministry on this earth is parallel to Christ's ministry. As Christ came to love an imperfect bride and receive her while still in sin, so a husband receives and imperfect bride. As Christ gave himself for the church, a husband is to sacrificially give himself for his wife. As Christ is the head of the church with the responsibility of loving, sanctifying, and cleansing her, likewise the husband is the head of the wife with a lifelong ministry of sanctifying and cleansing her.  
   Interesting tidbit. There is a chapter and a half devoted to "sanctifying and cleansing" the wife, but barely any coverage at all about how a man is to sacrificially give himself for his wife. In fact, for all of the ink devoted to sanctifying the wife, there is precious little about the man's role-except to be the head of the wife!
   How easy it must be to be a man in PearlWorld! Oh sure, you're imperfect. But it's not like you SHOULD change, it's not like you have to accommodate anyone else. You are the head of the household, and as so, it is your DUTY to change you wife and children to fit your needs! This type of teaching is almost guaranteed to turn men into tyrants-after all, who has the authority to tell them "no"?
This is God's great plan, conceived in eternity past, the means by which he brings us into conformity to his heart. It is heaven's clinic, the place where two sinners join hands and hearts as they become "heirs together in the grace of life".
   I've asked this before, but if BOTH parties in the marriage are sinners, how does it figure that only one part of them needs sanctification-and the other can give it? It's like the blind leading the blind, isn't it? Because what Michael seems to be saying is that sanctification and cleansing of the wife really means "molding" her to fit the needs of the man. The dictionary defines sanctification as "to purify or free from sin". But isn't one of the hallmarks of Christianity that no matter how much people try, they will still sin-still never be perfect? And how is it that an imperfect man can make his wife perfect? It would be like a person who struggles in basic math trying to teach their child Calculus. Yet Michael seems to assure his readers that not only can Calculus be learned, but that it is the only skill they will ever need.
   I'm not a marriage expert, but I'm fairly certain a union needs more than just one person doing all the changing.
Marriage is a high calling, an opportunity to discover the power and wisdom to grow beyond self-interest as we learn to live for another. It is the place where we can daily forsake all and make ourselves small on behalf of one whom God loves.
   How are men supposed to grow beyond self-interest, when this book is literally all about changing EVERYONE except the man. Oh, Michael says things like "Keep XYZ in mind." But he rarely outright says to change-in fact, he insists that his types are unchangeable and unmovable. I would really like to read more about how men are supposed to make themselves small on behalf of God, when this book (and culture) tells men at every turn that, in their house/family they ARE GOD and should be treated as such.
I say it again: in marriage the total is greater than the sum of its parts. When two become one, they are much more together than they would ever be apart.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9-Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour
10-For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
11-Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12-And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
   It's true that in a healthy relationship, the pair is more together than they are separately. When a couple is allowed the freedom to develop their own talents, dreams, desires, and goals, the couple is enriched. But insisting that half the couple's purpose is to support the other half isn't making the total greater. It's creating an unbalanced equation that isn't healthy for either one.
   Verse 10 talks about lifting up the one who falls. That's a nice thought, but in this culture, it's hard to know when the woman falls, because she's been cultured to smile no matter what. I've seen this countless times growing up Mormon. No matter what's going on at home, when asked, the wife politely smiles and says everything is fine. I have known women that were being physically and verbally abused, or stressed to the point of mental collapse, or overwhelmed and unappreciated-none of them felt they could "fall" and be helped up by their husband. There's a reason that Utah (Mormon central) is the #1 state for anti-depressant use. (I'm sure, if mental health medication was acceptable in QF circles, those areas would be pretty high, too).
   What I'm trying to say is, in a culture that encourages "grinning and bearing it" for women and "supporting and uplifting" for men, there will never be an equal yoke.
Marriage properly ordered is the quickest path to obtaining wisdom, grace, mercy, patience, faith, compassion, and humility-especially humility. If it were not for the constant presence of that other human being in our life we could live in a delusion. In our solitude we could call a half measure a whole, we could believe that mediocrity is perfection, that lack of conflict is peace, that distant sympathy is compassion, that sharing with a friend is transparency, and that liberal giving is sacrifice.
   Call me crazy, but doesn't this paragraph read like the Command Man manifesto? And what is with calling one's wife "that other human being"? That sounds like when a parent says "No, you can't play with that neighbour boy. He burnt down the orphanage!" Also, I don't know about your marriage, but I wasn't handed faith, mercy, grace, wisdom, and patience with my marriage license. Truthfully, I think marriage has made those more complicated, because now I am accountable to someone else.
We could live our entire life alone and be convinced that we are mature and emotionally balanced. the closeness of marriage creates a friction that either builds a fire that destroys everything or rounds off the edges and sharpens our spirits. God made marriage not only for the joy it brings but for its ability to expose our weaknesses and remind us of our fallibility. In marriage, we go deeper, climb higher, reach further, and develop beyond the perceived limits of our humanity. It is heaven's incubator where we hatch into eternity. "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD. (Proverbs 18:22)"
   There is no guarantee that marriage will cause someone to become mature and emotionally balanced. Certainly not if the power dynamic is severely in favour of one party! And again, I am reminded how odd it is that a culture that celebrates marriage consistently makes it seem like a drudgery!
   I am irritated by the passive language of the Proverbs verse. FINDETH a wife? Like she's a bargain at Walmart, with no input of her own. Just pick one out and take 'er home. (Batteries, assembly, and training not included). But I guess that's a hallmark of this culture.
I could ask, "What is your marriage doing for you?" But the more pertinent question is, "What is your marriage doing for your wife?" Is she being perfected or rejected? Is she climbing or declining? Loving or loathing? Does she serve you with joy or a sense of duty? does she know she is your treasure or does she feel used and abused? Your job as her husband is to cleanse her, not to offend her with words of criticism.
   What is the difference between perfected and rejected? If a man is trying to cleanse his wife with his words, (and I'm assuming that Michael counsels suggesting change as "cleansing"), how can she tell the difference between that and criticism? And is there really a difference in this instance? Because the husband is trying to change the wife into what he wants-seemingly regardless of her strengths or needs.
   And once again, I ask, how is a man supposed to decide if his wife is declining or climbing when she isn't allowed to show anything other than a grateful smile? Is he supposed to ask her? Because I can't see that ending with an honest answer. "Honey, am I treating you well? Are you happy being my wife?" What possible answer can a woman in this environment give except "Yes, you're wonderful"? The awful thing is if she answers with anything other than gratitude, the husband will see it as a sign that he needs to purify her even more!
   Oh, and I like how Michael asks how she serves you-either happily or dutifully. Because, mister, you're going to be served either way. It just depends if your missus lovingly places your plate in front of you at dinner or throws it down and gets sauce on your shirt (which she'll have to wash).
   If following the advice of Michael is how one treasures their wife, it's no wonder that wives become bitter. Constantly being encouraged to change, be happy, be grateful, be pregnant, be teaching, be godly...the list goes on and on. I remember before I left Mormonism, I was overwhelmed. There was so much stuff we were "supposed" to do. Read scriptures, pray, go to the temple, pay tithing, do family history, serve in our callings, go to all the meetings, go to conferences, visit others, etc.  It was a thousand "good" things to do, but all I ever felt was run-down and inadequate. And that's exactly what cultures like this end up with. Tired women who keep smiling and doing what they "should", because nobody even notices they are suffering.

   Now we get to the part I typed last time. So no commentary, just Michael's words of wisdom. Enjoy!
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.
STOP! Don't commit depressicide. God has a solution, and I am going to tell you what it is.

I don't think I could define "scare tactics" any better than this paragraph. So on this happy note, I will end. I hope you all are ready for the big reveal: God's solution to sanctifying your wife! I know I'm excited.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back Stateside!

We're back! It was such an amazing trip! I will post pictures and give more specifics of the trip in the next few days. For now, I'm going to do laundry and get over jet lag!
Book review tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Tiny Break

I will be taking a tiny break from my, admittedly irregular, posting. I'm going to Spain! I might have already said this, but my husband is a huge Magic:The Gathering nerd. He won a Pro Tour Qualifier in November, and received an invitation and airfare to a big tournament in Spain.
   We went back and forth about if I should go. There's kids that need a foster mom, fundage was kind of tight, and I didn't have a passport.  Well, apparently the universe wanted me to go to Spain, because the kids have extended home visits, my husband's work paid for my plane ticket, and my passport came back a month early-even with my birth certificate needing to be re-sent.
   I'm super excited-I've never been out of the country before, and it's been 2 years since we've had a vacation lasting more than a weekend! My bags are packed, my US dollars have been exchanged for Euros, and the flight leaves in 5 hours. :)

I will resume posting on Weds, Feb 26.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 2 (Your Calling Begins With Sanctifying Your Wife)

p 153-154

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!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

About Kids

We found out on Friday that the judge has signed the reintegration plan for the foster kids we've had since October. They will be going home March 7. Since we learned this, we've really thought about if we want to foster another set, or if we're done with kids.
   I had made mention before that I felt obligated to be a mom, because my husband really wanted kiddos. Well, we discussed that in depth this weekend. One thing he told me is that after dealing with the kids we have (plus the ones we've had), then he would be OK with not continuing to foster. I asked if it was because of me not handling things well, and he said only partly. The other part is that he realised being a parent is hard!
   To those of you who are parents, I'm sure you said "DUH!" in your heads, and rolled your eyes. Honestly, I did, too. But the thing about my husband is that he is SO optimistic. Truly, in his head, we would get foster kids, and it would be like a sitcom. Sure, there would be problems, but they could all be solved with communication and a teensy bit of effort. And the reality that some kids, some problems won't be fixed no matter how much work we put into it really threw him for a loop.
   His idea was that we would take in foster kids, teach them good behaviours, love them, and then they would go back to their parents-"fixed", if you will. Unfortunately, our long-term placement has a girl with severe behaviour issues (which we weren't told about before placement). These will probably never be fixed, especially as she is going back with her enabling mother who blames her actions on her ADHD, or meds, or possible Autism. (She's not at all autistic)
   He is having a hard time coming to realise that everything we've worked on with her for the last 5 months will probably mean nothing after 3 weeks with her mom. He's kind of idealistic, and sometimes reality is hard for him.
 
   However, he mentioned that the family we're considering pursuing adoption for (that we've never met, only read their online profile), is already kind of an emotional deal with us. We've imagined them in our lives, in our home. We have plans for remodeling the house that involve these kids. I have my hopes that this family will want a milk cow (named Sunshine), and will help us turn our acreage into a proper farm.
   So we've decided to continue to pursue these kids. Their worker says their behaviours are far milder than the kids we currently have. They are older, and have had more stable placements than our current two. Overall, they seem like a better fit than the ones we have now. Plus, we would spend the rest of our lives wondering "what if" with this family. Or at least I would.
   The interesting thing is, with this potential adoptive family, I don't feel obligated to be a mom. In fact, I'm the one pushing for more info. I'm the one who has already made a place in my heart for them. And I know, if the Best-Interest Staffing meeting doesn't choose us as an adoptive family, I'm going to be crushed.
   Waiting is terrible. But that's what the foster system is about.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 1 (The Heavenly Climax of Spirit!)

p 151-154

Today we are starting the chapter called Washing of the Word. Supposedly Michael is going to explain how men are to sanctify their wife. Of course, the purpose of sanctification  is to turn the wife into the ideal help meet. And by that, I mean turn the wife into what the man wants. Let's begin, shall we? Also in this section is a rare treat. We are blessed an honored to get a genuine sermon in the midst of all this teaching. Or, in other words, Michael talks on and on and on about how wonderful marriage is.
Text is in purple.

Washing of the Word
We must examine Ephesians 5 more closely. Clearly the subject of this passage is earthly marriage, but it is also an analogy of Christ and the church. It is like one of those drawings in which you view a distinct image and then see suddenly a completely different image drawn with the same lines. The longer you view it the more it changes back and forth. This passage is the story of earthly marriage, of husband and wife, but it is also the story of Christ and his bride. One is a figure for the other. They are mirror images.
   Yes, I think we can all imagine a text where a different image is drawn with the same lines, and the view always changes...I know I've read one somewhere. Can anyone tell me where? I swear, it's on the tip of my tongue.
God's comparing his relationship with the church to a man and his wife is not a random metaphor God chose for its convenience and similarity to the point he wanted to make. Marriage was created in the image of God's relationship to his people.
   Holy cow. It all makes sense. Marriage is created in the image of God's relationship to his people. Let's recap this relationship, shall we? He tells Abraham to kill his son, then says "Fake out!". He destroyed cities and flooded the land because the people he created (with his omniscience) weren't acting how he wanted them to. He puts plagues on people, kills others outright. Threatens everyone else with eternal damnation if they don't listen to him. Uses marine life to teach lessons to people that don't do what he says. Actually, this does sound a lot like what Michael thinks a healthy marriage looks like. One man in charge of everything, and if you don't do what he says, then you deserve what you get!
Just as the physical bodies of men and women reflect the image of God, the sexual relationship reflects the communion of the human spirit with God's spirit. The final heavenly state will be a climax in the spirit when God and his bride merge into oneness. "Marriage is honorable and the bed undefiled" because it is created in the image and likeness of heavenly intercourse. One entire book in the Bible, the Song of Solomon, is dedicated to a bride's erotic desire for her husband.
   Alright. I grew up Mormon, and was taught that even after death, in Mormon heaven, there will be "increase" (sex and reproduction) forever. So I'm not new to this magical-God sex thing. But this section really icked me out. It almost read like bad Christian fanfic. Oh, and call me crazy, but wouldn't a book called the Song of SOLOMON be by...I don't know...Solomon? And, according to Wikipedia, this book is actually a man and his beloved spewing poetry to each other. Not just a woman ready for some "proper bedding".
The nature of marriage is that two shall become one flesh. In Ephesians we read of the relationship of the church to Christ, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Eph 5:30). The analogy leans heavily on the physical union of a man and woman with its over-the-top emphasis on body, flesh, and bone union. Eve was created from the bone taken from Adam's side, prompting Adam to respond "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. (Genesis 2:23)"
   I'm not going back to check, but I'm positive this is the 3rd time for the Ephesians verse, and the 4th or 5th for the Genesis one. Not to be picky, but the man has an entire Bible to work from. Why is he repeating verses over and over?

By Divine Design
Our sojourn here on on earth, with all of its sin and pain, is not just an unfortunate cosmic mistake from which we are trying to dig our way out. God commenced a grand project in the Garden of Eden. Even as he placed the perfect couple in that pristine environment, commanding them to "be fruitful and multiply," he knew they would not resist the temptation to act independently. He knew they would sin, plunging the world into a tragedy that would drag on for millenia. But it was and is by divine design. The program is on schedule and is producing the results God anticipated. (See my book "Divine Design" for a full description of God's eternal purpose worked out in humankind.)
   So if God allowed Adam and Eve to act independently, because it was part of his divine design, why doesn't Michael advocate for HIS children to act independently? He claims his child-rearing is the godly way, yet he acknowledges that God let his perfect kids do what they wanted.
   I also think we should make a game. Like BINGO, and have squares for "Plugging another Pearl product", "Scare tactics", "Bible Thumping" and "Religious rambling". Stuff like that. It would be fun to see how often they use the same few techniques.
*SERMON AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
God is generating a family of like-minded sons and daughters. His son Jesus is the prototype. God desires much more than he is able to create. He cannot create character. He cannot create people with experience. He cannot create a free will that chooses only righteousness. So he created (or allowed to come into existence) an unstable environment that is a mixture of order and degeneration, of pleasure of pain, good and evil, of success and failure, of justice and grace, of life and death. At the center of it all are millions of souls with the opportunity to rise or fall, be good or bad, to ascend to a state much higher than their creation, or to degenerate to a despicable and deplorable depth of depravity. Those who recognize their weakness and call upon him for deliverance will find strength to rise beyond themselves and conform to the preordained image of God's son. The man Jesus Christ is the first of many sons whom God will bring into a state of glory-a glory that far exceeds the original paradise. It is not as Milton wrote, "Paradise Restored." It is far beyond paradise. It is a sonship arrived at through a process of overcoming.
   Ugh. Remember Michael's take on Jesus? Jesus, the Steady guy. And we all know how Michael feels about Steady men. Also, what is up with all this "God can't do this"? I thought Christians believe that God can do anything he wants. So he can't make people that choose only righteousness, but he can give people the strength to conform to Jesus. Interesting distinction.
   Nowhere in this long, long, long paragraph does Michael talk about women. He talks about a sonship. He talks about the first of many sons. But nowhere does he say anything about the wives. In this beyond paradise, where are the women (that apparently need sanctifying by their husbands)? While the men are in paradise, what do the wives do?
The male and female combination, properly functioning, simulates the entire human experience and creates a synergy where the sum is greater than the parts, where the end is better than the beginning, where testing produces triumph, where two mortal souls merge into a oneness that expresses the image of God in a way that would never have been possible in a single act of creation.
   And properly functioning means the man is in charge, and the woman is created to serve. All this waxing poetic about how great it is that half the human population is made to help the other half is, frankly, getting really boring and annoying. I'm almost wishing Michael would go back to comparing the types!



Monday, February 10, 2014

CTNAHM-What Saith the Scriptures Part 2 (Cleanse Your Wife With Your Words)

pp 147-150

We are finishing up the chapter on Bible verses. Just a few more to get through! What I find most annoying about this section is the part where Michael just gives a bunch of verses that are vaguely connected to the point he's trying to make, but doesn't explain them. It feels like he's a kid saying "My dad said so, it's true!" without really understanding what is actually being said.
Text is in purple.

Marriage, the Divine Reality
Think about it: of all the possible analogies God could have employed to describe his relationship to his church, he uses the husband and wife's physical merging into one flesh and bone (Ephesians 5:25-33). Note the following verses:
John 3:29-He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy is therefore fulfilled
Revelation 19:7-9
7-Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his with hath made herself ready
8-And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9-And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Revelation 21:9-And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife."
Revelation 22:17-And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
   See what I mean? Instead of explaining Jewish marriage customs at the time of the New Testament, Michael just lists a bunch of verses that talk about brides. I'm not a Biblical scholar, but even I know that how people got married in those days is significantly different than modern American wedding traditions.
   Here is a very detailed explanation of Jewish wedding customs and how it pertains to Christ being the bridegroom. It took about 5 minutes of Googling to find it. Theological arguments aside, understanding the Jewish traditions is really kind of helpful in understanding the idea that man and wife is like Jesus and the Church. Yet Michael doesn't explain these customs, doesn't detail the similarities; doesn't do anything except lay out the verses, and ,I suppose, expect everyone to know what's going on. And, for a culture that seems to embrace the "literal" reading of the Bible, there is a severe lack of requiring white linen for brides.

The following nine verses express how a husband is to love his wife.
Ephesians 5:25-33
25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27-That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28-So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29-For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord of the church:
30-For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31-For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32-This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33-Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
In your study of the passage, note that it begins with "love your wives" and ends with, "Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself..." IN other words, the nine verses are bracketed by the command for husbands to love their wives. Everything in between is an elaboration of that command-defining how love is expressed. The word "love" appears six times in the nine verses.
   I'm going to be honest. This section has always confused me. Mormon theology doesn't really talk about washing of water by the word, or men cleansing their wives. So if someone could dumb it down for me, that'd be great.
   What bugs me, though, is these verses seem to be saying "Love your wife as yourself." Yet, Michael specifically says that women are emotional, volatile, created to be helpers, and weaker vessels. I'm finding it hard to correlate loving someone the way I love myself, and thinking of them as less than me.
   I was cleaning out my bookshelves yesterday and came across my copy of the "5 Love Languages" book. So I skimmed over it again, and it made me think. Just because I give/show love one way, doesn't mean that's how anyone else sees it. It's great, if one follows the above verses, if said wife's love language lines up with the husband "washing of the word". (Better still if the husband's love language matches that action, too) But what if it doesn't? What if the wife sees her husband's attempts to "sanctify" her as abusive, hurtful, or mean? What if the husband, though he may have his wife's best interests at heart, is incapable of showing love in a healthy manner?
   Another problem I have with comparing husbands to Christ, is that (according to Christian theology) Jesus was perfect. And he had a direct line to God. Nobody else is perfect. People naturally let jealousy, pettiness, culture, anger, biases, love, etc, cloud their judgement. The Bible doesn't define what "cleansed" or "glorious church" actually is, or how it looks, or the steps to get there. It's just an abstract idea that people give form to, and demand that others follow. How is an imperfect man honestly supposed to KNOW how to purify his wife? Is he given the tools? Is he given a definition to compare her to? Not really. He's just told "DO IT OR ELSE.", and then left to his own interpretation and processes.
   Not to mention that women are not paper dolls that can be easily changed without any fuss on their part. OH! I just figured out what most bothers me about comparing wives to the Church. The church doesn't really have a voice. The church never can say "You know, I'm not really a fan of that whole slavery thing...why don't you try again with a more humane idea?"  I grew up Mormon, and the church (while claiming to speak for God) is run by LDS, Inc. Which is run by very conservative, upper class white men from Utah (mostly). All of the revelation from God comes down through that filter. If someone, say, in Kansas, has a problem with that revelation, they are told to pray for humility, or study the doctrine again, or take a leap of faith and just follow.  "The Church" is a huge entity, and cannot, practically, take every lay person's voice into account. But a marriage shouldn't be like that. A marriage is between 2 people, and there is no reason why both people's voices can't be heard.
   Plus, I'm curious what were to happen if the husband said "I'm trying to purify you!" and the wife insists "I don't need purified-work on yourself first!"

Now we play Q&A.

*How does a husband love his wife?
   - The same way Christ loved the church.
*How did Christ love the Church?
   -He gave himself for it. He lived and died for the church. 
*What is Christ's goal for the church, and a husband's goal for his wife?
   -To sanctify and cleanse her.
*By what means did Christ sanctify and cleanse the church, and how should a husband sanctify and cleanse his wife?
  - By washing her with his words. WOW! Blow me away! A husband can sanctify and cleanse his wife with his words!
    Really? Just by his words? All a man has to do is TELL his wife what he wants her to change? Nevermind that he isn't perfect. Nevermind if he is doing the exact same things she is. Apparently women are the only ones in this culture who need cleansed and sanctified!
*For what purpose does Christ-and a husband-wash his bride?
  -That he might present her to himself not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (that is ugly or unpleasant) but that she should be holy and without blemish. He didn't marry a perfect bride, but he is in the process of removing all spots and blemishes in anticipation of presenting her to himself. Through love acted out he is preparing her for himself.
    The question I keep asking myself is what in tarnation do men do to deserve a perfect woman? Is it simply by virtue of being male? Because that really stinks for everyone that isn't male! Husbands need wives, because wives are created to be helpers to men. But men have the "burden" of cleansing and purifying the wives to be perfectly what the man wants. And that's healthy and good?? Ideal even?
   Not to mention there is no final ideal as to what perfection looks like. Nor does it take into account anything the woman might want for herself. For example, my husband thinks I'm pretty close to perfect. (He's told me this on many occasions). I get upset when he says this, because there is so much about myself that I don't like or am not proud of. I have a running list in my head of my faults. And I get offended when he dismisses what I think are glaring errors, because it feels like he's not taking ME into account-just what he wants to see. I can't imagine being married to a man that keeps trying to change me into his "ideal", while completely ignoring what I actually am or truly want.
*How should a man love his wife?
  -Just as much as he loves his body as expressed in his feeding and protecting it.
     News flash, Michael. People do more than just feed and protect their bodies....Holy cow. I just had a lightning bolt of inspiration.  I was going to comment that people feed their minds and souls, but then I realised...to Michael, women are just bodies. Bodies that perform necessary functions, like sex, cooking, cleaning, and child bearing. They shouldn't have minds, opinions, thoughts, or desires-unless the man puts them into the woman's head.
   Not to mention human development. If you were to take a baby and do nothing but feed and protect it by giving it clothes and shelter, the baby would grow up damaged or backwards. Babies, children, people-all have emotions that need to be expressed. All have feelings and desires and wants and fears. Simply feeding and protecting a person isn't showing love-it's showing base decency. Heck, most people do more than feed and protect their dog or cat; by playing, talking, loving, petting...
   A man that does nothing but feed and protect himself is, in my opinion, less than an animal. Animals can show empathy, sympathy, love, compassion, caring...A person should, ideally, be able to show at least some of those to themselves and others.
*A wife is a member of the very body of her husband.
   -For the Scripture tells us to leave our father and mother and become one flesh with our wife.
    Nowhere does it say that "one flesh" means the wife playing second fiddle to her husband. I may be a hopeless romantic, but one of the points of marriage is becoming better together then you each were individually. Not getting half the couple to completely support and acquiesce to the other half! That's not equality! That's not "loving as yourself". That's just "loving yourself", and forcing the other person to serve you isn't love. No matter by what authority someone thinks they are granted.
*So a man should love his wife just as a wife should reverence (honor, submit to) her husband.
   Yes, because feeding and protecting is exactly the same as reverencing, honouring, and submitting. Oh wait, not it isn't. Because feeding and protecting is physical. Reverencing, honouring, and submitting is more psychological/emotional. These are two completely different areas that Michael is trying to claim are the same things! If Michael were to define love as acts of service (like Jesus did), it would be a more accurate comparison. But the only service Michael tells men to do for their wives is to MOLD them into what the man wants! Ack! I can't begin to describe how angry these teachings make me!

    Good thing this is the end of the chapter, I just threw the book across the room! Next time, we get into the chapter called "Washing of the Word". Hopefully Michael will clarify what he means when he demands that all men do it. We'll see.

           

Friday, February 7, 2014

CTNAHM-What Saith the Scriptures? (Yes, it's THOSE Scriptures)

p 143-145

Today we're discussing the Bible verses that back up what Michael teaches. Honestly, I'm not too excited about this section. Once, my husband's ex-coworker (and ex-best friend, now), and I had a disagreement. I had a problem with my husband going to his house for a game day with a whole bunch of guys. I had a lot of reasons (I was mentally unstable at that point, the wives were literally expected to serve the men, the men smoked cigars and drank alcohol) that I emailed to him as kind of a rationale why it upset me when my husband went. In lieu of a reply to my points, he sent EVERY single Bible verse that talks about submitting to the husband, and how the man is the head of the house. This is why he is an ex-friend to my husband, and why I am so against Christian Patriarchy. Because my reasons for wanting something didn't matter at all, and weren't important enough to even garner attention. Instead, I was "put in my place" by a man who wasn't my husband, wasn't in authority over me, and had only met me 6 times.  But enough about me. Let's get to the Bible!
Text is in purple. All emphasis is Michael's. Even the blurbs under the scripture are ellipses he inserted to explain the text.

What Saith the Scriptures?
Below are the most significant Bible passages on marriage from a man's perspective. I am not going to offer a detailed commentary on all of them, but the texts are printed for your perusal and highlights are noted. You will find it helpful to organize a Bible study for men around these passages.

God was married to Israel just as Christ is betrothed to the church.
Isaiah 54:5-8
5-For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called
6-For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith they God.
7-For a small moment have I forsaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee
8-In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
   I've never understood the whole God is married to Israel and the church is the bride of Christ thing. Can someone explain it in a nutshell, please?
   I don't have much to say, except when I was religious, Isaiah 54:7,8 were my favourite. I always took them to mean that even though things are super crappy right now, God has my best interest at heart and things will get better. I wonder if Michael views those verses in the same way?

Marriage is a one-flesh union until death (Romans 7:1-3)
Mark 10:7-9
7-For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8-And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9-What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
   Ugh. I'm 2 sections in, and am getting sick of being bashed over the head with the Bible. I'm just going to abridge the next few parts. I will link to Bible verses. If you are interested, click away. If you aren't, then read the highlights.

Keep it in your pants
Proverbs 5:15-23
-Satisfy your sexual thirst at your wife's fountain
-Don't share sex with anyone else
-Don't embrace the bosom of a stranger
Ecclesiastes 9:9
   -Live joyfully with the wife you love all the days of your life
   I would like to add that, as a fountain, your wife has a right to turn off the water whenever she wants. She's not a waterfall that's always ready. In fact, she should have some say in this matter. Something Michael fails to add.

Don't Divorce
Malachi 2:14-17
-He made them one flesh for a purpose of producing a godly seed
-God hates divorce
   There are worse things than divorce. Being married to someone who abuses you and/or your children in any way. Marriage to someone that plays mind games...you would think that a God that "loves all his children" would put in provisions for when those children aren't treating their families righteously. But if he does, Michael sure doesn't share them! Just divorce is evil, forever and for everyone.

She owns your body; don't withhold it
1 Corinthians 7:1-6
-The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband. And vice versa.
-Don't defraud (abstain), unless it's to fast and pray for a season, and then join together again.
   Considering this culture teaches women be always available, it's interesting that Michael warns against men withholding nookie. I'm curious how a woman with a higher libido than her husband would respond. Wouldn't her initiating all the time, and being told he wasn't in the mood, be emasculating her man?

Do not grow bitter
Colossians 3:18-19
18-Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord
19-Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.
   Michael has explained very well what a bitter wife looks like, but is oddly quiet when it comes to bitter men.

God's Marriage Outline for Men
The volatile apostle Peter must have learned a lot from his own marriage experience, for he gives us six verses commanding a woman to submit to her husband, followed by seven verses defining a man's responsibility to his wife. We won't scrutinize the passages containing God's commands to wives. This book will fill up all to quickly just looking at what God says to husbands.
   Thank goodness, is all I'm saying.
1 Peter 3:7-13
7-Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
8-Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9-Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10-For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11-Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.
12-For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
13-And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

Drawn form 1 Peter 3, above, here is a Biblical outline of how a husband should relate to his wife. This list enumerates a husband's responsibility to his wife. Note the passage is addressed to husbands in particular (v.7).
1)Dwell with them-no divorce or separation.
   Except the Michael-sanctioned separation when a man is in jail for abuse. But I guess that doesn't count because he's repenting in the big house, and the wife will gladly take him back. I have a hard time believing that God would rather a woman be hurt (physically, mentally, verbally, sexually) than be alone. Or-worst of all-finding a new man!
2)Dwell with them according to knowledge that they are the weaker vessel. It would take at least three full-time servants to do what most wives are called upon to perform alone.
   Please do not compare your wife to a servant! Servants get paid to do the dirty work. Plus, serving in any relationship should be mutual. If one person is doing all the serving, especially as Michael has pointed out how much work most wives feel obligated to do, then something needs to change! Why not ask your wife what you can do to help? Then do it. And not just for stay-at-home wives. If anyone in the partnership feels like they are in servitude to the other, then please, discuss it. Because that's not a healthy relationship, and it is very unfulfilling for the one serving.
3)Giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel.
   Also, the whole weaker vessel thing ticks me off. Because if you go into a relationship thinking that one party is weaker, then it will never be a relationship of equals! Separate will never be equal. Claiming women are weaker than men will not cause men to honour their wives. It will cause them to treat them like children, dogs, or breakable glass. Honouring means giving reverence. It is very hard to revere a person you feel is beneath you.
4)Have one mind and function so as to maximize your relationship as heirs together of the grace of life.
   Nowhere in this verse did it say "only the man's mind." Which is funny, because that is what most conservative Christians take from this. That one mind and one function is acquiescing to the half of the marriage with a penis-I mean authority from God to rule the household.
5)Love and show pity and be courteous.
   This is a good one. Courtesy is never in bad taste.
6)Do not respond to railings with railings or to evil with evil, but rather blessings.
   Another good point. I'm interpreting railings to mean yelling and escalation. So in my head, this means that if my husband is stressed and snappish, that I shouldn't snap back. Or do sneaky, manipulative things when I'm upset or don't get my way. Goes back to courtesy.
7)Refrain your tongue from evil and guile.
8)Avoid and flee from evil, and do good.
9)Seek peace
These nine points would form the basis of a good Bible study.
   The rest of these are great things to do in any relationship, not just marriage. What is sad, though, is that so many people get caught up in the "obeying" and "submitting" parts of the Bible, that things like respect and courtesy go out the window.
   Does anyone else find it odd that, earlier in the book, Michael took pages and pages to explain traits of the types of men, but for things like this list of good points for a marriage, he just lays 'em out and says "Study them at your leisure!" You would think that, since this is a book for marriage, there would be a bit more emphasis on the MARRIAGE part of the relationship. But I guess that once a man knows his type (and what he needs), and his wife's type (and how to "mold" her to his needs), that whole marriage part will work itself out, right?

I'm stopping here, because I've had enough Bible for one day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Big Decisions

   Our foster kids have reintegration court on the 21st. It's a pretty sure bet that the judge will say yes. This means that for about 3 weeks after the court date, their home visits will be extended, and then they will go home permanently.
   So now we are deciding what to do, and what we want. I've mentioned before that I feel kind of obligated to have kids, because my husband has always wanted to be a dad, and it's what we've been cultured to want. I've been fence sitting for awhile about if I want permanent kids, want to keep fostering, or want no kids at all. I still haven't made up my mind, actually.
   I haven't handled a lot of this parenting stuff well. I tend to mock, or at least be very meanly sarcastic with the kids sometimes. I yell often, snap at them a lot, and sometimes blow up at my husband when I'm frustrated. And by blow up, I mean tell him he's a horrible husband/father and that I wish we were never married, and that I'm leaving.
   The last time that happened was last Thursday. Thank goodness the kids were at a visit, and we didn't have any others. Because I went off. The 10 year old that we've had problems with told her case manager that she can do/say whatever she wants at our house, doesn't respect us or our decisions, and will only listen to her mom. Her case manager called to discuss this, and of course, I said, well, this is exactly what we're seeing. After I hung up, I got mad. The more I thought about it, the more worked up I got. I was talking with my husband about it, and I realised-he rarely calls her on her behaviours because he "doesn't notice". He rarely enforces consequences or makes them lose points (we do the point system for behaviour) because he doesn't see her questions as arguing.
   I feel like he makes me be the bad guy all the time because he wants to be Mr. Nice, and have them love him. Personality wise, I am more dominant. I am the one more likely to say "Go to your room, you are being annoying me and antagonising your brother."
   I told him this, plus a many more mean, hurtful things. Because I wanted him to hurt. I wanted him to know that I was hurt.
   He said that he's not sure he wants kids after this, because he doesn't think I would deal well with them. He said that if I make him choose kids or me, he'll choose me. And that got me thinking.
   How much of how I behave is because of me, or how much is because the 10yo is seriously a pain in the butt? She fights about everything-chores, bedtime, showers, homework...she argued for 10 minutes about putting on shoes vs. slippers to go do her outside chores-and there was 6" of snow on the ground! Yesterday we fought about her getting a shower 15 minutes earlier than we agreed because she had just played in the snow and was covered with cold, wet clothes. Everything is an argument, challenge, fight...and I don't do well with that.
   On the other hand, we've only had kids since September, and these are difficult kids in general. I don't like to think about that, because it feels like an excuse. "Oh, I may react badly, but I've only been a parent for about 6 months-it's not my fault!" But yesterday, talking to my counselor, she helped me see that it isn't TOTALLY an excuse-it's a genuinely legitimate reason for not being a super-parent. (Also the fact that there are no super-perfect parents, regardless of what Mormon, INC cultured me to believe)
   So what's I can control is how I deal with the stress of being a parent. Some days that's not so good, and I think "I never want a child to set foot in my house again!". Some days are awesome, and I imagine having forever kids and what we'll talk about, and the things we'll do. Most days are in between, and here I sit, wondering if I want to try this parenting thing again, or go back to being a kidless couple.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

CTNAHM-The Three Types of Women (Understanding Your Woman's Motivation)

pp 139-142

If you are anything like me, you read the title of this chapter and stopped, did a double take, and then you jaw dropped. Did you re-read the title, just to make sure you got it right? Because I sure did. But it's true. This chapter is about the three kinds of women. Yes, Michael allows that women have personalities. But, of course, the point of learning about women's personalities is to figure out which type your wife is, so that you can more readily "lead" her to be the proper help meet she wants to be.
Text is in purple.

Knowing Her Strengths and Weaknesses
In my wife's book for single women, "Preparing to Be a Help Meet", she draws a picture of the three kinds of girls and how they relate to their husbands. She calls them Go-to girls (Command), Servants (Steady), and Dreamers (Visionaries). 
   First off, WOMEN-not girls! Second, this is a book for single women, but paints the three types of women and how they relate to their husbands. If I were writing a book for single women, I would make sure it's about being independent, finding out one's likes/dislikes, practical skills, self-esteem building, and affirmations that it's OK to be single. Just from the few sentences Michael's said about Debi's new book, it sounds like "Preparing" is a "How to snag a man" manual. But I guess in a culture that says wife/mother is the ONLY acceptable life choice for a woman, there's not much else to write about.
   Also, what does it say about the fundagelical notion of equality if certain types of women are branded as "Servants"?
As we said earlier, men are very fixed in their natures from birth, but the girls seem to develop their types as they grow and mature. In many cases, their type is not as readily identifiable until later in life. If a girl marries young, or before she has extensive independent experience, she can readily mold into the counterpart her husband needs. God created the female to be the helper, so following marriage, most girls will quickly adapt to their husbands needs regardless of their types.
   So much bananas in one paragraph-where to start! OK, I don't have extensive experience with small children, but I've taught Sunday School for 5 year olds for 6 months. And the argument that girls don't have a fixed type is false. There was one girl who thought she was the boss. "Get me water! I want a cookie! Don't play with that! Put those blocks there!" I saw her again at a church event about 10 years later. She sat at the table like a queen while others got her water, cake, and looked at her for approval before they left.
   If I had known about these "types" back then, she would have easily qualified as Command. Even at 5, she was easily identifiable in personality. I don't know how many children Michael has dealt with, but even newborn kittens and puppies have readily noticeable personalities. There are some puppies that lick you like crazy, some that hide in the corner of the whelping box, and some that sit and watch the action. If puppies and cats have distinct traits from birth, why would Michael assume people are different? And by people, I mean females. Ugh.
   I love how, once again, there's the "Marry 'em young!" call to action. Because who wants a girl that is...INDEPENDENT?  Oh, and if God created the female to be the helper, why are there so many women that are most content being the breadwinner, or at least working outside of the home? If Michael allows that women can be Command (I mean Go-to), then why doesn't he allow them to want to Command anything but children? Besides, shouldn't both parties in a partnership try to adapt to the needs of the other one? Isn't that what partnership is about? Mutual give and take?
Couples seem to be best matched in complementary pairs-opposites on the color wheel, red and green, purple and yellow, blue and orange. A man strong in one trait is best served by a woman strong in an area where he is weakest. A Command Man and a Go-to Girl can end up competing with one another. I am a Command Man so I appreciate the strengths of a Servant and a Dreamer.
   I can see where this is true. My husband and I are very opposite. He's gentle and nurturing and I'm brash and exacting. However, I've also known couples that are so identical it's scary, and they get along great. It's equally possible for Mr. Command and Mrs. Go-to to use their mutual drives to support and challenge the other-they don't have to fight over dominance.  But I suppose that's too much of a healthy, egalitarian view.
   I would be ticked off if my husband thought of me as a servant, regardless of my personality.
As a rule, I don't much like Go-to/Command women and would need to make quite a bit of adjustment if I were married to one. There was never any danger of that, because in my youth I would never have given an aggressive woman any attention. I had a first and only date with several Go-to gals. But I am sure they eventually made some Steady Men a very congenial mate. The Steady Men, unless they are insecure, are usually drawn to Go-to Girls.
   Yes, I can imagine a strong, opinionated woman would have a hard time in a relationship with Michael. I would actually pay to see an encounter like that. Feel free to imagine scenarios and write them in the comments! Like parallel-universe fiction. I'm imagining Michael asking out a young lady. He takes her to dinner, and tries to order for her. A look crosses her face and she snaps "I am quite capable of picking out what I want, thank you!" as she orders for herself. During the meal, instead of only asking him questions about himself, she talks about her business, her hobbies, and her dreams of running a corporation. After dinner, she offers to pay, and insists they at least go Dutch.  Can you see the look on Michael's face? He is beet red and so confused/upset. Hehehe.
   PS. Just because a woman has a strong personality doesn't make her aggressive. Confidence and opinions do not mean that one throws herself at a man. Criminey.  Has Michael actually talked to a woman?
Understanding your nature and that of your spouse will enable you to know her weaknesses and strengths so you can help her develop her potential rather than taking offense at her particularities. As a woman matures and meshes her life into her husbands, the lines blur as to her type. If she is a Servant than she takes strength from her husband and becomes stronger and more confident. If she is a Dreamer, she learns to temper her ideas to fit his needs, thus becoming more of a Servant. If she is a Go-to Gal she learns to enjoy serving while still possessing her aggressive approach to life. It is up to the man to lead his wife to become all he needs her to be.
   Did anyone else notice that regardless of the type of woman she started as, Michael insists she will end up a servant? Sure, she may have an aggressive approach to life, or temper her ideas to fit her husbands needs, but serving is still her #1 cause.
   I've not hid that I am predominantly Command...I mean Go-to. After marriage, I am still very much the one who wears the pants. Today, as a matter of fact, the foster kids were horsing around on the couch and saying things like "If you had to squish one of us, who would it be?" I answered that I wasn't sure, so they told me to make my husband answer. I said I wasn't his boss, and both kids started laughing. "Yes you are!" They said. Now, Michael would criticize my husband as a weak Steady, and me a Dominant shrew, but it works for us. And while I refuse to say that I am a servant to my husband, I will say that I am able to consider his needs, as he does mine. It is not up to the man to lead his wife to make her what he wants. It is up to the couple to find a dynamic that works for them that is healthy and, if not happy, at least content and functional.

Dreamer/Visionary
This next list came from our readers. It is the combined wisdom of several letters.
*A Dreamer likes to make things happen.
*She is creative
*She is not as concerned about details, but is given to an active imagination
*She is driven and focused
*She is not always patient with those who are not as efficient, but is a great person to have around when something needs to be done
*She cares deeply about people and issues but would rather do something about it than sit around thinking
*She has strong intuitions and impressions, many of which turn out to be correct
   Um...isn't this like classic Command? I'm dealing with the flu currently, and don't have the energy to re-link the Command sections, but I'm fairly certain these traits describe Command Men, not Visionaries. Maybe traits are different for women?

Servant/Steady
*A servant woman is extroverted, friendly, warm, and cheerful
*She is hospitable and loves to visit and get to know new people
*She is very conscious of needs and opportunities to help others
*She is often emotional, very compassionate, and has strong beliefs, opinions, and convictions
*She needs a strong man to keep her feeling balanced
*A Servant woman is always trying to serve and give
*She is not very good at pacing herself, sometimes overexerting and overextending, and is prone to discouragement, exhaustion, and burnout.
*She's very sympathetic and understanding, quick to take blame, and very burdened with the problems and needs of others
   I see why Michael is drawn to this type of woman. But still, so much different from Mr. Steady. Michael made Mr. Steady seem like a wishy-washy coward who can't get things done.

Go-toGirl/Command
*Perhaps the most misunderstood of the three categories, a Go-to woman takes life seriously
*She has great attention to detail and is very conscious of what is appropriate and what isn't
*She does not like excitement, sudden change, too much activity, and unpredictability
*She thrives on consistency, loves peace, and is a woman of principle
*She has a great deal of inner strength and can be very loyal, committed, confident and creative
*She can be emotional but does not express her feelings easily
*She is a dignified woman that has strong opinions and high standards but is easily discouraged by failure
*She responds well to encouragement, but becomes insecure when criticized
   Perhaps the reason Mrs. Go-to is misunderstood is because Michael keeps telling women like her that they should be Servants, and that eventually, their nature will change so they are more satisfied with serving their husbands.

One Reader Wrote:
"A key to understanding these three types of women is to discover what motivates them."
*A Dreamer wants to make everything work and look good
*A Servant woman wants to make everyone happy
*A Go-to dignified woman expects everyone, especially herself, to live up to high ideals
   It's funny. Michael talks about men being more than one type, but doesn't seem to think women can have more than one motivation. And by funny, I mean upsetting and sad.

The dominant strength of each has the potential to be her greatest weakness. As their individual goals are different, so are their needs.
*A Dreamer/Visionary woman needs a focus or a project. She needs to feel that she has something important to do.
*A Servant/Priest woman needs to feel appreciated and that the people she is ministering to are being helped.
*A Go-to/Command dignified woman needs to be put at ease so that her creative potential can thrive.

   Why does he keep saying "dignified" with Go-to? When I think of dignified, I think of the Queen of England. Stately, remote, exacting, and old-school. Not exactly what comes to mind when I think of a female Command Person.
   I also think it's interesting that nowhere in this section (and this is the whole section) on the types of women is advice to ask the woman what she wants. No entreaties to find out what one's specific wife needs. No remarks on women's desires, personal quirks, wants, wishes, hopes. Nothing but "Here are three types of women. Find which one you think best describes your wife, and I will tell you what you need to do to mold her into what you want."
   It's also telling that Michael took 75 pages describing men to themselves, but only 3 talking about women. I keep hoping that he just pretends not to care about women; like the shock factor is how he gets customers. But the more I read, the more it really seems that he really and truly believes women aren't people-just blank canvases to paint whatever her man wants. How sad for the women trapped in this culture, and told they should be happy with their lot!


Monday, February 3, 2014

CTNAHM-Contrasting the Types Part 6 (Force Yourself to Listen to Your Wife's Concerns)

pp 134-136

We are finishing up the chapter on contrasting the three types of men. More specifically, Michael tells us how to fix broken marriages.
Text is in purple.

Healing Your Marriage
Mr. Command can heal his marriage by focusing on loving and verbally appreciating his wife. Cherish her to the point of serving her and she will have the energy to stand beside you in all things. You must court your little lady and make yourself vulnerable before her. I know this is hard, but it becomes much easier when you can bring her to the place where you can trust her with the guarded areas of your heart. Both of you need to be assured that each has absolute goodwill toward the other. You will do well to encourage her to tell you how you make her feel. It is not about your intentions; it is about what she receives on the other end. You are never right on any issue until she is secure in love.
   There is so much here that Michael got right! Love and verbally appreciate your wife! Have goodwill towards her! Have her tell you how you make her feel! It's not about intentions; it's about how the other person sees it!  If he had just said this, it would have been an amazing paragraph. But this is Michael, and if we truly wanted good marriage advice, we would find another book.
   I thought it was weird that he phrased "Cherish her to the point of serving her." As if a man serving a woman is unheard of or an awful idea. Frankly, both partners should serve each other. Though not the serve that Michael thinks Command Men deserve! I mean serve by basically treating them like a person who deserves your respect and love. (Which they are...or at least should be)  And once again, Michael includes a sound bite at the end of that sentence to make sure that men know if they "cherish" their wife (how?), they get something out of it. He also never specifies how to bring her to the place where the husband can trust her. Shouldn't that be something the couple worked out in dating? "Can I trust this person enough to be vulnerable? No? Hmmm...Is it me? OK. I'll work on that. Is it her? OK. Not a good match." It just makes so much more sense to figure these things out before there's a commitment and kids.
   One other thing I noticed was that the man is supposed to encourage the little lady to tell him how he makes her feel. Debi's book says not to challenge, confront, or question. So I don't know how well that will work. If Mr.C says "How does it make you feel when I expect you to wait on me hand and foot?" (If he would ever care enough to ask), if Mrs. C is following Debi's book, pretty much her only answer is "You make me feel needed." Then again, that's the only thing Michael thinks women need, so perhaps I've just proved his point. Oh dear.
Mr. Visionary can heal his marriage by attending to his wife's needs and security first. You need to regularly put aside  your wild ideas long enough to make sure she knows you are doing what is best for the family. You must force yourself to patiently listen to her concerns. Your good arguments make cold bed partners. Your zeal and vision will not feed the family or assure them of their importance. Learn to sit on your "brilliant brainstorms" and trust your wife's caution. You don't have to disassemble the only family car to construct a tractor. Give it a few days and discuss it with her. You might change your mind before you cause too much consternation.
   Again, decent advice mixed in with trash. Attend to one's wife's needs and security first! Make sure she knows you're doing what's best for the family! (Though Michael has made it clear that the man knows what's best for the family-no discussion needed with anyone else). Zeal and vision do not equal love! Trust your wife's caution!
  At first, I was irritated at the "force yourself" line. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that, in some instances, it's right on. I have to force myself to be patient and kind to the foster kids when they are being TERRIBLE. I have to force myself to not say hurtful things to my husband whenever I get upset. Sometimes forcing one's self to do things is the only way things get done. However, listening to your wife's concerns shouldn't' be something you feel forced to do. If you are married (or living together, or dating, or whatever), then you are in a partnership. That means both people should feel free to speak their minds and let their needs be known. A healthy relationship is one where everyone's concerns and needs have equal merit.
   Oh, and as one who lives and Kansas and has seen a lot of tractors; please don't take apart your car to build one. The engines are different sizes to accomplish different things. You don't need to go 80mph through your wheat field, and you don't need your minivan to plow or dig post holes!
Is it worth the trouble for couples to learn to function as one? Yes! God designed her to be your helper. Remember, she came to you as a kit to be assembled. You took her out of the box and complained that she did not work properly. God gave you the directions in Ephesians 5. You must sanctify and cleanse her so you can present her to yourself as a fully functioning help meet. She wants to be your helper. "...but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)".
   You can't see it, but my head has exploded from nonsense overload. Yes, it is important for a partnership to function together. But the idea that women come unassembled to men is insane. Are females empty heads until they are "properly bedded" on their wedding night? I may be just full of wimmin hormonz, but I'm fairly certain I had a personality and desires and needs and education before I even met my husband. And though I have things I need to work on (a lot of things), my husband has never once complained that I "didn't work properly". What it sounds like Michael is saying is that men get married and then cry "But she's not obeying! She's not doing it how I want! Waaaaah!" Which is odd, because he was talking all kinds of "be one". But I guess being one means being what the man wants. I think I'll opt of of that type of marriage, thank you very much.
   I want to be more than my husband's helper. I want to be his friend, confidante, and equal. When I think of helper, I think of someone that takes care of the busywork so I can get things done that I want to. Hmmm. I think I just stumbled on the point Michael is really trying to make. "How to make your wife deal with the stupid or un-manly stuff to leave you, sir, alone to rule as God in your household."
   And I don't even know what he's talking about when he says "You must sanctify and cleanse her so you can present her to yourself as a fully functioning help meet." He's mentioned sanctifying and cleansing before, but hasn't really explained what it means, or how to do it. I'm assuming we'll get to it later on in the book.
Mr. Steady can heal his marriage by first stepping forward to take the lead and then teaching his wife to be productive, resourceful, and successful. She will be happy when you take her by the hand and lead her to become a productive individual.
   What if the husband isn't productive or successful? What if the husband isn't a good teacher, or doesn't have the self-confidence to step forward and take the lead? What if the husband flat out doesn't want to lead? Or picks something the wife hates and expects her to be productive at it? Ugh. There are so many ways for these teachings to go wrong, and Michael refuses to acknowledge any of them!
Unless the wife of a Steady Man is rather laid back and steady herself with not much ambition, she will not find enough self-expression just sitting around waiting on her husband to bring a little excitement into her life. So if you don't want her using her energies criticizing you, you should encourage her to develop productive hobbies or activities that enhance the family in some way.
   Uh-oh! Mister, if you don't find something for your wife to do (because she can't think of it for herself), then she'll have PLENTY of time to critique you! Or she might *gasp* find something herself! And you might not approve of it! Egads! Doom!
Mr. Steady wants to be nice to his wife, so he leaves her at home sitting and feeling useless. You are not being nice; you are abdicating responsibility. She might get her way, but it will not satisfy her. Your lack of leadership will frustrate her. She will either get nasty-spirited, try to control others, or go out and get her own projects going that leave you at home to cook for yourself.
   See? I called it! Pick something or your wife will! There are other ways to be nice to a spouse than "leaving them at home". Learn their love language, that's a good start.
   When my husband and I first got married, this was a problem we had. He thought he was being nice by letting me stay at home, and I thought I was going crazy by being there. The problem was we were both trying to pigeon hole ourselves into gender roles that everyone said we should fill. I hated being at home! I got a job a local pizza place, and within 4 months was literally running the store. I felt validated, smart, competent, and needed. All the things that I was missing trying to play Happy Housewife.
   It seems like through a lot of this book, Michael actually CREATES the problems that he "tries" to help solve. You can't spend half the book telling men they deserve to be honored and served, have a book for women telling them that their husbands deserve to be honored and served, and then say "But you have to earn that honor!" Though it's a good system, if your goal is to make money. Create a problem, claim your way is the only right way (Call on God and scripture to back you up doesn't hurt either), rinse and repeat. Cash cow! Because the wife can never give enough, the husband never sees her as capable or an equal. Recipe for disaster right here!
I will say again, God calls a wife a "help meet" for a reason. A woman was designed to be doing something productive, something that will make her feel she has value beyond housemaid and baby birther. She was created to be your helper. Are you helping her help?
   O.o  Call me crazy, but hasn't Michael said in this very book that women aren't capable of making good decisions because of their lady hormones? Said to keep your wife pregnant to avoid the inconvenience of menstrual cycles? Basically anything that a woman can do to show independence is not allowed in PearlWorld. In Debi's book, anything other than cooking, cleaning, sexing, and birthing is a sin. So how are men supposed to treat their wives like they have value beyond those things, if those are the only things recognised as "Good" in this culture??

Wish List
This is a wish list drawn from our letters
*I wish that when I talk he would listen, hear what I am saying, and then communicate and empathize.
*I wish he would give 100% to the marriage and family, not just work and play.
*I wish my husband would lead us in prayer and family devotion.
*I wish he were more spontaneous, more dates with me, and talk to me.
*I wish he would talk more about feelings, not just concrete statements.
*He doesn't take time alone with me. He makes me feel pushed away.
*I would love it if he would look into my eyes and listen with interest when I talk to him.
*I wish he would not apologize too soon, and not use the words "If I did that, I'm sorry...Well, if I did that...if that's what you thought I meant...I'm sorry you took it that way..."

It's sad. All these wives want is to be treated like a person. And yet Michael makes sure to say that women are trucks, children, defective boxed-products. Basically anything but a person with wants and needs and desires. Now I'm upset.