Saturday, March 29, 2014

Annoying

Apparently in rural Kansas "ROUTINE MAINTENANCE" at the company that handles the Internet means "YOU WILL HAVE NO SERVICE FOR 2-3 DAYS. HAHAHA!"
I will review as soon as I get internet back, as typing everything out on my phone is ridiculous.


Sorry!

Monday, March 24, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 9 (The Most Difficult Review Yet)

p 163-165

Today's format is going to be slightly different. There are 2 letters, one from a "spotted bride", the other for her husband. Instead of going paragraph by paragraph and inserting commentary, I am going to type up the letters exactly how they appear in the book, and then talk about each one.
   I'm going to be honest, I had a hard, hard time writing this post, because it echoed my experience so closely. So forgive me if it's short, scattered, or different than my other reviews.
*TRIGGER WARNING FOR ABUSE*
Text is in purple

Spotted Bride Made Clean
Dear Mr. and Mrs Pearl,
  I would like to share with you some of my story in case you find it of use for your men's book.
  I had a childhood that left me very lacking as a wife, mother, and functioning adult. My father was manipulative and abusive mentally and physically. Both of my parents put on a religious act for the public thatw as a cover-up for their lazy selfishness, which created an angry and chaotic home. Many predators (including my brother) took advantage of our dysfunction to sexually victimize me and my siblings.
  I was gentle, timid, sensitive, and always had a great desire to please others. As a child, I felt that I was stupid, I couldn't do anything right, and was never good enough to earn love or even be noticed. As a teenager I became calloused to my parents' emotional manipulation and I was rebellious to authority. I found that I could win favor in social circles by putting on my own act and so I became skilled in my own methods of manipulation.
   This was the environment that I came out of at eighteen when I met and married my husband. I was introspective, thoughtful, able to reason, and my abusive history had matured me in many ways. But emotionally I was still a disabled child. I could not handle conflict and had learned to either lie or submit to abuse.
   There was not a honeymoon period for us. My sweet husband was forced into the role of being a parent in many ways. He had to force me to dress modestly, practice safe habits, and not allow myself to be taken advantage of. I acted compliant in his presence while rebelling and dishonoring him behind his back and then lying to avoid conflict or blame. In  addition, I was entrenched in depression, grief, and self-pity. David had to get tough and force me to do the most basic responsibilities-cleaning, cooking, and being active.
   Despite all of the conflict and ugliness that I presented David with, he never withheld his love or approval from me. He constantly affirmed that he thought I was beautiful. He jumped at every opportunity to praise me. And even when things were at the worst, he would find something about me to brag to his coworkers, family, and even strangers in the store.
   The Lord is really the one responsible for my healing, which is even still taking place, but I know that David is a blessing God gave me even when I had turned my back on him. Through my wonderful husband I have learned so much about the love that my Heavenly Father has for me.
   We have now been married for six and  a half years and experience a wonderful unity in our views, dreams, and goals. I have read your wife's book and am working on being the help meet I know my husband deserves. I continue to struggle with my old habits of depression and just plain selfishness, but I have been greatly affected by hearing what you say on joy and parental attitudes, and I am excited for the benefits my family will reap as I practice it more every day!
Thank you for Speaking truth,
David's help meet
   There is so much about this letter than resonates with me. With a few changes, this could be my story. From abusive, dysfunctional home to sexual abuse, to acting out as a teenager, and then meeting a wonderful guy that showed what love is-this is my story. It hurts that someone else had to experience these same things; a fate I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
   But there is so much in here, and the way she writes (if she even exists), that breaks my heart. I want to tell her that her upbringing was not her fault. She didn't deserved to be hurt by those that should have loved her and protected her. I wish David's help meet could know that she wasn't rebelling against authority, she was using whatever coping mechanism she could to literally survive. She acted out because she was broken inside, and was never shown what it meant to be loved, or even noticed.
   There have been numerous cases where teenage to adult victims of childhood sexual abuse learn to get what they want through sex. Often, the abuse was the only time the child felt loved, wanted, and connected. We've learned in foster kid class that sometimes gift giving is traumatic to children, because after sexual abuse, their abuser would give them presents. Even years later, Christmas and birthdays bring flashbacks and panic attacks. Because what we learn as children stays with us for years, sometimes forever.
   I wish David's help meet (I wish she had a name) would know that depression is common, and it's not something to "force" oneself to get over. I'm glad she had someone kind to teach her how to be a whole person, and I'm glad that he complimented her and showed her what love is. I'm happy that David treated her like she was beautiful, because I know first hand how ugly and broken sexual abuse makes someone feel.
   But I wish so much that Mrs. David was given the space to grieve and heal in her own way and time. While David sounds better than her childhood, I wish he would have gotten her mental help, or even had her in inpatient therapy, while she processed and worked through her traumatic childhood. I wish someone could make her understand depression isn't a habit or a choice, and that it isn't selfishness to take time for yourself, or to work on your coping skills. I wish that someday Mrs. David can be fully healed, and I truly hope that she has a strong support network.

 Yet Michael doesn't say anything. Literally, the book jumps from one letter to the next. On one hand, I'm glad, because I don't think I could handle Michael talking about her "stain" as if it were a choice, and not something forced on a child.  On the other, I wish he would at least acknowledge that she has suffered and is healing...I'm not sure what I expect from him, but I wish it were more than just printing her letter.

Spotted Bride's Husband Speaks
Dear Mr. Pearl,
   My wife did not ask me to contribute to her letter, but I think some clarification is needed.
   My wife is speaking honestly of her deep inner struggles, but I assure you that she is far more than she presents herself to be. Her difficult childhood planted seeds in her that are now showing fruit of strength of character. She has a quiet and enduring spirit about her. Before I proposed, I knew that once this young woman was transplanted to good soil and tended well, she would bear fruit that would feed me and our children well. And I was right! I married this woman because I could see pure gold under only a thin layer of debris.
   I believed then, as I do now, that all husbands should call out the woman of God in their wives. I expected more than just "performance" from her. I required her to be what God requires from all of us, and I give her a great deal of love through the process. That is all I did.
   As a side note, I would admonish any husband who is "disappointed"  in his wife's performance. Many husbands expect their wives to do dog tricks for their own selfish pleasures. We do not have any Biblical directive to require that and therefore have no authority to demand it. And if a wife does happen to perform under those conditions, it will not bring the satisfaction that one would expect. He will see her expression of being prostituted and used. That only brings an awareness of failure to a man's sense of mission. Instead, a man should think less highly of himself and then submit HIMSELF to the authority structure that God has delineated. Then, and only then, is it natural and easy to see what he has responsibility to fit and craft his wife into a beautiful piece of "functional art".
   By the way, I have gleaned a great deal from your example and found a sort of father figure in your writings. You live out and put on paper what I have dreamed about. You give me confidence to stand on what I have long been ridiculed for believing. Thank you for defining it so clearly.
   And that you for creating such a wonderful role model for my wife, 
David.

   You can't see it, but I am sobbing like a baby right now. Because I thought David was going to be more like my husband, but his writing makes him sound exactly (suspiciously) like Michael.  Even though I've never met Mrs. David, and have suspicions she exists, I really felt close to her; like I understood her. I wanted things for her that I had. And, I'm hurt and disappointed in her husband's letter.
   For one, David married her for the specific reason of changing her. I asked my husband if he married me because he saw gold under my debris. He looked confused and told me that he married me because he loved me. And even the things about me that aren't so nice, he loves, because I wouldn't be ME without them.
   I'm angry that David "called out" his hurting, broken wife and required her to live up to what his expectations were-it seems right away. My husband knew about my past before we got married. Prior to my diagnosis of bipolar, even. He didn't expect me to do anything. Even early in our marriage when I stayed at home, He understood that some days would be hard, and if all I could do was stay in bed and watch Netflix, that was OK. He didn't hold me to any standard, and didn't demand that I cook and clean when I wasn't up to it. Rather, he let me take the time I needed to heal.
   To this day, he's never pressured or "encouraged" me to do anything that I didn't already want for myself. He's never said that I should lose weight, but he is positive and encouraging when I tell him I am going to start exercising. He doesn't expect me to be "functional art". He wants me to be a person, and an equal.
    Is he perfect? Of course not. But he is realistic about where I came from and is patient enough to give me the time and space that I need. We've been married almost 4 years, and there are still days that the most I can do is microwave leftovers for dinner. And he's OK with that.
  I am not religious anymore, but I think that how my husband has dealt with me is more Christlike than David's "I hold her to God's standard and love her through it, even though she is covered in debris."

   And I'm not even getting in to the rest of his letter. I firmly believe Michael added that himself, because the voice is so similar to his.

   This post was difficult for me. I hope the next one is less triggering.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Things I Wish My Mom Understood

I had a...discussion with my mother this past week. She is counting down the months (6) until she can do temple work for my dead sister. Mormon rules say a person needs to be dead a year before their work can be done. The work in the temple for the dead is done to basically give them access to the Mormon afterlife.
   I haven't been to church nor wanted to for the past 7 months. Yet my mom asked if I was going to go with her and my step-dad. I told her that I would not, and that I have no interest in the church. I've made that point to her many times.
   She told me that she was disappointed in my choices. She thought that the church would mean more to me, and don't I want to see her in the Celestial Kingdom (Mormon top layer of heaven)? I told her that, according to culture-if not theology-that those in the CK could visit people in the lower levels, and that she could come visit me anytime she wanted.
   She was less than amused. So you can imagine her reaction when I told her I was going to Utah to stand with Ordain Women in April. She. Flipped. Out.
   She asked why, if I have no interest in Mormonism, would I want to protest General Conference. I told her it wasn't a protest of the meeting, but a questioning of policy. She asked why I wanted the priesthood if I don't care about the church. I told her I have no interest in the priesthood, but I think the church should be more gender-equal.
   This started the usual tirades. "Motherhood is a sacred duty. Women are just as important. Why would [she] want the extra responsibility of priesthood anyway? If men didn't have the priesthood, they wouldn't do anything...etc"
   I told her she doesn't have to agree with or even like my choices, but she does have to respect them. She asked why should she respect my choices when they go against everything she believes in? I told her because I was an adult and I had my free agency.
   To which she responded basically that she'll pray for me to come back to the fold.

I was dissatisfied with my answer, and upset at how the conversation worked out. I've been stewing over this for the past while, and if I had the conversation to do over, this is how I would respond.

*I know you are probably scared for my salvation and that you honestly believe the church is true.
*I know that joining the church gave you purpose and strength in a lifetime of abuse.
*I know that being a member of the Mormon church gives you purpose, a social outlet, and a sense of safety.
*I know that you, having joined at 28, have no idea what growing up in the church was like for me.
*I understand that your Mormon experience has been different than mine.
*I respect the choices you've made and I don't hold them against you.
But
*I cannot give 10% of my income to an organisation that has no transparency.
*I refuse to be part of a culture that teaches girls that all women are nurturing, caring, and that their divine role is of motherhood.
*I will not teach teenagers that a temple marriage is the only guarantee of a happy life.
*I will not allow myself to feel guilty because I am naturally more masculine. I am not gentle, or kind, or nurturing. I am hard, and exacting, and managerial.
*I do not believe in a God that demands my heart, soul, strength, body, mind, money, time, effort, acts of service, and devotion.
*I refuse to attend a church where my questions are met with coldness, pat answers, or ignored.
*I will not support an organisation that demands I "sustain" (and not question) men as "prophets, seers, and revelators", no questions asked.
*I deserve more than a culture of people that are face nice, but have no real interest in who I am or what I want.
*I want to chose how many, if any, and what ages of children I want-and not to feel shamed or guilted.
*I want to be part of a group of people that is accepting of differences, not one that holds up cookie-cutter conformity as righteousness.
*I want to decide what is-and isn't-right for me. I want to be my own moral compass.
*I want to feel free to base my decisions on what I think is right, not what some man 50 years ago thought.
*I want to believe in a God (or Goddess) that doesn't hold me to an ideal, impossible standard-and then judge me based on how far from that I am.
*I want to live free from the fear that my husband can marry again and saddle me in a polygamous relationship in heaven.
*I need to be respected and loved for who I am, no matter how imperfect, scarred, or terrible.
*I need to be free of small minds, of conformity, of whitewashed truths, of double talk, of fake politeness, of unanswered questions.
*I want my skills and talents to be used, not pigeonholed into what someone else thinks I should do.
*I will not be guilted, manipulated, or coerced into attending a church that I do not believe in.



IN SHORT:
I want to be who I am. And that is not a Mormon. Ironically, Mom, all my traits which caused my unhappiness in the church- independence, intelligence, strong-will, managerial skills, sarcasm, questioning, and tenacity-I learned from you. So, thank you for helping me become the strong, capable woman that I am. I'm sorry that you're hurting from my choices, but I am so much happier out of the church than I ever was in.

Mom, I know you think that I have never and don't need you. But I do. I always have I hope one day you will see me as your child, and not some lapsed Mormon that you can pray back into activity.

Friday, March 21, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 8 (Women Can't Have a Personal Relationship With God)

pp 161-162

Last section we were enlightened as to how stains form on wives. The answer is, of course, sexual sins. Apparently sexual stains can be picked up from everything-public school, music, sexual abuse, even close friendships. Today we are discussing the deep stains that make a wife unclean.
Text is in purple.

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


   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New Posting Scheudle

These reviews are really getting to me. Like I think about these teachings a lot, and it's starting to effect how I see myself and my marriage.
So I'm going to post Mondays and Fridays. Hopefully with the days in between, I'll be able to clear my head from this toxic nonsense.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Why I Will Stand With Ordain Women on April 5th

I have been asked by many (both kindly and unkindly) why I agree with Ordain Women and think that women in the LDS church should hold the priesthood. (Priesthood=power to act in God's name. Reserved only for Mormon men)
   Everyone has different reasons for wanting women's ordination. Everyone has a different background, a different story, and different expectations. Some call the OW crowd selfish, power hungry, nonbelievers, and worse. And perhaps some of them are. Just like within the priesthood (or any group of people), there are selfish ones, and power hungry ones, nonbelievers (or questioners), and worse.
   I could start out with the usual rhetoric why I am for this cause. Separate will never be equal. Motherhood does not equal priesthood. Women are just as capable of leadership and good decisions as men. I could go on, but you are probably here for 1 of 3 reasons.
   1)You have no idea what I'm talking about and are curious.
   2) You disagree with OW and are thinking about which ways you are going to tell me I'm wrong.
   3) You're for or neutral toward OW and want to know more about me.
Whichever you fit, if any, please remember that I am entitled to my feelings and opinions, just as you are yours. It is not acceptable to bash me, my feelings, or trivialize my Mormon experience-no matter how different than your it is.
   So here it is. My story and my reasons.

   I no longer consider myself a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Contrary to popular belief, I didn't leave because I was offended, or wanted to sin. I left the church because I was more miserable and depressed attending than I was by not. No matter how much I read the scriptures, fasted, prayed, or went to the temple-every Sunday I was told I wasn't good enough or wasn't trying enough. I was told that God looks on the heart, but called me to conduct music when He should know I can't keep a beat to save my life. I think women should hold the priesthood because they are capable of leading.
   When I was 12, I was told by a bishop that I was unworthy to attend the temple because I admitted feeling attracted to women. I was told these feelings were sinful and I needed to repent. The bishop was at least 30 years older than I was, and a man at that. I think women should hold the priesthood because teenage girls should not have to confess intimate feelings or concerns with men twice their age.
   I was baptized into the church when I was 8. A man baptized me. Another laid his hands on my head and blessed me. 2 other men were official witnesses to the ceremony. My mom, the woman who raised me and knew me better than anyone, baked cookies and sang the musical number. I think women should hold the priesthood because women should share in the ordinances that bless their family.
   I miscarried early in my marriage. My husband and I were devastated, naturally. He gave me many blessings to help me get through that trying time. His father, however, isn't a Mormon, and couldn't do the same for him. His options were either to ask another man-that he doesn't know very well-to speak for God to him, or to go without. He isn't very good at asking, so he went without. I think women should hold the priesthood because they deserve to be able to bless their family.
   I was raised by a single mom. I was taught to be able to provide for myself because there was no guarantee a man would take care of me. Yet at church, I learned that it was my duty-nay, my sacred obligation-to marry a Mormon and have many Mormon children. I was taught that while it's nice to have careers, the most important work a woman can do is raise her children for God. I believe women should hold the priesthood because women are individuals they should not be pigeonholed into a one-size-fits-all role.
   My personality is brash, opinionated, loud, bossy, commanding, charismatic, volatile, blunt, honest, goofy, and strong. I made an excellent manager at work and was very efficient at helping my foster kids to get things done. I don't do well with neediness, tears, or sickness. My husband is patient, gentle, mild, kind, and caring. Yet often when Mormon women are discussed, the term "nurturer" or "meek" is used.  I was ashamed of who I was, because no matter how much I tried, I could never be quiet, passive, or anything other than businesslike. My husband has a hard time making decisions, manage time, think quickly, and planning efficiently. Yet he was supposed to be the head of the home. I believe women should hold the priesthood because my talents and intelligence should matter more to God than my gender.
   Before I left the church, I had asked for a calling. When questioned where I thought I would like to serve, I said "I want to work with teenagers." 3 months later, I was called to conduct music in the women's meeting. Even though I despised that calling and couldn't conduct, I accepted because I had been taught saying "NO" to a calling is rejecting God's will. It is not uncommon for bishops and stake presidents to have 2-6 kids under the age of 18, and yet their callings require long hours and always being on call. Their wives are forced to wrangle all the kids during church, and do without a husband most of the time because he is "serving the Lord". I think women should hold the priesthood because having more people to serve in more demanding callings would allow people the people who do not have time or the capabilities to be able to decline.
   Mormons believe in a Heavenly Mother-God's wife who rules with him. Yet we don't know her name, what she looks like, or anything about her. We are told this is because God loves her so much he wants to protect her from people taking her name in vain. This is how many Mormon men treat women as well. They want to protect, cherish, adore, and pedestal them. At the same time, these men blame women's clothes for their own lustful thoughts. Women are adored and reverenced, but are very rarely respected. In General Conference, when a woman gets up to speak, many men tune out or get up, because they don't feel that this woman would have anything valuable to teach THEM. Women's auxiliary presidencies are under the direction of a man-who OK's everything from the budget to the individual activities itself. Young men and boys are taught to make decisions, to teach, to lead. Young women and girls are taught to serve, to ask, to obey, to honor, to reverence, to listen. I believe women should hold the priesthood because benevolent sexism hurts everyone.

I could go on and on.
   In short, I believe women are as capable as men are to be leaders. I don't think there could be anything but good from allowing women a more equal voice in leadership, decisions, budgeting, and serving others. I think Mormon women are stronger, smarter, more spiritual, and more worthy of leading than they let themselves believe. I think being told that it isn't God's plan for women to lead weakens the church. I think that a church that accepts all of the strengths of it's members, regardless of gender, will be more righteous, compassionate, and prosperous than one that chooses leaders based on-not ability-but sex.
   Even though I'm not a Mormon anymore, I will go to Salt Lake City in April. I will stand with those that still believe. I will support those who are hurting. I will comfort those that stand in need of comfort. And I will love them, even when their hearts are breaking. Because I've been there, and nobody should have to stand alone.

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 7 (Sexual Sins as Far as the Eye Can See)

p 159-161

   Last post we talked about the basics of a wife's spots, wrinkles and blemishes. The next few sections will be delving deeper into each of these. Today we're talking about spots. More specifically, the spots that one's wife has picked up because of sexual impurities. I hope you're ready for a big bucket of bananas, because that's what's being served up today!
  I apologise if this post is a bit long. I'm still on painkillers and that makes my thoughts very...expansive. :)
Text is in purple

Spots
2 Peter 3:14
   Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Jude 22-23
 And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
1 Timothy 6:14
  That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
   Once again, it seems that Michael just searched "spot" in the Bible and posted some scriptures that mention it. Because each verse, whilst mentioning the word "spot", is actually talking about different types of spots in different situations. Incidentally, none of them talk about cleansing the spots off one's wife.
   For example, the Peter verse is talking about when Christ returns, and how the people should be blameless, and in good conscience with themselves and fellow men. Sure, part of this might be sexual "sins", but in general, it's talking about people feeling personally worthy to meet their Saviour again.
  Here are some links to an interesting site that explain sort of what's going on in the other two verses. It's interesting that Bible scholars think these verses can refer to staying away from all sin, and yet Michael assumes that it means only the sexual ones. I guess things like jealousy, lust, envy, and murder are OK as long as the wife is putting out only to her legally wedded husband?
A woman who comes to marriage other than as a virgin is spotted. It matters not what others see; the stain is on her conscience. It affects her self-image. Even if her only fornication was with her eventual husband, the stain is the same, for the shame was hers before marriage and she did not leave it at the altar. A divorcee comes into marriage with many stains. A large number of women were molested when they were children, and that stain runs much deeper than the adult fornication stain.
   So much wrong here, I don't know where to start! Once again, we see that, in Michael's head, only sexual sins count. And apparently they only count for the woman. Even if the woman's only fornication was with her eventual husband, she and only she bears the stain of it. Apparently forever. Isn't that odd? Both parties could have be in agreement about committing the fornication, but it's the woman's burden to bear forever. There is literally no mention of the man's part in this. Heck, even in "A Scarlet Letter", the man suffered.
   I would like to point out that perhaps a good chunk the wife's self-image issues (if she has any), is this culture's insistence on 100% purity before and a sex goddess after. I grew up Mormon, and we've had plenty of lessons about how "fooling around" made you chewed gum, a licked cupcake, and a bitten candy bar. It's kind of ironic how these types of teachings actually can CAUSE sexual dysfunction after marriage. There's not a switch in your mind that goes from abstinence to orgasm that can be flipped after the "I do".
   Also, the only "shame" that comes from premarital sex is that which is culturally construed. I think it's interesting that pre-marital sex is the same as marital sex in a divorcee. Even though they might have been perfectly chaste before the wedding, the simple fact that people are divorced makes them right up there with whores. I don't think anyone is actually expecting a divorcee to be a virgin, and yet Michael treats these people like they are trash. Which is odd, because he is very "SEX DURING MARRIAGE". And I'm guessing some of the people that followed his advice during marriage are the same people that he is condemning after their marriage fails! And again, no mention of the de-virginated ex-husband that women should stay away from.
   Actually, this is an issue I noticed a lot in Mormondom as well. Divorced women (especially those with kids) had a MUCH harder time remarrying. It seemed like even if the man was divorced and older, he felt like he deserved a young virgin this time around, too.
   The line about molested children is infuriating me. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it has taken me a long time to understand that it wasn't my fault. There was nothing I could have done, worn, or said that would have changed anything. Children cannot give consent because they don't have the capacity to understand the whole situation. While it is true that someone who was sexually abused can feel spotted or unclean, blaming them and saying they just need to get over it is not the way to help them! And insisting that they are unclean for something they had no choice in is so terribly, terribly wrong. Especially in this culture of men being right up there with God-expecting children to say "NO" to an authority figure is cruel. Not that that figure would take no for an answer...
  For those of you who have been victimised-it's not your fault. It never was. You don't have to carry the shame of what they did to you forever. Please find a counselor or someone that you can talk to, because you deserve to be free of the past.
In our modern age, some girls are stained by sexting and immodest dress and behaviour, or exposure to sexually suggestive or explicit movies and music. Some girls come to marriage having experimented with homosexual acts in their early teens.
   Oh look, fear mongering. In one paragraph, he covers texting, clothes, actions, music, movies, and friends. What a scary place to live in is PearlWorld! Nowhere is safe for these silly women-creatures that seem to try to go out of their way to find SEX!
Others will testify to none of the above, but the stain comes in little shades, thin layer after layer through their associations with unrighteous friends and peers. It is impossible to attend a public school and not be stained. When you touch something, it touches you, and every relationship is reciprocal. Lot lived in Sodom but did not share their immorality. Yet the Bible says Lot "vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. (2 Peter 2:8)"
   Again, Michael refuses to acknowledge that men can attend public school, be spotted, or commit sexual sin. And it's interesting that children can be molested at home in PearlWorld, but public school is the main concern. Does that make sense? If Michael is saying that danger is everywhere, isn't it logical that there is equal danger at home?
Your wife may have a "vexed" soul. If she failed to "keep this commandment without spot" and now wears a "garment spotted by the flesh," with your help she can be "found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless." Jesus is the great washer of spotted garments, for I have personally witnessed thousands who have "washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:14)" It is called the "washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)". The write of Hebrews asks a rhetorical question, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)"
   If Jesus is the great washer of spots, then why is it the husband's job to cleanse his wife? Especially since he is equally spotted? That's like having a maid at your house ready to clean, and choosing to let the teenager who hasn't showered or cleaned his room in a month tidy up the house for a meeting with the President. It just doesn't make sense, no matter how many scripture verses Michael throws at us!
He who had no spot offered himself to God as a substitute for all who have soiled thier garments with sin and shame. He died as if he were the spotted one, suffering the full consequences of all sin. He now offers his unspotted robe in exchange for soiled ones. He bore our shame so we can bear his holiness. The God who "calleth those things which be not as though they were. (Romans 4:17)" stands ready and willing to call you and your wife spotless. It is not a matter of undoing the past or making amends. It is a free gift of righteousness that can be received without precondition.
   If this gift of righteousness can be received without precondition, then why is their only advice on how to make the wives clean? If God is so generous as to hand out the unspotted robe, then shouldn't he have put in provisions on how BOTH parties can become unspotted? Oh wait. God did. Michael didn't. My bad. I get those two mixed up sometimes, don't you?
Romans 5:17-20
17-For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.
18-Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.
19-For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
20-Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
   Oh. I see now how this works. Verse 19. Because of one man's obedience, a bunch more people will be made better. Interesting. Because Debi teaches in her book that by the woman being a Super-Christian and a submissive wife, she can convert her husband to God. Apparently by being a Super-Christian and wanting to cleanse his wife, a man can make her unspotted from her years of sexual abandon.
It is not a matter of doing; the work of redemption has already been done by Christ. You must believe to receive. It is not a matter of great faith; it is just a little faith placed in a big God that washes away spots and stains. Where your wife's sin (spots) abounds, your grace should much more abound as does Christ's.
   Ugh. I don't see how telling men that their wives are spotted, impure, and stained will help them have more grace towards them. If anything, those teachings would make them less patient and gentle. "You did what as a teenager? How can I love you knowing you've lied to me? If you had really loved me, you would have waited for me."
   Aren't those comments the natural result of telling someone that their partner is stained? How can you have compassion for someone you think PURPOSELY screwed up, and that screwup is hurting your life now? I just want to beat my head against a wall, because there is no logic here. Not even a basic grasp of how the psyche works. Kind of like you can't view someone as the weaker vessel and as equals at the same time, you can't view your partner as stained -and it is your job to cleanse them-without looking down on them a little.

  If you thought this section was bad, just wait until next time. We talk about deep stains, and even have a letter from a rebellious woman who was...wait for it... made clean by her husband! Yippee.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Food for Thought?

I had my gallbladder removed last Wednesday. Aside from the normal side effects of surgery, which I had planned for, there was one consequence that has totally blown my mind.
   Essentially, what the gallbladder does is store bile. Bile helps break down things like fat. Without a gallbladder, the body has a lot less tolerance for fat and calories than it used to. Why is my mind blown? Because I didn't realise that by having this surgery, I was electing to do without my main coping mechanism. You see, eating is how I cope. Sad, angry, happy, scared...there's a snack for that. And, like most snackers, my favorites are high in fat, sugar, and calories.
   And I can't have them anymore. Or at least not very big portions, and not regularly. The Gallbladder Diet, as it's called, is low fat, low carb, low sugar. Things like fruits and veggies, brown rice, potatoes, and lean meats are in. Things that most people associate with rabbit food, actually. Foods like white bread, pasta, beef, anything fried, or sweetened are out.
   I made a list of all the foods that my gallbladder-less body can handle, and I started crying. For 27 years, I've relied on starches, sugars, and artificial flavours to help me deal with my emotions. I don't really have any other coping strategy, except to eat my feelings. I really don't know what to do.  Obviously, I can learn other techniques for dealing with stress. But I just feel overwhelmed because it's changing literally an entire lifetime of habits practically overnight. I don't know if I'm strong enough for that.
   Yes, I could cheat, and eat things that I know will upset my stomach. Honestly, that's what I did today. My husband and I went out for Sunday brunch at a fancy restaurant, and I ate my way through the buffet. I was told that it would be painful if I ate things not on plan, and I was intellectually prepared for some discomfort. That wasn't wholly the problem. (There was actual, physical pain and discomfort)
   The main problem, though, was that I felt betrayed and angry at the food. Isn't that a weird reaction? I actually hated the chocolate mousse and Belgian waffle. I found myself getting very upset, and I took some of that anger out on my husband. But I wondered why food made me feel betrayed. What, exactly, did the mousse do to me that would cause such a violent reaction?
   And I realised. Instead of causing me comfort-instead of making me happy, it actually hurt. Not just an absence-of-joy hurting, but all-out physical pain. That lasted for hours after I had eaten.
   I've told my husband that I'm scared to lose weight because of who I will be without all the fat. Well, now I'm scared of what I will turn to since I can no longer hide in the comfort of foods. I feel adrift and rather depressed, to be totally honest.
   Change is scary. Especially big changes all at once. I'd like to think I've got enough strength and courage to go all-out and embrace my new restrictions. I want to believe that I will be inspired by my new, healthier diet to finally shed the poundage. But I'm really not sure what kind of person I am without the food. And that's what scares me most.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Week After Kids

The kids left last Thursday. My husband and I had very different reactions. I was so happy they were leaving; I'm still happy they're gone, actually. He, on the other hand, had a bit of a cry when they left. Even yesterday, he teared up a bit when I asked how he felt.
   I've thought a lot about our different reactions. Part of it was our feelings going into fostering these kids. We knew they would be tempoary, and after having dealt with them for a few days, I realised that I did not want to adopt them, even if we got the chance. So I've always thought of them as, basically, transient kids that I had to take care of. I'm not saying I didn't bond with them or get attached. (That's what my husband thought.) I'm just saying that our beginning approach was different. He wanted to save these kids, reform them a bit; make them better and they would love him and be grateful to him forever. I wanted to get parenting experience and not have anyone kill each other.
   Also, I woke the kids up, helped them with homework, made them do their chores, took them to appointments, met with teachers, bought their underwear. My husband came home to the kids mostly done with their homework and dinner ready. So all he had to do was play games, watch TV with them, finish up homework, and then put them to bed. He didn't really have to deal with the 10 year old's tantrums, her arguing, trying to get her to understand 2nd grade work (she was in 5th), etc.
   I told our counselor that I felt like I'd had to do all the hard work and he got to be the fun dad. She laughed and said that probably everyone who has ever been main caregiver has felt like that. She's probably right.
   But I hope our next experience with kids is better. Things are looking pretty good that we might get the sibling set we've been trying for. I would have things in common with these kids. These kids are intelligent and can (hopefully) carry on a halfway intelligent conversation. Not going to lie, I'm kind of idealistic about this family.
   And I know there will be fights. But they'll be new fights. About new things, and hopefully new ways of fighting. I'm ready for a change of pace. I'm ready to be a parent to kids that are more like me. Because the truth of it is, our first foster experience probably wasn't the best fit. But we stuck it out for 5 months, and hopefully gave the kids a safe place to land while the parents figured their stuff out.
   Were we perfect? Of course not. Yet we worked together and figured most things out. I have high hopes for our ability to parent in the future.

   Now we're taking a break from kids for a few weeks so I can have my gallbladder taken out. (Incidentally, there will be no review tomorrow, and possibly Friday depending on how out of it I am) I'm looking forward to the break-mostly because my poor guy will have to do EVERYTHING around the house while I lay in bed. :D

Monday, March 10, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 6 (Everything That is Wrong With Your Wife)

p 158-159

Last post I was rather in shock because I agreed with Michael the entire section. Well, not to worry because he's back to his old self in this section. There's a heavy dose of "what's wrong with the woman" and everyone's favourite scripture passage. And by everyone's, I mean Michael's. Here we go!
Text is in purple

Spots, Wrinkles, and Blemishes
The ministry of Christ to his bride is that of removing spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. I print the text again because it is so very important that you maintain your focus on what God says.
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 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.
   Ugh.  I am so very, very tired of these verses. Not only because Michael is taking them out of historical context and twisting them to fit his ideals, but because there's only so much one can squeeze out of 3 verses. Also, I'm not a fan of bludgeoning people over the head with scripture. I guess I'm reviewing the wrong book, then!
Note once again, the context for this passage is "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it..." The purpose of this passage is not to reveal how Christ loved the church, but to give us an example of how a husband should love his wife. We have seen how he should sanctify and cleanse her with his words. Now we examine the nature of a husband's ministry.
   Yes. Let's look at the context for this passage. Here are a few  background pages about these verses. Succinctly, historically, Paul was talking to Romans who grew up with a different set of values and ideas about familial leadership than did Jews. Unlike Michael's idea that this section is to husbands, it is actually helping to explain how much Christ loved the church-by comparing it to something that Romans understood: household codes.  (If I'm incorrect, please let me know)
   The point being that Michael is teaching these verses backwards. These verses weren't intended to be an exhortation to husbands, but rather to help non-Jews to understand Christ's love and devotion. Not only is Michael misinterpreting the passage, but he is doing so in a way that is damaging to everyone in the family.
I just love the Word of God. It is composed of perfect words, in the Received Text that is. The same cannot be said of commercial versions like the NIV and 200 other English perversions. The Holy Spirit has inspired this description of man's ministry-spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. Everything that is wrong with your wife is summed up in these three words.
   Ah yes. Once again, we are told that the King James is the ONLY true version of the Bible. Here are a few links from Michael explaining how he arrived at this conclusion. (Bonus: the second link is a video!) I'm not even going to get into translation errors, biases, missing manuscripts and changes that have been made to every installment of the Bible.
  Oh! And how lovely it is that everything that is wrong with a wife (Everything that the man disagrees with, in other words) can be summed up in three insulting words. In case you're curious, please do not tell your spouse that they are blemished, spotted, or wrinkled-in body or in spirit- unless you want an argument.
Spots are foreign matter that stains. They are not inherent. They are the result of carelessness or misuse. They stand out because they do not belong. They speak of a former event when something went wrong and the stain is left on the garment for all to see.
   I'm getting the strong feeling that Michael is talking about pre-marital sex here. Anyone else? Contrary to Michael's belief, premarital sex does not end with an "A" branded into the forehead. It is also possible for a woman to agree to sex before marriage without it staining the rest of her life. When I was a teenager growing up Mormon, I was also told that sex before marriage was terrible. But there was the caveat of repentance. Apparently God forgives. I think someone should let Michael in on that secret, because the God he preaches doesn't forgive, forget, or let go. Just judges and moves on to the next sinner.
Wrinkles result from disuse. They are there to testify that the garment has not seen the light of day. It has been safely tucked away and not had a chance to get spotted by the world. A wrinkled garment is a protected garment,  but apparently not well favored.
   I did laundry two days ago and left the clothes in the dryer since then. They weren't all the way dry when the cycle was over, and do you know what happened? When I opened the dryer this morning, the clothes were wrinkled! Not from disuse, but from absentmindedness. In fact, I can think of about 3 more ways that clothes can get wrinkled besides being safely tucked away.
   His analogies are a bit confusing. I get that he thinks women should be "safely tucked away" from the spots of the world. I disagree, but I understand what he's saying. But I don't understand why a woman who is protected in this manner is not well favored. Can anyone explain this to me, please?
A blemished garment is one that has an inherent flaw. It was never perfect. It has always been marred by nature. Blemished garments are not usually put on the front shelf. They are not worn on special occasions. They must be kept at home and used for practical purposes lest the wearer be embarrassed in public.
   Holy cow. First off, why would you choose to marry someone who you believe is flawed in a way that is so dramatic, you fear to take them in public because they would embarrass you? Secondly, the kept at home and used for practical purposes line made my blood run cold. What kind of "practical purposes" does Michael mean? I think we all can guess. Ick ick ick.
Wow! Isn't God smart? And he never even got a degree in psychology. Consider all that is wrong with your wife: She is either spotted by the world through experiences that have left her with guilt, shame, or emotional issues,
   That darn psychology-people gettin' that book learnin' and talkin' nonsense. Oh, and I'm sure focusing on all that is wrong with your spouse is the best way to improve the relationship. If I have, in my head, a list of my husbands failings, then that's all I'm going to notice. I will take for granted the way he opens my car door, tells me I'm beautiful, and washes dishes, because those don't matter as much as the negative things. Focusing on the bad is the quickest way to become unhappy-and it shouldn't take a psychologist to tell you that.
   Another thing that grated on me is that Michael seems to assume that every pre-marital sexual act is consensual. There is no caveat for those women who are sexually abused, raped, or coerced. There's no directive to get a woman with sexual issues help. No exhorting extra patience, kindness, or gentleness to someone who has been sexually scarred. (And growing up thinking SEX IS EVIL BEFORE MARRIAGE is sexually scarring). Just "your wife is spotted by sex and you need to clean 'er up".
or she is wrinkled from having been cloistered like a slave and never allowed to develop as a person. She is wrinkled with hidden talents and gifts never developed. She is a wasted resource. Her husband soars higher while she stoops to scrub floors.
   So women should be allowed to develop as a person, but then it's the man's job to change her to the person he needs. Wouldn't it be easier to never let the woman grow until she's married, and then the husband prune her to his satisfaction? (Not that I agree with this theory at all) And Michael has made it clear earlier in the book that the only appropriate talents and gifts are ones that the man approves of.
   Oh, and lovely imagery there. A wasted resource. Like oil, food, or electricity-a woman's value is strictly based on her performance, not herself.
Or a wife may be blemished from birth or from limitations placed upon her in her developing years. Her very personality is flawed, or her social skills are clumsy, or her motherly instincts are missing, or she is gawky and clumsy by nature. She could have a low IQ or be physically or mentally impaired. There are many ways a woman can come to maturity with blemishes that are part of her very body and soul.
   Ugh. This paragraph makes me so upset that I am not even going to say anything about it. Sound off in the comments!
A proud husband may be ashamed of his wife's moral spots or be embarrassed by her social wrinkles, or he may have pity on her for the imperfections of her blemishes. Know for certain, his dissatisfaction is quite apparent to her, exacerbating the problems, causing her to either retreat or fight for the respect she deserves, leaving both in an unhappy marriage.
   When you think of your significant other, how often do the words "ashamed, embarrassed, or pity" pop into your head? Hardly ever, hopefully. Oh, sure, one can be embarrassed by the way their spouse acts. But having a relationship with someone you consistently deem as less than you isn't healthy for either. It's kind of like the idea of marrying someone to change them-because you, obviously, know what's best for them.
   Wait a second...that is Michael's philosophy. Simply by being a man, one is gifted with discernment enough to "fix" his wife. And women, you know you need fixing! So just let the man do his job, and you'll both have a happy marriage. /snark
I know of no young bride coming to marriage without some spot, wrinkle, or blemish. Some are unspotted by the world, but wrinkled from lack of experience. Others may be spotted but far from wrinkled. Still others may be neither spotted nor wrinkled, but blemished. Unless you marry a 60 year old widow that has already gone through a sanctifying process, your new bride will need sanctifying in one or more areas, and the process wont' be complete on your first anniversary.
   What about the young men? If women can be spotted, blemished, or wrinkled, why can't men? Surely any sexual acts on his part prior to marriage is equally spotting? Or if the man is feeble-minded or cloistered? Michael doesn't even address those ideas.
   The more I read, the more it seems that Michael thinks men are inherently perfect. Oh, sure, they have some issues they should work on (unless he's a Command Man), but in general, they always make good choices and do what's right. If one believes that rationale, then it's logical to assume that women are inherently imperfect and need to be fixed. This idea is toxic to both men and women, and yet Michael treats it like it's God's truth.
   I have many flaws, but I'd rather believe they're because I was born human than that I was born female. Because thinking like that automatically makes my judgement less sound, my opinions less valid, and my person-hood less than that of a man's. Which is exactly how Michael appears to view woman. How sad for his wife!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 5 (Wow! Michael Is Right!)

p 157-158

Today is a super-short section. It's super short for two reasons: one, because I'm in the middle of a marathon of "Call the Midwives" on Netflix. Two, because I'm dying of shock. Michael makes a good point, and let's it be. He doesn't surround it with toxic nonsense. He doesn't blame the woman. He doesn't name call. He doesn't even boast. Just straight-forward, good advice-albeit centered in scripture. Read on!
Text is in purple.

Speaking Healing Words
This can be the first day of your renewed marriage. You may not see fruit right away, but you must begin by cultivating the fallow ground with healing words. "A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! (Proverbs 15:23)" Wives are always in season for "good words." They are hurt by our words. You have been hurt by her words, have you not? Where does it stop? It stops when one party (that's you) starts speaking comfortable words, gracious words, words that are spirit and life. The tongue can be a world of iniquity or it can be a tree of life. The power is in our words.
   See what I mean? By encouraging one party to be the bigger person to stop hurting each other, Michael is giving his best advice yet. I'm sure this is something almost every couple can use at one time or another. Especially me. I'm pretty good with words, and I am very, very good at using my words to hurt others. Specifically my husband; he always seems to feel the brunt of my ire. It's a good thing that he doesn't retaliate or escalate.
   But that's the point! It's ever so much harder to be cruel to someone that doesn't fight back. And I think it's really interesting that Michael is putting the responsibility on the men. I would have thought that his advice would be something like "Let her know who is boss-don't back down!" But instead, he encourages men to speak basically nicely to their wives, even if they have been or are being hurt by her.
   I also like how the section starts with "This can be the first day of your renewed marriage." I like that he allows the choice. This CAN be the first day. Or it cannot be. Your choice. I like that he admits that it will take time to heal and see the results. Overall, I can't stop pinching myself, because this is MICHAEL PEARL writing. And I'm agreeing. It's sad/funny how wrong it feels.
James 3:6-And the tongue is fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Proverbs 15:4-A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
   Not going to lie-I've had these verses quoted at me (or given to me on homemade bookmarks) a few times when I was growing up. My sharp tongue and quick wit were my only defenses in an unhappy childhood, and I was indiscriminate who I hurt, as long as I got them before they hurt me. But looking at them now, I can see the wisdom in them. It is far too easy to hurt others, especially those we care about, with words. The child's rhyme "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." is a lie. Words can sting more than a belt, long after the welt is gone and the scar has faded.
Put your fiery tongue away like a man puts away his weapon. End the conflict by absorbing some blows without returning fire. Stop trying to win the argument and start trying to win your wife. Stop getting in the last word, and start getting in some pleasant words.
   I feel like this whole section has been written just for me (minus the parts about being a man). Honestly, I feel taken down a peg or two, and it infuriates me that it is Michael that did it. Does that make me an awful person?   And not just applying it to dealing with my husband, but with my foster kids, too. I have a 10 year old girl that LOVES to argue. About everything. She had a 15 minute tantrum because we wouldn't let her walk to the barn through 18" of snow in her slippers. So often, when she mouths off, I have an almost physical need to "win" the argument. I want to show her who is boss, and feel like I bested her.
   She's going back with her mom tomorrow, but hopefully I will take this message more to heart with the next bunch of kids we get. Sigh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

3 More Days!

In 3 days, the foster kids that we've had since October are going back with their mom. I'm conflicted.
   For starters, I'm glad that the kids can reintegrate. From what I've noticed, a lot of kids just never go back. These guys have only been in care since September, so their mom has worked super hard towards reintegration. I hope things will be better after the "honeymoon period". But I'm worried. It's hard to change 13 years of parenting strategies and coping mechanisms and habits in 6 months. Plus, everytime the kids have gone for a visit, they get new stuff, nobody fights, nobody yells. It's like a sterile hospital environment, and soon the whole family will have to deal with the real world: school, homework, behaviours, financial issues, babysitters, chores, etc. And they will all have to figure out how to navigate these normal events differently than they did before. Old ways of doing things aren't going to work. Old, unhealthy habits will have to be switched to newer, safer ones. Social workers will be in and out of their house often, making sure things don't go back to the way things were. But old habits die hard, and there's a part of me that feels they'll be back in the system within a year. I guess we will see.
   I'm going to miss the routine of kids. I have a set time when I wake up, we have a routine before bedtime. Meals are more structured, and I will have to do the chores we've had the kids do. My husband and I will have more time for each other. There will be far fewer doctors, mental health, dentist, and other various appointments. There will significantly less things to fill out my day.
    It's weird. As a stay-at-home, my day is cut up into sections. Before school, during school, after school, and bedtime. Once the kids are gone, that changes to wake up, do whatever, dinner sometime after my husband comes home. Everything will be a lot less rigid without the kids.
   I'm happy they're leaving because I'm sick of the fights. I'm sick of everything being a battle. I'm sick of fighting to get the 10 year old in the shower. I'm tired of explaining that turning your underpants inside out does not make them into a new, clean pair. I know that there will be battles with every kid we bring into the house. But new kids means new battles. New kids means new ways of seeing things, of doing things. I feel like we're in a rut with these two, because there is only so much we can accomplish.
   With biological kids, it's understood that the parents are there to guide them until they're adults (and then keep on truckin'). But as a foster parent, everything that we can teach, or show them, or model is shadowed by how their parents did things. And not just that. But by how their parents do things on visits, and once they go back home permanently. If homework wasn't important to birth mom, then it is a lot more difficult of a struggle in a foster home than if it was routine to do homework after school.  It feels sometimes that we're competing with bio parents for room in the kid's head. The bio-parents win every time, in case you were curious!
   As our guardianship of this family ends, I'm starting to think of the next bunch of kids we'll get. Things are progressing towards the family we've expressed interest in adopting. My husband and I have talked about it, and we're not going to get any long-term kids until we know the end result with the other family. We'll do respite care (basically 2-3 day babysitting other people's foster kids), with new kids every few days. Which will be a whole other routine!

   So here I sit, 3 days before the kids go away forever. And for right now, I'm OK with their leaving. I hope we've made a difference in their lives. At the very least, I hope we didn't screw them up more!
 
 

Monday, March 3, 2014

CTNAHM-Washing of the Word Part 4 (Share My Yoke By Doing What I Say!)

p 156-157

We are still talking about Michael's idea that wives need sanctification and cleansing. Why? Because Christ and the Church is the same as husband and wife! Because...Bible? Oh, and I hope you're ready to really dive into the Bible, because this section is chock full of scripture.
Text is in purple

Washing of the Word
Look at the passage again and this time focus on verse 26.
Ephesians 5:25-27 (Emphasis his)
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 himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
   Yup. This passage again. It's odd that, having an entire Bible to quote scripture from, Michael insists on using the same few over and over.
The passage implies that a wife needs sanctifying, cleansing, and washing, for she has spots, wrinkles, and blemishes. The goal of this sanctification is "that he might present it to himself a glorious church." Again the assumption is that Christ, and by extension husbands, married imperfect brides and must engage in a sanctifying process so one day they can present their brides to themselves in a sanctified state.
   I've covered this several times, but I am annoyed that Michael seems to assume only women come into the marriage blemished. What about the man who had a history of porn? Or the husband who brought baggage from an abusive childhood into his marriage? Or the one that cheated on his fiancee? Once again, Michael posits this very tiny, narrow view of marriage (or the world), and insists it's the only valid option.
   And I'm still waiting for Michael to explain what it means "presenting to himself a glorious church". Also, does anyone else get the feeling that men in the target demographic have to be spoon-fed things? Because I'm noticing a lot of the same things-sometimes in the same words!-page after page. So either they need constant repetition, or Michael's writing style is very immature for a 60 year old man. Or both.
We sanctify our wives the same way Jesus sanctifies the church-by our words. Christ's words to the church washes away impurities. Listen to his words. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)" What beautiful words, inviting the lowliest and most needy to come!
   Yes, those words are nice. But the funny thing is, in PearlWorld, the husband rarely tries to make the wife's burdens lighter! In my head (and in my marriage), if my husband sees I'm having a bad day, he would say "Go lay down and relax. I'll cook dinner and deal with the kids." But, if one is living by the literature of the Pearl's, the response would be something like "Wife, why are you so angry? That isn't a gracious spirit! Aren't you grateful for everything I've done for you? You need to use the rod on the children more, then you would have more peace. By the way, where's my dinner?"
   Sharing yokes sounds very...egalitarian. Because if the oxen or horses or whatever are unequally yoked (another Bible reference! Go me!), then the team won't behave as a team; instead, one will lead the other. Which, ironically, is exactly how Michael sees marriage. So it really seems that either you can share a yoke and be equally burdened, or have one lead the other and have things be unequal. And no, each member of the pair "equally" doing something different doesn't work. Telling one ox to stay in the stall and having little ox babies, and telling the other ox to plow the field to bring home corn doesn't pull a wagon! (Not to mention having 2 separate "spheres" rarely means sharing a yoke.)
   Commentator NatureLover added this:
        There's a meaning to unequally yoked that I didn't understand before I married and moved out to the country and learned more about cattle.

A picture helps. Look at this pair: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Hs-NTUn-SLA/TegZ4jdE0SI/AAAAAAAAC8M/MVChCEqE21g/s1600/oxen.jpg

Oxen pairs are matched in size. A pair of oxen must be very close in height and weight to be able to pull a load. Imagine if the red ox was 6 inches shorter than the black ox. The yoke would be off-kilter and not resting across the shoulders. When the pair tried to walk, they'd be pushed off-center and possibly fall - which is a bad bad situation. In the PearlWorld, the man is clearly a massive ox and the woman is a tiny little calf which would be an epic fail for pulling.

Another important feature: the oxen have to be able to work together. Practically, this means you want two cattle that are close to each other in the dominance hierarchy. If one oxen is very high in the dominance and the other is medium or low, the dominant ox can bully the lesser ox. The dominant ox may be willing to ignore the human and go in a different direction just to show dominance over the lesser ox. This situation reminds me of Mike Pearl (dominant ox), Debi Pearl (lesser ox) and God (the human).   Oh, and Michael has yet to explain how this particular verse washes away impurities. Because even sharing burdens with someone, you are still able to screw up your half of things!
As Jesus ministered "...all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded him out of his mouth. (Luke 4:22)."
"The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)" The song says, "Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life..." (Emphasis his)
   So these verses talk about words. Got it. Whose words? God's? Jesus'? The husband's? That's what I'm thinking. It seems like Michael is taking Jesus' words about God and trying to tell everyone that they are actually supposed to be a husband's words to a wife.
   Though I'm not denying that gracious words would be a good thing in a marriage. Heck, I'm sure my husband would really be happy if I threw out some gracious words more often!
The words of Christ causes us to sing with grace in our hearts, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)"
   Again, according to Christian theology, Christ was perfect and had a direct line to God. None of the men I know fit those characteristics, regardless of what they may think.  So why does Michael automatically assume being a man equals wisdom and godliness?
   Is he saying that the words of husbands should cause the wives to sing with grace in their hearts? Because he's made the point over and over that marriage is like the relationship between Jesus and the Church. So by that logic, husband=Christ, right? And Christ is part of the trinity, and a part of God the father. Therefore husband actually does=God of his family. Boy that's scary! Let's take a mortal, fallible man and tell him that he's the Lord and master of his household, accountable only to God (with whom he has a direct line of communication that is always right).
   Yeah. That is going to end joyfully for the wives.
When Israel went astray after other gods and came under severe judgment, God represented himself as a husband abandoned by his wife, saying, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (Hosea 2:14)". God saw that restoration of his bride began with alluring her with comfortable words.
   What's a comfortable word? To me, "pillow" is a comfortable word. It's fun to say, and brings to mind something fluffy and nice. Is it speaking in a comforting tone of voice? Because after awhile, that would become grating. Kind of baby-talking forever...high pitched, small words, smiling...
   Oh! And it really seems like Michael is saying that it's the man's job to make sure the wife doesn't go "astray". Again, with no real definition as to what astray means. To one man, astray may mean cheating. To another, wanting to cut her hair or serve pancakes instead of waffles. So, so, so many times in this book, Michael has left the defining of words to his audience. Which is dangerous, because rationalisation can be super-easy, especially in a culture with no oversight, and no protection for women, outside of the "headship" of her husband.
   But I guess if man=God, there's no need for oversight, because he will always make the right decision.

Did anyone else just get cold chills?