Wednesday, June 29, 2011

College bound

I've appreciated the comments on my previous entries about patriarchy.  I've had quite the rousing discussions happening on my facebook page as well.  I think it is good to stimulate one another to think and pray about theological and cultural issues.

As I've said before, I think there is a need for restoration in the family.  I think God has an amazing plan for families, and that plan has been distorted and warped by the enemy.  Fatherlessness is an epidemic and divorce rates are sky high. I appreciate ministries like Above Rubies that hold up a standard saying that God created motherhood and we should embrace child-rearing and loving our husbands.  I am thankful that I found other Christians who taught me that children are a blessing and that I could trust God and accept a larger family.

But I still contend that there is a dangerous edge to some of these ministries.

A friend and I were discussing our daughters recently.  She was saying how much harder it is to raise sons because their education is so much more important.  She said that really, as long as her girls can keep house and balance a checkbook she feels she has done a good job.  I asked if the girls would be prepared for college with such a rudimentary education and she just gawked at me.  "I can't imagine sending my sweet girls to college!  It's a horrible place!  And why would they need to go, anyway?  I mean, why spend money on all that when I know God wants them to be homemakers?"  She then offered to lend me a book and video ( The Return of the Daughters  and So Much More) so I could see the error of my plans.

As I did more research I realized that this is a common and growing belief in patriocentric families and ministries.  Ministries like Vision Forum don't come right out and say it is a sin for a girl to go to college, but they do say that it is poor stewardship of resources.  Similarly, blogs like By His Grace and For His Glory and Generation Cedar talk about how training girls to be homemakers is the only Godly plan for their lives.

The crazy thing is, I never heard Jesus say any of this stuff.

Once, He had dinner with two sisters.  One wanted to do housework and cook, while one wanted to sit at His feet and learn.  So, of course, since women are called to the kitchen and not to education, He rebuked Mary and sent her to sweep while the men learned, right?

No, our Savior praised the woman who wanted to learn of Him and told Martha she would do well to sit and learn with Mary.

I Corinthians 7:8 says , "Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do." Why? Paul goes on to explain in verse 34-35, "An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord."

Since Paul explains that remaining single to serve the Lord is a good thing, we can rightly assume that marriage and homemaking are not the only choices that should be available to Christian young women who desire to please God.

So, will my girls go to college?  I expect so.  Now, will it be traditonal four-year, live-away-from-home college?  I don't know.

What I do know is that Philip and I believe God has amazing plans for each of our three girls.  Plans that may include careers, home-making or a blend of the two.  God has not limited them to the kitchen (not that there is anything wrong with the kitchen!) - but given each talents that they will use for His glory.  I expect that our daughters (and our sons) will pray long and hard with us about what they are to do with their lives.  I expect that as we give our input and they listen to the Holy Spirit, He will guide them. 

Our sweet Susannah love science and art.  I can see her being involved in a natural science, caring for animals or even illustrating texts about animals.  Adventurous Abigail is crazy creative.  I never know what she will sculpt next.  I could see her doing interior design or becoming an artist.  Little Leah only likes to crawl around and shove things in her mouth so far, so we'll have to see what talents and interests the Lord has given her.

But I know husband and I will support the girls in whatever endeavors the Lord leads them to undertake, whether that be wiping noses or wielding scalpels.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


So I've been writing about some of the teachings coming out of the conservative/fundamentalist church that I believe are, to varying degrees, toxic and extra-biblical.

I do agree that many of these ministries have some good things to say, and I have tried very hard to  judge only the teachings that they have presented and not the hearts or salvation of the teachers themselves.

But this really takes the cake.

When I read it I had to step back and shake my head in disbelief.

It seems that Doug Phillips, of Vision Forum, believes that it is murder to do surgery to remove an ectopic pregnancy before it ruptures.  He thinks this is a tenable approach because one random woman in Australia carried an ectopic pregnancy attached to her ovary for nine months and gave birth via c/s to healthy baby girl.

It's good logic, you know, to make your case based on the strangest, most bizarre incident you can find (eyeroll).

What this man does not mention is the 40-50 women who die every year in the US from ectopic pregnancy.  What he does not mention is that there are very, very few cases of ectopic pregnancies making it to the age of viability.

I would contend that this man is dangerous, and, dare I say it - cruel.  There are well-meaning Christian families, many whom I know and love, who listen to Mr. Phillips.  And if any of them feel his condemnation and misguided classification of ectopic pregnancy surgery as murder, they could be putting their life in danger for no reason.

Has Mr. Phillips had miscarriages?  Has he wiped away the blood and had the cramps and cried the tears associated with the loss of life and a dream?  I have.  And I know many other women who have.  It is heartbreaking.

I've never experienced an ectopic pregnancy, but I have held the hands of women diagnosed with them.  As a nurse, I've cried with them as they were wheeled away to the OR for emergency surgery to save their lives.  I've seen the vital signs dropping as a woman bleeds out from a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. I've pumped in the fluids and blood to try and save her.  I've watched her color turn grey and her skin become clammy as her life drains into her belly.  It can happen in minutes.  I've seen women go to sonogram and be diagnosed with an intact tubal pregnancy.  They can come back to their room and crash in just a few minutes.  "Watchful waiting" is not an option when you can bleed out in five minutes.

But in Mr. Phillip's theology, a woman who has life-saving surgery, knowing that there is no way the tiny life insider her can be saved, is a murderer.

And that is sick.  It is uncompassionate, rude, cruel and unkind.  Because these women are grieving the loss of their sweet babies, as well as usually facing reduced fertility due to the loss of the affected tube.  I cannot see the character of my Savior in a person who would condemn the grieving mom.  I see legalism, judgment and misogynism.  I see a man, who, for all his talk about valuing women, sees them as expendable. 

As the body of Christ, we should be weeping with those who weep and comforting those who are grieving, not heaping blame and condemnation on their heads.

Monday, June 06, 2011

FREEEEEDOOOOM - aka, why I am renouncing my prairie muffin credentials

I feel like such a fool.  I remember who I used to be, the person my husband fell in love with.  I was so joyful and vibrant and friendly and free.  I read my journals from that time and I see such passionate love for the Father and openness to Him.  And I just don't feel that way anymore.

My husband remarked the other day that I am so stubborn.  That I dig in my heels and refuse to listen to his advice.  And it's true.  I am stubborn.  I am loathe to receive any more instructions or corrections.  But probably not for the reason he infers.

It is because I have been deceived.  For the past 5 or so years I had been wading softly into the waters of Biblical patriocentricity.  I had been reading things from Vision Forum, Ladies Against Feminism, Voddie Baucham and the like.  And I felt so condemned.  Because there is no room in these man-made philosophies for a woman like me.  The only way for me to conform was by changing who I am.  By changing from the person God made me into some strange Stepford wife.  And when my sweet husband added any more advice or correction, no matter how just, I felt as though my knees would buckle under the burden.  My relationship with God was so pathetic.  I could not seek His Face because I knew it would be contorted with disappointment in my failure to conform to the requirements of the "godly."

But the Holy Spirit in me cried out against this.  I was not made for this.  I was not made to be a visionless sidekick.  And I don't think that the Lord created half the population of the world to only be sidekicks.  Christ did not come to deliver me to another set of rules. 

The patriocentrists insist on uniformity in the body.  All members should act alike.  Personal preferences of leaders and fathers are exalted to the status of doctrine and to have a different take on things is labeled sin.  Small verses are catapulted to stardom in their doctrines and whole ways of life are centered around minute portions of Scripture.  "Forget the whole counsel of God," they seem to say, "we only need two verses from Proverbs and a snippet of Titus."

And it is all about control.  Subjugate the women and make the men kings.  Keep your daughters at home until the time comes when you transfer ownership of them to their husbands.   Keep your sons working in the family business and spreading your glory. 

So from now, on, I am not just Philip's helpmeet.  I am Tamara, daughter of God.  I am valuable to Him in my own right, apart from my position as wife or mother.  I have been given dreams and passions apart from those of my husband and it is okay!  I am capable and gifted as a woman.  Not in spite of being a woman or only as an adjunct to a man.  I am made in the image of God, just as a man is.  The fact that an X chromosome sperm fertilized my mother's egg does not make me less in substance or stature before God than if a Y chromosome sperm had done the honors. 

It is okay for me to occasionally need time alone.  Despite what the patriocentrists teach, it is okay to go for a mani-pedi sometimes.  I DO need a little me-time sometimes.  I do need an hour or two to myself.  It doesn't make me selfish, it makes my healthy and honest.  I have six kid, for goodness sake! 

I am valuable to God apart from my womb.  I do not need to engage in militant fecundity to prove my worth or my devotion to Him.  I can be okay with my hysterectomy and I do not need to self-flagellate in the presence of quiverfull women because I cannot bear any more children.  I love babies, but frankly, my quiver is full at the moment.  And that is okay.  God has richly blessed me, but my hands are full!  The patriocentrist ladies won't admit it, but you really cannot do it all! 

Gabriel will be going to speech preschool at the local public school 5 mornings a week next year.  And I am so grateful for the opportunity.  For him and for me.  Because I cannot teach 4 kids with a crazy preschooler at home as well as I can teach 4 kids with said crazy preschooler enjoying friends and fun at school.  The patrio books/blogs would indict me for not training him better and for sending him to public school.  But I have been honest with myself and realized that this is the best thing for all of us.  I could insist that I am capable of juggling all these balls, but it would not be helpful to Gabriel or the rest of us.  He needs the speech help and I need 3 1/2 hrs each morning to teach without constant interruption.  And that is okay!  Praise God that this service is available!

This is not to say that I do not adore my husband or children.  It is not to say that I am not unbelievably blessed to be Philip's bride and the mother of my six amazing kids.  But those things do not define me.  Christ and Christ alone is my portion, not motherhood or marriage or anything else.

It is painful to admit that I have been so deceived.  That I have been like the foolish Galatians, adding law to the finished work of Christ.  But it is true.  And now that my eyes have been opened I just want to shout "FREEEEDOM!"   The weight of law and condemnation is so heavy.  But His burden, His teaching, His truth - they are so, so light. 

I cannot reject the pestilent teaching of the Vision Forum and other Patriocentric ministries strongly enough.  They are divisive and cruel.  They cause strife and division in churches.  They are not humble.  They do not just present teachings for consideration.  They call their critics names and abuse their character and their Christianity.   I repent for ever believing their lies and ask all Christians to honestly compare patriocentric teachings with the Word, remembering that description in the Word does not equal prescription.  Just because Abraham and Jacob were patriarchal leaders does not mean that God intends all fathers to own their daughters like chattel.  They were ancient men, living in an ancient culture, and their habits are not commandments for us.

(PS: My husband did NOT push me in this direction.  He wasn't slipping VF leaflets under my pillow or buying me their books.  I was the one dragging him down this path.)