On Women in Marriage/The Church

I was once engaged to a guy who insisted I say “obey” in the marriage ceremony.  I said I would not.  He said, “I thought you weren’t one of those feminists.”

He was Catholic.  My parents, who would pay for the ceremony, would hold it in our Nazarene church; neither “obey” nor “submit” was in the Nazarene marriage vows.

I never heard in church that I should be an obedient wife.  I refused to have the pastor put “obey” into the marriage vows.

We sometimes argued about this; my fiancé seemed to think that if I didn’t promise to obey him, then if he told me not to go out and have affairs, I would go ahead and have affairs (for example).

The “obey” disagreement was only a symptom of his control issues and emotional abuse.  Eventually he broke up with me, probably tired of my sticking up for myself and refusing to be a doormat.

(Why did I stay with him?  It was probably a combination of, trouble getting dates and hoping he would change.  I suppose I loved him, too.)

His next girlfriend was even more of a “feminist” than I was, so I’m surprised they lasted so long, but they did have a tumultuous relationship and finally broke up.

After finding and marrying a much better man who did not care about wifely obedience, we went to a church which preached a different meaning of submission.

It wasn’t about obedience; it was about the wife submitting to the husband voluntarily and the husband submitting to the wife.  The wife was to respect her husband; the husband was to love his wife.

“Respect” also included “respect for the husband’s role as spiritual head of the household.”  That meant, he would make the decision if there was an impasse, and he was in charge of the spiritual health of the household.

This was much better than how such people as my ex-fiancé interpreted it, because it allowed the woman to have her own opinions and influence decisions.  However, she still seemed to have a second-class status.

I even read an article by Lisa Whelchel in Today’s Christian Woman which said the husband should take over the finances, no matter how bad he was at it!  (I guess my own mother was a “sinner,” then.)  My own childhood church never taught that!  And I wondered how to explain Peter praising Sarah for obeying Abraham and calling him “master.”

Actually, when you take scripture as a whole instead of in bits and pieces, both the husband and the wife are to be totally equal.  Christ explains that rulers in the Church are not to lord it over their followers as earthly rulers would–which he himself demonstrated by example when he went to the Cross to pay the debt to death which freed us from sin and death (Matt. 20:25-28).

St. Paul says that the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the Church.  So if the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the Church, then he is to love her and give himself up for her, not act like “the king of the castle” who must be obeyed.

Here’s an Orthodox view: An Orthodox, Christian Perspective of Marriage by Rev. Fr. Charles Joanides

St. John Chrysostom wrote that “a good marriage is not a matter of one partner obeying the other, but of both partners obeying each other.”  While “the husband giving orders, and the wife obeying them” is “appropriate in the army, it is ridiculous in the intimate relationship of marriage” (p. 72, On Living Simply).  They are obedient to each others’ needs and feelings.

He also wrote that a harsh master, using angry words and threats, causes obedience but not attachment in a slave, who will run away the first chance he gets.  “How much worse it is for a husband to use angry words and threats to his wife.”

Chrysostom went on to describe what, even in our modern age, still plays itself out every day: a husband shouting, demanding obedience to his every whim, even using violence.  But this treatment turns wives into “sullen servants, acting as their husbands require out of cold fear.  Is this the kind of union you want?  Does it really satisfy you to have a wife who is petrified of you?  Of course not.”

Such behavior may make the husband feel better for the moment, “but it brings no lasting joy or pleasure.  Yet if you treat your wife as a free woman, respecting her ideas and intuitions, and responding with warmth to her feelings and emotions, then your marriage shall be a limitless source of blessing to you” (p. 74).

Catharine P. Roth’s introduction to St. John Chrysostom’s On Marriage and Family Life, published by St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press (Orthodox), says the Pauline epistles give the impression of much freedom and equality between the sexes.  They were missionaries and church patrons; the husband’s body was owned by his wife, just as her body was owned by her husband.

But eventually, “the roles of women became restricted, probably to avoid provoking too much conflict with the surrounding patriarchal society.”

Pagan fathers, husbands or masters needed to know their daughters, wives or slaves would still submit to them if they became Christians; “otherwise life could become very difficult for the women.”

This is why some New Testament epistles tell the women to hold to their traditional roles.  In time, this survival strategy became the norm even in Christian families, so rather than overthrow it, Christian teachers tried to “mitigate its exercise or at best transform it from within.”  St. John Chrysostom, rather than trying to change the patriarchal tradition of marriage, taught couples to transform it with love (pp. 10-11).

This introduction–in a book published by an Orthodox press–suggests to me that we should look at marriage not so much in terms of who obeys whom, but in terms of how to love each other and meet each other’s needs.  Outward customs can change from one culture or one century to another; what’s important is Christian love, respect and mutual submission.

Also read this article from the GOARCH website: Domestic Violence at Home: Cursory Observations by Kyriaki Karidoyanes Fitzgerald  [Update 5/2/16: This link now appears to be redirecting to an erroneous link.  I’ll keep it up in case it’s fixed.]

Now, of course, if you’re still not convinced that the husband and wife should submit to each other, not just the wife to the husband, then here’s a tip to get your wife to submit to you:

Act like you don’t care if she submits to you or not.  Then, if she doesn’t, there will be no hard feelings between you.  If she does, it will be willingly, with no resentment on her part.

Also note that yes, indeed, there were women apostles: Junia, Priscilla, Mary Magdalene, Thekla, Nina.

Phoebe was a deaconess (woman who ministered to women in ways improper for a male deacon) who got a personal recommendation from Paul: Apostolic Succession by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr.   So when Paul says he does not allow a woman to teach, he can’t possibly mean that no woman can ever preach or teach men.

Even the Catholic Church, which at the present time is adamantly against women priests, recognizes “Fathers and Mothers of the Church,” or primary teachers of the Apostolic Tradition in the Early Church.  Another class of teacher is called “The Doctors of the Church”; three were women.  Teachers of the Church by Dr. Daniel F. Stramara, Jr.

St. Gregory of Nyssa held a lengthy dialogue with his learned sister in On the Soul and the Resurrection.  He called her “The Teacher.”

Also see this article on Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles.

As for the Orthodox restriction against women priests: As explained to me by an Orthodox believer around 2006, there were women preachers in the Early Church, but not ordained women who distributed sacraments etc.  Modern Protestant churches have preachers taking on the roles of priests, not just preaching but distributing sacraments and taking charge over a church, so we tend to lump the words together when examining the Early Church.

As the explanation continued, the Orthodox do not have a problem with women teaching men (though a layman who preaches is rare).  They allow women all sorts of leadership roles, even the role of epistle reader in the Liturgy.  The highest role possible for humankind in the Church, the Mother of God’s human incarnation, was given to a woman, Mary.

Who was the first apostle?  As my priest explained it, it was not one of the Twelve Disciples–rather, it was Photini, the Samaritan woman at the well.

See Women’s Ordination by Frederica Mathewes-Green, an Orthodox writer who herself has preached in the Orthodox Church!  She writes, “Non-sacramental ministry, such as preaching, is open to non-ordained people, as long as they are continuing in the faith and worship of the Orthodox Church, and in obedience to a spiritual father or confessor.”  She also gives examples of Orthodox women evangelists, theologians, apologists, rulers, etc.

But Orthodoxy does have a problem with women distributing the sacraments, because the priest represents Christ giving Himself to the Church (the bride).  The Eucharist is not just a memorial; it’s not just about Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross; it is also intimate communion with Christ, Christ and the Church (the bride) becoming one, a spiritual counterpart to marriage.

So in any church in which the Eucharist is seen as Christ’s real body and blood, if a woman distributes the sacraments, that’s vaguely homosexual (which is frowned upon in Orthodox marriage).

Summary of Church’s arguments

Concerning Women’s Ordination by Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

An Interview with Bishop Kallistos Ware re: the Role of Women in family/the Church

OCA Q&A: Ordination of Women

Written between probably 2005 and 2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

Tithing 
End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
Creation 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation
Miscellaneous 

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

Dialogues
The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

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Phil Spreads Lies About Me–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 2

This probably happened between December 5 and 12, though not the Friday before December 12: My choir friends went to a church to practice for their upcoming tour.  They would perform Handel’s Messiah in churches, including the Hallelujah chorus–most impressive of all.  They weren’t going to do it at Roanoke, so this was my only chance to hear them.

I came along to help Pearl with her wheelchair, because my friends said I should come and watch the practice.  I believe they first practiced in the sanctuary, but for some reason I wasn’t in there.

Instead, I stayed nearby and wandered around a bit.  It’s quite possible they went there just to do the Hallelujah chorus, and I wasn’t able to go in there, but went looking for the bathroom.

Later, they moved to a choir room.  Just as my friends suspected, the choir director didn’t mind me watching.  Somebody said she’d love it.

I felt a bit uncomfortable having to face the choir as I listened, the only place I could sit, and I flipped through a Life magazine while I listened to keep from looking at them and feeling weird.

But the singing was lovely.  I don’t think I’d ever heard the choir sing better.  The choir director asked me, and I told her how wonderful it sounded.

(Phil wasn’t in the choir this year, so I didn’t have to deal with him.  He had been trying to get away from the Singers and the choir, though the director wanted to keep him in.)

Remember Ned, the tall blond who flirted with every girl who moved, dated Catherine for a while, then dated Melissa, and did Virtual Reality shows with Darryl?  He was there, though he’d graduated, because he was in the S– Symphony Orchestra that accompanied the choir during the tour.  He came over once and hugged Pearl.

****

One day, Clarissa showed me a weird cartoon called Two Stupid Dogs.  I’m almost certain that’s where this line came from for Dolphin Philosophy: “I’m your friend.  You don’t eat your friends!”

****

We had InterVarsity meetings every Tuesday in the Muskie conference room.  We ate dinner there together.  On December 6, Persephone said at the meeting,

“I’m going to break up with Phil.  His parents have been harassing me.  They keep calling every half-hour looking for him when he’s not in my room.  I’ve had mono, but they act like I’m not really sick because I’m up and around now.”

Mike said at one Tuesday meeting that he got a totally unexpected letter from a high school friend he hadn’t heard from in years.  This made me think I should start writing letters to my old high school friends, just out of the blue, like that girl did.  So I wrote a few, though none of them wrote back.

****

Cindy wanted to set up Tara with Randy, but was afraid to because she also tried to set up two people back in freshman or sophomore year.  I didn’t know much about that, but heard it was a big fiasco, and the two people ended up hating each other.

To our surprise, Tara had never met Randy before.  One night during Winterim, Sharon and I tried to reassure her that he was cute and a nice guy.

I had all my Roanoke yearbooks there in my room, so Sharon and I went through them to find pictures of him to show to her.  We finally found his freshman year Cross Country and Track picture, the best we could find.

Tara and Randy decided to meet in the computer lab one night before going out on a date.

They liked each other, and Randy said to Cindy, “She’s so sweet!”  Cindy asked Tara for Randy, “Do you like Bryan Adams?”  Tara loved Bryan Adams.

They had a few other things in common, too.  I said with a smile, “Sounds like a perfect match!”

They decided to start dating, and Tara dressed up for her first date in great anxiety.  She still feared they wouldn’t like each other.  Pearl and Sharon went to her and Pearl said,

“Tara, we’ve decided to live vicariously through you.”  They, like me, had trouble getting dates, and wanted to know everything that happened on Tara and Randy’s date.

The first date must have gone well, because not only did they become a couple, they got married in 1997.  For the rest of senior year, Randy was a common guest in the apartment, which we welcomed–since, after all, Tara never had to kick her roommies out of her bedroom.

****

On the 10th, I wrote a paper for American Lit titled, Richardson and Dickinson–Two “Feminist” Writers.  I noted that both writers–though Samuel Richardson had a different idea of what a proper wife “should” do–depicted

women as capable on their own, and happiness in marriage does not necessarily occur.  Both portrayed women as quite able to be equal to men, if only given the chance.  Such concepts were quite unusual for the day.

Though Richardson’s view of a wife’s role was more traditional, he hardly expected women to be just ornamental or silly, unreasoning creatures.  His novel Clarissa depicted an intellectual and pious young woman, who often acted wisely, though at times she was trapped by her own piety.

For example, her friend Anna Howe noted that if she had not been such a dutiful and sweet-tempered daughter, her family would never have thought they could force her to marry “the odious Solmes.”  She said, in modern terms, that you teach people how to treat you.

Clarissa’s mother, though a perfectly submissive wife, was also trapped by her submission, because she became a doormat, depended on by the rest of the family to submit to anything her husband required her to do.

She felt obliged to go along with her husband when he decided, on his son’s advice, to force Clarissa to marry a contemptible man who offended all her sensibilities.  (Think Wormtail from the Harry Potter series, only with money and land.)

Clarissa agreed that she would have to submit to her husband–but she at least wanted a husband who was worth submitting to and trusting.  Richardson obviously felt women should decide whom to marry, and not just have it decided for them.

Dr. Nelson wrote on my paper, “I’m impressed by your reading–the amount you’ve read and your impassioned condemnation of standards women had to live up to in the 18th and 19th centuries.”

He also wrote that I needed to expand my analysis.  He wrote, “There’s definitely a senior honors thesis to be done here–‘Rebellious women in 18th and 19th century Anglo-American Literature’ or some such.”

****

On the 11th, Anna told me she was wrong about the guy she thought God planned for her to marry!  She had all these “proofs” that God was telling her to marry him, yet he was going out with other girls, not her.

Still, for the past couple of years, she believed he would one day be hers.  Then she found out in November that he was engaged–to someone else.

That’s when she realized it was the Devil’s lies and not God at all.  This also shook my faith in my own fleeces about Phil.

****

By December 15 I sent Mike the following note:

Querido Miguel,

¿Tienes mucho hambre?  ¿Tienes mucha cumtha?  Tienes muy guapos ojanaddiz.  No estas un dorcos pero un uchasosio.

Estrella

I signed it “Estrella” to hide who I was, since you don’t need a return address for on-campus mail.  The meaning was,

“Are you very hungry? Do you have a lot of (Nonsense word: food)?  You have very handsome (nonsense word: eyes + nose).  You are not a (nonsense word: dork) but a (nonsense word: U.C.C. member).”

Yes, it was a joke, something he couldn’t translate.  Pearl told me he went mad trying to translate it, and wondered why someone would send him that.  He soon found out who sent him the message.

I also sent this to Astrid around the same time, and signed it with the name I picked for myself in German class in high school:

Liebe Astrid,

Guten Tag, meine Freundin!  Bist du gut aufgelegt?  Hoffentlich hast du ein guten Tag.  Und hier ist ein gutes Lied:

Mein Hut, er hat drei Ecken,
Drei Ecken hat mein Hut.
Hat er nicht drei Ecken,
Er ist nicht mein Hut!

Jutta-Uschi

It meant, “Hello, my friend!  Are you in a good mood?  Hopefully you’re having a good day.  And here is a good song:”

The following is an actual, German drinking song, which Frau taught my German class:

“My hat, it has three corners, / Three corners has my hat. / If it doesn’t have three corners, / It is not my hat!”

I received many Christmas cards with wonderful messages.  My favorites:

From Sharon: “I really enjoy having you as a roomie.  You’re a great person–one of the most unique people I know.  I thank God for friends like you.”

From Mike: “Who hatched the egg that [our teacher] laid?  We did!”

****

Charles knew Phil, who kept trying to be friends with him, but Charles thought he was trying too hard.  Charles didn’t like people pushing to be his friend.

I talked with Pearl the night of the fifteenth, and she told me that Randy had started to be good friends with Phil now.

Randy used to be friends with Peter freshman year, before Peter started smoking weed and embarrassed Randy at a family function by bragging about it.

It seemed like some sort of requirement that my exes be friends with each other and with Randy at some point, and that they join the Zetas (which Charles did in the spring).  It was weird.

But then, I guess that’s small-college life for you.  Fortunately, Randy didn’t seem to like or stay friends with Phil for long.

I feared that Randy’s friendship with my exes explained why he didn’t want to date me, that they poisoned his mind against me with lies.  But Cindy set him up with Tara, and they eventually got married, so it no longer mattered anyway.

Cindy told Pearl that Randy told her that Phil said I forced him to go to Indiana and stay there for the summer, that my parents wanted to check him out and see if they wanted him to keep dating me.

This blatant lie shocked me.  I wanted to confront him about this as soon as possible.

I already wanted him to get out of my life and go far away where I would never see or hear of him again.  I did not want him back anymore.  But this was the last straw that sent me over the edge; I wanted the controlling and abuse to stop once and for all.

I didn’t see him, so I wrote a note.  Furious, I mailed it without letting it sit for long, which I shouldn’t have done, since I wrote some things that were mean, not just righteously angry.

I still regret them, and did later apologize for them, when I found him online years later.

But among the mean things, I wrote many things I never regretted, because they confronted him with the lies he kept spreading about me.  Sometimes such letters must be sent to get closure.

I told him what I just heard, that he knew it was a lie, and if he kept lying, I would report him to Memadmin.

I said I’d been trying to forgive him, but he wasn’t making it any easier.

I said I was sick of his abuse and being his scapegoat for what went wrong.  

I did give him a chance to tell me if the report I heard was wrong, but I also wrote, “Leave me and my life alone.”  Though I didn’t think of calling him a stalker, I probably could have justifiably.

Over Christmas Break, I worried whenever I thought of the note, whether it was really justified, and what would be the results.

When I got back to school, I kept expecting to open my mailbox to a scathing reply, but got nothing.  No defense, no cries of being unjustly accused.  Just complete and utter silence–not even to say hi or nod when we passed on the sidewalk.

I later learned that the school counselor (bless her heart) told him to stay away from me.  Finally, peace!

He told Pearl he didn’t say those things.

But I don’t believe him because, as I told you in the July & August 1994 chapter, one day over the summer he went on and on, reproaching me about the things he gave up to stay with me over the summer.  Though I never forced him to stay with me, he talked that day as if I had.  

And I’ve also shown you in the September 1994 chapter how he pretended to be depressed and lied to Dirk because he wanted Dirk and his roommates to feel a certain way.  He told his friends lies about me, lies which kept coming back to me, so why wouldn’t I believe he said this as well?  

I knew he used his acting ability to lie and manipulate.  Why wouldn’t he do the same to Pearl?

Once, right after I got back in January, I saw him sitting alone with Persephone, in a solitary part of the cafeteria.  He saw me.  He sat all hunched over and upset-like, his head down and his fists up to his shoulders.

Ever since then, he gave me weird looks when he saw me.  Like he felt guilty or was mad at me or just didn’t know what to say to me–I really don’t know which.

For a while, even Persephone seemed to look at me oddly, almost as if she feared to talk to me or something.  Then she talked to me sometimes, but I tried to avoid her.

I didn’t trust her.  I felt like she and certain others could be kind of like spies, whether they knew it or not: Anything I said or did around them could get reported to Phil, so I tried to guard myself around them and avoid them.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

 

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Persephone confronts me about the letter–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 5

The following is adapted from a diary entry, which I copied and added many extra details to about two years later.  Those details were as accurate as I could still remember:

11/15/94–12:23 AM

Blackness again.  The letter is known to Persephone, but I’ve cleared things up with her, and she’s not mad at me anymore.

It still angers me that she even knows about that or the one before it.  She refused to see the first one–he offered to show it to her!  What a creep.

I thought, after the Tracy letter, which he didn’t show me out of respect for her, that he was more trustworthy than that.  But no, he is not to be trusted.

The spiritual marriage has entered the grapevine–probably through Dirk, Persephone says–and is known to people who have no business knowing.  She says, “Tell a world, tell a Dirk.”

She herself heard it not through Phil, but through a freshman girl in Muehlmeier who said to her, “I’m really not supposed to tell anyone this, BUT…”  I have no idea who all it’s spread to.

I feel weird and indignant at everyone, just when I’m walking around the cafeteria!  I feel like they’re all looking at me and judging me now.  This could even reflect on InterVarsity.

I don’t like these small-town grapevines.  People always have to know other people’s business.  Well, get your nose out of my affairs, you busybody!  I feel so humiliated.  I don’t even like to leave the apartment.

I’m beginning to think about pressing charges, even–breach of contract plus rape. Yes, there have been several times he’s raped me, and only once did I realize that’s what he did.  It took a speaker here at school the other week to help me realize that.

God, convict him!  That week we were back together, engaged, married even–he apparently wasn’t intending to honor the marriage contract–that’s rape because it was false pretenses!

Persephone pulled me aside after lunch on Sunday to talk to me, and to give me a letter she had written to me.

As I sat there reading it, I felt more and more indignant, and had plenty to say on it because it seemed written by someone who didn’t even know what my letter truly said.

It sounded more like Phil had totally distorted everything for her.

It talked about forgiveness as if it never even entered my mind!  I explained that the purpose of the letter, as clearly stated in the letter, was so I could forgive!

There were other things, too, which I’ll mention later, though I won’t necessarily say if they were in the letter or not.

I was mad that Phil had told her about it, but she said that some things should be told.  I don’t think this was one of those things, though.  I said that nowadays I do nothing without God’s okay, and this I felt had God’s okay.

Persephone thinks Dirk thinks he knows everything.  Considering the things he’s told Phil (who listens to him) and me (who doesn’t), I agree.  She doesn’t like him, and doesn’t like having to see him all the time because he’s Phil’s best friend.

There have also been things Phil did to me or that we went through that he told her about, without respect for me, thinking she would take his side.  Instead, she told him he’s an a–hole.  He also doesn’t like that she’s friends with me!  She thinks he’s afraid of something.

She says her dad … is very much like Phil.  Her mother wonders why she’d want to date someone so much like her father.

She said if I think what he did to me on certain occasions was rape, there are people I should talk to about it.  [I didn’t because I didn’t want my parents to find about the spiritual marriage/sex.]

I never told him I could sue him for breach of contract, and he didn’t realize I could until she told him, and that shocked him.  [I didn’t want to, but felt empowered simply because I could do it, but didn’t.]

She said it probably wouldn’t work anyway because, in this day and age, people break engagements all the time.  But I saw a promo for a news story recently that said people can sue for it, and my dad had brought it up in the first place.  I’d never heard of it myself until then.

Persephone said in her letter that, in the Old Testament, when the husband put the wife away, they were divorced.  I don’t know why she thought it necessary to say this.  I’ve never said, and I don’t believe, that Phil and I are still married.  It’s a divorce, and I admit it.

But, though I’m allowed to marry again, having been put away for no fault of my own, if Phil were to marry another, he’d be committing adultery.  [I was following Christian rules on divorce, which are different from legal ones.]

Persephone says she doesn’t intend to marry anyone because she knows she herself is grounds for divorce.  Phil doesn’t like this.  Apparently, so soon after throwing aside his wife, he’s talking about marriage with another woman.

She says Phil says he loves her and she says to that, “No, you don’t!”

She says she knows from her parents (actor-father, maybe?  I forget) what real comedy is, and that Phil doesn’t.  (Phil makes constant jokes and references that are often lost on others.)

After the Bible verses in my letters were mentioned, the things I said about sin and such, Persephone said, “One thing I’ve seen is that when a person starts using the Bible as a defense, they’ve lost the argument.”

That’s a load of hooey when you’re dealing with Christians.  Christians are the ones who usually respect the Bible–who count it as the Official Guidebook, the Final Authority on anything.

When you use Bible verses taken in context, you use the strongest argument you could possibly use with another Christian.  That’s the thing that I have seen.

I remember Phil telling me at the beginning of the semester that he was starting to practice better hygiene so he’d be attractive to other women, but I guess he hasn’t kept that up.  Persephone keeps having to throw soap and a towel at him and tell him to clean up before she’ll let him in her room!  (In some ways, I do admire her spunk.)

He shaved his beard soon after we broke up the first time, I guess as another way to appear more attractive, but probably not until after he tried out for a part in the play and knew whether or not he’d need a beard for the part.

I think he looks silly without a beard and Anna agrees with me, but Persephone says she won’t let him grow one because he looks like a scuzzball and kind of scares her.

When I mentioned the time I snubbed him in Jubilee, she said she heard about that.  She thinks that the way to effectively ignore a guy is not to treat him differently from other guys–not snub him completely, because that makes him feel special, set apart from other guys.

I’m not so sure this is true.  Mom always tells me not to talk to the guy who’s done me wrong, but to ignore him–first Peter, now Phil.

And Dad thinks the effectiveness of the “snubbing” method you choose depends on the guy.  He doesn’t think anything else would get through to Phil but to snub him completely.

In the letter she says that instead of “marrying,” we should’ve just called it premarital sex and taken the responsibility and consequences “like adults”–an unfair judgment of something she wasn’t even a part of.

And Phil and I had agreed with each other that just being engaged doesn’t mean you can sleep together, so if we hadn’t been married, we would’ve been wracked with such guilt if we’d had sex!  This way, there was no guilt or shame, because it’s not a sin to have sex with your own spouse.

She tells me that the first time we got “married,” Phil really thought he’d marry me.  The second time, he was just horny! Isn’t that rape?–

–Oh, gosh, and I remember how pushy he was, too, that second time!  How he’d push me on the bed as soon as we got into my room and we were alone, without a “how’d you do,” and cover us with my afghan. 

Once or twice, when I was preparing for the usual position, he poked his thing in my face–and it was smelly this time, unlike before–for me to suck, and held onto my head so I had to do it.

I told Persephone how he’d also say last summer, when I didn’t want to do anything but vaginal sex, “Sure, have your way, you always get your way!”–Persephone said, “It’s your body!”

She and I both agree he lays on guilt trips all the time.  She also says he gets horny and says to her what he often said to me: “Don’t you want a beautiful baby?”–

But she doesn’t even want kids, she wants her tubes tied at a certain age (twenty-two or twenty-five, I believe), so whenever he tries anything with her, she hits him in the balls.  She says he’s “an idiot, sexually.”

I told her about the time Phil threw a tantrum and I thought it was his dream-self, not his real, conscious self.  I spoke of how awful it was, how awful he acted.  Persephone said something like, “Well, that’s over now,” and I should get over it.  Her words seemed callous.

[I thought we were sharing? Why did she say this about this particular incident, but not about the others?  That makes no sense at all!]

She spoke of Phil’s increasing troubles at home and called his mother a dragon.  (Later, she would tell me he practically lived with her in Muehlmeier for a while because of his bad homelife.  I remembered I didn’t allow him to stay overnight in my room in Krueger, for two reasons: 1) It was against the rules, and 2) Clarissa wouldn’t have liked it.)

She says even Tracy agreed to do something with him and Persephone recently.  It shocked us all–Persephone, me, probably Phil.  He ended up driving so erratically that Tracy (obviously when the minivan was stopped) got him to go down on his knees, and demanded his keys from him!

What’s really odd is that Persephone says she doesn’t even like Phil!  At least, not as a boyfriend.  She rips on him whenever he’s not around, and would have preferred dating James, whom she liked at the beginning of the year.

She said she’d just sent James a letter saying how she felt when Phil asked her out, and then James tried to talk to her but Phil came over.  She thought James was sullen after that because: “I think I was the first female to get through to him, and then he saw me with Phil, and he didn’t like that!”

I liked him once, too, and thought he liked me, and then finally ended up with Phil; I wonder if he ever knew I liked him?  I know I started dating Phil maybe a few months after I first tried to ask James out….

She thinks it’ll take me at least a year to forgive Phil.

She also says she was taught to believe in the Bible, but be wary of it because it was written by man.  I don’t agree, since I believe it was written by God through man….

She also thinks that she, the freshman, knows more about human nature than some of us in the group who are older, but I don’t really think that’s true.  She doesn’t even know some of the things I’ve gone through in the past, and I don’t think she should judge us so quickly.

Persephone says Phil had another nervous breakdown after he got my letter….Two breakdowns in seven months?!…Why doesn’t he get help?  He doesn’t need a girlfriend, he needs a psychiatrist!

Pearl says so, too; she says he totally doesn’t seem ready for a girlfriend.

Dad already thought he was psycho and on the edge, and he said the other night that he didn’t even know about the first breakdown!

Persephone didn’t even stick around to take care of him–she stuck her roommate Trina with him while she went to do something with the Mirror!  I thought it was so very un-loving of her.

I gave up a review for the Botany lab final to take care of him, a review in the woods that sounded like so much fun, and Mrs. Rev understood and said he was lucky to have me!–I held my tongue, though, when Persephone told me what she did.

At the end, she said that not only does she have no reason to be mad at me after all–she took away her letter, which no one else had seen, and started folding it up, like it wasn’t needed anymore–but she will also try to steer Phil away from me, out of respect for my feelings.

Also, I said that, as I told my friends, the breakup with Charles didn’t bother me at all.  I mentioned my crush on Mike, and she said he must be an acquired taste.  She said she’d like Jim Carrey, and I said, “He must be an acquired taste!”…

I find my observations on Phil are the same as Persephone’s on many counts.  She knows exactly what he’s like, things it took me months to find out.  For example, he rips on things important to her–i.e., the Mirror–like he did to me–i.e., InterVarsity [and my friends].

There are plenty of other things, too, but I really must go to bed.  First class is canceled tomorrow, but not my 10:30.–1:43 AM

I heard later on that, the next school year, Persephone chased Mike!  She must have acquired the taste.

So at first, I was the victim being blamed, the victim being told to shut up, the victim being told it’s wrong to confront my abuser. 

But by the end of the conversation, she realized there was nothing for which to be angry at me.  She took her letter back.

Also, on November 30, I saw in action how Phil ripped on the thing important to Persephone: He wrote a letter to the editor about how terrible The Mirror was, with inaccuracies, proofreading problems–and even accused the staff of lying about addressing student concerns, and only printing letters from staff members!

His letter was often confusing.  I wonder what Persephone thought of this baffling and flaming letter against her important thing.

As far as I’m concerned, though she kept telling him he was an a–hole, Persephone knew what Phil did to me, so every moment she stayed with him she was telling him through her actions that it was OK!

As for what she said about knowing more about human nature than my friends and I did–She was dating a guy she didn’t like, she didn’t even seem to like him much as a human being, and knew full well what he was and what he’d done to me, but stayed with him–and she said she knew more about human nature???

I certainly was reassured to hear she took pains to keep from sleeping with Phil.  I didn’t like to think of Phil sleeping with anyone else, not while my body still remembered what it was like to sleep with him and still longed for his touch, and physically hurt to think of him with any other woman in his bed.

Phil had argued that I should find someone with my own ideas of fun and partying, as if that somehow determined lifelong day-to-day happiness.  Well, he found someone who liked to party, but seemed to forget about the things he said were most important to him in a wife.

Phil refused to use birth control for religious reasons; Persephone did not want children and planned to get her tubes tied.  I had agreed to use natural family planning because it meant so much to him, but she would use a permanent form of birth control.

After he complained so much that I would not convert to Catholicism, I don’t know why he wanted to date someone who would have obviously refused conversion even more fervently than I (she was Methodist and later became Pagan, even using spells and seeing ghosts).

He didn’t want “one of those feminists” who didn’t want to obey her husband, but she was far more of a feminist than I was.

Phil followed the Catholic teaching on birth control, but no longer wanted to follow the Catholic teaching on premarital sex.  Those two things together are a recipe for trouble, as he learned the hard way eventually.  (He had to marry his next girlfriend.)  This is probably why Persephone called him “an idiot sexually.”

She hadn’t realized how soon after our breakup they started dating.  Apparently he lied to her.

So, just walking around the cafeteria, I felt like everybody knew about the secret marriage and was judging me.

Of course, now that my friends, Phil’s friends, and who knew who, knew about the secret marriage, you could say that we met another important criteria of marriage: common knowledge that we were married.

(There are those who say a marriage isn’t valid unless it’s public–discounting even a legal elopement or Romeo and Juliet’s marriage.)

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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“The Regime”: Left Behind Review, Part 2

 

Part 1

On page 143, we find more of Irene trying to get Rayford to change churches….

Geez, when I began looking into Orthodoxy, my husband said he would go with me if I chose it–but I could tell he didn’t want to.  So I released him from his promise so he could go back to the Lutheran church, after we spent several years trying to find one church we both liked; I became Orthodox on my own.  I do not push him like Irene does.

She has to realize that conversion from one church to another cannot be made lightly, that it has to be desired by the heart, not badgered.  Rayford also has to realize that he can’t ridicule and force her into staying in a church she does not like.

My college memoirs speak of my ex Phil trying to shame me into becoming Catholic because “otherwise we can’t get married,” even though I was staunchly Evangelical.  St. John Chrysostom has some good words on the matter:

It is as if Paul were saying, “If your husband is not contentious, it could very well prove to be worthwhile if you stay with him.  So stay, give him advice, persuade him of the truth.”  No teacher is so effective as a persuasive wife.

Notice, however, that St. Paul doesn’t forcibly impose this idea, and demand that every spouse, no matter what the circumstances, attempt to persuade his partner in this way; such a demand would be too burdensome.

On the other hand, he doesn’t recommend the whole situation to be dismissed as hopeless (Homily 19 on 1 Corinthians 7).

However, he says that if your unbelieving husband tries to force you to violate your beliefs, beats you, picks fights, it’s better to separate, and better to let the unbelieving spouse leave.

So you see he advocates gentle persuasion for a spouse who is open to it, but not forcing your beliefs on the other.

On page 153, we see the natural outcome of henpecking your husband: He starts looking elsewhere for solace.  He starts driving home a hot stewardess, Hattie, whom we already know from the post-Rapture books.

We read, “He was certain he had never had as beautiful a woman in such close proximity.”  Not even his ex-girlfriend, who was hot but self-centered?  Hasn’t he ever, in his entire life, driven home a beautiful friend, or sat next to a beautiful girl in a class or church, or had a beautiful teacher?

This next part is not related to theology, but I was pleasantly surprised to find, on pages 164 to 167, the answer to what happened with my car years ago: Buck and his best friend Dirk are stuck on the side of the road after an engine lock-up: Buck has not been paying attention, so the car runs out of oil and overheats.

[S]uddenly all the gauges lit up, the dashboard lights went out, the headlights dimmed, and the car shut down.

Back at my first job after college, I was forced to drive because my job was in the next county, out of range of public transportation.  I also had an old beater, because I couldn’t afford anything better.  The oil began leaking, so I kept oil cans in the trunk, and tested it every time I filled up (which was every few days).

Despite my diligence, on the way to work one day, in terrible wintry weather, my car suddenly began slowing down right on the highway!  I couldn’t get it to behave, so I pulled over to the side before a catastrophe happened.

This was the mid-90s, when a few people had cell phones, but I didn’t get one until 2007.  So until a sheriff’s car came by, or somebody took pity on me, I had to deal with it myself, knowing almost nothing about cars, and being scared of driving.  (Situations like this did not help the fear.)

I had no clue what happened, or how to fix it, but since I knew how to deal with oil and had an oil can, I tried that first.  After dumping in two quarts, I got back in–and my car was fine after that.

I always wondered what that was all about, but here, in an unexpected place, I found my answer: an overheated car, apparently out of oil, and engine lock-up.

Irene’s conversion has somehow made her automatically proficient in Christianese.  Just on page 177, for example, she uses such terms as, “soak up real Bible teaching and preaching” and “I’m starving to death spiritually.”  It must have been implanted in her brain along with the salvation.

Also, remarkably, her conversion has somehow turned her–not into an obedient and submissive wife, since she keeps badgering Rayford about converting and arguing with him over the funeral–but into a wife who wants to be obedient and submissive.

Didn’t Irene grow up sometime in the 21st century, when the culture has moved away from that whole man-the-head-of-the-household thing?  I can’t imagine Rayford’s (most likely) liberal church insisting on such things.  That’s far more easily found in the Fundamentalist/Evangelical churches.

Liberal churches tend to celebrate being open, welcoming, affirming, allowing homosexuality, women breaking barriers and being preachers, that sort of thing.  Yet from what Irene says here, Rayford expects to be the head of the household, and expects the woman to submit:

“Right now everything in our marriage is how he wants it.  There’s no real give-and-take….

“And if he’d just give me an iota of consideration, I’d be more than happy to let the rest of my life revolve around him.  Something tells me, though, that he’s got the wrong idea of what it means to be the head of the household.”

“Hey,” Jackie said, “even Christian men often miss that.”

Once I get through gagging over making her life revolve around a man, I sputter again over the “even Christian men.”  What do you mean, “even”?  Are you suggesting that the 21st century American culture-at-large–probably at least a few decades from now–would still be forcing that outdated idea on wives?  This is 2013!

By the time the events of this book supposedly take place, marriages–if they still exist outside religious groups–will probably be even more egalitarian than they are now.  Rayford’s concept of the woman doing whatever he wants, should be long since dismissed as archaic.

The following pages try to make Christian marriage sound more equal than the concept that wives are subservient because God says so.  Basically, you submit to each other, the husband is responsible for his wife’s spiritual health, he should treat her right, etc. etc.

Which is a great improvement, and sounds like what I heard in Evangelical churches around 2000.  It isn’t about the husband getting his way all the time and deciding where to go, what to do, what to eat, etc. etc.  He’s supposed to honor her and listen to her concerns and input, not terrorize and abuse her.

However, the husband still gets to make the decision if they “come to loggerheads over some important issue.”  I’ve also seen in the post-Rapture books that even Chloe would get sassy but ultimately submit because she’s “supposed” to do what her husband says.

And saying my husband is responsible for my spiritual health, makes me sound like a child who can’t take care of my own spiritual health.  I can’t imagine letting my husband make spiritual decisions for me, or tell me what to do.

You’d think someone of Irene’s generation, would fight tooth and nail against any sort of control by her husband.  That even a housewife like Irene would insist on more to life than having it “revolve around” Rayford.

Cameron then goes to his mother’s funeral.  His sister-in-law, Sharon, cries through the whole thing–which would be understandable.  But we learn that it’s not for grief of her loss: Cameron’s mother was already a Christian, but not Sharon’s kind of Christian, not properly “saved.”

Sharon constantly badgered her to get “saved,” and got rebuffed again and again.  Cameron’s mother finally said enough is enough, and she’ll stick with what makes her comfortable.  To which Sharon “got into making sure ‘you’re not comfortable now but burning in hell later.'”

I’m not a bit surprised that they “barely spoke for more than six months.”  But then Cameron’s mother got cancer, and they were close again, “but there was no indication that Mrs. Williams had ever received Christ.”  So Sharon was now distraught for fear her mother-in-law was now “burning in hell.”

What?  But she was already a Christian, right?  Why would she be burning in hell?

On page 217, Irene refers to Rayford’s church (and her own, though she desperately wanted to switch to New Hope) as a “country club of a church.”  What kind of church is this anyway?

On page 218, Cameron is back at Princeton, “finding it hard to concentrate on finishing.”  This seems understandable at first, because his mother just died, his mommy, his first beloved–until we find it’s because he can hardly wait to start his new job.

What?  I can understand being excited for a new job, but dang it, his mother just died of cancer!

To be continued……

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