Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Part Four: Let it Be = Love3

5: Emotional Purity makes a big deal of being absolutely, perfectly, pure for your future mate. While there is nothing wrong with aiming for this, it is absolutely impossible! If you’ve made a mistake somewhere, the book actually makes you feel bad and regretful, even though you’ve moved on. I don’t think that is right. Of all the things that have happened to me, the most painful have been because of contact with others, but I am glad I had them. God uses our fights and frustrations, our disappointments and tears, as a way of getting through to us. Every time I’ve been really hurt, I can look back and see that God wanted to get my attention and sharpen me. As Rosamond goes through the trials of the Wise Woman, so do we go through the trials of the Christian life. The example just given is from George Macdonald’s, little-known story, The Lost Princess; in which the princess is taught by the Wise Woman and undergoes trials to test and sharpen her. The Wise Woman says, before they begin, “‘Rosamond, if you would be a blessed creature instead of a mere wretch, you must submit to be tried’ ‘Is that something terrible?’ asked the princess, turning white. ‘No, my child but it is something very difficult to come well out of. Nobody who has not been tried knows how difficult it is; but whoever has come well out of it—and those who do not overcome never do come out of it—always look back with horror, not on what she has come through, but on the very idea of the possibility of having failed, and being still the same miserable creature as before.’”3 I can truly say that I’m very glad I went through every trial I’ve had—not to have experienced it would have been to stay “the same miserable creature as before.” And the thought of having failed to change is horrifying! Our trials make us stronger, anyone can tell you that. Do you think Scarlett O’Hara regretted any of the things that made her strong? What about Ilsa Lund in Casablanca? Esther? Ruth? Rahab? What about Queen Elizabeth I of England who endured a lonely childhood and rough young-adulthood before ascending to the throne. Obviously, God began molding her at an early age into the wonderful ruler she became. The only way to be physically strong is to train your muscles to work and move as you want them too. Do you think that you will automatically become strong when troubles arise? No, you have to train your mind to work under pressure. You can’t just stand there with quivering lips and faint when problems arise like some of the girls in G.A. Henty books or Miss Elsie Dinsmore. I like several of the Henty books but one should not have a steady diet of the same type of thing. Try some Dickens or Shakespeare for variety. I’m going to digress for a second to bash Elsie Dinsmore: the books are unfit for anyone to read. They are as mushy and sappy as trashy romance novels; Elsie is over-dramatic, brainless, and weak. Why anyone would want her for a role-model is beyond me! I’ve skimmed Elsie’s Girlhood—very sappy and over-dramatic—and two of my girlfriends showed me Elsie’s Kith and Kin; we looked in disgust upon the first page where Elsie and her husband have a kissing session. (At least I think it was Elsie...maybe it was a relative of hers. Anyway, it doesn't matter.) We slapped the book shut, exchanged looks and my friend said, “That’s why we hate the Elsie Dinsmore books.” There are so many works of literature that are better than Elsie Dinsmore; try Betsy-Tacy or The Sarah’s Journey series instead. This brings up a very interesting point; are we trying to make women weak? I don’t want to be a guy, I love being a girl but I’m not just going to be weak and wimpy to make men feel strong. Think of a woman’s mentality during WWII, “I won’t/can’t join the army but I’ll help it along by serving in USO’s or at factories making equipment. If I sit at home nothing will get done and the country will fall apart.” You can maintain your femininity and still be spunky and strong. It’s all in personality and character; there are as many wimpy men as weak women and as many strong women as courageous men. I’ve noticed that several of these Christian instructional books use a very pathetic woman as an example and that is just not right! There was a book written, titled The Heart of the Rose, by Mabel A. McKee, in 1940. (Remember, just because a book is old, does not mean it’s good. It can be written from a biblical world view and still have nothing but fluff printed on the pages.) It has since been reprinted and I purchased this little book at the same time as Emotional Purity and Passion and Purity. On the back cover is a recommendation from Elizabeth Elliott, so I assumed it would be good. The story is a simple one: the brother is heading off to college, he and a pal are saying goodbye to two of their girl friends and then, later, the boy’s older sister instructs him in purity. It is written in the typical “flowery” style of Grace Livingston Hill and other late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century Christian authors. When I first read it, I enjoyed it but something wasn’t right. It took me awhile to figure out what but it is simply this: the girl that the young man likes, “Rose”, is number one, your typical blushing, shrinking, washout, weakling. She can’t seem to make up her mind and allows the young man hold her hand, though she acts like she’d rather not allow him the liberty. Later, the sister talks to her brother, “‘If you had kissed Rose tonight, it would have been easy for you to kiss her again. You haven’t yet, have you?’ He shook his head. ‘I am so glad,’ she continued. ‘It will be so much better for her. If she permits you these familiarities, she will permit others the same ones. She may soon become as reckless as Dorothy, and then we dare not think of the future.’”4 Read that twice please. If this logic is correct, then, I suppose that if you kiss your wife she will allow other men to kiss her as well? What kind of woman is so weak that she can’t keep herself for one man?! The conversation between sister and brother continues on for several pages, this is what the sister says, in response to the boy’s asking why he can’t let Rose know he cares for her. “‘You mean you will crush the petals of your own rose, and then enjoy the heart when it is opened. When you come back you may not even want to see the heart when it is opened; you are just a boy. If you do, there will be times when you will see those crushed petals and be sorry. You may blame yourself, but you will probably blame Rose. You may grow so discontented that you will blame another man. If you know she allowed you these caresses, these little familiarities, you will think she would allow others.’ He spoke with pride, ‘I know Rose.’ ‘We will look at it from her side. After she realizes those petals have been crushed by you she may be afraid of the future. She may be afraid that you have wondered far into the garden and come back to her a worn-out traveler. She may be afraid that you will not appreciate her and that you will not deal rightly with her.’”5 My, my, how far we go in making a point! Rose must be like Elsie Dinsmore—over-sensitive and romantic. In Rilla of Ingleside, Rilla promises her sweetheart Kenneth, that she won’t let anyone else kiss her while he’s gone fighting in World War I. She keeps that promise, though they do not meet again, until four years later, when the war ends. She is never, not once, afraid that Ken won’t appreciate her or not deal rightly with her. The Heart of the Rose’s basic message, once you plough through the melodrama, is to keep yourself pure for one person. That’s a great thing! But I don’t think using the example of an extremely weak girl is very convincing; there are other books that can make a point without resorting to that.

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