Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Dad's Goals for Me

Written when I was eleven for me and my sister:

1. That she will grow up to be healthy and happy.
2. That she will grow up to live the life of a true Christian.
3. That she will grow up to make the world a better place to live by making decisions that make a positive difference in people’s lives.
4. That she will work hard for the causes she believes in.
5. That she will treat others the way she would like to be treated, with dignity and respect, and be accountable for decisions that she makes.

Still trying to live up to them. :-)


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just Kiss Her Already

"Why don’t you kiss her instead of talking her to death?" — Nosy neighbor to George Bailey, It’s A Wonderful Life.

Recently, I was watching re-runs of the show 19 Kids and Counting which features the large Duggar family. What struck me the most were the episodes about their oldest son Joshua and his fiancée/then wife Anna. They tell their story and why they are saving their first kiss, but then they are allowed to hold hands.... Actually, I mean caress each other's hands. If anyone else saw this they know what I mean. When they were together, Josh and Anna's hands hardly ever parted-- they stroked each other's fingers and wrapped their hands around each other's hands. It was disgusting. It was like they were putting all of their sexual tension into their handholding. I just wanted to push their heads together and make them kiss just so they could stop their horrible caressing.

Several years ago, I was a member of "The Rebelution" forums (which I could devote several posts to in itself). I remember a thread titled "Virgin Lips," in which 200 + girls were all saving their first kiss for their wedding day. Talk about peer pressure! The girls were adamant that it was wrong to kiss before you were married (Hmm… I wonder who they heard that from? Maybe Josh Harris?) and they were all discussing how "romantic it is to save your first kiss" and "it is so pure." I think that many people (Vision Forum and Botkinites included) over-think the issue of kissing! In fact, at the most recent Botkin wedding, after the “conference” was over the bride and groom got to **gasp** share their first… EMBRACE! How horrible is that!?! They seem to assume that if one kisses than they will have more impure thoughts and feelings, and that you shouldn't have any feelings whatsoever until you are married-- and if then. I recently talked to a professional counselor who talks to couples and also single women before they marry and do you know what she said? She said that many Christian couples have issues with intimacy when they first get married, because they are scared or feel guilty about having sex. In fact, many don't really know what to do or what they should feel. For some, it takes many counseling sessions to get the couples to the point that they feel comfortable with intimacy. Hmm... I wonder why!? It seems that there is too much peer pressure on not kissing and so much of a focus on "staying pure" that some couples can't enjoy intimacy. On a different note: I often wonder why there are so many books published for Christians regarding intimacy? It seems kind of strange, like we need a how-to guide.... You sure don't see as many books in non-Christian circles for this subject! I just wish that Christians were not so legalistic about stuff that is not in the Bible... nowhere in the Bible is there any verse saying that you can't kiss before you are married. Not one. I'm tired of Christians making up rules for things that should just come naturally-- like kissing. If a couple really wants to wait for their wedding day to kiss, it should be their own decision, not made for them by family, friends, and books that bully and guilt them into waiting. It's almost like there is an unspoken rule: If you kiss before you are married, you have sinned and you are not really a virgin.

I am not saving my first kiss for my wedding day. I want my first kiss to be in private-- away from relatives and cameras. I do not need it recorded on film for future generations either. (Oh... and engagement should be private too! Not in front of the whole family.) And, for the record, just because a couple kisses does not mean they are going to go sleep together afterwards. As my sister Ingrid pointed out, "Having never been kissed, I cannot draw from personal experience but I can say that kissing seems to be highly over-rated. So over-rated that Christians are encouraging each other to wait until the wedding day to share their first kiss in front of 10-500 people. It must be wonderful if it requires such an audience!..." Oh, and for the record George Bailey kisses Mary before they get married!! :)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Falling off Again

“The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side. One can't help him, no matter how one tries. He wants to be the devil's.” - Martin Luther.1

I’m choosing to stay at home and joyfully serve my father as God as called me to do. The world tells me that I can go to college and have it all: a career and a family but I know this is a lie. The world hates us for being keepers at home but I know that I am glorifying God.”
“Courtship is the best road to marriage. Through courtship, one does not experience the grief of giving one’s heart away through many casual dating relationships. I’m glad that I will avoid the pitfalls and immorality of the world...”
I read a lot of blogs written by proponents of the patriarchy and stay at home daughters movements. Most of them are written by young women and they’re all the same… or at least, it often feels that way. I actually wrote the two entries above; they refer to a couple of the most discussed topics on these blogs. Do you see the common theme in the entries above? That’s right; they go from one extreme to another.
In the first, the writer assumes that college for women equals balancing career and family. So in one sentence, we’ve moved from simple studying in college to being a career woman putting her children in daycare in order to be in the workforce. Believe it or not, many women actually go to college, marry, and then chose to stay home with their children. That’s what my mother did and that’s what I plan to do if God blesses me with marriage and children. Patriarchy people seem to think that college equals going far from home, partying, and becoming a feminist and a career woman. It doesn’t have to be any of those things. I, as well as many of my friends, live at home and commute to school; we don’t party and our faith is strong. In the same vein, I often see the idea that “the world hates us for being keepers at home” and I always wonder, “Does it really?” From what I see, homemaking is in vogue right now. I meet women everywhere who stay at home with their kids. Many women love babies and cooking and aprons and interior design… they just don’t obsess about these things. I honestly don’t understand where proponents of patriarchy are getting the idea that the world hates homemakers. Still, such comments are a good marketing scheme for selling more copies of Passionate Housewives and So Much More to “encourage” stay at home daughters and housewives in their desperate battle against the world. *rolls eyes*
As for the courtship paragraph, this recurrent jumping from a discussion of courtship to casual dating drives me nuts! So many patriarchy people decide that since the culture casually dates and hooks up, we should all practice courtship and betrothal. In courtship proponent’s minds, there is no middle ground! The examples of dating that they give are always about casual dating. Casual dating is NOT what my parents and many of my friend’s parents did! They had lots of friends, dated very few people, met the right person, dated them (as in going out to eat, hanging out with family, etc.), and then got married young. That’s what most of the young adults in my church do as well. I like to call it purposeful dating. It doesn’t have the pressure of courtship (i.e. on the first “meeting” you’re talking about getting married!) and it allows young people to be friends and then pair off if something develops.
Extremes don’t just belong to proponents of patriarchy… I also see extreme behaviour in people who have left the patriarchy movement. It is easy for them to declare that they don’t want kids or that they will send their kids to public school, or even believe that the government has a right to oversee homeschooling and/or parenting. They see abuse in everything because they have been abused and thus, jump to an extreme. It’s really sad. Unfortunately, it only encourages proponents of patriarchy to continue in their extreme behavior and convinces them that all who are outside of the movement are against them/hate them/etc. I find myself jumping to extremes sometimes too…. I read blog entries about how controlling the men in this movement are and it scares me to the point of praying, “I’m never getting married! What if I end up with some control freak who only cares about himself and beats our kids!!” Then after a moment, that still small voice says, “But, Ingrid, don’t you trust me? There are many kind, caring young men who would be just as offended by these men as you are.” And then I remember how many nice young men I know and I realize that I’m going to an extreme. It’s that pervasive. I always go back to that quote of Luther’s, “The world is like a drunken peasant. If you lift him into the saddle on one side, he will fall off again on the other side. One can't help him, no matter how one tries. He wants to be the devil's.” Just because we have escaped from falling into patriarchy doesn’t mean we should fall off the other side of the proverbial horse. It’s actually letting the patriarchy people win because we’re reacting to the point of being exactly what they thought we’d be if we “rebelled.” So be on your guard and try to be balanced.
Living your life by bounding from one extreme to another isn’t what we were created to do. For the most part, people jump to extremes because they are afraid. Afraid of pain, afraid of losing their faith or God’s (or their family’s) favor, or even afraid of being trapped within a legalistic lifestyle. We’re not to live our lives in fear or as a reaction to someone else’s bad behaviour. We need to trust God and realise that He is in control and He gave us “a spirit of power and love and self-control.”2

“Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise—why destroy yourself? Do not be overwicked, and do not be a fool—why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”
– Ecclesiastes 7: 16-18.


1. Table Talk #630 (probably recorded around 1533), which can be found in volume 54, page 111 of the Luther-Werke, Luther's works. http://ask.metafilter.com/118341/Help-me-track-down-a-quote-from-Martin-Luther
2. 2 Timothy 1:7.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Psychological Paradox

As I was writing my last post, I noticed a very striking paradox within the Quiverfull/Militant Fecundity movement. It is so strange to me that these movements promote “independence training” such as blanket training, early weaning, and detachment of the mother/baby relationship while promoting “dependence training” in almost every other area of a child’s life. Confused? Here’s a quick definition of both kinds of training:
Independence Training is, "Child-rearing practices that foster independence, self-reliance, and personal achievement."
This is most practiced in western societies which contain a focus on individuality.
Dependence Training is, "Child-rearing practices that foster compliance in the performance of assigned tasks and dependence on the domestic group, rather than reliance on oneself."
This is common in Eastern societies and more traditional societies which focus on the group rather than the individual.
Think about that for a minute. For most proponents of the Patriocentricity movement, Quiverfull and Militant Fecundity are considered wonderful pro-family practices. Quiverfull/Militant Fecundity families are seemingly close and promote a focus on the family rather than the individual. Daughters are encouraged (if not required) to remain at home until marriage and to serve their father. Likewise, sons are expected to take over the family business and honor their father. In some cases, it is expected that the children will continue to carry out their father’s 200-year “vision” and not pursue their own goals at all. It is not uncommon for Patriocentric families to have 25-30 year old dependant daughters still living at home. Again, it is family over individual. I think we can agree that the children of this movement are trained to be dependent on their parents for almost everything including courtship and life work. However, as I discussed in my last post, Quiverfull/Militant Fecundity parents are surprisingly detached from their babies. Blanket training, early weaning, separate beds/rooms, etc. are all ways in which these parents train their little ones to be self-sufficient and independent. This form of “baby-training” actually follows American culture and isn’t Biblical but they still do it. I would think that they would want to create loving, secure environments for their children from day one. If you’re going to teach your child to be dependant, prove to them when they are little that they can trust you. When you purposely wean your baby early in order to conceive again and pass them off to a sibling, you’re showing that you care more about your fertility than the child you currently have. It’s not loving, it’s selfish. You’re putting your wants above the needs of your child. And later in life, your children are supposed to trust you with the choice of their mate? Psychologically, you’re sending very mixed signals to your children if you flip-flop from independence to dependence training. At least most secular parents who promote independence training for babies stick with the same focus on independence as their children grow into adulthood. In my mind, this insincere flip-flopping is one of the things that make Militant Fecundity and Quiverfull so toxic and dangerous. And I’m just going to say it: this is very hypocritical. It is clear to me that the primary goal of most of these parents is control. Control no matter the cost. And that’s what makes it abusive.