“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.