Saturday, June 1, 2013

Please Tell Me More...

I've decided to respond to these comments in a post and plan to do the same with similar comments in future. If I have time, I may do this with all anonymous and cranky comments in the future. However, I'm still moderating the comments and all the rules in the comment form still apply. Normal commenters are still safe from trolls and are welcome to have open discussions. 

So trolls, you have been warned. Comment at risk of being made an example and given a nickname you'll probably hate.

Dear Warmly, my own personal troll of the week,

(Since no name was provided, I dub you Warmly, after the convivial valediction in your comments.)

Thank you for providing several perfectly, articulated examples of trolling. Seriously, that was grotesquely impressive. In the course of a few hours, I think you managed to commit every one of the things that I find disturbing.

I’ll be honest: it is hard for me to see this from your point of view. I found your tone to be very accusatory, invalidating, and at times, downright bonkers. I’m going to try to address some of your points but, it’s hard to know where to start.

First, what right do you have to be so upset with me? I’m not talking about you, in fact, I’m writing about very personal issues and hurts in my life. I have been personally injured by the patriarchy movement and I don’t want others to experience the pain of legalism and false teaching. That’s why I work on this blog. Maybe you don’t agree with that but I think you could respect it. I’ll admit it, my writing isn’t perfect―I openly admit that it’s always a work in progress. Still, that does not give you the right to act in this manner.

Of Trolls and Hatemail

You wrote, “it's impossible for you to know their hearts and by slandering them with your one-sided research is childish and ungodly.” I never claim to know the hearts of these leaders/teachers nor judge their faith/salvation. However, I can see their fruit and I will point it out when I can clearly see that it is rotten. (Matt 7:15-20)

“It's just plain wrong for you to be saying most of what's on this blog; you have no right, so quit whining when others criticize you and buck up if your going to continue your pharisaical rantings. [sic].” To quote you again, “This is a free country and conservative Christians ought to be given the same right to living as they believe God is directing them.” I am a conservative Christian and I believe God has called me to write on these matters. Why will you not give me the same rights you claim for yourself? Are you given the right to decide who can speak up and who can’t?

“If you're a Christian, as you state,” It is impossible for you to know my heart just as I cannot see the hearts of the leaders in the patriarchy movement.

You wrote, “people…don't need a professional research assistant to do it for them.” I disagree… and you took my meaning out of context. Busy homeschool moms and dads don’t always have time to pull all the pieces together and do the research required to present a wider picture. I compile the information and provide background. Yes, I include my own analysis but I encourage people to think critically about all the information presented. My words were never meant to suggest that I think people cannot find these things or interpret them on their own. I know nearly everyone could find all the information but some people simply do not have the time to do so. Plus, if these leaders continue to post things and then take them down, it is important that someone holds them accountable by saving the information.

"I feel sorry for you, Ingrid. You must be miserable; I'll be praying for you." How touching! Please refrain from praying the incendiary Psalms down on my head.

Learning to Fly

“You're grossly mistaken, Ingrid. Unless someone has specifically explained to you that that is the reason they ask you how you're doing with your sister's marriage, you should not make premature assumptions (which are extremely biased, I might add) as to what people mean by their questions. Now, I'm no expert on reading peoples' minds as you seem to qualify yourself; so this is my human opinion….” I find it intensely amusing and weird that you believe yourself qualified to not only read my mind, but also explain how I was wrong in interpreting a personal experience/conversation. Were you there? Did you see and hear the conversation? Did you examine the non-verbals and the feedback? What did the kinesics show you? Tell me more about your “human opinion” of something that happened to me since I clearly can’t interpret conversations without your help.

"Think about it: you and your sisters are probably really close; one of you is getting married; can't you put two and two together and realize that most of the time a sister's sister is marrying the other sister is, excited, yes! But also a bit saddened?" Oh, now you're telling me how I should feel! Thanks so much!

"Maybe I'm wrong and your relationship with your sisters is not a very good one, so perhaps you instinctively knew that there were unspoken, hidden meanings behind their questions after all." Nope. My sister and I have a good relationship. But even if we didn't, I doubt my friends would try to pry into it.

“But I don't think that is a good topic to be covering here if it's your own personal relationship and trying to apply it to other unmarried young women is unfair.” Your sentence structure makes this hard to read but again, I find it amusing that you’re telling me not to write about my personal experiences (which, as any writer will explain to you, is the best source of all) and that I have nothing in common with other young women. Wow. You must know so much about me.

“Then, you go on to describe and critique what these single girls are THINKING. Goodness! You must be a mind reader! Or, perhaps you've spoken with girls who tell you these things, and even in that case, why are you trying to put all of us single girls in a box and assume that we all have the same problem?” *sigh* Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Let me just say that I used my own thoughts and struggles for this article and wrote to help other girls like me. If none of it applies to you, then don’t put yourself in that box and don’t read about my experience.

“Honestly, Ingrid, when I read your posts I only need to read through two paragraphs to write an entire article on.” It’s probably a good idea to read each article in it’s entirety before writing a rebuttal. But if you don’t want to do that, you could stop reading them altogether.

“Have you EVER considered doing something "honest and true" with your life? ... You have grown a deep, deep root of bitterness in your heart, Ingrid, and trying to find comfort in nit-picking other people's personal decisions as to how they dress, live and love is never going to make you feel better.” Since you don’t actually know me and all the different facets of my life, I think you should stop before you embarrass yourself. And then you go on to describe and critique what I'm THINKING. Goodness! You must be a mind reader! Sound familiar? It works both ways you know.

“First of all, Ingrid, why do you so readily assume that girls in conservative Christian homes live and breathe only for the goal of marriage?” Because it is such a clear focus on blogs, in books, and in the conferences that these families read/attend. There’s a whole book titled “Before you meet Prince Charming” and discussions by the Botkins of “How to occupy ‘till he comes.” Why did Anna Sofia Botkin write an entire article about her issues with turning 25 and not being married? (Maybe she shouldn’t write about her singleness and try to apply it to other girls? Isn’t it unfair of her to try to apply her struggles to others? :-D You see, Warmly, it again works both ways.) And if marriage isn’t the goal, why in heck are all of you preparing to be “helpmeets?” If you never get married, how do you justify all this training to be a “helpmeet?” Spending your whole life serving your father is not in the Bible, it's just not there and those who believe it is are taking Scripture wildly out of context.

“But where do you get the idea that if we never marry we think our life to be worthless (maybe these are your thoughts and you feel that way)?” Haha. No. I love not being married, it gives me freedom to travel the world and write all the time. But I wouldn’t mind getting married someday if the right guy asked me.

“From my perspective within a loving, conservative Christian home (not fundie, not part of a Patriarchy "Movement", not bewitched), life is about serving, loving and ultimately glorifying God in everything we do, say and think. Do you not agree? It's not about marriage.” Yes, I do agree. I’m glad you have this perspective.

“So when you see a 30-something single woman joyfully serving and living with her family, stop to think: maybe, just maybe she is doing God's (not Ingrid's) will. Maybe God has other plans for her than marriage, or He's using her in other ways before marriage and she's passionate about those things. Maybe, just maybe, Ingrid, God's right and you're wrong...just this once.” I’m sorry but I would probably stop and feel sorry for any woman who is 30+, single, without a self-supporting job, and living with her parents.  Maybe, just maybe she is living out her father’s will rather than God's? I find this an extremely narrow idea of God’s calling for women and refuse to believe that it is God's will for most of the young women involved in the movement. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27)

“What "system"? Scriptural Christianity should not be considered a ‘system.’” Scriptural Christianity? Really? Where in the Bible does it say that women cannot go to college? Where does it state that they must serve their fathers until marriage? Where is courtship? Where is militant fecundity? Where is the family integrated church? These things are a system. The gospel of Jesus Christ is Scriptural Christianity and it is a relationship, not a list of hoops to jump through and visions of men to fulfill.

“Oh, and you're right- this is a "tricky situation"; for you. Because you can't seem to wrap your mind around the "whys" that girls are choosing to stay with their parents at home until marriage. And if that is the case, you have no say on the subject.” I live with my parents. Mostly to save money and save for travel and my future. However, I will move out eventually, married or not. Is that what you’re asking? It’s nice to know you won’t let me have a say on the subject, but then, I can choose not to listen to you.

“…the only thing that truly cuts it in God's eyes is who we really are; deep down inside, are you really saying these things for Him?” Yes.

“Or does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy to put others down?” No.

“Is your goal to truly help and love conservative Christian girls and their families?” Yes.

“Or are you trying to take revenge on them for past hurts and disappointments?” No.

“It's not your job; let it go.” Yes, actually it is and no, I will not stop. Who are you to tell me God’s will for my life? Do you really think He would tell you and not me? Stop and think: What if God has called me to write these articles? Would that change how you respond to me?

Grace’s Story

I will respond for Grace as she is lately married and also, I don’t want her to have to read your hurtful words right now. I cannot believe how you invalidated her experience. Not cool.

“Grace, I'm sorry that you took godly books meant to be used as guidelines (not law) so legalistically.” Was that meant to be kind? It didn’t sound like it.

“But please don't slander the Biblical wisdom laid out in them.” Biblical wisdom ? Are you crazy? You think these books contain biblical wisdom? Again, show me in the Bible where it talks about courtship and where it explains the concept of emotional purity laid out in these books.

“God wrote the Bible; not you. So no matter what went wrong in your thinking, God's always right.” What does this even mean? Grace isn’t talking about the Bible but books written by fallible human beings. You do know the authors could be wrong, don’t you? Are you getting these books and the Bible confused or equating them on the same level?

“And those of us who live by His Word are living vibrant lives.” So we didn’t follow the system correctly and that’s why we were so hurt? Ouch. You just completely invalidated this deeply personal experience. Do you go around saying this to other hurt and broken people? Do you think you’re only blessed by God if you do everything right? That sounds like a prosperity gospel. Further, how do you explain Job’s situation?

Have you ever considered the minute possibility that YOU were wrong and not the books/authors? That YOU took things too literally and YOU are the one to blame for your difficulty in conversing with young men?” Certainly, there is a margin for error on Grace’s part… but don’t you think the authors of these books could also have made some mistakes? Do you think they might have overstepped their authority and made up rules not found in scripture? Do you really think giving impressionable fourteen-year-olds these books is a good idea? While I don't like to think of myself or my sister as victims... don't you think it's wrong to blame the victim?

“I think you and your sister must be incapable of taking responsibility for your own actions, thoughts and decisions in the past and are attempting to play the blame-game on Christian authors and single girls who "actually" choose to save their first kisses for marriage and take seriously the amount of influence we have on young men's fight with lust (oh, I do hope you believe Matt. 5:28; otherwise I see how it would be hard for modesty to be an important issue to you).” Wow, that was a long sentence. As for blaming others, we do take responsibility for our own actions. However, those who have set themselves up as teachers are here being held accountable for their words. If they set up stumbling blocks and tie up heavy burdens for others then they are very much accountable for these actions. (Matt 18:6 and 23:4). I think that filling a young person’s head with false teaching is just as bad as dressing immodestly and produces a similar stumbling block. Finally, what’s wrong with you? Just because Grace and I don’t agree with legalistic approaches to relationships doesn’t mean we’ve gone off the deep end and are kissing every guy in sight and dressing immodestly. Not everything in life is extreme and dramatic. To quote my own article, “Please stop acting like a hormonal teenager and realize that there is indeed a middle ground.” In fact, Grace did save her first kiss for the guy she married; she just didn’t make a big production out of it. And I’m still saving mine and I’ve been complimented and thanked many times for my modest apparel. These things are just a part of my life—they don't define me—and I just don’t make a big deal out of them.

Really though, it’s probably not going to do any good that I just refuted your words. You have your opinions about me and frankly, will anything I say change them? All I can say is that “by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.” (1 Cor. 10) I’m a sinner, saved by grace, and that’s all that matters. Even if I am all that you believe me to be: miserable, bitter, controlling and etc.; God still loves me, accepts me, and will never forsake me. I don’t know what happened to you to cause you to respond to me this way. I’m sorry if you have been the recipient of such words… it’s not an enjoyable experience. Yet, God is greater than any of the storms we face and He will never let us down.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:31-37)

P.S. Your warmth burns like fire... maybe you should reconsider your valediction in the future.