My marriage failed. There are many reasons, (mostly personal character failures on my part I believe), but I also think that a large reason was that I had been fundamentally lied to about both the role and value of a woman from a number of sources prior to our marriage. A perfect storm leading to an almost predictable outcome.
And this huge life shattering monster storm was formed and fed by harmful ideas I was either directly taught and fueled by what I observed being modeled as I grew up. It never occurred to me to even question what I was taught or saw. After all, I was being taught THE TRUTH from the AUTHORITY of the WORD of GOD! Who would possibly question that?
Okay then. . .here I go. I’ll start in Genesis with Eve’s failure.
Eve was deceived by Satan and disobeyed God’s command to avoid eating a certain fruit. Adam, however, was not deceived, but willfully chose to disobey after listening to her. So the fundamentalist teaching goes like this; Eve was deceived, Adam was not. Men, therefore, are rational creatures who think logically, females are not. It is therefore right and normal for men to be the leaders of their households. Women can easily be manipulated and therefore need a strong man to lead and protect them from their own emotionally irrational choices in life. So, in a sense, men are superior both emotionally, mentally, and physically to women. Men are appointed by God to lovingly rule their households and administrate their leadership with both kindness and wisdom. It is the role of the woman to submit to their husband. He is the boss.
In the Old Testament are quite a few instances of women being treated as property. Here is a horrible example from Genesis 19. [Source: biblegateway.com]
“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.
3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.”
Would you give your daughters to strangers to be raped and abused for an entire night in order to protect two visitors who just showed up at your house? This is unspeakably horrible! And what terror would those two girls have suffered?
Well, it seems that these daughters are not quite so innocent either. . .The same chapter in Genesis records they each took a turn getting their Dad drunk, had sex with him, and both got pregnant. I think we refer to this illegal practice today as incest.
Genesis 19:30 – 36
“30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.”
Do you remember the Bible story about Israel marching around the city of Jericho 7 times? God caused the walls to fall down, they rushed in and destroyed the city and everyone that lived there. Let’s be completely clear here. Israel literally massacred every man, woman, and child in the city of Jericho, apparently at God’s command. This is genocide commanded by God who claims to love us all. God didn’t seem to love the inhabitants of Jericho. How can I even begin to justify the horrible violent killings of innocent children by a marauding army intent on getting land because they believed their God told them the land was their inheritance? Read it for yourself in Joshua 6:16 – 21. I don’t recall being taught what happened in verse 21; we just focused on ‘the walls of Jericho came tumbling down!’
“16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the Lord hath given you the city.
17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the Lord: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent.
18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it.
19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the Lord: they shall come into the treasury of the Lord.
20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.”
How can a ‘loving God’ justify ordering Israel to commit mass murder of woman, children and animals? They are innocents. This is on the same level as today’s ISIS terrorists who capture and kill innocents in horrific ways. This is starting to strike me as the same mentality, just a different origin. Same result.
One more example on the Old Testament ‘value’ of women. . .2 Samuel 5:12, 13
“12 And David perceived that the Lord had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for his people Israel’s sake.
13 And David took him more concubines and wives out of Jerusalem, after he was come from Hebron: and there were yet sons and daughters born to David.”
Apparently, God was perfectly fine with David engaging in polygamy. And this same God in the 2 Corinthians 7 through Paul strongly encourages us to stick with ONE husband or ONE wife. And yet fundamentalism teaches us that God is immutable, unchanging. This is factually untrue as demonstrated by this passage next compared to passages in the Old Testament. Here we go. . .
7 “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”
So wait…what does it mean, exactly, for Paul to claim that the unbelieving husband or wife can be ‘sanctified’ by their believing mate? Is this yet another way to salvation? And by writing that ‘your children [were] unclean, but now they are holy’ – is Paul actually claiming that the children of a believing parent are saved at birth based upon one parent’s status with God? This entire passage generally strikes me as fairly strange.
So, it seems a woman’s position historically has been that of being property to be used for the pleasure of men. I find this to be utterly abhorrent! But this general idea was soaked into my value system that women were not equal with men physically, emotionally, nor do their opinions really matter. We should listen to women, humor them, but they are basically for men’s pleasure and enjoyment – they cook, clean, encourage, charm, and entertain us. Other than keeping household peace, who really cares what a woman thinks let alone feels?
After all God appointed the MAN to be the AUTHORITY, the HEAD of HIS HOUSE over the woman.
Along with this basic wrong premise, here is a list of items that were planted in my brain regarding my expectations of my wife. . .and at this point, I’m not sure if some of these originate with fundamentalism, or from what I observed from my parents who were products of the 40’s and 50’s.
a. She is to be always ON for me – always ready to meet my needs (emotional, companionship, physical)
b. She is to cook, clean the house, raise the children well so I don’t have to be inconvenienced by my children interrupting me
c. She is to do all the unpleasant work in the background (cleaning, doing dishes, cooking, putting kids to bed, washing and ironing clothes) while I will be the man in the spotlight looking important, and getting the attention
d. She is to agree with me at least in public and especially in front of our children in everything. We will give a united front to everyone.
e. She is to always look young and attractive at all times.
f. She is to be loyal, have utmost character, be intelligent, witty, happy, supportive, and interesting to me.
g. She is the social planner, the one who books our social life, purchases and mails out birthday presents, cards, etc…
You get the idea. . .how nauseating and deluded are these expectations? I once had a camp counselor tell all of us boys in the cabin to ‘get the best girl you can get’. One can only imagine how a teen boy would interpret this. I also recall from Scripture that one of Israel’s kings searched for young women in Israel that had no blemishes. . .so I tended to expect perfection in every sense of the word.
I think the fundamentalist ideas that I needed to get the best piece of property for my best enjoyment on all levels is completely sickening. But I either interpreted what I was taught this way, or it really was taught this way, or most likely, my brain was poisoned from a number of sources.
I missed out on the normal ideas of committing my life to a woman that I admired, adored, respected, wanted to be a team with, and absolutely loved, protected, and wanted to share my life with.
After a lifetime of too many ego, self-absorbed, immature, deluded fundamentalist filters, I am starting to wake up and wonder ‘what have I done?’
I feel kind of like a driver who had three passengers with him, was driving with a blindfold on, drove over a cliff, staggered out of the wrecked, mangled car, the blindfold ripped away, and for the first time was able to look up the horrific damage that he caused to everyone in the car and himself.
And again, I have only an unspeakable depth of great, heavy grief and sorrow for my angelic ex-wife who suffered many years, trying to do and be her best for me.
And it was I, the deluded blind man who has never been good enough for her.
Oh boy—are you going into a fire storm. !!!! Actually—that is NOT what the Bible says about the value of women. You want examples?
I did walk into a potential firestorm didn’t I? And the entire point of my blog here is that I agree with you – I was poisoned by the particular brand of fundamentalism that I was raised with combined other bad influences that gave me horrendously wrong expectations of my lovely, sweet ex-wife. I do realize that Christianity is unique in that it teaches that women are equal in the sight of God, but that is in the New Testament Gospel. The God of the Old Testament almost seems to be a completely different entity at times, and that troubles me.
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Yet, look at the lives of Deborah, the Judge, the mothers’ names who produced Godly children, Hannah–the prophet Samuel’s Mom…I wish she could have raised his kids! Within certain social limits (and overcoming them) there Were women of faith—and men who, yes allowed them, to do as God commanded them. I also have a fundamentalist past—though not in growing up. I hear ya! 🙂
Good thought, thank you!
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It’s all in the Bible, man. One thing about theology, there is more than one way to order things (why still be angry with the past?). Forgive those fundamentalists and move on in Christ! PLEASE!