Thursday, July 15, 2010

Superficial Patriarchal Formula (More Courtship Blues)

I hate pretense. To me, it's a bunch of little lies weaved into a larger shape to cover up something which may or may not be ugly. Our uncertainty over the "may or may not" part leads to a seemingly harmless social fear, and this social fear leads to the little white lies of pretense. 

Patriocentricity/Christian Islam requires a bigger version of pretense, however. In everything that's done, the eyes look at you, but a finger is pointed at God. All in the quest to be "godly". Nine times out of ten, the image presented in no way matches the reality of the situation at hand - but the hope is that you'll focus on that finger pointed at God. As a good friend of mine (who knows my ex and her family) put it, "I don't know that these people practice faith so much as they practice deception and diversion."

In a post a few days ago I shared some of my thoughts on courtship. What I didn't get into was what the process of courtship revealed about my ex's family and faith.

Early in our relationship, I made it clear to my ex that I wasn't gonna allow her father to rule our relationship. I wasn't Ricky Jimmy asking Sissy Sue to go out to Dairy Queen and have a Blizzard. I was a grown man used to handling much responsibility, overseeing projects involving significant amounts of money, a devoted follower of Christ, pastoring a small group of people who met weekly in my home, serving as a pastor for an internationally known music ministry, and serving as company pastor for a record label. It isn't like I was a kid who spent his days riding skateboards, playing video games, and watching MTV. I informed my ex that I wouldn't bow my knee to what I saw as a pagan god. I'd respect her wishes in any matter, and I'd listen if her father had something to say, but our relationship was to be determined by me, her, and the Lord. Period. She was generally okay with this, I'd made my position very clear, and beyond that I just tried to not make waves, given she was receptive to the realities she was beginning to see.

One of the many downfalls of the system of courtship is the lack of contingency for a situation where a woman's father isn't qualified or capable of being in charge. My former future father-in-law, for instance, once stood in my front yard, pointed up at the sky, and said excitedly in the SNL Canteen Boy voice, "Do you see that Lewis? You see that?" I saw a blue sky with a couple of contrails. I asked, "See what?" He said, "He just turned it on. Did you see it?" I was clueless, and if a photo of my face had been snapped at that moment, I'd pay big money for it. He continued, "That plane. He just turned it on. See that? It's the contrail." I saw a jet that was probably flying at 30,000+ feet, with a uniform and very normal looking contrail that followed it all the way across the sky. Nothing unusual. If I go out and check the sky at any given time I'm likely to see the same thing. He continued, "The government has made deals with the major airlines to spray chemicals in their contrails. They're manipulating our weather." Like the wanna-be coach told Coach Norman Dale in "Hoosiers", "Now look here, mister...There's two kinds of crazy..."

I wouldn't trust this guy to feed my chickens while I'm away on vacation. How comfortable do you think I was with the idea of "submitting" to him?

But, as I mentioned earlier about pretense being driven by fear, patriarchal pretense and superficiality is equally, even more, so. This man gets his news from "The Drudge Report". That's reason enough to live in paranoia. Patrios, and fundamentalists as a whole, live lives determined by fear and paranoia, bounded not by who Christ says they are, but by fear of the people around them, the evil they think everyone else is up to, and the threat society at large poses to them. 

He and I got along very tenuously at best from the beginning, as he lived all along under the delusion that I should be submissive to him. The excrement hit the wind generating device when, after my engagement to my ex, he began making some extremely poor and financially costly decisions and trying to impose them on us, his desire being to uphold the "integrity", if you will, of the patriarchal system. I wouldn't stand for it, I hated the pressure he was putting on her, and things deteriorated. In a matter of days, he went from saying, on video (which I have a copy of), "You're perfect Lewis! God couldn't have answered our prayers any more perfectly in a man for our daughter", to being overheard telling one of his patrio cohorts "I'll do whatever I have to to end their relationship", and telling a mutual acquaintance, "If she marries him, she's not mine."

Here's the superficiality of it all...

By the admission of ALL of them, including her, had I merely played along with it all, had I merely submitted to her father, she'd be with me today and we'd all be happy.

And it would be based on a lie.

I would have to bow to Baal.

So, to be worthy as a husband in a patriarchal/Christian Islamic courtship process, all I'd have to be is a lesser man with lesser devotion to my Lord. Think about it. Had I played along, I'd have been the exact same guy I am today (the one they loathe and would genuinely prefer dead)...except I'd be a liar and a two-face...and then I'd be worthy and lovable. Lowering my standards, surrendering my faith and understanding of my God, to demonstrate my "godliness".

I wonder how my former future father-in-law would get along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He'd probably call them troublemakers...and he wouldn't want them marrying his daughters.


  1. Ok, I had to read this post again. There were some things that just flew over my head. Don't these people want their daughters to marry a "man". Sure they want him to be a Christian...but isn't it also important he be a "man". You were already well established...and a Christian. The fact that you were standing your ground should have been impressive to them. You were being a "man".

    Well, I have seen plenty young men kiss butt to get their bride. It happens during courtship AND dating. Some people feel they gotta do what they gotta do. Um...did this other guy kiss butt to get your ex? Sadly some Fundamentalist think going against their parents is also going against God. Yes, we should honor them but...there's a time to GROW UP! Thanks for being a grown up!

  2. They were only interested in a stooge to the system. When I wouldn't be a stooge, I was rejected as "ungodly", "ungentlemanly", and "dishonorable".

    I can't say for certain the lengths this new guy went to to marry her, but in my minimal interaction with him, my guess would be he'd sell his soul to marry her. I was accused of not being willing to do "whatever it took", when to do so, I'd have to make her my idol, compromise the integrity of my faith, and, well, be a liar. I love her relentlessly, with the power of a thousand oceans, but I wouldn't then, and wouldn't now in similar circumstances, compromise my faith for her. I wouldn't be worth marrying.

  3. People like that give the rest of us a bad name. I do consider myself a bit of a fundamentalist, a proponent of courtship instead of the world's model of dating, and I believe the man is the head of the family. But all things in moderation!!!!! Extremes of anything is never healthy.

    And so many people wonder why people like me just try to fly under the radar. It's because we have to deal with the assumptions that anyone who thinks courtship is a good idea, or that the man is the head of the family, or is a homeschooling family, are loons. That's just not true. People like your ex-future-father-in-law are, in my experience, the exception. Thank God!

    I've been around homeschoolers my entire life. My family started in 1986 before it was even legal in our state. They've been involved on the state and national levels, know the Farris family of HSLDA personally, the Phillips family of Vision Forum, Greg Harris (father of Josh Harris), and many other movers and shakers in the so-called fundamentalist camp. I have never met anyone who's like this family and I am so sorry that your major experience with any of this was so sour and negative.

    I want to assure you we're not all like that. And I think I'm going to become a regular reader of your blog! It's quite interesting.

  4. OMG! this happened to us too! "You're perfect Lewis! God couldn't have answered our prayers any more perfectly in a man for our daughter", to being overheard telling one of his patrio cohorts "I'll do whatever I have to to end their relationship"

    My dad gave approval and within days it was like NEVERMIND...*sigh* sorry you had to go through that!

  5. "Lowering my standards, surrendering my faith and understanding of my God, to demonstrate my "godliness"."

    fascinating perspective, but so accurate. tears still spring to my eyes at your comment about not doing "whatever it took"... so familiar, so painful.

  6. This is so true, it's not even funny. I've seen this happen before, but it's just not as obvious what's going on when the guy is like "Uhm, of course, you are your child's ultimate authority so I will do whatever you say." What a power trip!!

    I've been blogging my patrio-experiences and thoughts (and other random stuff) over at

  7. rachel...Thanks for the heads up on your blog. I hope you don't mind that I've linked it over on the right hand side.

    Please keep writing! You have a lot of firsthand experience and wisdom to offer.

  8. If you put a man in the place of God, you are asking for trouble. As with Rebecca and Issac the servant went a head and through prayer, found Issac's wife. Once the father gave his permission, he kept his word and then all questions were directed to her. For example; Rebecca was asked if she would go right away rather than waiting a few days as her mother wished. It looked like they considered Rebecca's feelings as well. :) After all she was the one who was marrying this man!!!

    God knows how to put two godly people together. He knows our hearts and his plan and purpose for our lives and who we are suited for better than anyone!

    You have an interesting blog that will surely make people think, rather than following men blindly...just as the bible tells us to do.

    God bless,