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.