Friday, April 22, 2011

The Joke Was On Me (Part Six)

Upon boarding the ship, and before parting ways toward our cabins, the patriarse informed me and the Bandaid the he'd like to talk to us for a moment, and "requested" that we meet him up on deck in 20 minutes. The Bandaid seemed confused, but ok with it, and all I could think was, "Oh great - What now?"

[The moniker "the Bandaid" isn't meant to be in any way derogatory toward the guy I've applied it to. Rather, anything derogatory about it would be aimed at the parents who used him, unwittingly, as an emotional bandaid to manipulate their daughter.]

The three of us got together up on the deck and found a side table. Then...all weirdness. The patriarse went into a spiel about appearances, about how we need to be aware that we represent Christ, about what people might think if they see certain things (as if I've ever cared what people think), and about how the bible says we're to treat women "as sisters". Oh dear Lord. I wanted to raise my hand and say "What if I want to marry my sister? One of my sisters is awfully pretty. I came on this very cruise just to spend time with this sister. What's the bible say about that?" I didn't say anything. I just kinda chuckled wondering what the Bandaid might be thinking of all of this. I mean, the guy was taking a verse that was speaking to how we treat one another in a fellowship or assembly/as part of the church body - not at all about how men are to act toward women in every situation, particularly a romantic situation - and using it to try to control me? Using it to try to guilt me? No thanks. Not interested. She and I had already determined that WE would set our own boundaries concerning our physical interaction. Of course, not being the daughter of a patriarse, my half of "WE" had significantly more teeth than hers, but she'd told me that she didn't need to be sheltered concerning us, we were both adults, and she was comfortable setting her own boundaries.

The patriarse then informed us that he had set a 12:00AM curfew on the girls (who, btw, were all adults) and that he expected us to "honor" it and to help the girls "honor" it. {Church Lady alert} Controlling jackhole. I was prepared for some of this kind of crap, so it wasn't exactly coming out of left field. I knew he had ample amounts of religious weirdness and strange/aberrant ideas about his role as a father. I expected to see it, whether in bits and pieces or full speed ahead, on this trip. The Bandaid, though...poor guy. He didn't say a word as we headed back to the cabin.

The whole idea of patriarchals and emotion makes me think of cavemen discovering fire for the first time. "Fire bad!" The difference least neanderthals wouldn't have to burn everybody to prove "Fire bad!" and make fire a means of control. But, the confusion levels are nearly identical. I've come to see that perhaps the only part of a women's being, prior to marriage, that has any real value or merit in this paradigm is her hymen. Her mind is irrelevant, and her heart is most certainly irrelevant - despite empty patriarchal lip service about "guarding it" (usually just prior to beating the hell out of it). What's really being guarded is her hymen. I'm convinced of this. Then, after matrimony, the only meaningful parts of her being are her uterus and ovaries. Of this I'm also equally convinced.

Once we got back to the cabin, the Bandaid was still quiet for a few minutes, and then, he just blurted out, "What do you think of all of that? I mean, isn't that, like, overkill?" I could tell this had caused him some consternation. Again, I pitied him. He was/is a good guy. Nice guy (early 20s), Christian guy, from a good, healthy family. All I said in response was "He's her dad. I only listen for that reason for her sake, whether I agree with him or not. I'm just trying to make it through the week." That was the truth. I was just trying to avoid making waves until I could get a better handle on a few things. To take his mind off of it, I showed him the ring I had bought. He wanted to know if I was definitely proposing that week. At that point in time, I could only answer in maybes. I was hoping to propose to her on Valentine's Day (which was Thursday...we boarded on Monday - and, I'm well aware that Valentine's proposals are corny to a lot of people - so be it), but, there were a couple of things that would have to happen for the proposal to happen. The first was already being realized - I had needed to see her bonding to me more than to her family/father, i.e., turning to me first in a given situation, particularly problem (even if small problem) situations. I was seeing that in her over the previous week in spades. Then, I had to hear her tell me she loved me. Not just infer it. Not just imply or insinuate it. I wanted to hear it. Unprovoked. From her own lips.

The next several days were beautiful. Gorgeous weather, smooth seas, and the two of us spending as much time as possible together. I was falling more deeply in love with her by the second. There was so much women there, so much heart there, that had never been tapped into. She had no idea the woman she was capable of being - thanks to the patriarchal jar she'd been planted in. And, frankly, if you could separate her from her "religion" she was just an amazing, soft-hearted person. So beautiful, inside and out. Truth be told, apart from her father, who just has "ass" in his DNA, her entire family is beautiful - but only when you can separate them from their "religion". Add their beliefs into the mix and they were and are a human tragedy.

We would meet every morning at about 8:00, and go up on deck and enjoy breakfast together. If we were in port, we'd actually go out on the outside deck and enjoy our breakfast in Bahamian breezes and overlooking beautiful turquoise waters. Then, her family devotionals/indoctrination sessions in her parent's cabin at 10:00, which, surprisingly, by Tuesday, they were asking me to lead. I'd try to incite discussion on the passages I'd read from the bible, or on certain topics - to no avail. I came to see that the girls were all afraid to discuss these things, in the presence of an "outsider", in front of their father. No one actually admitted to this. It was quite obvious anyway. By Tuesday, as we began to stop in various ports, we'd exit the ship and explore a bit, finding a nice little spot to purchase a smoothie or something else to satisfy the sweet tooth, then we'd walk around through the various shops and look at all the tourist-driven overpriced merchandise. Then, in early afternoon, upon re-embarking, we'd spend some time alone together somewhere before meeting up with her family for dinner seating at 5:30. After this, usually sometime around 8-9:00, her family would have to do a half-hour set, and afterward, she and I would retreat to the outer deck at the back of the ship to a little private nook we'd found. We'd talk about all manner of things there, all while watching the moonlight dancing across the waves in the ship's wake. Beautiful...oh, and the waves and moon and stuff weren't bad either. We began to refer to this little nook as "our spot". On Wednesday afternoon, I booked her into the spa to get pampered a bit, which, needless to say, she enjoyed, and it gave me the opportunity to take care of some business.

I was aiming at Valentine's day to propose for several reasons. One primary reason was - Valentine's Day was her family's "Christmas". They believed the celebration of Christmas was too pagan and too "commercial", so they gave "the man" the Bronx Cheer by exchanging gifts on Valentine's Day (Yes, it's STOOPID, and a completely superficial and meaningless reaction and protest - but it was pointless to argue it). I was confident that I was going to hear "I love you" prior to Valentine's Day...even though things were cutting it close. Confident enough that on Wednesday I called her parent's cabin and asked if I could come speak with them for a moment. Now, please keep in mind, I don't believe that ANYTHING mandated a need for me to speak with her parents about proposing, and I had made it absolutely clear to her that, when and if the time came, I'd only be going to them to seek a ceremonial/tradition-based blessing, and I wouldn't be seeking permission under ANY circumstances. I needed her to be clear on that in case someone (the patriarse) tried to flip things around on me/us at some point. There was no gray area between the two of us on that issue.

She and I had planned to get up extra early on Valentine's to go up on deck and watch the sunrise. If all fell into place, I figured THAT would be a special way and place to propose. I was entirely uncertain of how receptive her parents would be to any of this. Her mom, to my surprise, seemed genuinely excited for her daughter when I sat them down and told them, "I love your daughter very much, I'd like to marry her, and I'd like to ask for your blessing on my proposal." Totally ceremonial from my perspective, as I've said. They had been expecting this. Her dad was overwhelmingly cooperative - at least superficially. He asked me when I planned to propose, and I told him about the sunrise plans the next morning (hopefully). He asked me if I'd be willing to wait until that night, after her family had exchanged their gifts. I didn't really understand the significance of waiting, so he explained, "She has something special planned for tomorrow morning...I'd like for you to let her go through with it." Looking back on all of this, this is the ONE time he actually acted like a loving, caring father, looking out for her best interests and not his own. I agreed to wait until the next night to propose - or longer if necessary to hear "I love you".

The "something special" she'd planned for the next morning was telling me she loved me. This was a HUGE deal for her, considering the screwed up concepts of emotion she'd been taught, and the "you love the man you don't marry the man you love" bassackward mindset of most fundamentalists/patriocentrics, which, btw, was also largely what she was taught. The women in her life were more "dutiful" toward their husbands than affectionate. It was their "duty" and "service" to love their husbands. In fact, the marriage relationship that she had valued the MOST as a benchmark was that of her paternal grandpa/grandma, and she'd described it as completely inaffectionate. The way she'd always viewed love and emotion wasn't something that inspired the warm fuzzies in me, so her being so open about being in love with me was an enormous hurdle that had been cleared.

The night before, we had discussed Valentine's Day gifts for each other. We'd agreed weeks prior to not do anything outrageous or costly, but something simple. Now knowing that I had to come at a proposal from a different direction, and still wanting it to be special, I suggested that we write letters to each other. Very open and intimate letters, describing our thoughts and feelings about the other. I'd somehow incorporate my proposal into what I would write.

Anticipation chewed me up that day, particularly after the "I love you" early that morning. We went through the somewhat regular routine for most of the morning, although my mind was entirely on that night. On that day, the ship was anchored at Half Moon Cay, a mile or so long, couple hundred yards wide, strip of white sand wrapped in the most beautiful tropical blue waters I've seen anywhere. The ship has to anchor about a 1/2 mile offshore, and to go to the island, you have to board a shuttle and boat over. There are things there like para-sailing, horseback riding, a big BBQ on the beach, and several little touristy shops. I suggested that she go over to the island with her family while I stayed on the ship to tend to a few things. While I did need to do some laundry and such, my suggestion was self-serving - it would give me some time to write what I needed to write. I'd go and start a load of laundry, then run back to my cabin and write, then run back and put them in the dryer while starting a new load, then run back and write. After about 90 minutes of this routine, and as I was nearly finished with the laundry (still had a little more to write), the phone in my cabin rang. She was on the other end. I asked, "You're already back?" (normally, you're over on the island for at least 3-4 hours) She said, "I didn't go." I asked why, and she told me, "I didn't want to be away from you for that long. Where are you now? Are you finished with your laundry? Can you come up and see me?" Oh man, I may be a grizzled and weathered dude, but that just tore me up. I went up on the deck to meet her, and she was sooo pretty, just sitting there in a deck chair. I sat with her for a few minutes, and we didn't really say much - not with our mouths, anyway. Then, I had to break away to finish my writing before hooking back up for an hour or so prior to dinner.

A week or so before meeting up with her family, knowing that she, as with most homeschoolers, had been an avid journaler, I had bought a nice little suede-backed journal to give to her at some point. It came in handy in this instance. I wrote an entry for each day of the cruise, telling her how deeply I was falling in love with her, how amazing I found her heart, and so forth. The last entry, the one for this particularly day, had a special ending. Before entering the dining room, I gave the journal to a gentleman who sat at our table all week and dined with us and said, "When I ask for this, will you pass it over?" He looked befuddled for a moment, then said, "Sure!" with a bit of a wry grin on his face (I mean, people had noticed the way the two of us looked at each other). Her family immediately commenced in exchanging their gifts upon being seated, primarily little knick-knacks and sentimental items. The whole time I'm thinking, "Would you guys do me a solid and put the pedal to the metal?! I've got business to attend to here, people!" And then, finally...

When "our" turn came, I asked her if she'd like to go first, and she said "I'd like for you to." She was apprehensive, mistakenly thinking I may not like what she'd written to me. With that, I nodded to the man holding the journal for me and asked, "Would you please pass it over to her?" When it reached her, I asked, "Please read what I've written." She asked, "Now?" I said, "Please do." So, she began to silently read, as all at the table sat in silent and bemused curiosity. I took her a couple of minutes (I can be long-winded, you know - and I remember details). I was just anxious for her to reach the last entry, which ended with...

"I had a very interesting conversation with your parents yesterday. Please say yes... "

Her mouth fell open, and all she could do was stare at me in total wonder, mouth agape, as I rose from the table, then dropped to a knee, presented the ring, and asked her to marry me. Her hand went over her mouth, she dropped the journal, and then embraced me in a deathgrip that would do a Greco-Roman wrestler proud, and exclaimed "Yes!" in my ear. She wouldn't let go - which was fine with me - squeezing me continually tighter for what seemed like ages, before finally allowing me to place the ring on her finger. She, her sisters, and her mother were in tears, the entire dining room had noticed what was going on by this time, and for the moment, we were the toast of the ship. It was, to that point, the most beautiful moment of my life.

Fortunately, the Bandaid captured it all on video for us, beginning with her jaw dropping. It was a genuinely priceless moment. A moment everyone deserves to experience at least once in their lives. Even though everything eventually went to hell in a handbasket, I was, and still am, thankful to God for allowing that moment to be special, and especially so for her. I wanted, so much, for my proposal to be special for her.

A couple of hours later, after her family had finished their performance, she and I retreated to "our spot", and she asked if we could pray together. I prayed, making a promise to both her and God that "from this day forward, I would and will give up everything in my life, short of my faith in You, for her." She repeated the same type of prayer, with the exact same promise. As far as we were concerned, we were married. Everything that followed would just be ceremony. I then just held her in my arms for a while. No one needed to say a word.


  1. It's so sad knowing that everything went south...

    And btw, I think your point about the verse about treating women as sisters is a very good one.

  2. Part 7 part 7!!!!!

  3. "I've come to see that perhaps the only part of a women's being, prior to marriage, that has any real value or merit in this paradigm is her hymen. Her mind is irrelevant, and her heart is most certainly irrelevant - despite empty patriarchal lip service about "guarding it" (usually just prior to beating the hell out of it). What's really being guarded is her hymen. I'm convinced of this. Then, after matrimony, the only meaningful parts of her being are her uterus and ovaries. Of this I'm also equally convinced."


    For all the hoopla from the P/QF paradigm about honoring and protecting women, the only evidence I've seen so far is that they think the only valuable part of a woman before she's married is her virginity, and her ability to pop out lots of little soldiers for Christ after she's married. Other than that, a woman is good for nothing in their eyes.

    I won't have anything to do with that line of thinking. I can only suspect that the PQ/F followers have never actually been in love with a wonderful woman for them to think that way.

    The woman with whom I am in love is so far beyond me in every single way -- she's brilliant, kind, generous, talented, beautiful, and so completely unique that I really couldn't care whether or not she had maintained her virginity before I met her (somehow, despite meeting me and both of us being madly in love, we're both still as pure as the wind-driven snow in that department. So much for being 'unequally yoked'.)

  4. Wow. I am close to tears. You loved her so much. She loved you.
    Oh my gosh.
    People sacrifice their children on the altar of these twisted teachings.
    Is he a sociopath? Because it seems like only sociopaths are capable of carrying these heartless doctrines to their true end. Parents who do love their children end up letting go of how they've been taught to parent, realizing that something that will break their child is not good, no matter how it's marketed ("God's way! The only way! No matter how much it hurts and how painful it is, it's what must be done because... uh, ahem.. It just must be done.")

    Were her parents toying with you in agreeing and being happy and all at that point? Or, I can just wait and see.

    Thank you for sharing, Lewis.
    I hope people see your story and start to understand the dysfunctionality and ugliness of it all.

  5. oh, my heart breaks.

    [i'm here from the blog "Permission to Live", btw]

    your point about "protecting her hymen" and etc - it's the stupidest, most idiotic idea in HISTORY.

    to be a bit TMI, i was born with NO hymen.
    i'm not alone.

    further, it's TISSUE. it errodes. the idea that a woman older than 20 WILL have a hymen is... i don't even have a word. just LIFE will cause it to atrophy, but there a thousand ways to "lose" a hyman without anything resembling sex: riding, sports, heavy labor...
    and a girl raised in a QF/P home? is GOING to be doing heavy labor.

    [also: pregnancy will kill me. i'm COMPLETELY worthless to the entire QF/P sect - and yet. i continued to go to school during the time i was having multiple surgeries on my hip, and i STILL mostly got As. but my brain doesn't matter, any work i would do with it doesn't matter - i can't have babies therefor i should just drop dead or something. sigh]

    i ran into this the first time as a teenager - my first actual experience with Christianity, actually. it... didn't go over, so well. there are lots of things behind that, that you don't need or want to know - but that whole "your virginity is the ONLY important thing about you" combined with "if a man rapes you, YOU sinned by "inciting him to lust" and should be punished" made it worse.

    because it's all insane. i've READ the Bible - i wonder if QF/P REALLY have? i mean, they read SOME of it, but have they REALLY read what Jesus said? Qf/P often do NOT act in a Christ-like manner. and they terrify me.

    seriously - my heart, it is breaking for you :(

  6. Denelian, what group is it that taught you stuff like "if a man rapes you, YOU sinned by "inciting him to lust" and should be punished" ?

    Because anyone who tells that to a raped girl, would have been better off if he drowns with a millstone round his neck... Its a scandal when people who believe that are allowed to raise ANY children...

    "Its a righteous disgrace/ its a sin and a shame/ all of this garbage in Jesus name/ I know we have to wait for you to burn up the chaff/but what can we do for the sheep/ when the wolves are on full time staff?"- From the Don Francisco song " Righteous disgrace

  7. Yaa it is a heartbreaking story. I could not help but think the whole QF/P thing is dead wrong against Christ because of what you wrote about the whole thinking of you love the man you don't marry the man you love". What if Christ died out of duty then God loved us?, but according to Christ God was already in love with us before he(Christ) died. How unlike Christ the whole QF/P really is. Thank you for sharing your story Lewis and Happy Easter

  8. Retha...The Independent Fundamentalist Baptists have been known to play things out that way, and other fundamentalist groups are probably not all that far behind them.

    The P/QF crowd, for instance, shifts responsibility to women for the sexual lusts and sins of men by placing the burden on them to not be "defrauding".

  9. glad you are alive and well!!! was a little afraid when didn't see any posting...this breaks my heart knowing there was such a promise of beauty....

  10. My heart is breaking for you, my friend....:'(

  11. The love you had for her is so beautiful. That proposal was so romantic. My heart breaks for you because I know there was no happy ending to this.

    My dad was always spouting the whole, "you love the one you marry, you don't marry the one you love," crap at my sister and I. And what, exactly, is so wrong in marrying the one you love? ugh.

  12. Oh, Lewis, my heart breaks, seeing the beautiful thing that was destroyed.

    All this seeing of marriage as a financial transaction with the woman as the commodity being purchased, and breeding rights being the purpose, is sick and disgusting. I love the sweetness of your still being glad you blessed her with the real thing.

    (BTW, I know you mean it as a joke-- but lots of "church ladies" are awesome people who would be with you in this, heart and soul, and wouldn't care one iota about "language" or whatever it is you think they'd mind. I'm sort of a "church lady" myself, I guess. . . )

  13. Retha;

    it was a fundamentalist church - not sure, anymore, what specific type - just that all the women HAD to wear dresses that were at least 2 inches past their knees, HAD to wear their hair "up" [because "hair is a measure of a woman's beauty and you don't flaunt it" IIRC] and could NOT wear makeup, most jewlery, pants, or short-sleeved tops.
    in Northern California in the summer [where it's often 120F. or more]

    it was... my mom converted to Christianity when i was 9, after first my sister, then i, almost died [it was a 2-year period of horror, really]. she kept going to progressivly more and more conservative churches, looking for a place that would give her the EXACT way to "keep us safe".
    except - problem A, none of us were Christian. we knew the basics, yeah - but not a LOT about it. and, for many years, she didn't make us go [or seem to want us to] and she didn't say *anything* about us converting.

    and then, when i was 14, she took me.
    the first months started very innocently - every week, a question ["is that really a good shirt to wear in church? don't you worry that men will look at the shirt and think you are saying you're willing to "sell" your body"? don't you feel uncomfortable with looks like that? why would you want to "pretend to be a boy" by wearing boys garments"] - every week, it was something new, some further thing i did that was "dressing wrong".
    after a couple of months of this - where i did make an effort to dress, at least for church, in the way they seemed to want [and i never, ever succeeded - if nothing else, my breasts were too big and NOTHING "hid" them] it went from "dress this way for YOUR benefit" to "dress this way so you don't cause some man to sin"

    right about the time the message was changing, i approached the pastor i knew and liked best, and the horrible things happening at home. [this was the last time i ever tried to get help].
    his WHOLE take on it was "well, look at you - what man WOULDN'T rape, if he could? look at what you're wearing [that day, i was dressed almost exactly the same as his wife. only difference was she was wearing 1" heels and i wasn't]. now, think about what YOU have done to MAKE him do this? what have YOU done that YOU can stop? come, pray with me, and ask the Lord's forgiveness for your "adultry" and for "temptation" and "fornication"" and some other words i didn't even understand - defrauding was one of them.

    i thereafter refused to go back to the church - the pastor ended the pray by gropping me, and then telling me i was "already damaged goods" so it would be in MY best interest to let him to what he wanted, so that he'd "keep my secret shame secret" for me.

    my mom and i fought about it, but even at 14, i KNEW that all of that was BS. but the entire church seemed to believe it - after that sunday and "prayer", friends that i went to school with in the church shunned me - they whispered about how i was a "husband-stealing whore" all around school, and treated me VERY badly. i have no clue, at all, what that pastor said about me. nor did i care, at that point - i just wanted to NEVER be near him again.

    *shrug* that's the how and the what. i don't KNOW the why. the where doesn't matter. the who matters, but... yeah.

    i have seen GOOD churches, since. i don't believe all - or most! - Christian churches are like that - only the fundamentalist ones.

  14. Denalian, that's so disgusting. I wish I could slap that pastor!

  15. Kristen - you aren't alone! he was eventually tried for several crimes - among others, statutory rape, sex with a minor, gross sexual misconduct, and corruption of minors.

    he's in jail. still. but it took several more years and him actually raping two different girls [younger than i was - one was the "statutory", the other the "sex with a minor", the difference being the exact age], not to mention several other... things.

    and he sat in court, on the witness stand, and told the court - over and over again! - how it wasn't his fault, that those children were "temptresses" who "defrauded" him and "made him lose control". i thought he was going for an insanity plea, myself - but it turns out, he REALLY BELIEVED that the jury would "see" that it was all the fault of the girls.

    *shudder* i feel so BAD for them - for all the kids in that situation. i wasn't Christian, i was going to church to apease my mother, not because i wanted to. i had NOTHING invested in that church [and only went to the pastor because i was afraid my step-father was going to start branching out to my younger sisters]. the other girls? WERE invested, and were trapped between "sins", either way they turned they were somehow the one at fault.

    the term "defraud" really sounds, to me, like "permission to rape you". i can't see any other REAL reason for such a thing. i have been forever scared away from fundamentalism [not that i think that's bad]. my problem is knowing people who ARE fundamentalist, and NOT fighting with them constantly. it's a great GOOD twisted into a perverse evil, and i want to save everyone from it. but you can't save people who don't want to be save - who don't even know they SHOULD be saved. which just makes it all worse. sigh.

  16. 1. funny: the "Love the one you marry" got the song "Love the one you're with" going in my brain!

    2. I, too, hate that this didn't work out. What a sweet story.

    3. The whole QF/P approach to women is straight out of the "Other" kingdom--Saudi Arabia.

  17. Lewis, I am grateful this moment was special. You captured it beautifully. Inside I was cheering for you both. So so sweet.

  18. Lewis, you're teaching me a lot. Everyone else here, I really enjoy the comments. I was part of a Reformed church recently, that's Southern Baptist. I saw many of these attitudes and beliefs within the congregation. It was very weird for me, even, as I am black and the congregation was predominately white. Not that black churches don't have their issues, because they do. But I wanted to know the Gospel and plainly so, without all of the hoopla and propserity teachings, etc...

    So I found this church after visiting some SGM (Sovereign Grace) churches (which THAT is ANOTHER story on abuse and sexual misconduct and fundamentalist crap). Many things they taught were good, but yeah, there was much of this stuff on male and female roles, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and its views on how men and women should relate.

    In retrospect, I can see why much of these teachings, espeically courtship and dating and marriage, all seemed strange and new to me. But like a sheeple, I submitted myself to it all. I didn't have to worry anyways, because one thing I realized about fundamentalist Reformed white conservative Christians, is that most of them won't marry outside of their lilly white race anyways.

    You can see what devastation and hurt that can cause in a black Christian who sees all believers the same. I thought them to be hypocrites and blind to their own sin; espeically their racism, bigotry and preference for their own culture that they soooo often read into their understanding of Chrsitian community. Lewis, you said it right in one comment you wrote in another post about this whole movement has a desire to preserve their own nationalism, their own conservative white culture... It's NOT about preserving the true Gospel. Most of them are so blind they can't even see this. I had a discussion with a few people at my old church about why I left. And I said you don't realize that the preaching is geared towards the struggles and issues with your culture; that the way of life preached has your culture in mind. But the Gospel should be taught through the lens of many cultures who endure many types of hardships, etc... which is why it should be important to have a staff from different backgrounds, etc... we live in a metropolitan city, so this is VERY possible to achieve. But rather, they didn't see this was important for the Gospel and that it had nothing to do with the Gospel. I'm like damn, you read Acts or Ephesians lately??? Which is weird considering how much they pick their hearts daily to find each and every sin after hearing preaching on sin almost every freaking Sunday.

    Yeah, thank God he saved me from that. As single person and 30, it gets hard. But I never thought as a Christian I would ever thank God for any suffering he has allowed in my life, but let me honestly say to you that I am glad that the Lord allowed my suffering through singleness to continue in that congregation and not marry one of these weirdos. In that, he was rescuing me and delivering me from these authoritarian/paternalistic views that would have wreaked havoc in my heart and in my life--espeically any marriage that would have resulted within that congregation. cont'd

  19. I know friends now that are having a really hard time in their marriages. Most people marry quickly, barely know one another, don't kiss or hold hands before dating, don't spend enough alone time together and all this other hogwash. NOthing is wrong with NOT doing those things in and of themselves, but it's the promises they want to make...that your marriage will be secure if you wait. That its your responsibility to guard a persons heart and to not defraud them. These things are true to an extent.

    But what I can see is a congregation of seriously abnormal men who I'm sure, in the dark, have real sexual issues. Espeically since the men and women stay separate. The only time men and women even bother to know one another is if a guy has thought about a woman, say three years! (LOL) and decides to approach her. It's all too weird and I can't believe that such knowlegeable people practice and believe these stupid things.

    I couldnt' grasp the teaching that people didn't necessarily have to have chemistry or be in love before they married. This love out of obligation and duty seemed so... well, loveless??? I am confused. But yet, it's sites like this and many other books I have been reading by Gordon Fee, Christians for Biblical Equality and so forth that have helped me tremendous. Also, Spiritual Abuse and Churches that Abuse are great books!

    I am going to see a counselor soon to help me work through some of the issues. I am saddened by my newfound distrust and dislike of white people simply because of my experience at this church. I have never been made to feel so unattractive, undesirable, outcast and just ridiculously sinful all the damn time.

    Luckily, this situation pushed me closer to God and no away from him. But yes, I have been mad at him for it. For two wasted years where I could have been somewhere else. BUt you know what, I ignored the urgings of the Holy Spirit at times, but it's hard to fight A-type know-it-all conservatives who think they know EVERYTHING about a self proclaimed mysterious God. \

    Sad to say, many of my friends who are African-American are also leaving that church. Yes, all ten of us, LOL. I'm from the South and this church is in the Nation's Capital. I've always had white friends growing up who were so cool and never treated me this way. I wondered if it was just a cultural thing, particularly of the conservative branch of Christianity. My ex-pastor is a fundamentalist and completely obsessed with puritans, church history and church discipline. That shouldn't be hard to figure out.


  20. cont'd

    And about virginity and childbearing and serving men... I am glad to know that whether I was a virgin or not (and I am) and whether I wait or not (which I plan to continue to do so), and whether I let my husband "lead" me or not (which I will mutually submit and work alongside him), and whether he believes in Election or not (which I don't), and whether we hold hands and kiss (which we probably will--WHERE IS THIS GUY ALREADY??? lol) I don't any or all of those things is what will give us a great marriage.

    These "Christians" are fearful. They fear sin to a degree that they think they can reach a point where they are sinless or control their thoughts in inhuman ways. They truly don't trust God, because if they did, they wouldn't have so many forumlas that are supposedly going to give us problem free lives. Mature and realistic Christians know that just becuase you do everything right, doesn't mean that God owes you anything. Mature Christians know that the Bible says that the way two people fall in love and become one is a mystery (which is why I kissed "I kissed dating goodbye" GOOD-FREAKING-BYE!). Mature Christians know that Christ loved people and lived amongst the lowliest of sinners--and loved them and met them where they were, were honest wtih them and always didn't have some underhanded sneaky dishonest alterior motive. Mature Christians marry knowing that it will not be perfect, that two people cannot seek to control one another, and that God has not promised them paradise or perfection. Mature Christians marry knowing that even if they do everything "right" by a fundamenalist standard, (which a mature Christian would never try to do), that sin is powerful and real in this world and still one partner may want out eventually.

    Ultimately, the Mature Christian trusts God completely and without reserve, like the simple trust of a child. He will find that it will be well with him to leave behind his formulas and his works-centered heady knowledge about God, and to learn to let the Lord truly transform his heart into one of love and compassion for others. That's the Christian I hope to become--leaving all this learned legalism, and cold unfeeling religion behind.

  21. Anyways, because my church acted and behaved like a fundamentalist cult, I no longer have many friends at all where I live. I am away from home to work in the region I live in. Needless to say, it was great for a time belieivng I had a bunch of friends and people who loved me. It's funny how when you leave or disagree, people start telling you they want to focus on relationships they have at the church. BUt don't worry, you'll make friends where you go. I've even had an elder and his wife tell me that they wanted to focus on the people at their church this season in life, so they couldn't have me over for dinner any more since I was no longer attending the same church as them. I wrote them back a trite response and let them know that I didn't think they knew Christ at all, and their compartmentalization of Christian life was just sad--especially because the Gospels refer to the Church, and not to the church in your specific community. All this "life of the local church" crap bugs me to no end. And yes, I am at times bitter and angry --which they are often worried about my bitterness or anger, but NOT about the real issues that are going on wihtin this partiuclar body of believers. It shows just how ridiculously blind and naive they are, but arrogant and prideful. I can see how this type of environment breeds sociopathic behavior--and unfeeling ability to really understand and empathize with others. Seeing one's self as always right and never the problem. People goin to pastors and elders tellin each other's business and sins in the supposed name of accountability and thwarting sin. It's really a bad situation and many of the people are simply depressed and lifeless. I am glad the Lord has delivered me.

    Lewis, I know you hate it when people say God did you a favor. I hate that too. Because he didn't do you a mere favor. God doesn't do favors. He redeems! He saves! He rescues! He's a deliverer! A strongtower! A fortress! He will no suffer that we would be moved by the enemy.

    We do make decisions where we can't see in the future how they will wreck and destroy our hearts. And I'm sure this situation has nearly destroyed you. I, too, have a torn heart full of hurts and disappointments. But I continue to draw near to the Lord.

    It is my belief that at the end of hte day, all we truly have is Him. And if we don't buckle down and seek the Lord and know him for truly who he is, anybody can fool us and tell us things about God and what God thinks about us that's not truly Him.

  22. I smiled walking away from this situation (many tears too) because I know that in so doing, that God loved me--because he spoke so loud that I could no longer ignore Him and told me to run as fast as I could.

    Others think I needed to leave "well" and make all these ammends with my leadership and try ot help make changes. I told them it was not my responsibility to affect an entire congregation on their prejudices and false doctrines. I also did go to pastors and elders about these issues, and other men and women. So I've done my part. After reading many of the Sovereign Grace Survivor blogs, I see this is common belief about people leaving a church, that they need to leave "well". As in, you can't leave if you have an issue with people. It's their understanding of Matthew 18, which for me and the context it was written, is completely out of context and I don't see this command in Scripture that a person must leave a church "well". They are stupid.

    It's sad that you fight through your daily life with it's challenges etc... and church should be the one place you can find refuge from the world--rather, it becomes the place where you battle the most and are always at war with something. We truly wrestle not against flesh and blood. Satan is alive and well and yes, with all of the discourse on preserving the Gospel and the local church, and church discipline, it's sad to see that these pastors are blind to their own disillusions and misinterpretations of Scripture.

    God is all we have and we should trust only Him. I know the Lord esteems me and loves me well. I nkow only a loving Father would allow me to suffer the heartaches I did and refuse to give me what I wanted which would have destroyed me. I am so thankful to Him for that. It's freeing to know and feel truly wihtin your heart, (after much warring) that the Lord is on your side and that he affirms and cares for you. Not once since leaving have I felt his back to me. BUt I know it's a road I will likely walk alone, just me and God. Thankfully, I have a few friends who are leaving that church as well and we are able to have healthy and good discussions. They are learning as I share with them very helpful sites like this, and great books that take a different look at Scripture and understanding these issues that seem to destroy our faith.

    Anyways, I will be around. And please know that I don't hate white people, y'all. I see that most of you here are and my heart goes out to you. And if a white man asked me tomorrow for a date, I'd surely go, ESPEICALLY if he was fine... oh, and a Christian LOL!

    Anyways, this is just a hairline crack of my story. Maybe I'll tell it one day. And title it "On Being Black and No longer Reformed."

    Truly your sister in Christ,