Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Joyful Submission of the Plush Doormat

Mary Kassian's claim that complementarian teaching is misrepresented by non-complementarians, and the misrepresentation is what is argued against, and thus is a straw man (woman) argument, says a lot about Mary Kassian, and possibly about her husband, close friends, and her church, but not much else. See Hannah's article: The fact is, complementarians are not just insisting that wives become doormats, (although they deny subjection makes a wife into a doormat) they are pushing wives to joyfully make themselves into plush, comfortable-to-walk-on doormats, or even into plush, beautiful, priceless Persian carpets specifically designed to give husbands tread-on pleasure.

Kassian seems to have forgotten that most, if not all, of the Christian women who write against patriarchy and husband authority were in fact greatly harmed and even devastated by that very teaching. They know it was caused by husband authority beliefs because their husbands told them so—frequently—often ranting while they did so. These wives did as was taught and demanded of them, and suffered for it. They know many women have been killed by their spouses, and that their own lives have been spared. Their writing and arguments are clearly NOT straw-woman arguments. They KNOW what they are talking about because they lived it and fought to free themselves from the suffocating grave-clothes of complementarianism, of wife denigration, of husband privilege and elitism. And the men who fight complementarianism, also experienced the harsh realities of homes where the doctrine was pounded into the victims' heads.

Kassian's argument that complementarianism is misrepresented, suggests that either she is not very submissive, or that her husband makes most decisions with her and not for her, which is not the experience of those real women her argument misrepresents and ends up denigrating as non-existent straw women. It also suggests that most couples she knows, also do not practice what complementarians teach via pulpit, books, articles, Bible study, Sunday School class, and peer pressure. So while she, herself, does not practice what she preaches to the point that it is foreign to her, she still demands that other women joyfully make themselves into plush doormats and plush priceless Persian carpets for their husbands' to denigrate, manipulate, & dominate for their own pleasure and comfort.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Preserving Marriage & the Family

My primary goal in fighting domestic violence and submission abuse is to preserve marriages and the family. I want married couples to be able to stay together “as long as they both shall live.” How does one go about trying to preserve the family? If a person is complementarian, the primary focus is to maintain husband authority via wife submission & obedience. It seems to me, this is preserving the husband's authority, but does nothing to preserve the marriage or the family.

If one wants to preserve the family, each member of the family must be strengthened and encouraged to be all they can be, to use their talents for the benefit of both family, community, and society. Demanding that wives dumb themselves down and weaken themselves so their husbands can appear strong and manly and maintain authority, does not preserve wives. Nor does it preserve husbands. Nor does it preserve marital bonds. The divorce rate is just as high among Christians as among non-Christians, and some say it is higher among Christians than among non-Christians. It looks like the harder churches push husband authority, the more Christian wives choose to divorce.

This phenomenon makes perfect sense, since it is well known that a husband's belief in his right to dictate to his wife, his belief in his entitlement to have his way at his wife's expense and against her will, his belief that these privileges give him the right and justification to punish and train his wife, to expect service from her are the very beliefs and system of beliefs that are the foundation, the motivation, undergirding domestic violence and domestic abuse, whether verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, or all of the above.

Ordering wives to stay married does not preserve marriages, nor does it preserve families. If you keep food in a jar, but the seal is broken, that food is rotten and full of bacteria. We could say the food is dead. It is garbage and we throw it out. In the same way, an abusive marriage that is kept in the “jar” of stay together no-matter-what, is rotten and dead. The seal of love and do-to-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-to-you has been broken, and the marriage is contaminated. In Jesus's words, those marriages are “whited sepulchers, full of dead men's bones.” We know the interior of those marriages are contaminated and rotten because the children from those marriages are 2-3 times more likely to have abusive marriages themselves. (If I recall the rate correctly. It may be higher than that, but I'm too lazy to look it up.)

In my work against domestic violence and its foundation of husband authority, I am fighting for the committed loving relationships that are pictured in the Holy Bible. I am fighting to preserve LIVING marriages, LIVING families, that are holy to the Lord. I am asking husbands and wives to obey what the Bible actually says and teaches, rather than follow the doctines of men. I am asking, begging Christians to reexamine the Word to see if it actually teaches husbands to take authority over their wives, or if that is a teaching inserted into the text by men.

I am specifically asking those with relatively good husband-authority marriages to examine the Word. Your marriage is working because the husband is choosing to share his authority with his wife. Please consider the many wives whose husbands do not share their authority. These wives live with continual pain and devastation of their being and lacerations to their dignity, because their husbands place themselves as god, and above God to their wives and children.

With the rate of women who have been abused by a male partner in her lifetime having risen to one third of women, (up from 1 in 4) and with some studies suggesting the figure is closer to one half of women, isn't it time those who claim to follow Christ pay attention and prayerfully study the Word? Instead of relying on translations, use the concordance. I believe the Authorized King James Version is closest to the original text. Having looked up words in the concordance and then comparing what I learned with what other translations say, I find many translations insert into their texts husband authority that is not there in the Authorized King James Version or in Strong's Concordance.

What I have learned gives a far different picture of God's attitude toward women than is usually taught in many churches. And this knowledge fits like the missing pieces of a puzzle. Instead of a loving God who constantly stomps on women and cannot be bothered with their plight, I find a loving God who required husbands to divorce their wives rather than desert them or kick them out, so that their wives would be free to remarry and find fulfilling lives with loving husbands. I found the rules of divorce were decreed to protect women. This is a totally different side of God than my church taught. And it matches the love and compassion Jesus showed toward women.

Please, search the scriptures to see if this is so. And purchase books like “Behind the Hedge, A novel,” to have a better understanding of what goes on in husband-authority homes, how that belief system effects the whole family and even friends and the extended family. God bless you in your prayerful research.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Development of Joyful Streets and the Future Mudmats of Sovereign God

Societies all over the globe have a powerful rule that is foundational to all other rules: each person should contribute to society as much as they are able to contribute, and according to their talents. Those who refuse to contribute are considered bums, lowlifes, thieves. If one cannot contribute money, he or she ought to contribute labor, creativity, brainpower, or prayer. Jesus, himself, taught this principle: each of us are to use the talents God has given us and through them develop even more talents.

Here in the United States, our culture agrees with Jesus's teaching. Even the elderly and disabled are expected to contribute to the best of their ability. Nursing home directors instruct nurses and aides to refrain from doing things for elderly and disabled residents that they can do for themselves. Through experience they know if those with limited ability are not allowed to practice what they can do, they will lose that ability as well and become totally dependent. Thus, they hire activity directors to help keep their residents learning, developing, and as active as possible.

Similarly, parents are advised to encourage their children to do things for themselves. If a child can button his own shirt, a parent is to refrain from doing it for him and praise him for his accomplishment. If a child can feed herself, the parent is to let her do it, even though she makes a mess. After all, it is through practice that a child develops motor skills, and adds skills that require more dexterity, more strength and coordination.

Parents are also advised to increasingly turn more and more decision-making over to their children. From what clothing to wear, to what food to eat, to what item to buy, to what schooling to pursue and what job to take, to how to handle money, children must develop decision-making muscles, too. Through practice and experience, children develop the skills to make good decisions. Thus each generation equips the next generation to make a positive difference through their development of decision-making skills and through their development of mental, physical, and/or financial labors to contribute to the good of society.

But one group does not follow this principle. That group demands that certain members within the group must remain as labor-class children. These members are prohibited from developing and practicing their talents—unless those talents are part of a very limited list of allowable talents. If these certain members have the non-allowed talents as part of their inherent beings, or if the talents developed due to life circumstances, they are to bury their talents in the ground.

This group claims to follow the teachings of Jesus, yet pays no attention to Jesus's teaching that the person who buries his or her talents in the ground is wicked and God will punish that person by taking away the other talents that he or she has.

These select members are also commanded to give up any decision-making skills they may have developed, and are to become dependent on other members in the group to make decisions for them. Because they are allowed no goals, no right to make decisions of their own, these members that are selected to remain as children often are drained of the energy required to do the menial, labor-intensive tasks that have been assigned to them. They are denied the liberty and pursuit of happiness that our country was founded upon. There is a high degree of mental depression among these child-ordered members. Therapy is usually aimed at getting these members to accept and embrace their perpetual dependent, child-labor filled lives, to get them to focus on helping the other members in the group to reach their dreams and goals, to make their backs like a street to be walked on, (Isaiah 51:21-23) while denying they are doing so. Rather, they are taught to joyfully make their backs like a street to be walked on, that if the members they are dependent on choose to beat and abuse them, it is because they have not made their backs flat enough. Indeed, becoming a part of the street for others to walk on is to be considered their God-decreed role in life. But if they call it anything other than wonderful, a blessing, satisfying, and fulfilling, they are labeled as selfish, rebellious toward God and the roles He established.

If these members who have been chosen for perpetual child labor were part of a small hidden group of several thousand people, this group would be outraged. But since these disadvantaged mudmats are more than half the adult population of the group, their plight goes largely unnoticed. Those who do notice and speak out, are vilified, and many books, some of them slender, some of them fat, are written to deny what these courageous folks are saying, to deny that half of their members are being forced to bring punishment on themselves by burying their God-given talents in the ground.

Indeed, the mudmats do lose their talents and their ability to make good decisions, and many of them believe they have no value apart from the person who is stomping across their backs, leaving layer after layer of mud as a show of his absolute authority over and ownership of his human mudmat.

Isaiah 51:21-23 tells us what our Sovereign God will do about this:

21 Therefore hear this, you afflicted one,
made drunk, but not with wine.
22 This is what your Sovereign LORD says,
your God, who defends his people:
“See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again.
23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,
who said to you,
‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’
And you made your back like the ground,
like a street to be walked on.”

According to this passage, God will defend his afflicted ones, in this case, his daughters. He will take that cup, the goblet of his wrath, and put it into the hands of their tormentors. Husbands, are you sure you want God to put the goblet of his wrath into your hands and force you to drink it? If not, isn't it time you stop insisting that the Bible commands you to take authority over your wives? Isn't it time you stop commanding women to fall prostrate so that you can walk on them? Isn't it time you stop setting yourselves up as higher than God with your husband authority teaching and practice and your demand that wives practice husbandolotry by obeying you rather than God? And isn't it time you live lives of non-authoritarian, sacrificial service as God commands?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.