Note: All of this is written with Beth’s permission.
The moment I heard Beth’s voice, my head completely blacked out and was flooded with millions of questions at the same time. I blurted out the first question that came to my mind: “What in God’s name are you doing, Beth?”. A big sigh came from the other side as she went to explain the whole story.
Beth had been struggling with the movement for about 3 years at that point. At first, she started doubting things in the bible. Some things just didn’t make sense to her anymore. How everything set up women to be unable to deal with the real world. That women are sinful, much more than men. That they can’t really have a relationship with God but need a man for that. She started wondering why God would allow a soul to be born into such a miserable state.
She tried sharing with her family, but was immediately put down. It wasn’t her place to ask, after all, she was just a woman. Beth was disappointed that her family treated her like that. In her frustration, she turned more and more “rebellious”. She picked up friendships with people outside of the movement. They were still christians, but not radical ones. A lot of her questions seemed strange to them, even dangerous. Their thinking was much more after Beth’s taste and she slowly changed her views on many things the fundamentalist QF movement had taught her otherwise.
She didn’t want to leave her family or make them sad. When they approached her with a courtship, she submitted, hoping that it would turn out well. That it would be a man who was on her side. The opposite was true. Knowing that his daughter changed her mind on many things, that she was rebellious, her father picked a man after his taste. All other men who expressed interest in Beth were sent away, not even telling Beth that there were other guys. The man her father had picked was a maniac to say the least. Note here that I don’t want to make anybody look like a monster, I’m just telling you Beth’s version of the story. According to Beth, he had views that even the fundies considered extravagant. One of the views was that sex is never fun for a woman and if it is, you’re doing it wrong. Pleasure in sex was inherently wrong. It was to make babies, period. The wife was also to fully submit to him. That meant no arguments whatsoever. Beth said that whenever she disagreed with him, even if it was only over dinner, he told her that would have to stop once they were married. Beth came to fear the man, and rightfully so. Their engagement wasn’t romantic at all. He casually told her that he thought it was time to get married. She asked him if he was asking her to marry him, his answer was “No, I’m telling you I’ve decided to marry you.” He grew more and more possessive of her, telling her what to wear, how to wear her hair, what she could or couldn’t do. He gave her a list of skills he thought needed improvement.
During all this time, Beth was still hanging out with her outside friends as often as she could. She ended up falling in love with one of the guys from that group of friends and so did he. While she didn’t admit this at first, a few days after her engagement they ended up kissing. From that point on, she decided to leave somehow. She and her boyfriend worked out a plan where she could stay, what she could do, how they’d save her.
Once they had everything set up, Beth decided to try one last time with her family. She talked to her parents how she didn’t want to marry this guy, how she disagreed with some of their views and what she wanted to do with her life. Her dad freaked out and got all crazy-bible-verse-thrower on her. She however took the phone, dialed her fiance’s number and told the first person who picked up (his mother) that she was breaking off the engagement. Her dad was in a wild rage, screaming the worst things at her, and she screamed back. Beth had set up a time with her friend where she ould come to pick her up, so she held out through the fight until that time came. She ran out of the house and into her friend’s car, who brought her to an apartment where they could live together as roommates. She still lives there.
I was listening silently until I regained some thought. I had thought about what to tell her before I called her, and now was the time to tell her all of my thoughts. I told her how I thought she made a mistake, that there certainly was a solution, that she needed to come back and work it all out. I said she was throwing away her savior for a boyfriend who didn’t really love her – after all, he kissed her, robbed her and her future husband of her purity.
Beth got really angry at that. “You’re telling me about love? You don’t know anything about it. You’re courting my brother, and why? Because he was the first man your dad presented to you. Because my brother is a good enough guy for you. You don’t love him and we both know that. You don’t know what love is because you don’t love anybody. You’re marrying my brother because he’s good enough and that’s as far as you’ll ever get, good enough.”
That on the other hand deeply hurt me. “I DO love your brother. Harry is THE BEST man I can image as a husband. He’s NOT good enough, he is the BEST. I love him and I’m honored that he considers me a potential wife. YOU don’t know what love is because you fell for the first horny bastard who told you that you have pretty eyes.”
You’re free to join me in being surprised that Beth didn’t hang up at this point. I’m telling you, she didn’t.
“Lisa, do me a favour. Take some time and REALLY think about it. Think about love and the feelings you have for my brother. If you can make me believe that you love him, I’ll be quiet for the rest of my life. Just make sure you really test it.”
“How am I supposed to test it?” I said, in a very annoyed and hurt voice.
“I don’t know. Just do something so you can feel if he’s right for you. And then tell me about it.”
I told her that I would have the answer she wanted of me soon enough, made up an excuse to hang up and was saying goodbyes as Beth asked me “Promise you’ll call again. You know I don’t mean to hurt you.”. I agreed and hung up, sitting on Tiffany’s couch, staring once again at the wall, tangled up in my thoughts. After a few minutes of this, Tiffany came in.
“Are you finished?”
“Yeah, pretty much” I said.
Tiffany came to sit next to me, hugged me quietly and stared at the wall with me.
“Tiff, how did you know Steve was the one?”
Tiff thought about it for what must have been ten minutes, just to tell me “I don’t know. I guess you just know for sure and that’s how you know. If you know that stones are hard and the sun is yellow and that this guy is right for you, and all of those three things are equally true to you, then you know it’s the one.”
(For the curious readers: Beth and her boyfriend are still together up to this point, and very happy together. They don’t have marriage plans yet. Thanks to Beth for allowing me to post this part of the story.)