Broken Daughters

Picking up the shattered glass of fundamentalism

About Mom and Dad

16 Comments

The last few posts in which I was talking about my Dad received plenty of comments with a lot of thoughts, ideas and opinions. I want to thank you all for that, simply because it proves to me personally that this feeling I had about my Dad, that he wasn’t handling things the way he should, was in fact right all along.

There were many questions concerning my Mother and her role in this, so I want to talk a bit more about her as I feel it makes more sense to know her character and personality as well.

My mom is a very very quiet, introvert person. Ever since I can remember, she’s been quiet, hardly talking to people outside of our direct family. At church, she had a very hard time connecting with people, finding friends and such. She tried to be more outgoing, but it went only as far as signing up to bake a cake and then dropping it off without a word, only a smile.

While in the normal world, this would cause her problems, within the movement, it didn’t. Quite the opposite. My mom was praised for her quietness, her submission, her willingness to be simple and “die to self” as they love to say. While she was ignored, not noticed by the world, in the movement, she was somebody. And she didn’t have to do anything but be herself.

My dad was (is) really proud to have such a wife. She brought him honor and praise, she made him look really good in front of the other Patriarchs. She was the walking symbol of his strength and wisdom. If a woman was and could be this meek and quiet, it had to mean that the husband was an amazing leader. My dad took all his pride from the way his marriage looked to the outside.

My dad on the other hand always felt the need to be right and unquestioned. I was told that he was always a strong personality, but that he wasnt this bad. During the marriage it seems, the fact that my mother hardly ever spoke up, voiced an opinion or questioned him, must have gotten him used to feeling like this. My mom is addicted to harmony and peace. She’d rather swallow all her anger than get into a fight. And so, even if she felt my dad was wrong, she didn’t tell him simply to keep the house a peaceful and quiet place.

Over the years, my dad worsened. When you’re used to being right, it must be hard to accept criticism from anybody. My dad’s ego depended on the quietness of my mother, and likewise, the peace my mother loved so much depended on my dad’s ego.

 

Now, some comments talking about the wrong concept of submission in my family. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly agree with you. But for my parents, submission looked different. Here’s an excerpt from one of the comments:

“Honestly, he should be hit with Ephesians 5:28-29 (Husbands love your wives and cherish them–my paraphrase) and Ephesians 6:4 (Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.) Perhaps the children should make posters of those verses and hang them around the house. It’s a thought.”

That IS a good idea, but it wouldn’t work out at the end of the day.

In this mindset, it’s really hard to argue whether a man really love his wife. Even if he mistreats her, its covered by “he wants to protect her, hence he loves her.”. Shes living on a really small budget? Protection of the family. He doesn’t listen to her? Because she’s not as smart and he’s protecting the family from foolish decisions. She doesn’t feel loved? He just has a different way of expressing it. She needs to adjust to her head of the house. Theres ALWAYS some way to explain every male behaviour, no matter how bad and degrading it is.

A wife on the other hand can be easily caught unsubmissive. She does it her way? Unsubmissive. She criticizes you? Unsubmissive and not honoring the husband.

Really, I could go on and on with thousand examples, but we will always end up with one answer: The man’s faults are encouraged by unsubmissive wives. A submissive wife will cure all problems within marriage. I encourage you to read http://www.nogreaterjoy.org/articles/general-view/archive/2003/july/01/learning-our-place-as-wives/

The Pearls answer questions about marriage and family life on their site and they demonstrate a deep understanding of this form of submission. It’s about total submission to a point where you can’t do anything in order to talk to your husband about problems. If you are too lazy to read through all the articles, here’s the basic principle: Submission is key.

 

My mother firmly believed that her total submission could cure all the problems within our family and within her marriage. Whenever things got worse, she tried to be even more submissive. She never questioned his decisions but blindly trusted that he had a divine revelation about everything. Whatever it was that he said or did, to her, it was directly from God and if it was a bad thing that was said or done, then it was because of her lack of submission.

 

I know many people are going to comment that it’s a wrong form of submission, not meant like that, that my mother needs to act rational, like a normal woman. But that’s NOT going to happen. It wont happen just like it wont happen that they leave the Christian faith. This is their faith. It’s irrational, yes, but so is all faith.

16 thoughts on “About Mom and Dad

  1. Actually, this is EXACTLY what I was taught about submission, and if I didn’t do that then I was accused of not even being a Christian. So to me, this is pretty normal for what Christianity teaches. Your husband sleep with another woman? It’s your fault because obviously you weren’t giving him any, or at least not enough so he had to search for it elsewhere. Your husband is physically or mentally abusing you? If you would stop trash talking him to your friends and telling them about the abuse, he’d stop. He’s just angry that you talk about him, how dare you? He’s making decisions you believe are stupid? That’s because you are deceived, if you are truly submissive, even if it’s a bad decision it will turn out well, and if it doesn’t, it’s because you didn’t submit enough.

    • Exactly absolutely 100% my parents. There’s always a way to blame it on the wife!
      Some people, or a lot of people actually, react in a way like “submission doesn’t make you a mute, you can voice opinions in a friendly way” or “if the husband sins, it’s HIS choice and sin and not to be blamed on your unsubmissiveness”, and that might be true for some groups in christianity and some couples, but in the very conservative/fundamentalist groups, it’s ALWAYS about total submission.

  2. Though my mom is not quiet as much of an introvert as your mom is, you described my parent’s marriage perfectly. My father is always right and my mom walks on eggshells to make him happy and make their marriage work.
    It is wrong … but I also don’t see my parent’s marriage changing, because they have no desire to change it … they think that is the right and godly way to be married.

  3. Since it’s my comment that you quoted: I understand the total submission concept totally. When my husband and I were first married, we went to a church that was bordering on that type of submission. Yes, it’s submission for submission’s sake. The husband is the head of the household and so every decision is his to make and no one else’s. Thinking about buying a new dress? Better get your husband’s approval first. If he doesn’t like it, you can’t wear it. Having pizza for dinner? He has to approve the toppings. Want to discuss something and he says “no?” Then you keep your silence. If the house isn’t harmonious and everything going nice and happy, it’s because someone is out of God’s will and not submitting properly.

    Having left that church after it became such a closed shop that my husband could no longer worship there and finding John chapter 9 where the man born blind was not due to sin but so that God could be manifested, we both refuse to go back to that sort of lifestyle. I found it interesting that Nancy Leigh DeMoss who has never been married or had a child promotes this type of submission in her book “Lies Women Believe” which is fairly popular in my area.

    This type of submission sounds very Biblical but it’s one of the scarier parts of the movement–in my opinion. The head of the household is responsible for the family but submitting while he blows the money on a bad investment and then living on the streets just because you believe in submission is just plain stupid. It won’t necessarily teach him anything and it’s not taking care of the family or loving the wife.

    • You’re absolutely right. It shocks me too that most advice how to be godly in a certain area comes from people who haven’t even experienced what they write about. Another example would be the Bodkins and the girls, who talk about how to find a godly husband, yet neither of those two is married. DeMoss is another woman who knows how to push my buttons – not having actual experience, but lecturing everyone else how to do things.

  4. You’re so right! I used to believe the same things about submission, all straight from Debi Pearl’s book. I thought every problem in my life was rooted in my lack of submission. I wrote about it here: http://www.createdtobehis.com/?p=207

  5. Hmm, sounds like your parents are happily miserable. You mom sounds like a lovely person. Too bad her sweet gentleness is taken advantage of and not appreciated.

    From the way you describe it, it sounds as if the patriarchal types are WAAAAY off when it comes to what the Bible says about Christ-like leadership. If they would really look into the way Christ loves His church, they would see that it is a self-sacrificing, humble, others-oriented position, not the self-serving, self-promoting, tyrannical, lording-over that you have described. If men act as tyrants and then claim that they are acting like Christ, it seems to me that is a terrible misrepresentation of who Christ is and might even be blasphemy. I know that sounds strong, but how could it be anything else if they are representing Christ as a self-seeking tyrant when He is anything but?

    BTW, I did read Debi Pearl’s book a while ago, and I actually liked most of it, but I think that is because I’m married to such an easy-to-love guy. For me, it just translated into reciprocating the love I was receiving from him in a way that my husband could most understand and accept.

    • That’s actually what troubles me about the Pearl’s books. They actually make sense, they know how to word things in a way that a sane person would find ok, but the crazy patriarchs are enabled to read into it what they want it to say. The same goes for To Train Up A Child. It doesn’t describe actual abuse, but unfortunately, it can easily be turned into abuse.
      Generally, every book can be misused I guess. It’s what you make of it.

      • Wow, what a fair assessment you give of the books. I actually could not get into TTUAC at all. Shortly into the book, M.P. starts comparing training children to training dogs and mules, and that just didn’t resonate with me AT ALL🙂. But I think you are so right about ALL books; the sane people can use the info responsibly and take the good and leave the bad (and most books have some degree of BOTH), but people with control issues, anger issues, OCD or whatever, will read into them what they want. I think that is why every product on the market has a ridiculously long disclaimer (like empty coffee cups that say “caution, may contain hot liquid” or plastic bags that say “Not a toy. Do not give to children.” DUH!). Maybe the Pearls’ books and others like it should have disclaimers for dummies like “Caution: do not use this book to micromanage or beat your wife and children.”

        On that note, my hubby and I were watching a movie called Like Dandelion Dust last night (great movie, BTW), and there were a few scenes which involved domestic violence. I told him that Debi Pearl’s book would suggest the violence against the wife was the wife’s fault and that she should try harder to keep him peaceful. Hubby just flared his nostrils and shook his head in disgust. D.P. also says that a wife should take her children to visit their father in prison after he molests them. That just sounds cruel and senseless, and the Bible says that love always protects. The book had some really good tidbits for me, but there was definitely some ca-ca in there, too. For that reason, I have not felt good about passing the book on to others, though I found much of it personally helpful. How do I know someone else would not take the ca-ca as biblical truth? Debi Pearl’s opinions on life are not synonymous with God’s .

  6. “I know many people are going to comment that it’s a wrong form of submission, not meant like that, that my mother needs to act rational, like a normal woman.”

    That may be true (i.e. your mother should have been rational and stood up for herself more, etc.), but I actually feel very sorry for her. She’s obviously brainwashed into believing total submission is the only way to a godly marriage. I’ve seen women who go back to an abusive husband because they’ve been convinced that to do anything else is wrong. They are otherwise rational, intelligent women. It’s just that they’ve been so blinded by lies told to them for years and years. That doesn’t mean your mother doesn’t bear some responsibility. But I do understand how a woman can be caught in a situation like that and not even try to get out.

  7. One I’ve heard: Is your husband overweight? It’s because you cooked too much food, not his lack of self-control!

  8. I actually read an article once regarding fervent believers and divorce. The context was when the husband is abusive toward the wife and/or kids. The rationale they had? You are allowed to divorce in this situation because in staying with him, something you are doing is forcing him to sin (i.e. abusive), and in the absence of you, his temptation to sin will be reduced and you are thereby strengthening him by ensuring he will be less tempted to sin by breaking the law. He will more easily secure a place in heaven if you aren’t constantly there enraging him to the point where he wants to put his fist through your esophagus.

    It is one of the most horrid, anti-woman, terrible things I’ve ever read. And the sad part? I sent the article to my mother because that is the only light in which divorce would seem to be something that increases faith rather than disobeys god.

    Absolutely sickening. So very, very sad. My heart often breaks for the family I left behind. (I do not consider my “father” to be family.)

    • I haven’t heard that interpretation before but it makes sense and sounds very much like the fundamentalists. Maybe I haven’t heard about it because the group I’m from is so very anti-divorce. So the only way to fix things up and be godly is more submission on the wife’s part.

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