Book Review Series, Christian Marriage, Complementarianism, Doctrine as Idol, Extra-Biblical Nonsense, Full-Quiver, Gender Roles, Lori Alexander, The Transformed Wife

Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Birth Control and a “Funny Story”

The Power of a Transformed Wife, Lori Alexander, Birth Control, Submission

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-by Kathi

This is a book review series of The Power of a Transformed Wife by Lori Alexander. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Introduction & Chapter 1   Chapter 2   Chapter 3   Chapter 4   Chapter 5   Chapter 6  Chapter 7   Chapter 8 – Part 1   Chapter 8 – Part 2    Chapter 9


Chapter 10 – Birth Control and Having Children

This short chapter is essentially this blog post disguised as a book chapter. I would like to ask that we not debate whether or not women and families should use birth control. That is a decision that should be made individually and between couples. With that, are you ready?

Lori starts off the chapter with:

The possibility of conceiving and bearing children can happen early and often in a loving marital relationship because men are almost always ready for sex.

It’s a good thing men are always ready to get things going because:

Women usually love sex when they are ovulating and their body is preparing to become pregnant.

Again, men are nothing but walking sex machines where women seem to enjoy it once a month. You poor women with high sex drives are not doing it right! Let’s not get into how sex may change as you age. We’re talking about making babies here!

Lori moves on to talk about different birth control options and chooses to only look at the negative side effects (which are not accurate, in my opinion). There are some positive benefits to using birth control, but since Lori is all about making sure you have all of the children God wants you to, obviously there is nothing positive about birth control.

Even though Lori has strong thoughts about birth control, she tells readers that it is up to each couple to decide what to do about birth control and to stay out of couple’s decisions about how many children to have. If it’s nobody’s business about a couple’s choice of birth control and number of children they want, then why is this chapter in the book?

I am assuming that this chapter is in the book because she admonishes women that the husband has the final decision about birth control, stating,

“A woman who goes against her husband in this decision will suffer the consequences.”

What in the world does “suffer the consequences” mean?! How does Lori have any authority to make a statement such as this? My concern with this thought is that there are husbands who are adamantly opposed to birth control even if pregnancy, labor, and delivery is harmful to the wife.

Don’t worry women if your husband wants you to use birth control even if you don’t want to. You are off the hook because:

Husbands will be the ones to stand before the Lord to account for the decisions they made in their homes. We will only have to give account for the way we lived our lives and our submission, or lack of it, to our husbands authority.

Exactly where is this in the Bible?

I don’t know about you, but I happen to notice one very obvious issue left out of this chapter: the fact that there are many women who are unable to conceive children. Did this even cross her mind when she wrote this chapter? I can’t even begin to think of one empathetic or compassionate response that Lori can offer women who are unable to have children so it’s probably best that she not mention it.

Lori ends this chapter with a blog post that is a “funny story.” Lori was working when she had her first baby and Ken told her she could stay home when they had their second. Lori decided she was ready to stay home so she poked a hole in her diaphragm. She was so happy when she got pregnant and was able to stay home again. Lori tells readers not to do this, however, she is able to get away with turning being deceptive into a “funny story” because she was not a submissive wife at the time.

In the end Lori did get what she wanted. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

176 thoughts on “Book Review Series – Lori Alexander’s “The Power of a Transformed Wife” – Birth Control and a “Funny Story””

  1. And I realize that my nurse practitioner was calling me out of care, or perhaps it was a part of her job responsibility in getting that paycheck, either way, it does NOT justify her anger towards me

    Katy, I did not realize you meant that she was angry with you! I maybe misunderstood you. She should not have been angry, I completely agree.

    And I for one would never think depression had anything to do with you sinning. I do not agree with Rachel on that and I am glad that it worked for you to get off meds! And that you were able to get out of a bad situation.

    My only concern with cutting cold turkey is side effects, perhaps since you were not on them for long it was not a factor? But some people can have trouble cutting meds completely and that was all I meant to say.

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  2. Katy, For the record, as an NP, your nurse practitioner had absolutely no right to be angry at you. We are all taught the importance of patient self-determination. If she was angry, she was out of line. But was she angry or was she just frustrated. The patients come to us, asking for our help and then they reject the remedies we have available to offer them. If she prescribed an SSRI, and I don’t know what she prescribed, you would need a full month to determine whether it would or would not be effective for you. They take that long to work although some of the benefits could be felt sooner in some patients. I believe you said you were experiencing side effects after just 2 weeks. These side effects – which I believe you said were a kin to feeling numb or not feeling anything – would not be common after only two weeks. The drugs work by inhibiting serotonin re-uptake at the synapses and this is a very slow process.

    Now, I believe you mentioned that you were involved in an abusive relationship – someone was being abusive toward you. Numbness is absolutely a defense of the body from abuse and a common one at that. The body seeks to shield itself from the abusers. Many abused persons experience numbness and even so called out of body experiences where they transport themselves elsewhere during the actual abuse. These reactions do not require 2 weeks to come forth. I am very surprised to learn that the SSRI was causing a change in your body or outlook after only two weeks. The NP had no right to be angry at you but if she was a bit frustrated, I can relate to that. The patients come to you and absolutely insist that you give them something for their depression. Then, when you do so, they are not willing to wait long enough for the medication to take effect or else they report side effects which are not known to be associated with what you have prescribed for them.

    SSRI’s do blunt the affect – there is no question about that. So if you just washed and waxed the floor and your 10 year old just spills a whole pitcher of Kool-Aid on it, you are not going to go off the deep end – yelling and screaming at the kid or hitting him or raging with anger. Neither are you going to be thrilled to death over what just happened esp if you told the kid not to touch the pitcher until you finished what you were doing at which time YOU would pour the contents in a glass for him. YOU . ARE going to be angry by the spillage. It is just that you are going to be much more in control of your emotions and you will act more appropriately. They allow persons to be more in control of their actions and not so enslaved to their emotions but they absolutely DO blunt what you are feeling at any given time..

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  3. Lois, “Push it as far as you can get away with in hopes of attracting the attention of someone who has caught your eye.”

    Yes, from those I’ve talked to, it has the opposite effect of what is desired. A woman wants to be respected for who she is inside of her skin, so she makes her skin look beautiful in the hopes of attracting…. what? A guy whose attraction to women is skin deep!

    I’m not saying that women should dress unattractively, but those who want to make themselves stand out (either by dressing in more enticing ways or in less enticing ways) are going to make themselves attractive to the wrong sorts of people.

    “Taken in that light, what you are suggesting does make sense scientifically although I suppose if you are a strict right-to-lifer, you would not chance it.”

    That’s a really bad rabbit trail. I think at some point you just have to throw up your hands and live your life hoping for grace. Just like we look back at bizarre medical practices 100 years ago, I’m sure we will be judged 100 years from now to be downright barbaric. I would rather live my life in freedom and grace and try to do what’s right than live in a cave somewhere afraid that anything I do might be sinful. I think there is a difference between being mistaken about the effect of something (e.g. plan b) and purposefully terminating a pregnancy.

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  4. I’m not saying that women should dress unattractively, but those who want to make themselves stand out (either by dressing in more enticing ways or in less enticing ways) are going to make themselves attractive to the wrong sorts of people.

    This is such a catch 22. Be attractive, but not too attractive! Ha.

    There is a guy that says good bait attracts a lot of fish. Period. You just have to sort them out yourself.

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  5. Mark: ” I’m not saying that women should dress unattractively, but those who want to make themselves stand out (either by dressing in more enticing ways or in less enticing ways) are going to make themselves attractive to the wrong sorts of people.”

    Tell me about it! Yes, this is very true. We don’t always know that when we are young, however.

    Mark: ” I think there is a difference between being mistaken about the effect of something (e.g. plan b) and purposefully terminating a pregnancy.

    If, indeed, such is the case and not simply that one is shutting one’s eyes and hears to not “know” what he does not want to be aware of. In this case, your theory about Plan B has some medical validity. I would have to look at the actual evidence. What you are suggesting does make sense from a hormonal perspective.

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  6. Lea, “This is such a catch 22. Be attractive, but not too attractive! Ha.”

    My point is, be yourself. Don’t try to make yourself something you’re not to be more attractive, because, by definition, those people are attracted to something you’re not.

    “There is a guy that says good bait attracts a lot of fish.”

    Maybe I’m not the typical guy, but my experience was that there was an attractive woman club and there was never any real time when they were apart from each other enough to ask one out. I wasn’t the kind that was going to face rejection in front of four women trying to ask one out. Also, as a poor college student, I couldn’t just ask every attractive woman out on a date. I generally couldn’t even ask one out on a date.

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  7. My point is, be yourself. Don’t try to make yourself something you’re not to be more attractive, because, by definition, those people are attracted to something you’re not.

    I didn’t read anything in your comment about being ‘yourself’. It was all about standing out or trying to be ‘more attractive’. Lois has a dichotomy between modesty and slutty. Reality is not really either of those. Nobody is one thing or the other.

    Some days, you might do a little something more to your hair. Is that not ‘trying harder’? Who on earth says trying is bad anyways? I know I like it when a man makes a little effort and I don’t think it changes who is either. It’s still the same man.

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  8. So then Mark, that is where flirting with males comes it. It encourages you to ask someone out by virtue of the fact that they seem interested in you. You pay a lot of attention to them so it builds their confidence. If you really want to encourage them you say “We should do this sometime…….” or something akin. Of course, as any woman will tell you, the ones you want to ask you out rarely do and the ones you have no interest in will chase you in hot pursuit. You just can’t win…..but then you do because most of us eventually pair up one way or another. When you flirt, you have no way of telling whether he is just shy or whether he is not interested in you. That is why you dress attractively read seductively because hopefully you can peak his interest. It is something you have to keep at it until you get the response you want or you move on to other fish because this one is just not taking the bait. Sometimes both parties are interested in each other and then the rest comes quite naturally. Commonly, he is interested in you but also in a half a dozen other women, as well but you want an exclusive contract. So then comes the “negotiation” part. You are not going to give him what he wants without “strings attached.” He knows that so he typically is not going to announce that he is seeing five other women at the same time. Men want as many young and attractive woman as they can possibly get and we women want commitment and monogamy so say nothing of someone who can offer us security. I was not really big on the security part because I was career-minded so I could make plenty of money but I definitely wanted the commitment and monogamy part.

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  9. Lea, I used the words “…but those who want to make themselves stand out…” I think that implies something that they aren’t normally, which would be not being themselves.

    Like many things, we tend to turn everything into black and white morality. I’m saying that for each person there are boundaries on either side – dressing too attractively or too unattractively. I’m not saying that God appointed me as the modesty fashion police. I think that for practically all women, modesty and immodesty are questions of purpose, rather than something that can be determined by a measuring tape.

    And, even within purpose it can be muddled. I hardly ever wear a suit. When I interview for a job, though, I’m definitely going to wear one. Is it morally wrong for me to wear a suit? I don’t know, that’s probably between me and God. Am I going to tell a prospective employer that I don’t wear deodorant and that I value my family time more than bonuses and raises, probably not. So, I don’t think I can throw stones at a woman who wants to present herself in the best light possible to a prospective suitor.

    I think it’s a very difficult game, but the end result is that we want to KNOW the person rather than know the image that person wants to portray about themselves. I think the downside of the suit and interview approach to dating is that at some point the suit comes off and you’re married to the real person.

    I’ve said elsewhere, even though my wife and I were very real with each other, there was so much we didn’t even know to ask. Maybe it’s for the better, since we might not have married, but there have been very real struggles.

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  10. I understand what you are saying. But I’m angry about being lied to. And I have had people push Rx drugs onto me using false pretexts that have no scientific validity despite what the commercials say. After 20+ years I am understandably angry. My depression never was helped and I feel worse than ever.

    As far as “just praying to Jesus” that didn’t take my depression or emotional pain away. It merely kept me from killing myself.

    Sometimes there is NO cure for depression or emotional pain. The only way to treat people with that problem is to show them unconditional love and encourage them to get plenty of rest, nutritious food and exercise.

    If I were counseling a depressed adolescent I would NOT tell her something stupid like “If you were a real Christian and really trusted in Jesus you wouldn’t feel depressed.” That will really fix her emotional pain. Not! And yes, a youth minister told me that when I was 16.

    As a society we really need to work on our compassion toward the emotionally weak and vulnerable. That will solve problems in a way that fistfuls of happy pills never will.

    And why the Heck do we need some medical diagnosis to justify unhappiness or discouragement? “Please be nice to Janie today. She can’t help it, her brain and genes are all messed up and she needs a cocktail to smile all the time.” Dr. Feel Good. If Jane doesn’t want to go around with a smiley face why force her to? Disgusting selfish society!

    And there are doctors who refuse mind altering pills and offer alternatives instead. If the patient whines and throws a temper tantrum because they want a quick fix (when none exists) give them a referral to a psych with drugs to kill their misery.

    If you choose to prescribe the drugs yourself, I don’t condemn you. But just because Janie is smiling a month or two afterward does not mean her problems that caused the depression are all better.

    I was always becoming “immune” to the SSRI, which required hospitalization and more pills. If they had encouraged me to take charge of stuff I could control like nutrition, exercise, etc. it might have helped. But as a messed up psycho leper my life was screwed up beyond hope of remedy. And telling me I could do something to help myself besides swallowing pills and attending “day treatment” wouldn’t have fit the mental illness narrative they wanted to push.

    Finally I wised up and am taking responsibility for my life like an adult should. This would be perceived as a Very Bad Thing by many people. Eventually I hope to find an online job (part-time) because my FM style symptoms make it impossible to work more than four hours daily.

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  11. Katy, getting away from your evil, abusive spouse was the real cure. The SSRI might have kept you from leaving that horrible situation by keeping you comfortably numb. I hope you are out of danger now.

    And Heaven help you if you get an SMI diagnosis from a bad reaction to an SSRI like I did! Then you will completely be at that monster’s mercy. He will get custody of the kids–no questions asked–and no one will believe a word you say about his abuse.

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  12. Rachel,
    The problem is that you have a very severe form of depression and there is not any good medication which reliably treats that condition – just like there is not good medication which reliably treats a whole lot of physical medical conditions. When someone has depression as severely as you do, it is a challenge because you don’t have much to offer them. Sometimes some of the medications lessen the symptoms somewhat so the people can cope better with their burden. If we had medication to treat people who suffer as you do, we would surely prescribe it. Psychiatrists come up with all manner of weird cocktails which I would not touch with a 10 foot pole but they have nothing else, either.

    I don’t typically treat people who are as severely affected as you are because I feel they might be better handled by a psychiatrist. The people I treat typically have a much more mild version of the disease and many of them do benefit from primary care approaches such as SSRIs Lots of them improve enough to where life is more bearable for them and those who love them. The problem is inside your brain and you have a chemical imbalance which is not something easily fixed when it is severe. It is no different than if you were a diabetic or had a thyroid problem but these are diseases for which we do have good treatments. Brains are not so easy to fix when the chemicals are off. The fact is that Jesus does help you and it is becomes he offers you unconditional love and because you use wholesome techniques to access Jesus such as meditation. These help and these are practices which you employ to access Jesus. Sunlight helps often, as well. Physical activity outdoors help also but the bottom line is that when the problem is as severe as what you are experiencing, not a whole lot helps.

    Some people turn to alcohol and drugs which, of course we all know, only makes it worse. It is but a temporary fix to their problem and one which often alienates them from the very people who might otherwise be supportive of them. If Jesus helps you then absolutely you should access Jesus as often and as frequently as you need to do so. I find certain rivers are helpful to people with your problem. It needs to be a river which is not polluted and which is healthy and free flowing. You need to immerse yourself in such a river – preferably in sunlight – even if it means sitting on the shore in a bathing suit and letting the waters flow over you. Allow the river to carry your pain away and imbue you with healing energy. Try to get your toes into the river sand. If you are a follower of Jesus then ask him to come along with you on one of these trips and sit with you on the shore. Do not swim into the river unless you are a skilled swimmer (even then, I recommend a life jacket) but rather just immerse yourself into the waters in a manner which you can do safely and get your feet into the sand. Sitting on the shore and letting the water flow over you safely is fine. Sunlight is key. You should do this on a bright and sunny day for maximum effectiveness and you should repeat the process as often as necessary. Take a river stone back home with you and place it at your bedside so the river’s healing energies will stay with you. You must choose your river carefully as some of them are sicker than you are due to long abuse by humans. Some are still quite healthy and these are the ones you want.

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  13. If you choose to prescribe the drugs yourself, I don’t condemn you. But just because Janie is smiling a month or two afterward does not mean her problems that caused the depression are all better.

    Which is likely why therapy and medication tend to have the better results than medication alone.

    Rachel, when you say ‘FM’ are you meaning fibromyalgia? Not to be that person who’s all ‘go do yoga’ but I’m curious if you’ve tried it. I know someone with fibromyalgia who’s doctor prescribed yoga for it. Just a thought.

    Whatever it is, I do hope you find something that works for you.

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  14. I think the downside of the suit and interview approach to dating is that at some point the suit comes off and you’re married to the real person.

    Everyone puts their best food forward at the beginning. That doesn’t mean you are not yourself. If you date longer, that will start to drop off and you will get to know each other naturally. But if you don’t make an effort, you will probably never get to that point. And none of this has to do with modesty.

    Some of this just reads like judgement of people who are still looking, by people who have already found someone.

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  15. I am going to try a yoga type thing called “Praise Moves.” Also may need some vitamin therapy. Fish oil helps my bizarre dry skin and itching all the time, but keeps me up with heartburn and even nausea.

    FM and chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms often occur after going off psych drugs or even if you remain on them long term like many of my friends have. Monica who blogs at Beyond Meds was bed fast for two years after her withdrawal. Thank You God for preserving me from that level of suffering!

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  16. The real bad ones to get off are not so much the ssri drugs but the snri drugs like effexor. They are murder to get off. Patients have real and disabling withdrawal with symptoms such as electric shock-like sensations to the brain and others. They are nauseous.. They have diarrhea and severe headaches. Worse, the drugs in this class do not even work as well. A lot of the newer anti-depressants are very problematic if a patient tries to come off of them – very bad news.

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  17. Uh oh. Effexor is what I have been taking the last 3 years. I have had a few brain zaps, but the zaps really weren’t that bad. So it’s an SNRI? Hmm. I have not cold turkeyed though; been tapering slowly over almost 2 years. Hope to do better in a year…maybe.

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  18. Rachel, If Effexor is what you have been taking for several years, I would strongly advise not going off it cold turkey. Of course, we need to ask the cogent question as to why you wish to come off it. Is the drug helping you? Do you feel any better since beginning therapy? Does it work better for you than other drugs you have taken? Tapering is OK but if you feel you have benefited, do you need to d/c the drug?

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  19. Mark “I’ve said elsewhere, even though my wife and I were very real with each other, there was so much we didn’t even know to ask. Maybe it’s for the better, since we might not have married, but there have been very real struggles.”

    Mark, all marriages are a struggle but if we are committed to our partner and our vows….and, importantly, if we are committed to the institution of marriage, we work through them. I find the best success comes with giving as much as you can and expecting as little as possible. If both parties practice that philosophy, the marriage has a good chance of success. Of course, certain things we have a right to success. When I had to have a hysterectomy for endometrial cancer, I expected my husband to see me through that – be there for me when I woke up, go with me to the oncologist (I was scared to death). He had a fall from his bicycle and could not walk for a while. He expected me to be there for him. That sort of thing is not what I mean.

    I mean all the little ways and the life style issues. The idiosyncrasies, the things which the partner holds as important, the quirks, whatever. We need to give our partners as much space as possible and honor that which is important to them. We need to keep our demands to a minimum. When we practice as such our marriages become much easier. It takes both people to practice in this manner. Both must be committed to the goals of making it work.

    You have your struggles and we all have our struggles but, in my view, the end result is worth it. Faithfulness to ones vows and responsibilities in thought, word and deed. Having gotten to know you here, I have no doubt that you practice such principles. I am sure you are a great husband but even marriages with great husbands and great wives need work!

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  20. Thanks for your concern Lois. But if I discontinued heroin or meth I would feel bad. That wouldn’t indicate a real need for them, even if they did “make me feel good.” I have life issues no drug can solve. Clear headed thinking is what I need.

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  21. I am going to try a yoga type thing called “Praise Moves.” Also may need some vitamin therapy. Fish oil helps my bizarre dry skin and itching all the time, but keeps me up with heartburn and even nausea.

    I’m not familiar with that program, but if it’s basically Christianized yoga I’m guessing it will do similar things. I don’t have any FM type symptoms, but I have a little arthritis in my knee and I think it’s really helped. It’s also good for stress relief. And the social atmosphere can’t be overlooked, even though my class is pretty quiet. (Not medical advice JA!)

    I don’t know if you’re a ‘make your own’ kind of person but I make a homemade body butter with shea butter/coconut oil/almond. I also make homemade scrubs with coconut oil. You might enjoy them.

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  22. Lea, “Some of this just reads like judgement of people who are still looking, by people who have already found someone.”

    Perhaps. That was not my intent. I was trying to balance Lois’s contention that women dress provocatively to attract men and that fundamentalist churches that emphasized “wholesome” dress were a good model.

    My contention is that the modesty movement has created essentially the same sort of signal to potential suitors, but more for those in the fundamentalist movement. When I was in college, there was a “Little House on the Prairie” look – long denim skirts and frilly long-sleeved white shirts with hair worn in a tight bun. That was the sign that this woman was a wholesome fundamentalist Christian.

    This is an area, like many, many others in the Christian walk where it is more preference and experience than a long list of rules. Evidence (e.g. Josh Duggar) shows that rigid adherence to a set of do’s and don’ts doesn’t guarantee parenting and relationship success. The fundamentalists falsely assert that life is about legalistic rigor.

    So, I wasn’t trying to judge dress. I was trying to say that there are pitfalls on both sides – dressing in yards of shapeless denim is not the antidote to our cultural focus on the idealized female form. I think Jesus pointed fasting out like this. The Pharisee’s apparent response to the gluttonous culture was to make a point of fasting regularly. However, it was not enough to fast. Their fasting was a statement, and that statement turned into a legalistic demonstration of their righteousness to receive praise. I think within fundamentalist Christianity, this is what modesty has become.

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  23. Yep. I went to Indiana Wesleyan University. Before I got kicked out for having Haldol seizures we were into that “True Love Waits” crap. We were all obsessed with sex, fantasized about “Honeymoon Night” incessantly, and thought it godly to pass our time gawking at guys’ buns and crotches (amongst us females) and those of us who thought there might be more to life than getting some were accused of being gay. I kid you not!

    My beef with True Love Waits is that it made promises it couldn’t fulfill and a lot of us got mad when it failed to deliver on them. Even those of us lucky enough to marry before 22 often found the marriages unhappy if we didn’t divorce.

    A bunch of inconsistency and downright hypocrisy. Guys said they wanted wholesome virgins to marry. As long as we wore tight, revealing clothes that barely passed the lenient dress codes we could be sure of dates. As long as we were skinny, blonde, vivacious and sexy we could be Dona Juanitas (female Don Juans) for all those godly suitors cared.

    It was okay to be smart, but nobody listened to what you had to say as long as you flirted all the time and made plenty of mindless small talk. And you had to strut your stuff. Hey, it showed you were being a “good steward” if you had an eating disorder and could look like Kate Moss since you obviously weren’t a glutton. And why should a guy want to marry you if he couldn’t adequately view the merchandise ahead of time?

    If you married without a hubby or fiance you were a loser and God didn’t really love you. 😦 Mom kept pestering me for not wearing enough makeup, spending adequate time messing with my hair or being fashion conscious or eating less than 1200 calories a day. (For a while I ate 600-800 a day. Not that SHE noticed.)

    Eventually I realized I was an inadequate, pathetic excuse for a human being. More of a cockroach than a real person. I finally threw in the towel and am a hermit and quasi misanthrope. Humanity wants me to take a flying leap or curl up under a rock somewhere and rot…guess I’m better off without people around me. I barely brush my severely short hair, bathe to avoid stinking and that’s it. Lipstick will never turn a sow into a lovely lady!

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  24. Eventually I realized I was an inadequate, pathetic excuse for a human being. More of a cockroach than a real person.

    I truly hope you do not believe this, and if you do, that one day you see it is not true. That you find peace. And community, If you want it.

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  25. Mark, Christian women want to attract men just like any other woman does. There is something in Christianity about not being unevenly yoked which is usually taken to mean that Christians should seek out and marry other Christians. Who a Christian male pursues when in college is going to be a function of how closely he adheres to that philosophy. The issue, however, is that men typically do not pursue women with the intent of getting married – usually that is not the goal. They have other agenda in mind but in the course of dating xyz woman they become “attached,” as it were and then they abort the agenda to remain footloose and fancy free.

    Now if a man has bought this whole Christianity thing, lock, stock and barrel and he is specifically looking for a Christian wife, then, yes I suppose the Little House on the Prairie look would be a signal to him that this woman is of a Christian mindset . I don’t think that is what they do, however. I think they give lip service to wanting to marry someday and I think they will verbalize that when they do, they want the woman to be a wholesome Christian type with all the trappings that go along with that concept. Typically, though, they do not have in mind to marry for quite a while yet so they may not exclusively pursue the woman carrying the sign saying – look here, I am Christian (read “and I don’t put out, either”).

    On the other side of the coin, they likely meet these prairie types in class or in activities and they find they like them and also that they have a lot in common with them, anyway. Accordingly, it is likely they will ask them out on dates in spite of – not because of – the dress and ethos which goes along with it. I wish to add one more comment. For the record, some of those outfits look damn cute, all things considered – cinched in at the waist and well fitted around the bodice – one can show off a nice figure in one of those outfits quite effectively. One absolutely can put on the Christian look still show off a great body plus act flirtatious all at the same time. Christian women do it all the time and they attract and lure in men just like any other woman does. We want husbands, Mark, and most of us (not me, however) want babies, too. One does what one has to do toward that end.

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  26. One absolutely can put on the Christian look

    I reject, utterly, the idea that the prairie dress thing is the ‘Christian look’. If you are looking in a tiny subset of Christianity, Mark is absolutely right that that is a signaling device that you are in it. But goodness knows, I would not want to be with someone in that particular group.

    Most Christians dress more or less like everybody else and that is fine. I’m not in the ‘must set yourself apart completely’ mindset.

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  27. I think the view of marriage that our society, both in the church and outside is a version that is bad for both husbands and wives. Instead of being realistic, however, the church refuses to talk about ‘real’ marriages and instead has tried to adopt the ‘happily ever after’ rose-colored glasses and deny that marriage can have serious struggles even among Christians.

    I think the CBMW/fundamentalist view of marriage centers around sacrifice. The more we sacrifice and drain ourselves without thought to what we get in return, the happier we are. If we drain ourselves and aren’t happy, then we lack faith or we are selfishly holding back. Communicating real desires and needs and what we want out of marriage is somehow an ungodly refusal to be content.

    So, as Rachel said, the church pushes couples together saying that marriage is this amazing thing and then abandons them when they start having typical struggles, and then when the couple divorces they’re blamed for selfishness (lack of sacrifice) or discontentment (lack of faith).

    I think the ‘Christian look’ is, unfortunately, a sign that the woman has been properly beat into a patriarchal, authoritarian view, and thus will generally be unwilling to be ‘selfish’ or ‘discontent’ (i.e. is groomed to submit to emotional and sexual abuse).

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  28. Rachel, I went to a similar fundamentalist-leaning school. Not surprisingly, there was a race the last year to pair off. There were some really, really odd pairings, generally really kind, smart girls getting engaged to complete slobs. I think I was much better off skipping the dating scene in college, not that I felt happy about it back then.

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  29. Well, Mark, that is because smart and nice guys like you were not asking them out. When only “slobs” show an interest in you, that is all you have to pick from. If you had courted some of these kind and smart girls, then they would have had better husband material, in the first place. What were you waiting for? What were you expecting them to do? Call you up and ask you for a date? You, as the male, are suppose to take the initiative. Some guys are very dense and never take a hint.

    Of course no husband is better than the wrong husband but when you are young you don’t know that

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  30. Didn’t see this until I looked at the latest post…

    I think we all have our unique personalities and we bring a lot of assumptions and theories into the process, plus there is a lot of outside counsel. I grew up before “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, but the seeds that led to that book were already sewn in the fundamentalist churches. Dating in fundamentalist churches was a process that, if successful, led to marriage. It wasn’t netting as many fish as we could find and then sorting out the bad ones, but was instead trying to find the one best fish and only moving onto the next when that fish wasn’t the right one. I think you said “Prince Charming” and that was not far from the truth of what was being taught. I expect it was taught similarly to women, so it led to a pretty strong stalemate between the women who only got asked out by jerks and the men who were afraid of rejection by the one true fish. I’m sure there were a lot that it did work well for. There is always going to be a group for which even the worse system works.

    Personality-wise, there are two things that made it worse – I was taught by continued emotional abuse to fear failure. Any kind of failure was something that my siblings used against each other and against me to establish superiority. So, there was HUGE emotional risk in asking someone, and not just anyone, but “Princess Charming” that I had singled out as THE ONE. Second of all, because of that and because I tend to obsess about all the possible directions the conversation could go, I had to plan out the perfect moment to ask, which was generally not possible. So, I never asked. Also, these girls were smart and kind, yes, but they were generally outside my circles. My circles involved academics, sports, music and church. So, girls who had different majors, were in different sports, weren’t musical and didn’t go to the same churches, I might know them as smart and kind from an interaction or two, but it wasn’t like they were stuck in the ‘friend zone’ or something like that. Typically my evaluation was that I knew the guy to be a jerk from one of my circles and was only vaguely acquainted with the girl, but enough to know she didn’t deserve the jerk.

    How that played out in the relationship that led to marriage was that I expected it to fail and that was not a problem. She wasn’t my “Princess Charming”, so all the risk of failure and the emotional weight was pretty much non-existent. My now mother-in-law was trying to set us up and I approached it more from the classic dating angle – I’ll give it a try and see what happens. I honestly try not to dwell on all the “could’ve been’s” because much of that part of my life is pretty dark, and, although my life isn’t exactly ecstatic right now, it’s pretty comfortable.

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  31. How that played out in the relationship that led to marriage was that I expected it to fail and that was not a problem. She wasn’t my “Princess Charming”, so all the risk of failure and the emotional weight was pretty much non-existent.

    This is sort of fascinating, Mark. I really don’t know what to say. Men’s behavior can be sort of odd sometimes…

    I wonder how many think like you did?

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  32. The church I was in as a teen taught that there was that “one person” that was God’s will for your life, and if you married wrong, it was your problem (your lifelong problem). It led to fear, second guessing, people trying to be the Holy Spirit in your life—just crazy!

    If you never met the “right” person, it meant there might be something wrong with you. I seemed to have turned out just fine, despite being a lifelong single. I am thankful to be in a church where singles aren’t seen as second-class, but as people who are equally called to the grace of God.

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  33. Linn, it that is what the Church taught you, then it is an example of yet another – of the many – irrational ideas they put forth. Who you marry is a function of who was in your life and vicinity, at the time. If the “one right person” which God “intends” for you to marry is in St. Louis where you were born, but your father gets a promotion and moves the family to San Diego when you are 11, it looks like you are out of luck. Seems you are not going to meet the St. Louis match. Of course, if you believe that God controls every little aspect of yours and everyone else’s life then no problem. God will somehow mystically transport that person to San Diego. The problem is that fundamentalists also believe in free will where God takes a laid pack approach to the whole thing and lets you sort it all out. Then, if you do it all right you go to heaven and if you make mistakes you are damned for all eternity. On the one hand, they believe in God micromanaging everything include who will appear in their lives as the one and only mate while on the other hand they spout about free will. Either God does micromanage your life or he, she or it does not do so – can’t have it both ways.

    The reality is that, given the huge population on earth, there are dozens upon dozens of potentially suitable mates for anyone, at least when they are young adults. The options close as one ages. Whether a marriage works is a function of how spiritually developed is the person meaning how much each tries to be a good and fair person from the perspective of a spouse. Here, now, the Church DOES, in fact, come in handy in that it teaches people virtues which will serve them well in marriage. It teaches, or at least it is suppose to teach, people how to become better people and thus better spouses. When two people practice this sort of self-development, affording their spouse the benefit, the marriage is bound to succeed.

    The reason you never married is because doing so was not all that important to you and there is nothing wrong with that. You had other priorities. Nature imbues most people with a super strong drive to find a mate. Some don’t have it just like I did not get the super strong drive which most women have to bear children. I did get the “mating gene” so that became my priority. I was not unique in that regard. It is fairly common if not the usual state of affairs for most young people. I did not get the “want children” gene so I kept putting it off and putting it off always thinking there was plenty of time “later” to have them. Fact is, I really did not want them or I would not have been ever putting it off.

    One day, I was 45 years of age and thought I was pregnant and now I was rather disturbed at such prospect. I thought: “I am not yet ready; the time is not yet right.Yes, of course, I want children but later, not now” All of a sudden, it dawned on me that if I was still not ready at 45 then I was never going to be ready. I had a husband, I should have been thrilled, no? I think I was actually pregnant but then I miscarried because I had a very heavy and strange period after being quite late. Well what was my reaction to this possible miscarriage – here I was a married woman with more than enough money to have a child? Well, my reaction was relief. I thanked God, if he existed, for bailing me out this time and promised I would be much more careful from then on. No more,” just this once because it is safe, according to the calendar, now.” I would never make another exception to using contraceptives. “Whew! Thank you God for the bail out!” Bottom line: so why did I not have children? Answer: Because I really did not want to.

    It is the same with you. You did not get married because it simply was not your preference to do so. You had other priorities and that is just fine but it has nothing to do with your Church. You are happy and “successful” (if one can use that word) in your Church because you chose one whose values match your own. You chose a church whose values are compatible with your own and whose people are of like mind to you. That is why you are happy there. It says less about the Church and more about your ability to seek out environments which are compatible with your own value system.

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  34. Mark,

    I have a slightly different take on it. I think you hesitated to ask women out because your father was such an ogre and so abusive of you that he totally eroded your self-esteem and sense of worth. All men have some aversion to rejection on some level but your self-worth was eroded to such an extreme that it became a driving force. Your father was a very bad person in what he did to you and if the Church was the reason he did so, then the Church – or at least that one – was a very bad institution.

    I think, however, he was comparable to Linn who sought out a a church which matched her value system. In Linn’s case, there was no harm in doing so. There is nothing wrong with her value system. I do believe your father was basically sadistic and he sought out a church which would legitimize these traits and give it an acceptable front. In his case there WAS something wrong with picking a church to cultivate and strengthen that trait. It is an evil tendency and should not have been cultivated. The people who are attracted to CDD seek out churches which will lend an air of legitimacy to what is essentially kinky sexual fetishes. Many people practice this particular fetish outside the bounds of religion. in fact, it is common. Men who are truly and inherently abusive do not spank wives. They beat them up with fists and they kick them once the woman has fallen to the floor from a punch. Not uncommonly they hit them in the head with objects. They knock out teeth, they blacken eyes, they kick them in the abdomen, they break ear drums, they bloody noses BUT they don’t spank the woman. Truly abusive men do not spank wives although they do spank children to excess. Spanking wives falls in the realm of kinky sex sort of stuff. It is a fetish. People find churches to legitimize what they want to do in the first place. They pick and choose one which fits their persona.

    I rarely hold that people are victims in life. Typically, they make their own misfortune. In your case, I make an exception. Truly you were the victim of a sadistic parent. It sounds like you bailed out and now have a good life with a good wife. All marriages take work and I encourage you to ever work on yours. You sound like a really good person, to me. I know nothing of your wife but I bet she is a really good person, as well.

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  35. Lois, I would like to encourage you not to engage in psychological “diagnosis,” at least not with me. You have no idea whey I never married, whether it was something really important to me at one time, whether or not my heart was ever broken because I wasn’t married, etc. I just simply stated what my experience was as a teen, and my opinion of it.

    By the way, I have a very high view of the sovereignty of God, so high that I don’t try to second-guess everything that happens in my life. I believe in both His providential and permissive will, and I believe He allows us to make choices within the scope of His will.

    If you have another long response to this post, I will be silent. I just was not expecting a complete psychological breakdown, especially from someone who doesn’t know my life circumstances. My reasons for not marrying are many; that doesn’t mean that I never wanted to, or might not still. I do believe strongly in doing the best with whatever circumstances occur in life, and I believe God is accomplishing His will in all of it.

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  36. I myself am a rather private person, especially when my emotions are deep. As such, I don’t share these things with everyone. I imagine many others are the same. I think a lot of people throw out reasons for people never marrying, having children, in a casual careless manner without truly having any clue. It is irritating.

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  37. Linn, You are quite correct. I could well be completely off the mark. I was simply playing the odds which is was I always do in life. I make decisions via playing the odds. It typically works out quite well for me. Naturally, I am not going to be right 100% of the time. You are quite correct.

    What I wrote may not apply to you at all. If I took 100 unmarried women, what I said would be correct most of the time but in your case I could be completely and totally off. BTW, I was NOT being critical of you or your decisions. I think you are fine and I like you a lot. I am sure if I met you I would also like you just as much.

    You very much might still marry and if you did, you would not be the first woman to marry late in life. Sounds like the very church-oriented woman which C Everett Coop (former surgeon general of the US) married when she was in her 60s was a wonderful woman doing all manner of Christian church missions and leadership. In my mind, you are sort of like her and, frankly, I am rather impressed with her – and indirectly with you because I have conflated you with her. You may be nothing like her, but in my mind, you became her and it is a very positive imagery. I watched the video of their wedding on Youtube and it was quite heartwarming. These are two exceedingly impressive persons. Of course, we should not conflate people but that is what, in effect, happened in your case – at least in my own mind. My apologies.

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  38. Linn, here is a link which describes the woman (Cora Hogue) which you got conflated with
    http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?SpeakerOnly=true&currSection=sermonsspeaker&Keyword=Cora%5EHogue – rather impressive. In my mind, you became her. Here is a picture of Ms Hogue as a bride in her 60s – she is absolutely radiant. https://vimeo.com/11177661.

    You are quite correct in saying that love and marriage can occur at any time. Ms Hogue was a beautiful bride, indeed, and Dr. Koop is no slouch, either – very distinguished, for sure. Sadly, he is no longer with us but she carries on her work to this day. These are two very inspiring people. People like these folks inspire us.

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  39. Sorry. There needs to come a time to bury all hope of marriage and exhale. We don’t need to hold our breath for winning the marriage lottery before we finally die. Like a son missing in action, we need to have a memorial service and get on with life. Let’s be realistic.

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  40. Rachel, I went to some National Park in S. Dakota and there WERE black footed ferrets there. Now, true, I did not see any but they were there, none-the-less. We must always be optimistic and have a positive mind. There was a time in my life when I was quite down and depressed after losing a significant other. Times were dark, indeed. I came across a poster which I bought and put up on my wall.. It showed beautiful crocus pushing through the snow with a caption from Camus: ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” For me, summer came! I never thought it would but it came anyway.

    Marriage late in life CAN happen and it did happen to Ms Hogue. Ms Hogue was a beautiful bride. It can happen to anyone. During the concentration camp’s darkest days, people would greet one another with saying “Next year, in Israel.” For sure, many died but some DID make it to Israel. Some got there. Every one of the imprisoned nurses on Bataan got home – some weighed only 70 or 80 lbs on arrival (the Japanese starved them) but they got home and they went on to reasonably lead happy lives. The American soldiers broke into the camp (drove tanks literally through the front gate of the prison camp) after fighting their way to reach them for years and,then, liberated them. They loaded the nurses up in the back of a pick up truck and drove them out of the broken down front gate. Some of they could barely walk but they got out. I say never give up the ship.

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  41. Oh and, Rachel, one more thing. When the nurses were liberated and taken out, one of the nurses in the very worst shape was the commanding officer, Maude Davison, who was 58 years old, at the time – the oldest of all of the nurses. Most of the nurses were in their 20s and 30s but the commanding officer was much older. She was a career officer and not esp marriage-minded. Ms, Davison was in such bad shape that two nurses had to old her up for the liberation photo and she had to be lifted into the truck. So guess what she did on arrival home in the US. She got married for the first time, after being a career army officer her entire life. Ms Davison was about as unlikely to ever marry as anyone could be. She married her high school sweetheart. His wife had died. So, then, it DOES happen.

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  42. One last comment (I hope), Rachel, is that many men in the mid to late sixties or earlier seventies have had good marriages and have lost their wives. They are very lonely and they are lost without them.. Such men are good men and they would be perfect husbands for high quality, upstanding women like you and Linn. There is absolutely no reason why, if you wanted to get married, that you could not do so with one of these fine men who have had the misfortune to loose their beloved wives. Men such as these are easy prey to unscrupulous women who are after their money. These kinds of women lure them in shamelessly only to take them for everything they have and then dump them when they are most vulnerable. I have witnessed such occurrences many times and no doubt you have, as well. Women, like yourself and Linn, wholesome women of principle and spirituality, would be a far better choice and would spare them the heartbreak of learning that they were only used for their money.

    It happened in my very family to my uncle and also to friends of the family, as well. I have seen it numerous times. These gold-diggers go after the men when they are most vulnerable and then when either the money runs out or else the men get so that they are needing care, these women dump them like hot potatoes. They quite literally take the money and run. While, I am not a Christian, I do recognize that good and moral Christian women, such as yourselves, would be a Godsend for some of these men. They would be far better off marrying good women such as yourselves then these shameless hussies who chase after them once their wives are gone.

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  43. Thank you, but my hope is fixed in Heaven. Therefore, even if I never find earthly happiness all is not lost.

    I am certainly not sexier at 44 than I was at 21. Why should any guy want me now, when I wasn’t good enough then? As far as my negative attitude, that is a problem and a life time of being treated like garbage has not improved it.

    Some folks, through no great fault of their own, are cursed with physical disease, poverty and loneliness. This is unavoidable. What is avoidable is how nasty people at church are to these unfortunates.

    I couldn’t sleep last night, because I’m about to be evicted and am wracking my brains for how to pay the rent.

    I plan on finding a church soon, because the Bible says I must. But I certainly know better than to ask anyone THERE for help of any kind. I’ll starve under a bridge first.

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  44. I couldn’t sleep last night, because I’m about to be evicted and am wracking my brains for how to pay the rent.

    I’m so sorry, Rachel. I don’t think you probably need to worry about dating right now, just take care of yourself.

    I am certainly not sexier at 44 than I was at 21. Why should any guy want me now, when I wasn’t good enough then?

    I was going to comment, though, that I think as people get older some of the over emphasis on looks decreases a bit.

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  45. Rachel, You are very smart and lots of people would want you. You have a sharp wit. The problem is not your looks or how sexy you are; it is your depression. I don’t know how many rooms are in your apartment but if there are two bedrooms, you could get a roommate. If there is only one bedroom that option is not feasible. In that case, if you absolutely cannot pay your rent, you can put your stuff in storage (not esp expensive) and then become a roommate for someone advertising for one. Once you get yourself stabilized, you can orchestrate your own roommate situation i.e. you and another person, of your choosing, find a two-bedroom apartment. Two living together can share expenses and money goes further in terms of rent.

    There is no reason why someone would not want you. You are very likeable. You just need to convince yourself of that fact and conquer this awful depression which has been plaguing you. If you must choose a church, choose a nice one where the people are nice – that would largely rule out most evangelical churches. Could you not be happy in say a Unitarian or Universal church were the people are much nicer? If I were you with your current problems, I would not touch a fundamentalist church with a 10 foot pole. That would be like throwing gasoline onto the fire. You don’t need any more aggravation and stress in your life right now. Even a Catholic church would be better for you than a fundamentalist one. I grew up in a Catholic church and they are really not bad at all. There is none of the stuff ongoing which people have described here. It is much more laid-back and far less judgemental.

    If someone put a gun to my head and forced me to join a church, it would Unitarian for sure. You are a good person, Rachel. You simply have been burden with an awful disease called depression.

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  46. Thank you. I think depression stems from emotional pain rather than evil genes–though genes probably do make me emotionally hypersensitive. Church abuse never helped this (oddly enough.) Imagine having a Sunday school teacher assure you that you were headed for Hell at age 4. 🙂

    Oddly, believing I’m biologically diseased makes Christians hate me more than if they merely viewed me as sinful. Like I’m some spawn of an incubus rather than truly human. My argument is that believing “mental illness is a biological disease” does not make churches or anyone else kinder. It increases discrimination and makes most people view you as an evolutionary throwback–even if your church rejects evolution.

    Most people would rather have a registered felon for a next door neighbor than a “mentally ill monster.” The rational is that a convict can change. Since mental illness is hardwired into your genes you must always remain a menace to society. Biological pre-determinism. It made me wonder why they wasted therapy on us. Though all the therapists did was point out the hopelessness of our condition.

    At one time I went through an existential angst and questioned whether I had a soul like normal people. Oddly no one has ever thought to ask this question but me, to my knowledge.

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  47. Rachel,
    You are making my point exactly as to why you do not need to join a fundamentalist church. The first comment, says it all – having a Sunday school teacher who tells a 4 year old that they are going to hell. This is classic fundamentalism. Other sects of Christianity do not do this sort of thing with as much frequency. They are known for it. You can get this sort of a Church official – of one sort or another – in any sect but if you play the odds, you are most likely to find them in fundamentalist and evangelical sects. They are famous for them. Remember I told you that I run my life by playing the odds. If you can’t find a Protestant sect to your liking, I can assure you that you will not find this sort of nonsense in most Catholic churches. They have their own faults, for sure, but it is a much more friendly and laid-back environment.

    Also, I am not sure why it is anyone’s business as to your mental health status. You should not even be telling them about it. It is between you and your healthcare provider. When you select a church, if that is what you feel you need, chose a more open minded one. If I were picking churches, I would go Unitarian/Universalist, Presbyterian and Catholic – in that order. They will afford you the highest likelihood of finding persons who will not be judgemental of you. These kinds of churches have the least “baggage” which is not to say you could not find one which is bad. It is just that the odds of doing so are less than if you pick a fundamentalist one. The very last thing you need is a Baptist minister with a coterie of elders at his side. That dynamic is absolutely lethal. Worse, these sorts of leaders attract congregants who are of like mind.

    If someone were to pay you money specifically to go out and find hypocrites with a holier-than-thou attitude and then pay you money for each one you could bring in, your absolutely best bet for finding them would be to go to one such church – fundamentalist/evangelical minister with elders. You could find such people anywhere but the highest likelihood of success, in that regard, would be these types of churches. They are breeding grounds for such persons and you need people like this in your life like you need a hole in the head. Again, Rachel, you are a good and smart person but you have had the misfortune to be raised in the worst kind of church for your particular persona. Add to that biological depression and now you have a lethal stew guaranteed to bring about misery. My own feelings is that you need to do affirmations and meditations every single day which focus on the concept that you ARE a good person.

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  48. In spite of my bipolar diagnosis I would rather have been tortured to death than tell a preschooler that God hated them and would send them to Hell. Jesus had a special place in His heart for little ones. Btw, most of the kids I taught liked the class I taught. Too bad about their parents!

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  49. Rachel, This is exactly what I mean by “breeding ground” for the undesirable. You can find these sorts in any church but when it comes down to playing the odds, you highest likelihood of coming across them are in evangelical, fundamentalist churches. Sadly, as luck would have it, this is the very type of church in which you were brought up so you don’t know anything different. I went to catechism classes when I was growing up and we got absolutely none of that stuff.

    It is kind of like the kids who had the misfortune to be born into and grow up in really rough neighborhoods like the worst of Detroit, Chicago, Philly, etc. They grow up surrounded by violence and misery. They get abused by the people surrounding them. They have absolutely no concept of what it is like to live in a nice suburban neighborhood where one is not living in fear of life or limb every minute. I grew up in a Catholic Church. My best friend went to a Presbyterian church. Later, in high school I met people my own age who grew up in Unitarian churches. There was absolutely none of the stuff in these various environments which people have described here. They are as different from an fundamentalist church as is quiet mainstream suburban town from the south side of Chicago. There is absolutely no comparison between the two – they are like night and day.

    You simply cannot thrive and grow if you are under the thumb of an abusive minister and his minions of elders. The bipolar? Well, that is a much tougher hurdle to conquer. You simply cannot walk away from biological disease they way you can from an abusive church. It is a much more difficult challenge but it can be conquered, as well. It just takes more work.

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  50. I think the church’s preoccupation with marriage is a huge failure. Both Jesus and Paul said it’s better not to marry, and I don’t think they were making an absolute statement, but at least it should make pastors and churches strongly consider how hard they push marriage.

    Growing up, there was this implication that life began at marriage, which is why the senior year at college was seen as the last chance to join the human race. Interestingly, my single years were some of the happiest of my life. Many of the darkest days were when I was maintaining a hopeless situation just so my wife could be near her family and go to the same abusive church.

    As with many areas, we mix personal experience and our culture and then try to baptize it in scripture to come up with a set of relationship rules and regulations. What worked for me is almost certainly not going to work for someone else, and I think the worst are the ones who fell madly in love with the man/woman of their dreams (while somehow guarding their hearts, of course) and that is the yardstick by which all relationships are to be measured.

    Mental illness… where to begin. If you read the Nashville declaration, what you see underneath it is a completely flawed understanding of human nature. That is, that the “mind” is somehow untainted by sin. Even though it flies in the face of “Total Depravity”, churches (even those holding Total Depravity) still seem to think that every sin is a result of an untainted mind choosing between sin and righteousness. Yes, the mind that has made choices becomes tainted, but there is always this thought that unwinding the choices can restore the mind (aka “Biblical Counseling”). I think that is the root of a whole bunch of evil. For example, victim blaming, where the church denies that the mind of an abused wife could be manipulated to the point where she accepts and internalizes the blame for the abuse, They use her mind, as if it were somehow untainted, to judge her. They think that homosexual desires and transgenderism come from a mind that has chosen to be that way rather than something that is by nature. Then it becomes easy for them to judge. They’re judging a choice rather than mourning the results of sin and brokenness. In the same way, when someone is diagnosed with mental illness, there is not this mourning of our broken world, but instead this idea that the mental illness is a result of deliberate sinful choices (e.g. Romans 1).

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  51. Mark, Why did Jesus (and Paul) think it better not to marry? My own personal views are that Jesus was, in fact married. Living when he did and growing up in the culture he did, I believe it was rather a remote possibility that he did not marry. His father would have already have arranged a marriage for him. I think the churches have traditionally covered it up so as to avoid the distraction it would bring about as it pertains to Jesus. They had an agenda and reality did not fit well with it.

    I think the reason the various churches push marriage is because they view it as a preferable alternative to the free sex within our society today. People are having relationships, bearing children and raising them, all without any thought to marriage and now such has become rather acceptable. Perhaps church authorities do not favor such practices. They are desperately hoping to marry off the faithful to spare them from what they perceive as debauchery. My own views are that children are best raised in a stable (married) two-parent dynamic where both parents are of the opposite gender.

    Anyone who today in the 21st Century believes that mental illness is the result of sinful choices ,truly, is not too bright. There is overwhelming evidence to the contrary. I have long come to the conclusion that having a high IQ or, frankly even a moderately above average one, is not at all a prerequisite to being a church authority or leader. In fact, likely, it would hamper one’s success in that regard.

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  52. All the churches I attended believed firmly in psychiatry. That “bad genes” made me a soulless monster. They did their best to drive me out of the church. So being pro-psychiatry does not guarantee kindness and compassion. To this day there are no known pathological markers for mental illness, btw. A lot of people have a third theory.

    Psychosis and depression don’t have to be caused by sin or being an evolutionary throwback. (Mainstream psychiatry is rooted in eugenics and social Darwinism. A lot of churches would clutch their pearls if you told them this because their mainstream members and church pillars are CEOs of pharmaceutical companies or prominent psychiatrists. Trace the money trail.) Another belief is that emotional pain causes some people to seek refuge in psychosis and depression. It can even cause what William Glassner calls creative symptoming–hallucinations and really bizarre delusions.

    In my case, believing in my innate ensoulment or humanity helped a lot. It even ended a lot of my weird behaviors and depression.

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  53. Rachel, I still remain at a loss to understand why you would have even discussed your medical condition – and depression is a medical condition – with the church officials or, even with the members. Why is it any of their business? Seems to me that if the congregants or church officials drove you out of your former church, they did you a huge favor. Schizophrenia, for example, is highly treatable with medication. It can completely eliminate the disordered thinking but the various medications have extreme side effects so it is HUGE trade off. The “cure” comes at a great price.

    Anyone can become transiently very depressed given sufficient trauma or other circumstances, in their life. A person with endogenous depression becomes depressed even without adverse stimuli and they have a very difficult time shaking it off. If there was not a biochemical basis to all of these disorders, how would chemical agents – such as approved medications – help. The change is absolutely dramatic with schizophrenia; it is less dramatic with antidepressants. Bipolar is also difficult to treat. The depressive part is treatable but then the treatment for this phase can throw the person into mania.

    Frankly, Rachel, these church people with whom you were involved sound like absolute reprobates. It is good they did not want you. To the degree that “birds of a feather” applies or “water seeks its own level” applies, perhaps you were not of that feather. Sounds like such is a compliment to me. Sounds like what you are really saying is that “I tried to affiliate with a band of degenerates and genuinely nasty people but they, somehow, did not want me; I just couldn’t fit in.” Well, maybe that is a good thing! Frankly, I’d be more concerned if these folks DID like you and found you to be compatible with their organization. Seems to me that being rejected by these folks is a badge of honor. How did you find this particular church in the first place and how can you be sure you wont wonder into another just like it?

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  54. Lois, “Mark, Why did Jesus (and Paul) think it better not to marry?”

    I think both Jesus and Paul used shock and hyperbole to make people ask the deeper questions and not fall into traditionalist thinking. When you look at Christian ritual – marriage, funerals teachings on relationships, it is very common for people to do things how they’ve always been done and not really step back and understand what they are doing. So, I think Jesus and Paul are putting out a simple counterargument, not to be taken as the absolute truth that marriage is less (i.e. clerical celibacy) or to be simply ignored as it is in Evangelicalism, but to allow people to take a deep breath and really ask themselves what is best for them.

    “Anyone who today in the 21st Century believes that mental illness is the result of sinful choices, truly, is not too bright.”

    I’ll get on my soapbox a bit. The church I grew up in was badged an intellectual church. Lots of scholars and brilliant people. The preaching was all about how well Reformed Christianity stood up to intellectual challenge and how this or that ‘proof of the nonexistence of God’ was logically flawed. But… my experience was that it was all a smoke screen. Maybe there were a few sophisticated theologians, but most rode on their coattails and when questioned just pulled out the ‘pastor’ card. As such the church remains conservative in the truest definition – unwilling to change just for the sake of not changing, and that’s why backwards notions of mental illness are still alive and well. I think that plays into the intellectualistic pride – that these people can glory in their intellect (whether they actually are intellectual or mere wannabes) as the reason they became Christians.

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  55. Mark, one simply cannot be a critical thinker and swallow all that stuff hook, line and sinker. It makes about as much sense as the pictures of Jesus carrying or petting a baby dinosaur or else the one where he is riding on the back of a brontosaurus. Another romanticism along much of the same lines as the way we constantly see Jesus in artwork. He is depicted as this very handsome European man in his late twenties, earlier thirties with light eyes, light brown wavy hair and a face to die for. I like to call these depictions that of the “Malibu Jesus.” In reality, the historic Jesus was born in the middle east so he would have been short, stocky and very, very middle eastern in appearance. He would have looked far more like the middle-eastern man working at your local 7-11 store then the fresh off the surfboard, chiseled-feature male with a perfect face. All of the various Hollywood movies where he has movie star appeal did not help any either . Between Leonard DaVinci and the Hollywood movie directors, people have a very distorted view.

    As for his view of marriage, if I could place bets on it, mine would be that he was married and this aspect was simply played down. It was not even intentionally played down. Women did not much matter. They just were there as a fact of life. They did not much factor into what a man did for a profession. Women were simply someone who you went home to – when you felt like it – and who cooked, cleaned your abode and raised your children. They did not much matter and they were not much worth mentioning. If he did have a wife, most folks could have cared less.
    She mattered as much as if he had a pet dog or whether he was left-handed or right -handed. Do we know which was his dominant hand? Do we care?. She would certainly not have come into the spotlight in any way. Certainly no one care what kind of shoes she wore, not withstanding the fact that stiletto spikes had not yet been invented. She was stashed away where ever it was that he lived tending to the mundane aspects of his existence.

    Peter had a wife and we don’t hear much about her, either. For all we know, Peter may have had a dog or a cat or whatever – people had domesticated cats and dogs, by then. It was all the same. What sort of undergarments did Paul wear? What did he normally eat when he got up in the morning? How many hours a night did he sleep? Did he snore? Did he prefer to sleep on his right side or his left? Do we know? Do we care? Wives were only relevant to the degree that the Bible needs to make a point and that the point involves a woman. People were about as interested in whether or not Jesus had a wife as you are when you hire an electrician or a plumber to fix something in your house. Do you ever inquire as to whether he is married? Does it factor into your decision to hire him? You could care less. If you like your electrician and you are recommending him to others, do you ever mention his marital status?

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  56. Dr. Brenneman I’m doing fine now, thank you very much. The only result I got from Haldol was seizing and Parkinsonism. Sound sleep cured me of my hallucinations. Three weeks without sleep would make anyone loopy! Even you would agree with that.

    I’m not sure how taking pills will cure being rejected by people like I mentioned. I was heavily medicated during the incident as I recall. So my taking mind-altering drugs failed to change how THEY thought! Fancy that. If someone is upset or agitated plain old Valium in a large dose will have immediate results as well.

    I’m doing okay in my new church. None of them know about my nasty label. I hope to have it changed soon; the DSM5 has an angle I can use. It calls into question whether people who hallucinate on SSRI’s are truly SMI or simply hyper-sensitive to the drug. In over 23 years I have not been psychotic or manic, thank you very much!

    Many pro-psychiatry churches have this mentality, btw. Just because they believe you’re hopelessly insane/diseased does not mean they will treat you with kindness or compassion.

    And my parents told them about my diagnosis because the elders demanded to know why I lived at home and couldn’t work. In my last church I told them I had FM and they were a lost nicer.

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  57. About the last part of Lori Alexander’s harmful and stupid conclusion: “just following orders” didn’t work with the humans who ran the Nuremberg Trials. I’m sure it won’t fly with God on Judgment Day.

    If Caesar Nero wants us to burn incense to his image and worship him as a god it is our Christian duty–not just right–to disobey him. I plan on obeying my husband, if I marry. But if he sets himself in place of God, he’s got another think coming! If he threatens to leave me because I won’t wife swap or abort our child, I’ll point to the door. “Don’t let the screen door hit you where the good LORD split you!” 😀

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  58. It calls into question whether people who hallucinate on SSRI’s are truly SMI or simply hyper-sensitive to the drug.

    Interesting. I could see that.

    I wouldn’t tell anybody I wasn’t close to me my medical details. Sucks that your parents did. They don’t really need to know so I think that’s a good way to go. Just because you have been dx’d at some point with something doesn’t mean that’s who you are. You are just you.

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  59. Rachel, I am not a doctor. I am a nurse practitioner. We have to constantly correct patients who insist on calling us doctor. Even when we tell them not to do so, they do it anyway. Rachel, of course, I would agree that insomnia could result in hallucinations. I am on your side in all of this. I was not among those condemning you. I simply was at a loss to understand why your medical status was any business of the church or its elders. If you got the impression I was criticizing you, such is not the case. Now, I understand why they knew about your medical problems. It was your parents, and not you, who told them. It is unfathomable to me that elders would pry into your business in such a manner. Many people hallucinate on all manner of drugs – some of which are not even used to treat psychiatric conditions. Hallucination secondary to drugs is not a psychiatric disorder. It is very common, in fact.

    Rachel, again, I was not judging or criticizing you. Perhaps I misunderstood you to believe that you mentioned having bipolar disorder. That disorder, by definition, includes depression and mania. If the person has no mania (or depression, for that matter), then it is a unipolar disorder and those can be easier to treat. I do not believe that any psychiatric disorder is a person’s fault and I certainly was not faulting you. The fault lies in how you were treated by various members of your former church. I believe that they way you were treated is reprehensible.

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  60. Thanks. As I Corinthians 13 says, “Knowledge puffs up; love builds up.” In the end, love, not intelligence or head knowledge will deliver us from being cruel and hurting one another.

    The smartest guy I ever dated was a racist. (I broke up with him over it. He was mad at me for “fraternizing with the wrong peoples.” My best friend is African American and my sister is adopted from Korea.) He had very intelligent, carefully thought out arguments to support his position on “racial realism.” His intelligence did him no good, because he used it to the wrong ends.

    He tried to force me to marry him using extreme pressure, emotional abusive manipulation and threatening my family of origin! I called the police on him two years ago and he has left us alone since.

    I actually called you doctor because I thought you had a doctorate in nursing. But I had therapists with doctorates in psychology who had me call them by first names. Whichever you prefer.

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  61. Rachel, You did well to dodge that bullet. No one needs a racist and the worst part is that it is a stone’s throw from racism to being a wife abuser. Obviously, he was already using abusive tactics while you were dating him. Imagine what he would have been like had you actually married him. It would have gone downhill from where you were. Good riddance to that one.

    As for obeying husbands, I always run everything by my husband if it is something which remotely concerns him. It is not so much an issue of obeying but I want to be sure he is OK with whatever I have in mind. Now, if it is something which strictly involves me then I don’t run it by him. If I was purchasing a handbag or a book or anything which no one but me will use, then I do not consult him. If it is anything which he will also use or look at or whatever, then I always consult him to be sure he also likes my idea.

    Sometimes I try to consult him about something – like which varieties of tomatoes should we grow in the garden this year – and it is something in which he has no interest. In that case he does not want to become involved. When we have a difference of opinion on something – again, it is not a matter of obeying. We then go into negotiations until we come up with a mutually agreeable solution to the issue at hand. If it is something not all that important to me, I will typically give in and do it his way from the get go. Most things are more important to him than they are to me so typically he gets his way, most of the time. BUT – if it is something which is important to both of us and we are bucking heads on the issue, then there is no giving in. We struggle and debate the whole thing until we come up with a compromise which works for both of us. Whoever feels most strongly about the issue usually wins out.

    I don’t believe in obeying. Rather, I believe in respect, consideration and compromise. If a man wants to be “obeyed” he is not going to want me for I wife, in the first place. If he wants a partner who will respect him and be considerate of his preferences and idiosyncrasies, then I would be a good choice.

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  62. Rachel, Will you”obey” him, per se, or will you be considerate of his needs and preferences because you love and respect him? There is a huge difference between the two concepts. My husband has no formal authority over me but I often go along with what he wants because I love him and want to see him happy. If my intellect tells me, however, that what is wants is not reasonable then I will not accommodate him. Example: Our dog died and my husband did not want another dog because dogs tied you down, on some level. I very much wanted a dog and it was very important to me to have one. Pets are my surrogate children.

    In this case, the strength of my needs outweighed his sense of convenience so I insisted we get a dog….and we did (and he was very unhappy about that decision).. In other cases, the strength of his needs outweigh what I want and I give in. I use a combination of my desire to have my husband happy along with my own intellect to determine if any given position he is taking is or is not objectively reasonable. Most times I do give in to what he wants but if I feel his position is unreasonable (as in the case of the dog), then I do not cave in. Judgement prevails. It was not objectively reasonable to deprive me of having a dog.

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