Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Patriarchal fail

Recently I received an email from a facebook acquaintance who explained why she was unfriending me.  She's heavy into patriarchy and it's associated nonsense, and she explained that (a) my questioning of her potty training methods(strapping her sixteen month old son onto a potty chair and letting him watch videos all afternoon, which I suggested is not something that is developmentally appropriate) was unacceptable and (b) while she wants to raise her children for the glory of God, apparently all I want is to raise my children for the glory of myself, and that is also unacceptable.  She cited the fact that I work and am so busy in outside activities that I have no time for my husband and son(the latter fact is something I was unaware of, since my husband is rarely home and my son usually accompanies me on things like infant music lessons and swimming, since those are activities for him, not me) as proof that I'm not interested in God.
She also cited my college degrees, my not getting married until I was 27, and only having one child in two years of marriage(what huh?) as further proof of being "out for myself."

Have I mentioned that she is a good six years younger than me, with three children under four, a husband who earns barely minimum wage and can't keep a job, and they just moved into their sixth apartment in a year because they have to keep downgrading due to finances?  And she refuses to get a job to help out because she's a woman, even though they are barely subsisting and going deeper and deeper into debt.

I don't bring this up to talk about her.  I bring this up to talk about the logical disconnect here.  When a family is barely able to put food on the table because neither parent has any education and the belief is that it is always wrong for a wife to work, patriarchy has failed.   When a family is living in a one-bedroom apartment and praying the landlord doesn't find out they had a baby a year ago and Mom is pregnant with number four and they can't afford a large enough vehicle for all their kids, the belief system is a failure. It's not about money; it's about being smart enough to realize when something isn't working.
And in this family, getting married at 18, not pursuing higher education, and popping out child after child while crammed into an apartment because their lifestyle choices have limited their earning potential--this is not a success story.

And yet there are people in my husband's former church who hold up this family as the pinnacle of succes.  They tell their children--look at that family! Homeschoolers who married young and now have a bunch of children! That is what you want!
While us--married in our late twenties, six college degrees and two professional certifications between us, with an income that is not spectacular but pays the bills and lets us have a little fun, one very loved and welcomed child who gets to have not only his own bedroom but a playroom and a puppy, too--we're the failures?

It's not about money.  Someone who makes a better income is not better than someone who doesn't.  It's about providing for the family you've chosen to have.  It's about making sure you have the skills and/or education you need in order to hold down a job that pays the bills and provides adequate food, shelter, clothing and education for your children. 

It's about not blindly continuing to hold onto a belief system that has proven itself to be an absolute failure.

So I have one less facebook friend.  But my son, who is not strapped into a potty chair in front of a television, is running around here today with crayons in his little fist. He's well fed.  His clothes, though they aren't new, are clean and well fitting.  He knows his Mommy and his Daddy love him, and that when they go to work, he gets to go to Grandma's house and play in the sandbox.  And he knows that they will come back, and take him to the zoo, or out on the boat, or swimming at the pool, or some other great adventure that he loves.  And someday, he will know that while man may tell him that he has to do A, B, and C in order to live the way God wants(or not do A, B, and C, such as the case may be), he will know that those are man's requirements, and not God's.   And hopefully, carefully, prayerfully, we will ensure he has the tools to discern when a belief system comes from man, and not from God.


  1. ...while she wants to raise her children for the glory of God

    Boggles the mind how someone who can barely physically and materially take care of a child, yet has several and intends to have a boatload more, thinks they're "glorifying God" by bringing children into such dysfunction.

    One can only hope they wake up and see the cultic nature of their religious addictions.

  2. I like. I feel the same way - I'm the failure because my beliefs aren't exactly in line, even as I am living a good life and raising a much loved little girl. Sigh.

  3. I see this in a couple of families I know. Dad has no constant source of income, because they live by faith. Mom can't work because she already has five children under age 6 and will get pregnant again as soon as possible, I suppose.

    When I met them at kid #3, they were happy and energetic young people. Mom had to be put on complete bed rest shortly after the addition of kid #5; she was suffering from exhaustion. She keeps soldiering on bravely, not daring to deviate from the idea that every child not conceived is murder. Seriously, her husband put that on his blog!

    Dad is no longer happy. He became very anti-Christmas last year, outwardly because of religious objection. In reality, it's probably because he can't afford winter clothes for his children, much less presents. He quit his only job for some strange spiritual justification. They still believe their miracle breakthrough (financially rewarding ministry career) is coming any day now.

    In the meantime, they are poor as church mice, and can't afford basic needs as it is. they give no thought to how they are going to continue to clothe and feed their family- God will provide. (Which often means, other people moved by pity will provide.)

    It's maddening!

    Then there is another family, also with five under seven years old who are adopting two year old twins. I was looking at the picture of their own biological two year old, thinking of how much life will change for him when the adopted siblings enter the picture. Poor kid.

    I imagine in his resentment at losing so much love and attention to the interlopers, he will probably lash out and get spanked and sent to time out often in addition to losing the attention showered on the newest baby. So sad.

    But at least that family has decent employment. Maybe it will work out okay for them (crossing my fingers!) Still, seven kids on one salary. I can't imagine feeding and clothing them as teenagers, must less paying for college.

  4. "One can only hope they wake up and see the cultic nature of their religious addictions."

    Most people look at Quiverful families on TV like the Duggars and say what a nice happy family not on assistance. Before TLC, they lived in a 900 sq ft dilapidated house. It was obvious they couldn't afford all these kids and now the live in a 7000sq ft home. Im afraid some naive person will think it is easy raising this many kids. Just buy them used shoes and hand-me down clothes. Quiverful families go to extremes staying debt free. i too wish viewers would wake up. TLC waters down the beliefs.

  5. Hi. I've enjoyed reading your blog and have linked to a page or two of it from my own.

    If you think there's pressure from some Christian groups on people who marry and have kids in their late 20s (and discrimination against you if you do not), try being over the age of 30 and never married with no kids.

    It's not just the extremist groups, such as these patriarchal ones, who push these views. These "family focus" views have seeped into more mainstream ones, such as most conservative Christian groups, the Southern Baptist Church, etc.

    I am in my early 40s, a Christian woman, and never married, although I did want marriage. I did not remain single this long by deliberate choice - and there are a lot of Christian men and women out there like I am.

    Most Christian churches totally ignore older singles or treat them disrespectfully when they are noticed.

    Despite the fact the Bible teaches that spiritual ties are to take precedence over blood and family ties, most churches don't live this out.

    Most churches and conservative Christian organizations continue to make an idol out of "traditional families" (i.e., marriage, having children), and place flesh and blood family over and above brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Most older singles do not get support in remaining celibate in Christian culture / churches, or in getting emotional or practical support.

    Churches remain determined to only meet the needs of married couples ages 20-something to 45-ish who have kids.

    If you are over the age of 30 and aren't married with kids, you don't feel wanted or accepted in most churches - and most conservative Christians are totally blind to this situation, or they just do not care when it's brought to their attention.

    When and if it is mentioned to them, they will shrug your very real hurt and concerns off by lecturing you, condemning you, and telling you garbage like, "serve more!," or, "think more about God, less about yourself," etc. Platitudes such as those don't actually help anyone and are insulting.

    I have a blog on Wordpress called "Christian Pundit" where I discuss these issues more.

    I think this obsession (and these views are unbiblical) with pushing for more babies and condemning any Christian who hasn't married by age 21 has worked its way into the wider Christian culture. It's not just the patriarchy groups, Quiverfull, or 'Vision forum' or whatever it's called.