TEC: Chapter 27: Supplemental Reading

Yanno, I make my little jokes and we all have a good laugh at Michael Murphy’s silly antics and talk of “more Arabs,” but when it comes right down to it, the vast majority of readers of these books will never be pressed into service as terrorist-hunters by their Mossad-agent best friends.

But 1 in 3 women will be victims of domestic partner violence in their lives (so will 1 in 4 men, but I really can’t imagine LaPhillips including an abused husband as a character in these how-to manuals).

And these books (at least since Phillips took over) have been how-to manuals for Christians: how to act with a new love after your wife dies, how to respond to a friend who is cheating on his wife, how to counsel a young woman in an unequally-yoked relationship.  And now: how to be an abused partner.

In other words, this is as real as it gets.  It’s darkly funny in a weird way: we’ve watched Paul Stepola rejoice over the deaths of children, yet this is what angers me more than just about anything else we’ve read.

And the weird thing is, there’s not even one clear teaching that I can be angry at.  Because the Christian view of spouse abuse is, at best, muddled.  At worst, it is fatally divided against itself.

What’s the first thing RTCs say about marriage?  That the wife must submit to her husband, of course.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.  or the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

In everything.  Every single thing.

And gee, go figure that if you tell a person that he has absolute authority over another person no matter what, in every single possible issue in life, such a God-mandated power imbalance might have…unfortunate consequences.

So on one hand, we have the wives who must submit.  And on the other, we have the very human sensibility that says that a person should not have to put up with abuse.

See what I mean about fatally divided against itself?

RTCs twist themselves into some pretty complex knots to get out of this conundrum.  (Granted, some of them don’t.  Read a few blogs, and you’ll find an enraging number of accounts of women told by their pastors to go back to abusive husbands and submit harder already!)

Some examples:

  • This delightful gentleman thinks abuse is wrong, but not quite so wrong as to justify divorce.  He defensively protests that he is not condoning abuse, darn it…just making it impossible for an abused wife to get closure, move on, and try to find some happiness away from the beatings.
  • This woman at least thinks abused wives should be able to divorce…because any man who would abuse his wife is, ipso facto, not a Christian.  So the wife has accidentally gone and gotten herself unequally yoked and thus can divorce under 1 Corinthians 7:15.  So, points for getting the wife out, even if you have to convince yourself that only a horrid nonChristian would ever be capable of hitting someone.
  • Another vote for Leave, but no Divorcing.  (And the last sentence of the whole piece advocates involving the police!)

Now, being the unrepentant liberal feminist atheist that I am, I don’t want to leave out the supposed counter-argument to the idea that a wife submitting to a husband in EVERYTHING is sick and wrong and a recipe for disaster.  After all, any preacher knows to quickly add, “But husbands are commanded to love their wives!  So wives aren’t getting the bad end of this deal at all!”

Except I’m not so sure that the command to love would automatically convince a man not to abuse.  After all, this is the same Bible that commands fathers to beat their children, and I doubt that is supposed to imply that hitting a kid means you don’t love her.  So why would a Christian husband think that hitting is out of bounds for an insufficiently-submissive wife, of it is not out of bounds for an insufficiently-submissive kid?

As well, this is the problem that arises when one party is commanded to DO something (obey), and the other party only to THINK something (love).  I mean, isn’t “I’m sorry, babe, I love you” the rallying cry of abusive husbands?  You can’t prove he doesn’t love her, can you?

Oh, and that brings up another muddling point: the doctrine of forgiveness no matter what.

And again, people tie themselves into knots.  Many Christian commentators will claim that forgiveness doesn’t have to mean forgetting and reconciling…except that divorce isn’t an option and reconciliation should be the ultimate goal.

Now, I will add here that there are Christian blogs that advise abused spouses to go to the police and to separate from the abuser.  Some even call out church elders who side with the abuser (or maintain “neutrality,” which amounts to the same thing).

But honestly, all this reading makes me feel a tiny bit better for poor Stephanie Kovacs.  Seems that Shane actually did her a favor by not putting a ring on it.  Because Stephanie will never have to worry about reconciliation or how much God hates divorce.  Being a new baby RTC, she’ll probably have to immediately forgive him, but at least she won’t have to live with him again.  Filthy unmarried (monogamous, committed) relationship that it was.

Damn, that was depressing.

But next time: Michael Murphy tackles theosophy!

Posted on May 14, 2016, in The Europa Conspiracy. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Being a new baby RTC, she’ll probably have to immediately forgive him, but at least she won’t have to live with him again.

    Better yet, being an RTC, “forgive” can mean “it’s going to be such fun to watch you burn, you filthy unsaved heathen who I am totally not holding a grudge against in any way. God loves you!”

  2. RTC theology claims that god is the most perfect being who loves humanity more deeply than we can ever imagine.

    It also claims god condemns the majority of that humanity to everlasting torment. He does this as punishment for mot meeting that god’s standards of moral behavior. Even though, thanks to his own machinations with forbidden trees and letting deceitful serpents get in and do their thing, it is impossible for any human ever born to meet his standards. And that’s not even getting into all the Old Testament shit god does to his beloved humans before they die. (In fact, his interventions are often immediately before they die.)

    If you’re taught that this is the high water mark for expressing love, it comes as no surprise that they have a rather warped ideas about how they should love others.

  3. Gee whiz, a bunch of patriarchal nomads didn’t have modern ideas about women. Nobody should be surprised by this; neither did much of anyone else at the time. The real error is in thinking that what they said was the last word on any subject. It wasn’t true for science (let’s be glad they never wrote down anything about how to do agriculture, or we’d probably all have starved trying to keep to it in different climates) and it isn’t true for human relations.

    • You know how Mormons can’t drink coffee? The same section of the Doctrine and Covenants which says that, also prescribes different uses for different plants, at least one of which (healing sick cattle with tobacco) is complete bullshit.

      But part of it says that wheat is for man to eat, and I’ve seen successful Mormon bloggers argue that this means celiac disease and gluten intolerance are just made up. My mom didn’t believe me that they were real.

      I have no idea what these people make of the fact that most humans eat rice, last I checked. 😛

      • Well, what’s that book that involves forcing Americans to change their diet to rice, and how this is a clear symptom of the moral decay of the government… oh, wait, that’s Atlas Shrugged.

  4. Coming up next: We find out that Stephanie’s pregnant, and get to find out all the Many Important Reasons why you should be forced to birth your abuser’s spawn!

    • Hey, if LaHaye felt that was mandatory even when carrying the Antichrist’s baby, Stephanie is going to be SOL.

  1. Pingback: Deconstruction Roundup for May 20th, 2016 | The Slacktiverse

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