Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In the rain with no umbrella

"Study to show thyself approved unto God..."

Our pastor has really been in "teaching" mode lately, and it has really fed that desire in me to ask questions. I love to question everything. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those who feel they need to chuck everything they were ever taught just to prove who I really am. I just feel that Christianity is the thinking man or woman's faith, and I don't believe it was ever meant to be blindly followed without really digging into all it has to offer. Many people question their faith because deep down, they want to be free of it. They are in bondage to it, and they, essentially, want out. Their so-called spiritual enlightenment (especially if they are coming out of legalism) is usually the result of some kind of crisis: a personal issue, a church scandal, family problems, etc..., and generally involves embracing any view that comes along first that is diametrically opposite to what they were taught. I, on the other hand, question my faith simply because I believe it begs to be explored.

One of the concepts I have been questioning, which brings me back to the verse I mentioned earlier, is this one of submission. I was brought up in a church of chest-beaters that thought that men, especially men in the minstry, ruled the world, which essentially meant they behaved like spoiled children while the women did all the work. This confused me, but still I didn't question it. It was, after all, what the Bible said, or did it? The natural progression to this teaching was that the church was the ultimate authority in your life, headed by your pastor, who was "God's man." The kicker was, all a woman was required to do was submit - even if the man in her life was wrong. I heard over and over "Submit, and let God work on his heart." We were terrified with stories of those who rose up against "God's man," and assured that wives who did not let their husbands live like narcissistic teenagers would be sending their children to Hell. We were given the illustration of an umbrella, although the Scriptural foundation for this is fairly vague. Under your father/husband/pastor/church you were safe under "God's umbrella of protection." Disagree with your husband, leave your church, question your father and POOF you were removing yourself from this protection, even if they were dead wrong. Submit, and God will work out the details. I believed this. I never questioned it. I felt I was confident enough in myself that I could submit to a man without losing who I was. I felt I had faith enough to let the men in my life make poor judgments, and God would smooth out the wrinkles because, after all, I was being submissive. Guess what? I was so wrong. My husband hated it, because he wanted a Biblical help-meet, not a "yes man," figuratively speaking, of course. He wanted my opinion, my input, my spiritual discernment. I began to realize my father made mistakes, my pastor made mistakes, our church made mistakes... and I could not, in fact should not, submit to them in everything. Our church taught things we disagreed with, and we were faced with a terrifying decision. Do we defy all we've been taught and step outside the umbrella? Or do we stay under teaching that we believe contradicts the Bible and risk losing (or warping) our children like 90% of the kids in the churches we grew up in? We both came to realize that this so-called submission is in fact a form of pride and laziness. Laziness, because by practicing blind submission you don't have to think for yourself. Why? Because, as long as you submit, you are not accountable for the outcome. I hate to break it to ya sweetie, but if you throw your kids under the bus in order to submit to "God-given authority," God doesn't owe you anything. You might just lose your kids and be left wondering what went wrong. The second part is pride. Pride is what make you want to be with people who look alike, think alike, dress alike, talk alike, sing alike... because ultimately then you are always surrounded by...YOURSELF. Most legalists are clothed in the deepest humility, just ask them. In truth, they do what they do because it "feels" good to be part of the group. To be on the inside track to God. To be more enlightened than most other Christians. For all their sweet submissiveness, they are eaten up with pride. My husband and I call it the "Martyr Syndrome." People who just thrive on appearing submissive to everyone else's needs and demands, not realizing it's just feeding their own pride in themselves. Now please know, there are many, if not most, who are very sincere in their ultimate submission, be it to church, pastor, husband, whomever. They certainly don't perceive themselves as lazy or prideful. How could they be lazy, when they are working their tails off waiting on all the men in their lives?!??! It's a spiritual laziness. A mental laziness that says, "I don't want to accept the consequences or the outcome of this myself. therefore I'll just submit, and let God clean up the mess." This is a dangerous trap, and shakes the faith of many when, in fact, God does not clean up the mess. Your child may never come back to God. Your family might fall apart. You will hear all kinds of stories of men and women who submitted and God miraculously changed the situation, turning it all into a bed of roses. You don't hear the rest of the stories, where the mothers and fathers do exactly what they are told, and years later they sit in a church pew alone. Their kids are long gone, eaten up with bitterness and suspicion of "organized religion." It's time to wake up. It's time to open your Bible and study for yourself. Don't wait for a crisis to push you off the deep end. Don't trudge along mindlessly following the comfortable rituals of legalism. "Study to show yourself approved unto God."


molly said...


One of the biggest things I learned when I came out of the deeeep patriarchy I'd been in was that I'd made my husband an idol. And it was true, though I'd done it to the glory of God (meaning, well-intentioned, because I had been led to believe that God wanted such). When we make human beings into gods, nobody wins.

Angela said...

The teaching that your pastor's or husband's authority supersedes the Bible has done so much damage and wrecked so many lives. So many men are lifted up into this position of power, and suddenly they feel like their opinions are a kind of "revelation from God." If it's not in the Bible, God didn't say it.

Angela said...

Thanks for coming by Molly!!! Your blog has been such an inspiration for me to blog more of my own spiritual journey.

abmo said...

Hi Angela,

I find the whole submission thing disconcerting. I think it's important for a wife and husband to agree, but to differ is just as important. Besides if I wanted someone who will agree with me everytime, I should have married myself :)

I agree with your husband. I want my wife to be herself. I want her input, opinion and discernment. It's especially my wife's discernment which I value above all else. Women tend to be more "in-tune" when it comes to discernment. If she doesn't feel right about something, chances are it will not turn out the way I wanted it to turn out :)

God bless and I will pray that your family will find God in all of life.