Thursday, September 8, 2011

What do you say to "moderate" Christians?

I got in an argument on Facebook the other day. I always tell myself to stay out of it, but sometimes my frustration gets the better of me. I was arguing with a guy who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian family. He left home at age 20 and rebelled against his parent’s religion. Since then he has “found his way back to Christ.” He claims to be totally different from his parents. He is constantly preaching “moderation” and uses words like “love” and “freedom” all the time. His unsolicited advice to me in this debate included:

“Don’t fall into the trap of hating your parents and blaming them for everything”

“Remember that we “free-spirited” kids often provoked our parents to hit us. It’s your fault too”

“Don’t be bitter and keep talking about it. You need to keep your chin up and move on”

“You will never be truly happy until you submit yourself fully to the Lord”

I won’t bore you with all the details; I’ll just show you the comment that stopped me dead in my tracks. I couldn’t even finish reading it the first time. I had to come back later and read it with a clearer head. I am equally confused and angry, but I still don’t even know how to respond. Please read this and tell me what you think:

“As for female submission, yes I do agree that is a point that is always poorly interpreted amongst believers. You can dance with a girl, but if you control her every movements (which as a man, you are supposed to lead) she won't be fun to dance with. She'll be a robot, aka unattractive, however, if you (males) lead with a gentle touch and she submits to the direction, but you allow her to add in her own skills and gifts and ideas, she will twirl and do things that are amazingly beautiful. In a sense, dancing is life. We are constantly moving through motions (you can't stand still in life) and if I lead too strongly, I won't find a dance partner, and if I just let her lead it's just not the same. But, the idea of submission is supposed to be based off of trust and knowing that your dance partner wants you to express yourself and be free. At the same time, he, if he knows what he's doing, won't make submission an issue because he'll have genuine love for the steps that she's taking and who SHE IS as a human, and there is this great level of freedom that comes with trusting each other. I cannot say to a hand that I am an eye and therefore better...I cannot say to a woman that I am a man and therefore better...WOMEN are the icing on the cake...God made them to be one notch more special than everything else on this world. Also, Due to sin it is now imperative that a woman "check in with her husband before eating any new to speak" aka "Submission." it's not supposed to be slavery and it never was”

This was a few weeks ago, but it’s still bothering me. I know SO many people who think this way. I dont even know what to say to refute them. No one's really getting hurt, and they seem to have the bible to back them up. I don't know what to say to these people, I just get angry and uncomfortable.

Can anyone help me out here? What would YOU have said?


  1. I believe that men and women are equal. EQUAL. Anyone who believes in female submission, AT ALL, does not believe this. They may dress it up however they like, but they believe in a hierarchy and not in equality.

    But I have to ask a question. Why does either need to lead? He acts like the option is dictatorial male leadership, soft male leadership, or female leadership. Why not partnership? Why not cooperation? Why not both partners working together as equals? That's what I would have said, anyway.

    And, as an atheist, I don't have to pay any attention to blatantly misogynistic passages in a millennia old religious text or engage in any sort of double talk to explaint ehm away.

  2. 1) "she will twirl and do things that are amazingly beautiful" - this reads to me like "if you are nice to your [toys, pets etc] they will do better tricks!" It still objectifies women.

    2) "WOMEN are the icing on the cake" is similarly objectifying. Icing is unnecessary and intended to increase the pleasure of the cake-consumer. I hope that is not the feeling he was going for there.

    3) "Due to sin it is now imperative that a woman "check in with her husband before eating any new fruit." Adam was right there during the conversation where the serpent tempted Eve. And no husband is free from sin. There is no reason why a woman should "check in" with her husband instead of with God. Due to sin, both man and woman should be checking in with God.

    Also, I have some thoughts on the other quotes:
    “Don’t fall into the trap of hating your parents and blaming them for everything” - That would indeed be dysfunctional. Instead, rationally consider what problems might be traced to your parents and their problems and do not fall into the (equally-dysfunctional) trap of blaming yourself for everything. Based on my reading of your blog, that rationality is precisely what you employ and I think you are stronger for it.

    “Remember that we “free-spirited” kids often provoked our parents to hit us. It’s your fault too” - I hope you realize that striking someone else is always the decision of the person doing the striking. There is no way to make someone hit you. There was always another way (usually many ways) to react. I worry for any "free-spirited" children this person may have. Free spiritedness is something to be encouraged! I know you know that perspective is wrong, but I also know that that kind of thinking is hard to deeply eradicate, so I think it is valuable to explicitly contradict it every time someone advocates it.

    It sounds like this man is dealing with a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. He had bad experiences, else he would not have "rebelled" in the first place. He went out into the world and learned just enough moderation to allow him to reconcile his experiences with his beliefs, and is now rationalizing the bad beliefs that caused his bad experiences in the first place.

  3. AWESOME! thanks ladies. :)I wanted to shout Hurrah!!! after every sentence. :)

  4. I love the advice by Libby Anne and Breanna. Much better and more articulate than what would have been my response: What. The. Fuck.

    And then I'd proceed to let all my "liberal" friends totally rip that comment to shreds.

    The poor dude is still trapped in that dysfunctional way of thinking, and he's got himself convinced otherwise.

  5. I would seriously respond as ignorantly as possible at this point. I'd say something smart about how his "new faith" sounded like a chip off the old block & no matter how "moderate" & "free" he is, he still comes off sounding like an arrogant & sexist man with little man complex. Girl I don't think it matters what you say at this point... his mind is obviously made up & because you are the "lesser sex", nothing you say will make a bit of difference. I would delete him, block him & move on. OR send that garbage to liberal friends as CanticleoftheTurning said & let them handle him!

    *hehe... I can be really harsh & mean when it comes to people so stuck in their stupidity!

  6. "women are the icing on the cake"

    wow, so women are there for decoration? eww

    also I think I would have kicked him to the kerb when he said “Remember that we “free-spirited” kids often provoked our parents to hit us.

    to be honest I tend to give up on conversations like that and keep people like that at arms length. But I belive that we are all made in Gods image, we are all equal.

    I agree with libby anne about partnership, my partner and I are a team, neither of us are in charge

  7. “Remember that we “free-spirited” kids often provoked our parents to hit us. It’s your fault too”

    no. nonononono.

    Adults are supposed to control themselves. There is no justification for hitting a child. None.

    “Don’t be bitter and keep talking about it. You need to keep your chin up and move on”

    Translation: You feeling your feelings makes me think about my feelings and I can't deal with it, so stop it!

    As for the whole dancing bs, it's defining a woman in terms of a man. Women are separate beings, complete and worthy of everything without men.

  8. @IC: hahahahahaha :) thanks you just made my day

  9. When I started my blog, I got flack from many people. I would be very vocal on Facebook about my thoughts and growth in my journey away from ultra-conservative Christianity and, in many ways, Christianity itself. People would leave long missives on my cryptic comments. Of course, I tried to bait them by being salacious.

    I soon decided that I needed some new friends. So, I went out and found some. I doubled my online friends list and visited some of them personally. Now, I have people surrounding me that actually think.

    It's nice. Now, to get some real non-virtual friends. Who has the time?

  10. It sounds like this guy sees women like children. He sounds like a fairly gentle soul and I don’t doubt that he has moved on from the way he was raised, but he sees women as dear little creatures that require lots of gentle love and guidance. As a woman, of course this idea is infuriating. As a woman in the workforce who sometimes manages men, I can vouch that this guy’s ideas are naive.

    THAT SAID, I do ask that everyone step back for a moment. There is a sense of outrage here at the heartfelt beliefs of a very young man, the same outrage many of your fundamentalist “enemies” would have if you expressed any belief that differed from theirs. Thankfully, you are (at this point) merely expressing your opinions online rather than impressing a sense of hatred and intolerance for extremely religiously conscientious people on your impressionable children. I am getting a sense of “allergy” toward any kind of orthodox Christian belief. If your child said “I am now a fundamentalist Christian,” I’m afraid you would emotionally react against them in the same way your family would have if you had said “I am gay” or “I am Catholic.” Hopefully I am wrong. But I’ve noticed that anyone who doesn’t agree with/teach that people should be free to do/believe whatever they want is ridiculed, sworn at, and/or written off as stupid or ignorant. While I completely disagree with this boy’s opinion that you posted, would you like him posting your opinions on his blog, ridiculing you, and inviting others to join in his fury at your words? He has obviously thought about this topic and it means a lot to him, just as your carefully researched and thought out opinions mean a lot of you. Perhaps he is a fundamentalist. Does that make him less of a person? Does it even make him less of a thinker? Are post modern thinkers the only “real” thinkers? Seems pretty close minded to me.
    I’m sensing fundamentalism in the anti-fundamentalist movement. You make statements on topics such as spanking and God with the same dogmatic approach and certainty as your fundamentalist family, when the fact is YOU DON’T KNOW what forms of discipline work for different families (neither do I, and I’m not a fan of spanking, but you get my point). While I called this facebook boy’s opinion “naive,” who am I to say that he will never have a happy marriage and that his ideas about men and women are dangerous? I have never met this individual, and I don’t know anything about him, except this small bit of writing. Who am I to judge him or assume anything about his family or the way he was raised or the quality of his intellect? That is the danger of online venting. It becomes a haven for people to gather together and scorn others, without truly knowing who or what they are talking about. It can be toxic. Healing is necessary for those wounded by an unloving past, but perhaps conversation with a healthy, trusted friend or counselor would be more beneficial than gathering together to pick apart the people whose ideas hurt you in the past with other people who are still reeling from the hurt of their own pasts.

    Be careful to make sure that you are not still in bondage to your family’s opinionated extremism when it comes to your reactions.

    I have come to accept that no one on earth (including me!) truly tolerates everyone else’s beliefs. We all believe what WE want to believe, and deep down inside, we think everyone who disagrees with us is wrong. We may not hate them, we may not attack them, but if we disagree with them, 9 times out of 10, we don’t even respect them.

  11. Anon. Obviously, you've never dealt with a therapist. One of the key healing ideas they tell you to do is to get involved with a community of supporters. They also say to write your thoughts down so that you don't have to continue to beat yourself up, thinking the same things over and over again.

    Blogging is highly recommended.

    And your crazy idea that people should be muzzled rather than speak out is pretty freaking dangerous. What do you do with the loser that beats their kids next door? Allow it? Because, after all, they have the "right" to do as they see fit. Different strokes for different folks.

    It is no different with Bible bashing spiritual abuse.

    Unfortunately, you are parroting exactly what the abusers say. Except, they claim things like Matthew 18.

    People who hurt others should be held accountable for their actions BY others. Unfortunately, when they have a bigger voice or area of control, subversive methods may be necessary - like blogging.

    Finally, opinionated extremism is not the problem here. The baloney sausage dealt with on this blog has nothing to do with opinions. The issue is that those people who spout and practice this crap treat every one of their ideas as indisputable fact which, if not adhered to, sends you straight to hell - on earth or otherwise.

  12. Wow, this is a tough one for me. A subject I'm not really scure on yet. Having grown up with matriarchal authority, I guess it comes more naturally to me to accept the traditional idea of a woman playing second fiddle to her husband. I'm not a leader type and have resented being forced into that role in my own marriage, just to be lied to and manipulated at convenience. My mom's mentor accused me of selling out my beliefs because I wouldn't purge my husband's music/DVD collection and destroy his television. I refused to treat him like my property. I guess I came to the conclusion that I simply didn't have certain rights because I was the woman. Now having thought it out, I guess all I was really doing was standing up for his equality. That never occurred to me before.
    I really do wish he would take more of a leadership role. But at this point, there are so many other issues to be dealt with before that could happen, it's not worth even working on.
    I noticed recently that Genesis 1:27 says God created male and female in His image. Funny, the account of Eve's creation doesn't come until Genesis 2:20. Interesting.

  13. Anonymous, There are certain rights that every human has. Equality is one. the right to not be hit is another. When my cohorts and I call someone ignorant, it becuase they are. Anyone who thinks women are lesser beings and children deserve to be hit are simply under-educated or brainwashed. I can say that all day long without being a bigot or being "in bondage to my family’s opinionated extremism"
    I respect any opinion or belief that doesnt hurt or subvert another human being. I respect any person regardless of what they beleive
    I do not intend to ever personally attack anyone of any belief. i have friends from all walks of life. It seems to me that you were the one judging people's character and heart based on just a few words.
    Sorry if i seem judgmental to you. By nature of having an opinion, a person must disagree with someone else.

  14. My whole post was, of course, written from a devil’s advocate approach. It was meant to invite people to step back and ponder what they are saying from another angle.
    Enigma, I thoroughly respect your very strong opinions and share many of them. However, is it wise, necessary (or even correct) to call all parents who choose to gently spank (and YES it can be done) “ignorant and brainwashed?” I don’t think so. Believe me, there are people out there who are far more educated on child psychology than you are who have actually raised their own children and have HAPPY SUCCESSFUL adult children who were gently spanked. I don’t personally agree with it, but I don’t claim that such parents are idiots or brainwashed. They may have researched their opinions carefully and formed them on their own, making them neither ignorant nor brainwashed.
    In addition, you claim to “respect any opinion or belief that doesn’t hurt or subvert another human being.” I only ask: Do you think that your post may hurt or subvert your facebook friend if he found it? Would he feel humiliated, crushed, stupid, etc if he read your words? Do you care? Should you care? Does he deserve to feel humiliated, crushed, stupid, etc for being “ignorant and brainwashed” enough to have these opinions in the first place? Again, devil’s advocate, not meant to offend.
    I think you’re brilliant and I love your blog, and I’ll leave you with that 
    I won’t address the other commenter. I think he/she only proved my point about extremism.

  15. LOL! I can't believe I was just called an extremist. Wow!

    Oh well. I've been called worse. But, an extremist? Sheesh!

    That'll cover my laughing needs for quite a while.

  16. As I will continue to get my laughs of the day out of your suggestion that I had clearly never dealt with a therapist. I live with one and work with two.

  17. I never said anybody was an idiot. just uneducated. :) Homosexuals (until very recently) were not allowed to donate blood in the UK because people believed that AIDS was the "gay disease." These were national laws. i would never say that all the lawmakers in the UK were idiots. but i would certainly call them uneducated. They now know better and have reversed the laws they built on ignorance.
    I am sure i am uneducated and ignorant on alot of things. im not afraid to admit it and i don’t take offense at it.
    I understand where you're coming from Anon. I often play devil’s advocate as well. I'm glad you enjoy my blog and I welcome your thought provoking comments! 

    IC, as you know, i bare my much of my soul on these pages and i really appreciate all of your support and encouragement. You really do understand the concept of writings-as-therapy. And of course your wit and sarcasm continually cheer me up and remind me to not take everything so deeply to heart. :) thx!!

    ((Hugs)) to you all!

  18. My apologies to that end. Though, I am now confused as to why you would thwart certain accepted types of therapies as extremism.

  19. Anon - I was one of those "gently spanked" individuals. It makes no difference at all, when you get to the heart of it. It was still my parents hitting me, and all I remember is my rage at being hit and humiliated. No respected psychologist advocates spanking anymore - essentially the only people who recommend it these days recommend it because of their religious beliefs.

    Also, it's fine to state our opinions and thoughts even if stating them hurts others. Otherwise, we'd be muzzling who we are and what we think just to keep people happy, and I am SO done with that. Been there, done that, now I'm going to be who I am regardless of what others thing!

    Finally, Enigma, kudos to you. You have carried yourself with an enormous amount of maturity and tact on this thread. I'm actually really impressed with you. You may have have only started your journey, but you have real promise! Keep it up! :-)

  20. LOVE all the responses here. : ) I often think up responses later, but in the moment I always feel helpless.

  21. Libby- This is a bit off topic, but I wanted to share: While as I’ve mentioned I’m not a fan of spanking, I disagree with “No respected psychologist advocates spanking anymore.” Please see below for a link to Time magazine. I picked Time out of dozens of such articles since it’s usually respected as a non biased credible secular source. The article is four years old and considers both sides, so unless something drastic has come out in the last four years, I think this is worth considering. Here are some quotes from the article:,9171,1191825-3,00.html

    “Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) nor the American Psychological Association (APA) has come out fully against the practice of spanking.”

    “ Psychologists and other academics are similarly divided, with each camp accusing the other of twisting data to suit an agenda.”

    “Plenty of experts believe that spanking is not always wrong. John Rosemond, executive director of the Center for Affirmative Parenting in Gastonia, N.C., and author of several books on discipline, notes that 50 years ago almost all children were spanked. Yet by all accounts, children are more aggressive and prone to violence today, and at earlier ages, than they were back then.”

    As far as “essentially the only people who recommend it these days recommend it because of their religious beliefs,” I don’t believe this is true either. I’ve never met an adult who was not spanked as a child. One of my close friends who is a psychologist is an atheist and was raised in a completely nonreligious home. Not only was she spanked, her mom slapped her mouth when she mouthed off. While I would NEVER do that to my child, she claims it made her a better person and prepared her for the real world. Not one of my coworkers was not spanked as a child, and out of the 12 of us who have conversed on the subject, we have a variety of religions (Hindu, Catholic, atheist, Protestant). Not defending the practice, just pointing out that spanking is hardly exclusive to religious people.

  22. I think the note sounds like a bad online dating profile, the likes of which could go here:

    Seriously, that's just laughable. I wouldn't waste time with that guy. In my experience, it's folks who are in denial about their fundamentalism who are the MOST awful to deal with.

  23. Most evangelicals are fundamentalists when it gets right down to it. They're just trying to run from the label. It's kinda their way of saying "My religious extremism isn't as extreme as HIS religious extremism." But, they're all still worshiping the bible or various interpretations of it.

  24. From John Rosemond's own website:

    Libby nailed it.