Preacher's Daughter: Evangelical Wedding Songs: Wifely Submission and the Cult of Biblical Womanhood*

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret - Blessing of the Young Couple Before Marriage: A painting of a young white couple kneeling before a priest

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

After she read my last post about sexist Christian music, my friend, Sarah Morice Brubaker of Religion Dispatches, told me I'd gotten a terrible Christian song called "How Beautiful" into her head. I'd heard it many years ago, but what I didn't realize was that it makes frequent appearances at evangelical Christian weddings. It's a truly horrific song, but it got me thinking: This business about "husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church" is more or less the foundation of Christian Right politics. Any guesses where we can learn all about it? That's right: Dippy Christian wedding songs!

And why not? "How Beautiful" is based directly on the fifth chapter of Ephesians, the alleged Pauline book in which wives are instructed to submit to their husbands "as unto the Lord" while husbands—designated "the head of the wife"—are exhorted to love their wives "just as Christ also loved the church" so "that he might sanctify and cleanse it."

On Friday, I argued that essentialist fundie views about women have a lot to do with the Christian Right's wankery around abortion rights and gender roles in general. Now I'm going to suggest that the fifth chapter of Ephesians is more or less the foundation of Christian Right politics.

Here's the third verse of the song: "How beautiful/The radiant bride/Who waits for her groom/With his light in her eyes/How beautiful/When humble hearts give/The fruit of your life/So that others may live/How beautiful/How beautiful/How beautiful/Is the body of Christ."

The important thing to understand about this is that fundamentalists understand it literally on both counts. It's about the relationship between husband and wife, and that between Jesus and his followers. The church waits until the end of the world, when Jesus is supposed to return and carry born-again Christians (aka "the church")—his bride—up to heaven. Like the church, the bride waits passively until a groom finds her and takes her for himself. She is given in marriage by her father to her husband.

When you know this, evangelical wedding songs—and Christian Right politics—make a lot more sense. When I was in college, young evangelicals who got married often used a song by one hipster-leaning Bebo Norman called "A Page is Turned." Then they'd make slideshows like this one by Youtube-uploading couple Joe and Tara:

Aww, aren't their childhood pictures cute? But, really, did you listen to the song's lyrics? They sound soft and sweet and everything, but they cover the same territory as the clunkier "How Beautiful."

First of all, the boy in the story has "a world to conquer at the age of ten." He's a man of action, the protagonist prepared by God to find his future wife as "the storybook is told." But the girl's story isn't nearly as interesting. She never gets "a world to conquer." Instead, we learn that she "has a heart that's bigger, as it is unfurled/By the language in her soul, that's teaching her to know/With a careful cover of love that will not fail."

Okay, so it's icky and sexist, but where exactly is the fundamentalism? It's not only implicit in the various roles designated to each gender, but in the actual lyrics. Let me explain: If you spend much time in fundamentalist circles, you might encounter the word "cover" as it appears in the last line of the above stanza.

Often, the word is used to justify various authorities thought to be god-ordained in a woman's life. The father has authority over a young, unmarried woman—he is, the fundie interpretation goes, her "covering," or protector. When she gets married, her husband becomes the "cover." And if the family is really hardcore (i.e., a member of the Quiverfull/Christian homeschooling movement), a woman might wear a headcovering—usually paired with ankle-length skirts—when she prays and/or when she goes out in public to symbolize submission to the authorities in her life.

It's kinda creepy, right? This transfer of ownership from father to spouse? This is where we get these Purity Balls in which the father pledges to "protect his daughter's heart" (and sexuality) until she gets married and becomes a "helpmeet" to her husband. It is in part the impetus for the Christian homeschooling movement, in which parents pledge to "shelter" their daughters at home until they get married. And it is definitely the reason for antiquated "courtship" and "betrothal" practices, in which the father take an active role in helping to select a daughter's husband—and all contact between the couple is supervised by the parents until the wedding.

This movement's beliefs about womanhood are often called Biblical Womanhood or True Womanhood. I once saw a magazine article claiming that women should never have won the vote because they should trust their husbands to make the right political decisions. I have a longtime friend who was not allowed to obtain her GED after she graduated from high school because she was never supposed to work outside the home. That is how regressive this movement can be.

So, is it really any wonder that such people feel that the public sphere belongs to them? That LGBTQ people do not make sense in this worldview and are cast as enemies? That they see abortion as a threat that women must be protected from? That "the world" represents demonic temptations just waiting to destroy these fragile daughters? That Quiverfull extremism follows from all of this?

Given the Republican party's association with such extremism, I am beginning to understand raising strong daughters as an explicitly feminist act. For every Quiverfull family I've met, I know countless more parents raising children who can think and discern for themselves. I think that gives us reason for hope.

*Thanks to kisekileia, Shannon Kearns, Emily Manuel and Sarah Morice Brubaker for ideas and fact-checking.

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Comments

42 comments have been made. Commenting is set to read-only for this post.

Yes, but...

As someone who identifies as a Christian feminist ( I was raised in a conservative denomination and have since left that one for what I see as a more inclusive, profeminist one), I feel I should say that, while you are correct about the role that interpretations of Ephesians 5 sometimes have in creating strict gender roles within the church, this is not a universal. Indeed, I would argue that such stringent gender roles, like those espoused by the True Womanhood and Biblical womanhood conferences that you mention, are mostly extra-Biblical, a way for man to create God in his own image because it is much easier to understand Biblical submission as skin to worldly submission--the stuff of dominance and coups and constant battles. Biblical submission is mutual submission wherein both parties in a marriage are to elevate the will and desires of their partner above their own in order to further their collective relationship. Yes, Ephesians instructs wives to obey their husbands, but that obedience is coupled by husbands loving as Christ does: self-sacrificially. The groups you describe are harmful, especially to daughters, but all of Christianity should not be tarred with the same brush.

I do not see the place in my

I do not see the place in my post where I say these things are true of all Christians all over the world.

Apologies

I didn't mean to imply that you did, merely to clarify that my personal experience suggests that there is an alternative in the faith to the gender roles you explore here.

Also, I don't really see how

Also, I don't really see how what you describe could be called feminism in any meaningful sense.

As I, like all of us, am a

As I, like all of us, am a complex human being, there is more to my Christian feminism than my view on submission. A few examples: I support gender inclusive language in sacred texts, hymns, and prayers. I disagree with most mainstream church teachings on the purpose and practice of feminine modesty. I support the ordination of women and believe there is Biblical precedent for it. Again, I apologize for the lack of clarity in my previous post. I'm just so used to being erased in feminist forums that I got defensive unnecessarily, i guess. My fault.

Because I'm a complex, human

Because I'm a complex, human person and there's more to my Christian feminism than my views on submission. A few examples: I support the ordination of women and see Biblical precedent for it. I support gender inclusive language in hymns, sacred texts, and prayers. I oppose most current mainstream church teachings about/reasons for female modesty. Again, I want to apologize for any overstatement in my previous post. I guess I just got needlessly defensive because I'm used to being considered invisible or wrong in a lot of feminist circles. It's a frustrating position.

Oops

Didn't think that first one went through.

A number of people seem to be

A number of people seem to be having that problem.

Fraught discussions

Sadly, I think the wording of the text quoted can matter very much. If wives are explicitly instructed to obey the husband, but reciprocal wording is _not_ in evidence, that leads somewhat easily to potential abuses. I am not saying that it necessarily must, but that, in a context of hetero-patriarchal cultural dominance, it sooo often will.

As another person who was raised in a family thick with fundamentalism on the maternal side, I don't think the author has tarred all Christianity with the same brush. She identified some types of Christian practices she is concerned about.

But I do agree with what I see as your concern about how one explores, within many progressive spaces, various problems in Christianity. It is fraught for many reasons.

In the last several years I have come to the conclusion that one can be a fundamentalist anything --atheist, Marxist, feminist, capitalist, etc.-- name the ideology or analysis, and someone can adopt it in very inflexible ways, imposing one's understanding and views on others without any real reciprocal respect. No way of thought is immune from this interpretation.

There are some conservative and fundamentalist Christian individuals who I do respect, because of their loving and listening approach to other people, even if I don't agree with many of their beliefs.

Yet, the power of the Christian majority (as diverse as it is --and this diversity must always be remembered) in many parts of the USA does have to be pointed out. Of course, we must also pay attention to which Christians have the most power, and why, and how they use it as opposed to other Christians.

A few good thoughts to consider (which do not all agree) on this issue of fraught Christianity in some progressive spaces by others:

Liberal Spaces and Christianity - Womanist Musings by Renee Martin
http://www.womanist-musings.com/2010/04/liberal-spaces-and-christianity....

On "Real" Christians and Christian Privilege- by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville
http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/09/on-real-christians-and-ch...

Unpacking the Holy Knapsack - from Witch Words
http://witch-words.blogspot.com/2009/08/unpacking-holy-knapsack.html

Should also have said...

... that I am not much for listening to country music myself, so I haven't read many of your columns in this series, Kristin Rawls. But the discussions around Christianity have started to prove too tempting --so I've read and enjoyed the last two!
If my previous post has been made in ignorance of similar points you have made earlier in your series, I apologize.

Um... Well, I wasn't really

Um... Well, I wasn't really planning to respond, but since you ask: Not sure what you're saying, honestly. That I'm a fundamentalist feminist atheist? First, I'm not really an atheist. Second, I'm definitely not a fundamentalist feminist; I struggle with whether or not to retain the word at all.

Um, there are individuals who I like who are staunch conservatives, yes, and often I respect the way they live their lives and treat people, etc. But suggesting that I have to respect an ideology - one that I've identified at the far extremes of conservative Christianity and that is demonstrably harmful to women - seems kind of silly to me. Seriously? The super conservatives with whom I get along best certainly don't respect all of my views, and I'm pretty sure they'd get a little worried about their own ideological purity if I started respecting theirs...

What I do believe is

What I do believe is important is cultural literacy. That's one reason I've attempted to define some terms here. I think the Christian Right speaks a totally different language from mainstream society, and it's important to learn how to dissect what exactly they're saying when they talk about "courtship" or "headship" or "covering."

True About Language

I agree. As someone who grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical arena, having left that but remaining fluent in the "language" is extremely useful for understanding. This post rang true for the people and friends I know who are still part of this sect of Christians, and the leaders that are, at least, training up these particular youth (and their parents in many cases) work tirelessly to be sure that the language is reinforced, and yes, through lyrics in music, books and other forms of media that they can expose to them.

So many things about this kind of sheltering and, arguably, indoctrinating, break my heart, but in terms of cultural literacy, in some fundi evan. spheres, it does not work both ways. Many of the youth don't even have the language or terms to fully discuss that which they do NOT believe from mainstream culture, without using only these terms very specific to their own movement. That was not my experience, however. We were trained to know the ins and outs of "secular," non-Biblical worldviews, but of course, those ins and outs were fed through a filter deeming them evil. (*smh*)

In any case, if it weren't for that exposure (including other exposure my well-read parents provided outside of church and Christian school, and as African-Americans, we were taking most of it with a grain of ostracized salt anyway), I would not have been able to clearly look at all types of religious worldviews, including fundi evan., and see the real and true dangers for a girl like me (and boys) that lie in it as much as any other, which of course my teachers/pastors didn't plan for.

Clearly I wasn't very clear...

"Not sure what you're saying, honestly. That I'm a fundamentalist feminist atheist? First, I'm not really an atheist. Second, I'm definitely not a fundamentalist feminist; I struggle with whether or not to retain the word at all."

Sorry that I wasn't very clear at all.

I didn't intend to call anyone here a fundamentalist anything. I'm sorry that it sounded that way, and I apologize. I was trying to address (and doing a very bad job of it) the fact that critiques of religion can be difficult, and fraught, but must still be done, including by feminists.

Which word do you struggle with whether to retain? (Now I am confused.)

I intended to make several points in my post, including:

a) Christian fundamentalism is a problematic and powerful force that progressives must be educated about and aware of
b) fundamentalism is not merely a Christian problem
c) here are some other interesting links where feminists/womanists (of various kinds) talk about some relevant issues.

I was trying to both challenge several points made by the first commentator on the article, while also saying that I understand that there can be difficulties in being a Christian feminist (regardless of whether or not I agree with the particular take on Christian feminism in evidence in the first comment).

Regarding c) I meant to add other contexts to the discussion of feminism and Christianity (or critiques of Christianity) in general by adding the three links.

Regarding b) fundamentalism is not merely a Christian problem, I was thinking about some of my mother's friends who are committed feminists, but who also use their politics as part of problematic bullying behaviours in both public and private social groups, where they have often imposed their particular views on the group and tried to get people pushed out who don't entirely line up with their views. Their bullying is built in to how they approach their feminist politics in a very unreflective, non-listening, entirely rigid way.

I was also thinking about how I've read and listened to (and written) many critiques of Christianity, specifically. Occasionally, in the last 10 years, I have encountered (for example) _some_ atheists and wiccans who are, in some ways, as rigid, judgmental, and dismissive as some of the Christians they are critiquing. This is not to say that they have the systemic power that Christians have, or that they may not have very good reasons behind their critiques, or that their critiques aren't valid. Those few people I am thinking about had a kind of... fundamentalism (for lack of a better word) in both their approach to their own beliefs and in their non-listening, entirely rigid ways of characterizing Christians.

As a feminist recovering from my Christian upbringing, and as an agnostic/wiccan/Buddhist, I was surprised to encounter "fundamentalism" in people who were not Christian (or Jewish, or Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or any other of the "big" world religions). Silly me!

And I argue there is a difference between being sharp or radical or deep in one's critique and being dismissive or rigid in one's critique. I don't think you were being dismissive or rigid in this article. The critiques and attempts to improve readers' cultural literacy of the language used by many in the Christian Right in your column is a valid feminist argument and method.

"some atheists and wiccans

"some atheists and wiccans who are, in some ways, as rigid, judgmental, and dismissive as some of the Christians they are critiquing."

I'm glad I'm not the only person who's run into these! A former roommate of mine was a fundamentalist pagan!

The worst is seeing a person who is devoted to sex-positivity (albeit one who also would brag about the huge size of her boyfriend's fifth appendage) and rights of women and LGBTQ folk, turn out to actually be one of the most intolerant psychos you've ever met.

If you're wondering what I mean by "fundamentalist pagan", she really and truly believed that both her boyfriend and our other friend's boyfriend, were fae. And I don't mean "seem a bit gay-like", I mean, literally, fae. As in, "faery". As in, a supernatural creature with humanoid shape. She believed her boyfriend was a "summer fae" and was terrified somewhat of our other friend's boyfriend because she, I am not kidding, thought he was a leprechaun, and thus a potentially-malicious, supernatural trickster. Again: NOT KIDDING. AT ALL. And in the case of the latter, this seems to have been based largely on the fact that: a.) he's short and of Irish descent, b.) he had a puckish sense of humor, and c.) if he didn't know and trust you well, he would have a real poker face around you. Again: what most folk would consider evidence of a guy being a shy, short young Irishman with a sense of humor, she interpreted as OH MY GODS* HE'S A LEPRECHAUN!

(*Plural intended and not a typo, as she was a polytheist who actively/directly worshiped two deities)

She also thought she had the soul of... I guess a winged cat isn't quite a sphinx, it's just a winged cat. But still.

She also believed that if you didn't see or feel the various strange, probably hallucinatory things that she and her boyfriend allegedly saw or felt, that you were just "not Gifted". And then she would gradually reject your friendship the more you failed to accept her B.S. And the less she liked you, the more she would either assume you were a literally an evil supernatural entity, or "not Gifted". In fact, not being Special or Majickal in her eyes automatically was a way to indicate "you're a boring person and I hate you because I'm better than you". Seriously. If she liked you at all, she would start to speculate on you being somehow supernaturally special, and if she didn't, she would assume you weren't. Or that you were a malicious faery or demon.

Imagine - seriously imagine - what it's like to live with a person who initially is friendly and welcoming, and then when you're honest about not believing every kitchen soup myth they throw at you, when you're honest about not seeing an invisible, inaudible "mystical wind" that doesn't do anything to the surroundings, in one of their hands, when you honestly admit to NOT BELIEVING YOUR FRIEND IS DATING A LEPRECHAUN, they gradually cut themselves off from you and start talking about you not being "GIfted" enough to hang around them.

Now also imagine she keeps stiffing you on rent and throws tantrums when you try to suggest that - gods forbid! - she should keep slightly better track of her income vs. her spending. Imagine she also spends what should be rent/food money, on a huge tattoo and a hot pink strap-on, and then tries to hide the latter purchase from you. Exactly a week before rent is due.

Now you have a very good picture of why I am seriously, seriously glad I don't live with her anymore.

The funniest thing, in hindsight, is how vehemently she despised conservative Christians... despite having apparently started out as one herself. At some point in her teens or so, she spontaneously converted from one radical religion to another. She was even a bit fundy about Rocky Horror Picture Show (worst part: trying to watch it on DVD while she compulsively shadowcasts AND WILL NOT SHUT UP)!

Some people just seem drawn to being rigidly obnoxious to anyone who disagrees with them.

Been there!

Amusingly enough, and to prove exactly how close the two perspectives really are, one of my closest friends in high school was just barely shy of the personality you illustrate here. We grew up and lost contact with one another until, by the miracle of Facebook, I ran into her again.

And, lo and behold, she'd converted from fundamentalist pagan to fundamentalist Christian! And she's just as insane!

Now, though, she's afraid of EVERYTHING, whereas before she had a more optimistic viewpoint. Something in that noggin of hers must have snapped somewhere, but not much changed.

An extreme personality is an extreme personality, no matter what religious dogma is on her bumper sticker.

Further reading.

Fred Clark's painstaking and on-going review of the Left Behind series goes into some depth into "courting".

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slacktivist/2011/10/03/tf-sock-it-to-me/

Yes, I'm a big fan of Fred

Yes, I'm a big fan of Fred Clark's writing (though I wish he'd never gone to Patheos.). This part is particularly useful and covers things I didn't get to:

"LaHaye is what is sometimes called a “complementarian” — a euphemism for the belief that men and women have distinct, “complementary” roles to play in families and in society. This isn’t a “separate but equal” doctrine — separate, yes, but not equal. It’s a traditionalist, anti-feminist outlook that says men are in charge, responsible for leadership as the “head” of the household exercising what they call “headship” over their wives. (This has nothing to do with the sort of headship men are hoping to exercise when purchasing gold and diamond necklaces from fancy stores in Paris.) Women, both in families and in society as a whole, are expected to be submissive to the men.

This misogynistic view has contributed to the happiness of Tim LaHaye’s own long marriage because it is enthusiastically shared by his wife. Beverly LaHaye fervently believes that women should eschew any career of their own to support and serve their husbands. She is so deeply committed to this principle, in fact, that she founded an organization to promote this belief and to oppose women’s equality. While her husband Tim pursues his pastoral and political work in California, Beverly LaHaye spends much of her time 3,000 miles away, in Washington, D.C., serving as the CEO of Concerned Women for America, where she has developed a long professional record as an outspoken foe of women working outside the home.*

Underlying the LaHayes’ framework for gender roles is the idea that what all women really want is a man to take charge for them, establishing his clear authority over her. I think that’s inhuman nonsense and a recipe for mutual misery. I don’t believe that any adult truly desires to have someone else in charge of them, exercising authority and “headship” over them — not even the most thoroughly indoctrinated prairie muffin, quiverful or “sister wife"..."

 

Christian Egalitarianism

With regards to this comment:

"Yes, Ephesians instructs wives to obey their husbands, but that obedience is coupled by husbands loving as Christ does: self-sacrificially."

There are many Christians who believe that the above words represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the biblical texts; that when authorial intent, historical context and the cultural assumptions of the original audience are taken into account (not to mention translator errors), neither Ephesians nor any other New Testament verse instructs wives to "obey" their husbands. Christian egalitarians believe that Jesus' coming brought real equality between Jew and Gentile, slave and freeman, and male and female-- and Paul's words were actually teaching men to raise up their wives to walk beside them, not exercise "headship" over them.

We believe that the current fundamentalist misogyny is a backlash against the loss of privilege and power currently being experienced by males in our culture; that it has been in the best interests of male church leaders through the ages to incorporate misogyny into church doctrine, but that male authority and female obedience, in marriage or otherwise, has never been a part of essential Christianity as taught by Jesus or Paul.

Besides the fact that

Besides the fact that complimentarians completely ignore the previous verses to their favorite passage in Ephesians which states that all Christians are to submit to one another (including husbands to wives). It rather puts a whole different light on things.

And I completely agree on the backlash statement. These groups very much have a resistance identity. If they perceive anything as a problem in the mainstream, the most extreme will do the opposite. They refer to this as the culture war and outline various crises- the marriage crisis, the dating crisis, etc.

I agree

Both of the comments above are spot on. In trying to avoid a lengthy conversation on context and inerrancy, I seem to have overstated the case in my first comment, which was not my intent. As a Christian feminist, I often feel my existence is overlooked in feminist circles, and since this series seems to try to bridge that gap in some ways, I wanted to weigh in.

Also...

Jesus had both male and female disciples, and often defied social mores with women, speaking to them directly and treating them like *gasp!* people! Remember the Samaritan woman at the well for one exceptional example--doubly shunned as a Samaritan AND a woman (John 4).

This was me

I was raised Quiverfull, but I left and am now a feminist, so don't think that every girl raised this way will follow her parents' steps. Unfortunately, of course, many will, and my story may be somewhat unusual as I was actually sent to college (though respected to still remain under my father's authority and leave romantic relationships in my parents' hands).

I agree on raising strong daughters - I'm now raising one myself, and I'm loving teaching her that she can choose her own beliefs and her own path in life, and working to empower her. It is helping me heal, I think.

Hi and thanks

I'm a frequent reader of both your blog and NLQ, and I just wanted to say thanks for sharing your story.

Good article/GED?

This is a great article. I'm not positive that you intend to describe pretty much all hierarchical complementarian belief (enforcement of gender roles, mandatory heterosexuality) such as in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and in the Southern Baptist convention as fundamentalist, but if so, that's fine with me. I can definitely see it, having spent some time as a child in a Southern Baptist church, and then some of my adult life in the PCA. There's a big emphasis in the latter in *believing* in the right way...If you believe you have all the truth and everyone else is wrong (and going to hell)? I believe you may be a fundamentalist.

There is one thing in the article that I don't follow:
"I have a longtime friend who was not allowed to obtain her GED after she graduated from high school because she was never supposed to work outside the home. "

If she graduated from high school, she should not have needed to obtain a General Equivalency Diploma. Only people who have *not* graduated from high school would get that, since it's "generally equivalent" to a high school diploma.
Thanks!

I do think those

I do think those denominations are fundamentalist. Whether or not every single member is a fundamentalist is another question.

Per the GED: That's not quite true if you graduate from a homeschool. Depending on how regulated your homeschool has been (this is different from state to state), you may never have, for example, learned basic algebra. My friend finished school at 18, and lived in a state that required her to earn the GED as proof of graduation. She only just did that this year, at the age of 34.

Another thing I'd say is that

Another thing I'd say is that these families can become so isolated from reality that they reach pretty astounding levels of paranoia. Parents who remove their children from public school for religious reasons are already soemwhat paranoid about the evils of Big Bad Government. Now, the US has very, very loose regulations for homeschools (Hence, for example, the fundie family from Germany that sought exile in the US because they were being "persecuted" for their beliefs.), but state governments generally have some kind of basic regulation mechanism. But some families just hide from that because they're so paranoid. I've never asked my friend if this was the case in her family, but it is the reason why Michelle Bachmann (catering to her homeschool movement base) expressed paranoia about being counted in the census, why some parents are paranoid about their children being assigned social security numbers - any government "intrusion" is often viewed with extreme paranoia.

I think this is hard to understand if you've never been - at least for a short time - submerged in this subculture. I had very, very close family friends who lived this way when I was young, and they introduced me to their communities, etc. That's why I know so many people who've left. I didn't grow up like this (I went to public school.), but I know a lot of people who did. I'd go and stay with that family for weeks at a time when I had vacations. I went to Bill Gothard seminars with them (look that up), and ever since then, I've been sort of obsessed with understanding repressive religious movements, including that one.

When I was very, very young (adolescent), they had me convinced that the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child was a measure to remove children from Christian homes and place them in secular "reeducation camps." "Secular humanism" was the big bad devil of the state, and it was not just secular humanism as we understand it - but entrenched with "Satan," absolute evil, anti-Christian above all else.

Not every family is quite that extreme. Families in the movement run along a paranoid continuum, but the important thing is: pro-life/anti-gay/anti-science - these are just the tip of the iceberg.

One Word.

I used to know a bunch of folks from this camp as well, and one word encompasses the entirety of their philosophy: FEAR. Paranoid, delusional, all-encompassing FEAR.

Congratulations to your

Congratulations to your friend!
Maybe I missed what your other readers picked up on: She graduated from homeschool high school. Or just "graduated from homeschool at age 18". YMMV. As I said, most folks seem to have picked up on that. :-)

also a Christian feminist.

also a Christian feminist. Though I think I define that a *little* differently than poster #1 does. Anyway, even before I knew what feminism was, the song "How Beautiful" gave me the creeps! It still does. I grew up in a not-quite-fundamentalist church, and yes, the emphasis is very much on women stay home, have babies, and obey their husbands. The whole fundamentalist worldview makes me sick, honestly. But there are a TON of people who follow it.

Excellent article.

I applaud you for running this article!

Christianity, in it most basic form, requires the worship of a god who green lighted rape among other things. Through out the bible, women have been treated as property items. Things to be own, bought and traded. Or forcibly acquired through rape.
When I look at the Biblical Womanhood and Stay at Home Daughters movement, all I see is the continuation of the biblical idea of women as property. These women are groomed to believe and will groom their children to believe that they have no need of a personal identity or personal value. Their only purpose is to make the lives of the men around them better.

It is disgusting. It was disgusting when I lived as a daughter raised in this movement and it is ten times worse now that I have children that are being inundated with this message. We should be going forward as a society. Not backwards.

A staunch feminist now, I speak out whenever given the chance about the horrible message that this movement is sending society about the value of women.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Your article made my day!

I grew up in the southern

I grew up in the southern Baptist wife beating convention and went to Christian home school. I started hurting my self because of the submission teaching in the bible, I also nearly committed suicide because of it. Many women, my aunt included get beat every day because their vile church going husbands, and preachers say they are not submissive enough. It is always the preacher and husband who decide if the wife is submissive enough, never the wife. Still when I hear the word submission I have an urge to cut my self.

After being raped Christianity is the second worse thing that ever happened to me, and the women in my family.

Bible verses.
Ephesians 5:22
Wives, be subject (be submissive and adapt yourselves) to your own husbands as [a service] to the lord.

Ephesians 5:24
As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:1
In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them]

1 Peter 3 : 6
It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).

After being raped

After being raped Christianity is the second worse thing that ever happened to me, and the women in my family>>
That's awful. I'm sorry to hear both of these happened to you.

I was also very sincere very fundy Christian (having grown up in it) but I left, I found out it didn't work and God didn't exist so I am not there anymore, and you are right the Christian environment is very sexist. I cannot even begin to talk about the sexism because I would never be able to stop.

Many women, my aunt included get beat every day because their vile church going husbands, and preachers say they are not submissive enough. It is always the preacher and husband who decide if the wife is submissive enough, never the wife.>>
This is truly sad.

Wow, first of all, thanks to

Wow, first of all, thanks to all of you for these comments, and welcome to those who found this post from No Longer Quivering. Great to see you! I'm saddened to hear how many of you have been hurt by this, but I appreciate you coming and telling your stories.

Second, I thought I would clarify something that I said the other day about the Southern Baptist Convention and the PCA (Presbyterian Church of America). The Southern Baptist Convention has seriously taken up Quiverfull ideology and wifely submission in recent years, and there have been pockets of that for a long time now. Years ago, when churches in that denomination were allowed to operate more congregationally, you had liberal churches and churches that didn't teach submission. Now they've had to break off from the denomination.

I live in the South, as you know, and one side of my family has solely a working class Southern Baptist religious background. And all of them are very secular people. They attend a Southern Baptist church, which has been a source of community to them in a small town. But they're far from culture warriors, and in fact, it's generally seen as rude to proselytize or engage in what I call Evangelical Speak at all. A gay cousin of mine - retired from a career in NYC and having returned to the area - still attends the church and has never been treated poorly by anyone there. And he's never heard his identity condemned either.

Now, I could not do that, but I don't really go to church at all. I cannot really bear evangelicalism, personally. And it's still an evangelical church that worships a very male Christian god and teaches traditional doctrine. I absolutely believe the Southern Baptist Convention is a fundamentalist denomination, but in the same way that you meet a lot of secular Catholics, I've known many non-evangelical Baptists.

I think the same is likely true of the PCA, though the PCA, from what I've observed, is far more deeply entrenched in Quiverfull ideology across the board.

Jesus not sexist

I just want to go on the record to say that from all that he said and did (as recorded in the gospels), Jesus was not sexist. He was born of a woman, by God' Spirit, not of a man's seed. He repeatedly went against gender norms of his day accepting and teaching women--conversing openly with them when that was frowned on by the patriarchical society. He had many female disciples. The accounts say they "followed at a distance", but Ithink this was to protect the reputations of all. I don't think it was accidental that the 1st person he appeared to after his resurrection was a woman (John 29:11-18), then his disciples and he explained the scriptures predicting his death and resurrection next to a man and a woman (Cleopas and Mary ) on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:27). He spoke out for increased rights for women in his culture (Matt. 19:8-9) and also taught that some people were born sexually different (Matt. 19:12), and honorably so. It is interesting to speculate on what his sexual orientation (modern term) might have been in his human form. It is pretty certain that he did not act on it, as his enemies would have been quick to point it out and try him for it--they constantly challenged him for teaching and keeping company with individuals they considered sexually impure. The writer of the Book of Hebrews says he sympathizes with our weakness having "been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus taught the Sadducees that there is no "marriage" in heaven (Matt. 22:30). The apostle Paul, wrote in Ephesians 5:21, "be subject (sometimes translated submit) to one another" and in Galations 3:28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for you are all one in Christ." Paul counted among his early supporters a single, successful businesswoman and head of household, Lydia (Acts 16:,14,15,40). Jesus' teachings and many of Paul's were clearly radically feminist in their time. Jesus walked by God's Spirit not man-made rules.

I debated whether or not to

I debated whether or not to step in here, but I do want to say something: Most people with a Christian fundamentalist background have had lists of Bible verses nearly beaten over their heads as manipulative weapons. Disagreement is fine, but I'd appreciate it if everyone could refrain from listing a bunch of Bible verses by way of argument here.

Thank you

Thank you for saying this, Kristen. In addition to your point that these verses have been turned into weapons to hurt people with, they have also been lifted out of their historical and literary context and taken as literalistically as possible-- by both those who used them as weapons, and those who use them as evidence that Christianity is itself evil.

Yes, absolutely. Hi, KR!

Yes, absolutely. Hi, KR! *waves*

Jesus

Wow.
I just wanted to make an appeal that we not throw the baby (Jesus) out with the bath water (man made religion).
I believe He loves us and understands us just the way we (all people) are and welcomes all who seek Him. I have one friend who is a professor of Early Christianity at a Catholic university. One of her areas of research focuses on early female Christians. Other than conversations with her, the best source I have for Jesus' teachings are scholarly translations of the bible, like the fairly recent ESV that tries to look at the meaning in the context and the culture of Jesus'day. I'm sorry if I misquoted or misrepresented His teachings...I guess a lot of what is said is open to interpretation.

THIS IS NOT THE PLACE FOR PROSELYTIZING

This is not a place for proselytizing. I have not made a claim for or against Christianity as such, and I am not interested in doing so. Nor will I host a discussion like that here.

Take this somewhere else. There are plenty of forums, blogs and what have you all over the world that are receptive to it. You are not being "persecuted" because I have asked people to quit derailing the discussion.

From here on out, I'm deleting manipulative evangelical speak. My post, I decide how potentially triggering I'll allow overzealous people to be.

Feel free to discuss the issues without proselytizing and without using Bible verses as weapons, and you are all welcome to continue posting.

I will not allow proselytizing on this thread. Nor will I have people who have shared traumatic stories be accused of "throwing out the baby with the bathwater" or encouraged to "come back to Jesus" in simplistic platitudes. Just. Stop.

(If you leave it overnight, it'll be deleted in the morning.)

P.S.

I'm not a bible scholar, though I like to study the bible. My training, BS and Masters degree, are in science, engineering and technology applied to business problems. I guess I felt that I might fit in here because my grandma marched for the women's vote, I have non-gender-typical interests and skills, and I have also experienced unjust discrimination at times--though not so much in my church.

FYI: This kind of comment is

FYI: This kind of comment is totally fine. Personal experiences, how you personally have felt about things, etc. No proselytizing.