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Do Biblical Submission Blogs Have a Responsibility to Address the "Exceptions?"


Curious

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Anyone who has read Free Jinger will know that one of our favorite blogs to discuss is Always Learning written by Lori Alexander. Lori claims that God has called her to be a "wise older mentor" to younger women. Her husband, Ken Alexander, has claimed that Lori has a "prophetic gift."

story crossEven though her blog is meant to be the teaching tool of a "wise older woman mentoring younger women" (which lately she reminds readers on a near-daily basis), Ken can often be found answering questions in the comments, usually ones that Lori finds "too tough". Ken also writes the occasional blog post, at Lori's request.

The Alexanders preach wifely submission. From their perspective, that means the wife is always wrong and should do whatever the husband wants no matter what, in all areas of the marriage, including sex. All marital problems are the result of the wife not being submissive enough, and all marital problems can be solved by the wife submitting more. Even if the husband is flat-out wrong, the wife should submit to his will and let him have his way, because, according to the Alexanders, that’s how you make God happy. God and Jesus want the wife to blindly follow the husband. Any sins or crimes are on the husband’s head, as long as the wife submits. According to Ken and Lori Alexander it is worse for a wife to stand up to her husband and not allow him to, say, cheat on his taxes, than it is for the husband to do the actual fiscal misdeed.

If your husband is not kind and loving, it’s because you aren’t submissive enough. If he is indifferent to you, you must still treat him in a loving manner. It’s all on the wife, and the answer is to always submit more.

Ken Alexander came to Free Jinger to have a dialogue with us a few months ago and one of our main concerns was what happens to the women that Lori tells to "submit more" when they are in an abusive relationship. What does she tell those women? Does she give them resources to help them out of their situation, or do they also get told to "submit more?" Ken argued that domestic violence was very rare and an exception to what they preached.

In the following quote, Salex is a Free Jinger member who dared to question Ken and Lori’s wisdom.

Herein has been one of my biggest issues with you and salex in that you press fr[sic] changes in Lori's blog because of a .0000001 chance someone may be harmed, without a modicum of proof that such a thing has, or ever will happen.

Since that point, we have noticed that more and more comments have be deleted under the "exception" rule rather than being addressed by the Alexanders.   We don't seem to be the only ones that have noticed that Ken and Lori are pulling out the "exception" excuse quite a lot.

A comment by, Stephanie, on Sheila's blog To Love, Honor and Vacuum had this to say:

Ken, I have heard you say frequently that you are weary of dealing with the exceptions. I would argue that the situation you have described (where the wife is using conflict resolution simply to “get her way”) is an exception and frankly, one *I* am weary of. The honest, respectful communication I am referring to and I am pretty certain Sheila is referring to is NOT what you describe here. It does not have nefarious intent like you describe, but an intent to bring unity and intimacy to the marriage.

Recently, the following comment was left on their blog by commenter Lynn:

I just read this post and tears are streaming down my face. I stayed home from church with my sick child and thinking of how I am going to escape my horrible, verbally abusive marraige[sic]. I can't go on anymore. I am exhausted of putting on a show and acting happy in public and crying on the inside. My husband hasn't slept in the same bed with me for the last three years. He says he doesn't love me. I submit, smile, pray to God to show me how to love this man, raise our family according to the Bible, treat my husband like a king, but nothing helps. I physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally am burned out. And I can't leave because he hasn't been unfaithful (that I know of). He blames me if my daughter gets a cold, calls me fat, turns his nose up at my meals that take me hours to prepare from scratch, says out house isn't clean enough even when there isn't a speck of dust to be found and there is no clutter or mess anywhere. I ask him to show me what to change and he walks away. He literally pushes me away when I try to rub his back or show love. I just can't do it anymore. It is affecting our children and I need to think of them too. I know I am in a deep depression from all of this and I even think it would be better if I were never born. I know I am not perfect either.... And I apologize for things all day long even when I haven't sinned, just to appease him. I am literally scared of this man and I am so tense that I cringe when I look at him. He also puts on a show and will act loving toward me in public, and then as soon as the door shuts he changes 100%. He refuses to go with me to our pastor, a counselor, parents, anybody for help or advice. I worry mostly for my kids and wonder how long it will be before they say something about what is going on to another adult. I just keep wondering if God would understand if I just gave up. Reading your post, I know God set me free long ago. But this isn't any way to live.

Lori's initial response was:

Good Morning, Lynn

I would encourage you to find a godly, older woman to help you walk this difficult path. We aren't meant to do it alone or seek wise counselors like thejoyfilledwife did in her struggle to win her husband without a word when he was deep into pornography and was treating her poorly. I read Streams in the Desert every morning. It is my favorite devotional. I encourage you to get a copy. I read it today and thought it would be perfect encouragement for you ~

"Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34).

The cross which my Lord bids me take up and carry may assume different shapes. I may have to content myself with a lowly and narrow sphere, when I feel that I have capacities for much higher work. I may have to go on cultivating year after year, a field which seems to yield me no harvests whatsoever. I may be bidden to cherish kind and loving thoughts about someone who has wronged me--be bidden speak to him tenderly, and take his part against all who oppose him, and crown him with sympathy and succor. I may have to confess my Master amongst those who do not wish to be reminded of Him and His claims. I may be called to "move among my race, and show a glorious morning face," when my heart is breaking.

There are many crosses, and every one of them is sore and heavy. None of them is likely to be sought out by me of my own accord. But never is Jesus so near me as when I lift my cross, and lay it submissively on my shoulder, and give it the welcome of a patient and unmurmuring spirit.

He draws close, to ripen my wisdom, to deepen my peace, to increase my courage, to augment my power to be of use to others, through the very experience which is so grievous and distressing, and then--as I read on the seal of one of those Scottish Covenanters whom Claverhouse imprisoned on the lonely Bass, with the sea surging and sobbing round--I grow under the load.

--Alexander Smellie"

Unfortunately, I can't give you citations for the above because they and the rest of the comments relating to this comment were scrubbed from the blog for the following reason, per Ken:

Dear Lynn,

I hope that you have read the responses to your comments and that you will be seeking help from a set of godly wise counselors. If you have missed some of the discussion I have kept the entire thread and Lori will be happy to email it to you if you provide your email address.

I hope that the comments were helpful to you, but your situation needs direct local counseling attention. We are deleting your comments and all that address them because this blog is a teaching blog. Staying on topic is very important to teaching, and Lori wants to insure that those who wish to learn from her will be focusing on the topic of the day, and our New Lives in Christ, not on abuse, although this is an important topic for another day.

So again, we have preserved the comments for you and we are available to you by email if you feel we can help, but we really urge you to seek help from your local counselors. I would say this is mandatory, not optional for any women who is being treated so poorly by her husband.

Ken doesn't seem to take into consideration that Lynn may not have access to the internet very often, or that she can't risk giving out her email address for fear her husband may read her messages. He doesn't seem to take into consideration how much strength it probably took Lynn to actually make that comment in the first place. It isn't important enough to keep and it's detracting from the topic of the day. I wonder if Jesus would have turned Lynn away because he was not preaching on the topic of her problems that day? Somehow I doubt that he would.

Our own poster, Koala, made this heartfelt reply to Lynn which I am sure she will never see, unfortunately, but I hope other women that are in Lynn's position may see it and gain some comfort and strength from it. Something you'd expect to get perhaps a little more from a "wise mentoring blog" than a "snark site."

What I would have told Lynn *if it weren't for the fact that I wouldn't dream of giving Lori Alexander (who encourages people to hit their kids with leather belts, and encourages abused wives to "Keep Submitting!") my email address*
:

Dear Lynn,

I am so sorry about the situation you find yourself in. No matter what, do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of thinking that:

A) you can save your husband

B)
he will change for you

C) you deserve this treatment for one reason or another (including the fact that you married him in the first place).

Nothing gives him the right to treat you this way, and nothing excuses continuing to allow him to behave this way in front of your children. Let me assure you, they will carry it with them for the rest of their lives.

It is your job as their mother to make decisions that are in their best interest. Staying in an abusive marriage is NEVER in the best interest of the children, and greatly increases the likelihood that he will eventually (if he hasn't already) turn his abuse on them. Do not take that chance. If it has already happened, don't allow it to continue for another day.

Lori's assertion that children are happier with an abusive father than no father at all is a lie. Ask her what it's based on and you'll quickly see that she won't have an answer for you.

I offer this advice to you only because I have been in your children's shoes. My father verbally, physically, and mentally abused my mother. She turned herself upside down trying to change him, help him, please him and nothing ever worked. She left him when I was 5 years old, and I will carry the memory of what I saw during those first years for the rest of my life. It literally shaped who I became. You have no idea how grateful I am that she finally left him. She saved herself, and she saved me. If I could change anything, she would have left him sooner.

It might also help you to know that he never got better. He actually got worse, and eventually committed a criminal act that led to a conviction for something so awful I won't even post it here. Had my mom not walked away, she and I could have been the victims in that case.

Instead she struggled and made a life for us. I married a wonderful man (almost 14 years ago) and we have 2 beautiful children. Had she stayed with my father, I don't even want to think of how my life might have turned out.

She has a great job now (she worked her ass off, and in the end she made it to the top). She is genuinely happy with her life.

I guess what I am trying to say is that if you aren't strong enough to do this for yourself, do it for your children.

Please don't wait too late to save yourself and your children. You guys should never be afraid in your own home. If you feel God has set you free, then you don't need Lori Alexander to co-sign on it.

Be well, and know that the path to freedom is just outside your own front door. You have the keys.

The Alexanders also talk about sex. A lot. Particularly about how it's a wife’s duty to give her husband sex. That's why he married her after all (yeah, I wish I was kidding, too).   Poor Ken can't even get away from people trying to make exceptions on this topic either (from the comments in the link above):

It is tiring to have to always deal with exceptions. For most who use exceptions they want the exception to be the rule, which it is not. Most of Lori's readers are godly Christian women married to godly Christian men. Both imperfect, but both trying to please God. If they want to please God they must start by being obedient to God's Word, not trying to find every exception to excuse there own sin.

If the husband wants sex 4 times a week, the wife should willingly have sex 4 times a week, even if she is tired, pregnant, or sick. There are no excuses per Lori:

So now that you know not giving your husband frequent sex is sin and you don't want to walk in sin, start making your husband happy. IT ONLY NEEDS TO TAKE TEN MINUTES!!! That is not much of a sacrifice to have a happy husband.

Ken feels the same way
(emphasis mine): Of course increasing frequency would potentially hurt the situation IF we are talking about intercourse, but not if we are talking about other ways she can help satisfy her husband's needs. That is part of compromise, and it could have been reached much sooner if the wives would followed their own belief in a submissive role in their marriage, but
they were functioning under a number of lies taught to them by worldly thinking, especially the lie that even when married they got to choose the frequency of sex... all on their own... because it was their body and their feelings.

This comment was recently made on their blog:

Marie

Lori, I think it's great to encourage people to have sex with their spouses. It's important, but I have a question. What do you do when sex is so painful for you? I have a condition called endometriosis and this makes the act with my spouse very painful. I have had surgery to help remove the scar tissue and they have tried opening me up more, but it still is so painful when we try to have intercourse. I try to put up with the pain and pretend it doesn't hurt, but he can tell and I fear this could be a huge rift for us. I have been told to just deal with it and do it when he wants anyway. However, my husband stops the moment he notices I am in pain. I feel like I am not fulfilling any of my duties to my husband and to god as sex is miserable and we can hardly have any and I am unable to have children either. Have you mentored women in similar situations and what advice did you give them?

and the predictable response from Lori?

Marie, I have deleted your comment since it is an exception to what I am teaching.

Day after day, year after year, women are told that they must submit and if things are going badly in their marriage they are to submit more. They are told to "win him without words" and give more and more of themselves to the marriage no matter what the problem is. In Ken and Lori Alexander’s world, there is really no such thing as domestic violence or spousal abuse. It’s so uncommon that it’s not even worth mentioning. When it is mentioned in the comments, they stick their fingers in their ears and sing a hearty round of “la la la la I can’t hear you.” By ignoring women in dangerous situations, they do everyone a disservice. By refusing to consider “exceptions” they prove that they are not wise mentors at all. They have no true understanding of the things they espouse and are merely parroting back what they have heard others say. Take away their strict rules and they are utterly lost. So it’s better, for them, if those things stay hidden and nobody questions them. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Do you think that blogs that teach things like the Alexanders have a responsibility to also address the "exceptions" or is it ok for them to leave those followers who are unlucky enough not to be in the majority hanging?

Let us know your opinion in the comments here or on the forum

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