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"It matters who you marry," an article on thechristianpundit


wtylcf

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thechristianpundit.org/2012/08/15/it/

trigger warning (because I am trying to be more considerate about these things): domestic abuse issues described ahead.

For some reason this article has been making the rounds on my religious friends' facebook walls. Did a quick search and didn't see it had been snarked upon here.

the gist of the thing: "Hey, Christian ladies, don't marry an abuser!" Why this is exclusive to Christian women, I don't know, but hey, it's a Christian magazine, so I guess it's their prerogative to be self-centered.

I suppose this could be a well-timed wake-up call to someone in a bad relationship. It opens up with the scariest anecdote of abuse warning signs involving fruit juice I have ever read:

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

"instead of calling out the jerk kid AT A CHURCH YOUTH GROUP who POURED JUICE ALL OVER HIS GIRLFRIEND because he was mad at her, to tell him that behaviour wasn't ok, I decided to blame the victim and write about how it's the woman's responsibility to not be involved with an abusive guy. Enjoy!"

It just gets worse from there, with the anecdotes of men behaving terribly:

One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs.

"don't have a princess complex, but at least expect your man to treat you like a human, not like a cow."

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

how do you slap someone in a friendly way? I recognize that I have never been physically abused so I have no idea what this would look like, and I feel terrible that this even has to be advice given to anyone. If this paragraph helps out any abused or potentially abused woman, I'm happy. At the same time my jaw is hanging open that anyone would ever consider this behaviour ok in any context and need to be told it's not OK.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Well, everyone knows unbelieving women deserve to have the rough sex they didn't save themselves for! (fume)

I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

It alarms me she knows the stories of so many abused women personally. What kind of church community is this where such behaviour is comomonplace and, it seems, almost tolerated, considering the juice anecdote at the start of the story?

Also, you could simply marry someone who is not an abuser, and who loves you, and who isn't a misogynist. No need to bring "the love of Christ" into it. Obviously the women at her church sometimes marry abusers who call themselves believers as well, so it's no guarantee whatsoever.

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At least the writer acknowledges that there are some abusive men.

In some of these churches, divorce is often considered the woman's fault. Either she didn't adore her husband enough or she picked the wrong person.

It is the wife, in these marriages, who gives up all control to her husband so, it is a situation that is perfect for abusive spouses.

What young girls need to learn

1. Not everyone will like you. That is fine

2. you don't need a man to be happy

3. treat others with respect

4. you deserve respect also and don't settle for disrespect

5. Everyone makes mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for a bad relationship. Just move on

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I saw this article going around on Facebook as well and I didn't like the way it was spun. However, I think there's something to be said for telling women in the church that they don't have to "settle" and marry jerks. Unfortunately, many of the evangelical women I know don't have very good critical thinking skills and want to be married so badly that they make all kinds of dumb decisions. Maybe this article will make them think a little more about the realities of marriage. I have yet to understand why these women can't get it through their heads that they don't have to be married to be fulfilled.... but that's another discussion entirely.

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Yeah, I saw this posted by one of my old friends the other day. It seems kinda basic to me now, but when I put myself back into the mindset I had growing up in the church, it seemed more like a big ol' hammer, and I feel sorry for the singles reading it.

Some facts about church environments:

For every single guy who attends church regularly there are at least 2 single girls.

This means there is a lot of competition for those guys.

The "godlier" a guy is, the more you are supposed to want him. "Godly" guys are the ones who will be your spiritual leader, i.e., are active in some kind of ministry, are very interested in studying the Bible, will work hard to provide for you, and will not pressure you for sex before marriage but are not terribly shy/effeminate either. Those are quite rare and the down side of actually trying to live by all the rules is you tend to turn into an unpleasant, uptight person. I should know, because I was a "godly" girl.

I was told to wait for the perfect guy, and that he had to chase me, and that a godly guy did not want me to draw attention to myself with clothes or behavior. I sure gave it the old college try.

I used to read articles like this, trying to encourage myself that I was doing it right, and delayed gratification meant it would be so much better when I finally met the right guy!

Instead, this article just reminded me that as a somewhat chubby, very ambitious girl I had basically zero chance of getting a "godly" guy and would probably either have to stay single and pretend to be happy about it, settle for one of the "worldly" guys who came to church occasionally but wasn't really into it and that everyone knew had sex with his girlfriends, or *gasp* try to missionary date someone out in the world and try to convert them.

After several years of watching people around me have sex before marriage, sometimes with multiple people, have babies before marriage (!), and still end up with much better lives with more happiness than me; after watching girls flirt and guys fall madly in love with them; after really looking at all the marriages of the people giving this advice and seeing just how non-doormat the women were in the happy marriages - well, I said screw it and decided to go make my own life. It looked to me like it was a lot better to try things and make mistakes than it was to spend the rest of my life living up to the standards being imposed by elders who had never lived up to them themselves.

Life is much, much better now!

Oh, and my friend that posted it? Her posting on avoiding abusive guys is really... odd... her hubby is a good guy, one of the only "godly" guys I knew who was genuinely nice and thoughtful to everybody. They have been getting deeper into Calvinistic fundamentalism the last couple of years and the last time I saw them, she was shushing her toddlers, who were exhausted and begging very sweetly to go home, because they had already asked Daddy once if they could go and he still wanted to talk, so they just needed to wait for him to be done. I was so flabbergasted, it was completely unnecessary, and she is treating her husband as if he IS an abuser when he is NOT. He just forgot that they needed to go and I have no idea why she thought he had more right to another half hour of conversation than their children did to their beds.

In summary, the article to me is a reiteration of the interesting church dynamic that was all around me: Be really hot, but do it effortlessly and modestly, so you can catch a nice, hard working guy who loves God and you. Then you can have children, spank them lots and get started on instilling plenty of shame and self-doubt in them, and train your husband to treat you worse and worse so you can get better and better at self-denial and being happy.no.matter.what!

erm, sorry, this seems to have turned into a rant...

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I keep clicking on this because of the title of the article. My brother always says "it matters" instead of "it depends on" even if that's not grammatically correct/the appropriate phrase to use. So the title reminded me of him. It works a little better here, but I think it's still a little awkward. "Who You Marry: It Matters" might be better.

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At least the writer acknowledges that there are some abusive men.

In some of these churches, divorce is often considered the woman's fault. Either she didn't adore her husband enough or she picked the wrong person.

It is the wife, in these marriages, who gives up all control to her husband so, it is a situation that is perfect for abusive spouses.

What young girls need to learn

1. Not everyone will like you. That is fine

2. you don't need a man to be happy

3. treat others with respect

4. you deserve respect also and don't settle for disrespect

5. Everyone makes mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for a bad relationship. Just move on

QFT! Never, ever settle for a disrespectful, abusive asshole. It's far better to remain single the rest of your life and maintain some self-respect than end up as somebody's punching bag or in the grave.

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I am having trouble wrapping my dumb atheist brain around this. If all the good fundy families are raising their children to be good little married baby ovens and good leading headships, then how is abuse a problem? The boys are all raised to want to be head of a household and raise up children for the Lord. Dad vets the boys for their daughters. So where are the abusers coming from?

Having said that, I do agree that no one EVER should feel obliged to stay with an abuser. God not withstanding.

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Child abuse is very common in fundie homes. Kids who were abused are more likely to be an abuser themselves because that is the behaviour theyve learned-that when theyre in charge it is okay to hit someone if they do something wrong. Also kids who were abused are more likely to be in abusive relationships because theyve learned that love and violence go together.

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