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Woman from a Charity church has a message...


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I recently came across a recording of Helen Leibee, who is a member of the Charity Church movement, talking about how to be a 'Godly' woman. The message fascinated me: I even agree with some of it, but the areas where I disagree are significant. (Download audio)

I thought about transcribing some of Leibee's comments for consideration here, but it turns out someone has already done the leg-work – more or less. The “transcript†is actually a paraphrase that, unfortunately, misses some of the nuances of the original. (Read the paraphrase)

She begins...

Early in my Christian walk, I made up for myself this acrostic.

In the audio, however, Leibee says she made for herself an acrostic – then she asks, 'Is that what it's called?' This strikes me as significant because it is an example, right out of the gate, of where Leibee plays dumb – a common affliction among fundie women.

What she actually created is a mnemonic device: CECTTP - “Christ Expects Christians to Teach Purity†- for the New Testament books where teachings pertaining to women are included. (These would be, respectively, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Titus, and 1 Peter.)

Leibee took this device, laminated it, and kept it in her Bible as a bookmark for a few years.

In another message, Leibee talks about having been raised upper middle class, at least, and about having received an excellent education right through college (which she doesn't support now, she hastily adds). Not only is she aware of what an acrostic is, but her story about how she spent years memorizing this one just pisses me off.

She then begins her sermon proper with a favorite FJ topic:

Defraud Not....

What does the word “defraud†mean? An older dictionary reads: To withhold wrongly from another that which is due to him, or to prevent one from obtaining what he justly has claim to have.

To defraud is to prevent someone from having something that’s already theirs. How does this apply?

If you are one who, if offended by your husband

doesn’t speak to him, then you’re defrauding your husband. You may not be saying “No†to physical relations, but you really are saying “No†by making it very clear that you are reserved with him, and that affects every element of your relationship, including the physical. Purpose in your heart never to be like this. It’s not a personality trait, but a serious offense to him, and it robs both you of peace.

Here's another place where the “transcriber†skips a potential source of LULZ.

Leibee asked a few women in the room how they would define the term “defraud,†and then she offered the above definition from an older dictionary – because she, like so many of the fundies we discuss here, looks for the oldest dictionaries she can find.

It's also disheartening to see her parrot the line about how wives owe their husbands sex – and not only that, but they owe a specific kind of happy joy-joy sex. To do anything less is like saying 'no' – and women aren't allowed to say no.

She's entirely correct about the poisonous nature of grudges, but she - it's the fundie way - takes it too far.

She then moves on to the 'headship order' and a discussion of why it's important for Christian women to cover their heads. Leibee covers hers all the time, presumably – although this isn't clear either in the paraphrase or in the original audio – because people should pray without ceasing. (This is the reason I've seen given for why women should cover their heads all the time, rather than just in church.)

If Leibee wants to apply actual logic to this situation, however, then her interpretation of the head-covering passage (1 Corinthians 11) would be such that men, who must also 'pray without ceasing,' can never cover their heads – not with ball-caps, cowboy hats, helmets, or anything else.

Leibee acts as if covering her head full time is the result of a Biblical command when it's actually not.

She then continues on to a discussion of long hair:

It is a serious thing to cut your hair when God said to wear your hair long. Long hair is a glory and God has a reason for doing this. If you were a princess, and the head of the castle came, and said, “I want to give you this gift—it’s a silver service. Please care for it.†(A silver service is a tray made of total silver with a coffeepot, a teapot, and other things. Because it is pure silver, it requires constant polishing to maintain its beauty.) Do you think a princess would complain about the time she would have to spend caring for it?

No – but mostly because I don't think a princess would be the one polishing the silver platter. (I seriously doubt Michelle Duggar polishes the one Diamond Doug gave her.)

And here is yet another place where the paraphrase removes from the snarky source material. In the original recording, Leibee offers a quick aside during her discussion of the silver service: She mentions she had one at some point, but 'thank God we're not under bondage to such things.'

This happens a few times in both available recordings: Leibee wants to dump the trappings of her old life, including access to power and prestige, but she can't quite let it go. This is how she finds herself in the unusual position of condescending to her audience even while pretending to ignorance.

Not surprisingly, this discussion moves quickly into talk of patriarchy. In the original recording, Leibee says some women at these sessions try to dodge this responsibility – the need to serve their husbands 'as unto the Lord' – by using “bizarre, bizarre examples†such as that of a husband pressuring his wife to smoke pot with him.

Know how I can tell Leibee has never left her bubble iof privilege? Because she thinks that's bizarre – and not only bizarre, but “bizarre, bizarre.â€

And in such cases as the man does in fact pressure his wife, it's the woman's fault:

In my experiences, I’ve seen that if a woman seeks to be in subjection to her husband in other areas, he often will respect her to the point where he won’t ask her to do wicked things anymore! On the whole, submit to your husband in everything, as unto the Lord, and consistently so that he will respect you.

The above is actually much tamer than the original, where Leibee says women in these situations are, down to the very last one, disobeying God and somehow disrespecting their husbands. She knows this because she asks these other women if they're perfectly obedient, and of course they say 'no.' (As if anyone would ever answer a question like that with 'yes.')

That’s very simple—the Scriptures say to not cause your brother to sin. It’s very simple to know that you shouldn’t dress immodestly, meaning you shouldn’t entice any man.

Another tall order meant specifically to wedge women between a rock and a hard place. Although Leibee would likely deny it, or claim it's a “bizarre example†or a hypothetical, there are surely men out there with a kink for frumpers and burquas. It's impossible to dress in such a way as to avoid enticing any man.

It's only after offering the above as a standard that Leibee then turns her attention to the advantages modesty will impart to the individual who practices it.

There's more to this mixed bag, but I hate working with the craptastically small fonts and mouse curser of hubby's computer (while I wait to get the part I need to fix mine).

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Happy joy-joy sex? :shock:

Thanks for this breakdown, Burris. I've missed your reviews and dissections and hope your computer gets fixed soon!

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In my experiences, I’ve seen that if a woman seeks to be in subjection to her husband in other areas, he often will respect her to the point where he won’t ask her to do wicked things anymore! On the whole, submit to your husband in everything, as unto the Lord, and consistently so that he will respect you.

What experiences could she have had that lead her to that? If your husband is asking you to do "wicked" things that you don't want to do, how is being his doormat going to make him stop doing that? I'd really like to see some of these submission advocates actually give some concrete examples of how submission has made a "wicked" husband improve. They don't even have to give real names, just some story that offers a tiny smidge of legitimacy.

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I had never heard of these folks, so I went and did some research last night and i've been thinking about them ever since. This really bothers me. These folks are, like, Messianic Jews only for Amish/Hutterite/conservative Mennonites. Did I get that right? They pick some of the beliefs and a lot of the cultural practices, and then go out trying to convert the folks they're emulating?

How can there even be enough convertible Anabaptists to make this a niche for evangelizing?

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They evangelize non-anabaptists as well--they have several missions in Africa right now. The founders of the group are two men--one of them left the Baptist denom. and one left the Old Order Amish. They sort of "met in the middle" and they draw people from inside and outside of anabaptist churches. Lot of anabaptist traditions (dress code, non-violence, "separation", etc) but highly evangelistic and definitely less stringent in their rules than the Old Orders.

I do know that they've caused some trouble and division among the Hutterites, and I think one colony split away because they wanted to stay Hutterite but also took on Charity beliefs and sent their young folks to conferences/missions/internships with charity, which the other Hutterites found unacceptable.

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They are pretty big among some of the people who've picked up headcovering independent of a specific church or denomination, to the point that the plain white hanging veils are known as "Charity veils". They have a big collection of tapes which they send to people, and it seems like maybe 3-4 years ago you'd find either recommendations of their tapes or links to their websites on many of the headcovering blogs and sites.

I think they have a lot of appeal for the types of people who admire or want to be like the real Anabaptist groups, or who just want to dress like them to feel or appear pious, but who don't want to follow all or the ordinances in the conservative branches of those groups. I guess some Anabaptist groups have got sucked into fellowship with them which has divided those groups, but they mainly seem to draw converts from people who are homechurchers, fundie Baptist or non-denominational, or into the fake-Jew thing but not so deeply that they are totally committed to that. I looked into them several years back, but there were a few of their beliefs I disagreed with, both in lifestyle & theology.

I don't know much about the one founder who was Amish, but the other is Denny Kenaston. He comes from an IFB (fundie Baptist) background and was kicked out of Hyles-Anderson college (a pretty extreme fundamental Baptist college) while a student there for trying to recruit others to the same type of doctrines that he preaches now. This is the same school that Steven Anderson attended for a year or so, and seems to spawn whackjobs & preachers who later get caught in sex or abuse scandals.

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